Tag Archives: book review

Review of Wolf’s-Own Bundle, by Carole Cummings

I purchased a copy of Carole CummingsWolf’s-Own bundle, containing Ghost, Weregild, Koan, Incendiary.

Description from Goodreads:
Read Wolf’s-own: the four-book fantasy epic featuring Fen Jacin-rei—Incendiary, Catalyst, Once-Untouchable—and Kamen Malick, who is determined to decode the intrigue that surrounds him. Fen’s mind is host to the spirits of long-dead magicians, and Fen’s fate should be one of madness and ignoble death. So how is it Fen lives, carrying out shadowy vengeance for his subjugated people and protecting the family he loves? With a threat all too close and a secret he needs to explain, Malick is at odds with those who should be his allies, and no matter how much he wants to protect Fen, it may be more than he can manage when he’s trying to keep them alive

Review:
I’m not going to write individual reviews for each of these books, because though I understand they are split up to avoid a 900 page epic and each does come to a relatively natural stopping point, it is undeniably one single story and any individual book would be most unsatisfactory on its own. So, they are not stand-alones! But since I read them as a bundle I’ll rate/review them as one. Even as I acknowledge that if I’d only had the first, I likely wouldn’t rate it so high, considering its lack of conclusion.

But as a single story I really enjoyed it. It’s tragic and complex and redemptive all at the same time. I loved Fen and Kamen, as well as Kamen’s whole team and Fen’s family. The world is complex and multi-demential and the peoples are varied.

I did occasionally, especially in climactic scenes, wonder how things that happened happened. I often knew what was happening, but felt I missed the explanation of how it was happening. How someone suddenly had control of another or caused a certain something to occur, etc. Similarly, sometimes things that were meant to be cryptic to the characters were also a little too cryptic to the reader. But all in all I loved it.

Review of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, by Jenny Lawson

I borrowed the audio version of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson from the library.

Description from Goodreads:
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.

Review:
I’ve loosely followed Jenny Lawson online for the last couple of years, generally since Beyonce the chicken went viral. So, I knew who she was going in. But honestly I only picked the book up because my book club chose it for the read this month. I opted for the audio version because I didn’t know that I would really feel invested in it otherwise. I don’t know if that would have been true or not, but I’m awful glad I got the audio. I think I got a lot more enjoyment out of hearing her tell her stories than I would have from reading them. Don’t get me wrong, she has a really recognizable voice, even when writing, but I’m glad I made the choice I did. I can always look at the pictures later. Surely someone will bring the actual book to our meeting next month.

I very much like the way Lawson set herself and her husband Viktor up as a double act or, what the Japanese would call Manzai. He’s the straight man, all reasonable and level headed and she’s the silly one, the funny (wo)man. Of course, it’s all from her perspective and a lot of her humor is at the expense of her own mental health, but it is still funny and endearing, as the affection for him (and eventually her daughter) definitely comes across.

In the beginning I was a little put off as the entries felt random. They were funny, but not much more. But eventually Lawson started pulling themes and life advice from the stories, which I thought went a long way toward making it feel less erratic. At times, the humor felt a bit contrived, like someone desperately seeking attention. But overall I enjoyed it.

All in all, good job book club. I wouldn’t have chosen it on my own, but I enjoyed it all the same.

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?