This year I’m working to be more personal and honest in my opinions about the books I read. I’ve spent my entire time reviewing books here trying my hardest to balance the good and the bad and offer a similarly balanced rating no matter my personal feelings about the book. Last year I finally decided I was done just giving 4 cups of tea to books I personally would have give 3 or even 2 cups to, so I decided, while I do like staying balanced in my reviews, I needed a way to indicate my personal preferences. So, here we are. I’ll be dividing each book I read into Love, Like, and Not for Me categories, and really can’t wait to see the outcome. So, how did March and April look?
A Murderous Macaron by Fiona Grace is the second in the Beachfront Bakery Cozy Mystery series, and I had quite a lot more fun reading this one than the first book. I think it might have to do with this being the second, what with the whole backstory and setting already laid out. I really enjoyed seeing the characters from the first book and getting introduced to the mystery right away. There were some nice twists and turns in this one, so I felt a lot more engaged and just flew through this one.
Merry Arlan: Finding The Heir by Will Soulsby-McCreath is the second in the Guardian Cadet fantasy series. This one picks up near where the first book ended, with an Elven Lackey in custody for his master’s murder. He and Merry have an interesting history as they grew up together, a shared childhood that traumatized both of them but led them in different directions. I loved seeing Merry forced back to the Elven Court, and really loved getting to know her and her past a lot better. The romance was also excellently done, and I liked getting to know more of the world and how it functions a little better. But I adore this series because it doesn’t shy away from tough subjects and always handles them with the utmost care. It’s just gorgeous.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer is definitely in the running to be one of my favorite books ever. It speaks to childhood and reclaiming the magic books have given to children. Lucy wants nothing more than to adopt a young orphaned boy, but, with limited resources, she can’t. Until the author of her favorite childhood book series offers a fascinating contest for select fans. Lucy finds herself competing with other adults who once needed Jack, the author, and I had so much fun with the games he engaged the contestants in. But I especially loved how this book made me nostalgic for my childhood and made me want to reach back for the magic I experienced with all the books I loved. This was just such a beautiful book, and I loved every second of it, even if it made me cry almost every time I picked it up.
Annie’s Apple by John A. Heldt is the second in the Second Chance historical fiction series. It’s about three elderly siblings in 2022 who decide to jump into a fountain of youth. They emerged into the early 1900s in the first book, and this one continues their lives as newly young individuals living history. Where the first book focused on the oldest sibling, Bill, this one focuses on Annie, who has become a journalist. Set in 1911 and 1912, it brings the siblings face to face with things like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the sinking of the Titanic. I loved how this one felt more domestic than the first book, focusing on the lives of the siblings and the people they’ve fallen for as well as the romances of the younger two siblings. I’m not a fan of historical fiction, but I love these siblings and how close they are, and the things they have to live with knowing what’s going to happen. This one broke my heart, but also had some really lovely moments. I never thought I’d ever actually like historical fiction, but I love this series.
Lester Lies Down by James Ladd Thomas is a fun slice of life style story about a hospice nurse who ends up tangled up with a young woman hiding out after she and her boyfriend stole weed from their employers and sold it for a tidy sum of cash. This was really fun, but the two halves of the story felt a little disjointed, and I just kind of struggled with the romance. I did like that Lester is a widowed father and his kids were featured, but sometimes I felt like the characters were standing on soapboxes now and then, so my interest waxed and waned.
A Killer Cupcake by Fiona Grace is the first book in the Beachfront Bakery Cozy Mystery series. As I mentioned above, I loved the second book. The first had some great backstory for how Ali ended up with a beachfront bakery, but it took so long to get to the mystery that, when it hit, it unraveled really fast. It was fun, but I wasn’t a big fan of all the setup. It was nice, though, to meet all the quirky characters, and I really love Ali’s brother Teddy.
The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart is the finale to the Drowning Empire trilogy. I really love this series for Mephi, but the other characters have also grown on me over the course of the three books. I can’t say I actually loved any of them, but I did love Mephi, and the relationships the characters formed kept me engaged. This one had a sword hunt that just went on for too long before being abruptly ended, and I still have no idea how important those swords even were. But this book did have some really great moments, and I liked how it ended. I just didn’t love it all.
The Nameless Restaurant by Tao Wong is…I’m not really sure. It’s set at a hard to find restaurant that mostly serves the magical community and the story occurs during a single dinner service. There’s tons of world building, and it’s supposed to tie in with an earlier series I’ve never heard of. I was intrigued by the food, but really have no clue what this was supposed to be about. It was interesting, but I kind of feel at a loss with this book.
Not For Me
Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway is supposed to be a mystery in the noir vein. It follows a special sort of detective who specifically deals with cases related to Titans, people who have undergone a special medical procedure that starts to make them into titans who are bigger and stronger and live longer than normal humans. I was mostly engaged with the writing, but, once I finished the book, I felt like half of this book was just Cal chasing his tail. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it did have some interesting bits, even if it took me forever to finish this book.
The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien De Castell is one I wish I liked more considering I’ve read several positive reviews of his other books. This one has two wizards, who are not good guys, assembling a team to assist a baron in getting rid of seven brothers who were trying to stop him from doing terrible things. I liked the idea of a book about bad guys, but I couldn’t help thinking none of them really felt like the bad guys. So I felt very let down. They just had too much heart and more decency than I was expecting. There was also just too much info dumping, and the end was like rolling downhill with how quickly things came together, so I wasn’t a big fan of this book.
The Galactic Zookeeper’s Guide to Heists and Husbandry by A.C. Huntley is a science fiction novel about a woman who works on a zoo planet and hates her job. I’m not too far in, but I know there’s going to be a heist that appears to not go exactly to plan and she ends up in an interesting situation. This sounds like fun, so I’m hoping I enjoy it.
Thanks for reading!
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5 thoughts on “Love, Like, and Not For Me Challenge: March and April 2023”
That Wishing Game one sounds right to my alley!
– someone else I follow wrote about Lester and now I’m wondering who. I think they liked it, but also mentioned the disjoint.
(That reminds me: another friend of mine who reviews books is always very polite and balanced in her reviews but I know her writing well enough to read between the lines, and I find the practice hilarious when she didn’t particularly enjoy one!)
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Haha, it’s always hard to write a balanced review when you didn’t like a book. I’m curious; is your friend a blogger, and can you direct me to her so I can check out her reviews?
Lester is a fun book, and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed the disjoint. Definitely could have been handled better! The Wishing Game is so lovely; really made me miss my childhood. Well, parts of it.
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I believe the friend I’m thinking of is D. Wallace Peach, who is a very lovely person. I don’t know how she finds time to write, publish, read others’ writing, and come and leave thoughtful comments on my posts.
I felt that nostalgia when I read The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but not because it mentioned books; it was just a fantasy book so very magically written, like the ones I loved as a child. 🙂
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I thought I had followed D. Wallace Peach because the name sounds familiar, but turns out I wasn’t and I probably remember her because you’ve mentioned her before. She certainly looks like a busy lady!
Magically written books are the best, especially for children. Every child could use a little magic in their lives. Adults, too, come to think of it.
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