Book Buffet of Literary Flavours

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In the last couple of weeks I’ve tasted some diverse literary flavours. Not all of them I cared for. But trying a variety made me feel good about trying a food (or book) before deciding I didn’t like it.

 

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs‘Devil Bones’ by Kathy Reichs.

This was Marmite to me. Initially off-putting, and must be ingested slowly. But after a short time I’ll start to devour it at speed. (Usually on toast, with lots of butter.)

Only one page into the book, I’d had to consult a dictionary four times. I found that exciting and embarrassing in equal measure — I like to discover new words and see how they fit in polished parlance, but I felt abashed that I had to do it four times before getting to page two. Had it continued, I might have had to balance it out with a lighter read on the side. Like, say, Spot Goes to the Park. Thankfully, it did get easier. Maybe my brain just had to warm up.

The linguistic superiority was acceptable, as it was appropriate to the academic history and mental flora of both the author and her protagonist. So it didn’t smack of some author just saying, ‘Hey, look at all the words I know.’

Children of the After: Awakening‘Children of the After: Awakening’ by Jeremy Laszlo.

This was candy floss. I don’t remember ever taking to candy floss—it tastes like deception. It seems an inviting food thing of generous portion size, but when you try to eat it, it simply disappears, and your tongue feels only the sugary grit of something that used to be there for a moment.

Almost nothing happened in this book—the first of a series. It could have redeemed itself by declaring itself only a preface, perhaps released as a free hook, but it didn’t. It calls itself a book. I’m of the opinion you can’t take the prefix of a story, separate it from all else, and call it Book One. I’m unsurprised it was self-published.

Thankfully, its blink-and-you-miss-it nature wasn’t a rude shock. I’d mentally prepared myself for elements of amateurism when I saw that the opening line of the book was indented.


‘The Techxorcist: Book One’ by Colin Barnes.

A foil-wrapped snack, appealing because of its affordability and really attractive shiny packaging. But the snack itself tastes like processed famine.

The story was an intriguing premise, but the execution was a melee of cliche and ballistic overexcitement.

Nightfall by Stephen Leather‘Nightfall’ by Stephen Leather.

A bag of M&Ms—or some similar item that I enjoy enough to eat it way too fast. I find I’ve reached the end of the packet before I’ve emotionally prepared myself for the M&M supply to stop.

I’d like to investigate this author’s work more. It seems my kind of engaging vice.

 

And I’m currently reading:

 

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian‘Cobweb Bride’ by Vera Nazarian.

This strikes me as a moist rich chocolate fudge slice with raspberry jam under the surface. The flavour is intense, and tastes how I suspect decadence is supposed to taste, but it’s so rich I’ll either take an eternity to finish it, or will simply pass the plate on.

I had a hint of what I was in for as soon as I saw her use the word ‘brocade’ on Page One. That word always makes me think of a decadent Victorian elegance that would be offended if it knew I like economic parataxis. Simple phrasing. Action over description. I felt like I’d walked into the wrong party, where I was clearly an imposter. ‘Formally coiffed hair, the colour of dark tea…’ confirmed it.

I’m unsure if I’ll finish it. But if I choose not to, it certainly won’t be because it’s badly written. I simply don’t care for rich chocolate fudge slice.

Success as an Introvert for DummiesSuccess as an Introvert for Dummies’.

I believe ‘Dummies’ can also mean ‘Pragmatists who like their non-fiction Simple and Serviceable.’

So far, I’m not much further than the Contents pages, so it’s perhaps too early to draw any conclusions. But I see the terms ‘innie’ (introvert) and ‘outie’ (extrovert) are used frequently, it already annoys me. I’ll be thinking of bellybuttons the whole time.

The Piper by Lynn Hightower‘The Piper’ by Lynn Hightower.

I’d previously tried the audiobook version of this, but couldn’t bear the narrator’s voice, which had sounded like Caroll’s toking caterpillar. (If Caroll’s toking caterpillar was a woman.) The story itself, though, sounded good enough to be worth pursuing a dead-tree edition.

So far, despite one of the main characters being a bit on the infantile end of annoying, the story’s been intriguing.

I suspect I’m reading too much self-published work, though. Critiquing books that haven’t necessarily been through a professional editing process can be a bit like grading one type of junk mail against another. I can use terms like ‘elemental hierarchy’ and ‘energy of typography’ all I like, when talking about page layout design of junk mail, but it’s still just a supermarket catalogue sticking out the letterbox. Probably scrunched up, too, from having been shoved in there without care.

I’m too cheap to buy fiction though, as I generally don’t read fiction more than once, and I can’t bring myself to delete a thing I’ve paid for, so it would just clog up my Kobo. Most—if not all—of the free ebooks I get from BookBub will be at the lower end of the artistic scale. You get what you pay for, and all that.

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(6) Comments

  • Leanne
    07 Feb 2015

    I love your writing style!

    I also won’t pay for ebook fiction. I have given up on self published, but really enjoying a load of old classics and out of copyright stuff.

    • Eve
      07 Feb 2015

      If most readers are like us, then, that would present a business difficulty for me if I wrote a novel and tried to sell it! I prefer to call myself ‘strategically frugal’ rather than ‘miserly’, but to someone trying to sell a nonessential product, it amounts to the same thing.

  • Rachel
    07 Feb 2015

    I have a bit of dead tree reading if you want a change… or borrow library stuff. Published stuff would at least have been seen by an editor.

    • Eve
      07 Feb 2015

      I think I’ll be reading more books from Overdrive, instead of BookBub freebies. There may still be self-published books among its offerings, but I expect they’d be a higher calibre. And of course, there’ll be plenty of formally published options. Unfortunately Hastings District Libraries hasn’t bought a licence for Lee Child’s latest novel, amongst their OverDrive titles, so I’ll still have to wait for a dead tree edition of that one.

  • Deborah Makarios
    07 Feb 2015

    I don’t have an e-reader, so I’m pretty much a dead-tree-only kind of bibliophile.
    I love second-hand bookshops and Book Depository – although we do have a small allowance for book-buying to keep my habit in check.
    New books I generally find at the library or ignore entirely. I don’t think your reviews have convinced me I’m missing a great deal!

    • Eve
      07 Feb 2015

      You’re not missing much from among the self-publishing sphere, no! I’ll be in for a lot of grief if I ever find myself as a new author, suddenly on the receiving end of reviews. My reviews have tended to be acerbic entertainment in themselves, rather than constructive encouragements. I imagine many a wounded author would come at me with poisoned hunting arrows if our roles were reversed.

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