I got this in a Lit Cube box. The plot for Cage of Deceit isn't bad; it trips right along with good pacing and even a few twists and turns. The settingI got this in a Lit Cube box. The plot for Cage of Deceit isn't bad; it trips right along with good pacing and even a few twists and turns. The setting isn't too great. It's your generic castle -- except that Davis has clearly never been in a real castle before, or she'd know they didn't have laundry chutes and that soldiers would never have had individual bedchambers. But it's the characterization which is really dull. Princess Mary Sue, the daughter of King Mary Sue and Queen Mary Sue. Seriously, these people have no flaws and no personality. Oh wait. Alyssa's a "fighter" who has an inconvenient habit of dropping her weapons when the author can't figure out how to have her get into trouble in a scuffle. She's also incredibly dense; Alyssa has to be told Jarvik's "secret" on the last page of the book when the reader has figured it out approximately one page after Jarvik appears in the book. Davis' technique of having every conversation conveniently interrupted gets mighty old after a while. Come to think of it, her habit of killing off characters who've finished their purpose in the plot is also pretty lame. Yeah, it's a clean read. Yes, it's OK. But, no, it's not really very good....more
Dumplin is realistic fiction. It's the tale of a fat girl during the summer between her sophomore and junior years and then the first half of her juni Dumplin is realistic fiction. It's the tale of a fat girl during the summer between her sophomore and junior years and then the first half of her junior year. Willowdean is very realistic, as are most of the characters in this book. I swear they're all people I've taught or their parents. :) Willowdean is fat and sassy, but she has all the issues associated with body weight. Like most girls with extra pounds, she fears boys' touching her, as she doesn't want them to be as disgusted as she is by her fat. Willowdean's Aunt Lucy, a morbidly obese woman but one whom Willowdean preferred to her mother, has died a few months before the story begins. W. must deal with that, with having a thin BFF, with a dead-end job in a dead-end town, and, most of all, with the fact that her mother relives her own glory days every year by hosting a beauty pageant. This year, Willowdean enters, mostly just to prove something to herself.
I liked and didn't like the fact that W. never attempts to lose weight. Yes, it was refreshing not to have her lose weight and get the guy, as in most fat-chick stories. But, on the other hand, it was so obvious that this girl really could have added some physical activity to her life. All she does is watch TV. She has no ambition to go to college, get a decent job, do anything except prove her mother wrong. I loved the fact that she *SPOLER WARNING* gets all her beauty tips and hints from a drag queen. That was highly amusing. *END SPOILER* The only character that just didn't work for me was Bo, the hot guy who can have any girl but loves W. That was a stretch. I've watched so very many adolescents fall in and out of love, and I've seen so very many adults go through relationships, and I can tell you that I've never once seen a really hot high school guy take a fat girl for anything other than a fling. (You know the old stereotype about "fat girls put out more." Well, it's sometimes true, and some handsome boys will go for that -- for a while.) Generally, a guy goes after the best he can get, and a boy who knows he's good looking will go after a good-looking girl. As a teacher, I also had a problem with the fact that W. talks a lot about her friend Ellen deciding to have sex with her boyfriend. Not one time is birth control or safe sex even brought up. This bothers me, as it appears to condone irresponsible behavior. I didn't like that message at all. Other than these things, though, Dumplin is a cute, albeit totally predictable book. Get a copy and spend a lazy Saturday afternoon reading it. :)...more
I received a free copy of this book in a blog giveaway. There were no strings attached; I don't have to review it, but I want to anyway. It is impossibI received a free copy of this book in a blog giveaway. There were no strings attached; I don't have to review it, but I want to anyway. It is impossible not to compare this book with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. They're just so much alike in basic form. However, Cinder is sci-fi, and Mechanica is a steampunk fairytale. And, of the two, I like Mechanica better, mostly because Cornwell does not pretend to have a strong female character but then undermine her by giving her some Twilighty obsession with abusive men, which is what Meyer does, and which is why I stopped reading her Lunar Chronicles a few chapters into the third book. Cornwell, in contrast, creates a truly empowered protagonist named Nick, who bucks the system, doesn't give up her life to marry the handsome prince, and won't bow to stereotypical family structures. (Hailing from Utah, as I do, where families are so habitually defined narrowly as only heterosexual parents plus kids, I really liked how Cornwell was willing to admit that a girl might not want to choose just one guy and that a family can be whatever one decides it is.) However, I did have a few problems with the book: 1) Nick is too good at too many things. She works with metal and glass? She's good at sales, too? She's also a good businesswoman? 2) All her problems were resolved far too easily. Her stepfamily never notices anything. Very little gets in the way of her success. 3) A lot is left hanging. We never find out much about the magic. Characters just disappear without being picked up again. Is there going to be a sequel? This might help, but it still felt odd.
