This Week, I Read… (#22)

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#49 – In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead, by James Lee Burke

  • Read: 5/25/16 – 5/30/16
  • Provenance: Borrowed from family
  • Challenge: PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge
  • Task: A book recommended by a family member
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

I’m still not a mystery fan (though this is attempt #3 this year, through these challenges), but my mother is, and she handed this one to me.

I enjoyed it for its vivid imagery and incredible sense of place–I’ve been to Louisiana, but only to New Orleans, and the setting is so well-laid that I could feel the oppressive heat and hear the cicadas.

I did not, so much, enjoy the characters. The protagonist Robicheaux had a distinctive and compelling narrative style, but I might have liked him better if I hadn’t jumped into the series already in progress (this is #6.) The antagonists and minor characters felt, for the most part, like walking stereotypes.

The experience I got from this book was akin to being in a hotel and flipping channels until I struck a halfway-decent police procedural show and decided to watch it. I may not be invested in the series, or always understand what was going on because I’d missed the earlier episodes, but I was still entertained.

I would be interested, sometime, in giving the first in the series a try.

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#50 – The Book of Nightmares, by Galway Kinnell

Reading poetry, to me, is much more like listening to music than reading a novel, and I tend to regard its criticism the same way. I read this, and to the extent that anyone can understand poetry without repeated readings and extensive study, I feel like I understand it.

However, I didn’t enjoy it. This particular work didn’t resonate with me. I can recognize the skillful craftsmanship and the deeper meanings, but I don’t like it, the same way I understand Beethoven is a master but prefer Bach because his music lights my brain on fire, or I can appreciate The Rolling Stones for their vast contribution to rock ‘n’ roll, but I’d rather listen to Three Dog Night.

51 - Uncharted Territory

#51 – Uncharted Territory, by Tamsen Parker

The intent of this task is to read two books, I know, but in researching my options I wasn’t happy with my choices. I remembered a series I enjoyed reading last year (The Compass) had a prequel I had not read (books 1 and 2 form a duology, and now #3 is forthcoming but involving different characters) so I decided I’d pick it up, since I gave both #1 and #2 4-star ratings.

But this. This.

The blurb states there’s no happy ending, and if you’ve read the first two books, you know why. Readers are warned about the intense psychological warfare, but promised plenty of steamy scenes to balance it.

This book was not as-advertised. Those “steamy” scenes were short, few and far between, and not all that spicy, compared to the earlier books.

Worse than that, the plot was 75% familiar from India’s recounting of her history during the course of the earlier books. Yes, we know a lot of what’s happened to her, and leaving specific plot points out that she’s mentioned would feel odd–but there’s almost nothing new. In some cases, entire passages are lifted from the previous books nearly word-for-word: India tells, and then re-tells, the story of her scar to two different people, years apart, and yet, my eyes glazed over reading it here, because she told it in the exact same way.

It’s lazy, and I feel cheated.

If you like BDSM romances with strong characterization, I will still recommend Personal Geography and Intimate Geography, but do not bother with this one.

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