Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot

Many thanks to the author for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Heartless City had so much promise.

After a bit of a slow start, I truly loved the beginning. Then, to my complete confusion and ultimate disappointment, the story jumped ahead years, and I realized I had been engrossed in a prologue. That prologue was the tale I most wanted to read: Virginia, smart and brave and traumatized, desperately trying to raise and keep safe a young daughter with unnatural gifts. Sadly, we jumped ahead to said daughter's teenage years instead.

I initially liked Elliot, the main male character, very much. That mostly continued throughout the story. I didn't connect so well with Iris, Virginia's gifted daughter. She was a bit... too much for me. A little too overwhelmingly beautiful and special to feel real, and her first connection with Elliot felt like insta-love. (Keep in mind that I am very picky about romantic relationships. I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy that sort of powerful immediate connection.)

There was some gorgeous prose, swirled together with the blocks of angst and overwrought, unconvincing character interaction. The book was also set against a background of some very interesting possible conflicts (the Hydes being the most obvious example), but those aspects were mostly dropped or underused. Paired with the fact that many of the secondary characters (Virginia; Elliot's friend Cam; amazing, tough, tiny Philomena) were far more interesting overall than the leads, this felt a bit like the first draft of a really, really amazing book.

Bottom line was, The Heartless City didn't quite work for me, but there was a lot of promise hidden in its pages. I very much hope the author one day writes that truly incredible book.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Tera Lynn Childs's Sweet Venom would have been a perfectly fun, normal young adult mythology tale if not for the inclusion of a creepy stalker who is, apparently, supposed to be charming. Its premise, about sisters who are the monster-killing descendants of Medusa, was interesting enough. Its prose was perfectly serviceable, and it had some tense, compelling action. All of which was overshadowed, for me, by the aforementioned creepy stalker.

Open statement to everyone: Stalking is not romantic and not okay. Obtaining a girl's phone number without her consent? Refusing to leave her alone even after she has told you repeatedly to do so? That stuff is nothing but creepy. Please keep it out of my fluffy young adult mythology-romance books.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review: Love, Death and Tea by Will Once

Will Once's Love, Death and Tea was wonderful, and that's not a word I use lightly. It was quick, compelling, and so funny that I am pretty sure I woke up my housemates with some late-night laughing. I kept texting quotes to my sister, and now she wants to read it too.

Love, Death and Tea offers a humorous, irreverent look at zombies and the apocalypse, with a different flavor from anything else I've read. If you're looking for deep, complex, twisty plotting and a huge cast of characters, look elsewhere: this book is light with crisp pacing, but the characters it does have are deftly drawn. During a difficult time, it was exactly the light-hearted escape I needed.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review: The Fiddler's Gun by A. S. Peterson

A. S. Peterson's The Fiddler's Gun was a rollicking historical tale, headed up by a truly wonderful young female character.

The storyline occasionally moved a bit slowly, but ultimately I think that only added to my enjoyment of the rich setting and well-drawn characters. Particularly Fin Button, the tough, headstrong, sometimes ruthless tomboy who did what she needed to survive--even if that meant leaving everything she'd ever known to become a pirate.

Also, Fin's relationship with her love interest was a fun gender-swapped twist on the "young man leaves behind faithful girlfriend to go on a quest" trope.

Fiction categorized as "Christian" is all too often preachy, shallow, and about as subtle as an anvil. This book was a refreshing change. The tale was built on bones of faith, but there was little preaching, and no trite easy answers. More like this, please.