Book Review: A is for Alibi ☆☆☆

41txHpdA8QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I’m not sure how to fairly review this book as I haven’t really read any P.I./mystery novels since I was a kid reading the Hardy Boys. Well, besides the first two books in the Dresden Files, but those are perhaps more Urban Fantasy. Because of my lack of familiarity with the genre I found myself sizing up both the book, and the genre at the same time while reading. Which isn’t really fair to either, but there it is. I’m reserving my judgement of the genre until I’ve at least read a few more authors in it.

A is for Alibi is the first book in a series by Sue Grafton. It is a pretty long, and popular series so I thought it would be a good place to reenter the genre. At just over 200 pages it was short, and easy to read. The pacing was fast throughout.

Overall I have mixed feelings with it. While I liked the book well enough I want to say that it  lacked a certain substance, but then that might be the genre. It might just be the fantasy reader in me used to a certain amount of world, and character building over a longer novel.

I was also slightly disappointed by the final twist being so obvious, but then it was written in 1982. That was before Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, Sixth Sense etc which, for myself, at least taught me to see the easy stuff coming a mile away.

Taken as a whole I did like the book enough that I will read the second in the series at some point. The cover for A is for Alibi tells me that the next book won a couple of awards. Hopefully I’ll get to know the character better as well.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Book Review: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ☆☆☆

51496I should start out by saying I picked this for two reasons. First, I am trying to diversify my reading. As late as a few months ago 95% of my reading had been in fantasy. Maybe another 4.5% was science fiction. What can I say I know what I like. Recently I’ve been wanting to step outside these genres so I have made a new practice to read books in threes. I’ll start out by reading a fantasy/science fiction, then any book not fantasy/science fiction, and finally a classic. Not necessarily in this order.

This has been working pretty good for me. My true love will always be fantasy, and to a lesser extent science fiction, but I have enjoyed reading outside these genres as well. That being said I still struggle with most classics. I know they are the pillars on which all modern works are founded, and stand the test of time blahbliddyblah, but quite often they are a chore to read!

Which brings me to my second reason for choosing this book.. It is so short! At less than 100 pages it is really just a novella. Anyone can push through a novella, right? For many fantasy books this is basically just a prologue, and a chapter or two.

I needn’t have worried however as I found Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pleasantly easy reading. If I had to put a genre to it I would say this book is a mystery. Or it would have been back in 1886. Sadly, no matter how out of tune you are with popular culture you will have heard of this story, and know how it ends. Which is a credit to Stevenson’s work, but does take the thrill out of it for new readers.

Even without the suspense of not knowing this book was interesting. It examines the duality of good, and evil all men carry within them, but in a way that doesn’t come off preachy. Who can say what we would do if we had the perfect alibi? I found myself thinking of the situations I might allow myself to explore, and then the slippery slope that could follow. Of the, very few, classics I have read this has been the most enjoyable.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Book Review: The Reality Dysfunction ☆☆

imagesI enjoy science fiction, but I especially love space opera! Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Farscape, BSG, Andromeda, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, EVE Online etc. these are some of my favorite stories of all time which I have watched over, and over again! I have been trying to find good novels that tell these kinds of epic stories, but haven’t had much luck yet. So when I read good reviews on this I picked it up, and really wanted to like this book. Parts of it I did, but overall I was left disappointed.

Let me start with what I did like, and go from there. It’s a long book, about 1100 pages or so. I know a lot of people do not like long books like this, but being mostly a fantasy reader I quite enjoy a longer story. If it is good. Which for the most part this was. I’d say once I got past the first 400 pages or so it got really good. And of course it was full of space battles, exotic worlds, aliens, tech, an iconic ship, and roguish captain to fly it. All good stuff.

In the end two things ruined The Reality Dysfunction for me. First was the said roguish captain, and the story’s hero. It was obvious that Hamilton was going for Han Solo which I’m totally okay with. In fact I’d be a little disappointed if there wasn’t a Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds character in a space opera.

The problem for me was that instead of this he wrote James T. Kirk. And not just any Kirk, but the idea of Kirk that only he has of himself. I mean literally every female character with a name, and some without, immediately want to sleep with him when he walks into the room. Off the top of my head I can only think of two women important enough to be named that lay eyes on him, and don’t sleep with him.

