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review 2019-01-15 20:30
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui by Makombo Bamboté
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui - Makombo Bamboté,George Ford

Like apparently most of the people who read this book, I read it for my world books challenge and wasn’t particularly impressed. It seems to be aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 9-12), and recounts the childhood experiences of a boy named Daba as he leaves his village in the Central African Republic to attend school in a larger town and spends his vacations traveling around the country with friends and relatives.

As you would expect, this is a quick and easy read that even includes some illustrations. It’s a pretty gentle story, including adventures such as attending a boarding school and tagging along for a crocodile hunt. However, it is disjointed, prematurely ending events that could have been exciting if fully-developed – like the crocodile hunt, which gets less page time than a neighbor telling the boys a story – and including more episodes than fit comfortably within its brief page count. It does little to immerse the reader in Daba’s feelings or experiences; in the second half of the book, he seems to fade into his group of friends, who are indistinguishable in personality and experiences (except for the French pen pal who somehow is able to fly to a Central African Republic town alone and spend the summer wandering from village to isolated village with the local boys).

Daba grows older – the book appears to cover a couple of years – but he doesn’t really have struggles to overcome or seem to change or learn more about life. At times, knowing the story to be based in some way on the author’s childhood, Daba’s portrayal even comes across as self-aggrandizing: a star pupil, always cool and confident, beats adults at games, liked by everyone except for one classmate who’s condemned by other children and adults alike. Meanwhile, for adult readers, the language is perhaps too simple, and some of the events are eyebrow-raising or could use more explanation (the pen pal trip, Daba’s being awarded a scholarship to study abroad without any apparent effort from him or consent from his parents, etc.).

At any rate, this isn’t too bad if you’re doing a world books challenge – Daba travels around his country, giving the reader a sense of the landscape and the culture in the places he visits, and quick reads are always valued for big challenges – but those searching for diverse books to give to the children in their lives would be better served looking elsewhere.

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review 2019-01-15 19:49
Rambling Thoughts: The Bride
The Bride - Julie Garwood

The Bride

by Julie Garwood
Book 1 of Lairds' Fiancées

 

 

By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison...a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her...forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian.

He was everything her heart warned against—an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And thought Kincaid's scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him...until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses...



Because there's an almost ridiculously comedic vibe to Julie Garwood's writing style, I couldn't find it in me to give this book less than a very average rating of 2.5 Stars.  I remember coming across a review while perusing Historical Romance novels that described this book as rather shallow and really only good for the "lols", but not much else.  And I feel like it's pretty spot on.

Mind you, I went back and forth on my like and dislike of everything in this book, starting with the 'Angelic Mary Sue' character of Jamie Jamison, to the arrogant and always angry, yet has a heart of gold hero, Alec Kincaid.  The book also didn't lend itself any help when I came to the realization of what Medieval Romance and Highlander Romance entailed...  I mean, it wasn't like it totally slipped my mind just how terrible women were treated during that era in history, but I guess it sort of DID slip my mind, if that makes any sense.

The forced marriages, the forced consummation of the marriages, the fact that women were treated like property...  There were more than one reference implying that women were no better than sheep or horses, and one of the lairds even got more offended his horse had been abused by our heroine, screaming about how "It's one thing to insult the wife, but, oh no, you did NOT just slap my horse!"

I fully admit it--I needed to adjust my mindset.  I know history was never kind to women.  I've admitted this before when I was reading a Chinese historical by Jeannie Lin.  I get it.  But I don't have to like it.  Maybe that's why I tend to lean more towards historical fiction where the women (and sometimes the men) are maybe too modern for their era.  Maybe it's not as historically accurate, but it doesn't turn me all ragey.

Except that I'm of the impression that things can still be handled MUCH better.  Which, in a way, Julie Garwood kind of manages to do... sort of... maybe... I don't know.

Because, as I'd stated earlier, there's a strange comedic charm to Julie Garwood's writing style, which, when you set aside everything I didn't like about this book, kind of shines through rather well.  There were moments when I thought the book was definitely getting a little bit better.  There were moments when I did find it in myself to give a light chuckle.

But those moments are so random and so out-shined by the things I didn't like.

I would say that Jamie was the most cliched Mary Sue I've ever read about, but that wouldn't be true, because I've encountered worse.  But she's definitely a top ten contender.  I mean, basically Jamie is everything from self-sacrificing, to hard working, to beautiful, to kind, to forgiving, to knowing how to ride a horse bareback, being able to heal, having the ability to make everyone fall in love with her, and also manages to run around saving children from rampant wild boar.  She can also, apparently, shoot an arrow dead center at a target from miles away, as well as throw a dagger with super human accuracy.

Did I also mention that she's angelic and beautiful?  Even though SHE doesn't think she's beautiful... and deliberately fishes for compliments on at least two occasions.

The one and ONLY flaw that Garwood gives her is that she has a terrible sense of direction.

