Quickie Book Review: A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1)

Author: Julie McElwain

Published: April 2016

Length: 320 pages, eBook

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

Source: Library eBook

My Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

From GoodReads:

A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan, #1)Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

This is the first book in a series.

What I like: I like the premise of this novel. It checks all the boxes for my favorite stories: time travel, Regency England, strong female protagonist. I like that the bulk of the time travel story takes place at a house party. And I like the murder-y, serial killer bits. And I like that the characters we meet in Regency England seem to be good, kind people who take in our main character, Irene, and grow to accept her in their world. And I want Irene to be accepted  because she really inst in her modern world.

What I don’t like: Well. I so wanted to like this book. I checks so many boxes. But I didn’t really like it. Irene, the protagonist,  is an unpleasant character. And I really don’t have a problem with that, but she really is grating. The mashup between a crime procedural novel and a Regency in the style of Jane Austen is awkward. Irene’s motivations are clear in the modern day section, but the why of time travel for her is muddled. And Irene’s behavior is just too, too modern for the time period. She swears like a sailor constantly and the Regency characters seem to ignore it. And that brings me to the other issue. Irene is first is given a position as a lowly maid but becomes a companion of one of guests at the house party before the book ends. And it happens because she claims to be able to solve the murder. Although I’m glad she is accepted by the Duke and his family, I think she is accepted to easily, if that makes any sense. I want them to be a bit more suspicious of Irene.

Would I recommend it: Yes, but with reservations. I plan on reading the next book in the series, A Twist in Time , soon because I do want to like this story. I’ll give it 100 pages and if it doesn’t work for me……..I’ll DNF it.

Here are other blog posts in which I mentioned this book. Click here and here.

Let me know what you think. Have you read A Murder in Time? Did you like it more than I did? If so, let me know why in the comments below. Happy Reading.

 

Friday 56, #36

It’s time for  Friday 56!  It’s a book meme hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice. Be sure to visit her blog if you would like to participate!

From Freda’s Voice The Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky on Friday 56. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple!

Here is my contribution:

 

Have you read the Neapolitan Series yet? If you haven’t are you planning to soon? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 so I can visit your blog. Happy Reading!

Quickie Book Review: The Invisible Library

Author: Genevieve Cogman

Published: June 2016 by ROC

Length: 330 pages

Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Source: Book Riot #Bookmail Box from Book Riot, Paperback

My rating: 4 1/2 Stars

From Goodreads:

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

This is the first in a series that features Irene and Kai having adventures while rescuing books from different realities. I have to say, this is a brilliant idea. There are so many possibilities for the characters to go in this world. And because Genevieve Cogman is such a skillful writer readers will want to follow her into this world she has created. Well, at least I do.

I received this book via Book Riots #bookmailbox to which I subscribe. As you can see the theme for this box is books and libraries. I assumed that like so many fantasy novels that I come across on book blogs this book would be a YA fantasy. I like YA novels, don’t get me wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover it wasn’t. Adults having adult-ish adventures is a good thing too. Why should teenagers have all the fun? And because it is such a fun adventure it rates a 4 1/2 stars. Seriously, one of best reads for me so far this year.

What I Liked:

This is a library and book lovers dream. It takes place in a reality in which librarians are the heroes. And if you’ve read my post about my favorite librarian, you know I believe it to be true in this reality too. And , like many other readers, love books about books and libraries. The our hero in this story is Irene. Irene visits different realities in order to rescue copies of books that are in danger of disappearing forever. In this book she visits a steampunk London overrun with characters trying to find the book Irene is assigned to find before she does, and stop these same characters from finding the entrance to the magical, all encompassing library to which she is assigned. And this library seems amazing. It’s a place I want to visit. Irene is also training a mysterious new operative, Kai, who causes more trouble for her than she would like. But Kai isn’t the only one with a secret. There is something about Irene’s past that makes her very important to those who run the library and their enemies. All of this makes this book a fun, adventurous read.

What I didn’t like:

It’s not a perfect novel, but I really can’t think of anything that I didn’t like or thought didn’t work in the story.

Would I recommend this book for other readers:

Yes! If you love books, libraries, and hero narratives I’m positive you will enjoy this book. If you are a fan of The Sorcerer to the Crown or Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next Series, you will enjoy this novel.There are four published books in this series out right now and a fifth is scheduled for 2018. I like this book so much I think I’ll buy the next books in the series rather than check them out from my local library. Yes, that is how much I loved this book. I’m willing to buy the next in the series.

I used this book for a Friday 56. Click on this link to see that post.

If you liked this book review, here is a link to my most recent review for Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell.

Have you read The Invisible Library? If so, what did you think of it? Are you planning on reading more in the series?  If you haven’t , are you interested in reading it after reading my gushing review? Let me know in the comments below, and Happy Reading.

 

 

Friday 56, #35

It’s time for  Friday 56!  It’s a book meme hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice. Be sure to visit her blog if you would like to participate!

From Freda’s Voice The Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky on Friday 56. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple!

Here is my contribution:

I suspect you’ve guessed the theme. Have you read the Neapolitan novels? Do you plan to? Or are you avoiding them? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 in the comments. Happy reading!

Quickie Book Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Author: Karen Russell

Published: February 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf

Length: 243 pages

Genre: fiction, short stories

Source: Own it, Hardback

My rating: 2 1/2 Stars. Follow the link for an explanation of my star ratings.

