Author: Ted Akin
Publication date: May 5, 2020
Genre: Humor, General Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
Summary: In the real world, Klive works in an oil field in Texas while writing a comic book without the pictures when a colleague dies suddenly, leaving a mystery on his hands as he notices inconsistencies. Klive’s roommate Stacey owns and runs the coffee shop, which fronts for a certain illegal activity. Born and raised in Lily Grove, she’s sure nothing every happens in Lily Grove. Until a mysterious stranger who likes to read books starts frequenting her coffee shop without ever buying anything. In another universe, a superhero and a supervillian are constantly facing off, destroying a building and leaving contracting estimator Jack Jackson constantly at odds with his rival Feld Springfeld.
I honestly jumped at the chance to read this when the author, Ted Akin, contacted me with his review request. It sounded like so much fun and like it would be very amusing. I like fun books, so I knew I couldn’t pass. When I saw the cover with the cat, the very cool-looking cat, I decided the book was irresistible. This book really did not disappoint, though it went in a very different direction towards the end than I had expected.
The Characters: Fun and Well-Crafted
The characters were so much fun. They were extremely well-crafted to the point where I thought I was reading about real people. They had idiosyncrasies and speech patterns that both suited them and the area. They did feel a little exaggerated, but that just made them that much more fun to read about.
Initially, I thought this would be a story split between Klive and Stacey as things start to happen in Lily Grove and they learn how to handle the unexpected when their sleepy town is jolted awake. But, just when I was really getting into Klive, I felt like Stacey stole the limelight and was actually the main character the whole time. Which also kind of made sense since she had the larger personality and, honestly, was a ton more fun. Still, I adored Klive. He seemed sweet and hardworking, and really cared.
Woven into the story of Klive and Stacey was the comic book without the pictures Klive was writing. At first, I was completely confused when the story went from a metropolis with a superhero and a supervillian to Lily Grove, Texas, but it quickly made sense and I found the characters to be just as interesting, though not quite as developed. Which makes sense considering Klive isn’t exactly a bestselling novelist.
The Setting: Real and Imagined
This book takes place in Lily Grove, Texas and in the imaginary world of metropolitan Politin. I enjoyed both settings and found the divergence in how they were developed to be quite interesting. On one hand, you have a small town in Texas that felt like it really could have been Texas (I couldn’t say for sure as I’ve never been). On the other hand, you have a fictional setting (within a fictional story) that wasn’t quite as well described considering the author is a character in the book who doesn’t exactly have an actual writing background.
Let’s start with Texas. This place came alive through the descriptions and the people. They way they acted and spoke made me feel like I was in Texas. Or, at least, what I think Texas as being like. I think the author nailed the small town feel and I actually loved reading about the expansive farm lands and oil field. I didn’t quite understand all the oil field talk (too technical for me though the information never felt like it was dumped on me), but I think I got just enough to appreciate the hard work that’s done there.
Politin was a completely different creature. It’s clearly a stereotypical metropolis with lots of buildings and seemingly twice as many people. I really, really loved Stacey’s remarks about it. It felt like the author was poking fun at fictional settings, especially those in comic books. It was fun and really gave the comic book without pictures the right feel. It’s a rather unique world considering it’s the setting for a story within a story, and I think it was exceptionally well done.
The Plot: A Bit Split
I really enjoyed this book, but, at the same time, I struggle a little bit (just a little bit) with how the story was presented. It felt like it was split into two segments that happened to be linked. Without the first half, the second half couldn’t happen, but I don’t think it was sewed as neatly together as it could have been.
Still, this was such a fun book. I enjoyed it immensely. It moved at a really good pace, the humor and story seemingly in lockstep. I loved that the comic book without pictures was flawlessly woven into the greater story. It was nice to flip back and forth between them and the stories of Klive and Stacey. I felt the second half was more exciting than the first half, but I absolutely adored getting to know all the characters in the first half. I wish there had been a bit more at the end of the book to tie back to the first half, but I also really felt the end fit the book well. I also feel like there’s a lot more to Stacey’s story that I’d like to know.
This is an amusing novel about stories, a light mystery, a very interesting cat, and magic. There are so many elements in it, but it all made sense! I don’t think this book would be as much fun if something had been cut out and I think the author did a fantastic job of weaving all these crazy elements into a single, cohesive story. I wish there had been more to the ending, but, overall, this was a really fantastic story.
Overall: Nicely Woven
I really loved this book. It was an easy and fun read with great characters and interesting settings. There’s so much in this book, but it all worked flawlessly. If anything, I only wish the two halves had been stitched together better. Still, this was a lot of fun and made me smile. It was a perfect distraction while also providing a quality story. While it felt like there were almost too many elements, it was also surprising to see how well they worked together, and I really must applaud the author for being able to weave them together into such a fun read.
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups, definitely
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Thank you to the author, Ted Akin, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
For more of my book reviews, check out the Bookshelf.