Monday, May 23, 2016

Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs. Quirk Books, 2015

I LOVED the first two books in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy, so after finishing the second one I got Library of Souls from the library as soon as I could, expecting the excitement to carry on.

I was disappointed. Sorely.

I had trouble getting into the story; I actually found it a chore to read it for long stretches. It wasn’t all like that; there were some great incidents. But I felt that the book would have been twice as good if it had been half as long. There just wasn’t enough story and unique happenings to support 450 pages. The villain was a bit of a caricature; he would have fit into a comic book with his manic rule-the-world goal. There are some Deus-ex-Machina moments; some miraculous cures that, done once, were acceptable, but done more than that became just too convenient.

Unlike a fair number of reviewers, I did like the ending; I felt it was well deserved. I loved Addison the glasses-wearing, talking dog. I enjoyed the character of Sharon, the boatman on the horrible river (it wasn’t named Styx, but should have been) just because of some humor- not as laugh out loud as the heads-on-pikes on the bridge, but nice.

If you’ve read the first two books, you kind of have to read this one. I wouldn’t have been able to stand not knowing what happened. I just wish it had been better. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon they will give me a few cents. This in no way influenced my review. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery, by Deborah and James Howe. Atheneum, 1979

Having come of age in the 60s, I didn’t get to grow up with Bunnicula. Which is a shame, because I would have loved it as a youngster. The story is told via a manuscript written by a dog, Harold. He and feline Chester live in the Monroe household peacefully, spending their time reading, eating, and napping. Then one night the family comes back from the movies having found a small rabbit abandoned in a seat. The odd creature sleeps all day and has markings on his back suggestive of a black cape. Then Chester-whose favorite reading material is horror stories- develops a creepy theory about Bunnicula…

The book says the story is for those 8 to 12 years old; I think it would appeal to even the very young, while the writing is sophisticated enough for those older. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and guy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

This in no way influenced my review.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler. Hogarth Shakespeare, 2016

In this contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, Kate Battista is less shrew than just someone who doesn’t quite fit into everyday society. Twenty-nine years old, she keeps house for her father and brings up her fifteen year old airhead sister, Bunny. Thrown out of college for telling a professor his description of photosynthesis was half-assed, she works as a classroom aid at a preschool, where the kids love her but the parents and teachers not so much. She is forthright with her opinions, never mean but just sort of missing the social niceties.  Her father is a typical absent minded scientist who is near to a big breakthrough on autoimmune diseases, but he has a problem: his brilliant assistant is about at the end of his work visa and will soon have to leave the country. His idea, of course, is for Kate-who he tells bluntly isn’t going to find a husband on her own anyway- to marry the assistant, Pyotr. Needless to say, this doesn’t go over well. Pyotr does his best to ingratiate himself to Kate, but English is a second language for him and despite being here for three years, American society baffles him. Like Kate, he has no filters and tells people what he thinks. Kate, Pyotr, and Dr. Battista all seem a bit Aspergean in their lack of social skills.

Thankfully, this isn’t a rom/com but an examination of men and women, social conventions, and how people are valued by others. It is light in tone but with a hard edge running under the surface. There were a few surprises, but the best one was Bunny, who turns out to be not the airhead she acts like. This was a light, enjoyable read, and I was surprised to find that Tyler not only moved the story to modern day, but changed the tale to fit modern day women. Not Tyler’s best work by far, but nice.

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon,  they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Library Thing Early Readers program. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.