Friday, June 22, 2012

Catching Up Through Quick Mentions

Yes, 'tis the time of year when I need to clean my review slate or I'm going to be tempted to just quit blogging. This stack has been sitting here too long, cluttering up my coffee table. A few of these books are from vacation and others have just been sitting here unreviewed for no particular reason. Anyway, here are some brief thoughts on five of our recent reads --

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

This novel was so much more than I expected it to be. I picked it up used a while back because of the mention of I Capture the Castle in one of the blurbs but then didn't read it for the same reason, the fear of disappointment and all of that. Luckily, some other bloggers have been reading it lately and giving it great reviews so I took it on vacation and it was an entertaining and exciting read! With a near-defunct island kingdom, Nazis and a possible romance, all from the point of view of Sophia FitzOsborne through the pages of her journal, this is a coming-of-age story like no other. There are two other books in the series -- The FitzOsbornes in Exile (released in March) and The FitzOsbornes at War (coming in October). I will be getting both.

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

One of my reading plans for the year was to re-read all of Matthew Pearl's novels and so I took his first one on my trip. I probably first read it around 2004 when the paperback came out so it has been a while and I had forgotten most of what happened in this suspenseful tale. It was even darker than I remembered with its descent into Dante's Inferno and a little bit rougher than Pearl's later works but I saw the same love for Boston that Pearl shows in his other novels. I felt like I had a better connection with the main characters--Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell and Fields--than I did the first time too. I'm excited to continue this journey this year!

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

This darkly comedic manor house story seems to be getting two kinds of reviews -- either readers love it or they thought they would love it but something just wasn't satisfying in the end. I was the second kind of reader. There were things that I really liked about the book and it had a lot of potential but, unfortunately, I saw straight to the big reveal fairly early in the story -- really, as soon as it was possible to suspect something. In fact, I thought it was going to be something even more interesting. When it wasn't, I was a bit let down. Still, I think this story is going to appeal to a lot of readers for its twists and turns and outrageous characters.

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

This is one that Z and I read together at bedtime and both of us really, really liked it. I would say loved but it got a little strange at the end and I think we weren't able to suspend our disbelief to the level Evans required. This was kind of weird because I'm normally a believer. But I think that the way the big reveal was presented was a bit sudden and we just weren't ready for it. Still, we got to be friends with young Stuart Horten and really enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of the story. It appears that a sequel, Horten's Incredible Illusions, will be out in September and we can hardly wait for it!

Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones

Finally, I enjoyed another DWJ re-read while in Hawaii. I love this story. It has so many wonderful creatures and wizards and a really fun plot. Derk and his family are now some of my all-time favorite DWJ characters and, as I've said before and will probably say many more times, I wish Diana had been able to tell us more of the stories of this fun world. The Celebrate Diana Wynne Jones tumblr recently posted a link to a little author interview from when this book was first published.

Whew! All caught up and ready to share my amazing read with you next time.

Riding roughshod over all genre boundaries and review expectations,


  1. Oh goody! A Brief History of Montmaray sounds like exactly the book for me, and indeed I am a bit sorry I squandered my B&N gift card on a David Foster Wallace essay collection. Esp as there are two more! Yay!

  2. I think it's a good thing I read The Uninvited Guest before anyone was talking about it because I had no expectations at all. I didn't even know there was a twist or secret or anything to be revealed, so I wasn't looking for anything and was taken by surprise by what was actually happening (although I admit I can be sort of dim when it comes to working out twists ahead of time).

  3. I am seriously behind on my reviews and need to get on the ball or I'll be reviewing all my 2012 books in 2013. Seriously, I still have reviews to write for books I read in 2011!! So so so so bad!

  4. Jenny - There's always another book we wished we had bought instead, isn't there? That's why I keep bookstore gift cards around forever. I can never commit to buying anything! And I do think you would like that book. I hope the sequels are as good!

    Teresa - I actually didn't know there would be a twist which is why it disappointed me when it was super obvious. But I read A LOT of books like this so I think that's why I caught the clues early. I think the average reader won't see it coming the way I did.

    Jenners - Anything that old just gets dropped off of the review list. Really, it's about 3 months and then I just let them go. I can't remember much about them at that point anyway. I give you permission to let some of those go! :)

  5. Wow you have been busy!
    I never seem to rad anything these days except research for my WIP!
    Lucky I find that FUN.

  6. I love this idea of getting your backlog done with short reviews! I'm going to check out Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms. Great reviews.

  7. Al - Busy reading but not busy blogging. ;)

    Vasilly - It was the only way I could get through them at this point! I was quite bogged down. Horten's is a really fun book. I hope you enjoy it!