Marc B. (marcb) - Reviews

1 to 18 of 18
Camilla (Camilla, Bk 1)
Camilla (Camilla, Bk 1)
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/9/2011


The only time Madeleine's ever let me down. I love every single other one of her books -- children's, teens', adults'; fiction, nonfiction -- but this is just depressing. It doesn't have the sparkle that her others do, and it seems quite negative, whereas the others are full of hope. If you're a L'Engle fan who's gone through the Murry/O'Keefe and Austin series and is looking for more books of hers, I'd look to And Both Were Young and The Joys of Love first.


Decked (Regan Reilly, Bk 1)
Decked (Regan Reilly, Bk 1)
Author: Carol Higgins Clark
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 12/12/2010


After reading Zapped and Cursed, both of which I really enjoyed, I went back to this, the first Regan Reilly book. It's rare that I dislike a book so much that I don't finish it, but I realized I was wasting my time here when I was halfway through.

Decked has little of CHC's trademark humor, and it has no suspense. The plot was intriguing, but Carol's writing just dragged on and on... it seems like she took five pages to write what could have been said in two. If you're new to Carol Higgins Clark, whatever you do, DON'T start here. Begin with #2, Snagged, which is much more entertaining and much more typical of her books. I really like Carol Higgins Clark, but this was pretty bad.


Die for Love (Jacqueline Kirby, Bk 3)
Die for Love (Jacqueline Kirby, Bk 3)
Author: Elizabeth Peters
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 10/9/2011


Didn't like it as much as the other Jacquelines -- it seemed to drag in the middle. (Even at that, I liked it better than the Amelias!) Admittedly, it is very funny in parts, and it's worth reading (or, at least, skimming) to set up Naked Once More.


Edges
Edges
Author: Lena Roy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/2/2011


A short (162 pg.) but engrossing novel. The way in which Luke's and Ava's stories tied together was very interesting to see -- it reminded me of Carol Higgins Clark's books, and how her main character's story is always tied to the villain's. All of the characters are likeable, and Léna's writing really pulls you in from the start. As YA authors go, she's not Madeleine L'Engle or J.K. Rowling, but I'd rank her well above Maureen Johnson (and I like Maureen Johnson) and about on a par with Rick Riordan (maybe even a little higher). A definite keeper.


Elixir (Elixir, Bk 1)
Elixir (Elixir, Bk 1)
Author: Hilary Duff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 12/18/2010
Helpful Score: 2


***MILD SPOILER***

As a Hilary Duff fan, I was cautiously optimistic about this novel. After reading and enjoying the excerpt in iBooks, I decided to buy it. I really did enjoy the first half, which was a Barbara Michaels-esque gothic story with fantasy elements, but I found the entire reincarnation track unbelievable and off-putting. The ending was also completely unsatisfying, and the characters started out appealing (Clea and Ben did, at least) but by the end seemed whiny and gloppily sentimental. I actually hated the book so much that I returned it to the bookstore (which they kindly let me do, since I hadn't damaged the spine), something I've never done before.

I may or may not get the next book in the series, but if I do, I'll just check it out from the library, rather than buying it. If you want a really good teen fantasy/suspense novel, take a look at Madeleine L'Engle's brilliant The Young Unicorns, or And Both Were Young for romantic suspense. OR just read a Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters novel (those are mostly appropriate for young adults -- just as appropriate as Elixir, anyway, since it has multiple S-words and a sex scene). At any rate, avoid this book, which really is nearly as bad as the haters claimed it would be.


Giotto's Hand (Jonathan Argyll, Bk 5)
Giotto's Hand (Jonathan Argyll, Bk 5)
Author: Iain Pears
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 10/9/2011


For me, this was the beginning of the downfall of this previously wonderful series. Don't get me wrong; it's still a very good book, as are the next two, but they aren't as good as the first four. It's very clear to me when Pears started wanting to write "serious" books, as opposed to the generally lighthearted and frothy earlier ones. The mystery is plotted just as well as the first four (and probably better than The Last Judgement), but some of the humor is replaced by moral dilemmas for Jonathan and Flavia. Granted, that was hinted at in the two previous books, but ... still.


In the Shadow of Gotham (Simon Ziele, Bk 1)
In the Shadow of Gotham (Simon Ziele, Bk 1)
Author: Stefanie Pintoff
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 10/9/2011
Helpful Score: 4


A few weeks ago, I heard Stefanie Pintoff speak at a store signing with Louise Penny (whom I'd actually gone to see). I enjoyed her talk so much that I bought this, her first book, and I certainly can't say I'm sorry. While it's not gripping, In the Shadow of Gotham is a good read throughout, particularly for its characters. While I saw the ending coming from a ways down the road, that only happened after a huge plot twist, and it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. I will say that the sequel, A Curtain Falls, is an even better book, but this story is well worth your time.


Leaving Cold Sassy
Leaving Cold Sassy
Author: Olive Ann Burns
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 91
Review Date: 10/9/2011


As someone who loved Cold Sassy Tree, I was ... underwhelmed ... by the story part of this book.

And by "I was underwhelmed," I mean I didn't like it. At all.

It seemed much more shallow than CST, and I couldn't quite believe that some of the characters (namely, Will Tweedy and Papa) would act as they did. And the thing of Will and Sampson calling one another "Uncle" really annoyed me for some reason.

So why did I rate this as highly as I did? Well, for as little as I enjoyed Olive Ann Burns' writing here, the second half or so of the book is a biography of Burns by her editor, and that section was very interesting -- I hadn't even known there had been a TV movie made of the first book! If you're a big fan of CST, between the unfinished part of the novel (bad though it is) and the biography, it's probably worth it to get this.


