Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In Which I Review Books (June 2015 Edition)

Once upon a time, once a month, I would review all the books I had read the previous month. Nothing super long or in depth—well, usually nothing long or in depth (unless a novel really, really irritated me, that is...), but reviews nonetheless.

Then I fell out of the habit. I'm not sure why. Time constraints maybe? Laziness? Who knows. Anyway, my last book review post was back in March 2014.

But whatever the reason I stopped, I thought I might try bringing it back. Since it's been so long since I've done one of these, I will not be reviewing every book I've read since March 2014. Instead, I'll give you the highlights (and maybe a low light or two) from my 2015 reading collection (January through June).

Generally, I'd post any reviews at the beginning of the month, but Camp NaNoWriMo has me all flustered and turned around (proud to report that I am currently on pace to finish my novel...in August.) so I forgot to do this post earlier. I'll do better next month.

Probably.

Anyway, here we go...

Heir of FireSarah J. Maas—The third book in her Throne of Glass series. I've really enjoyed this series overall, and I really do adore the MC. My biggest criticism of this particular novel was that it took me longer than usual to finish it. It's a big novel, and there were parts that dragged. But again, I adore the MC, and I can't wait for the next installment. I want to know what will happen next.

Mr. Kiss and Tell—Rob Thomas—This is the second book in the Veronica Mars novels, which take place after the events of the movie. The books are all right, this one included, but as grateful as I am to know anything about the Veronica Mars universe, I think something is lost in book form. Or maybe I just really want more movies. Again, I will read the next one because I'm a fan of the character. And Logan. I admit it.

One Good CatchHeather M. Gardner—The second book in her Maguire's Corner series. I enjoy these books. Gardner (you occasionally read this blog, Heather, so if it's weird for me to be using your last name like this, I'm sorry.) does not waste time getting to the action, and the story's entertaining. The end surprised me as well. The story didn't go how I thought it would. I mean, there's a happy ending, which I expected, but it didn't play out how I thought it would. It's always nice to be surprised. Anyway, it's really a fantastic summer beach read (I should know...I read it on the beach.) and I'm looking forward to the next installment. Also...I desperately want to go to this town for the pancakes, because they sound amazing.

Robert B, Parker's KickbackAce Atkins—This is the 43rd Spenser novel, and the third or fourth (fourth, I think) written by Atkins. I have pleasantly surprised by the quality of these novels. It's hard, I think, to take over a series loved by so many, and be able to emulate the style set forth in the previous 39 novels. He had big shoes to fill, and I think he's nailed it. My one criticism (you knew there had to be one, right?) is that I occasionally feel as though Atkins is working too hard to cram in as many characters from the Spenser-verse into each novel. Robert B. Parker did have recurring characters, and I do love that about the books, but I think Atkins is using too many at once.

The Darkest Minds—Alexandra Bracken—The first in her The Darkest Minds series. I came across this book while hunting for novels in which mind control is possible. True story. Anyway, the reviews seemed good, so I went into this series feeling excited. That faded. The concept is intriguing, the execution I think fell flat. There were parts I liked, and characters who made me laugh out loud, which is always good. I wasn't a fan of just how often Watership Down was referenced and/or quoted. We get it; stop hitting us over the head with it. So while I wasn't a diehard insta-fan or whatever, I still went out and read the other two books in the series because I wanted to know how it would end.

Never Fade—Alexandra Bracken—(You guessed it...the second in The Darkest Minds series. There was an interaction between two characters that really intrigued the hell out of me. I don't want to be all spoiler-y, but (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of the first book, a character with the ability to manipulate memory (Ruby) uses her abilities to tamper with the mind of the boy with whom she fell in love in the the first book (Liam). She has to make him forget that he knows her. But it's true love, or whatnot, so naturally they're going to encounter one another in the second book. That meeting and what follows it is intriguing. While Ruby could erase the memory of her in Liam's life, the feelings Liam had/have for her are still there, but he doesn't understand why he has them. It was an interesting concept.

In The Afterlight—Alexandra Bracken—The third and final book in the series. This is the book where the limitations of the first person POV are most evident. With the first person POV, the reader is limited to what the narrator sees/knows, and that limitation hurt this book, in my opinion. Major events would happen, but as Ruby wasn't there to witness them, both she and the reader find out about it secondhand. I don't know—it made the story a little duller, I guess. Don't get me wrong—I like the first person POV a lot, and I use it myself from time to time. I just feel that if one is using this POV that the narrator should be where the action is most of the time, and I didn't get that from this story/series. Maybe it's a telling vs. showing kind of thing (or maybe I should just shut up?). I also felt like the story relied entirely too much on coincidence, and that the ending was rushed. Given the world built up in the first two novels, it was a little too "dues ex machina-esque" for my personal taste.


