Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Cover image for The hero's guide to saving your kingdomGustav, Frederic, Duncan and Liam are the princes in the Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty stories respectively. They all feel like they have been mistreated by the bards who didn't even include their names in their stories, but called them collectively Prince Charming.  Also, none of their relationships with their princesses have turned out "happily ever after." Desperate to save face, they band together to save Ella who has been captured by Rapunzel's witch.  As they pursue their quest to be heroes, they encounter one (often hilarious) obstacle after another.

This is not a new book, but I kept seeing it come up on suggested lists so I decided I needed to read it for myself.  I am so glad I did. It is a total delight.  Each of the princes has a different personality, and their interactions are so funny.  Also, it is refreshing to read a "strong guy" book for once, instead of a "strong girl" book.  I loved all the male bonding and macho bro love.  If you decide to read this one I recommend the recorded book version.  The voice actor is amazing and so funny.  (2012, 438 p.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

Cover image for An inconvenient beautyHis grace, Griffith, Duke of Riverton, has decided it is his duty to wed, so he carefully and logically picks his future wife from the wallflowers at the seasonal balls in London.  Much to his surprise, the plain aristocratic girl he chooses to start to court keeps trying to avoid him.  He ends up being left in the company of her stunningly beautiful cousin over and over and starts to form an attachment to her instead.  Little does he know that she is hiding secrets, and it will not be a smooth road to marriage with her either.

This is actually the fourth in a series of Christian historical romances.  Each one is about a different family member of the house of Riverton.  I checked it out because I was going on vacation and decided to ditch the kid's novels for a week, just for fun.  It was a fun read, though not of the quality of Georgette Heyer's best (but I have read all of those already).  Still, it has all the trappings that I enjoy in a fluffy, clean, historical romance.  I haven't decided how I feel about the Born Again elements the author added.  They seemed a little out of place in the story.  The characters were thinking about God in a modern way instead of in a way I would imagine a Victorian would think.  Still, it was not a huge part of the narrative, and not at all offensive.  I will probably read others in the series the next time I need a break from middle grade novels. (379 p. 2017)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband by E J Cooperman

Cover image for The question of the unfamiliar husbandThis is the second in the Asperger's Mysteries.  In this one Samuel is worried about making the payment on his office space, when a woman comes in wanting him to confirm the identity of her new husband.  Samuel can figure out anything that can be measured or recorded, but is totally out of his depth when it comes to relationships. So he calls Ms Washburn to help.  It takes some coaxing to get her to come back, and he has to promise her husband she will be in absolutely no danger during the case. It is a promise that he has a very hard time keeping.

This was another really fun, really clean mystery.  The solution was a little easier to see on this one, but it isn't only the mystery that makes these books enjoyable, it is the characters.  There is one scene in this book where Samuel goes on a date with one of the suspects.  She is not at all as sensitive about Samuel's Aspergers as Ms Washburn is, and it is pretty hilarious, especially when the date ends with a high speed car chase. (2015, 279 p.)


Friday, May 11, 2018

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Cover image for Aru Shah and the end of timeAru Shah's mother is the curator of a museum of Indian antiquities.  She has always told Aru that the old lamp in one of the exhibit rooms was cursed, and if someone lit it a demon would appear.  Aru doesn't believe it, of course, until one day when "friends" dare her to light it.  When she does, a demon does appear, causing time to freeze all around him.  With her one bad choice, Aru is swept into a world of the Hindu gods, and discovers more about her family than she had ever imagined. 

