I always enjoy writing up my thoughts about the books I've read, but I never seem to stick to it long-term. So here goes try number three at making it stick.Ladies of Lantern Street #1: Crystal Gardens - Amanda Quick
I wanted so much to like this book but in the end there were too many things that left me rolling my eyes for it to be more than okay. All of the dialogue, but especially Evangeline's, came across as affected and unrealistic to my ear. The constant use of the twee word "psychical" didn't help either. The romance between Evangeline and Lucas lacked any sort of tension. Lucas very quickly realized that he wanted to marry her and then that was it for his romantic plot arc, while Evangeline said the relationship would end after the danger was taken care of but then acted exactly the opposite. There were several plot points that just felt like they were never explored as fully as they should have been so that when they got wrapped up at the end, it all felt too neat - the final confrontation between Lucas and Judith, the confrontation with the murderer that included six pages of dialogue explaining the murderer's motivation, and the really cute secondary romance that got one scene devoted to it before the couple ended up happily engaged offscreen. The last was especially disappointing because I would have liked to see more of them. They seemed surprisingly well-suited to each other, but all I got was that one scene.
There were good bits - the different suspense plots were interesting, and I always enjoy seeing family and friends work together and help each other - but so many things threw me out of the story that I couldn't immerse myself like I normally do and that significantly decreased my enjoyment of this book. I really did want to like it too.Flight v3 - Kazu Kibuishi, ed.
This is a collection of short comics by about twenty-five different artists spanning a variety of styles, genres, and emotional tones. I was very surprised by the quality in this volume; I thoroughly enjoyed around two-thirds of the stories. The other third mostly had the problem (for me) of me either not understanding the comic or finding it a bit dark for my taste. And there was one comic I vehemently disagreed with. (I don't care what a stranger looks like, if I find them with their hand inside my purse, I am assuming they're stealing from me
and I really don't think I should be faulted for that.) I would definitely enjoy reading the other Flight
collections.Hereville v1: How Mirka Got Her Sword - Barry Deutsch
I originally read the 57-page webcomic version of this (that has since disappeared off the internet) and enjoyed it so much that I knew I wanted to get it in dead tree form as well, especially since the book was over twice as long. I have a feeling that one can read the book's subtitle ("Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl") and pretty much know whether this is the sort of thing one wants to read or not. I loved everything about it: the art, Mirka and her stubbornness, her family, the look at Orthodox Judaism (something I know little about), and especially
how Mirka finally won her sword.Sector General #1-3: Beginning Operations - James White
This is an omnibus of the first three Sector General novels, and after reading this I am eager to get the rest of the series. The Sector General novels are science fiction stories set aboard a gigantic hospital in space. The first novel was a bunch of independent short stories while the other two were more of a novel being presented through linked short stories. I loved the imagination shown in the different types of aliens and in the mysteries presented by their symptoms. I never once felt that these medical mysteries were getting repetitive or predictable.
The only annoying bits were a fair amount of repetitive descriptions (Everything was originally written as short stories that got independently published and then gathered into novel-length format. So explanations regarding the hospital in general and some of its tech and the more common aliens just gets repeated nearly word-for-word.) and a really jarring bit of sexism. The first short story written was written in the 1950s, and I know a lot of older science fiction really doesn't do too well on the "female characters are people too" test. Sector General surprised me by feeling like it could have been written within the last twenty years. Until I got to the bit where Earth-human females can't use this one particular bit of important technology because our brains are too emotional and using it would drive us insane. So there's like five hundred pages of awesome alien medical mysteries, twenty pages of repeated descriptions, and one page of sexist crap.
I dealt with it by just ignoring that one page, but other people's mileage may vary.Life Behind the Mask: Memoir of a Youth Baseball Umpire - Michael Schafer
I'm not sure why LibraryThing matched me with this book (I don't have many sports-related books or memoirs in my library.), but I'm really glad it did. I took my time reading it, enjoying it leisurely, and letting the author's love for the game sink in. The author explains many of baseball's more complicated rules and uses those rules as an excuse to tell stories about some of the more memorable games he's umpired for. I'm only a casual baseball fan, but I never had problems understanding the author's explanations. I came away from this book with a greater appreciation of the game of baseball as well as a greater understanding of the game.
*I won a copy of this through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.