Author Rating: C

Author Rating: D

The Handmaid’s Tale (listened to audiobook read by Claire Danes, March 2017; not recommended)

This will be an unpopular opinion but this book is terrible. It’s boring. Twenty-five chapters in and I want to slap the main character, Offred. Just eat the fucking toast already.

I do not understand why this novel is recommended so glowingly by so many. Has anyone actually read it since they were 14, in 1985?  I don’t believe in the dull, gray world, and I have been given no reason to care about any of the characters, least of all the main character, Offred, who is as appealing as gray washwater.

It’s hard to find really good speculative fiction. This doesn’t even rise to the level of passable.   Claire Danes might be a good reader. It’s hard to say given how unremittingly dreary and uninspired this particular book is.


Author Rating: C

1876 (read 3/24/2013) Not recommended

“Gore Vidal is a great writer.” You’ve heard that, right? If the rest of his works are of this caliber, he’s highly overrated. I threw it down after getting 1/3 of the way through. Nothing happens! A guy and his widowed daughter get off a boat in New York, they stay in a fancy hotel while he looks for work as a writer. Time goes by and he gets jobs, but we never see anything happen. Every other sentence is “I’m just like Rip Van Winkle, oh, I shouldn’t say that, it’s boring.” I was hoping to learn something about American history while being entertained but I was neither entertained nor enlightened.

Author Rating: C

Where I’m Calling From (read 4/14/2013) Meh

I wanted to like this, I really did. I was supposed to like this, I really was. While I found the writing engaging, the stories left me feeling that I neither liked nor cared about any of the characters.

Author Rating: C

All The Lives He Led (read 7/27/12) Meh

I haven’t finished reading this book yet, and I’m not sure I will finish it. Pohl is yet another example of a writer who is far more popular than the quality of the writing can possibly justify. Here’s a sample paragraph:

And then when she had finished devouring her pizza, she exploratorily ran her tongue over her teeth a time or two. Unsatisfied with the result, she unwrapped a coat of ruby-red foil from something she pulled out of her bellybag and popped it in her mouth. I guess I was really enjoying watching her chew, and showing it, because she grinned and pulled out another stick of the stuff for me, this one wrapped in green foil. “Cleans your teeth,” she informed me. Maybe it did. That wasn’t why I enjoyed it so much, though. It was the taste of the gum itself, I guess, that really got my little buds tingling, fruity and flowery and, I think most of all, just a tad warmed by the flesh of Gerda Fleming.

Really? This is what passes for quality writing?

The narrator announces at the beginning of the novel that he is going to tell us about his life, but he’s not sure why or that he should. In the above paragraph, do you know what Brad Sheridan is supposed to have enjoyed? Gerda Fleming is a person you would think he would be highly suspicious of — she comes up to him out of the blue, knowing his name and background information that she shouldn’t know unless she had been talking to the dreaded Security Forces, yet he acts as though she were just some random person.

We’re at page 82 of 347, and I’m very tempted to just throw it over and start the next. The aimless wandering is really annoying. Nothing has happened except I have wasted my time watching this kid chew gum. Pohl has given me no reason whatsoever to continue with this story. He has not created characters here that operate under any pattern of discernible motivation. We’re told things but they have little to no relationship to what happens during the filler.

Nope, we’re not going to finish it. My life is simply not that long.

Author Rating: C

The Riftwar: The Messenger (read 7/24/12) Meh

This novelette published as one of five by various authors in the Legends II anthology isn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish it, but there was nothing engaging about it.

Why does there seem to be so much fantasy/science fiction that has human beings using horses for transportation and dressing like they’re living in the 15th Century yet able to build machines to provide breathable atmosphere so they can build a city on a high mountain on a planet so large they have not explored the entirety of it in 10,000 years?

This is why I won’t be bothered with Feist. To me, that’s just plain stupid. He gets a grade of C though instead of Banished, because he’s not nearly as stupid and annoying as Anne McCaffrey.

Author Rating: C

Realm of the Elderlings (read 7/24/12) Agnostic

This novelette published as one of five by various authors in the Legends II anthology isn’t so bad that I couldn’t be bothered to finish it, but I’m not sure that I could stand more than the 89 pages that contain this story. It’s fairly overwrought, and I can only tolerate so much of that kind of thing

I was a little surprised that this is the first entry here for Robin Hobb. I have a vague memory of having tried to read one of her full-length novels in the past and throwing it over as a bad job. As much as I would not go out of my way to read anything further of hers, I don’t think I would slit my wrists in despair if I were stuck on an airplane with nothing else to read. I wouldn’t want to test that theory, however.

Author Rating: C

Boo Who (read 10/1/11) Meh

It’s not the most terrible book in the world, and if you are trapped on an airplane with nothing else to read you wouldn’t necessarily be trying to open the emergency exit to escape, but with so many better reads available I threw this book aside.

This is apparently the second in a series. If this is what WaterBrook Press considers worthy of publication, I’d hate to see what they reject.

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