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review 2018-03-20 16:45
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
Beyond the Highland Mist - Karen Marie Moning

Thanks to a woman's pricked pride, two people from different points in time, find themselves embroiled in the battle of wills...And hearts.

Aoibheal, Queen of the Fae, decides to make her husband, the King, and her jester jealous by talking about the almost mystical prowess (both in the battlefield and the boudoir) of Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, third Earl of Dalkeith. Apparently his appendage and stamina are able to possess a woman's soul. And the Queen claims to have experienced in first hand. Which makes the King and the Fool rather peeved and intent on revenge.

Enter Adrienne de Simone, all the way from 1997, badly burned by a beautiful, deceitful man with a black soul, which makes her hate all beautiful men at large. So what is she to do, when she's thrust back into 1513 Scotland and wed, by proxy, mind you (!) to a devastatingly beautiful (both in and out) man?

This is the first book in Moning's romance Highlander series. I prefer her in the romance author guise myself, because I like my books to actually have a beginning and an end all in one book, but that's just me.

It's obvious, this is the first book, since it sports the many first-book problems. It looks like KMM was still looking for her voice, tempo, and narrative style with this one.

For starters, the conflict dragged on for too long (almost two thirds of the story) and in the end came across as more of a stubbornness issue on the heroine's part than anything else. There was nothing to the conflict really to start with. Sure, she was badly burned, but hating all beautiful men because of the action of one specimen is a bit over the top.

The second problem I have with this story is the fact, the romance doesn't really "register". It's there because it's written, the resolution comes across as plausible, believable and sweet, because of the length of the conflict, so in the end the reader wants the hero and heroine to be together just to end the idiocy of the conflict that's keeping them apart.
Unfortunately, the story is so focused on the conflict and heroine's trust issues that it never lingers overmuch on the characters, leaving the reader slightly bewildered to the fact why these two love each other so much in the end, when the reader barely knows them.

And the third problem is the antagonist, but that's just me, since I loved him in his own book that comes later in this series.

Still, the story is well-written, though slightly underdeveloped, overblown in places and rather plodding in others. It's set in Scotland (my favorite setting of them all no matter the time frame), it features a yummy Scottish, kilt-wearing laird that falls (inexplicably) head over heels for the first woman who resists him (novelty, I guess), and is filled to the brim with wonderful supporting cast.

It could be better. It should be better, but it could also be a lot, lot worse, so it gets three stars.

I like it and I won't mind re-reading it in the future.

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review 2018-03-19 18:54
What's Izzy up to?
Hilo Book 4: Waking the Monsters - Judd Winick

Judd Winick's series continues with book 4 titled Waking the Monsters and we find ourselves back with HiLo and his friends as they continue to fight off the monsters that are being unleashed on earth by Razorwark. Two heroes are born: Comet and Star Burst. This is the book where we finally discover just exactly why Razorwark wants to destroy humanity and where all of the robots are coming from. If you've been following the series from the beginning, you'll be happy to learn that Gina finally expresses her true feelings about being a cheerleader to her mom. Eagle-eyed readers should pay special attention to the background of the illustrations for an especially funny jab at the U.S. government (unless you're a Trump supporter in which case you probably won't think it's that funny). It continues to be an action packed, humorous book about friendship and doing the right thing. Winick knows how to capture his audience's attention and keep it even when books are spread out (the next is sadly not due out until 2019). You're not even ready for the ending of this one, guys! I think the best part about reading the HiLo series is that I have quite a few kids here at the branch that are reading it right along with me. Since I'm always here I have the benefit of reading it first so when they come and check out the shelves and see it I can gush about how much they're going to like it. (Maybe I crow over reading it before them a bit but that's neither here nor there.) 10/10 for readability and 'inside' jokes + making a connection with my kids.


An example of the humor. [Source: Bam Smack Pow]


What's Up Next: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


What I'm Currently Reading: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-18 03:42
Moving Target
Moving Target - Christina Diaz Gonzalez

There should have been some sort of warning.

