Tag Archives: YA

Review of Shadow Hunter (Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill #1), by B.R. Kingsolver

I borrowed an audio copy of B.R. Kingsolver‘s Shadow Hunter through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, bout out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza?

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review:

Meh, I suppose this wasn’t bad. But I didn’t find anything about it that stood out and I REALLY don’t think Erin lived up to her own hype. We’re told she’d been intensely training (20hrs a day) since she was 14. But the gaps in her magical knowledge (mostly so the author had an excuse to explain things to the reader) were too wide and frequent to be believed. Plus, her whole “I’ve never lived in the world” schtick contradicted the fact that she’d been sent on missions, sometimes as staff and sometimes with high society, but out in the world. Am I really supposed to believe things like she’d never had pizza? 

I did like most of the side characters (that I was meant to like) and the mechanical writing and narration by Madeleine Dauer appear to be fine. It all just felt far too mediocre YA novel for my tastes. But I have no doubt it will find it’s audience.

Review of Queen Moxie, by Hank Quense

I won a signed paperback of Queen Moxie, by Hank Quense, through Library Thing.

Description from Goodreads:

Moxie’s adventures continue. This time she’s the Queen and her reign is threatened. A tribe of savage Picts have migrated from up north and settled outside her borders. Then there are the forests fairies. Their king, Oberon, claims a vast chunk of her land. In addition, Moxie’s ten-year-old daughter, decides she doesn’t want to be the next Queen. How’s a Queen to deal with all these problems? 

Review:

This is utterly ridiculous and anachronistic, but endearingly so. Think Terry Pratchett.

Unfortunately, it really suffers from amateurish writing and not knowing what it wants to be. The writing feels suited for lower YA audiences, maybe even Middle Grade. But the book includes cursing and references to sex, which I have no problem with in principle but have no place in a Middle Grade book. I suspect that the issue is the author wanted to write and adult book, but only has the skill to craft middle grade complexity in his stories.

Plus, I sense that Quense meant for the book to be gender positive, but it really wasn’t. There are several problematic gender norms that go largely un-critiqued. Pedro and his insistence that he can control Kate simply by virtue of being a man. (None of which contributed to the plot in any way.) And the fact that I don’t think Moxie makes a single decision in the whole book that she doesn’t ask a man about first.

The whole thing was just too clumbsy for me to enjoy. Honestly, I skimmed the last 50 or so pages trying to force myself to finish it. And I wouldn’t even have done that if it didn’t fulfill the Q for my yearly alphabet soup challenge (where I read an author for each letter of the alphabet).

Review of The Girl and the Clockwork Cat (Clockwork Enterprises Book 1), by Nikki McCormack

I picked up a copy of Nikki McCormack‘s The Girl and the Clockwork Cat when it was a freebie on Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear. 

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer. 

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together. 

Review:

Not bad, though I thought it a tad over-long and (as always) I was annoyed to find a love triangle. Beyond that, I liked Maeko as a character and appreciated the somewhat dystopic steampunk London. I would have appreciated a bit more world-building though. My main complaint however, is that the whole premise of the book is anchored in a decision Maeko is supposed to have made at six, based on an overheard conversation. Even in a dystopian world, I can’t believe a six-year-old would do what she’s supposed to have done (and never gone back on the decision). This really undermined the believability of the story for me. It also made the predictable “Oops, my misunderstanding” exceedingly annoying. All in all, I didn’t not like it. I just had niggles with it.

As a side note, I’m additionally annoyed to find a girl in fishnets and a frilly skirt on the cover of a story about a girl who spends the whole book dressing as a boy and ACTIVELY tring to hide that she’s a girl.