Overall, it's a good read, and I'm going to get some copies in my classroom. But it feels a bit like a draft of a book rather than a finished copy....more
This one sounded really good, but it's so cliche that it's boring. Also, the protagonist is exactly that sort of silly airhead that makes a terrific fThis one sounded really good, but it's so cliche that it's boring. Also, the protagonist is exactly that sort of silly airhead that makes a terrific foil for a likable female protagonist but who makes a lousy protagonist. I do not like dumb protagonists; I cannot relate to them and I have no patience with them. This protagonist is a sweet, charming, stupid girl. After 92 pages of this and a predictable plot, I gave up....more
I should have known better. I threw aside her Boneshaker in disgust a couple of years ago when she tried to write for YA but focused all her attentionI should have known better. I threw aside her Boneshaker in disgust a couple of years ago when she tried to write for YA but focused all her attention on the mother in the story. This is truly bad form. I don't understand why her books are so popular when she has no clue who her audience is. Of course, she's probably writing for adults who read YA and not for actual kids, but I still loathe it when authors say they've got a certain audience and then write for another. X has the same problem from a different angle. In this one, Priest talks to the reader as if s/he is a 9-year-old. It's condescending. I could not stand it after a couple of chapters. This one's going back to the library unfinished. ...more
This is a fairytale dystopia which is not a particularly good mix. It’s told in 1st person POV -- except when it switches to 3rd person limited to focThis is a fairytale dystopia which is not a particularly good mix. It’s told in 1st person POV -- except when it switches to 3rd person limited to focus on the male love interest. This is highly annoying. Also, it’s told in present tense, which is always annoying. I stopped reading when the characters were so incredibly stupid as not to realize they might be chased if they were to escape a locked compound wherein other people had been killed for even attempting to escape. Stupid protagonist + 1st person POV is a recipe for nothing but anger on my part, so I quit reading....more
I love the Three Investigators series, but this particular book is not as good as the rest. The crime and the hiding of the stolen dog statue are clevI love the Three Investigators series, but this particular book is not as good as the rest. The crime and the hiding of the stolen dog statue are clever enough (for an MG mystery), but the other books in the series always take a very Holmesian logical view that all things that appear to be supernatural are explained away rational; this book does not. The ending of the book actually leaves the young trio of sleuths believing in some supernatural mumbo-jumbo, which is completely out of character for them. Read this one only if you're a big fan of the series and can't bear to skip even one book. Otherwise, choose Stuttering Parrot or Phantom Lake or Skeleton Island -- or pretty much any one of the other books in the series. ...more
I bought a copy for 50¢ at a thrift store and read it on the plane home from Amsterdam -- only because I was trapped for 9 hours and had tired of watcI bought a copy for 50¢ at a thrift store and read it on the plane home from Amsterdam -- only because I was trapped for 9 hours and had tired of watching movies. This is bad even my cozy standards, and cozies are not meant to be great literature. Every character is stupid and annoying. There is no mystery to the reader, as the identity of the criminals is shown to the reader very early in the book. The plot is built on dozens of near-miss incidents and the characters are stereotyped. Seriously, it was like reading an episode of the Love Boat -- but with less likable people....more
Very, very Ender's Game. If you like Ender's Game, with all its violence and claustrophobic settings, this book is for you. It was not my cup of cocoa,Very, very Ender's Game. If you like Ender's Game, with all its violence and claustrophobic settings, this book is for you. It was not my cup of cocoa, and I had better things to do than to finish it....more
This has moments of brilliance but a lot of "What?" moments as well. For example, the author claims that Shakespeare invented the concept of teenagersThis has moments of brilliance but a lot of "What?" moments as well. For example, the author claims that Shakespeare invented the concept of teenagers and teen angst in Romeo and Juliet, but he completely ignores the fact that Shakespeare did not make up the plot of the story at all. Still, the book is worth a read; I'm glad I just borrowed it from the library and didn't buy it....more
Disclosure: This book won't be released until 8/4/15. I snagged a copy from an out-of-state friend of mine who got it from the publisher -- and passedDisclosure: This book won't be released until 8/4/15. I snagged a copy from an out-of-state friend of mine who got it from the publisher -- and passed it on to me (because she knows I love cozies!).