From Goodreads:

Vampires in the Lemon GroveFrom the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest.  A community of girls held captive in a silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms, spinning delicate threads from their own bellies, and escape by seizing the means of production for their own revolutionary ends. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the tattoos on a war veteran’s lower torso. When a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing classmate they used to torment, an ordinary tale of high school bullying becomes a sinister fantasy of guilt and atonement. In a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West, the monster is the human hunger for acquisition, and the victim is all we hold dear. And in the collection’s marvelous title story—an unforgettable parable of addiction and appetite, mortal terror and mortal love—two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood.

I read this book as a part of the Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon in April. Reading short stories during a readathon is a solid choice. It’s a good way to break up things and me feel like I’m making progress reading. And I’ve noticed lately that a lot of short story collections are being published at this time. I think the idea is that people don’t have the time or attention span to read full length novels, but they have time or attention span to read short stories. At least that is why I think there are so many short story collections being published lately.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove is an older collection that I have had for about 4 years. I read Karen Russell’s novel Swamplandia! and I like it, so I thought I would give this collection a try. Well, it stayed on the TBR for a while. But in January I decided to use it as a part of the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. Because I am so behind on my BRRHC, I decided to read it during the readathon, hoping that it would just be the best. But like most short story collections some of the stories are better than others. In fact, I either really like a story or I hate it in this collection. And there are more hates than likes, and that’s why only 2 1/2 stars.

What I did like:

The theme of this collection is monsters: who is the monster, why they are monsters, and how to move away from being the monster. My favorite story is “Reeling for the Empire.” Girls are taken by a sinister factory manager and turned into silk moths. The horror of the girls at being turned into these creatures is heartbreaking. Russell does a good job of making the reader feel for these young women’s plight. And this sympathy makes the ending satisfying. The other story I quite like is “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis.” This story is about a group of boys bullying Eric Mutis. He is a pathetic boy who just is horribly abused by the other boys. He disappears from school. Why is never really explained. But soon after a large scarecrow like doll  who resembles Eric shows up in the bullies favorite hangout. One of the boys seems to be most affected by the doll, and his relationship with Eric is revealed. The way that Russell describes the abuse is heartbreaking, especially if you or someone you know have ever been the target of bullies. In fact it’s one of those stories that kids in middle school should read, but the kids who most need this story will probably not read it and get it.

What I didn’t like:

Sadly, the other stories in this collection don’t quite meet the the same standard as the two I mention above. The story lines just are too far fetched or weird to really allow me to make the emotional connection, or the characters are flat and uninteresting.  And one of the stories is just truly awful. “The Barn at the End of Our Term” should be amusing…..but it’s not. In this one a few of the former presidents of the USA are reincarnated as horses living in a barn. Maybe it’s because of the current mess in Washington, but I just have no patience with political stories right now. Maybe in a few years I could read this and enjoy the humor and the fate of certain presidents, but today is not that day.

Would I recommend this book for other readers:

Yes, but borrow from the library or a friend and read to the end only the stories that you enjoy. If you find yourself not enjoying it, stop immediately and move onto the next one in the book. Don’t waste your time trying to find a reason to keep reading it. There are too many books out there that are waiting for you to read and enjoy.

 

Have you read Vampires in the Lemon Grove? Or Swamplandia? Or any other books by Karen Russell? What did you think? Can you recommend other books of hers for me to read? If so, leave a comment below.

And if you would like to read another review, here is a link to The Girls.

 

 

June Plans

Reading and blogging slumps. I spent more time in a slump in May, and I hope that in June I can get back to focusing on my blogging and my reading challenges. Here is a link to my May Wrap-Up.  There is one book I’m really looking forward to this month:

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It’s just been released and I’m number six in line for it at my library. So, I might not get it until August. Sigh. So, as back up, here is the rest of my planed reads for June.

The Art of Fielding

I got Borne in the Quarterly Box at the beginning of May, and I noticed that it popped up in a lot of book boxes in May. And different celebrities have mentioned it on their social media feeds. So I’m guessing that the publisher is really pushing this book. And I seldom read books that are freshly printed, so I kind of want to join in the hype. I’m planning on reading it this week and sometime before the end of June I’ll write a book review for it.

What do you plan to read in June? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Reading!

May Wrap-Up

May Stats:

Total books read: 7

Like No Other Lover (Pennyroyal Green, #2) I Kissed an Earl (Pennyroyal Green, #4) Maybe This Time A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan, #1) First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars, #8) Natural Born Charmer (Chicago Stars, #7) Match Me If You Can (Chicago Stars, #6) American Gods (thumbnail images courtesy Goodreads)

Number of pages: 2,804*

Written by Men: 1*

Written by Women: 7

Diverse Authors: 0

Nonfiction: 0

Fiction: 8*

Paperback: 1*

Hardback: 0*

Library books: 6

eBooks/Kindle: 7

Audio books: 0

Rereads: 4*

DNF: 0*

Favorite book of May*: I don’t have one this month. Edited to add: American Gods is my favorite this month. I finished it just before midnight last night and needed to add it to my May Wrap-Up.

Challenges to date:

Goodreads: 48/75*

Book Riot Read Harder 2017: 5/24 (No change from last month. I need to get on the ball.)

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks: 2*

Purchased/Acquired in May:

From Quarterly Box: (Arrived May 2nd)

Borne Gutshot The Blue Fox

And I got these audio books free from Sync: Audio books for Teens. Click on the previous link if you would like to sign up for this program and receive free audio books too.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) Feed In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It The Gathering (Shadow House, #1) Beast  Of Beast and Beauty

In the Blogisphere:

Because I love challenges (I have read 83 of the books on the list.)

I’m always looking for advice for blogging. I just need to start following it!

I love visiting literary sites. One of these days I’ll blog about literary places I’ve visited.

How was your reading in May? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? What did you think ? Leave a link to your May wrap-up in the comments below?