Quick Review: Fun Reads

These books I read for some casual reading – no critical analysis involved!


  • Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
    • Series: The Colours of Madeleine #2
    • Rating:  ★★★ [ratings guide
    • When the first book in this trilogy came out last year, I was ecstatic to hear it described as Neil Gaiman meets John Green. Moriarty is the only other YA author I adore aside from Green, and Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, so I was excited to see what she would conjure in the fantasy realm. 
    • The first book felt to me like a prologue. The second book still feels the same way, although now I’ve finally realized that searching for the royal family is the whole plot, not just a little side story to be quickly resolved. To me, it feels like something is missing from these books. I can’t get invested in the story. The book feels too long, too drawn out. But if you like Moriarty, and you like fantasy, I think you will still enjoy this book. And if you’re like me, enticed by the idea of Gaiman+Green, do give it a shot!
    • I was a little disappointed at the typical teenager-y behaviour of the teenagers…this may sound like a silly complaint, but when compared to the teens of Moriarty’s other work, the characters in this book felt more stereotypical, less developed. I was disappointed by the bickering between Madeleine and Elliot, and the immaturity of Princess Ko (although her behavior is realistic, given that she’s lost her entire family). I don’t really think the characters are badly or unbelievably written. They’re just not what I’ve come to expect from Moriarty.
    • I love reading about the Kingdom of Cello and exploring its realms. I love how Moriarty handles magic. It feels fresh and exciting and I always wonder how it will factor into the story. The Lake of Spells was one of my favourite parts of the book.
  •  No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley
    • Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide
    • Not the usual sort of book I pick up while browsing at the library, but I thought “Why not, sounds funny”.
    • Elizabeth MacMann, the titular First Lady, didn’t feel very developed. I felt distanced from her throughout the novel. I actually liked Boyce Baylor quite a bit, I found myself rooting for him!
    • The book was mostly funny and less dark than I expected it to be. I enjoyed reading the court room proceedings. 
    • I like that the reader doesn’t know who killed the President until the end.There was one point, around halfway through, where I thought “Wait, I bet this person did it!” but such thoughts didn’t distract from reading. It’s not like when I watch a crime show, always trying to deduce who did it. 
    • The book wasn’t spectacular but I did find it compelling, funny, and properly pace. This could be a good summer read if you’re interested in political, courtroom humour.

Does anyone have any recommendations of Buckley’s other works, or similar books? I could use a funny read like this now and then!

Quick Review: eBook Novellas

I purchased an iPad back in October. I did not have reading eBooks in mind, as I prefer physical books wherever possible and I can borrow plenty of those from the public library. Then I discovered there are a number of eBook novellas by some of my favourite authors, telling prequels, filling in gaps, or sharing alternate perspectives. I bought three of them back around Christmas and finally decided to read them a few weeks ago on a break from school.

  • The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While by Catherynne M. Valente
    • Series:  Fairyland #0.5
    • When to Read: After The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1).
    • Rating:  ★★★½ [ratings guide]
    • A great read if you want to know more about Mallow and the Green Wind
    • Holds all the charm and character of the other Fairyland stories, while feeling a touch  more mature and solemn
  • Unstrung by Neal Shusterman and Michelle Knowlden 
    • Series: Unwind #1.5
    • When to Read: After Unwind (Unwind #1)
    • Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide]
    • Tells the story of what Lev did between leaving CyFi and becoming a clapper
    • As with the Fairyland story above, contains all the qualities I like about Shusterman’s writing (plot twists, intense narration, thoughtful characters, moral grappling)
      • Last two chapters really pack a punch and bring the whole story together, in line with the rest of the series – fills in gaps well, relevant to the series, does not feel like an afterthought
  • Skeleton & Dust by Rhiannon Paille
    • Series: The Ferryman and the Flame #0.5
    • When to Read: Before or after Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame #1)
      • I would have preferred to read this before Surrender (if you read it before, you’ll have a better context for Surrender; if you read it after, you’ll recognize key characters from Surrender)
    • Rating:  ★★★½ [ratings guide]
    • Sets up the first novel by providing historical context
    • Romantic aspect feels more realistic than in Surrender (though reading this clarifies the romance in Surrender so it seems more believable!)
    • Especially liked Aria’s interactions with the Ferryman, and the scene where Aria shares food with the children

I have The Ferryman and the Flame #1.5 and #2.5 still to go. I wonder how many more little eBooks by authors I like are out there. Have you read any stories that were only available as eBooks that you enjoyed?