Dy's Take

July 8, 2012

The Twelfth Enchanment by David Liss

Filed under: Fantasy,Historical Fiction,Literary Locals,Mystery — Dy @ 22:48


Loved it. The language was fun–it rolled around in my head like Austen and the character’s internal dialogue felt very true to the period, especially in the earlier parts of the book. The multiples twists were fun, and I hope Liss pens more in this vein.


December 3, 2011

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

Filed under: Book Club,Foreign,Historical Fiction — Dy @ 22:02


October 22, 2011

The Nestorian Alliance by Michael Watson

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Indie Author,Mystery,Review Book — Dy @ 23:57

(81)  Jack Trader #1 (?)

Disclaimer:  A friend gave me a copy of this to review after running a charity auction for indie authors on her review blog (donate to Reading is Fundamental and move to the top of the review list!)


This had good bones.  The his/tory of the search for the Ark of Noah (as opposed the Ark of the Covenant) is not one I’m familiar with and, despite having read a fair amount of thrillers, not one I’ve read before.

The book that was hung on the good plot idea needs work, though, and perhaps the author will update it in the future 🙂

I read, particularly indie books because they are notorious for issues that a good editor could have eliminated, like the editor that I am.


  • Like I said above, not much fiction that I’ve seen dealing with Noah’s Ark – props for something new-ish
  • Nice choice of era — I haven’t read much Cold War thriller material since I read Fleming’s Bond in junior high
  • Plausible plot with plausible (mostly) bumps in the road

*****     S P O I L E R   A L E R T     *****

*****     S P O I L E R   A L E R T     *****

*****     S P O I L E R   A L E R T     *****

*****     S P O I L E R   A L E R T     *****

*****     S P O I L E R   A L E R T     *****


  • #1 – SHOW, don’t tell. This book lapsed into random exposition a lot.  Sometimes it was to give the reader info needed to follow the story (not ideal, but acceptable, especially in a first book).  All too frequently, though, it was just to give us info we didn’t need.  i.e. If you use a character worksheet when fleshing out your people, do NOT give us every scrap of information on it. I do not need to know the vital statistics (age/height/weight/hair color/eye color/occupation/hobbies) of each character as they are introduced or when they speak.
  • In particular, Petrova drove me crazy with this.  The author makes references to her crying, or to her having some personal issues with her mission, but never goes into detail or follows through with it til the end of the book.  Don’t tell me, “The Major didn’t want to hurt the old man, but her mission was paramount.*” <*not an actual quote, paraphrasing from a scene> Instead, show me her reluctance as she slowly lifts her arm, palm sweaty as she tightens her grip on the gun, raises her weapon to pistol-whip him, then slows her arm at the last second and just taps him hard enough to knock him out.  (etc etc etc)
  • Tense, not tension.  The narrative kept switching between between present and past tense, sometimes in the same paragraph.
  • Getting perspective — the story shifted from first person to third person seeming at random – if you are going to do this (and it is hard to do well) make sure you clearly define the boundary for the reader, usually by starting a new chapter when the shift occurs.
  • Action up!  For an adventure/thriller this one took way to long to get to the action in general, and in particular the action involving the MC. It’s billed as “A Jack Trader Adventure” but poor Jack doesn’t start actually adventuring til chapter 8, then a lull, and it doesn’t really pick up again til around halfway through the book.
  • Needs character. Okay, granted, character development isn’t really a strong element in adventure fiction, but some change would be nice. Knowing the characters physical specs is not the same as knowing the character.  Everyone in the book was a little flat — if Jack is going to carry a series, he needs some depth, as do his two main supporting characters.
  • Research. Outside of the geology (the author is a geologist) and the Noah’s Ark bits, research seemed lacking, in particular stuff on Cold War USSR and the geopolitical climate of the early 50’s as well as military protocol in general. The military is a significant enough presence in this book that the lack of research shows.
  • Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.  Lots of simple errors that a new reader will see where someone familiar with the material will not. Dialogue tags, in particular were problematic.  Ex:
  • Frank who was listening spoke up, ‘”Well, I think we know why they changed their minds. They were scared off… or worse.  Onan can be very convincing.” Amir said, smiling.   Say what?  Pretty sure there’s supposed to be a close quotation after ‘worse’ and an open in front of ‘Onan’ but I can’t be sure (and yes, there should be a comma after ‘Frank,’ too).

Despite the seemingly endless list above, I did like and enjoy (when the editor in my head shut up!) the book.

I admire the author’s passion for his topic and his bravery in not only actually writing his book (something many of us, me included, have not done) AND in putting his book out there for the world to see, read, and occasionally pick apart.