All right—that's going to do it for me today. I'm headed off to Camp to see if I just can't get caught up on my word count. What have you been reading? Tell me in the comments...

31 comments:

  1. Excellent reviews, M.J. I love to hear about new books to read and you've certainly got me rushing to Amazon.

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    1. Hmmm...Perhaps I should ask Amazon about a commission of some kind. :)

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  2. Glad you're making progress on your book. Can't wait to read Heather's book.

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    1. I am making progress. Chipping away at it a little at at time. I'd love to have a lead, but I'll take not falling terribly behind.

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  3. I always enjoy these kinds of posts because I like to see what other people are reading and their thoughts.

    I just finished THE MOUNTAIN STORY by Lori Lansens and absolutely loved it. Now I'm reading THOSE GIRLS by Chevy Stevens - really good so far but definitely not for the faint of heart.

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    1. Sounds like I have two new books to check out.

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  4. Well that's a lot of books. I have a lot of reviews to do myself. I'm such a slacker.

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    1. It's really only a lot of books because there's six months' worth of them. My next review post will be much, much shorter.

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  5. Thanks for the book reviews. I really appreciated your thoughts on the POV limitations. It was because of that dilemma that I splitted my POV scenes between several characters in my Champion trilogy - my MC just wasn't going to be privy to enough unless she was doing some serious spywork and fast traveling. :)
    I never seem to keep up with reviews. My daughters bring home books from the library, I have books on my kindle, and once in a while I splurge and buy a paperback . . . and now I'm behind 7 book reviews . . .or more.

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    1. I use multiple POVs in my fantasy series. I felt I had to, in order to be able to properly cover all the ground I wanted to cover. But I have other projects in which I use first person. Hopefully, I'll do it right.

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  6. I'm waiting for Maas' next book in that series too. I read the series Ace Atkins writes under his own name. It's pretty good.
    Susan Says

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    1. I read the first book in that series, and I really struggled to get through it. I thought I'd love it because I've loved his Spenser novels.*shrugs*

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  7. Great reviews, I'll definitely be checking a few of those titles out! I didn't really like Throne of Glass - I thought the author could've gone a lot further with it, but I may check out the rest of the series at some point :). Glad to hear Camp NaNo is going well!

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    1. I thought the first book was fine, and I was plodding along through the second when I thought it suddenly kicked the story into high gear, and I became obsessed with it. I'm hoping that magic can be recaptured in the next book.

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  8. I'm glad you're bringing your reviews back. :) I loved them!

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    1. Here's hoping I can keep up with it!

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  9. I actually want read the Maas books. I think I saw them on your list, or a previous review of yours, and they piqued my interest. Definitely going to check them out.

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    1. I think they're worth a read. I do love kick-ass heroines.

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  10. I just finished a book last night that was very "meh". I'm not sure why I didn't connect to it, so tonight I'm searching for something that's going to be a bit more exciting. I hope.

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    1. That was the same way I felt about the last book I read. The one I'm reading now is an improvement, though.

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  11. At least you're finishing it!

    I've heard good things about Heir of Fire. I really should pick it up :)

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    1. I really want it to be done by the end of the month, though. Guess I'll just have to write more.

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  12. I've basically had to stop reading in order to finish publishing. I'm busy with the last book in Carrie Butler's Mark of Nexus series. It's pretty good. :-)

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    1. I think publishing was the reason I didn't hit my reading goal last year. This year I'm just being lazy. :)

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  13. You've read way more books then me in a month.

    Throne of Glass is everywhere. I really need to check that out.

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    1. Though I have read that many books in a single month, this particular collection of titles is from January to June. I just wanted to get going again with the book reviews, and hadn't read all that much in June alone. Next month's list is bound to be much, much shorter.

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  14. I think it's amazing how much reading you get done. It takes me about a month to finish one book:( Right now I'm reading The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. It's much better than the movie. Thank you for sharing your reviews with us.

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    1. I've seen that movie many,many times, but I've never read the book.

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  15. Thanks for the reviews. I haven't read any of them yet or heard of most of them.

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  16. I really liked The Darkest Minds but haven't read the other two books in the series. And yes, 1st person POV is hard to sustain.

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  17. I really need to read the Veronica Mars books. Not because I expect them to be amazing, but because they sound fun and kind of mindless, which is actually kind of what I look for in a summer book.

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