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More three-star reads from 2014

December 11, 2015

Maybe I will finish reviewing 2014 books before 2016…sigh.

Marge Piercy’s collected short fiction is nothing to write home about in The Price of Lunch, Etc. Some good stories, some not-so-good. I’ve been reading more short fiction on purpose since my time in college made me appreciate the form, and I think we don’t give the short story the kind of respect it deserves. It’s tough! And Piercy, sadly, proves that.

Judith Michael’s Acts of Love is…well, I’ve mostly forgotten it. I want to say it’s about two people and their relationship or whatever, and the dude is insanely arrogant and completely put me off, but I feel that way most of the time about any romantic fiction from before the mid-1990s. Judith Michael is a husband and wife team, which I think makes it even worse, because the dude was written with dude input.

Another author who has been one-and-done for me (see above: Piercy) is Emma Donoghue. Room is a masterpiece. Her other works, not so much. Frog Music is Sarah Waters without all that talent. It’s good enough to keep you going, but that’s not really what I want from a book.

Speaking of disappointments (oh, three-stars), Patrick Ness’s The Crane Wife. I am such a fan of his Chaos Walking series. We had a patron in the other day and I recommended it to him (adult, not a teen) and he sat in the library, devouring the first book, then immediately took out the other two. The Crane Wife has that vaguely icky feel to it that happens when you read a retold fairy tale where someone extraordinary becomes someone ordinary’s wife. I wanted the book to be more subtle, but it’s not, and more…something. I can’t even tell you, it’s been so long. But I won’t reread it. I’ve read it once and I’m done. *shrug*

Thor: Season One by Matthew Sturges et al is one of those perfect three-star books: it adds nothing to the myth of Thor, but gives us a pleasing but, again, not memorable story with the character in it.

R.L. Stine’s Dangerous Girls probably got the rating of three stars in comparison to his awful Red Rain. It’s a good kid horror book, but it’s nothing special, not even for R.L. Stine. Goodreads says it’s the first book in a series or at least has a sequel, but I’m uninterested in what happens next.

My husband, for some reason, got me the fifth volume of the Dennis O’Neil Question run. I guess because it was there. I hate reading things out of order, and Riddles was no exception. When the book is focused on the ongoing story, it’s interesting. The rest of the time, it was not.

I read some first issues of comics that were interesting enough, but not enough to get me to buy the first trade: Alex + Ada by the Luna Brothers, Thief of Thieves by Robert Kirkman, and Bedlam by Nick Spencer. I actually do expect to pick up Alex  + Ada at some point, but I think it’s because the source material has been done and done, so I’m wondering how the Lunas will deal with it. Can they even give it a unique spin? The art will be worth it no matter the story, I think. The other two, I’ve completely forgotten what they are.

Yeah, even the Kirkman.

I have a very unpopular opinion: I don’t love Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as much as everyone else. I think it peaked in the second trade. The first, My Life as a Weapon, is firmly three-star, although David Aja’s art is fantastic. The “bro” thing wears itself out, but “Hawkguy” never will.

Oh hey, I already reviewed E. Paul Zehr’s Project Superhero on Goodreads, good for me: This is a book written on about a fifth grade level about an eighth grader who apparently reads comics meant for late teens and adults. Some of the superhero knowledge is wonky (Storm got her powers how?) or sanitized (Cassandra Cain’s back story), and/or full of spoilers. The scientific information and non-fiction aspects of the book work when they’re tied into Jessie’s research, but otherwise feel like digression. This book is, no pun intended, about five issue books at once, like someone decided to splice bits of After School Special-esque levels of information into one decent story. Kids will probably like this book, either if they’re already into the topic or young enough to be able to relate to 8th graders (Grade 8-ers?) who haven’t yet seemed to hit puberty, but my suggestion to teachers and librarians is to put in the research to find age-appropriate comics for the kids to read afterward.

Mary Downing Hahn’s Where I Belong is a boring name for a book that could be so much more than it is. It’s a by-the-numbers bullying/friendship/whatever kids’ book. Good for collections, bad for adults to read, because it doesn’t have that universality that good children’s books have.

Finally, I did a reread of Jennifer Crusie’s short story “Santa Baby.” You know I love Jenny Crusie like whoa, but this is probably her weakest later work. The short story thing is not her forte. I heard she’s been asked to polish it before but hasn’t had the time or energy, which is too bad. It needs…something…although it is enjoyable.

And there you go, that’s the last of the three-stars. Four stars are next!

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