Murder in Baker Street: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes
Review Date: 8/26/2011


There really isn't a bad piece in this book, though a couple of them aren't as good as the others. I got this for the L.B. Greenwood story, "Darkest Gold," because I really liked her first Holmes novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Raleigh Legacy, but my favorites turned out to be the Anne Perry and Loren D. Estleman stories. Most of the stories do a very good job of mimicking Doyle's style and formula, which is where lots of Holmes pastiches fail. The three nonfiction pieces — one by Doyle containing some Holmes-related anecdotes, one about the various film and TV adaptations of the Canon, and one about words Doyle introduced into the English language — were all interesting, but not as much as the stories. Overall, this is a very good collection for any Sherlockian.


Murder on Parade (Murder, She Wrote, Bk 29)
Murder on Parade (Murder, She Wrote, Bk 29)
Author: Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 10/9/2011


One of only two MSW books I haven't liked (the other being Three Strikes and You're Dead). I was excited for the return of Amos, but the plot was just a bit boring. Thankfully, they got better again after this one!


My Gal Sunday
My Gal Sunday
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 165
Review Date: 12/9/2010


I read and enjoyed We’ll Meet Again and The Shadow of Your Smile, so I picked this one up, as I was interested to read an MHC book about politicians. I was pretty disappointed. The writing is very flat, not at all exciting or suspenseful like the other two, and the characters are appealing but underdeveloped. I read the first story in full and thought it rather worthless, but I decided to read the second, hoping it would be better. It was so boring I just skipped to the end to learn how it turned out. I moved on to the third and found it so boring I didn’t even bother reading the ending. I don’t know if MHC was on autopilot here or what, but this is probably for her diehard fans only; new readers ought to check out The Shadow of Your Smile to start.


My Life in France
My Life in France
Author: Alex Prud'homme, Julia Child
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 10/9/2011


I read this book after having seen Julie & Julia, but I knew next to nothing about Julia aside from what's in the film. Even at that, I found it absorbing: a great look into the background of an American icon. If you're a Julia Child fan, you're a big memoir reader, or you just liked the movie, by all means pick it up.


Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga
Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga
Author: Maureen Callahan, M Callahan
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 10/2/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I really enjoyed reading this. I've read some reviews saying that it's unfair to Gaga, but I really cannot see that. The author does spend quite a bit of time showing instances of where Gaga has exaggerated facts or outright lied, but she also shows instances where other people have exaggerated or lied to make Gaga look bad. And let's be honest -- we knew all along that Gaga was making some things up.

Although it's not particularly insightful into Gaga's music (and probably would have been more interesting had it been written post-Born This Way), the book provides some interesting background on how Gaga got her start. It's easy to read, and well worth it for any Gaga fan.


Seriously...I'm Kidding
Seriously...I'm Kidding
Author: Ellen DeGeneres
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 48
Review Date: 12/19/2011
Helpful Score: 4


Far and away my least favorite of Ellen's three books. I rarely laughed while reading it, which I did a lot with the others. The only chapter I thought was really inspired was her letter to mall security, explaining how she broke a vase and why she stole a Segway. If you really need your fill of Ellen, this will do, but come to it only after The Funny Thing Is... and My Point...and I Do Have One. I liked this one enough that I don't mind having swapped for it, but not enough to keep it. If you read this expecting something as funny as her show or her other books, you may be disappointed.


Ten Little Witches (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Ten Little Witches (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Author: Paul Ruditis, Nancy Krulik
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 10/30/2011
Helpful Score: 1


As someone who grew up on the Sabrina TV show, I enjoy reading this book once every couple years around Halloween. The story is an adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians; it's an interesting spin on the characters of Sabrina, Salem, Harvey, and the aunts to see them play detective.

The big drawback of this book is that it's riddled with misspellings and other errors; in one particularly egregious case, the last sentence of something Aunt Zelda (IIRC) says is moved into Harvey's piece of dialogue above. But once you manage to figure those errors out, it's a good seasonal read.


Tintin & Snowy: Album 1
Tintin & Snowy: Album 1
Author: Guy Harvey, Simon Beecroft
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/9/2011


This is an activity book, and pretty much only for younger children; Tintin's older fans won't find much here to interest them (and I question the necessity/wisdom of including a retelling of Red Rackham's Treasure). Doesn't mean it's not a fun 20-minute diversion, though!


Wings Of The Falcon
Wings Of The Falcon
Author: Barbara Michaels, Elizabeth Peters
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 10/9/2011


Probably my favorite Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters book (saying quite something, considering how much I love the Vicky Bliss series). It's interesting both as a Gothic thriller and simply as historical fiction (and there's even a hint of mystery). A surprising (though not shocking) ending and likeable characters make this a must-read for MPM fans.


Zapped (Regan Reilly, Bk 11)
Zapped (Regan Reilly, Bk 11)
Author: Carol Higgins Clark
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 76
Review Date: 12/12/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This was the first Carol Higgins Clark book I read, and it got me hooked. If you're coming from her mother, Mary's, books, don't expect the same kind of novel. CHC's books aren't thrillers like MHC's but rather comic mysteries with parallel storylines from the detective's and the villain's points of view. Zapped has an interesting, if not terribly original, plot, and I snickered the whole way through: the secondary characters are a real treat, particularly the wanna-be actress, Lorraine. This is probably my second-favorite Carol Higgins Clark novel, after only Snagged.


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