Mini Reviews (23) – 20 Books of Summer Challenge 2016 Wrap Up

The challenge ran June 1 – September 5, and was hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. For my complete list, see my sign up post. For my other reviews, click here and here.

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    I’ve been looking forward to this re-read for a long time, and I was not disappointed. Anne and Captain Wentworth are mature leads, which I probably appreciate more now than in college.
  2. Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Review – This was not on my original list, but when I found a copy for $0.50 I just had to read it immediately!
  3. Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    As she aged, Christie seemed to enjoy spoofing herself and Poirot. This makes for a fun, if outlandish, read.
  4. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    A decent AC mystery. I enjoyed Jerry and Joanna, although I found the plethora of other village characters a tad confusing (some of them were so similar). I must admit that my favorite thing about this Miss Marple was the decided lack of Miss Marple (if it had been a Poirot, I would’ve complained no end!). This wasn’t on my original list, but I’ve been wanting to do a read-along with @maidensofmurder for awhile, so I took the opportunity in August.

Mini Reviews (20) – More Books of Summer

The challenge runs June 1 – September 5, and is hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. For my complete list, see my sign up post. For my first 7 reviews, click here.

  1. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Paper and Fire doesn’t quite live up to Ink and Bone, but, man, it’s still an action packed, wild ride of a book. The world building is still amazing (although, naturally, there’s less of it in this 2nd book), and the ensemble cast are lovable (is it wrong that I like many of the secondary characters better than Jess & Morgan?). I’ll be buying the 3rd book for sure!
  2. Mrs. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
    Yet another of Christie’s nursery rhyme murders, although this time it’s a rhyme that was infamy to me. Poirot is front and center (a relief after Taken at the Flood) and Ariadne Oliver (aka Christie’s parody of herself) is along for the ride. Also, there’s a metric ton of red herring!
  3. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Ooh, excellent! Plenty of Poirot, some lines that made me LOL, and I didn’t figure out whodunnit until right before Poirot told me. I can’t wait to watch the Suchet version (with Michael Fassbender as one of the suspects!).
  4. Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    A large, diverse (if stereotyped) cast of young people provide an interesting puzzle for Poirot. There’s so much going on that it surpasses “red herrings” and just becomes muddled. Still, it’s a quick, enjoyable read – a great way to spend a holiday weekend.
  5. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    In this installment particularly, I can see the parallels with The Hunger Games. Both series deal with the same moral issues, some of the characters have distinct similarities (most notably Ripred = Haymitch), and even some of the physical surroundings suggest the arenas. It’s cool.
  6. Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    This installment is a little different as Gregor and Luxa defy the adults and strike out on their own. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well. Exceptionally powerful and difficult themes for a MG book.
  7.  Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    I’m a little torn about rating this book. On the one hand, it’s not a wholly satisfying ending to the series (mainly because I didn’t want it to end!), but, on the other hand, the character development in amazing, and the story is exciting, thought-provoking, sad, and wonderful.
  8. Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Stiletto doesn’t quite live up to The Rook, mainly because Myfanwy isn’t the MC anymore. It’s still full of great characters, intrigue, gross outs, and awesomeness, we just don’t get Myfanwy’s snarky take on most of it.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    The illustrations are lovely! It’s also nice to have the original British text (except the title) instead of the “Americanized” version. We were actually listening to Jim Dale’s narration while looking at the illustrations, and it quickly became a game of spot the text differences. 🙂 Now, off to rewatch the movie!

Mini Reviews (17) – The First 7 Books of Summer

The challenge runs June 1 – September 5, and is hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. For my complete list, see my sign up post.

  1. Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Ugh, I’m so torn about this book! The mystery itself is, of course, brilliant! I noticed some of the clues, but missed others, and I always love Poirot’s denouements. However, I had to deduct a star because, after the prologue, Poirot doesn’t reappear until over halfway through the book. I LOVE Poirot! I want him around more! I deducted another star because Lynn Marchmont is one of the most repellent characters Christie has ever written, and it bothers me that she is set up as our heroine. Why, Agatha?!?
  2. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
    The negative reviews I’ve read complain about info-dumping (hello, it’s called word-building and O’Malley does it well), snarkiness (snark is awesomesauce), and cartoonish characters (um, it’s supposed to be like X-men, which is a CARTOON). If you don’t like world-building, snark, or superheroes, don’t bother with The Rook. If you’re cool, you’ll love it!
    The only things preventing me from giving it 5 stars are 1) too much swearing, and 2) a couple of gross-out descriptions. These are personal preferences on my part. Mostly, it’s just a ton of fun!
  3. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Suzanne Collins is so brilliant! She writes believable characters in fantastical settings, and even made me care about a cockroach! Writing a 2 year old accurately is difficult, but Boots is beautifully done. Gregor is loving, responsible, and incredibly brave, without being a Gary Stu. This is a middle grade book with teeth – there’s war, treachery, and death, but it’s thoughtful as well.
  4. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Wow, I had forgotten a lot of this story in the past 3 years. Gregor is such a fabulous hero – flawed but immensely likeable. Boots is adorable as ever, and some of the other characters (Mrs. Cormaci, Ares, Nerissa) get fleshed out beyond the first book. The fight between a few rats in the labyrinth is extremely violent and gives me some pause about passing this series on to my 10 year old son. I think it’ll wait for another year or two.
  5. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    The creep factor is subtle with most of these stories, but it’s there, all the same. My Life with R. H. Macy is quite funny! The Witch is rather awful . 😯 After You, My Dear Alphonse is a disturbing look at prejudice. Jackson was rather brilliant!
  6. The Story Girl by L. M. Montgomery
    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    I love that my kids will listen to, and enjoy, a 100+ year old book. 🙂 They had a few questions:
    “Why is it bad to say devil?”
    “Why can’t they play on Sunday?”
    “Why don’t they like Methodists?”
    I had to explain some things about early 1900s Christianity, but it never hurts to learn some history.
  7. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
    ⭐ ⭐
    I was seduced by the lovely cover, deckle edged pages, GR synopsis, and the plethora of 4 and 5 star ratings, so my family bought this for me for Mother’s Day 2015. It took almost a year for me to wade through. If it hadn’t been a Mother’s Day gift, I wouldn’t have bothered.Wecker tried to create a fantasy of Dickensian scope (and Dickensian coincidences) but she is no Charles Dickens. Most of the characters are disposable (in fact many of them die once they’ve played their part), and the title characters aren’t nearly as interesting as they should be. The plot is convoluted, incredibly drawn out, and mostly boring. Note to authors: Researching your novel is great! Putting absolutely ALL of your research into your novel is boring.