Monday, July 25, 2011

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1)The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was abut disappointed in this one. It is the first in the Discworld series, and I have read others (they don't have to be read in order) which I really liked (notably "Guards! Guards!) So thought I'd enjoy this one as much. But, I really didn't. Mind you, it wasn't bad and it was even mildly amusing. But, "Aye, there's the rub" - it was only MILDLY amusing. It really didn't sustain it throughout. Still, I will read more in the series. For fans of Douglas Adams, if you haven't read any of the Discworld books, do so! I just don't recommend that you start with this one.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to. I loved the premise: a small Maine town is suddenly covered by an impenetrable force field and is cut off from the world. Though they can communicate via cell phone and Internet, nothing can get through the 'dome'. The town is forced to survive on it's own, as the government tries to figure out what happened and how to break through. This is a classic "microcosm of society" story - how will the town's citizens cope, isolated fro the rest of the world? And, much like "The Lord of the Flies", it ain't a pretty picture.

And I guess that's why I didn't enjoy reading it - the bad guys were SO bad (and there were so many of them). It was painful to watch their machinations as they plotted to rule this new 'kingdom'. I think I'm just sensitive to this kind of behavior - as a little girl I didn't like "The Cat in the Hat" because of the bad behavior of the cat and Things 1 and 2. So, you can imagine my discomfort in reading about politically motivated murder, and rape. Just not enjoyable.

AND, the head 'bad guy' is, once again, a self-proclaimed "man of God". The stereotypical Christian hypocrite. Isn't that a WAY overused cliche? It is SO NOT original.

Of course, King is a good enough story teller that I wanted to finish the book - I wanted to find out what caused the dome and if the people got out. But even here, King resorts to an overused Sci-Fi cliche (harkening back to the original Star Trek series, even!).

So, overall, a disappointment for me, and doesn't make me want to rush out and read more King right away, either.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If I could give this book ZERO stars, I would. I wanted to like it - it had everything I like: time travel, Scotland (men in kilts!!), and light romance. And it started out with great promise, and I was enjoying it. The novel starts in post WWII Scotland, with Frank and Claire Randall enjoying a war-delayed honeymoon. While exploring a hillside, Claire touches a boulder that is part of Stonehenge-like formation and suddenly finds herself in the middle of a battle, with men on horseback. She is not sure what's going on, but eventually figures out she's in the 1700's in the middle of a war between England and Scotland. She ends up being taken in with a group of rebel Scots, including handsome young James Fraser. Through a not too far fetched series of events, she and Jamie are forced to wed. Lo, and behold, they love each other!

So far, so good. The story moved along well, and Claire's reaction to her situation seemed realistic - even falling for Jamie, despite her love for her husband. At this point in the book, she sees an opportunity to try to return to her own time, and escapes. But she is captured by the English and Jamie must come to rescue her. Here's where it all went sour for me. Because she 'endangered the clan' by her escape attempt and rescue, she is to be punished. OK, I can go with that - it's probably hstorically accurate. But her punishment is that she must be beaten, and her punisher is Jamie! Worse, once the punishment is over, she seems to accept that it was appropriate for her husband to beat her!

I realize that during that time period, husbands beating wives was seen as normal, but thisis a woman of the 20th century! This is supposed to be romantic??! I'm sorry - I just can't enjoy a 'love story' where the husband beats the wife. I don't care if it's historically accurate, it's still WRONG and NOT romantic! I tried to keep reading, and just forget it, but I couldn't. I couldn't help but think how I would feel if my husband were to beat me 'for my own good' and it makes me sick to think of it. I was unable to get past that. So I stopped reading the book. And, unless you like beatings as part of 'romance', I can't recommend this book. In fact, I think I may thow this book away. (and for those of you who know me and my love for books, you know these are harsh words)

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

Queen of KingsQueen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun read! Part love story, part historical fiction, part mythology, part monster story, all very cleverly woven together in a real page-turner. The book is loosely based on the story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra, throwing in a twist around Cleopatra's supposed suicide by asp. What if the fang marks on her neck weren't from a snake? What if she only appeared to be dead? What if Cleopatra made a pact with something evil, in order to save her country and her one true love? And what if she got a bit more than she bargained for??

I thought the author did a good job of tying together historical facts with plausible (though mythic) characters and events. It became more of a grand mythical tale (complete with a tremendous battle involving gods, goddesses, beasts, ghosts, witches and even the moon used as a weapon) than the simple vampire story I had expected. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was delighted to find out that it is the first of a planned trilogy. I will most definitely be getting the sequel!