Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two Difficult Reads

I seem to be suffering from a summer slowdown, not only in blog posts but in reading in general. I've started a whole bunch of books lately but have not finished any. I'm furthest along with His Majesty's Dragon by Niomi Novik--which I've loved every bit as much as I thought I would--and I expect to post a review in a few days.



This is sort of a reverse review. I'm seeking your input. I've had trouble getting into two novels. If you've read either of these books, I'd to know what you thought. I've had both books for months.



In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck

I'm still interested in this book. The blurb hooked me quite nicely, but I'm having trouble getting through the opening chapters. I find the dialog a bit cryptic and I've reread sections while trying to understand what's going on. I generally enjoy knight stories so I really wanted to read this one. If you've read it, I'm past the point where Durand has his visitation by the Traveler (which I read twice just to make sure I understood) and he has left home and met up with a wandering bard named Heremund. If you read it, what did you think? I've read some reviews out there among blogs I frequent, and they appear to be mixed.






Seekers of the Chalice by Brian Cullen

I'm afraid that despite an engaging cover, this novel is not holding my attention. I cannot be interested in recovering the chalice and I don't feel any interest in Cumac, the main protagonist. An elf-girl named Fedlem has joined him, apparently in the nick of time. I'm not finding any reviews out there, outside of a couple Amazon reviews--certainly not any reviews among the blogs I frequent, or even that can be found via Google. Because it has not received much attention I was interested in reading it, but it's becoming a bit of a chore. Has anyone tried to read this? Or tried to?



I hate not finishing books, so I'll probably pick them up and try again at some point, especially if I get a recommendation here. However, I have a lot of book competing for my attention these days.



Have you tried to read any books lately, and failed?

19 comments:

Tez Miller said...

I failed with Maria Lima's Matters of the Blood. Made it to almost 50 pages before I gave up.

Have a lovely day! :-)

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Raven said...

I'm currently failing with Neuromancer, which I'd never read before. Love the world, not getting into the story.

And I'm failing with the book I'm supposed to be reading for my mystery book club which meets in slightly more than a week.

Tia Nevitt said...

I think I still have my copy of Neuromancer, which I only got halfway through.

Tez, my next door neighbor recommends that book highly.

Raven said...

A friend of mine also recommended it highly. Based on the blurb I thought I'd like it, but the part of the story I expected to find engrossing is over in the first few chapters. I didn't expect that.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

There's been a couple lately that I've quit on. I just have too many sitting in my TBR pile to waste my time on books that I'm not getting into or ones that I don't even understand what's happening.

Tia Nevitt said...

I find myself in that situation too, Angela. But I know of several books that I've been patient with and ended up loving it.

SQT said...

I'm having huge problems with this lately. I have at least half-a-dozen half read books on my pile. I don't think they're bad books, I just can't seem to get interested in anything long enough to finish it.

I'm feeling very guilty right now.

I haven't been able to read "Neuromancer" either. I've heard tons of recommendations for it but it's a tough one. I find Neal Stephenson and China Meiville tough too...

CaroleMcDonnell said...

The Times newspaper asked some critics and authors to list the books they hate. Books they can't
finish or that p*sses them off:
http://tinyurl.com/57korp

Scott Marlowe said...

Charles R. Saunders's Imaro and The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglas just didn't do it for me. I stopped around page 100 on both of them.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Uhm.... looking over the list of books left unfinished I'm getting the idea that books that fall out of the mainstream -- in genre or in cultural expectations-- (Imaro, Matters of the Blood, Neuromancer, China Mieville) are the main culprits. I'll confess that I too have that human need for something-new-but-not-too alien from my culture, genre etc.

Imaro is about a black culture so maybe white folks just thought they had seen it all before with tarzan. Maria's book has tons of racial issues that are very close to home. One has to be in a mood to get into racial issues. Neuromancer and China Mieville are just a bit out there. I think non-white readers would probably have a different list. And lovers of extreme literature would probably have yet another list assortment.

So I do totally get the inability to sit through something that is a bit far from my usual literary haunts. A friend of mine wrote a book that was so weirdly literary I could not sit through it. In all honesty, I think the book was just too big and deep for me. Plus it didn't help matters that I find it very difficult to read through high fantasy or books that deal with politics or religions I dislike or am uninterested in. And sometimes I just can't get past all the racial implications, the language, and the entire genre conventions.

We all have a point beyond which it's way too much trouble -- for whatever good or bad reason-- to go....although give me a guy weilding a long-beyond-all-reason sword and I'm in heaven and I can force myself to muddle through. -C

Raven said...

The weird parts in Neuromancer are the parts I'm liking. It's the human relationships and emotional story that aren't working for me. And those are usually the culprit when I fail with a book. If the emotional core of the book speaks to me, I don't care what race or gender the characters are or what culture or time period they come from. In fact, if they're not the same race or culture as me, that's a plus. It means I can look at the world from an unfamiliar perspective while enjoying a good read.

Graeme Flory said...

I actually enjoyed 'In the Eye of Heaven' but the writing style doesn't change for the entire book...

Tia Nevitt said...

I'm like Raven in that I really enjoy reading about other cultures. The great thing about it is the made-up cultures are usually not as far removed from our culture as are real cultures. (Sorry about the cumbersome sentence.) I'm an old anthropology fan, and I love a well-researched novel that takes place in a completely new-for-me setting.

Scott Marlowe said...

@CaroleMcDonnell Actually, with regard to Imaro, I found the culture refreshing and interesting. Same goes for the character of Imaro. It was the writing that didn't do much for me. Saunders has this annoying need to explain everything after it happens even though it was painfully obvious what had happened. I just don't have time to put up with sub-par writing.

Chris, The Book Swede said...

I've been slowing down a bit in general posts, but speeding up with reviews. Weird. I think it's come from just starting another book if I can't get into the one I tried to read.

I do go back to them later :) Eventually... Took a completely different change and started reading Pride & Prejudice...

Tia Nevitt said...

Love that novel, Chris. Are you going put up a post about it? I read a review of P&P just last week.

Chris, The Book Swede said...

I might do at some point, yes :) I'll also be getting hold of some sci-fi/fantasy themed older classics. Like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, et cetera.

I'm enjoying P&P quite a lot -- the dialogue is superb. The story drags for a bit when Mr. Darcy has temporarily left, but I'm hoping it will get over that soon :D

I intend to read more of her novels! Perhaps some of the Bronte sisters, and some Dickens, too.

Tia Nevitt said...

Ooh, you're at the point where she gets in thick with Mr. Wickham.

I love the dialog in P&P. Truly what you would call "sparking dialog."

RobB said...

RE: Keck:

I read it about a year ago and disliked more than just about anything else I read last year. I thought the protagonist was a dullard, the story plodding, and overall just a bumpy read.

The last book I didn't finish, I think, was Gail Z. Martin's The Summoner which was perhaps the most cliched thing I ever read with characters even more poorly drawn than Keck's