Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mini-Review Roundup

  Mini-Review Roundup

Solid "nice." I enjoyed reading it, but I don't feel compelled to read the sequel. Chapters are short and it's easy to read quickly, even if the pacing of the plot isn't breakneck. There's also a little bit of the "glimpse into the past" which is a writing approach I usually find makes me want to read more and become more invested in finding out how the past and present connect, and that worked here too. 

The messages are sweet and the relationship between the characters is also sweet. There's just enough depth and nuance to both the characters and the plot to make this book stand out and stand on its own. It's also a sweet book. 

But, it's also kind of a downer book. The main character is likable and endearing, but she's also insecure, afraid, and kind of sad. This cast a bit of a shadow on my reading experience and leaves me with a vague feeling off glumness. So, I liked the book and I'm glad I read it, but I don't love the feeling it's left me with.


I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. I almost decided to give it away unread, but finally figured I'd give it a shot since I can't find an e-book version. I ended up liking it so much I decided to keep my hardcover copy and added the companion book to my TBR. 

I was expecting a preachy book for kids that would be surface level and not terribly historical. Instead, I got a book with nuance and realistic history and a set of characters I enjoyed reading about. It even made me curious enough to do some light Internet research after I finished, which I always consider a good sign.

Chapters are very short so it was easy to zip through. The plot also moved at a brisk pace, even jumping ahead in time, but in a way that never felt gripping and fast but also kept things from dragging needlessly. There were scenes that stood out and felt real and I got a good sense of time and place. I wasn't sure at first about the supernatural element, but I thought it was done well. Even with those elements, this felt much more "straight historical" than "historical fantasy." Recommended.


Oh, I had such high hopes for this book but I did not like it. The writing seemed forced-funny, and I didn't find it funny. The characters felt forced-likable and I did not like them. The approach to storytelling with all of these random people telling bits and pieces of the story felt gimmicky and unnecessary. The plot felt overly long and pointless. The action scenes felt like something from a comic book, complete with forced "Kapow" moments to tell me what I should be feeling but the writing isn't evoking. I'm left feeling mildly irritated, unimpressed, and like I want to say, "I just spent my time for that??

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Mini-Review Roundup


  Mini-Review Roundup

Did I like this? Yes and no. 

The yes? I was engaged. I wanted to know what would happen next. I read through it pretty quickly as a result (this was definitely a "just one more chapter" kind of book for me). 

I love stories where you're unraveling past events and this book did a good job with that. The past (1930s) and further past (early 1900s) were well balanced and I didn't have a favorite. They felt different and "of their time." I was satisfied with the Big Reveal (though not astounded) and very happy with the ending. I also liked the time spent in the house and on the property (I love "house" books).

The no? The characters were all just okay. The whole book focuses on post-partum depression and the author did a truly excellent job conveying the impact something like this has on the individual and the family. That is a good thing (so a mark in the "yes"), but it was a hard thing to read about (so a mark in the "no").  All of the goods were solid goods, but none of them really wowed me. I decided not to keep my beautiful hardcover and I imagine in a few years I'll see the book and think, "What was that about again?" and shrug. It's good, I'm glad I read it, but it isn't The One for me.

This is definitely a book written in the 1990s. Thankfully I went into it with those expectations and so everything was fine. I was even pleasantly surprised. I also haven't read the previous books in the series and that wasn't a problem at all (though I probably got some spoilers for those earlier books, which I don't plan on reading). 

So what do I mean by "written in the 1990s?" It's short. A lot of things get wrapped up very quickly and the characters don't have a ton of depth or backstory. And that's fine. If I know to expect this, I actually am just fine with this easy-breezy approach. I got a quick story with characters that, even though they didn't have a ton of depth and nuance, were easy to understand and feel for. Some I felt annoyance, some hatred, some sympathy, and some liking. But I did feel for them. The male lead was no someone I liked very much, but the female lead was and I liked her character arc and romance.

The shortness of it all also meant that the author didn't so much paint a picture of the time and place but rather info-dumped and factoid-packed to give a sense of the setting. And, again, that works for me. There was a lot in there. This approach meant that while I might not have felt like I was living and breathing in the era, it did make me feel like I came away from the book with a good sense of history. I liked it.


I liked it. I didn't love it. I could have almost loved it, but there were a few elements I was looking for that weren't there. Namely, I wanted the relationship between the main character and the dragon to be one of those warm fuzzy bonding friendships and it just never got there. It's not in the dragon's nature. Ok, fine. I accept that, but that would have been the key to making this book a Favorite and not just a solid like. 

Anyway, it is what it is, and what it is is a murder mystery set in a "medieval fantasy village." There's the usual cast of characters, and for the most part I liked them. The main character is likable and tropish (think Geralt in The Witcher but less growly), but I consider that a good thing. The mystery was paced well, and though I never found it gripping, I did find it an enjoyable stroll. I liked it enough that I plan on reading the next book, but I wasn't in love enough that I need to read the next book right now. This ends pretty well as a standalone anyway with a promise of "future adventures" but a completion to this current adventure.

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