- First Sentence


"Everything is part of the same painting," as my dad liked to say. "But we are each the artist of our own life. We choose what colors to use."

- Chapter 1



Cassie is an eighth grader living with her father in Rome, having an ordinary, boring life (except for the fact that she is an American girl living in Rome). One day, Cassie's father comes to school and yanks her into the car, speeding through the city, blabbering about how much he loves her, how he is going to fix things, and how he should have told her when she was younger. He finally tells Cassie that the Hastati are after her. Cassie has no idea what that means and she thinks he might be crazy, but then a motorcycle pulls up and the rider starts shooting at them. When her dad gets shot, Cassie takes him to the hospital, but he insists she must run to find Brother Gregorio for help. Cassie is terrified and runs to the only place she thinks might be safe, her friend Simone's house. But when the danger follows her even there, Cassie and Simone must find Brother Gregorio and find out what all of this means.


 In her dad's notebook, Cassie finds this message:

The Guardian will be bound for life once the spearhead is used.

It turns out the Hastati are a two thousand year old organization entrusted with one important duty - protect the spear (The Spear of Destiny). The spear can shape destiny, but only certain people can use the power - and Cassie is the last of that bloodline.

I was just an average girl. Things like this were not supposed to happen to people like me. The palette of my life's painting was gray or maybe a boring variety of beige, not psychedelic neon.


Well, this book starts off running and doesn't slow down. Cassie is constantly trying to figure out who to trust and how to keep Simone and herself safe. They are racing to find the spear, but they aren't the only ones. They must figure out baffling clues at every turn and stay ahead of the two factions fighting each other for control of the spear.


This is an edge of your seat adventure that will keep readers guessing until the end. I highly recommend it to kids in grades 4-8 who enjoy mysterious adventure stories with strong female heroines.


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review 2018-03-18 01:33
Quest to the Uncharted Lands
The Quest to the Uncharted Lands - Jaleigh Johnson

When the Iron Glory's engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.

- First Sentence


This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn't a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters. 


Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard. 


Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won't come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn't the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn't sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn't want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?


So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 -8. It is just as good as the first.

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review 2018-03-11 01:41
Worth the $4.60 I paid for it? Debatable.
Night Watch: A Long Lost Adventure In Which Sherlock Holmes Meets FatherBrown - Stephen Kendrick

When I saw this book on the shelf at BAM it was the most exciting thing I'd found there all day. I even broke a self-imposed book buying ban to get it. (I figured, hey, it's less than $5, why not?) Oh boy was I wrong.


On principal, a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown is possibly the most exciting thing I've found since I discovered Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman in the 12th grade. This book didn't live up to its lofty promise.


First of all, Father Brown wasn't really in it. He acts as translator to an Italian cardinal and doesn't make more than six appearances in 258 pages. Secondly, Stephen Kendrick wasn't very nice to him. His descriptions make poor Father Brown sound like he has the Innsmouth look about him.


And this doesn't even touch one of the biggest problems with the book: consistency. Watson is constantly calling Holmes "Sherlock" and then "Holmes" all withing a few paragraphs. For some reason people keep forgetting that Watson is a doctor and calling him "Mr Watson" and forgetting that Father Brown is a priest and calling him "Mr Brown."


And now onto the real problem: the plot. It's all about a conference of faiths that's interrupted by a brutal and unusual murder that Holmes must solve before dawn or risk an international incident. Everything is flat. The characters are flat, the murder is flat, the motives are flat. It starts with a completely unrelated case that doesn't really tie into the main plot of the book.


Then the timeline started bouncing. First Holmes and Watson are enjoying Christmas day at their shared flat in Baker Street, then it's Christmas Eve and they're in Oxford at a Christmas party hosted by one of Holmes' professors, and then it's Christmas day again. It continues to bounce around until about halfway through the book when it inexplicably stops. If the author had continued to use the twisting timeline throughout the whole book it would have at least been justifiable, but stopping it halfway through just made it confusing.



PLOT - 3/5

PROSE - 3/5


OVERALL - 2.5/5

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