This was light and so very quick to read. Maybe not the witty, banter-filled fun that was Ask Again Later (*shakes fist at high expectations*), but st...moreThis was light and so very quick to read. Maybe not the witty, banter-filled fun that was Ask Again Later (*shakes fist at high expectations*), but still a nice, comfortable weekend book.
It all begins with a morning shift at GoodFoods Market, where we meet the five teenage employees that, later, get accused of stealing money from a charity donation box, along with main character Chloe Novak.
The first half is quite slow going, and it isn’t really until after a good few chapters that things pick up. That is, we only really get to know the characters better, and get a solid feel of their relationships – or lack of – with one another, once they are accused of stealing the money. This is the bit where the book begins to shine, and where Liz Czukas does what she did brilliantly in her debut novel, creating believable and entertaining character dynamics, putting the emphasis on friendship or the promise of friendship.
I loved the characters. They are a diverse bunch, with different backgrounds and different, almost contrasting, personalities, and yet, wonderfully and unconventionally compatible. Charismatic Gabe, hard-bitten Sammi, sweet, charming Tyson… I wouldn’t mind a mad trolley dash and racing around the supermarket with this lot.
I do think the mystery surrounding the lost money is quite transparent, but despite the predictability, the book ends pretty well. Surprisingly, there is very little romance for the majority of the story, but when it happens, it happens splendidly.
I’d say this was less of a grin-like-a-mad-fool sort of book, and more a smile-pleasantly-and-move-on fluff read. It’s fairly adorable, amusing and fun, but if I had to choose between this Ask Again Later, it wouldn’t be much of a contest. Still, I am always grateful for effortless, light distraction, and this was exactly that.
Well. I have to say, this was nothing like what I thought it would be. It’s unexpectedly light and simple – fluffy, even – more entertaining...more3.5 stars
Well. I have to say, this was nothing like what I thought it would be. It’s unexpectedly light and simple – fluffy, even – more entertaining historical romance than politically-driven fantasy. There’s plenty of courting, dancing, flirting and frivolity, with an underlying plot that is somewhat shadowed by the glamour of dinner parties and balls. It’s not a bad read. It lacks some depth and world-building, yes, and the story itself is not particularly memorable, but there is a lot of quick fun to be had with this book, and entertainment is entertainment.
Most surprising of all is how well the multiple perspectives work. It’s almost effortless easing into the different voices, all of which are clear and distinct. We have the heir to the Franco-British throne, Princess Marie, and her friend and the bastard daughter of the Merlin, Aelwyn. There is also Wolf, the cheeky and confident younger brother of the crown prince of Prussia, and Ronan Astor, a spunky young lady on her first experience of the London Season. The supporting cast is large and diverse, and although very few of the characters in The Ring and the Crown are truly memorable – the sort of characters you would want to treasure in your thoughts long after the final pages – the personalities created throughout are miraculously easy to track of.
The romantic ties are endless and many, with the most attention given to Marie and a young member of her personal guard, Gill, and the perfectly-matched Ronan and Wolf. The relationship between the latter pair builds quite well, is very amusing in places, and mostly enjoyable to follow. Gill and Marie have the whole childhood buddies thing going on (which I can never resist), and although the pacing falters and takes a mad dash forward at one point, it is also not too difficult to root for them initially. Admittedly, neither of the romances here succeeded in triggering the fangirl mode in me, but that’s okay. They were still fun to read.
Although I did largely enjoy this book, I do simultaneously wish that certain world-building opportunities had been fully embraced. There are far too many scatterings of snippets of information, and not enough of an attempt to pull them all together. It’s infuriating to get a taste of something – something good – only then to be denied anything that delves further and deeper. The alternate historical setting is a fascinating foundation in itself, and with the sorcery and magic intertwined into this fantasy world, there really could not have been a better basis for creating something truly mesmerising. It’s a definite shame that it never quite delivers on that front.
The plot is also not a very strong aspect of the book – in fact, nearly all of it is summarised in the book description – and that contributes slightly to the lacklustre (and kind of lame) ending.
Nevertheless, The Ring and the Crown is a good rainy-day pick. Something easy and light to pass the time with, even if not likely to be a momentous read. I certainly liked it more than Melissa de la Cruz’s previous books, and wouldn’t avoid trying something new from her again. (less)
Torn Away is a pretty simple story, but one that is incredibly heart-breaking and powerful. It’s impossible to read a book like this and not imagine y...moreTorn Away is a pretty simple story, but one that is incredibly heart-breaking and powerful. It’s impossible to read a book like this and not imagine yourself in the protagonist’s situation – to wonder what it would be like to be Jersey Cameron, a young person with few people to turn to, a family and home ripped away by a natural disaster.
