Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mini Reviews: Two Middle Grade Series Starters

Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sign me up, count me in, whatever it takes I'm invested in this series (why isn't book 2 on Goodreads?!). Addison Cooke is two parts Theodosia and Kat, two parts Indiana Jones, two parts The Mummy and all parts fun. From page one it's a rip-roaring adventure as our intrepid group chase their kidnapped relatives into the heart of South American jungles, mingle undercover at mobster parties, explore ancient booby-trapped tombs, and follow clues on a hunt for buried treasure. This combines with amusing prim and proper quips and Addison always staying cool under fire. Highly recommended.

Half Upon a Time by James Riley
Received: Library
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I read this so long ago (ok, it was January 2015, but that feels like forever ago), and I still don't have much to say about it. It's not a bad book. It's not an amazing book. It's kind of just a book. A very been there, done that kind of fractured fairy tale that doesn't do anything offensive or bad, but doesn't really make its mark in any defining way either. At least, it didn't for me. I had super high expectations for it, so my general feelings toward it are tinged with disappointment. If I hadn't set such high hopes, then I might have enjoyed it more for what it was, which is still just ok, but at least it would have been a happier ok, if that makes sense. I haven't picked up the rest of the series yet and while I wouldn't mind reading the next book, I'm also not dying to jump into it either. Other books are taking priority and I'd say there's 50/50 odds of my finishing this series.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Book Review: The King's General by Daphne du Maurier

Pages: 384
Received: Own
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is my third du Maurier read (Rebecca, The Frenchman's Creek), not counting short stories, and I think it's just a tiny fraction of a star behind Rebecca, which is high praise.

This is a gigantic book and, really, it's unbalanced. It drags on and on then has fits and starts of action, and it skips around from maybe Gothic to maybe historical fiction to maybe romance and never really decides what it wants to be. By all rights, I should have hated this book.

Except, I loved it. I was enthralled by du Maurier's writing and her characters. Even though most of the characters weren't particularly likable, I couldn't help getting invested in their stories.

Dick is disgustingly weak. Gartred is evil. Richard is probably the worst romantic hero in the world, mostly because he's absolutely detestable as a person even though he is kind to Honor. Honor, at least, is likable, even if I did disagree with a lot of her decisions. I felt at the edge of my seat and the tense character interactions served as the main source of action.

The skips from one style to another also helped keep my interest. The gothic-esque parts were typically du Maurier-chilling, the historical fiction parts (particularly the occupation) were perfectly infuriating in all the right ways, and the simmering hatred between Honor and Gartred was top notch.

Bottom line

It's a strange book, but definitely one that held my attention and lingers with me still. I'm also solidly convinced that Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite writers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

DNF Mini Explanations

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

I don't tend to love steampunk at the best of times (they just feel like they're trying so hard), so this probably wasn't the best book for me. I had hoped that the romance, gothic vibe, and general zaniness promised by several reviewers would balance out the goggles and flying air ships for me. But, alas, no.

The steampunk parts were especially paint-by-numbers and it felt like the author was running down a checklist of requisite items to include in book of this genre without any real heart or care put in. The main character also didn't grab me and I could not see myself liking her much.

Still, I'm intrigued by the promises of romance and silly craziness, so I may try to pick this one up again. 

Eden's Wish by M. Tara Crowl

There's nothing wrong with this book. It's cute, mildly funny, mildly sweet, mildly intriguing, and just all around ok. That's really it. I could finish reading it and I think the experience would be overall pleasant. Nice. Ok.

And not really how I want to spend my reading time right now. I may go back and finish this one when I'm more in the mood. The target audience should enjoy it though.

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