Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt [Little Shop of Stories, Hardcover, $19.82]
This was recommended at Little Shop of Stories with one of those handwritten signs by one of the employees. I always lend credence to those recommendations, as they work in a book shop, and probably read a fair number of books. I can’t remember being disappointed, and this time is no exception.
The best way to describe this novel would be eccentric and witty. The time and setting is vague… there are small towns, castles with Barons and Baronesses, trains… The author was very careful to give a sense of atmosphere without pinning it down too tightly as to specifics.
The dialogues are especially witty, and are reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse’s best.
A good, albiet short, read.
52 Book/Year Challenge
Book/Week Ratio: 2:1
Hell’s Super (Circles in Hell Book 1) by Mark Cain [Amazon, Kindle]
I have no idea why I bought this book. Maybe it was a “If you liked X, you might like this!” kind of thing on Amazon. Possibly because I like Scott Meyer, they directed me to this other whimsical, science fiction-y, self-published author.
And for some reason, I bought the whole four-book series. Possibly because it was $11 for all four. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, if they’d really wanted to screw me, they could’ve given me 5 books for $11.
A lot of the reviews on Amazon are 5 stars. I guess the author has a lot of friends.
The book is amateurish, and not particularly clever. Most of the characters are famous people, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine. There is a romance that is incredibly one dimensional. The story has no stakes, no tension. I don’t understand the protagonist’s motivations. Nothing matters in Hell, and nothing matters to the reader.
I’m guessing that Mark Cain is a pseudonym. Mark of Cain. Get it? That’s what this book is like.
Fall of the Core: Netcast Zero by Ryk Brown
On my Amazon Wish List, I had noted that this was recommended by my friend Curt on 6/20/2015. I don’t remember him recommending it… but if I wrote it, it’s probably true. I need to check with him.
This is very much a short story, and from reviews and descriptions, it seems to be a pre-quel sort of short story for a longer series. Set several hundred years from now, this is a computer virus/real virus scenario. I’m guessing the virus lays the groundwork for the rest of the series.
It was fine. There was nothing particularly striking about the book. The writing was of middling quality for a sci-fi book. Maybe I shouldn’t judge the series based on this pre-quel? Need to check with Curt on that.
The Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer [Amazon, Kindle]
I actually read this before Book Log #11 (also by Scott Meyer), and I liked it much more than the other work. This was a tight science fiction novel, which follows the “Master of Formalities”, an aid to the King and Queen of a planet that has been at war for generations. The MoFs on every world serve as diplomats of a sort, maintaining the traditions and, well, formalities of interaction between and within planetary governments.
It sounds odd, but it’s a really enjoyable premise executed quite well. Scott Meyer, in my mind, has joined the ranks of Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore in terms of providing interesting and witty books that provide some candy for the mind, with a dose of thoughtful world building.
The Authorities by Scott Meyer [Amazon, Kindle]
From the author of the webcomic Basic Instructions and the delightful Magic 2.0 series of books comes a fine… detective novel? It follows a police officer hired by a wealthy philanthropist who is assembling a private sector crime solving task force.
This was a fine novel, and like all of Scott Meyer’s stuff, it’s very witty and readable. It’s not my favorite of his, though. I feel like he’s setting up a series here, and there’s more to be developed. I guess I’ll wait to see how it continues, if it does.
The Magician’s Land By Lev Grossman
This trilogy was great. I really enjoyed the whole shebang.
I can’t put my finger on *what* exactly I liked about these books, except to say that there’s some good world building, some competent writing, and good humor. Also, some interesting and realistically flawed characters.
The Magician King by Lev Grossman [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories]
The sequel to The Magicians, this is another sharp fantasy novel. It continues to be a blend of post-graduate Harry Potter and Narnia. Couldn’t put it down.
There was one scene that was difficult to read in its darkness, and it gives me hesitation to recommend it to my almost-13 year old because of it. But… it does succeed in being seriously dark and gritty fantasy as a result.
I’ve already got the next one on hand to start. No break in continuity!
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell [Kindle, Amazon]
I love me some Sarah Vowell. She can do no wrong.
No one else tells history in such an engaging and entertaining way.
I told my kids the story of how America almost didn’t happen because of a bad production of The Barber of Seville. And the kids go, why don’t they tell those stories in history class?! And I’m like, I KNOW RIGHT?
Read all the Sarah Vowell you can.