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Life, Law & Libros

May Book Reviews: The Short Version

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The semester is over! I'm still waiting on one grade, I start a new job on Monday, and I need to get clerkship applications out the door soon, but I'm finally reading for fun again. And I'd like to keep reading for fun as much as possible while the summer lasts. (I technically read some of these in March, but close enough.)

So, let's talk about those books I've been reading!

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There is too much. So we're going to do reviews -- the short versions. Right to the point. All the important stuff in one small paragraph. Like a magic towel that doesn't expand. Compact. Words.

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Ahem. Yes. Mini-reviews ahead!


May Book Reviews
The Short (Short) Version


Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Series: Castle Glower #1
Genres: MG, Fantasy
Published on October 1, 2011
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis:
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celia's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing to itself. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one - other than Celia, that is - takes time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and reportedly killed, it's up to Celia with her secret knowledge of the Castle's many twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.
Review:
I really, really liked this! Celie and her siblings are wonderful. The magic castle is surprising and mischievous. The villains are fun to hate. The story picks you up and doesn't let go until the last page. Despite some seriously dangerous and dark situations, Tuesdays at the Castle remains a fun, lighthearted read perfect for middle graders and adults alike. I'm looking forward to continuing this series.

A big thank you to Nicole for including this in my #TBTBSanta package!


Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2
Genres: Adult, SFF
Published on November 13, 2015
Published by Ilona Andrews
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis:
Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…
Review:
I really liked the first book in this series, but Clean Sweep topped it. It's a mash-up of magic and aliens, and Dina's adventures continue with higher stakes and a bigger cast (all angling to kill one another). The author keeps the pacing fast, the characters entertaining and the book humorous and fun. I enjoyed the silliness, the seriousness and everything in between. :)


One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3
Genres: Adult, SFF
Published on December 20, 2016
Published by Ilona Andrews
Final Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:
Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!
Review:
Like Clean Sweep, this installment features another impossible task for fledgling innkeeper Dina DeMille. Her friends and family are caught in (or causing) the chaos, and Dina is pushed to her limits physically, emotionally and magically. I think this book was a little heavier than the last. The stakes were high and the consequences severe, but there's still enough levity to keep it fun.


Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish
Series: The Adventures of Owl #1
Genres: Adult, SFF, Action/Adventure
Published on January 13, 2015
Published by Simon & Schuster
Final Rating: 2 stars
Synopsis:
Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.
Review:
It's an interesting supernatural adventure pairing dragons, vampires and more with archaeology. I liked elements of the story, but the protagonist was a little too...Lisbeth Salander meets Indiana Jones/Han Solo meets Jar Jar Binks? She had some fun qualities, some somewhat understandable trust issues, but her character development moved at a glacial pace. I sometimes found myself a little annoyed with her and amazed she wasn't dead yet.


The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Series: n/a
Genres: MG, Fantasy
Published on August 9, 2016
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
Final Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
Review:
Overall, I enjoyed it. The writing style is pretty and the narrative had a fairy tale feel. Unfortunately, the pacing was slow and I got a little bored on the plot's meandering way toward the climax. It tried to detail the journeys of several characters (most of them unreliable narrators), all heading toward a point. Other authors, such as Diana Wynne Jones, have pulled off this structure more successfully for me. That said, while I wasn't as invested in the characters as I would have liked, it's a charming magical tale with different layers of meaning for readers of all ages.

Another thank you to Nicole for putting this one in my #TBTBSanta package, too! She was the ultimate Book Santa!


Have you read any of these or thought about putting them on your TBR list? Let me know if the short reviews were helpful, amusing, useless, etc. ;)

4 comments :

  1. Ouch. A Jar Jar reference, not a good thing. I have wanted to read the Owl series for a while too.

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    1. If it helps, she wasn't quite as bad as the original Jar Jar. But if I analogize her team to Star Wars I, she's Jar Jar and the other two are Qui Gon and Obi-Wan. :P

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  2. ohhh The Girl Who Drank the Moon was on my tbr only 3 stars huh??? :( I like that you read children books :)

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    1. Yeah, it was a little slow for me, but I've seen tons of people absolutely LOVE it, and I think it's still worth a read. :)

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