The Book Stack #10

jumbled books

Eleven more books for your reading stack!

My Year of Meats: A Novel by Ruth Ozeki (1999)

An amusingly comic look at a weird combination of the world of meat production, Japanese television culture, and family life. I’m not even sure how to go beyond that in describing it, other than to say that it touches on so many cultural tropes, so brilliantly, that I had trouble putting the book down. We have traditional Japanese men and women, we have modern Japanese-American men and women, we have non-Japanese, “wholesome, middle American” men and women, and they all combine into a ground together amazing whole.

Fair warning, you may come out of the book never wanting to eat meat again – after all, to paraphrase a dictum, you don’t really want to watch sausage being made. ☆☆☆☆☆

Malevolent (Cases of Lieutenant Kane Series Book 1)
Requite (Cases of Lieutenant Kane Series Book 2)
by E.H. Reinhard (2014, 2016)

I thought it was really well written, engaging. It’s very dark. In fact, numerous people seem to have given it negative ratings because it gets a bit graphic in the details of how the serial killer does stuff, but I’m not all that squeamish about medical/anatomical stuff, so I didn’t find it off-putting. In fact, it made it more real, rather than glossing over it. I also thought that the police side of things was well handled and felt more realistic, with a mix of plodding detective work, noticing small clues, a lucky break or two, etc. Looking forward to heading into the next books in the series. ☆☆☆☆

Like the first, I thought the second book was really well written and completely engrossing. I read through it in about two hours. Basically, the same review as the first book. ☆☆☆☆

The 56th Man (An Ari Ciminon Novel Book 1)
The Godless One (An Ari Ciminon Novel Book 2)
by J. Clayton Rogers (2009, 2013)

I’m intrigued, plain and simple. I love detective and mystery and police procedural novels, they’re among my favorites. And I’ve read many a foreign version, which are often particularly interesting simply because of the cultural differences and getting a sense of those through the eyes of a protagonist operating in the midst of their own culture, and one I don’t know from personal experience. Here, we get that viewpoint, in this case of a former Iraqi military and police officer, now working for the U.S. governemnt, and plunked down in the middle of a world that I’m already familiar with. It adds the dimension of our sleuth not just having to solve a crime, but do it within an environment that’s as foreign to him as he is to us. Looking forward to the next volume. ☆☆☆☆

Following on really liking the first volume of this series I was looking forward to another mystery/police procedural in the same vein as I headed into the second book. While the characters remain, instead this volume heads into the world of Middle Eastern politics and personal revenge on the part of the protagonist. And, while still well written and compelling, it’s a story that comes across as a bit unbelievable. ☆☆☆☆

vN: The First Machine Dynasty
iD: The Second Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby (2012, 2013)

The idea of artificial life forms, be they machine intelligence, androids, robots, petri dish grown clones, or what-have-you, often makes for an interesting sci-fi premise and story. At the same time, usually with other than brief glimpses into the thoughts or subroutines of the entity in question, the stories are almost always told from the perspective of a third person, usually human. I imagine that’s because it’s easier to approach the genre from there – how do we, humans, deal with, interact with, etc., etc. This book flips that around and approaches the entire story from the point of view of one “vN”, as she comes to grips with, in essence, her “coming of age” in a still dominantly human society. It’s well done, intriguing, and in the opposite of what I normally find with these sorts of stories where it occurs to me to wonder “what’s this look like from the android’s view?”, I found myself thinking, “oh wow, we’d never have come to that conclusion…”. ☆☆☆☆

Following on how much I liked book one, I was really looking forward to book two, and it didn’t disappoint. Picking up within moments of the finale of the first book, this one launches full tilt into the conflict between humans and vN, the “androids” who are essentially the other dominant species on the planet by this point. And things escalate from there, coming to yet another finale that leaves things open for another volume – which has been added to my wishlist for when it becomes available on Kindle. ☆☆☆☆

Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth Prequel)
Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth Book 1)
by Terry Goodkind (1994)

I started this series as part of working my way through a list that was published on Buzzfeed of the best series of fantasy novels out there. I’ve sort of made it my audiobook listening for while I’m working in the kitchen when I’m not overly involved in what I have to pay attention to. As such, I’ll admit, I miss some stuff here and there – and it’s an extremely long book (4 hours of audio for the prequel and 34 hours for volume one), so it took awhile to get through it. ☆☆☆☆

I really enjoy the world that Goodkind has designed here, and the interaction of the various factions. I also like that while the book is a part of a series, and I’m looking forward to the rest, it’s a self contained story arc. At the least, while there are things left open to develop in the future, the main thrust of volume 1, the battle between our protagonist, a “Seeker”, Richard Cypher, and the antagonist, a sort of dark lord, Darken Rahl, actually comes to a quite satisfying conclusion. And in the prequel, we are introduced to some of the key characters and the events which start them down the path that begins in book one. ☆☆☆☆

Pandora by Anne Rice (2010)

I read the book that started this whole enterprise (and pretty much the whole genre of vampire stories in its modern incarnation), Interview with a Vampire, so many years ago I barely remember it. This one just popped across my reading stack as a last minute something that someone had left a paperback in a hotel room and I picked it up and started in on it. Not my favorite genre of reading, but an enjoyable and relatively quick read, so thumbs up, but not enough to grab me to run back to more of the books. ☆☆☆

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill (1892)

Generally considered the first ever “locked room mystery”, the book is less about the mystery than it is about the characters involved in the investigation. Extremely well written prose. As the readers, we’re afforded little in the way of detail – we’re not party to the investigation itself, we don’t get to see any clues, we aren’t privy to any interviews or depositions, such as they may have been at the time (this book was published in 1892, London). Instead, we get to listen in to the thoughts and occasionally the conversations, of the various witnesses and one of the principal investigators, who is outside the police force. As such, most of the enjoyment of the book comes from the intricacies of their observations and musings. The end result may or may not be a surprise, it depends on how close attention you’re paying to those various inner monologues, but it’s not the result that matters in the last pages anyway. ☆☆☆☆


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