Dreads & the Other

Tobias Bucknell, a Caribbean-born SF&F author, talks about why he doesn’t wear dreads.


Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Warning: this review is full of spoilers.

I just couldn’t resist the premise of this book: a boarding school for the descendants of the Greek gods. I’m a sucker for books that take place in schools and particularly boarding. And come on! Greek gods! How cool is that?

Phoebe is an interesting character for YA. We often see shy, bookish protags (probably because that was what most authors were like), but Phoebe is a B student, doesn’t love to read, and her major interest is running. This book passes the Bechdel test in spades, with Phoebe’s three main female friends. Phoebe’s mom comes back from a family reunion in Greece with a fiance and a surprise move to a tiny Greek island just in time for her senior year.

There were a ton of things I liked about the book, but in the end, I didn’t quite connect with Phoebe. Her voice was a little adult at times and there were character inconsistencies that were hard for me to ignore. And the premise wasn’t executed as well as I wished. The students pretty much could just do “whatever” and the issue was only one of control. But then some people seemed to have specialized powers, so that was a little… The whole thing just seemed not terribly thought out.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who was excited by the premise or who was in the mood for a teen book with a pretty satisfying romance and a different kind of main character.

Gender and Awards

Just a link tonight: “Same Old Story: Best-Books Lists Snub Women Writers

“But, incredulous, again and again, I watched as we pushed aside works that everyone acknowledged were more finely wrought, were, in fact, competently wrought, for books that had shot high but fallen short. And every time the book that won was a man’s.

“I just want to say,” I said as the meeting closed, “that we have sat here and consistently called books by women small and books by men large, by no quantifiable metric, and we are giving awards to books I think are actually kind of amateur and sloppy compared to others, and I think it’s disgusting.” (I wasn’t built for the board room.) “But we can’t be doing it because we’re sexist,” an estimable colleague replied huffily. “After all, we’re both men and women here.”

But that’s the problem with sexism. It doesn’t happen because people — male or female — think women suck. It happens for the same reason a sommelier always pours a little more in a man’s wine glass (check it!), or that that big, hearty man in the suit seems like he’d be a better manager. It’s not that women shouldn’t be up for the big awards. It’s just that when it comes down to the wire, we just kinda feel like men . . . I don’t know . . . deserve them.”

A couple of short reviews

I read two romance-y books yesterday, in what seems to be a developing pattern of genre rotation, but I digress.

The first was Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. This one can’t be properly called a romance, as the emphasis was on Becca’s growth as a character and not her relationship with a certain man. I liked the book. While I am almost nothing like Becca and many of her quirks annoyed the heck out of me, I still sympathized with her and was cheering at the end as she came to her own. On the other hand, I was happy enough with the ending that I don’t want to read any of the other books. I know that Becca must, in the later books, revert to her old self in order to create interesting tension and I just don’t want to read it! Because this is a shortie review, I’ll give it a rating: 3.5/5

The second was a real romance, The Courtesan’s Daughter by Claudia Dain. This is not Jane Austen’s Regency England. Lady Sophia Dalby, an ex-courtesan, is trying to get her daughter, Lady Caroline Dalby, married. And she does it through an intense, and I mean intense, amount of manipulation. There was so much set-up for the rest of the books in the series, so many extra characters, so many viewpoints that I think it took away from the romantic plotline. Which I’m not that upset about, cause I wasn’t very fond of the hero and I’m undecided on the heroine. I will probably be reading more from this series with the hopes that I will like the other pairings better than this one! I have those high hopes because the writing was clever and the characters interesting. And the plots insane! 3/5

Is life too short part deux

My brother asked an excellent question in the comments of my last post and since I’m trying to post close to every day, I thought I would respond in a new post.

“Some say you HAVE to read a book, because it’s excellent… but DO you have to read it? If instead you keep reading other excellent books instead, and you never read that book in your life, have you actually lost anything?”

Well, you’re asking a couple of different questions there. If you just look at what you’re reading, no, you haven’t lost anything. But on the social side, you are losing out on the possibility of a shared experience and good conversation. There are some people who recommend books to me that I don’t see very often. I usually file those away in the back of my brain and it’s only a little more likely that I will pick it up than if I just saw it at the store. On the other hand, when people I see regularly and talk about books regularly give me a recommendation, I really attempt to remember it. If they shove it into my hands, I will put it in my TBR pile and the guilt will poke me for not reading it until I finally break down and read it. Which, as you know, may be a while.

I used to read three or four books at once, now it’s more like one or two. And one of those books is usually a book for school. I have, in the past, started a book, not been thrilled and kept trying to plug through it hoping that it will get better any second now. Which they usually do, especially if I have it off the recommendation of someone. But I’ve learned that it’s usually better to put that book aside, read something that I’m excited about, and then pick it up later. This provides a much more satisfying reading experience and I still eventually read the book I set aside.

The last, actually first, part of your question was a question of necessity. Do I have to read it? Of course not. I don’t have to do anything. :P But the more a person raves about a book, the more they try to give it to me, the more likely I am to take it and read it.

So what about you? (That is the plural you, and not the singular I’ve been using to answer my brother!)

Is life too short?

Booking Through Thursday is a neat site that gives a book-related prompt every Thursday for book bloggers to respond to. I’m going to try to do them occasionally in the future, starting with last week’s, which read:

“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.

That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.

Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

When I was younger I read just about every book I started to the end. In the last few years, though, as my unread book pile keeps getting larger and larger, I definitely put books down. I guess I feel not just that life is too short, but that there are too many good books! If I could read all the good books and have time left over for the bad ones, why not finish them? But I don’t even have enough time for the good ones, so why waste my time with the bad?

What about you?