November Mini Reviews 2014

Mini Reviews
Mini Reviews

Since I don’t always have a full page of thoughts about a book I’ve finished, I like to do a post each month where I share mini reviews of these books. This way I can still share my thoughts about them, without dedicating an entire post to, like, on paragraph. This doesn’t mean that my mini reviews are only for books I didn’t like — quite the contrary! Usually it’s books I read for book club (which I often don’t have much of an opinion about, or obligation to write a full review), or books I LOVED and therefore can’t think coherently enough about to write lots of words. Here’s what I’ve got for books I read in November.

Full Books & Audiobooks

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov4 Stars
Pale Fire is a complex little beast. First, I read the poem, which I loved. Then, I went back and read the foreword, which I found amusing. Then I reread the poem, which I still loved. And then I finally dove into the commentary, which started out as amusing and quickly made its way into whaaaaaaaat. You see, Nabokov is a master of language. He can weave the most ridiculous sentences and make you fall in love with them because they are so beautifully worded. Pale Fire proves the depth of his skill. We have a poem vivid in imagery and rich with emotion. We have a foreword and commentary, which are clearly a satire of pomposity. Woven within the commentary we have a bombastic and hard-to-believe tale of intrigue and subterfuge. And beyond all of that, we are left to contemplate just how unreliable our narrator might be. I loved it. (I daresay, the ladies in my book club probably did not love it. Hah.)

City of Heavenly Fire (Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare [Audiobook]

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare 3 Stars
Finally, the end is here! After being convinced to listen to the first three books — and then the next two books — and then the Infernal Devices series, it seemed only fitting that I should close the Cassandra Clare chapter of my life with this book. It was, in many ways, just as one would expect as another book in the series. A few things of note: I actually came to not despise Alec so much; Simon and Isabel gave me plenty of actual laugh-out-loud moments; Magnus is still my favorite; Maya is awesome. Again, Clare is really good at weaving all of these complex relationships together. This is the first time in 6 books, however, when I saw any sort of “parabatai” connection between Jace and Alec (too little, too late, imo). Also, I loved all of the cameos from Infernal Devices characters, but for anyone who hasn’t read that series yet, those parts might be a bit boring.

Hungry by H. A. Swain

Hungry by H. A. Swain Did Not Finish
Yes, unfortunately, I had to quit this book after about 110 pages. I was willing to accept the somewhat campy language with all the “Gizmos” and “EntertainArenas” and “PlugIns” and the idea that everyone just interfaces with everyone else digitally. I was even willing to suspend my disbelief far enough to keep reading through the whole notion that people in the not-very-distant future just don’t care about eating food anymore and don’t recognize what hunger is because of some magical “science.” But when it got to the point where I couldn’t tell if it was blatant satire or the story was seriously going there, I just had to close the book, look over at my husband, and say: “I can’t do this anymore.”

The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay

The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay 4 Stars
I nabbed this book on NetGalley because, hello, COLORS! This is a pretty great book if you want to know the history of how different color pigments came about in artwork over the centuries. It goes through all the different colors and discusses their origins, where they were originally used, how they were created, and how they were used in art. It also contains a LOT of pictures so you can place the colors and techniques more visually. I loved the addition of special tidbits about the various colors; factoids beyond just their uses in art. It’s also a wonderful companion to read alongside Color Song, since many of the colors mentioned in that book are explained and visualized here! The e-galley formatting was a bit troublesome for me, since it showed each (extra-wide) two-page spread at a time, but I know it’s going to be a gorgeous hardcover that I’d love to add to my shelves.

Novellas & Short Stories

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1) by Marissa Meyer

Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (The Lunar Chronicles #3.1) by Marissa Meyer4 Stars
I had been coveting this little short story ever since I discovered that it was an exclusive bonus to the Cress hardcovers being sold in Target (alas, I pre-ordered my copy from a local indie shop, so I didn’t get it). I was absolutely delighted to discover that Marissa Meyer included it in her latest email newsletter, so I devoured it immediately! It’s pretty much everything I expected from a story about Thorne’s past, and it endeared me even further to this swindling little swashbuckler. I love that it shows so many hints about his faults as well as his weaknesses and the ways in which he’s not quite so devious, and I would have eagerly read much, much more!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Read 6 comments

  1. Pale Fire! I agree that the poem is amazing, and the whole narrative device of the commentary telling an (almost) unrelated story, the unreliable narrator, and all the mystery and build-up… in a lot of ways those things reminded me of Lolita. I loved it. (Though I read it on my e-reader, and flipping between the poem and the commentary was really difficult. I think I’ll buy a physical copy so that when I inevitably re-read it-I’m sure there is a lot I missed on the first read-I can reference the poem more easily.

    • You’re a better reader than I. I totally did NOT flip back and forth between the poem and the commentary (only occasionally). This is definitely a book I would reread, though! It’s really a shame that NOBODY in my book club liked or really understood this book. Most of them got hung up on the poem and how “confusing” it was, which just boggles my mind. Sigh…

Leave a Reply