02 June 2013

Quickie Book Reviews for May 2013

Priced to Move (Shop-Til-U-Drop, No. 1) by Ginny Aiken: As a shopaholic and a longtime fan of Christian fiction, this seemed right up my alley.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a mediocre whodunit that focused more on precious stones than bargain hunting.  Since I already have the third book in the series thanks to an eBay lot I recently purchased, I will probably keep reading it; hopefully, the series will improve as time goes on.

Content Concerns: The aftermath of a murder is described, and a person is held at gunpoint.  A woman leaving her husband for another man is discussed.  The narrator/protagonist claims to be a Christian, but doesn't act that way sometimes, yet never admits to any wrong.

Score: 3/5
Mercy Kill (Star Wars: X-Wing, No. 10) by Aaron Allston: The X-Wing novels are probably only behind the Thrawn books when it comes to popular Star Wars Expanded Universe novels.  However, this late sequel completely fails to live up to its predecessors.  The writing is only average, and the story is quite hard to follow.  Fans of Lucas' space opera would do better to read pretty much anything else in the EU than this.

Content Concerns: Though I was unable to finish it, here's what I encountered while attempting to read it: About five or six profanities, various fisticuffs, as well as a scene where a guy tries to take advantage of a woman.

Score: 1/5
Decision Points by George W. Bush: Many people derided "W" during his presidency, but how much do we really know about what went on behind the scenes? Our forty-third Chief Executive draws back the curtain a bit, and exposes some urban myths about him and his associates, as well as admitting to failures, both before and during his presidency.  He also speaks of current President Barack Obama in kind terms.  If politics are your thing, or you'd like to know more about the second President Bush, you can't go wrong with this book.

Content Concerns: Profanity throughout, only a small amount of it censored.  The photos section has some women dressed in off-the-shoulder or low-cut dresses.  Drunkenness gets mentioned, although "W" describes his alcoholism as a problem.

Score: 4/5
Chloe (The Women of Ivy Manor, No. 1) by Lyn Cote: From the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression, Chloe lives through an epic time in America's history.  Unfortunately, the writing does not match up.  Fans of historical Christian fiction might like it, though they probably won't love it.

Content Concerns: An infant suffers from convulsions; people drink alcohol at a speak-easy; and that's about as problematic as it gets.

Score: 2.75/5
Mr. Monk Gets Even (Monk, No. 15) by Lee Goldberg: Lee Goldberg's final "defective detective" novel is quite the ride.  Between an old nemesis escaping, Stottlemeyer being framed as a criminal's accomplice, and the thought that Monk may actually be wrong about a murder, this one is a bit head-spinning.  As usual, Mr. Goldberg's writing is great, though I wish he would choose a different narrator for once.  There were some content problems, though; see below.

Content Concerns: The Monk books aren't usually as family-friendly as the TV series, and this one is no exception.  At least ten profanities--and one that is implied--alongside descriptions of murder scenes that are mildly creepy.  One scene even features a woman who is intentionally nude so as to trigger Monk's gymnophobia.  Smoking and drinking also gets mentioned.  Discerning readers should stick to the DVD season sets.

Score: 2.25/5
Blood Ransom (Mission Hope, No. 1) by Lisa Harris: A better-than-average page-turner about a fictional African nation, Blood Ransom throws in doses of both action and romance.  It's nothing amazing, but, those who enjoy "page-turning fiction" should find plenty to like about it.

Content Concerns: Two people are murdered, and other killings are implied.  A woman's life is threatened.

Score: 3.25/5
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson: One of the most influential and eccentric individuals in recent history, Steve Jobs has left an indelible mark on our society that will be felt for years to come.  Everyone knows him as the genius behind Apple and the main competitor of Bill Gates, but how much do you truly know about the late Mr. Jobs? Full of information about everything from his family life to his business dealings to his living situation and then some.  Though a true account, some people may be shocked by the nature of the content; see below for more.

Content Concerns: Along with mentions of drug use and illicit sex--including once where Mr. Jobs is a voyeur of sorts--profanity abounds.  F-words and s-words get quite a workout, as do "milder" expletives such as d-words, h-words, and such.  Mr. Jobs is portrayed as being a rather angry individual at times.

Score: 2.5/5
Nicolae High (Left Behind: The Kids, No. 5) by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: The four kids who have been "left behind" go back to school for the first time after the disappearances.  Not exactly as heart-pounding as the previous entries in the series, but this volume seems to imply that things are about to get crazy.

Content Concerns: Aside from the possibly offensive Rapture theology and one brief scene where a young female character is threatened by a predator, I can't think of anything that would bother anyone in this book.  The violence that was present in the prior novels is nowhere to be found here.

Score: 3.75/5
The Underground (Left Behind: The Kids, No. 6) by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: In this sixth outing, Judd, Lionel, Vicki, and Ryan produce a newspaper called The Underground so that they can spread the real story behind the mass disappearances to their classmates.  However, such material is banned by the school administration, and their newsletter could have dire consequences.

