B

 

BACH, Richard    

 B+      Jonathan Livingston Seagull      1972    Short Story

Ultra optimistic anti-Ecclesiastes parable: every discipline is eternally meaningful

 

BADDIEL, David  

 B-       Time For Bed       1996    Novel

Offensive static overwhelms talented signal

 

BAGLEY, Desmond 

 B-       Windfall    1982    Action

      OK start but descends to lazy farce

 

BANK, Melissa

 B-       The Wonder Spot       2000    Short Story

in ‘Speaking With the Angel’; Ed. Nick Hornby

A woman’s romantic daydream about an ideal night

 

BANKS, Iain (Iain M. for SF)    

 B+      Espedair Street    1987    Novel

Anecdotes, soul-searching and recovery of depressed fictional ex-rock star

 

 B        Consider Phlebas (Culture series)     1987    SF

Great start, impressive mythos, laboured & silly final third

 

 B        Canal Dreams       1989     Novel/Action

Ably realised genre hybrid, but I admired this book more than I enjoyed it

 

 B+      The Player of Games (Culture series)      1989    SF

Sophisticated and striking ‘Culture’ novel

 

 A+      Use of Weapons (Culture series)  1990    SF

      Brilliant style, mood, climax: stinging best of series

 

 B+      Feersum Endjinn (Culture series-ish) 1994    SF

Potentially great book (ride, ideas, characters) reduced to very good by plot

 

 B        Inversions (Culture series)     1998    SF

Clever structure but less compelling than usual

 

 B+      The Business  1999    Novel

      Hi-tech businesswoman moves between 1st and 3rd World

 

 A-       The Algebraist            2004    SF

      Banks is very good.

 

 B+      Stonemouth    2012    Novel (almost crime)

      Capable narration, strong characters deftly weaved into a cleverly paced non-linear crime-ish plot

 

BANVILLE, John 

 C        The Untouchable        1997    Novel

Engaging trip bloated to tedious journey

 

BARKER, Pat  

 B+      Regeneration 1991    Novel/War/Historical Fiction

Insightful WW1 profiles from well researched imagined psychological counselling sessions with the ‘shell-shocked’

 

BARRY, Dave       

 B        Dave Barry’s Guide to Life    1991 (1984; 1985; 1986; 1987)     Humour

(Contains: "Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex" / "Babies and Other Hazards of Sex" / "Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead" / "Claw Your Way to the Top")

Less enjoyable than the columns, but still funny

 

 A-       Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits          1988    Humour

Consistently funny collection of newspaper columns

 

 B        Dave Barry Turns 40        1990    Humour

A Step up on from the ‘Guide to Life’ books, solid, but few laugh out loud moments

 

 B        Big Trouble     1999    Action/Humour

Professional, funny, but slick, filmic and disposable

 

BEAGLE, Peter S.

 B+      Tamsin      1999    Fantasy (Ghost)

Deft characterisation of a teenage girl, evocative writing, silly climax

 

BEAR, Greg

 B+      Blood Music   1985    SF

Genetic thriller apocalypse odyssey

 

 B        War Dogs  2014    SF

Dispatches style ground-view narration of Space Marine on old-school SF Mars battlefield only about a century ahead

 

BEDFORD, Jean  

 B-       To Make a Killing       1992    Crime

Unsubtly PC, fairly shallow, set around Nowra

 

BLOCK, Lawrence

 B        The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons  2013    Crime

Much more about urbane, often flirtatious, wit than car chases or suspense

 

BOVA, Ben

 D        Moonwar   1998    SF

Immature sloppy gratuitous SF thriller

 

BOX, C. J.  

 B+            Endangered               Crime

 

 

BRADBURY, Ray

 B+      The Day it Rained Forever    1959    SF/Short Stories

Richer moods than the usual SF single idea short stories

 

 B- Quicker than the Eye       1996    SF/Short Stories

Sentimental, indulgent, average

 

BROOKS, Geraldine

 B        People of the Book          2008    Novel/Historical Fiction

Clever enough idea competently realised – but not really for me

 

BROOKS, Terry   

 D        The Sword of Shannara   1977    Fantasy

Bad LOTR cover version

 

BRYSON, Bill  

 B+      A Walk in the Woods       1997    Non-Fiction/Travel

Able narrative, good mix of research and humour

     

 B+      At Home         2010    Non-Fiction/History

Researching and cherry-picking interesting snippets of 19th English lifestyle

 

BUJOLD, Lois McMaster

 B+      Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods 2)       2003    Fantasy

Strong character transformative finish outweighs common stylistic weaknesses

 

 B        The Sharing Knife (Vol. 1: Beguilement)        2006    Fantasy / Romance

 Teen fantasy/romance, half-decent world building, some OK ideas, some cliché

 

BURKE, James Lee

 B        The Glass Rainbow    2010    Crime

Competent, but nagging moral flaws, plot weaknesses, and exaggerated characters