There are a few times every year when the towering pile of review titles hits the point where, no matter how I might dodge and duck, I just can't escape its quivering shadow. It stands there, looming over me, threatening to bury me under a landslide of words. It's at that point, where I know one more title will turn a wobble into a topple, that I know I need to clean house.
Unfortunately, that means taking a pass on those titles that have failed to hook me, or which haven't been able to sustain my interest. The following are my thoughts and impressions of those titles that I've had to set aside this time around . . .
The Visitors by Sally Beauman
I am an archaeology geek. It's a passion that started with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and was nurtured by everything from Clive Cussler novels to excursions with a family friend who happened to be something of an eccentric assistant professor. I picked this up really hoping for more of a focus on Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, but got too much of Lucy and her father. In addition, the story seemed a bit scattered and haphazard, without a clear plot to follow, and with a mystery that almost seems to be forgotten until an awkward conclusion. There was a lot of detail that I really enjoyed, but with a focus more on the framing device than the core story, it just couldn't hold my interest.
Published February 6th 2014 by Little, Brown
He Who Shall Remain Shameless: A Novel In Stories by David Ewald
This was a frustrating read for me, only because me enjoyment/tolerance wavered back-and-forth so wildly. There were some darker, more suspensful stories that I thought worked quite well, but then there are some lighter, satirical stories that didn't amuse me as much as I think they were meant to. That contrast in styles was rather jarring, and it kept me from settling in. There's a nice sense of history to the story, and it really feels as if Ewald did his homework, but ultimately I just found that it was taking me longer and longer to return to it after each story.
Macromere Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2011)
From a Killer's Mind by Jason Helford
This is a book I really expected to enjoy a lot more than I did, so I probably stayed with it longer than I otherwise would have, but ultimately couldn't find the drive to finish it. I loved the idea of exploring a serial killer's inner turmoil, and seeing what happens when things don't go his way. I thought his madness was brilliantly portrayed, and the grisly details were precisely what I look for in a horror novel. Where I had an issue was with the narration - it just felt a little thin, too much tell and not enough show, and it lacked somethig in terms of suspense. It's a very imaginative tale, and one that pulls no punches, but it just didn't pull me in.
Published July 29th 2013 by Jason Helford
The Four Kings by Scott Spotson
For me, this was a matter of an amazing concept, but an awkward execution. Initially, the idea of actual wizards rising to power and taking over the world as we know it seemed great, and the opening scenes are a lot of fun. As it turned out, however, contemporary politics and magical fantasy just don't mesh - especially since it felt as if Spotson himself wasn't fully committed to that mix. That narration was okay, if nothing special, but the characters were a little one-dimensional, and the dialogue often felt wooden or artificial. I think there's the core of a great story here, it just needed a little less politics and a little more character development.
Published October 22nd 2013 by Createspace