This is the first in a new imprint called Rick Riordan Presents.  Presumably it will include books like his Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series where modern kids find out they are demi-gods.  This book is very much like the Percy Jackson books, and it was fun to learn more about Hindu mythology.  Some of the action sequences were so much like Riordan's that I wondered if he actually helped write them.  The difference between this book and his latest series, is that is contains no reference to BGLT relationships (one of Riordan's favorite topics as of late) which was refreshing.  It also doesn't quite have the snappy patter I have enjoyed in Riordan's writing, and so I didn't actually enjoy it as much as the first Percy Jackson books.  Still, it will be easy to sell this one to Riordan fans.  (355 p.  2018)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Granted by John David Anderson

Cover image for GrantedOphelia is a fairy whose job it is to be a granter.  She is new at the job and anticipates her first assignment to grant a wish.  When the assignment comes, she soon discovers that covert operations in the Human World are not as straight forward as she had expected from her training at the academy.  Within hours she has damaged her wing and lost most of her equipment.  With the help of a friendly dog she continues her quest  to find the coin used to make the wish and use her fairy magic to grant it.

This was one of the most annoying and frustrating books I have ever read. Oh my!  The 20th time Ophelia's efforts were foiled, yet again, I rolled my eyes and almost slipped the CD out of the player.  I found myself dreading turning it on again. The only thing that kept me going was that I began to wonder what made the book SO bad.  Some people seemed to like it.  It got a starred review in Kirkus. After some analysis, I decided that the thing that bothered me the most was the pacing.  The story went on and on, (and on and on).  And just when you thought something was actually going to happen, the writer broke in with an aside about fairy practices and culture. Arg! It reminds me of an adult that dangles something in front of a child and keeps snatching it away right before the child grabs it.  The adult keeps up the game, thinking it is funny until the child starts to cry.  That's what it felt like. Another thing that slowed down the book was that the author was obviously in love with the fantasy world he can created.  He mentions the same fairy practices multiple times throughout the story, just in case the reader had forgotten that "fairies heal fast" or "it is super important that fairies leave no trace" or "the coin kept saying the words of the wish."  It would also be interesting to do a word count of how many times the phrase "I wish" appears in the book.  I am betting it would be over 1000.  Where was the editor? The book has 325 pages.  If the editor had forced the writer to cut it in half, maybe 160 pages, it could have been a really cute and entertaining book. As it is, it was a truly painful read. (2018)




Thursday, May 3, 2018

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson

Cover image for The city on the other sideIsabel is a poor rich girl.  Her socialite mother has little time for her.  Her artist father is kindhearted, but doesn't know how to act around children, so Isabel is left to herself much of the time.  One day she finds an injured fairy in the woods near her father's cabin.  The fairy gives her a necklace and makes her promise she will deliver it to the Seelie general, Miyori.  Thus Isabel is sucked into the fairy world and is caught up in the war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts.  With the help of a mushroom spirit and a human boy named Benjie, she seeks to return the necklace to its rightful owner and heal both the fairy world and her own.

This is a decent graphic fantasy after the style of Amulet.  Both Isabel and Benjie are sympathetic characters, the story is interesting, and the action is fast paced.  There were a few times when I didn't understand the visual cues in the pictures, and had to go back over a page or two to understand what was happening.  I am beginning to understand that creating illustrations that clearly depict action sequences is a tricky business and only a few illustrators are true masters.  Still, this book has a lot of kid appeal and I am sure I will be recommending it a lot this summer. (209 p. 2018)


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Flying Girl by Mararita Engle

Cover image for The flying girl : how Aida de Acosta learned to soarHere is a short picture book biography of Aida Acosta.  When she was a teen age girl, Aida traveled to Paris (she was an American) and while there saw Alberto Santos-Dumont flying in a homemade dirigible.  Aida was entranced and wanted to learn to fly one herself.  She contacted M. Dumont and took flying lessons.  When it was time for her to have her first flight, she insisted in flying solo.  She flew the ship several miles across France and landed safely in a field.  This was 6 months before the Wright Brothers flew a Kitty-hawk. The story is almost rhyming, or rhyming in some places and not so well in others.  I kind of wish they hadn't tried to rhyme.  It was a good enough story to stand on its own as prose.  Still, I liked the book with its bright, lively pictures.(2018, 31 p.)