What I Read in April ‘14

The thing with bloated fantasy epics is that they take a long time to read, even if the reader finds them engaging. When the reader is not such a big fan they take forever. I would have more read for this month if I had been able to force myself to keep reading Acacia. I don’t hate that book or anything, but the more I read it the less I like it. I am completely unable to abandon a book unfinished though. I have only ever found one book bad enough that I will never finish it: Battlefield Earth. Nothing else has been both as truly horrendous and as horrendously long. So it is another four book month, which is what I need to average to hit fifty for the year. I hope the damn breaks and I have a big reading month next month, but we’ll see.

 

from bossfightbooks.com

from bossfightbooks.com

Earthbound

Ken Baumann

I went in with the wrong expectations for this. I wanted a book about the game, a book that looked closely at what made the game work so well, from plot construction to battle mechanics. Something like a critical, close reading of the game. That is not what this book is. It does have some of that, but it is more the personal recollections of the author. It is as much autobiography as it is an examination of Earthbound.

Judging it for what it is, it is a good read. It is his Baumann’s memory of playing the game mixed with anecdotes of his life growing up. He does of good job of paralleling his life with the different parts of the game. The journey through Earthbound is not unlike the journey through childhood. This is supposed to be the first entry in a series of books like this, books about games from boss fight books. I hope the rest are at least this good, though I tend to prefer my books about game to be a little more about the game themselves.

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Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

Dorothy Sayers

Back with to the Wimsey mysteries. This one starts with a dead body found in Lord Peter’s gentlemen’s club. For all appearances it is a natural death, the man was very old, but there are some problems with his will. And the will of his sister, who died the same night. If she died first, her money goes to him and then to his sons. If not, it goes to her niece. So the lawyers hire Wimsey to look into it and try to find out exactly when the man died. It is soon uncovered, though, that he had died earlier and been moved to his place in the Bellona Club. It also appears that it wasn’t a natural death.

This is enjoyable as always. This one starts out innocuous, but soon turns deadly and ugly. There are plenty of suspects and nearly all of them are lying about or hiding something. Peter keeps at things with his usual attitude and persistence. Like usual with Sayers, there is more than just a mystery here, there is also some social commentary. The mystery is what keeps things moving, but it casts a quick eye on class and gender struggles. Not enough to distract from the mystery, but enough to make the reader aware of the struggles of the time. It gives the book something extra to entertain, which it certainly does.

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The Moon’s Fire Eating Daughter

John Myers Myers

Another Amazon sale title, this one picked up from a glowing recommendation from an internet acquaintance. It seems like just the sort of thing I would like. It is a romp through mythological history, with appearance from famous writers and fictional characters. In theory, it is not unlike the Jasper Fforde books I love so much. However, I didn’t like this much at all. It occasionally amused me, but mostly it frustrated me.

The Moon’s Fire Eating Daughter uses language that is often poetic and highly referential. Most of it is some historical allusion or reference. I would say that the frequent obscurity of said allusions cloud the story, but they are the story. This book only exists for those references. When they work, the book is amusing; when they don’t, it is a dreary slog. The problem is how much the reader has to bring into the book to get anything from it. I am not unknowledgeable about literature or mythology, in fact I would say that I know more than the average person, but I was lucky suss out more than half of the allusions in this story. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to reading easy material, but the reward didn’t feel worth the effort in this case.

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Cards on the Table

Agatha Christieas four other guests. During the dinner, while the guests are playing cards, someone manages to murder the host. Poirot and the police immediately start investigating, soon discovering that that the four suspects all have been suspected of murder before.

Poirot is less involved in this than he was in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. He asks question about the card game to try to learn what he can about the suspects tendencies, but the bulk of the investigation is left to the police detective. There is also a mystery novelist involved. I can’t help but feel that any time a writer puts a writer in their story that it represents them The mystery writer here tries to be helpful, but I’m not sure how much she help she is. This book lacks the complexity of the Sayers one above, but it might be the better mystery.

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