March Minireviews – Part 2

I’m back, with another lightning round of minireviews!!

Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter – 3* – read February 22

//published 2019//

Hunter can be hit or miss for me, and this one was mostly a miss.  SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THIS REVIEW.  The main thing that frustrated me about this book was that every single guy in the story was a jerk except for the main romance.  I found it ridiculous that the main character finds out that not only was her dad a serial cheater, but her grandpa was, too.  I mean, seriously?  And what exactly did that add to the story??  The reason her sisters don’t get along is because back in college they both fell in love with the same guy – guy was engaged to Sister A, but then leaves her and marries Sister B, which pretty much puts him in the jerk category, too.  Then we think that at least Sister A eventually found love – but no, her guy is a white collar thief who’s in jail now.  Sister B’s marriage is on the rocks, too, although at least he shows up at the end and they seem to be getting back together.  I’m just really over the “all guys are cheating jerks trope.”

On the other hand, the story had its moments.  I liked the grandma and her sneaky way of bringing her granddaughters together, and I did like the build of the romance between the two main characters.  However, I got frustrated by the sisters, who both needed their heads smacked together on more than one occasion.  All in all, this was a so-so read for me, that I would have enjoyed more if there had more than one nice guy in the entire story.

How to Save Your Child From Ostrich Attacks, Accidental Time Travel, and Anything Else That May Happen on an Average Tuesday by James Breakwell – 3.5* – read February 24

//published 2019//

I follow Breakwell on a few different social media platforms and really appreciate his humor.  I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter – I think that length is the absolutely best for his humor.  How to Save Your Child is his third “parenting” guide, and probably my least favorite of the three.  While there were some entertaining moments and quotes, the overall book got a little repetitive.  Still, if you’ve enjoyed his other books, you’ll like this one, too.  Below, my three favorite quotes:

If your child falls off the bed and hits their head, you might wonder if you need to take your kid to the emergency room.  You don’t.  If it were a real emergency, you would know, because you would be on your way to the emergency room instead of wondering if you could keep your kid home to save some money.  In a real crisis, your survival genes override your cheapness genes.

When Godzilla starts a rampage, calmly move your child away from the destruction zone and head out to the countryside.  Godzilla is mainly concerned with demolishing tall buildings.  That’s why there’s no footage of him pointlessly stomping around empty farm fields.  If you already live in a rural area, congratulations:  Nothing in your life is worth destroying.  Sit back and watch as those condescending city-dwellers get their comeuppance.  Not that it will bother them.  Like crime and traffic, radioactive monsters are just a part of city life.

The world of Harry Potter is filled with dangers.  I’m talking about the version described in the books and movies, not the version J.K. Rowling retroactively changes on a daily basis to confuse and annoy the internet.  By the time my book goes to print, Dumbledore and Grindelwald could have an entire secret family together and the main character of books one through seven might be a frozen treat from Dairy Queen.  You’re a Blizzard, Harry.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – 4* – read February 25

//published 2019//

Wow, I don’t even know how to review this book.  Overall, I liked it, although I sometimes felt like it was trying a little too hard to be clever, with all the layers upon layers and stories within stories.  I also don’t feel like I should have to read a 500-page book twice to “get” it, but because of the way that all the stories are interconnected and the way time flips around, I was definitely left feeling like I would have to read it a second time to really grasp what was going on.  While much of the world-building and description was fantastic, I weirdly never felt particularly connected to any of the characters, and really didn’t buy the romance between the two main characters, which was definitely quite insta-love-y.  There also was basically not an actual plot, which added the dream-like feel of the whole thing.  Overall, there were a lot of things about this book that I really loved, but it still felt a little flat.  Worth reading, and I’ll probably even read it again sometime, but definitely not the instant winner that The Night Circus was.

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie – 4.5* – read February 27

//published 1925//

Christie rarely lets me down, especially in her pre-1930’s books.  A group on Litsy is reading and discussing one Christie book per month, and this was February’s book.  I’ve read all of them before, so this was obviously a reread, but it had been quite a while and I couldn’t remember all the details of what was going to happen.  This is one of her spy thriller-ish books, so strong on humor with a dash of campiness, but still a fun romp.

For a more detailed review on this one, check out my review from when I read it back in 2016.

