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Book reviews

October 21, 2008

I’ve fallen behind on writing reviews of what I’ve been reading on my Kindle, so I thought I’d do a little batch update (aided by the facts that I’m sitting in one of the less interesting UIST sessions and that my talk is now out of the way). The following are all books that Amazon made available free for the Kindle.

First, a pair of mystery books. In the Bleak Midwinter, by Julia Spencer-Fleming, was one of the first free books I got on the Kindle. I enjoyed the book more than I expected to (c’mon, a mystery book focusing on a cop and an Episcopal priest?), primarily because the author does a really good job with her character development (the mystery itself was actually relative easy to figure out; I had it nailed by midway through the book). I actually bought and read the rest of the books in the series (thus meeting the publisher’s goal of seeding purchases by making the first book available free) just to find out what happened with the characters.

I contrast the excellent character development in Spencer-Fleming’s book with the characters in Tess Gerritsen’s The Surgeon, who seemed like total cardboard cutouts.  It was very hard to care about their fates, and combined with the gruesomeness of the mystery itself (which seemed to be gruesome just to be gruesome), I think I’ll be avoiding Tess’s work in the future.

The last two books are both fantasy books that Tor made available free. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson was fun read, and the take on “magic” in the world was sufficiently different to be interesting. Nothing about the book was particularly annoying, but at the same time nothing was particularly compelling. The book is part of a larger series, but stands well enough on its own that you can read it without feeling any particular need to read further. I’m not sure if I’ll read further in the series or not; if I do it’ll probably be a sudden impulse (assuming Tor ever gets the rest of the books out in Kindle format) combined with a lack of anything more immediately compelling.

The last book, A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham, was more compelling, again in this case primarily because the author did a pretty good job developing the main character.  The author also has an unusual take on “magic”, but it was the interactions between the characters that really drove the story forward. By the end I was sufficiently curious about what would happen next, although the story does stand on its own, that I will likely read the next book in the series (assuming Tor gets around to making it available for the Kindle).

Next up is Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain, which has the interesting premise of a civilization similar to the Aztec’s on another world, but I must confess that I’m 1/4 of the way through and the characters aren’t really grabbing me yet.  We’ll see if the book reallly takes off a bit further on.

From → Books

  1. sahar009 permalink

    So how is reading on the Kindle? You don’t miss turning pages?

  2. Jeff permalink

    Not for regular reading. Where I miss pages is when I want to skim a book to find a particular section (e.g., when trying to check exactly what happened in a previous scene when reading a mystery). But the upsides of the Kindle (carrying lots of books with you when traveling, no more wasting paper on books, instant access to books on demand, etc.) more than outweigh that weakness.

  3. sahar009 permalink

    Really. Thanks for the heads up. Maybe I should get myself one – I do tend to read a lot. I wonder if booksellers would have a deal, i.e. if you buy the hard copy you can also have access to the electronic copy. Then things would really get interesting – at least, for me!

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