Category Archives: book review

Review of The Covens of Elmeeria, by Miguel Lopez de Leon

I won a copy of Miguel Lopez de Leon‘s The Coven’s of Elmeeria through Goodreads.

Description:
Princess Nia and her people have always publicly hated all witches. Witches are evil. Witches are cruel. But in one night, Nia must convince a deadly coven of sorceresses to help her defeat an army, or her family will be executed. Nia has always been adored by the masses. She is beyond reproach. Her one secret is that she was born a witch. 

The Covens of Elmeeria centers on Crown Princess Nia and the beautiful garden kingdom of Elmeeria. Nia and her parents, King Roo and Queen Bloom, are loved and celebrated by their people, but are also guarding a grave secret. Both Queen Bloom and Princess Nia are witches, and are terrified that the people of their kingdom will find out about them. What makes matters worse is that outside the great wall that surrounds Elmeeria is a banished coven of sorceresses, despised and ridiculed by the populace for their strange, dark powers. The popular royals want no association with the isolated enchantresses, but after their realm is invaded, Nia must travel through forbidden and treacherous lands to find the coven’s lair and beg them for their help. 

Nia desperately wants to prove that she can be a strong, capable leader, but what she doesn’t realize is that all power comes with sacrifice, and that to save the lives of her family she might have to lose the love of her people.

Review:
I won this through Goodreads and thought it looked like something my oldest daughter might like. But it’s categorized as Young Adult and the YA genre covers a lot of ground. I opted to read it before giving it to her, to be sure it falls on the Middle Grade side of YA , instead of the New Adult side.

I’m happy to say, for anyone wondering, I figure my 9yo will be fine reading it. But I’m still reluctant to give it to her. It’s simply not very good. (For the record though, the Annie B’s sea salt caramels I ate while reading it were excellent.)

I found this book to be  littered with what I consider problematic gender stereotypes. I cannot tell you how many times I rolled my eyes and huffed in irritation. It was like a man’s idea of what a woman’s life was like, based entirely on the ill-informed media stereotypes perpetrated by other men. Seriously, no depth at all! Plus, when I hit the 50 page mark and was still reading about Nia’s mother trying to marry her off and meeting princes and what beauty treatment or too tight dress they were wearing I almost just threw in the towel. Yes, I know some of this was part of the later duplicity, but I was still bothered by it. As I was by the surprise villain whose motivation weren’t touched on in the least.

Then there was the writing, which was largely telling. Worse still, I thought at one point that  if I had to read the words, ‘very,’ ‘Nia knew,’ or any more adjectives I might have to give this book up.

The thing is, if I do give it to my 9yo, she’s not going to notice a lot of these things. Despite my best efforts, she’s been inculcated with the girls, i.e. princesses wear pretty dresses and swoon over boys message since birth. My voice is just one dissension in the title wave that is the rest of the world. So, I have a decision to make. Do I bite my tongue and let her just enjoy it or do I toss it as something I’d prefer she not read and reinforce the message that all girls are pretty, but don’t relate to other women and the best they can hope for is to persuade someone to come fight for them?

 

Review of Some Kind of Magic & A Boy and his Dragon, by R. Cooper

I borrowed a copy of Some Kind of Magic through Amazon and bought A Boy and his Dragon from Dreamspinner. Both are by R. Cooper and part of the Beings in Love series.

Description from Goodreads:
Being a police detective is hard. Add the complication of being a werewolf subject to human prejudice, and you might say Ray Branigan has his work cut out for him. He’s hot on the trail of a killer when he realizes he needs help.

Enter Cal Parker, the beautiful half-fairy Ray’s secretly been in love with for years—secretly, because while werewolves mate for life, fairies…don’t. Ray needs Cal’s expertise, but it isn’t easy to concentrate with his mate walking around half-naked trying to publicly seduce him. By the time Ray identifies the killer—and sorts out a few prejudices of his own—it may be too late for Cal.

Review:
A sweet little story of a werewolf and his mate, a human-fairy hybrid. I quite enjoyed it. I thought Ray’s frustration and Cal’s flirting were a hoot. However, the situation is supposed to have gone on for two years! Considering the events of this book are a matter of days and I was already getting tired of it, two years would be intolerable. Because mostly it all comes down to two people not saying the things that need to be said and that’s a plot device that doesn’t work well for me.

There is no on-page sex, but all the longing kind of made up for it. And I quite like the idea of Beings, with shifters, pixies, fairies, etc being out in society. Plus, each having species’ characteristics and tht they have to contend with legends that aren’t always true. Again, a sweet story that kept me interested enough to want to read the next one.


Description from Goodreads:
Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.

Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.

Review:
It was cute. I’ll give it that and I did enjoy it as a cute, fluffy read. But exactly like book one, it’s a book who’s plot 100% depends on two men not saying what needs to be said. In fact, it pretty much is the plot. The dragon won’t tell the human what he wants, despite hinting at it, and the human won’t believe the hints or admit to his own desires. Thus, they pine for each other for 240 pages. Again, it was cute and well written, but that wasn’t really enough for me. Plus, I thought the ‘tragic sister’ (who’s life didn’t really seem so horrible that her brother had to sacrifice so much for her, she certainly seemed capable enough) was a pointless and over-used plot device. I’d read more of the series though.

Review of Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell

I borrowed an audio-copy of Karen Russell’s Swamplandia from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:
The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction.

Review:
Oh, I am well and truly torn on how I feel about this book. For one, it took me over a year to listen to it all. I borrowed it from the library and didn’t finish it before it was due, even after renewing it. Returned it and just wasn’t in any hurry to check it out again. It was almost a year later before I did. On the positive side, I was able to pick right back up where I left off, with no confusion. So, the story is easy enough to follow. On the negative side, I wasn’t invested enough to care that I didn’t know the ending for almost a year and I spent a lot of that time cringing and dreading where Ava’s narrative was obviously going. I REALLY hoped I was going to be surprised on that plot point, but predictably I was not.

I thought the setting was vivid and interesting, but the plot was kind of lost in it and the ending was so loose and anticlimactic I felt a little let down. The writing is very pretty though. I adored Kiwi’s narrator, David Ackroyd, but honestly I didn’t much care for Ava’s, Arielle Sitrick. She felt a little too stiff to me. All in all, I’m glad to have finished it, but also very glad to actually be finished.