Reading Roundup 11th March 2013

March 11, 2013

It has to be said I’ve been slightly disappointed in the books I’ve read recently. I was unable to get into them for some reason.

The Blade Itself by Joe Ambercrombie I read this on recommendation by Rick Riordan, one of my favourite young adult writers. I listened to it partly in audiobook and then gave up and read it on Kindle. I don’t believe it was a fault of the narrator; he did a good job, but I just couldn’t get into it very easily. On the positive side, I see that Amazon has enabled Whispersync for Voice for purchases on the Canadian store. It worked perfectly on this book. However, they do not yet offer the price reduction for both items, but maybe that will come.

The Blade Itself is very similar to George R.R, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in that character development is more important than plot progression. That is all very well, but Ambercrombie can’t compare to the depth of characterization that Martin has reached. None of the characters grabbed me in the manner of Tyrion, Jaime or Arya. In all fairness, Martin has had five books to develop his characters, while I have only read the first one of The First Law series. What I have read though doesn’t encourage me to read the next two in the series.

I did enjoy Ambercrombie’s writing style though. I found it entertaining, amusing and very immediate. The narration in the audiobook certainly helped with that. There were some excellent points where the reader wonders how the characters are going to get out of that particular situation. The world building too, was excellent.

At other points I felt Ambercrombie created some excellent dramatic tension – then allowed it to go nowhere. An example of this is the brilliantly executed confrontation in council. The clash was beautifully set up – the betrayal was foreshadowed and the characterization of the Council made it understandable why they were totally oblivious to the danger right up to the last moment. However, this storyline never went anywhere. The characters all seemed to continue doing what they were doing before.

I gave The Blade Itself three and a half stars out of five

Frost Burned
by Patricia Briggs
This is the latest in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.

I’d felt after River Marked that Mercy’s story had come to a natural end. There were developments in the companion Alpha and Omega series that could have opened up the Mercy storyline as well, but Briggs did not take that opportunity.

The novel itself is a well-written stand alone, and from any other author I’d give it top rating. However, from an author of Briggs’ calibre it was a little disappointing. Like Martin, Briggs is particularly skilled in character development and I saw little of that in this book. I hope that in future Briggs concentrates on Alpha and Omega – there seems much more scope for development there.

I gave Frost Burned four stars out of five

Bite Me: A Memoir (Of Sorts)
by Max Thompson
I admit as a cat lover I’m a sucker for this kind of book. I’ve always enjoyed “Max’s” writing style and found it very amusing to read about life from a cat’s point of view.

This book is no exception. My only complaint is that some of the material was a rehash of content I’d read before either in the previous books or Max’s blog. This book won’t give you food for thought or change your world, but it is an amusing way to pass an hour or two.

I gave Bite Me four stars out of five

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