Review: Perry Rhodan Lemuria I Star Ark

Perry Rhodan Lemuria I Star Ark
Perry Rhodan Lemuria I Star Ark by Frank Borsch

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #34 for 2014

I picked this up mainly because I sometimes attend Bubonicon, which has “Perry Rodent” as its mascot, so I was curious about his inspiration, Perry Rhodan. At this point, though, I don’t really know what to make of the character or his universe. Some of the characters did really interest me, but Perry himself was fairly bland. And the world was just confusing, especially regarding the timeframes involved. I couldn’t figure out whether this was supposed to be a completely alternate universe or if the Lemurians were supposed to be aliens that inhabited Earth at some point or some other scenario entirely. I just couldn’t make anything fit right.

I also felt that the story was too referential to 20th-century America. Is this actually some sort of unwritten rule for space opera? Because it seems to be a common complaint of mine. Maybe I should just get over it.

Probably the most annoying thing, though, was that the story just kind of stopped. There was an oddly “Star Trek” gathering at an entertainment planet, but it didn’t really resolve anything. I realize that this is only book one of a six-book series, but I would expect there to also be a smaller story arc to achieve some kind of closure. This book left so much hanging out that I don’t feel confident that all of the dangling threads will ever be tied off.

Despite all the issues I had with this installment, I will probably read the next one if it comes my way. Maybe it would let me know if I would be wasting my time to continue.

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Review: Strip Tease

Strip Tease
Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #33 for 2014

As usual for Hiaasen, this was bizarrely and somewhat crudely entertaining. I have never seen the movie, so I don’t know how it compares, but it sounds like it stayed pretty true to the book. I tried to envision Demi Moore in the lead role but it didn’t work. Oddly enough, my brain kept trying to cast Ving Rhames as Shad (who is white in the book), even before I found out he played Shad in the movie.

A few things rubbed me the wrong way, such as Hiaasen’s assumption that all of Montana is a rural backwater full of uneducated and unprofessional hicks. But most of the time I was awed by his gift for juggling so many subplots and putting his characters in such zany predicaments. He also has a way of juxtaposing pathos with hilarity that really appeals to my dark sense of humor.

Hiaasen is definitely not for everybody, but if you like your crime fiction seedy and off-the-wall, I would recommend giving this one a try.

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Review: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #32 for 2014

This is a difficult book to rate. On a number of levels, I actively disliked this book and its transparent emotional manipulations. But I bawled at the end, so it apparently was effective despite the transparency of said emotional manipulations, so I can’t just give it one star and be done with it. So, two stars it is. This is why you can never tell my feelings about a book simply by looking at how many stars I gave it.

I really wanted to like this story a lot more than I did. The premise is intriguing, but the story’s development is ultimately predictable and disappointing. It’s like the author got distracted by the shiny of creating a Big Twist and completely lost sight of the other, more truly poignant elements of the plot. Just exploring Tin Win’s changing place in his home community and within his own family, for example, would have been an interesting story in its own right. But no, Sendker decided to waste all of his energy on the “love story” instead.

Love story? Gah. I won’t even go there. I will say only that I thought it was a total failure as a love story and I have to worry about anybody who thinks otherwise. (Which is apparently a lot of people, based on other reviews of this book. ::smh::)

Of course, much of what I think would make for more interesting reading could not be included becuase of the author’s choice of narrative device. That felt very gimmicky to me, as did the whole “hearing heartbeats” thing. I got zero feels out of that, which just makes me that much more disgusted with myself that I allowed myself to be moved to tears by such a mediocre and superficial tale.

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Review: Timebound

Timebound
Timebound by Rysa Walker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #31 for 2014

I was tempted to give this book 5 stars because so much attention to detail was evident without being obtrusive, and Walker seems to have given some serious thought to working out the intricacies of her time-travel plot. I am also very intrigued and heartened by the whole Rand angle. It seems to have a lot to do with Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and the direction Walker is headed makes me want to read more in this series.

However, there are aspects that lose the book a star. For starters, the young heroine, Kate, is so incredibly trusting and naive that it is a miracle she has survived to see her teen years, let alone the events of this story. Then the weird love triangle is…well, it’s weird. And yes, I realize this is a teen romance book and some hormone-induced gushing is to be expected, and yes, I am grateful that this was not on the order of the gushing in Twilight, but seriously? It was still quite annoying and elicited from me many eyerolls. I have to remind myself, though, that I am not the intended audience for this book, and I still managed to enjoy this book quite a bit.

I think a lot of adults would not have the patience for this book’s more teen-oriented characteristics, but I would recommend this to any teen with an interest in history and/or time travel. I also suspect the series might be good reading for any misguided teen in danger of becoming an Ayn Rand fan.

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Review: The Chocolate Bear Burglary

The Chocolate Bear Burglary
The Chocolate Bear Burglary by JoAnna Carl

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #29 for 2014

I was pretty meh about this book. The protagonist was somewhat annoying, most of the other characters were kind of flat, and the whole scenario felt forced and gimmicky. I also figured out who the murderer was as soon as the character set foot on the page. Still, I didn’t really dislike the book. If I didn’t already have so much to read, I might be tempted to read more in the series to see if it gets interesting.

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Review: Ascension

Ascension
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12730343

Book #28 for 2014

So, it’s like the author binge-watched Firefly, Star Wars, and Farscape, then channelled the imaginary love-child of JD Robb and Diana Gabaldon. Which, according to lots of the other reviews of this book, is not necessarily a bad thing. If that is the sort of thing you are looking for, congratulations, you have found a winner of a book. (Except I would warn you that this does not have the excruciating attention to detail that one would expect from any mythical offspring of Gabaldon.) I can’t say, however, that I was favorably impressed.

This was a book club selection, and it served to remind me of why I love book clubs and how useful the discussions can be. I went into this discussion pretty much hating this book. Quite a few of the others shared my disdain, but even though we spent much of the discussion eviscerating the book, I was reminded of some aspects of the book that I did like. Koyanagi does have a knack for sensuality in her prose, and this also shows up as some impressive imagery. I also applaud Koyanagi for writing about the kinds of people who exist in her own world, even though that world is unfamiliar to many.

I just wish that Koyanagi’s queer, disabled woman of color in a non-traditional field had been more competent and mature, or had at least grown significantly over the course of the novel. I also found the romantic polyamory subplots distracting as well as predictable and unrealistic. I confess, I have never been involved in a poly relationship, but friends who have done so tell me that I am correct in thinking that clear lines of communication are key for maintaining a positive, mature polyamorous group. And these characters are an epic failure in that regard.

There is a lot of great potential in this book, but I felt like none of it gelled properly. I hope this author keeps at it, though. I can’t say I am terribly interested in reading more in this Tangled Axon series, but if Koyanagi writes something else entirely, I am likely to give it a try.

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Review: Betsy-Tacy

Betsy-Tacy,
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #3 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criteria Met:
-A book based on a true story
-A book you can finish in one day
-A book by an author you have never read before

This was a charming little book, sweet without being insipid. It felt like sort of a cross between “Little House on the Prairie” and the Trixie Belden books but without the mystery angle. It also put me in mind of my friendship with my neighbor Carrie, even though we were in middle school in the early 1980s, not grade school in the late 1890s. This was the 60th-anniversary edition, so it also contained a section on the author’s life and how the Betsy-Tacy stories were based on her own friendship with a neighbor girl.

I would recommend this particularly for young girls who like to read about other girls in historical stories, but other kids might be surprised to find they would enjoy it as well.

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