Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mini Reviews 3: Books That Didn't Wow Me

Here's another group of mini reviews. Unfortunately, these ones just didn't wow me (at least not this time). 

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Source: ARC provided by publisher

When Prue's little brother is stolen and taken to the Wildwood, she is determined to get him back. With the help of Curtis, a friend from school, she embarks on a journey that will take her to places she never imagined. But will she be able to find him in time to save him and all of Wildwood from utter distruction?

My Thoughts: This was a fun story filled with adventures and growing up and fantastic creatures and places with quirky characters and odd tidbits and talking animals.  It has all the elements of a fun MG fantasy, but for some reason, it just didn't wow me.  It really dragged for me; it took me weeks to finish this.  Since I wasn't invested in any of the characters and the story sort of meandered around for most of the book, it just didn't stick with me.  I liked the illustrations, though!  Hand this to your MG fantasy adventure fans who aren't afraid of a big book. 


The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
Source: Library (for book group, but apparently, not until February!)

When Lynnie and Homan escape one night from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, they set in motion a chain of events they couldn't have predicted. Lynnie only wanted to keep her baby from being in that place and suffering the atrocities she might endure. So, when she is caught and Homan escapes, she leaves the child with Martha, an older woman that they meet during their escape. Over the next 40 years, the lives of these four characters twine and separate in unimaginable ways.

My thoughts: This is the kind of book that I think of as Important, but I didn't particularly enjoy.  I thought it was interesting to see the progression made for institutions like the School and the story of the divergence and then convergence of the characters was also compelling.  The social commentary, the way people dealt with those with disabilities, and how those were perceived by others (and sometimes still are today) was the most interesting part.  I think I'd be more interested in reading non-fiction about it, though. Mostly I just didn't enjoy the way it was written.  I struggled through the entire thing and ended up skimming the last 30 or so pages.  Something about the style really turned me off and I'm not sure why exactly.  Though I think part of it was the names Homan called people were so aggravating to me, even if it was realistic.  Basically, this is a case of "not for me" but which others may very well enjoy.  Worth a try simply for the content.  (A side note: there is some drug use, swearing, and mature content).

The Hidden Coronet by Catherine Fisher
Source: Library
(3rd book in the Relic Master series)

A coronet with the power to save Anara is the only thing that might save the planet.  But, no one knows where it might be hidden.  Can Galen and Raffi find it before the Watch gets to it?

My thoughts: While I really enjoyed the second half of the book, the first have was really slow and I almost didn't want to keep reading.  The action (when we finally got to it) was exciting and the world Fisher's created and all its intricacies became more interesting and more immediate to me than in the previous two books (The Dark City and The Lost Heiress).  I was fascinated by the world and the moons and how they interacted with the weather and especially with the Makers.  There were certainly parts of the story that seemed so ephemeral and vague to me that I had a hard time following what was going on. But, I think the overarching mystery of who the Makers are and what Anara is made me continue with the series.  Though I was able to figure out pretty quickly the immediate mystery of this book, I didn't know all the details.  And I like Raffi, the one who would rather be home and well fed than off having dangerous adventures.  Probably because I relate so well to that.  

The Margrave by Catherine Fisher
Source: Library
(4th book in the Relic Master series)

Galen and Raffi are facing the most dangerous foe they know, what lies in the Pits of Maar.  Can they defeat this evil and will the Makers return to help them in time?

My thoughts: This was a rather exciting and action-packed, complicated ending to the series. In a few parts, I honestly didn't follow what was going on. There were so many things revealed and so many strange mysteries unfurled that I was almost overwhelmed by them! It strengthened my love for Raffi, but I still don't like anyone else much, except perhaps the Sekoi. While the style was not to my liking in places and I thought it dragged in a few sections, this series is so interesting partly because the world is something you are left to wonder about - how it came about, how it's linked to ours, and with so many interesting side stories about it. Rather like Incarceron, this series drew me in because of the setting. Oh, and the ending took me by surprise too. Definitely not your typical kind of series end, I think.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Source: Audiobook from library
(2nd book in the Inheritance series)

While Eragon and Saphira helped defeat an army of Urgalls, the war has only begun.  They must travel to Ellesmera to complete Eragon's training as a dragon rider.  Far from Eragon, Rorin is fighting his own battle against the Ra'zac, who have taken from him what he most desires.  Their two stories intertwine in unexpected ways and lead to an inevitable battle.

My thoughts:
Once again, Paolini continues a spanking good fantasy story.  Though, in this book I found myself more interested during Rorin's part than Eragon's. Unfortunately, for the vast majority (of this vastly major work), it was terribly boring. I couldn't believe how I'd forgotten all the info-dumping and blabbing going on for 90% of the book.  All I remember from my first reading was how flabbergasted I was by the ending. It really was a twist I never saw coming and a smart one too. The books, at least on rereading/relistening (obviously I wasn't bothered much the first time) could do with some major cutting. I listened to this one on audio again and every time I am struck with the variety of voices Gerard Doyle can do. I even became more reconciled to Saphira's rumble. And yet, after all this whining, I'm still a fan of the series. Not one for your luke-warm fantasy fans, though.

Any of these that wowed you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. It seems like you either HATE Eldest or you LOVE it; there's no in between. At least, that's what I've observed. I happen to LOVE Eldest but I know lots of people who were bored. Brisingr was the boring one for me and I'm still stuck in Inheritance. I haven't read it for over a week now. :(

  2. I didn't like Wildwood at all, except for the pictures. :) I've been curious about The Story of Beautiful Girl. I'm thinking I'll probably skip it, though.

  3. Jenny, it's funny cause I both love and hate Eldest. Great story, just has WAY too much info that is useless. I'm still listening to Brisingr which seems a bit faster than Eldest to me. Hope Inheritance gets better!

    Bluerose, so glad I'm not alone in my Wildwood "meh." I'd be interested to see what you think of Beautiful Girl.


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