So it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaidSo it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaids will be involved. I'm a lover of all things fantastical, but mermaids have a very big piece of my heart. Alas, imagine my disappointment when I found out that, in fact, there may or may not actually be any mermaids hiding in Merrow. If you're looking for a very literary book, with a lot of descriptive writing, this is it. If you're looking for a book that focuses on mermaids, you may want to look elsewhere.
Let's start with the good. First off, Neen Marrey was a character that I could absolutely get behind. She was strong, hardworking, kind, and honest to a fault. I loved that she felt realistic and, most of all, that her relationship with her Aunt was always perfect. Watching the two of them go through ups and downs, while still remembering to support one another despite what was thrown in their path, made me smile. Families, whatever their makeup, aren't always perfect, and I appreciated Braxton-Smith for highlighting that. I also very much enjoyed the story telling in this book. Neen's family history is passed down orally, which was quite a treat.
Now, as far as what bothered me, you'll actually find that my issue with this book is the same with the last review I wrote on this blog. If there is one thing I can't abide, it's books that rely solely on lyrical writing and purple prose, ignoring the actual world that they are building. Merrow reads beautifully. It's lilting, and moves like the ocean waves. What it doesn't do, is ever really pick up speed. This is a slow read and, truth be told, one that is very easy to skim. Neen's ultimate hunt for the fate of her mother was an interesting plot point but, since there didn't seem to be any actual mermaids here, one that I quickly lost track of. I still loved the family dynamic, and Neen's growth, but that initial reason I started reading this had gone out the window and so had the majority of my attention span.
As I said above, if you're looking for a book that is lyrical and reads like a folktale, then Merrow is absolutely for you. If, like I was, you're looking for a fantastical tale of mermaids? Well, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. I can see the draw to this book, and I know that many will love it from beginning to end. I just wasn't able to count myself among that number. ...more
Well now, this was a lot of fun! I already knew that June and I would get along famously. After all, she's an accomplished Oxford professor, loves herWell now, this was a lot of fun! I already knew that June and I would get along famously. After all, she's an accomplished Oxford professor, loves her grumpy old grandfather, and simply wants to make a name for herself in the world of archaeology. What's not to love? My only hope was that her journey would be just as exciting as she was shaping up to be. Happily, that was exactly the case!
Massive love goes to Emily Harper for crafting such enjoyable characters. Although I already knew I'd love June, it was really her grandfather that stole my heart. His giggle worthy attempts at complimenting June, his deep dislike of trousers (I feel you on that, Professor), and his need to keep his accomplishments in the forefront of his mind, were all things that endeared him to me. Pairing him with June, who just didn't know how to handle him at all times, was perfection. I loved watching them interact, and thought he added a perfect spice to the mystery!
Now, the mystery itself, shall we? I thought Harper did a brilliant job at laying out all the breadcrumbs as June fell further down the rabbit hole. From the moment she was inducted into the secret "Alliance" guarding the shield, I knew that things were going to get interesting. What I didn't expect was how much fun this whole mystery would be. As June and her rather unusual entourage searched for answers, I breathlessly followed after them. There was the perfect amount of humor, mixed in with all the action. As I said, a ton of fun.
Am I ready for the next book? Absolutely, I am! Which, thankfully, I also have in my possession. Expect to see a review of that book as well, very soon. While you wait, pick up June Jenson and the Shield of Quell! It's well worth your time!...more
It's tough to pinpoint exactly what type of book Lifers actually is. I lean towards a mystery or thriller, but in fact this book is kind of a genre maIt's tough to pinpoint exactly what type of book Lifers actually is. I lean towards a mystery or thriller, but in fact this book is kind of a genre mash-up. Take a bit of dystopia, some science fiction, a dash of mystery, shake it all up and you'll have Lifers at the end. This story defies categorization, and it was honestly kind of refreshing in a way.
Now, I feel it only fair to let all readers out there know that this book is written in third person. After much practice, I've learned to connect better with this type of writing. I do know that it is difficult for some people to feel fully immersed though. The saving grace is that Griffin does an excellent job of putting you right inside Preston's head. From the very first moment that he stumbles upon the mystery surrounding Alice's disappearance, it's easy to follow along with him. Despite anything else, Preston's ability to problem solve and keep calm under pressure is a constant.
As for the story itself, I was actually quite impressed with the way it was laid out. It's tough to share too much without spoilers, but there's a really clever basis to all the madness that Preston gets wrapped up in. I was intrigued by the science fiction portion of this story. The idea of being lost somewhere beyond. The concept of being so far from any type of help that it feels hopeless. I would have definitely liked to see more character build up, but the story kept me rapt.
If the beginning of this book seems a little slow, keep at it. Once I reached the middle, I was so wholly impressed with the way that things were being strategically laid out, and the build up to the ending honestly had me breathless with anticipation. Preston's wild misadventure ended up being something that I wasn't expecting, but was really glad I read. If you're looking for the type of story that doesn't fit nicely into a genre, and will challenge your mind, this is what you're looking for....more
So, quick take on this one. It's definitely creepy. Kelly Robson sets off right away by building tension, and it keeps you guessing for a good half ofSo, quick take on this one. It's definitely creepy. Kelly Robson sets off right away by building tension, and it keeps you guessing for a good half of the story. When the actual cause of all this tension broke through the story though, I kind of lost interest. I don't know what I was expecting. Honestly. Still, the twist here was just a little too odd for me to wrap my mind around. Be warned that this is a bit gory, which should be evident by the title but I figured I'd put a warning out. Overall, not a bad way to pass a half hour or so!...more
Gorgeous. Stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. Any of those words and phrases barely skim the surface of how impressed I was by this well-woven tale. FaGorgeous. Stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. Any of those words and phrases barely skim the surface of how impressed I was by this well-woven tale. Fairy tales will always have a special place in my heart. I relish the feeling of being swept off into a new world or, in this case, a world that is right on the borders of our very own. Arden's tale pulls together Russian folklore into a tale that will have you breathless with equal parts excitement and fear. It's a beautiful thing.