And in my personal opinion, I also find her extremely clueless and easily distracted.  The fact that her common sense and her comprehensive skills were drastically diminished after her first sexual intercourse encounter did not escape my notice.  And why is it that so many stories MUST turn so many women into idiots after they fall in love or have sex?  Those first two or three chapters had a rather agreeably sensible and intelligent Jamie, to be honest.  Then her thinking capacity dwindles as the book progresses.

And somehow her fragile emotions kept being brought up again and again.  So now, aside from being a Mary Sue, she's also a speshul snowflake with thin skin and easily disturbed emotions?  Or are the men just treating her like a baby, because it kind of seems more that way, really.  If it's one thing I've noted about Jamie, it's that she doesn't have as sensitive and easy to hurt feelings as every one of the men are making her out to have.  Men are strange...

I could probably go back through and count how many times someone states that he doesn't want her sensitive feelings to be hurt, and so doesn't bother telling her the truth about a lot of things.  Especially about the fact that her life is in danger and someone's trying to kill her.  THAT NEVER WORKS IN ANY PLOT!  If someone was trying to kill me, I would like to know so that I can take the proper precautions, ya know?  Rather than cluelessly stumbling into a freakin' bear cave 'cause no one wanted to scare me with the knowledge of it's being there.

Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, I only have one thing to say about Alec.  He's arrogant, annoying, violent, and has no sense of personal boundaries.  He's apparently super sensitive to Jamie's feelings and understands that when she says "no," she actually means "yes."  Oooh... Heaven help me from arrogant fools.  That stuff might have been fly during the 1100s in Scotland, but I'm kicking shins, calling 911, and running if I ever run into anyone like that in my lifetime.

On a side note, I think I'm going to give it some time before coming back to the second book in this duology, The Wedding... if at all.  It was written a few years after this first book, so maybe there's been some... difference in ideals?  I get that The Bride is considered a classic romance of some sort, but it looks like I'm destined to be a dissenter on this one.  Oh well, you can't please everyone, I guess.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/01/rambling-thoughts-bride.html
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review 2019-01-15 19:28
Some Thoughts: Lost Island
Lost Island - Phyllis A. Whitney

Lost Island

by Phyllis A. Whitney

 

 

Lacey, Elise, and Giles.  They grew up together on a mist-shrouded island off the Georgia coast.  Long ago, and without Giles's ever knowing it, Lacey gave birth to his son.  But Elise, the beautiful, domineering one, got Giles.  She got Lacey's child, too, to bring up as her own.

Lacey has tried hard to forget.  But in ten years she hasn't been able to.  So she's going back.  To see her son.  To confront Elise.  To exorcise the spell of the island - and of Giles.  Or perhaps to be trapped by them forever....



One star is the for the writing and the other star is for the atmosphere.  But otherwise, I can't bring myself to understand what was even going on in this entire tale of chaos.  It felt like a daytime soap, with birth secrets, dysfunctional family dynamics, and characters soaked in amorality.  The heroine was a clueless pushover who couldn't seem to figure out how to stand up for herself NOR fight for her life, and her antagonist really had way too much power, with everyone letting her get away with every misdeed.

The little boy seemed too old for his age, and none of the men really stood out aside from spending all of their time brooding and acting self-righteous.

I've been interested in Phyllis A. Whitney for some time now, after seeing her name surface in discussions of Gothic romance or romantic suspense.  I'm thinking that this book was probably NOT the best one to start with, but it happened to be one I came across at the library one day.

In all honesty, the fact that I DID get drawn into it in spite of the convoluted plot and dysfunctional character dynamics is a feat in itself.  So this isn't an entirely terrible book, and a younger Ani might have actually enjoyed it more a long time ago.

Here's a quote that I particularly liked, though, for whatever reason.  The writing, as I've mentioned, was probably one of the best things going for this book.

 

The smell of the ocean is something one never forgets.  I breathed it deeply as the wind came whipping into my face, tossing my hair.  The tide was part-way out and the sound of surf rushing in over the low shore summoned me to follow it.  I walked toward the sea wall.


And this particular paragraph managed to draw me into the book...

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/01/some-thoughts-lost-island.html
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review 2019-01-15 18:44
Review: A House for a Mouse
A House for a Mouse - Rebecca Westberg

The story of the two mice is a sweet one. Though it really does not really have much of a story to it. The story is how to get a house for a mouse. I like it but it not much of a story. The author does a wonderful job with the pictures in telling the story to a point.

The pictures could be down a bit more. There is not much of adventure to this story. The development of the characters is not there much. This need some work. This is best for children under the age of 7. Children that can read will be able to read it. It good for young children a bit for the picures for children under 5.

The author would have told the story as how the owner of the home came about and then found the mice or mouse and had a bit more of an adventure to how it ends. I say this book would have gotten a better rating. It an okay book to me. Maybe to you it will be better for you. You decide if you want it for your children or not. Like I said it an okay book. Great for children.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2019/01/book-review-house-for-mouse.html
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text 2019-01-15 18:38
Reading progress update: I've read 163 out of 391 pages.
Emergency Contact - Mary Choi

Really enjoying this book

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