10 July 2013

Mid-Summer Book Reviews

Here are some short reviews of recent books I’ve read. Because of budget and space I get most of my books from the library or buy free or supper cheap Kindle books, so if it is noted I’ve purchased the book it means it is really, really worth having. Also, I hate book reviews that recap the story – Amazon or the back of the book can do that for the reviewer. What you get here is my simple option based on my personal likes. The books are listed in no particular order.
** = highly recommend read

Austinland by Shannon Hale **
A fun, fresh read with engaging characters and a charming setting. Ms. Hale’s unique voice and masterful use of similes really shines in this uplifting, engrossing story.  Autinland put a smile on my face and made my heart happy.

Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I really enjoyed the first three books in Ms. Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I also liked Clockwork Angle, the first book in her Infernal Devices series. Unfortunately, Clockwork Prince dragged. I found too much repetition, too much emoting, and not enough action. Son2 started to read Clockwork Princess. I asked him how he liked it. He found it slower than Clockwork Prince and put it down after a couple of chapters. I didn’t even bother to read it. It’s a shame because I really like the world Ms. Clare has created. These two stories feel like they are packed with words just for the sake of making a thick book.

Imaginarium Geographica; Here There Be Dragons by James Owen **
I first found out about Mr. Owen and his writings from other authors I friended on my author Facebook page. After reading a few posts and checking out his web page I had to read his books. I read Here There Be Dragons out loud to Mr. W. He really liked it and I found it wonderful. Mr. Owens does a masterful job melding real history with fantasy. I must admit I cried at the end when the four main characters reveal their true and full names. When Son2 (age 16) read it he said, “Smart writing. There were even words I didn’t know.” This is high praise from my very Spock like child. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

Drawing Out the Dragons by James Owen **
I’m bought a copy for our bookshelf. Drawing Out the Dragons contains motivational, from the heart advice for anyone in a creative pursuit. It is written with young and young adult readers in mind, but I found it very useful for the moment I’m in – one in which I have too much on my plate and am making the transition from working part to being home with more time to focus on writing and being a wife/mom/homemaker (rolls which bring me the greatest joy and meaning). Thank you, Mr. Owen, for your wise words.  “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want the most at that moment.” Son3 (age 14) got half way through the book when he got sick. He said he really liked what he read so far and is looking forward to finishing it when he is well.

Variant by Robison Wells
A great concept. I got impatient to know what was going on so though the story moved at a good pace I couldn’t read fast enough to see behind the mystery.  I really liked the last third of the story where the action speeds up and Benson’s eyes (and the readers) are finally opened. The ending keeps you hanging though with enough wrapped up to leave you stratified, but enough unsolved that you want to read more. I’ve never been a fan of first person, but Mr. Wells does a good job of keeping out too many “I’s”. The next book in the series, Feedback, is on my ‘to read’ list.  

Waiting Fate by W.B. Kinnette
(warning spoilers) A sweet, clean, formula romance. I read it at night when stress would wake me at 2 a.m. Parts of the book were page turners. Other parts made me groan. I love how Ivy had the courage to leave an abusive husband. I mentally screamed at the book when Ivy goes out of characters and meets him alone. I felt the author contrived the situation to rev up the drama. I also felt the dialog and social situations of these mid-20s college and working adults sounded more high school-ish. That could be because I’m surrounded by dynamic mid-20s adults and not ones still in an extended adolescence (which wasn’t how these characters were set up to be so there was a discord in the description of the characters and what they said and what they did for recreation).  I purchased for my Kindle at either a free or cheep price.

Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock **
Read with a box of tissues handy. Ms. Hancock touches on the issues of love, cancer, mental issues, and family. This was an emotional, tough, and satisfying read for me. My mother had a fight with cancer and is doing well now. My step-brother deals with manic depression and schizophrenia.  Throughout the story you will cry with the characters, you will rejoice with them, and you will take them into your heart. For those times you feel you just can’t do it you can turn to Micky and Lucy and know if they could find the courage and strength to go on, so can you. A triumph of love and spirit. I’m buying a copy for my mom. I’m looking forward to Ms. Hancock’s next book.

Out of the Dark by David Weber

(warning spoilers) I love Mr. Weber’s Honor Harrington books, minus all the paragraphs of technical details. I love the idea of aliens invading earth and us humans triumphing. So, when I found this book I thought I’d like it too. And parts I did. I like the aliens he created, very clever. I really liked the different story lines taking place on different continents knowing Mr. Weber would tie it all into together. And then vampires?!  I could have even bought the vampire bit if somehow he tied it into the alien theme. Maybe the vampire crashed landed on earth ages ago, tried to use his power to concur the earthlings, found their will indomitable, went into hiding, observing, began to admire them and then became their champion, but no. No explanation what-so-ever, just here’s a vampire swallow it. Sorry, in my household we just couldn’t. We had a good laugh over it and talked about ways we could have made the ending fit with the rest of the story. Other than the ending that skewed way off course it’s a good book (again minus all the technical details that bog the story down- but those parts are easy to skip).