Paige Shelton's cozies are a cut above the average. A cozy isn't meant to be fine literature. When I rate If Onions Could Spring Leeks with five stars, I'm comparing it to other cozies, not to Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman. Cozies aren't supposed to be Pulitzer Prize material, so I'm not judging them by the same standards. And I do give Onions five stars.
Onions is the fifth book in Shelton's Country Cooking School series, the basic idea of which is that Betts Winston has come home from law school, back to Broken Rope, Missouri, where she now assists her grandmother teaching cooking classes. The catch is that the ability to see ghosts -- and sometimes travel to a parallel plane of past existence -- runs in the Winston family, at least while they're in Broken Rope. Thus, former inhabitants of the town get mixed into all Betts' mysteries. In Onions, it's high tourist season, and Betts has volunteered to drive a motorized wagon to shuttle tourists around town during the days (as the cooking classes are on a summer night schedule). She finds the body of an annoying, unlikeable man in the barn which houses the wagons -- and then someone knocks her out. The trouble isn't finding suspects; the trouble is that far too many people had a reason to get rid of the man. But Shelton also works in a side plot involving ghosts-- one of whom was murdered and several of whom might have been murderers. The murder from the past is tied by various locations to the modern murder, so Betts is stuck in the middle of both. And let's not forget that sexy Jerome! ;) Betts' ghostly boyfriend is so much more interesting than her live one! I would recommend that readers take the whole series in order to make things less confusing, but I suppose one could just "drop in" and read this book and still enjoy it. (The problem would be that because Shelton is so much better than average cozy writers at developing characters, a reader who has not seen the growth of Betts, Gram, Teddy, Jake, and Jerome might lose quite a bit of the depth that's actually there.)
PS. Shelton gives recipes for nearly every food item mentioned in the book -- except for green bean casserole (but then everybody knows how to make that!)...more
So, George is a Utah author, but she's mostly written MG stuff. When The King's English bookstore advertised she was doing a signing for this book, ISo, George is a Utah author, but she's mostly written MG stuff. When The King's English bookstore advertised she was doing a signing for this book, I really wanted to go. But then I read some Amazon reviews, and thinking back to the last three local authors I've supported at TKE wherein it turned out the books were pretty crappy, I decided not to chance it. This was a bad move because Silver in the Blood is pretty dang good.
Reviewers who influenced me wrongly said things like, "the author choose a way of writing that slowed the book and made it drag " and "This drag and repetition was especially noticeable because the narrative rotated between formats: letters, journal entries, telegraphs, newspaper notices and traditional story structure."
When I finally got the book from our school library and opened it to page one, I felt like shouting at these imbecile reviewers. The idiots had completely missed the point: Jessica Day George, in writing a book about a Romanian family who has the hereditary role of serving the Dracula family, has set up the book like Dracula. Duh. It doesn't "drag." The dual points of view are not repetitive. What these uneducated reviewers missed is that Dacia and Lou echo Lucy and Mina in Stoker's original. They are confused and kept in the dark by those who wish them to be in powerless positions. The reader is meant to know more than the girls do; it's called "dramatic irony." (Even Shakespeare used it; don't assume George is the one who doesn't know what's going on here.) Silver in the Blood is set up with multiple points of view and partly in epistle form because it alludes to Dracula. If the reader is too stupid to realize this, it is not the author's fault. It is not the author's fault if the reader is too under-educated to understand dramatic irony, multiple points of view, and literary allusions. (Note: do not even try to argue that the book is YA and that kids aren't exposed to these things, for all three are standard in the junior high curriculum.) This whole thing reminds me of a quote I once saw in a Readers' Digest (decades ago), "It requires wisdom to understand wisdom; the music is nothing if the audience is deaf."