If that wasn’t enough every male character seems to have, or quickly develop a full on hero worship of this young captain. At some point nearly every character seems to think to themselves that this Captain Kirk is the best shit ever. Then to top it off they make a point of telling him this shortly after thinking it. It is all just too much.

As annoying as Captain Kirk was I could have lived with it. What I couldn’t overlook was all the unnecessary rape. It seemed like in every other chapter for the first 400 pages a particular low level bad guy was raping another person. Men, women, and children. Some of it was just implied, but all of it was pointless. None of it added anything to the story. As far as I could tell this character simply loved to rape people so he did.

There are stories where these things happen, and we are forced to see the pain, and horror of this crime inflicted on another person. We see their emotional journey as they struggle to come to terms with it, and move beyond it if possible. We even see the evil lurking inside our fellow man etc. There was none of that here. The more I read the more I was disgusted. I stopped reading multiple times, and very nearly didn’t pick it back up again.

It does clear up after about 400 pages, and the story finally starts taking off now that we aren’t constantly raping people. It gets good, and becomes compelling. Then just as I tell myself I’ll pick up the next book in the series the last 100 pages begins to revert back to the first 400!

So I guess in conclusion about 600 pages of this book was good. 3 or even 4 stars. The other 500 pages not so much. I definitely won’t be reading this again. Taking the good with the bad I wouldn’t have read it the first time knowing what I do now.

My Rating: ☆☆

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ☆☆☆☆☆

91hvgvo-tlI just read The Storied of A.J. Fikry a few days ago, and I can’t think of a better book to be my first review. I found it to be an enjoyable read. The overall tone was light, and funny with some more serious, and even sad points.

It follows the life of A.J. Fikry. He is a grumpy old man who shouldn’t be quite so grumpy as he isn’t really that old. Basically a kindred spirit whom I identified with!

A.J. is an independent bookstore owner whose life isn’t in a great place having suffered a loss. Of course as these things go it is about to get even more complicated, and wonderful! I want to talk more about some of the personal developments he goes through as some, not all, mirror recent changes on my own life, but that would lead to spoilers.

I will say that pretty much every review said this was a book for book lovers, and they were absolutely correct. The book has a good story, but it’s heart and soul are the bookstore, books, and the people who read them. If you are here reading this you will love The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I highly recommend it.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Rules, and rating.

So this will be my first post on my new blog Jonathan Reads. If you are seeing this then it is likely because you are way too bored, and this was the last link in a long line of links you followed randomly to get here! You are not alone as my girlfriend, and mom both read these reviews. Actually that’s not true.. sadly it is just my favorite trio – me, myself, and I. Now that you are here however I hope my reviews are both helpful, and entertaining.

Speaking of reviews I wanted to make my first post to also be my first book review. It had a certain symmetry to it. Upon further reflection  I felt I should post my rating system beforehand to avoid what would surely be an atomic backlash as every book is sure to be someone else’s favorite.

I’ll K.I.S.S. by doing 1 to 5 stars with 1 being the lowest rating, and 5 being the highest.

5 Stars – These are my favorite books. I have likely already reread them more than once, and will do so over, and over again.

4 Stars – These are books I enjoyed. I will likely be rereading them in the future.

3 Stars – These are books I won’t reread, but I enjoyed reading them the first time.

2 Stars – I did not enjoy reading these books. I’m not saying they aren’t good books, but they aren’t my particular cup of tea. I definitely won’t be rereading them.

1 Star – I hated these books. To get just one star I feel they are poorly written, and am truly amazed they were ever published. I likely didn’t finish them, and will definitely never touch them again.

A few quick rules I have made for myself. First, I will only review books I have actually read. I will even read them to completion unless it is unbearable for me to do so. See the 1 Star explanation above. This should be obvious, but I shit you not I have seen reviews where the reviewer hadn’t.

Second, I curse. I will keep this to a minimum, but it happens. It is how I think, and how I talk.

Lastly, I will do my very best to not give any spoilers. My goal is to give fun, occasionally helpful reviews not, a full on summary. I hate it when books/movies get spoiled for me, and will not be that guy!

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