Needless to say, Jersey’s story here made me choke up a bit. (We’re talking ugly face-in-pillow sobs, but let’s pretend it was less mortifying.) After the tornado leaves her homeless and without a mother and sister, Jersey finds herself being ferried off to her biological father’s house against her will. It’s awful, seeing the way she is treated by her father’s family, but so very easy to appreciate how bluntly honest and authentic all the characters in this book are. There is no miraculous transition through grief, no sweeping romance or heroic figure to save the day. It’s a tough, slow-paced journey, and you feel it right alongside Jersey as she is forced to make it.
What affected me the most was Jersey’s reaction to her sister’s death, the way she held onto the memories, both positive and negative, and made herself notes about Marin on pieces of foil. I believed every second of it – every moment of anger and pain, every moment of sudden loneliness. There are a few characters that stand out for the part they play in Jersey’s healing, my favourites being her maternal grandparents and her friend Kolby. There is support and goodness here that is both heart-warming and realistic. Brown is clearly a very talented writer, building situations and people that are not only convincing, but appropriate too.
I like the sense of hope that the ending serves, without it being far-fetched. Torn Away is in fact my first book by Jennifer Brown, but it most definitely won’t be my last. I love when an author can reach out to me so effortlessly through words, and when a story can touch me as easily as Torn Away has done. A really wonderful read that I certainly won’t hesitate to recommend.
So incredibly entertaining. Fun and light, and exactly the sort of book that I needed to recharge. Jessica Darling's narration is downright h...more4.5 stars
So incredibly entertaining. Fun and light, and exactly the sort of book that I needed to recharge. Jessica Darling's narration is downright hilarious - chaotic, cheesy and dramatic, yes, but never not hilarious.
Plus there is that Tutti Flutie. Enough said. (less)
A good portion of the mermaid books that I’ve read have been either decent or unpleasant, and Jennifer Donnelly’s latest, Deep Blue, falls so...more2.5 stars
A good portion of the mermaid books that I’ve read have been either decent or unpleasant, and Jennifer Donnelly’s latest, Deep Blue, falls somewhere in between.
It’s quite apparent from the start that Deep Blue is not as dark and epic as the book description suggests. In fact, if anything, and especially at the start, it oozes pure entertainment, a variety of which I suspect will suit middle grade readers or those who enjoy the younger end of the YA spectrum. I liked it to begin with – though perhaps for all the wrong reasons, as I did think a lot of it was ridiculous – and it was easy enough to find amusing. It follows Serafina, the principessa of the House of Merrow, a songcasting mermaid who has a giant shell for a bed and an octopus named Sylvester for a pet. Girlfriends are called ‘merlfriends’ and currency is ‘currensea’. We even have a crazy lady with too many catfish. There is a lot of unexpected silliness in this underwater world.
And yet, it is rich. The world-building is pretty substance-heavy, with glimpses into many different nooks and crannies that I imagine will be good points of exploration for the rest of the series. There is quite a bit of info-dumping here and there, and many not-so-subtle explanations accompanying descriptions. This contributes slightly to the juvenile feel of the storytelling, but, overall, the intricacy of the merworld is something that I liked. We have Atlantis-based history, magic, passageways through mirrors, songspells and politics. It’s sometimes too much and all at once, but definitely interesting, for what it’s worth.
The plot isn’t one with much breathing room, however. It is fine at the start, but once Serafina, whose dreams are full of river witches and shadowy words, sets out on a whirlwind journey to join with five other mermaids, it soon becomes almost painfully crammed. It’s strange that the half of the book with the most action and adventure is the half of the book that I found most dull. But that’s just it – what started off as bizarre entertainment descended into mind-numbing monotony, and so, I ultimately do not have a very positive opinion of this book. It perhaps didn’t help very much that I found Serafina and the other merls (!) pretty hard characters to invest in, which is a shame, as I was fully prepared to get behind this ‘unbreakable bond of sisterhood’.
All of that said, I think Deep Blue will work well enough for the right reader, and perhaps when there is no immediate need to read something mind-blowing. I have reached the point where I cannot get through an okay-but-not-brilliant book without getting slightly frustrated. There is always that constant thought of all the other titles I could be devoting my time to instead. I also wonder if it is time for me to give up on mermaid books altogether. It is very tempting, given that so very few work for me... but I am still holding out for another Monstrous Beauty, so I hope you are listening, book gods.
Exciting plot, great writing, and two BRILLIANT main characters. I seriously cannot get enough of that romance. Thomas does...more4.5 stars
Very, very good.
Exciting plot, great writing, and two BRILLIANT main characters. I seriously cannot get enough of that romance. Thomas does funny and swoon-worthy incredibly well, even when everything else is all high-stakes doom and gloom.
I MUST have the next book (though I also never want it to be over!).(less)