by syaffolee

Very Brief Book Reviews: Part I

The books are piling up and my memory is starting to go fuzzy on plot lines and such so I’m going to give the quick and dirty for each book in about a sentence (hopefully).

Nabokov’s Blues by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates – This took me a little while to get through because it’s about a subject that I know very little about (I majored in biology, but all my classes were molecular in nature)–butterfly taxonomy. I really could care less about insect genitalia since my bias towards any sort of classification is more towards genomic comparisons rather than painstaking morphological scrutiny, but I think the authors have succeeded in making what might have been a coma-inducing subject interesting. The highlight: an action-packed account of one of Johnson’s colleagues dodging guerrillas in Central America just to bag some elusive and rare butterflies.

Best New Paranormal Romance edited by Paula Guran – As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the title of this new speculative fiction anthology garnered a bit of controversy–especially among rabid romance genre fans–because “paranormal romance” apparently means different things to different people. I’d say: disregard the title. The stories that stuck in my mind were either the funny ones (Delia Sherman’s Walpurgis Afternoon, Heather Shaw’s Single White Farmhouse, Sarah Prineas’s A Treatise on Fewmets) or the ones that had some interesting use of language (Elizabeth Bear’s Follow Me Light, Elizabeth Hand’s Calypso in Berlin). Although BNPR is probably not going to supplant my fan-ish enthusiasm for YBFH, it’s overall a promising start to a new anthology series. I’d definitely check out the next one. (Aside: Bear and Sherman’s stories also appear in the 19th edition of YBFH. I first read Hand’s story on SciFiction, a mag edited by one of the editors of YBFH.)

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz – If you haven’t noticed from my bookrolling list by now, Krentz (along with her pseudonyms Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) is pretty much the only author in which I consistently pick up her new releases (I ignore the reprints since I don’t particularly like anything that Krentz has written before 1990). I only read it for the dialogue between the main leads because it’s quirky, amusing, and sometimes self-aware. As for the plot, for some reason it reminds me a lot of Krentz’s flower trilogy she wrote under the Castle name. It’s an okay read although I think her previous contemporary novel, All Night Long, had better suspense.

Biophysical Studies of Retinal Proteins edited by Thomas Ebrey et al. – This is not so much a book as a bunch of scientific papers bound in book form. I was reading this because I was doing a bit of background research for a class presentation. Most sane people would just look up the info they needed and then return the tome back to the library, but I ended up reading the entire thing during my lunch breaks. In some ways, it is dull reading, but I found it intriguing on a historical level in how people went about dissecting the protein involved in vision processes.