Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Transformation by Carol Berg:
This was Book One of the "throwaway fantasy series" I bought for Beach Week. It employs many of the standard fantasy tropes like desert kingdoms and invading demons, but is far more character-centric than one might expect from reading the editorial summary (hints of Janny Wurts, but much easier to blaze through). This book works as well if read by itself.

Final Grade: A

Revelation by Carol Berg:
After finishing Book One in a day and a half, I quickly downloaded Book Two. All three were at a pleasant price point of $7.99, which is much more apt to make me buy on a whim than all the $10-$18 garbage cluttering the Kindle Store these days.

Book Two does a good job of unfolding the complexities already laid out in the original story, making the world deeper rather than broader. The only downside to Book Two was that much of the action took place in a completely separate world -- the world that was so carefully crafted in Book One was far more interesting, and the book dragged when the second world was introduced.

Final Grade: B

Restoration by Carol Berg:
Book Three had some issues, but it was still a satisfying conclusion the to series. The plot logically digs deeper into areas already hinted at previously, but the conflict lacks the punch of the previous books. The main character also spends a good chunk of time feeling sorry for himself, which I would have hoped he'd have grown out of by Book Two. All in all, this was a decent series -- easy to read, fast-paced, and well-written.

Final Grade: B-

The Wire, Season One:
Everyone always said that HBO's The Wire was great TV, but I never really had much interest in watching it -- the blurbs and summaries about cops catching drug dealers just didn't seem particularly intriguing. Having watched the first season, I can now see what all the fuss was about. It's not the plot that drives the show, it's the characters and carefully-woven political layers.

The first season is a slow burn that really makes the payoff of the last few episodes worthwhile, but it manages to be humorous and engrossing throughout. Unlike many episodes of Six Feet Under and a few of The Sopranos, I never finished an episode and felt like I had wasted an hour of my life with no forward plot motion to show for it. There is a learning curve with the street dialogue and sheer number of characters that pop up, but they're introduced and reintroduced carefully enough that you can catch on without too much worry.

Final Grade: A

Deaf man complains that nudists wouldn't offer interpreter
Itsy bitsy bikini ads for UK beach volleyball stars
By Helping a Girl Testify at a Rape Trial, a Dog Ignites a Legal Debate

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