I really hope he doesn’t think I’m being mean. I’d like to see more from him, and I hope my review might help him see some things he needs to work on for the next one.

October 3, 2011

Pirate King by Laurie R. King

(77) Mary Russell #11

January 21, 2011

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel

Filed under: audiobook,Historical Fiction — Dy @ 12:15

(9) Earth’s Children, book 1

A friend gave me a copy of this for Christmas 2009. It’s her all-time favorite series and, knowing I read alot, she wanted to share it with me.

I tried to read the copy she gave me and got bogged down — I spent 2 months slogging through the first couple of chapters. Since Auel has a new book in the series coming out in 2011 I even spent $1.99 on a Kindle copy in hopes that I might read it if it was always in my purse. Not so much…

Finally, because I knew my reading it was important to her, she asked me every few weeks if I’d read it yet, I ordered an audio copy from the library. And finished at last (unabridged this puppy was 17 CDs. Seventeen!).

It was okay. I don’t see what all the fuss was about. There was too much of the author showing off how much incredibly detailed research she did. In my not even remotely humble opinion the same story could have been told at half the length. I enjoyed the reading (I will listen to almost any book if I don’t have to read it) .

But I had trouble reading it because the writing was, I felt, not that good.  Moments of unintentional (I hope) alliteration (“…churned up by the horde of hard-hooved bison..”) and inappropriate references (calling the cave cathedral-like in a novel about a prehistoric, largely pre-verbal culture) would jerk me out of the story.

In a moment of, “What am I gonna listen to next?” after I finished this I ordered the second book, also audio, from the library, but I’m not sure I really want to pick it up when it comes in.


August 3, 2010

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns


I slogged through read this whole book. Even though I missed the book club meeting where it was discussed.

Oh how I wish I had the hours spent reading it back so I could read something not boring with an over-emphasized regional dialect that made me want to edit my copy on the spot.

Of course that’s just me.

July 12, 2010

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig

Filed under: audiobook,ChickLit,Historical Fiction,Romance — Dy @ 12:56

(39) Pink Carnation, book 6

Definitely my favorite so far.  Penelope is the most honest, gritty of the heroines in this series to-date. She’s also on her own most of the book, making her much less dependent on series regulars.

Rumors abound that the next novel in the series will star Turnip Fitzhugh since all the first and 2nd string characters have had their happily ever after, save one.

WHEN is the book about Jane? Or are we operating on the outdated notion that she cannot be an action star and romantically involved? C’mon Ms. Willig, we wanna know!

June 14, 2010

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig

Filed under: audiobook,Historical Fiction,Romance — Dy @ 20:04

(33) Pink Carnation, book 5

June 9, 2010

God of the Hive by Laurie R. King

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery — Dy @ 17:16

( 32 ) Mary Russell, book 10

A sad, yet satisfying end to the cliffhanger in “The Language of Bees,” that revealed unsuspected depths to Holmes and, happily, Mycroft. I wonder, due to the aging of the Holmes brothers, how much longer this can go on, but I hope the books keep coming. LOVE this series.

May 22, 2010

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Series I Love — Dy @ 22:00

( 29 ) Amelia Peabody, book 18

May 8, 2010

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

Filed under: audiobook,Historical Fiction — Dy @ 21:46

( 27 ) The Pink Carnation, book 4

March 27, 2010

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig

Filed under: audiobook,Historical Fiction,Romance — Dy @ 21:24

( 20 )

March 18, 2010

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

Filed under: audiobook,Historical Fiction,Romance — Dy @ 22:56

(18) Pink Carnation, book 2

Fluffy but fun. GREAT reader.

March 12, 2010

The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery — Dy @ 13:52

( 17) a Kate Martinelli book

This was supposed to be an interwoven tale of Kate Martinelli AND Mary Russell.  Alas, not so. Russell was left out and the parts in the past were filled in by Holmes in first person and well, Holmes is Holmes and there’s a reason he was only the narrator of the stories that featured him–he’s an unsympathetic and supercilious character. King’s Holmes is less so than Doyle’s but still pretty obnoxious.

It wasn’t a bad book, just not the book the press about it led me to expect. I liked Martinelli, just not enough to read the rest of the series, I prefer Russell.

February 11, 2010

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Filed under: Book Club,Historical Fiction,LitFic — Dy @ 12:37


This was okay. Like most litfic I don’t really get what all the fuss was about. I guess I’m a genre girl. It was not a bad book, but I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time when I finished it.

What I found most surprising was getting to the end and realizing the author was a woman. She really captured a male voice, and for that I applaud the book.

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