Reads of August 2022

Crazy for You, Jennifer Crusie
Loved this immediately. Quinn’s fury over the dog is priceless, and understandable to pet owners everywhere. The author well worked the overlapping relationships in this story. Women everywhere will get the issue the women have, and men reading this might become enlightened. Nick and Quinn are excellent characters for a romance. One word of warning: this book could contain triggering issues for abuse victims, though dealt with well toward the end. A few viewpoints may also seem outdated, but then all books are of their time.

Who Censored Roger Rabbit, Gary Wolf
When a book makes you laugh in the first few sentences, it’s a good sign, but I know not everyone feels this way. I suppose it depends how attached to the Disney film you are. The book’s different, written in a more serious tone. I have to say I liked both versions. I found the noir detective feel and ‘heard’ an occasional sentence as spoken by Bob Hoskins. This book isn’t the film. Anyone expecting that is bound to feel disappointed. Roger’s in no way as zany, but I liked the character’s development and grew extremely attached to him, though in a completely different way from the film. I can’t say more without giving away the ending, but it even plucked at the old heartstrings. I own the other three books and will read them.

The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman
A short story of a re-imagined fairy tale from one of my favourite writers brought to life with the meticulously illustrated works of Chris Riddell. I know it’s aimed at children but had to have it as part of my Gaiman collection, and it’s a beautiful book to look at and handle. I would have loved this as a child and still do as an adult.

A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
I’m one of the minority who enjoyed the John Carter film (although I believe it was better received by the public than the critics), and that made me want to read the book. In some ways, a bit of a boy’s own adventure, but then such was a lot of literature of its day. Didn’t make me dislike Tarzan any less or dislike this. I love Woola, the creature which John Carter affectionately befriends, so want my own Calot. Still, I want to want to read the series, but having heard this is the best of the novels, and with so many other books to read, I know I probably won’t. Still, I’m glad to have spent time with this one, though this type of writing will find a lesser audience in a modern world which no longer takes so kindly to old styles of writing — not a problem for me as I grew up reading classics from childhood. Considering when works such as this were written, it shows the fantastic inspirational imagination of an author ahead of his time.

Cold Fire, Dean Koontz
Cold Fire feels like an unfortunately overlook book, rarely mentioned and possibly not as remembered as many of his other titles. Yet it’s definitely one of his most solidly plotted books. Sure, the novel insists we suspend disbelief, but this is a supernatural thriller, so one should have a problem with that. Koontz gives us a hero who has a power working through him. Our hero calls this power God, but it may not be a benevolent one. May not be good at all. Part of this book works mainly owing to a portion of human nature that knows some humans don’t deserve to be called animals, because animals behave better. Ultimately, it addresses many questions, the two most important being, How damaged can a person be by disaster and grief? And how strong is the healing power of love?

Nothing But Blackened Teeth, Cassandra Khaw
Beautifully written. Seriously, Khaw’s narrative captures the imagination, especially for anyone with a love of true literature. However, this isn’t a novel. It’s a novella at best, so though it’s available in a hardback book, don’t think you’re getting hours of reading material. Not that it isn’t worthwhile. The narrative richly played in my head as though I were watching a film, and I can well imagine this would make an entertaining hour and a half movie. I didn’t find it all that scary, though as a horror fan, I loved what I was reading. Part of the trouble I believe is anyone not versed in Japanese mythology will find the references washing over them unless they take the time to look them up, which breaks into their enjoyment of the story. EG: Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox and references foxes in Japanese folklore which possess paranormal abilities. I honestly think an addendum related to all the various folklore in the book would have helped for trying to translate these appearances to the mind’s eye is difficult, though it’s no fault of the author, and the work still carries an underlying sense of menace and there’s no denying the fabulous elegance of this story, the wonderful choice of each word. As sublime as it is cruel.

Death Descends on Saturn Villa, M.R.C.Kasasian
The longest and most involved book of the series told from both March Middleton’s perspective, and in one section from Sidney Grice. Pleased to say I worked out the culprit, though the plot certainly kept me guessing for a long while. The most engrossing, complex plot yet. Some readers don’t like Sherlockesque ‘personal’ detective, Sidney Grice, but I find his arrogance and unpleasantness hysterical. Contrary, I’ve experienced split emotions regarding March Middleton. For an intelligent woman ahead of her time, the plots tend to rely on her making some questionable choices, forgivable only because of the time in which the author set the books. But in a surprising conclusion, she shows a different side to her nature in this novel, which gives deeper meaning to her character.

Fast Women, Jennifer Crusie
More than one romance wrapped up in a mystery. This was an excellent book with offbeat characters who have married wrongly for the wrong reasons. In that, it’s as though they’ve taken years to grow up enough to recognise true love when it comes along. Nell is an excellent main character, although the relationships circle around three women. I like all the parts of this book, but I didn’t love it as much as I feel I should and find it hard to say why. Maybe because it contains darker themes than some of her other books, and it takes a long time to find an answer to the mystery involving a lot more characters than most of her books contain. Characters from wealthy backgrounds who are terribly conniving, though they’ve met their match when they attempt to manipulate Nell. Or because I sometimes got a little frustrated with Nell and Gabe, which made me wonder if their relationship could ever work, but I liked how Nell changed. It’s still a fabulous book despite my feelings. And Crusie’s dog stars are always good for a laugh.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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