Friday, December 5, 2014

Capsule Reviews

So, sometimes I read a book and I feel obligated to review it (this is my own thing - no one is forcing me) but I don't really have terribly much to say about it. Because I'm trying to review everything I read, I sometimes put these reviews off and then I get to where I am now - months and months behind in my reviewing. I've decided to give myself permission to write quick reviews of books like these - books which I may have enjoyed but that I don't think warrant an entire post to themselves.

Under Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, book two)
By Colin Meloy, read by the author

Published 2012 by Balzer + Bray

I was enthusiastic about the first book in this series so I decided to download the audio version of book two in an attempt to make progress with series begun but not completed. Never again will I switch formats in the middle of a series. This book did not work at all for me in audio - there was too much happening and it was all happening very slowly. My interest waned pretty extensively over the course of listening and, as a result, I'm pretty sure I'll need to reread this book before I pick up the final book in the trilogy. I'm still not sure that marketing this as a children's book is really the best thing for it - not only is it hefty but the vocabulary is likely to be challenging to middle-grade readers (unlike, say, the Heroes of Olympus series which may clock in with just as many pages but much simpler vocabulary - if you don't count trying to pronounce all the Greek and Roman words).

The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, book two)
By Michael Scott, read by Erik Singer
Published 2008 by Listening Library

Hmm, maybe it's just series books that I find I don't have as much to say about? Regardless, my fiance and I listened to this book on a road trip, just as we did with book one. I had mixed feelings about the first book but I like to finish what I start, so we went ahead with book two. I felt pretty much the same about Josh and Sophie as I did in the first book, with the addition of it being pretty obvious where the series is going to go from here. The reason I keep returning to these books is the mythology - Scott has done a wonderful job of embracing a wide and varied world of mythology that I find endlessly interesting. I keep reading in hopes of discovering more new mythology. I liked the new characters introduced in this volume, and I thought the separation of Nicholas and Perenell made the storyline a bit more dynamic. Once again, we've downloaded the next book - we'll see when we find time for it!

By Sally Murphy, illustrated by Rhian Nest James
Published 2012 by Candlewick

I'm a sucker for a verse novel, so I quickly read this one on a slow night at work. I was a bit let down by the book. I understand it's difficult to write a story such as this - a young boy's best friend is diagnosed with cancer. How do you write something that is true but not hopeless or maudlin? I guess my complaint is that this book mostly felt superficial. While I understood intellectually that John was having a tough time dealing with Dom's diagnosis, it didn't come off authentically on the page. I think I just hoped for more from this one.

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