Monthly Archives: April 2019

Review of Stumbling On A Tale, by Suzanne Roche

Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to read all the Middle Grade books that I’ve shelved with the intention of reading before passing them to my children (but basically forgot about). Today I finished Stumbling on a Tale, by Suzanne Roche. I won it through Goodreads.

Description:

It turns out the trips back in time haven’t ended for Peri, Henry, and Max. In the second book in the TIME TO TIME Series, the children find themselves right in the middle—the Middle Ages that is. And this time they’re lost in a forest, where they stumble upon a group of travelers who seem to be long on medieval tales but short on helpful information.

Peri and her stepbrothers are sure they know what they have to do to get home though, so there won’t be any problems this time. End of story.

Okay, maybe not.

It turns out everything Peri and the boys know is wrong and nothing is how they expect it to be. So when none of their ideas work, they have to rely on a peasant chaperoning his pig, a maiden searching for her dog, a dragon-hunting page, and an unappreciated sorcerer to find the answers. Only everyone seems to be better at losing things than finding them.

At the end of the book, you can get your hands on history—make medieval gingerbread, learn to play Nine Man’s Morris, and solve a riddle from the 10th century, plus more! 

Review:

I found this an interesting miss-mash of a book. It’s eminently readable (even if the editing hitches on occasion and it looks like it’s been formatted in Word *shudder*). And it’s obviously intended to introduce and educate children on aspects of the Middle Ages, the story being the vehicle to drop facts in their laps. It mostly works too.

Where I think it falters is in the pictures. Not the pictures themselves, but that they’re pictures with captions. They seem out of place in a fictional story, as opposed to a textbook. It requires quitting the story to read the caption, which disrupts the flow. I found it really distracting. The only way I actually see this working with a child reader is the time-honored practice of not reading the caption at all.

Having said that, as with so very many books with ignored caption, I can see this doing well in a school library. And for the record, it stands alone just fine. I had no problem with the fact that I hadn’t read book one, Making it Home.

Edit: I noticed, when I cross-posted this review to Amazon, that Making it Home is a freebie. So, it would be easy enough to pick up.

Review of The Whimsicals, by Mr. Bohemian

I won a copy of The Whimsicals, by Mr. Bohemian. I think it was through Goodreads, but I’m not 100% certain. It’s been sitting on my self for a while, waiting for me to feel inspired to read a series of short plays (Christian ones, at that).

Description:

Strap on your angel wings and resize your halo, this bus is set for Heaven or bust! A congregation of comedy and curiosity to cackle and confuse mortals and immortals. No angels were harmed in the making of this production. No demons were flattered in the making of this production.

Angel Incorporated

Your guardian angel is tracking your reward points. Do you have enough for a miracle? The angels of Angelix watch over mortals from their computer. From there they may provide their assigned mortal with what they need, but not often what they want. Is managing mankind not your nine to five? The demons of Daemonix are always accepting applications. 

The Guilty Gardener

Calling the case of The Children of The Garden versus Sylmalice. The prosecution states that Angel Sylmalice trailed the girl Eve into biting the tree of treachery. The defense argues that ever since “the exeunt” of Lucifer, angels have been actively prejudice to demons. Therefore, Angel Sylmalice is innocent by reason of “authenticity”, with mental collapse triggered by systematic social suppression. Angel 12 is on the case.

Kitty Kloud 9

You are now kruising on Kitty Kloud 9: Where Pets Get Picky! While on the show, angel parents possess the chance to chat with their pets. Are your dog and kitty kaught in a furball? Is the bird barbarically flicking the fish again? Step lightly with Angel 9 and Mr. Kitty, as they tiptoe through tantrums and bring peace to petkind.

Review:

Soooo, this is a thing I’ve now read. I can’t say it resonated with me, and not because of the religious content. (I think it works fine for the irreligious too). I just thought the whole thing was trying way too hard to be claver and witty. Especially in The Guilty Gardner, where they excoriate relativism by expounding on the difference between nothing and no thing, for example. (And that’s if I actually followed all the banter-like quibs correctly. And Kitty Kloud 9, where everything is written with Ks instead of Cs, even though it’s a PLAY and how would the audience know the difference?It just felt gimmicky.

Review of The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy

I initially won a paperback copy of Aimee Molloy‘s The Perfect Mother through Goodreads. However, in order to get it read, I chose to borrow an audio copy of it from the library for a road trip.

Description:

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Review:

Honestly, this is a hard one for me to review. There are certain kinds of books that I just don’t particularly enjoy, and this is one of them. Of course, I didn’t realize that until I’d gotten into the book, and that left me with the choice to DNF or muscle through it. I chose to finish it. Being objective, the writing is perfectly readable and (as I had the audio-book) the narration by Cristin Milioti is very good as well. But 9.5 hours of new mother anxiety nearly broke me.

I’ll grant that any woman who has had children in the last decade or so will recognize the pressure to be perfect, the mommy competition, the stress and anxiety caused by parenting an infant in the world of social media, etc. (I imagine every generation has some version of this). But any positive feeling engendered by relating to this aspect of the characters was eclipsed by the fact that the mothers (and one father) of this book were basically neurotic. Yes, parenting a newborn is hard. Yes, the characters of this book are subjected to additional stressors. But 300+ pages of “OMG, my Baaaaby!” felt like about an eternity to me. I hated them all by the end.

I suppose the best I can say is that if you like this sort of book, the sort where women agonize over being women, then read this. For me, I’m just glad to be finished.