This Week, I Read… (#41)

99-the-green-mile

#99 – The Green Mile, by Stephen King

  • Read: 9/27/16 – 9/30/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

I remember the hype surrounding this serialized novel when it was released, but I’d moved on from my Stephen King period, in eighth and ninth grade when I devoured so many older King novels I honestly can’t remember which ones I read and which I didn’t, aside from Pet Sematary and later, The Stand, which by now everyone should know was one of the formative works in my history.

I also remember the hype surrounding the movie, which I never saw. Fortunately that was long enough ago that it didn’t prohibit me from picking up the complete novel when I spotted it at a library sale. (I have seen the occasional copies of the original serials, but I would never trust my luck to finding them all secondhand without resorting to used book websites, which I eventually had to do to complete my set of Dark Tower books. Which I fully intend to read by the end of next year.)

So, let’s all conclude that I’m currently in my renaissance Stephen King period, because I adored Under the Dome and now I adore The Green Mile. This book charmed the pants off me. Paul Edgecombe is one of the best first-person narrators I’ve had the pleasure of sharing headspace with recently, even if I could only hear him speaking with the voice of Tom Hanks, despite not having seen the movie. Having his face on the cover was enough.

As for the more gruesome bits, well, even when King’s not leaning hard on horror to make a plot compelling, it’s still there, and it works. There’s just enough to give it that edge, on top of the small mysteries he sets up throughout the story. Never have I been so fascinated by a mouse!

The only real issue I had with the book was a function of its original serialized format–since I was reading it in one go, I didn’t need any reminding what had happened in the previous installment, so I found the (thankfully short) sections where text was repeated unnecessary. It was like sitting through the “Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer” narration while marathoning a season. Anthony Stewart Head has a lovely voice so usually I did anyway, but it wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. It’s a minor complaint I wouldn’t have had if I’d read this as it was released, so I can still give this five stars and a solid recommendation.

100-the-princess-bride

#100 – The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

  • Read: 9/30/16 – 10/4/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

Since TPB is my favorite movie of all time and by far the movie I’ve seen most often, I’d love to be able to say the book is just as good.

For me, it wasn’t. My deep and abiding love of the film worked against me here–I’m too accustomed to its pacing to feel comfortable with the slower, richer progress of the book.

It’s not that the book is bad–far from it. But I found the “real-life” sections where Goldman was narrating as himself to be tedious, dragging on longer than I would have liked. (Though the actual asides peppered through the “abridgment” were hilarious.)

And I had to grit my teeth through the bonus of Buttercup’s Baby at the end. It felt alien, completely unlike the rest of the novel. When I reread, the book’s just going to end where the movie does, I won’t be bothering with that weirdness again.

101-a-dom-is-forever

#101 – A Dom Is Forever, by Lexi Blake

  • Read: 10/4/16 – 10/5/16
  • Provenance: Owned (ebook)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

The third book in the Masters & Mercenaries series that I picked up for free earlier in the year. (Reviews of the first two books here and here.)

This one was a disappointment and has turned me off purchasing the rest of the series. Why? Too many poorly-handled tropes in one package.

It’s a weary warrior/innocent woman pairing, which already isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s so heavy-handed here. Liam’s backstory dominates the narrative as thoroughly as he dominates Avery, a plain-Jane heroine who nearly every male character in the book a) is attracted to; b) wants to have sex with; c) is having sex with; or d) in the villian’s case, decides he’s willing to claim and rape when his evil plan comes to fruition.

Since Avery spends most of the book actively being down on herself about her looks and desirability, even after Liam takes (very) explicit pains to show her otherwise, this feels more like bad YA (cough, Twilight, cough) than actual romance.

102-crooked-kingdom

#102 – Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo

  • Read: 10/5/16 – 10/6/16
  • Provenance: Library (hardcover)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

Living up to Six of Crows was going to be a challenge, but Crooked Kingdom has carried the day.

The feels, oh, the feels. I devoured this book in just under 24 hours, because I had to know, I had to see what happened.

I had to know which ships survived and which sunk. (No spoilers here, but I was satisfied.)

I had to know how much action could be packed into one book. (Lots, as it turns out. Lots and lots and lots.)

I had to know how Kaz & Co. outsmarted everyone in the end, because I knew they would, I just couldn’t see how.

If I keep going I’ll just be gushing, but there were excellent knife fights, some serious sharpshooting, witty banter galore, and some pretty epic kisses.

So I’m a happy camper.

103-pandoras-daughter

#103 – Pandora’s Daughter, by Iris Johansen

DNF @ page 104. Yes, I know the exact page, I’ll get to why in a moment.

Here I am, at the last moment, adding a fifth book review this week when I thought I had this post all wrapped up earlier this afternoon. I set down Crooked Kingdom, talked myself out of abandoning reading for a few days because nothing was going to look good in comparison until I’d calmed down, then decided to step outside my comfort zone with the ColourMeRead challenge instead, since all I had to do was a single book in a genre I don’t usually read. Horror, I do, but thrillers? Not often.

I didn’t expect to be won over, but I went into it with an open mind.

The style put me off immediately, full of filler and filter words, stuffed with expository dialogue and informed character traits. It wasn’t just lazy writing, it was practically spoonfeeding itself to me.

But I soldiered on, because psychics. I’ve always had a weak spot for stories involving mental superpowers, and I wanted to see where this was going.

It was mentioned several times in the first hundred pages that our two protagonists, Megan and Grady, knew each other when she was 15 and he was 25. For plot reasons, she did not remember this fact when they were reunited twelve years later. Okay, fine, they knew each other and I bought the reasons why he used his own psychic ability to hide that fact for so long.

THEN ON PAGE 104 WE GET A GRADY-POV SCENE AND HE ADMITS TO SEXUAL ATTRACTION TO 15-YEAR-OLD MEGAN. I was already getting the feeling these two would be hooking up before the end of the book, but EWW NO WAY AM I TOLERATING A STORY WHICH ROMANTICIZES SEXUALIZING MINORS NOPE NOPE NOPE. Doesn’t matter that he didn’t act on it, we the readers are clearly supposed to be impressed he was carrying that torch for so long.

I’m not even going to re-donate this book back to the library for their sale room–I’m going to throw it away.

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