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Bethany Dotson has commented on (20) products.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Telegraph Avenue

Bethany Dotson, November 30, 2012

I loved Kavalier and Clay. I loved the Yiddish Policemen's Union. Every reviewer I read about Telegraph Avenue raved (with minor reservations) about the book. I was ready to love every minute of Telegraph Avenue.

I barely finished it. Sure, Chabon is an amazing writer--his turn of phrase is fantastic, and the images he comes up with? Genius. Nobody but Chabon could write "Singletary arched an eyebrow then, after taking a look around the room, smiled a dubious but encouraging smile, the way you might smile at someone about to depress the ignition button on a homemade jetpack" or "On the spectrum of secret lairs, it fell somewhere between mad genius bent on world domination and the disco-loving scion of a minor emirate."

But at some point, I got tired of Chabon's self-indulgence in running off-topic every other paragraph to delight in his own turn of phrase. I think it was somewhere around the middle, 12-page chapter written in one huge long sentence from a bird's point of view. Or maybe it was the part that was written from Obama's point of view. Very subtle.

If you like jazz, Quentin Tarantino, and/or Nor Cal, this is probably for you. I myself was skimming by the end.
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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Bethany Dotson, November 27, 2012

As a guilty pleasure, escapist read, I LOVED Daughter of Smoke & Bone. In terms of teen fantasy trilogies, I can't believe that Laini Taylor hasn't gotten more attention that she has so far. Beautifully written, and the plot, which was unbelievably creative with twists both predictable & not, has me thinking about the story & dying to get my hands on the sequel more than a week later.

Five stars; fantastic read, highly recommended. Obviously targeted at young adult readers, I would say this is also appropriate for anyone that likes some light-hearted fantasy. Reminded me in many ways of Philip Pullman's Golden Compass trilogy.
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Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
Arguably: Essays

Bethany Dotson, November 27, 2012

I found myself having to alternate between this and Judge Judy just to restore my faith in my own legitimacy as a human being--after all, I cannot quote Orwell off the top of my head, nor say something like "In case you've all forgotten, this is how [insert some "famous" essay here] starts:". Hitchens is obviously impressed with his own intelligence, and nobody's opinions, if they disagree with his own, have any merit--yet despite these annoyances, this collection of essays is undeniably informative & interesting. Make sure you have a smartphone or laptop handy to look up all the references that he's going to throw at you, but also be prepared to reexamine your own assumptions about literature, famous figures, and historical events.

The organization of this collection is superb, and probably the best value collections I've purchased in a long time. Hitchens' writing is unmatched (which, of course, he knows), and although I'd never want to have dinner with the man, he's obviously brilliant. Five stars for writing, content, style, and everything else. The only demerit point I would give is for smugness.
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Pathfinder Trilogy #02: Ruins by Orson Scott Card
Pathfinder Trilogy #02: Ruins

Bethany Dotson, November 13, 2012

If you go on Amazon and Goodreads and look at the reviews for this book, they inevitably mention their disappointment; Orson Scott Card writes FANTASTIC first novels (Ender's Game, Pathfinder), and then--the argument goes--lets the reader down with the second installment, which "sucks."

I beg to differ. Sure, Card does write fantastic first novels--but this particular second novel isn't a flop. It may not be a gamechanger the way, say, Ender's Game was and is, but it's a good, well-written story in its own right.

The characters are well-fleshed out, the world is well-built, and Card has absolutely thought through his dialogue--some of the conversations are so convoluted regarding time-travel that I honestly gave up after a while and skimmed, but I have no doubt that he maintained the logic he started with. Best of all, Card always seems to take your assumptions and turn them four different ways until you have NO idea what to assume anymore, or who to believe; and that's the point.

I give this four stars rather than five because to me, the ending was a total letdown. I felt cheated, like Card was like "whoops, made the page count, time to end this baby and start the next volume!" And unlike the first volume, this one didn't have been searching online to preorder the sequel.

Four stars for another very likely hit from Orson Scott Card; one star off because the ending felt like Card took a shortcut & cheated.
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The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion

Bethany Dotson, November 12, 2012

It has been a long time since I've read a fantasy book this good; I can't believe it took me so long to find you!

There's not much that ISN'T fantastic in this book. The characters are wonderful, real, vulnerable--the plot had me up late to get to the end--the world-building is flawless. It reminded me, in many ways, of Sherwood Smith's "Crown Duel," along with the other comparisons already made here (Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, in some ways, Scott Lynch, Guy Gavriel Kay, and especially Tad Williams).

I put this book down after turning the last page, thought about it for a minute, and then went and ordered the second and third books in the trilogy. If you're considering purchasing this one, consider no more--just hit that Buy button!
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