There's no doubt that the last few months have been exceptionally busy, putting a lot of stress and strain on the family. All that time sitting in hospitals and taking breaks by myself at the new job did, however, give me time to sample a lot of titles on my TBR list. Some worked for me, while others didn't. Timing undoubtedly had a lot to do with it, and I might have had a different reaction under different circumstances, but we work with what we have.
The following are my thoughts and impressions on those that failed to hook me or were unable to sustain my interest, but where I can see how there might be an appeal or a hook for other readers.
Rex Randall and the Jericho Secret by Vince Carter
This one was something of a literary roller coaster ride, losing and recapturing my interest at multiple points. Unfortunately, it had a weak/awkward opening that I think put me off a bit, and as much as I enjoyed aspects of it, the novelty of the concept just wasn't strong enough to carry me through those low points. The characters were fun, if a little thin, but the narrative itself was too simple, to by-the-numbers, and didn't engage me as well as I would have liked.
The Emerald Tablet by Pamela Hegarty
I really wanted to like this one, and the historical aspects kept me reading long after I would have otherwise given up, but there were just too many elements that nagged at me. The dialogue seemed rather simple, often using volume in place of emotion, and the narrative was unclear at many points, making it difficult to follow who was speaking. While the subject matter could have been strong enough for me to overlook stylistic or editing issues, however, Christa simply wasn't a strong enough protagonist to carry the weight of the tale.
Find Virgil by Frank Freudberg
As much as I enjoyed the premise, and appreciated the appeal of a man with a vendetta against the tobacco industry, the story just didn't work for me. It all felt a bit cold and clinical, and a lot of passages felt like they were padded and stretched out to create a sense of tension that wasn't there. In addition, there were a few subplots that I felt were unnecessary, and which took us too far away from Martin's ethical struggles, which is where the book really shines. Knowing that this is an expanded version of an earlier novel, entitled Gasp, I do wonder if that one might work better for me.
The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick
I gave this one a fair shot, despite some unfavorable early reviews, but I'm afraid they were bang-on. I liked the cast of characters and the cheesiness of the humor, and thought some of the action scenes were a ton of fun, but it was all to easy, too cliched. It read like an old 80's TV series where everybody has horrible aim, nobody is ever really at risk, and you know the good guys will triumph. While I loved those shows as a kid, and would probably enjoy this on the screen, I tend to look for more in terms of drama and risk in a book with which I'm going to spend a mindless hour.
Cosmosis by Rainer Rey
Ever have one of those books that you enjoy while reading, but find it harder and harder to get motivated about picking up again to continue the story? This isn't altogether a bad book, and will have as much appeal for NASA conspiracy buffs as for Da Vinci Code fans, but it just didn't sustain my interest. Cliched, melodramatic, and far too meandering for what should have been a fast-paced read, I eventually hit the point where I stopped thinking about picking it up again.