I usually list the titles of the books I am reviewing in the title of my post, but there were too many to list this time. Three out of five of these reviews are only a paragraph long, and the others aren’t too terribly long either, so don’t be too afraid to read on. 🙂
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The hype got me a little bit on this one, because I had so many people tell me that it was their favorite and this was the book where things got really dark and good and I spent like the first 75% of the book waiting for the good, dark stuff to happen. That last bit was really quite good, I have to say, and really redeemed a lot of it for me, but I honestly hope this isn’t what I consider the best in the series. I’m definitely intrigued by the new things I learned though and I’m really looking forward to book #4.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (was more like 3.5 or 4 until that end)
The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith
This was an off-the-beaten-path read for me, an adult Christian fiction book from a very small publisher. I used to read a lot more adult Christian fiction and would actually like to read a little more again, but I get nervous about it being cliche or cheesy or over-the-top preachy. From those aspects, The Land Uncharted was really great. You simply see that faith is part of these people’s lives and it’s pretty subtle. I really liked the premise and feel: it’s set in the near future and there’s a world war, but the specific setting of this story is a remote land that is unknown to outside dangers and feels more historical in nature. I also liked the characters and connected with Lydia, the MC, quite well for the most part, however there was a little bit of disconnect from the characters in the way the story was written.
The writing in this felt to me like something I could very easily accomplish, meaning that it did not seem to go through a rigorous editing process. I’m not speaking of grammatical errors, but everything just felt slightly underdeveloped. Like, how in the heck did 8 families manage to turn into a fairly large, genetically diverse population? But I felt most of the underdevelopment was with the characters. I completely understood each of them and their personalities and they were all different (well, except Mandy and Bethany, I confused them all the time), but I felt I never knew what they were feeling unless they said it. Or thought it with very on-the-nose thoughts, along the lines of, “Connor is a good man and I believe I could be in love with him because of X, Y, and Z, which is perfect compliment for my personality and the way I am.” I used to write this way myself, so it’s easy for me to recognize. But I try to avoid it now, and I hope as Keith grows as a writer she will grow out of this too.
Also, I felt Keith glossed over some really good stuff, like Lydia and Connor getting married! She jumps from the proposal (which quite frankly did not elicit much feelings even though I thought they were a great couple) to a few months later when they’re married, and it’s not even like a cute scene of them. It’s about Lydia Bradshaw being a doctor and saving the day. Seriously? Lame. Though the epilogue was a great set-up for what’s to come, unfortunately, it didn’t help with the lack of emotional development.
It also drove me crazy that Lydia thought she was to blame for everything and that she assumed everyone would think poorly of her if a man treated her a certain way. Um, no. I know she probably thought that way because of the way her society was, though I didn’t see much reinforcement of these sorts of thoughts from the people in her life. That sort of thing really gets to me.
But overall, I liked this story, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Keith and this world. I saw a lot of potential, and I hope to see her writing improve with each book.
Rating: 4 Stars
Partials by Dan Wells
I made it all the way to December before I put a book down unfinished (well, not counting Les Miserables, because I do intend to pick it back up one day), and I feel so bad that this was the one too. First off, I got this for my birthday last year and I just now got around to reading it. I wanted this book because Dan Wells is on the Writing Excuses podcast that I love. And here’s the thing about Partials: it’s not poorly written. The world is interesting and in the 148 pages I read I mostly understood how it came to be (though there was a lack in logic and sense when it came to making the women be perpetually pregnant, but I digress), and the characters are fleshed-out and funny. And it wasn’t even a slow build-up.
So what was the problem? Complete and total apathy. Every day that I did pick up this book, other than the day I started it, I had no interest in reading it. I could say that maybe it wasn’t the right time for me, and that might be somewhat true. I think I would have finished this book if I read it two years ago when I was not burned out on dystopia and post-apocalyptic. Not to say that this book is like The Hunger Games or Divergent because it isn’t really, it’s different! But honestly, I don’t think I am going to find myself musing about what could have been and find a desire to get into it again. I just flat-out did not care about the characters or their situation. I have kept reading books like this earlier this year, but all those books were highly praised by fellow bloggers who insisted that it got really good. When I looked at the ratings my Goodreads friends gave the book, only two of them had actually read it and rated it: one was a 2-star rating and one was a 3-star rating. That didn’t help motivate me to continue.
I would not not recommend this book to those who are interested though. Perhaps you’ll find yourself more invested in the world and characters than I did, because it’s not poorly written. I just couldn’t bring myself to care.
Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
I got this novella for free a little while ago, and it’s a prequel for the YA fantasy Midnight Thief. I thought this free novella would be a perfect way to help me decide if I wanted to invest in the series. And in the end… I was still undecided. It started off pretty promising for me, and I was intrigued, but after a while it became less interesting and the ending just fell flat for me. It’s one of those endings that would have really gotten to you if you were really emotionally involved with the characters, but I didn’t have the time to be, so it really didn’t mean much of anything for me. So, I don’t know. Jury’s still out on continuing the story. It doesn’t help that I’ve read mixed reviews on Midnight Thief.
Rating: 3 Stars
This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
For a story about a hostage situation, this really was quite boring. I never connected to Tarver a whole lot in These Broken Stars, but I remembered him being slightly more interesting than he came off in this short story. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t particularly good. I will say that there are a couple of interesting tidbits that add to the bigger picture of the world, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the story. The best part of this was reading the sample of This Shattered World.
Rating: 2.5 stars