I love taking a look at a book cover and description and then coming up with my own idea of what the book will be about. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m so wrong it’s almost funny. So I’ve decided to launch myself off of WWW Wednesday, a bookish meme run by Sam@Taking on a World of Words, and write about my first, middle, and last impressions of each book I read.
The first impression is based solely on the cover and description. What do I think it will be about?
The middle impression is kind of a check-in on how the story is going about halfway through.
The last impression is my final thoughts on the book, what I’m left thinking.
I hope you have as much fun with this as I will!
The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings – Magical Realism
First Impression: I’m expecting a fantastical version of New Orleans and for music to take center stage.
Middle Impression: I seriously have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know if I love it or hate it, but it could make me cry; I’m so lost. Nola is absolutely fascinating and I am loving the world building and vibe. Supposedly, this is about 3 kids with magical powers and magical items going out hunting some songs that have escaped a magical piano that keeps Nola running smoothly, but I’m getting the feeling the characters and multiple time lines are being braided together and I just have no idea what’s going on.
Last Impression: This is a strange story of magic and music. I was completely transported to Nola/New Orleans through the speech patterns, phrasing, locations, and people. But the distinction between Nola and New Orleans wasn’t always clear, especially when it came to the character(s) of Casey. Actually, Casey and his cousin Jaylon almost felt irrelevant. I did, though, love the 3 kids as the leads. They were quite spunky and overall amazing. It ended on a great epic note, but some of the threads felt a little too loose, as though parts of the story had just escaped the author.
Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman – Historical, Mystery
First Impression: I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but I do enjoy reading about the Jazz Age. I’m hoping for a fun, interesting Jazz Age mystery. A cozy, perhaps?
Middle Impression: So, this is slow to get going as it’s spending a lot of time setting up the characters, place, and time period, though the dead body appears very quickly. It just takes a while getting to the heart of the story, at which point it just starts to really move. So far I’m enjoying the time period and the characters as well as all the surprise diversity, and I’m intrigued by the mystery.
Last Impression: This turned out to be a rather layered mystery with plenty of threads. The world building was a lot of fun, but I wish more of the 1920s slang had made it into the characters’ speech, especially since so many of them frequented a speakeasy. I did love the characters, though, and loved all the diversity. I did wish for more from the romance as it was interesting, but didn’t actually feel like it was setting anything up in that department other than spend the entire novel setting up the love interests.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch – Science Fiction
First Impression: I don’t really know beyond a fast paced thriller. The cover doesn’t really seem to be particularly revealing, other than having something to do with science. Really, though, I’m interested in reading this because reviews for his previous books have been favorable, so I’m curious about what he does.
Middle Impression: I like the clear, concise writing, and the science feels either fairly easy to figure out or unnecessary to understand for understanding the story. I like that the writing doesn’t seem to mince words, helping to make sure the story keeps moving. It’s definitely reading like an action thriller movie, but with an interesting family piece. I like that the upgrade has limitations, but I also feel like the whole first part is just set up and descriptions about the upgrade, which means I have no clue what this is supposed to be about or where the story is going. Though it appears there’s a massive 1 year time jump ahead…
Last Impression: This definitely read like an action thriller movie, which is not my preferred genre. But it was still a fun ride, even if I did not appreciate the time jump. I liked that I didn’t feel like I needed to understand the science to understand the impact, and I liked that it’s set in the future where climate change has been affecting the world. But I struggled with the characters. Logan felt more like a machine than a human, and his wife and daughter didn’t really feel necessary to the story. I did enjoy that this story pitted brother against sister, but I never really felt a sibling bond between them that would put some emotion into the story. It ended up feeling fairly cold to me.
Revolution by David Dorrough – Fiction, Slice of Life
First Impression: Since this was described to me as a slice of life story by the author, I’m expecting some fairly ordinary shenanigans and an interesting peek into people’s lives. I’m mostly excited, though, that this is set in LA, so, as a resident of the same sprawling city, I’m hoping for something relatable and fun.
Middle Impression: I’m really loving the setting. It’s making me feel like I’m on the West Side of LA. The characters are also a lot of fun. Some of them seem more on the dim side, which I’m not loving as much, especially since it makes all the men seem a little too similar, but it’s fun to get a glimpse into the lives of these people. Everyone seems to have their own story, which is great, but also makes the story a little too long and a bit cumbersome. All the subplots are interesting and I’m drawn into all of them, but this is also a lot longer than the few other slice of life style stories I’ve read.
Last Impression: So, this is long. There are a lot of characters and each main character/couple has their own story that the reader gets to follow for about a year. It’s fun and interesting and there were some scenes that really made me laugh and actually feel like I was reading the actual lives of some people who live in LA, but, by the end, I felt like maybe there were a few too many characters. I liked that their stories wrapped up and life just kept going on past the last page, but some of them just felt like they dropped off a little too abruptly.
The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne – Historical Fantasy
First Impression: This is a magical retelling of Rapunzel from the villain’s perspective. I think this might be a little too historical for me, but I still think it’ll be interesting since I do enjoy fairy tale retellings, and I always did wonder about Mother Gothel.
Middle Impression: My reading experience so far is that this is a fast read, but, at the same time, the story is kind of slow moving. I’m not really sure where the story’s going, and I can’t see how it connects to the story of Rapunzel, but this is the book of Gothel, so it definitely feels like Haelewise’s story. The world building is excellent and drags me back in time to Germany (or what Germany was in what I believe was mentioned to be in the 1100s?), especially with the Middle High German. The characters are interesting with a strong female presence, though their power was severely limited. I can’t help feeling like I’m ready for one of them to just fly off the handle. Haelewise is so wronged, and I hate how she just has to deal with it.
Last Impression: I feel like this was a long winded, windy trail to connect with Rapunzel. Set some time before the fairy tale, it does serve to make sense of Mother Gothel, but it also felt like Haelewise was constantly sent on mini quests, told by other characters and some mysterious voice where to go next, so not much felt like it was coming from her. But I enjoyed the divide and tension between worship of the Mother and Christianity. The world came to life for me and I liked how full of historic details it was, though I cannot comment on accuracy. I also liked how bits of Rapunzel’s story were actually woven into Haelewise’s.
The Other Guest by Helen Cooper – Mystery/Thriller
First Impression: I have no clue what this is about. It looks ominous with the dark cover, but I’m mostly drawn to this because it’s set in Italy.
Middle Impression: This is interesting so far, but I’m not getting a strong mystery feeling yet. Three POVs are woven together, making the story feel a little too broken up for me to smoothly follow and some POVs have more interesting and mysterious bits and pieces than others at different times. It feels more sedate and slow moving to me, though I am intrigued by the characters and their secrets. At the midway point, I feel like the main characters are finally catching on and sniffing out the secrets. But I’m having a hard time getting a strong sense of either Italy or Derby, the two main settings.
Last Impression: I feel mostly lukewarm towards this book. The mystery was interesting, but I was missing the atmosphere. It really felt like a book full of secrets and a highly dysfunctional family. The characters, though, were the best part for me. Many of them were so strange and almost all of them had secrets, so it was fun watching them unravel. I liked how the stories of two of the women were woven together, but they felt too much like disparate parts loosely tied together, so I found how their stories ended a little lackluster. I was also disappointed by the one who did it since they didn’t really play a big part and felt far too shadowy.
Primeval Fire by C.T. Rwizi – Fantasy
First Impression: I really don’t know what this third book in the trilogy is about as I haven’t really looked, but, after the way the second book ended, I’m dying to know how this concludes.
What about you?
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