I saw a good variety of pacing in this batch of novels. The first promised a high-speed car chase for my mind. When it came down to reading it, there seemed to be no end to the chase. How is it possible that something so quick can go on forever? Like many car chases, we live in the thrill of the moment and never know when it will end, despite the increasing built of suspense.

With a novel, however, we know when something will end. We hold its physical entirety in our hand. What if a book is slowly paced, and its development doesn’t leave us guessing? This is where the craft of writing gets to show itself off. Can the weight of a novel, so different to another, be considered equal to the other? I suppose that depends on the personal scale of the reader.

These two books (the first two mentioned below) were the first novels of their authors. (Edit: That’s what I heard. After further research, it appears this was not Brackston’s first.) I’m glad to have explored them, but they weren’t quite right. When I reached the third book of the B authors at my library, the developmental ticks of the newly published melted away. When I opened Burton’s book, it said to me, “You’re in good hands.” At the same time, my personal scale didn’t simply shift to treat the latter book better. The story promised a slow pace with a fast, heart-thudding appeal. The paperback form helped me take in this cult type of story. It felt right, but it still wasn’t my type of story.

So which is better? Faster paced books or the ones that take their time getting to the sweet spots? Your preference is yours alone, but you must defend it wherever you can.

Let’s get on with the novels!

My star ratings:
0/4 In the words of Homer Simpson, “AAH! Burn it! Send it to Hell!”
1/4 It was bad, but I’d still recommend it to people who don’t like books.
2/4 It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough for me to want to finish it.
3/4 It was good enough for me to finish but it wasn’t fantastic.
4/4 It was fantastic!

The Genesis Key
author: Barney, James
title: The Genesis Key
published: 2011
special sticker: none
guess the genre: Thriller about biology?
pre-read impression: Archaeology! Genetics! Intrigue! Washington DC!

LAST impression: I was right about everything. This novel was exciting!  The problem? It just wouldn’t end! I made the mistake of setting it aside for a few days (more like a few months) to work on a writing deadline, and each couple of times I came back to the novel, my interest wavered. By the time I was 3/4 through, the events wouldn’t stop coming when I expected a conclusion. It was like an action movie; they put in so many close calls to keep you on the edge of your seat, give you a “thrilling experience,” and all that. Except the problem with that is I read a lot of these twists on my short lunch breaks and if I fell off my chair I’d get ravioli everywhere. This is the type of novel you have to binge read, not set aside for days at a time. I’d still recommend the book with this advice: DO NOT put it down. For anything.

STARS: 2.5/4. The “.5″is for how far into the book I got. Had I finished it and not moved on to greener pastures, the rating would be a 3/4. The paperback copy (is there any other?) is very light, the print is large, and the pacing is quick. This novel makes a great lunch break ravioli. I mean… a great lunch break read.

And I must add: this would make a wonderful movie.

 The Winter Witch

author: Brackston, Paula
title: The Winter Witch
published: 2013
special sticker: none
guess the genre: Historical romance.
pre-read impression: Well, it’s about a witch. It’s about a witch with powers. It’s about a witch who can’t control her powers and falls in love. Should be interesting.

LAST impression: This took me back. There was a time when all I read were novels about witches full of woe, and the first couple of pages impressed me. The point of view was presented in an interesting way. It was half first-person POV from the main character (the witch), half 3rd person omniscient POV. I enjoy it when authors experiment with character perceptions. However, the strong beginning wasn’t enough for me to continue. Brackston tended to use one of my pet peeves in which characters process through questions in lieu of providing some advance in the plot. As much as I wanted to know what happened with the main character, and guess what other characters would end up doing to her, if getting through the novel was the price I had to pay for that, I didn’t care to finish.

STARS: 2.5/4. The extra .5 is specifically for the Welsh language in conversation. I know nothing of the language but it made my heart warm. If I read this novel back when I was interested in these stories, it would certainly have made me a Welshophile. (What’s the proper word for Welshophile?)

When am I going to find a book I can actually finish? I used to read books like this all the time, when I lived and breathed fantasy in junior high. Have I grown tired of the genre? Am I out of practice? Maybe I should move on to other books, or should I give this one another chance?

 You're Not Safe (Texas Rangers, #3)

author: Burton, Mary
title: You’re Not Safe
published: 2014
special sticker: none
guess the genre: Looks like it might be a thriller/horror.
pre-read impression: Okay. Wow. Murder thriller. Can’t wait for this one.

LAST impression: This turned out to be a cop drama. Only sort of a murder thriller. This should have upset me, since I’m so tired of detective shows. (Meme: “The amount of cop shows on television is TOO DAMN HIGH!”) However, I enjoyed this novel for quite some time. The inner turmoil of the characters intrigued me, as did the mystery as to who was committing the murders. What prevented me from finishing was how annoyed I became every time I had to read about a certain character’s backstory AGAIN. There’s really no need to rehash your heroine’s past every single chapter. We get it. Only a hundred pages away from the end, I decided to stop reading and check out the epilogue. Everything turned out how I thought it would, and that was nice, but I was done.

This doesn’t mean Burton did a terrible job. It means I wasn’t as invested in the story as I wanted to be for the simple reason that I’m tired of cop dramas. (Except Backstrom and Psych. Those shows, man. Those shows. I miss you.) If I come across any of Burton’s works that aren’t cop dramas, I’d definitely take a gander. Her command of dialogue is superb and keeps me reading even when I don’t want to. Her general prose, too, is conversational, and even if I didn’t care for the story, the confidence I glean from her skill puts me at ease. It’s not often an author can do that for me.

STARS: 2.75? Okay, I’m making up this rating as I go along. Had I finished, this would have been a 3/4.

MercyChallenge

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to make this post of the B authors. The variety in pacing between each novel seems to have thrown me off balance. The C authors show so much more promise!

Chabon, Michael The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
title: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
year: 1988
special sticker: none
guess the genre: Dudes, I don’t even care! I’ve read Gentlemen of the Road twice (one time it was a comfort story while I had the flu) and loved it both times. I’m biased for this author based on only one of his books, but I have to tell you I’m exciiiiited!
pre-read impression: Hmm, there’s no summary. When there are only quotes of praise on the back AND inside of a novel, in my experience, it’s probably a crap novel. But we’ll find out when I read it.

Cleave, Paul Joe Victim (Cleaner, #2)
title: Joe Victim
year: 2013
special sticker: none
guess the genre: Murder thriller.
pre-read impression: Psychological detective something, I don’t know, for some reason I want to hurry up and read this.

Crichton, Michael The Andromeda Strain
title: Andromeda STrain
year: 1969
special sticker: none
guess the genre: The genre is Michael Crichton, LOL.
pre-read impression: We all love this guy, don’t we? I’ve never read anything by him, sadly. It’s about time I do this!

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