Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Heap of Mini-Reviews

I've been neglecting book reviews on this blog for much too long. The problem is, while I do have things to say about the books I've been reading, I rarely have bunches to say about them. So, enter mini-reviews!

For this batch of mini-reviews, I'm looking at a mystery, YA dystopian, fantasy novel, and thriller. Which were worth my time and which made me want to set fire to something? Read on to find out!

noblesse oblige cynthia smith
Noblesse Oblige by Cynthia Smith (mystery)

Emma Rhodes has a very unusual job: essentially, she's a private problem resolver. Rich people hire her to solve their problems, big or small, in just two weeks for the low low fee of $20,000. Business is strange, but good: Emma wears the best clothes, drinks the best booze, and jets between her three homes in NYC, London, and Spain. On this particular week, she's house-sitting in Bruges when she happens to be in the right place at the right time to stop the kidnapping of a member of the Belgian royal family. The royals quickly retain her services, but Emma soon realizes she may not survive the two weeks until she can collect her fee.

I read this book when I was a teenager, and I remember being all about Emma Rhodes. She has everything a girl could want: a life full of travel, handsome men, excellent food, exciting puzzles to solve, and best of all complete independence. She's practically the female version of James Bond. As an adult, I found this more irritating than anything else (jealousy? perhaps) and also found it hilarious how Emma goes into rants that leave her sounding like an octogenarian whig. Some of the things Emma has issues with:

  • Kids these days! They blame their parents for everything!
  • Cell phones: terrible invention of the 20th century, or WORST invention of the 20th century?
  • People who don't say good morning. Even if you're a not a morning person, there's no excuse for being rude!

Anyway, I did like this book, but Emma probably won't be my role model. Anymore.

the heir
The Heir by Kiera Cass (YA dystopian-ish)

Princess Eadlyn is the first female to ever be in line for the crown, thanks to her politically progressive parents. But despite their open-minded policies, her parents think forcing her to submit to the traditional Selection–where suitors are gathered from all over the kingdom to compete for a royal's hand in marriage–is a good idea. Eadlyn disagrees, but is forced to go along with it. Nevertheless, she is determined never to fall for any of these "boys."

This is the first Selection book I've read. It was okay. I liked that Eadlyn was a total bitch, but in a good way. Cuz, you know.

bitches get stuff done gif

I found the details of the Selection often vague or illogical. For example, the cameras–when and where are these people being filmed? Sometimes it sounds like there are hidden cameras on them all the time, and sometimes it's only when they're permitted. If they're only allowed during official times, how would they have "caught" her kissing Kyle? Makes no sense. Perhaps it's explained in the previous three novels.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, sort of, and there's another book to wrap everything up, but I'm not sure I'm going to read it. I don't really care who Eadlyn winds up with and the drawn-out passages about other couples in love and how mayyyybeeee she might want that (or not) made me want to scream. How on earth has this been stretched into five books?

masked city genevieve cogman
Masked City by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy)

Librarian Irene has been permanently assigned to Viction Steampunk London with her apprentice, Kai, a dragon. Then Kai is kidnapped by the fae, the dragons' mortal enemies, and taken to a fae-controlled Venice that's a mix of fantasy, dream, and nightmare. Will Irene be able to rescue him and prevent a war between the dragons and the fae that could stretch across worlds and destroy everything the Library has accomplished?

I liked previous book in this series, The Invisible Library, but I adored Masked City. First of all, Venice! And not just any Venice, but the Venice of imagination, with prisons straight out of a Piranesi sketch and a constant whirl of masked balls and mysterious happenings. Another highlight was Sherlock Holmes–oh, sorry, he's called Vale in this alternate–who remains true to the Holmesian tradition by being at once an irritating jerkface and completely awesome. I am totally shipping him and Irene, I don't care about the canon. The ending of the story was very abrupt but left me wanting more and more. I definitely recommend this series!

the chemist book
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer (thriller)

The Chemist is basically Meyer channeling David Baldacci or Lee Child. Unfortunately she's really bad at it. Basically, you've got a woman of several names and unknown age, hiding from an evil government department she used to work for. What exactly this department does, is called, how she got the job, and what she did there, is never specifically addressed. At some point someone decided she and her mentor were expendable (again, we're not really told why) and attempted to kill them both. They succeeded with the mentor, but she survived. Now she's on the run, dodging assassination attempts. Perhaps she would have more luck with this if she moved beyond driving distance of DC (just a suggestion on my part but what do I know). But then! The department contacts her, asking her to return to the fold and stop a nonsensical terrorist plot that only she can prevent.

I appreciate that the smart, ruthless main character in The Chemist is a woman–you'd never see her like in a Child novel, for sure–but nothing in this book sounded plausible, and reading the long-ass explanations of our paranoid heroine's daily routine was like watching paint dry. Meyers gives us all the details we don't give two shits about and skips over the information that would make this book feel at least slightly grounded in reality. When the secret twin showed, I was done.


Major ugh.

Stay tuned next time for more mini-reviews!

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