Characters like Vasilisa have always been my favorite. Stubborn, willful, strong to a point where they actually cause others to fear their strangeness. Vasilisa is a woman on the fringes. She's a character who doesn't conform to norms, and is better because of it. In other words, she's everything I aspire to be. Arden wastes no time in pushing Vasilisa towards her ultimate fate and, to her credit, Vasilisa faces it head on. I was mesmerized by her, and it made this story fly by. I could have read many more pages following this amazing woman.
As mentioned above, the Russian folklore is really the star of the show here though. As the children sat around the fire, to hear tales of bravery and death, so did I. Arden brought to life the winter demon, his black-hearted brother, and all the household spirits that populated this story. As Vasilisa grew to know them, and love and hate them as called for, so did I. I found myself so immersed in this story, that I actually felt angry when people pulled me away from it. My one wish was to find out what became of our brave protagonist, and the family that she would do anything to protect.
The Bear and the Nightingale is my first five-starred review of 2017, and well deserving of that honor. This is the kind of book that you buy in hardcover, so that it will survive many re-reads to come. If this isn't already on your reading list, it should be. It really, really should....more
I first discovered Josh Sundquist by reading his memoir, and giggling the entire way through it. I'm not generally a non-fiction reader, but I devoureI first discovered Josh Sundquist by reading his memoir, and giggling the entire way through it. I'm not generally a non-fiction reader, but I devoured that book. That meant that when I found out that Sundquist had written a YA book, I knew I had to read it. I couldn't wait to see how his wit and honesty translated to a fiction novel.
First off, I have to give credit where credit is due. It's very obvious from the first few pages of this story that Sundquist did a tremendous amount of research on visual impairment, and worked hard to make sure that he was accurately portraying Will's day to day routine. Pair that with a lovingly crafted character, complete with Sundquist's signature wit, and you have a story that is a joy to read. I fell in love with Will, and the rest was history.
When the experimental surgery came into the picture, I found myself riveted. Everything was described in intricate detail, but it never felt overbearing. Instead, I found myself in the same situation as Will. Wondering if the surgery would be worth it, cheering him on when he was doing well, and lamenting with him when things weren't going well. His parents were so wonderfully supportive, if a little over involved at times, and there was this whole aura of growth and love to this book. It was a happy place to be.
Even if the friendship turned romance hadn't been a main portion of this book, I would have still loved it. Still, I couldn't help but fall for the slow growth of Cecily and Will's relationship. Cecily's acceptance of Will, her ability to open things up for him with wonderful analogies, tugged at my heart strings. I knew that fight was imminent, and of course I was right. What is YA without teenage tension? Still, it all felt so perfect. Not a single sentence of this book felt out of place. It all worked to build up Will, and show how amazing a person he was.
I'd highly recommend this for your reading list! If it's not there already, it's well worth a second look....more
Just a quick review on this one, since I've been trying to knock it off of my TBR for a good long while.
The ending of this book, actually probably theJust a quick review on this one, since I've been trying to knock it off of my TBR for a good long while.
The ending of this book, actually probably the entire last quarter of this book, was utterly terrifying. It had me riveted, in normal King fashion. If only the whole first portion of this book hadn't felt like I was stuck in a giant pile of book quicksand, I would have absolutely loved Revival. Perhaps it was the audio book that I was listening to, but this felt like it had no traction for a good long while. It felt like, as Jamie kept saying, "Something Happened" but then it was lost beneath too much narrative. It just didn't work all that well for me....more
Trenton Lee Stewart had me charmed with The Mysterious Benedict Society. I fell in love with the quick moving, fluid and well-written story line thatTrenton Lee Stewart had me charmed with The Mysterious Benedict Society. I fell in love with the quick moving, fluid and well-written story line that unfolded on the pages. To say I had high hopes for The Secret Keepers would be an understatement, which probably contributed to disappointment. This book isn't quite up to bar that I had set for it.
First off, this book is honestly much longer than it should be. It stretches the story out to the point where, quite often, there is nothing actually happening on the pages. I can absolutely forgive a book for starting out slowly, as the background and characters are set in place. This book, however, never actually picks up speed. It meanders along, at a plodding pace, to the point that I skimmed a fair amount of pages per chapter and didn't feel like I'd missed anything. The story line itself is solid, and interesting. It's just bogged down by the length it needs to fill.
I also just never fell in love with our main character. Reuben never felt brave to me, only foolhardy and impulsive. While I could see Stewart trying valiantly to outline the reasons why Reuben behaved as he did, it still never felt truthful to me. I'm absolutely enamored with the idea of a boy who loves his mother so much he'd do anything to protect her. Past that, however, it just fell apart for me. I admit that Penny did increase my interest for a while though. So there's that! She's a little spitfire.
Whenever I read a book that is aimed at the Middle Grade crowd, I always try to think about it from that perspective as well. After working with that age of children for many years, and being an avid reader myself well before that age group, I feel comfortable settling myself back into that mindset. That being said, this book doesn't seem like one that would capture their imaginations. It lacks excitement. It was missing that piece that keeps you riveted, tearing through the pages to find out what happens next. Even the ultimate confrontation, the big climax, didn't really come through. Both Middle Grade Jessica and adult Jessica would have felt that lack of real energy. I'd love to recommend this one, but I really can't. Go forth and get lost in the charming world of The Mysterious Benedict Society instead....more