That being said, I will also state that the book is not five-stars, in my opinion. There were grammatical errors and modernisms in the dialogue that would simply not have occurred among the British upper crust in the 1890s. And there is one whole scene where Dacia, the stronger of the two protagonists, does not defend herself when she is quite capable of doing so and it is in her personality to do so. The whole purpose of her not defending herself appears to be because it allows the plot to move forward, but it's completely out of character for her. That I did not like much. However, it is still an excellent book and well worth the read. I enjoyed much of the detail about Romania that the author includes. It feels a bit strained, however, and it's clear that she's writing from recent research and not from long-term knowledge. (For example, her description of Romanian folk dress is accurate to a point, but she seems unaware of the more elaborate variations on the costume for the girls and she neglects to describe the men's folk dress in any detail. Since I've done Romanian folk dance for decades, met many Romanians at festivals when they were in costume, and own two Romanian dresses from this region, I can pick out these details. Nevertheless, I like the fact that she at least did some research.) The feminism of so many of the male characters in the book is anachronistic, but I liked it. This book gets a thumbs up from me on showing girls thinking for themselves and solving problems. Overall, I'd give it 4 stars. It's appropriate for about age 13 and up. (The book feels like it needs a sequel, but I read on Goodreads that George hopes only to write a "companion novel.")...more
Meh. It was OK. My problem with this book was that the characters were so unbelievable. The protagonist was all right, but all the men seemed to be overMeh. It was OK. My problem with this book was that the characters were so unbelievable. The protagonist was all right, but all the men seemed to be over-protective and straight out of the 1950s, telling the women what they could and could not do all the time. Bleah. And the author had no real concept of age. One character runs (literally) around in a park and has a girlfriend; McKinlay has him behave as if he's about 60 years old. But then she comments that this man was 40 years old in 1970. Since the book was published in 2015, that makes the character 90. NINETY. Ninety and running around in a park and dating a 40-something bakery owner. Ummm..... right. And then she throws in Leo and Atom, a couple of "teens," who think they're ghostbusters and act like they're nine years old. Oh, and once McKinlay uses them to give out a bit of information to the protagonist, she leaves their whole part in the plot unresolved and hanging. So, meh. That's the best rating I can give this one. The recipes were pretty good, though. :)...more
There is a reason why Paige Shelton is my favorite cozy author. Bushel Full of Murder is the latest in Shelton's Farmers' Market series, but Shelton woThere is a reason why Paige Shelton is my favorite cozy author. Bushel Full of Murder is the latest in Shelton's Farmers' Market series, but Shelton works enough backstory into the plot that a casual reader should have no trouble following the current mystery. Oh, certainly, this book follows the typical cozy pattern: single female with a love interest/ hot cop deals with a murder by being nosy, even though the police try to keep her out of the investigation, and, after a climax scene wherein she does something dumb and gets into a very risky situation, she gets the murderer to confess and helps the police capture him/her. All cozies are like that now. But I'm a cozy junky, and I can firmly state that Shelton's cozies are a step above average. She gets the editing done right, for one thing. The mere fact that the woman can spell "Farmers' Market" correctly (making it plural possessive) is a huge sign. The POV works (it often doesn't in cozies). The pacing works. The backstory makes sense. Her protagonists are never idiotic. Bushel Full of Murder is no exception. Becca, the protagonist, is very realistic and likable. In this installment, Becca's flighty younger cousin has been accused of several crimes, and she's being followed by a cop from Arizona. But when the cousin ends up being right at the scene of a murder, things don't look good. Shelton fleshes out Becca, her cousin Peyton, her twin sister Allison, the murder victim, various other suspects, and the hot cop. There are no cardboard characters here, no hint of RL Stine's completely interchangeable characters. In fact, Shelton's characterization skills are on a par with those of many successful crime writers, rather than just those of other cozy writers. I wouldn't be surprised if someday Shelton tried breaking out of the cozy mold and writing a less patterned mystery or crime novel. So, should you read Bushel Full of Murder? Well, do you like cozies? This is a light, quick read with no blood or guts. The red herrings are just right, the pacing is perfect for a beach read, and the characters behave like real people. A serious mystery this is not. If you're looking for light, you cannot do better than Shelton. Give the series a try. (If you want to read the books in order, you'll need to begin with Farm Fresh Murder.)...more
The pacing was very good, but the author was clearly sexist (women who are not victims or criminals are barely mentioned; the author seems to feel thaThe pacing was very good, but the author was clearly sexist (women who are not victims or criminals are barely mentioned; the author seems to feel that female cops/detectives should be glossed over) and homophobic (the author always associates homosexuality as part of some perversion and/or crime). If you can stand the author's prejudices, it's a pretty good read....more