Book Reviews: January 2016

It was a slow month, book-wise. I reread a lot of stuff, but for some reason I didn’t feel like picking up any new books. So in the end I only read two new books. Both I appreciate, but I’m not crazy about either:

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The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith:

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this series as well as the TV show adapted from it, and given that I like a detective story with a twist, I decided to give this one a go. It’s about a woman who sets up a (what else) detective agency in Botswana, where she uses her skills to solve problems from missing husbands to rebellious daughters. The characters are engaging, but since I was expecting an actual detective story, I was kind of disappointed, because it’s not a mystery book at all. It’s simply a drama about a woman who overcomes personal tragedies and does everything she can to help people. Sweet and warm and charming, but not my kind of book. 3/5

The SEA is Ours, edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng:

I first heard about this collection of Southeast Asian steampunk short stories from their Kickstarter campaign. Being a Southeast Asian and a fan (and occasional writer) of steampunk myself, I contributed to it and received a copy of the book in return. The stories are certainly interesting; they incorporate the Southeast Asian culture and history that I don’t even know about, though some are more effective than others – but this is due to the stories themselves, not because I’m not familiar with the mythology. I’m also proud to see two Vietnamese writers in it, but I can totally tell that they haven’t lived in Vietnam for a while (they’re both US-based, I think) because some of Vietnamese words they drop in the dialogue are misused, which is a shame. But, if nothing else, it’s inspired me to get back to my writing. Who knows, maybe I can submit a story to the next collection, if there is one. 3/5

I’ve been so busy and the weather has been so nasty that I missed two major end-of-the-year book sales (*sobs*), but I do have a ton of ebooks on my Kindle, so here’s to a livelier review and discussion for February!

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6 Comments on “Book Reviews: January 2016”

  1. Mike says:

    Opps! I’m totally unprepared for this discussion Salazar. Sorry! I had a busy month so I didn’t get much reading done, but I can at least lists the books that I’m reading/planning to read and will give my review of them in February.

    But before I do that, that first book you listed, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”, I read, well, listened to on audio CD, several years ago. I thought it was okay but I agree. It wasn’t much of a detective story and I was hoping for stronger characters. They weren’t bad, but is not something I think I’d want to read again. And if I recall correctly, it had sort of weird ending. Can’t remember what it was, but I do remember thinking how abrupt the story ended and it wasn’t much of a conclusion. I think if I rated it, I would have given it a 3 out of 5 too.

    So anyway, onto what I’m reading.

    Recently, I’ve come across a series of books written by Indu Sundaresan, an Indian historical fiction writer. She’s written a trilogy series called “The Taj Mahal Trilogy” and the first book (the one I’m reading currently) is called, “The Twentieth Wife”. I am liking it so far and the main character, a young girl named Mehrunnisa living in 17th century India, seems likely to be a really good and strong female character. I’m hoping for the best!

    I plan to read the next two books after I finish the first one so my next few reviews will be about this series so bear with me.

    That’s all for now. Keep reading everyone!

  2. Mike says:

    One more book I wanted to add to the discussion that I found is more for reference than it is for reading from cover to cover, but I think it’s worth noting. It’s called “Good Mail Day”, written by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler. It’s a book about how to make some pretty awesome postal mail art, that of which I have recently gotten into with one of my pen pals.
    Giving it a flip through, it gives you some pretty cool tips on how to design your own envelopes, making your letters go from ordinary to outstanding with good penmanship, and just overall good advice on how to be a better correspondent in the art of pen palling.
    Like I said, while this is not really something to read from cover to cover (unless you want to), it’s still great to reference back to and really get some great ideas on how to improve and spice up your letters or postcards to your writing pals.

  3. I’ve started A Game of Thrones (the first book), and to be honest I’m not all that impressed so far. I’ve read a lot of great fantasy and historical fiction, and while I can definitely agree that the world building here is strong and the writing is crisp, I just haven’t been sucked into the story yet. I don’t really care about anyone or anything, I don’t even hate any of the characters, it’s all just kind of meh. Maybe it will get more engrossing? I’m not sure…. I know there’s a lot of violence and adult content, but that’s not really enough to draw me into a book, I can read that anywhere!

    • Salazar says:

      Have you seen the show? I find it helpful, in the first two seasons at least, to have watched the show first and then read the books, because there are so many characters and storylines, and the show will help you keep track of them. Now though, the show has deviated so much from the books that there’s no point in it anymore.

      I know how you feel, though. I read the first three books and don’t feel any great urging in picking up the rest. I may still read them, one of these days, because the show now sucks so bad that I just want to see what it could have been, but I never really get into it, you know? I figure I’m just not that into high fantasy.


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