Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to say...now I can use this structure to say what I think is the most important idea I took away from the read and not try to dig for more.
Think about using it yourselves!
FEBRUARY 2022'S BURGOINES & PEARL RULES live here.
JANUARY 2O22'S BURGOINES & PEARL RULES live here.
A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay
Rating: 3* of five
The Publisher Says: When Cal Weaver stops at a red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenage girl trying to hitch a ride - even when she starts tapping on his window. But as soon as he realises she's one of his son's classmates, he knows he can't really leave her, alone, on the street.
But nothing prepares him for the consequences of trying to help her out. The next morning he's gone from Good Samaritan to Murder Suspect, and with one girl dead and another missing, he's suddenly at the centre of a deadly puzzle that reaches right to the heart of the town - from its bullying police force to its strangely furtive mayor - and finally to one family's shocking secret.
LIBRARY CHECK-OUT. USE THE LIBRARY, FOLKS! OUR PATRONAGE IS THEIR LIFE'S BLOOD.
My Review: Not a bad read, though there's a serious TSTL issue running through the whole read...from the get-go, the teen girl who's murdered has no cellphone in the Teens? the ex-cop falls for a clear bait-and-switch? there's no instant suspicion about this particular guy's probable targeting due to what's happened to him (loss of his son to drug addiction)? The issues will either slam the cover on your read before p25/5%, or you'll think "okay, we're getting into a deeper North-by-Northwestesque entrapment plot" and have you settling the read-medium into your lap and moving on.
I'm in Camp 2.
This is very interesting from the standpoint of a reader whose interests are in psychological undercurrents and deeper reasons for evidently complex relationship problems. A family that has addiction ripping at its vitals is under stress constantly...but also causes stress far outside its immediate circle. The metaphysical gravity that Love represents is merely a feather pointing at the dark matter made up of Anger. The source of Anger in a family is always basal...but its influence is invisibly, inexorably warping the movement of every single thing the family resides among.
There's never a good answer to the question "Why?" Please believe me, the way Author Barclay reveals (most of) the "Why" we'd be just as happy not knowing. Paradoxically, there's just enough that doesn't quite add up to leave you, the reader, thinking, "...but...wait...what about...ah, heck with it." This is not my preferred ending to a thriller. It's a genre where, no matter how morally grey the situation and resolution are, Justice needs to prevail even if the law gets or remains broken (often again). So, not quite the read I signed up to experience. Get it at Amazon: non-affiliate link
ARKHANGELSK by ELIZABETH H. BONESTEEL
Rating: 3.5* of five
The Publisher Says: Head peace officer Anya Savelova believed her people, living on a hostile planet in the ice-bound city of Novayarkha, were the last of humanity.
Until the day she learned they weren't.
When a starship from an Earth thought long dead appears in orbit over her world, Anya imagines an explosion of possible futures, offering her people the freedom to transcend the limiting environment of the planet they'd thought was their last refuge. In the starship's crew, Anya finds creativity, diversity, innovation-all things the colony has had to inhibit to survive.
Seeing her world through the eyes of the starship crew makes Anya look closer at her city's inconsistencies, oddities she's always been told to ignore. But the harder she pushes at the pieces that don't fit, the more her government perceives the strangers as a threat. There are secrets in Novayarkha, hiding in plain sight, that the strangers can't possibly understand-and Anya's drive to uncover them risks shredding the fragile web holding together everything she's ever known and loved.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU.
My Review: Modestly enjoyable; the author's not aiming for brain-bending novelty, and so delivers solid, competent storytelling.
The most interesting thing is the set-up: one group of colonists leave Earth in what they imagine are its last throes only to discover, as they consolidate their hold on a new world, that the planet and the people survived. These groups are under some significant stresses. What matters is how they decide to cohabit the iceball they're going to be sharing. And then there are the wild ones who don't want to be told what to do...what to do about them now that things are even more complicated?
Briskly told, basically familiar enough in its execution, the pages turn and the planet that Earth's disease of H. sapiens has spread to sets about killing some infectious issues, I mean colonists. There are excerpts from "founding documents" and archives of Earth history. That works well to add depth and color to Author Bonesteel's tale.
I spent pleasant, if only modestly thrilling, hours learning about the Novayarkha being born as three poles of conflict settle in for a future together. Sci-fi readers will enjoy it, women who like stories about the ethical dilemmas women in power consider existential threats and decide to skate close to the winds of Decency to survive.
Available from House Panther Press here.
Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
Rating: 3* of five
The Publisher Says: In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time—from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come—Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.
Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.
LITTLE FREE LIBRARY ACQUISITION...AND BACK IT GOES, TOO.
My Review: I don't think this is as wonderful as most of y'all do. It isn't awful, certainly, though I was heading in the "two-stars-get-it-away-from-me" direction at the end of Third Chamber (p248). I left it on my TBR pile for a couple years after the white-hooded guy with the film gets irradiated.
Part Three—Haunting (The North) was, unexpectedly, a much different reading experience. It's still too long, it's way too ornately wrought for its subject matter...Robert Mulvaney and his "haven't sailed the east (British) coast unless you've grounded" shtik almost got the book put down again...but there is a simple and essential heartbeat of passion for the planet that came through to me more clearly after the hauntings began.
(No, not ghosty-ghouly hauntings.)
I won't re-read it, and I doubt I'll knock over any little kids to grab the last copy of his latest, but the book ended up feeling like time well spent. As that was not the direction I was headed for over half the read, I think it's a minor miracle I kept going long enough to find that out.
Non-affiliate link to Amazon.
Who Will Comfort Toffle? by Tove Jansson
Rating: 5* of five
The Publisher Says: A tale of Moomin Valley sees Toffle driven from his home by the frightening noises of the forest. Too shy, at first, to approach the many colourful Moomin characters he passes along the way, he gains confidence by discovering a scared and lonely Miffle who needs his help.
Toffle's quest to save Miffle from the dreadful Groke is an inspiring tale that every child (and many adults) are sure to identify with. In Scandinavia, this story by Tove Jansson is even more popular than her Moomin books; in over 40 years since it was published it has never once been out of print.
My Review: The inimitable Tove Jansson's beautiful art, her bracing message of the value to you of Helping, and it's never been out of print in 62 years. Absolutely wonderful little-kid version of "you won't know unless you try." I love Tove Jansson's art, and her words always seem to speak directly to my inner weirdo.
Now, go watch the musical version (subtitled in English and Spanish, as you prefer) from 1980. It, too, is an absolute joy.
A non-affiliate Amazon link to the hardcover edition will only set you back $16 or so.
The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream by Michael Wood
Rating: 5* of five
The Publisher Says: A single volume history of China, offering a look into the past of the global superpower and its significance today.
Michael Wood has travelled the length and breadth of China producing a magisterial new book that combines a sweeping narrative of China's story with the stories of its people, the history of its landscape and commentary from his extensive travel journals. He begins with a look at China's prehistory--the early dynasties, the origins of the Chinese state, and the roots of Chinese culture in the teachings of Confucius. He looks at particular periods and themes that are being revaluated by historians now such as The Renaissance of the Song with its brilliant scientific discoveries. He offers a revaluation of the Qing Empire in the 18th century, just before the European impact, a time when China's rich and diverse culture was at its height. Wood takes a new look at the encounter with the West, the Opium Wars, clashes with the British and the extraordinarily rich debates in the late 19th century as to which path China should take to move forward into modernity.
Finally, he brings the story up to today by giving readers a clear, current account of China post 1949 complete with a more balanced view of Mao based on newly-opened archives. In the final chapter, Wood considers the provocative question of when, if ever, China will rule the world. Michael Wood's The Story of China answers that question and is the indispensable book about the most intriguing and powerful country amassing power on the world stage today.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU.
My Review: I got a DRC just as COVID hit and, in the mishegas of having it twice and wanting to make a review commensurate with the book's quality, have so far failed to get any review at all done. It really is a terrific job of work, just as writing almost a thousand pages goes. One expects Wood to be top-flight at research, given his forty-plus years of making and presenting TV shows about history (his In Search of the Dark Ages series easily being my favorites!) but the clarity and the wit of his sentence-by-sentence storytelling really brings his anecdotes alive.
NON-AFFILIATE Amazon link will take you to your Great-on-Kindle seller...enjoy this book, build up credits to get the next for cheap!
This space is dedicated to Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50, or "the Pearl Rule" as I've always called it. After realizing five times in December 2021 alone that I'd already Pearl-Ruled a book I picked up on a whim, I realized how close my Half-heimer's is getting to the full-on article. Hence my decision to track my Pearls!
As she says:
People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my “rule of fifty,” which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books. If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.
So this space will be each month's listing of Pearl-Ruled books. Earlier Pearl-Rule posts will be linked below the current month's crop.
To my surprise, I did not Pearl Rule a single book in March 2022!