Rapid Fire Book Reviews

The first month of my mini-retirement was blessed with little, if any, internet access, which means I need to catch up on the reviews for the books I read! Here goes:

Horns, by Joe Hill: 4 of 5 stars.
Dug this quite a bit – the premise of a random dude growing demon horns was explained surprisingly well and quickly, which gets you into enjoying the thrust of the book: exploring how you might solve your girlfriend’s murder if you had special powers that made people tell you their deepest, darkest secrets.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman: 2 of 5 stars.
I’d really like to like Neil Gaiman more. Loads of people love him, and the premises of his books sound interesting. Just not a huge fan of his voice, I guess. I did like this better than American Gods, which wasn’t hard, but still. The world building was the best part about this book, I really enjoyed learning about the world of the dead with Bod. I didn’t enjoy how the plot felt like a bunch of vignettes strung together, and the conflict with Jack simply bookending the plot.

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White: 5 of 5 stars.
We read this classic aloud to our kids on the road trip. An audio book, narrated by Mommy and Daddy. I hadn’t read it since I was in elementary school, and it was great to go back and remember what I loved about the story. Plus, we found an old doodle of Charlotte I’d made in the back of the book! I hadn’t realized back then how simultaneously complex and accessible language and vocabulary is. Our kids loved it and begged us to keep reading when we needed to give our voices a break.

The Walking Dead: All Out WarVolume 20 and Volume 21, by Robert Kirkman, Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rothburn: 2 out of 5 stars.
This marks the end of the Negan story arc, which for some reason everyone is clamoring for them to get to in the show. I don’t know, I think Rick’s storyline has worn out its welcome with me. I would love to see something else with a truly new character in this world, or for them to just get to the point. The last interesting thing to happen in this comic was Rick’s proposal to get an army together and begin to kill off walkers and eliminate them, now that they have numbers. That was 4 volumes ago. Instead, they encounter a group of humans more dangerous than the walkers. Again.

Some of the Best From Tor.com – 2013 Edition: 4 out of 5 stars.
A solid collection of speculative fiction from one of the biggest names in the genre. Some of the pieces, like “Wakulla Springs,” were enjoyable to read but didn’t really contain enough fantastical elements for me. I enjoyed “Equoid” by Charles Stross the most – the premise of unicorns actually being a horrible Lovecraftian monster is humorous in and of itself and Stross absolutely nailed a light-hearted tone that counter-balanced the horrific images well.

Vagabonding: 4 out of 5 stars. I likely read this book a little too late in my escape from the typical 9-5. Already past my travel epiphany, this book doesn’t have a ton of things I found tactically useful. But, if you’re new to the life-changing philosophy type books (4 Hour Workweek, etc.) then this book is probably coming at the perfect time for you.

Mesilla, by Robert James Russell: 5 out of 5 stars.
Tight little western that you can knock out in a single sitting or a weekend. All the classic elements of the western are there, filtered through Russell’s honed literary voice. Treasure and riches? Check. Grizzled gunslingers? Check. A stark landscape for the villain to chase the hero across? Check. Thoroughly enjoyed this novella.

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