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck – 3* – read February 29

//published 2011//

I read this series several years ago and remember finding them entertaining if a bit too YA (even though the main character is 18).  Since then, Houck has published another book in the series, so I thought I would give it another go.  However, I found this really difficult to get through this time.  Kelsey, who narrates the books, is just too annoying for words, and I had also forgotten how the love triangle really plays a very prominent part in the plot.  So even though I really do want to read a story with handsome princes who are cursed to be tigers, I just couldn’t handle wading through 2000 pages of Kelsey dithering about which perfect brother she loves the most.

*****

Okay!!  That brings us to the end of February’s reviews!  I think I’m going to write a February Rearview post – despite the fact that it’s basically April – and then start minireviewing March’s books in a continued effort to catch up!

Tiger’s Destiny

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by Colleen Houck

Published: 2012

And here we have it, the fourth and final installment of the Tiger series!

The series did have a fairly satisfying ending.  This book also involved a phoenix, which is my favorite mythological creature.

WHICH REMINDS ME.  Somehow, when I was reviewing Tiger’s QuestI forgot one thing I was going to mention, and that was the fact that one of the things I did not particularly like about this series was the way that it haphazardly mixed religion and myth, as though they are both equally unbelievable.  I really know nothing of the Hindu religion, but I do not think that if I was a Hindu that I would take kindly to a series of books that basically, by its very premise says, “Your religion is a fairy tale.”  In Tiger’s Quest, Kelsey and Kishan find Noah’s Ark, and it’s the same kind of attitude from the author–we can include this in my fairy tale book, because it’s the stuff of fairy tales.  And I find that offensive.  Not in a I AM GOING TO WRITE TO THIS WOMAN AND GIVE HER A PIECE OF MY MIND kind of way, but just…  really?  I don’t appreciate the mockery of religion.  Like I said, I know nothing of the Hindus, so I have no idea if they would find Houck’s take on their religion offensive or not.  So.  End rant.

Ennywho, this book also involved time travel, which is always a good time, and death, which is pretty much never a good time, and the same stupid love triangle which is consistently OBNOXIOUS.

Still, this book, and the series overall, ranks a 3/5 for me.  I may read it again someday, but it’s not really a set of books I expect to return to again and again.

Per usual, spoiler-rants below.  ;-)

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Tiger’s Voyage

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by Colleen Houck

Published: 2011

In this third installment of Houck’s Tiger series, we pick up directly following the close of Tiger’s Quest.  Throughout the story, Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan must now work together to travel on a journey meeting with several magical dragons who give them items that the trio need to complete their overall quest.  Once again, the writing was good and the story intriguing, but there was just toooooo  much Kelsey/love triangle drama for my taste.  Overall, a 3/5, because the dragons were awesome.  See below for spoiler-filled ranting if you are interested.  :-D

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Tiger’s Curse

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by Colleen Houck

Published: 2011

So this was on some list on GoodReads so I thought that I would give it a whirl.  About halfway through I realized that it was the first book in a series (whoops) and was momentarily afraid that the sequel(s) would not yet be published, since this is copyrighted 2011, but lo! Houck managed to write three more books in less than two years after this book was published.  So.  All four are available.  Lucky me.

Anyway.  I enjoyed most of this book.  It started well.  I liked the narrator/heroine just fine, and who doesn’t wish that they could fall in love with a magical tiger?  At the age of 18, it was delightful to have a heroine who was actually the right age to be falling in love and wandering all over the world and making important life-altering decisions.

However, I fear for the rest of the series.  At this point, our heroine has fallen in love with her original tiger.  However, it turns out that this enchanted tiger has a brother who is also an enchanted tiger!  So I’m afraid that this whole thing is just going to devolve into an incredibly dull love triangle (WHICH I HATE), and that’s a shame,  because there is a lot of potential with these characters and their story.

Most of the story takes place in India, and the characters are attempting to appease an Indian goddess so she will lift their curse.  That also gets a bit confusing because there are loads of gods and goddesses in ruinous temples.  I also personally prefer my fantasy to be firmly separate from real life, e.g. I would rather have these characters working with magical entities instead of religious beings.

Still, this was a strong 3-almost-4/5, and I have the other three books on reserve at the library.