Content Concerns: The cliffhanger ending is a bit intense; that's about it.

Score: 4/5
Busted! (Left Behind: The Kids, No. 7) by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: The seventh outing picks up right where the previous one left off, and is intense and dramatic without being violent.  Still, I have a feeling that things are about to get really crazy, and I really wish the authors would quit beating around the bush and get to that point.

Content Concerns: The intensity might be a bit much for some readers.

Score: 3.5/5
Death Strike (Left Behind: The Kids, No. 8) by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: By the end of this novel, things become insanely crazy for the four kids, which hopefully means more intensity as the series goes on.  I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that the remainder of the series looks promising.

Content Concerns: The final chapter or two, which involves the death of at least one main character, might freak some kids out.

Score: 4.25/5
Winter Turns to Spring (The Four Seasons, No. 4) by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman: The last book in the series, Winter Turns to Spring paints a stark, yet seemingly realistic portrait of a marriage quickly gone wrong.  (I say "seemingly" because I've never been married, so how would I know what being that way is like?) Though the story is emotionally heavy, the great writing that was in every previous entry in the series continues here.  I did feel that the ending left me hanging, almost like the last aired episode of a soon-canceled television show; still, no series needs to go on forever.

Content Concerns: A man is a drunkard, and cheats on his wife by committing adultery and looking at pornography, though that is all vilified.  There is a car accident and a house fire, as well.  Reincarnation gets mentioned, though that is vilified as well.

Score: 3.5/5
I Brake for Yard Sales and Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, and the Occasional Dumpster by Lara Spencer: Based on the title, you might think that this book is right up my alley.  However, Ms. Spencer really talks about finding home decor and furniture at yard sales and such, whereas I usually buy entertainment.  Some of her tips ring true no matter what you shop for, and the photography is well-done...but it isn't quite what I was expecting.

Content Concerns: Some profanity/euphemisms (a d-word, "freaking") as well as a few crude expressions ("put on your big girl panties," etc.)  The author herself is shown wearing some rather short skirts, and one page has a nude--though not photorealistic--painting by Picasso.

Score: 2.5/5
The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli: As a pro-library person, I expected to like this book...but it proved to be a bit lackluster. The four stories were all fairly mediocre and mostly unrealistic. Even those who are anti-library would probably not be swayed the other way after reading this.

Content Concerns: Some mentions of graffiti and other criminal activity in the first story, and quite a bit of "TV-Y7"-style fantasy.

Score: 2.25/5
Sushi for One (Sushi Series, No. 1) by Camy Tang: Not since Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson duked it out in the absurd "comedy" Bride Wars have I experienced women acting in such an immature fashion.  Between name-calling, trying to punish a young girl for remaining single, and other inane behavior, this novel was only entertaining in a train-wreck or Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of way.  I already own the sequel, Only Uni, but I'm not even going to read it; it's going in my "get rid of" bag!

Content Concerns: The women, both young and old, act like the kind you'd expect to see on reality television than the ladies one would hope to meet at church.  True, some of the characters aren't Christians, but those who are regularly betray their faith.  Also, remaining single is vilified, and it shouldn't be (1 Corinthians 7:8).  Elsewhere, there is talk of a teenage girl getting breast implants, and various "girl things" (sports bras and such) are mentioned.  A rape and its aftermath are also discussed.  (You can tell I didn't like this, can't you?)

Score: 1.5/5 
Heart of Ice (Triple Threat, No. 3) by Lis Wiehl with April Henry: I tell you, I've been in a Lis Wiehl craze lately.  This is the third book I've read in the past two or three weeks that was written by her.  Just like the previous Triple Threat books, this one is an enthralling and intense murder mystery; only this time, there's a femme fatale that seems like the girl next door.

Content Concerns: Along with people being shot and/or killed--sometimes in graphic detail--there are details of a woman dealing with breast cancer and a crude allusion or two.

Score: 4/5
Eyes of Justice (Triple Threat, No. 4) by Lis Wiehl and April Henry: If you thought the previous Triple Threat novels were intense, wait until you read this one! When one of the three ladies of the Triple Threat is killed, the other two search for her killer...only to become targets themselves! That's about all I'll say; I would rather not give away the plot of this apparent finale in the literary quadrilogy.

Content Concerns: At least one person is murdered, and at least one other is thought to have been killed.  The descriptions of the crime scene(s) get quite lurid at times.  The (female) detectives go to a strip club, but only to find clues.  One character makes a mistake because she is drunk.

Score: 4.5/5
The Bride of Stone by Thomas Williams: Though this fantasy novel was somewhat enjoyable, it wasn't quite as epic as it could have been.  The writing could have been better, and the story moved too quickly.  Some fantasy fans would probably like it, and rightfully so, but I found it to be merely mediocre fare.

Content Concerns: A woman is mistreated by her father.  A man has an illicit affair.  Some nude statues are described in lurid detail.

Score: 2.5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment