7 Mini Book Reviews

7 Mini Book Reviews 2020 books

If you’re like us, with the current state of the world, all you’re doing is reading. Which means I’ve read a lot of books and have a lot of things to say about them. So, instead of writing one big book review for each book, here are some quick mini reviews of the books I’ve read in the last few weeks:

The Age of Witches Book Cover Review

Title: The Age of Witches
Author: Louisa Morgan
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher:
Redhook Books
Genre:
Adult Fantasy
Pages: 448
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Borrow It

I love witches. And anything set in the 1800s. Put these two things together and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a “Book Amber is Guaranteed to Read No Matter What It Is About”. So, obviously I had to read The Age of Witches.

Unfortunately, this book wasn’t quite what I wanted. I was hoping for a dark, twisty witch story and instead I got a slow, warmhearted story about family set to the backdrop of the Gilded Age. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I did really like this book, but it was just lacking in the witchy department. And this Halloween loving, magic obsessed girl was here for the witchy department.

There wasn’t really a lot of witchcraft in this book, and really, not a whole lot happened in it either. The plot was slow and I was very uninterested in about half of it. The story of Harriet and Francis was fascinating – two sides of the family, black magic vs white magic – and the conflict developed here is what kept be reading. The romance plot of Francis trying to marry off Annis bored me. I wasn’t really invested in Annis’ character and James didn’t stand out in any particular way either. I’m surprised I honestly remember his name (I have a tendency to forget the names of characters I don’t like).

So, despite the lack of witchcraft, I did love the portrayal of the magic that was there. It felt very realistic. It was rooted in the story of Bridget Bishop (from Salem history) and Morgan wove the magic into the world in a very believable way. The witchcraft never felt fantastical, but very much rooted in research and history.

Morgan’s writing is very beautiful and I did love the way she weaved this story together. It just fell flat for me when so little happened. I guess I just wanted a little bit more.

The Year of the Witching Book Review

Title: The Year of the Witching
Author: Alexis Henderson
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher:
Ace
Genre:
Fantasy/Young Adult
Pages: 368
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Borrow It

Okay. So. If you’ve read any of my 1 to 3 star reviews, there tends to be a common theme that ruins books for me.

False. Marketing.

This book was marketed as a dark fantasy, witchy, feminist ADULT novel. Keyword: adult. Within 50 pages it was glaringly obvious I was reading a YA novel. Now, there is nothing wrong with YA, I do love a good YA novel, but this book suffered from the classic YA tropes that made it lack detail and depth. It didn’t read at all like an adult fantasy book. I think if it had been written that way this book would have been a lot better. It felt like it suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. The concept lent itself to dark adult themes, but the writing fell victim to YA fluff. I wanted dark, mature themes with depth and intrigue and honestly, some description. I didn’t need seven pages describing a pie (looking at you George R.R. Martin) or trees (*cough cough* J.R.R. Tolkien) , but one of the things I love about adult fantasy is how in-depth and descriptive the writing and world is. So, when I don’t get that and instead get the lack of detail style most YA books have, I’m disappointed.

I wanted more from the magic and the world. Henderson tries to be dark and twisty and add a layer of horror and darkness into her writing, but it falls flat. It’s kind of like her writing changes between the scenes with the witches that are supposed to create a horror element and the rest of the book. Also, the witches weren’t very fleshed out. I would have liked to have gotten more backstory and more characterization around them. They were the most fascinating part of the story and instead read a bit like caricatures.

The main characters were also one dimensional. Immanuelle had no particular qualities that made her stand out, but instead felt like a typical YA fantasy heroine who grew up as an outsider and must face adversity to save her society and family (sound familiar?). And Ezra, the love interest, was this super charming, rebellious boy who just wanted to help the girl (again, sound familiar?).

Where this book redeemed itself was the concept. It tackled a lot of topics like feminism, representation, racism, and religion. She weaved a lot of modern day concepts into this fantasy world that were relatable and the allegory was really well-written in this book. Henderson does have a good grasp of story telling and, for a debut novel, it was pretty good. I would recommend it to someone looking for a unique feminist approach to witchcraft and fantasy.

Again the Magic Book Review

Title: Again the Magic
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date: May 28, 2015
Publisher:
Avon
Genre:
Adult Romance
Pages: 409
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Donate It
Disclaimer: Mild spoilers

I really love the Wallflowers series – but this book really didn’t do it for me. I read the rest of the series in three days, but have been putting this one off cause it didn’t interest me as much.

Honestly, I couldn’t stand McKenna and I didn’t like Aline that much either. McKenna was just so bitter over what happened and so resentful that it was hard to like the guy. The way he would talk to Gideon about what he wanted to do to Aline felt fueled by so much anger and vengeance that it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to just slap McKenna the whole book. It’s been 12 years dude, get over it already. I was waiting for Gideon to do it, but alas it never happened.

Also, Aline was infuriating. She just kept pushing McKenna away over and over again. Her excuses got old after the first 15 times. This was one of those relationships where if the characters just communicated with each other they could avoid so many problems.

The one thing I really loved in this book was Gideon and Livia. Now that was the story I would have loved to read. They were both far more interesting characters (Livia’s scandal and Gideon’s history) and the chemistry between them was more believable. I found myself hurrying through Aline and McKenna’s parts to get to more of Gideon and Livia.

The book was wonderfully written, as is every story in the Wallflowers series, but the characters just killed it for me. 

It Takes Two to Tumble Book Review

Title: It Takes Two to Tumble
Author: Cat Sebastian
Release Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher:
Avon Impulse
Genre:
Romance, LGBTQ+
Pages: 304
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Borrow It

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, as a Regency romance about a LGBT couple, I loved it, but as a romance novel it was lacking for me. There wasn’t the tension between the Philip and Ben that I wanted. Their romance went from zero to hot and heavy real quick.

Sebastian sets Philip up as this cranky captain who isn’t the best father and Ben’s this sweet specimen of a human who’s great with kids and ducklings (seriously just read this book for adorableness that is this scene). They are very opposites and Philip shows up with Ben having moved into his house and being a better father to his kids than Philip knows how to be. I wanted more tension there, a little butting of heads I guess. But, Philip got over it real quick, got hot and heavy with Ben, fell in love with Ben, and suddenly became a really great father.

This was also lacking on page – the connection between him and his kids. The kids were really interesting characters and I wanted to see more of them. I also absolutely loved Ben! He felt like the only character with real explored depth

Which was another one of my problems. I wanted more depth to the story. Everything was just very much on the surface and solved too easily. Every problem resolved itself with a nice neat little ribbon. The plot just felt weak and while all the elements were there for something deeper, the book didn’t go there.

Overall, it was a sweet read and I did enjoy it. I will be continuing with this series and am particularly interested in Will’s story in the third book.

Boyfriend Material Book Cover

Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher
: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre:
Romance, LGBTQ+
Pages: 427
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Borrow It

Okay, so when I saw this book I got serious Red, White & Royal Blue (one of my favourite books) vibes. I was ready to love this book. I loved everything about it, from the cover to the summary and premise. But, I really really struggled with it.

I don’t DNF a lot of books, but I honestly considered it with this one because of how much I honestly couldn’t stand Luc. He really is a crappy person. He isn’t nice to his friends, he does and says some unacceptable things to Oliver, and his all around self-depricating and self-sabotaging behaviour is frustrating to read. I found myself yelling at him so many times in this book. If I could have slapped him I would have (apparently I’m on a trend of wanting to slap characters lately). While I understand why he is the way he is and appreciate the journey he takes out of that space, I didn’t enjoy the way the writer handled it. I did love Oliver, which helped balance out how much I couldn’t stand Luc. And their relationship was really cute and believable. The fake romance aspect allowed them to become friends first and I love relationships built on friendships. It allowed them to explore some things they might not have so early on.

Also, what was with all the secondary characters? They just felt so absurd and some were really exaggerated. Specifically, Luc’s coworkers. I can’t for the life of me remember any of their names, but every time they showed up on the page I was like, there are not real people out there like this, there can’t be. For my own sanity, please tell me people like this don’t actually exist.

Overall, the book was good. The relationship between Luc and Oliver is well done and I liked the underlying theme of healing from childhood traumas and how that affects us as adults. I just struggled with the characters. The book was cute, the humour made me laugh out loud multiple times, and the writing was well-established. I would recommend this book, but just don’t go in with big expectations (aka Red,White & Royal Blue sized expectations).

Long Hard Ride Book Review

Title: Long Hard Ride
Author: Lorelei James
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher
: Ridgeview Publishing
Genre:
Romance
Pages: 258
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Donate It

Oh boy, where do I even start with this one? Like, I knew there was going to be sex in this book, but did it ever come out swinging. Or bucking? The book is about rodeo cowboys, after all.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a book about sex, sex, and more sex this book is for you. There was little to no plot and the main characters irritated me to no end. Colby was honestly a dick, I have no nicer words to describe him. And while this book did refer to his aforementioned appendage a good
83 942 times, it never addressed just how much of a crappy person Colby was. He’s super possessive in a ‘You are mine and I own you’ sort of way that, while it worked for Channing, was super toxic for me as the reader.

I am really intrigued in some of the other side characters. Just Trevor and Edgard. That’s all I have to say. Read the book and you will understand.

Neverwhere Neil Gaiman book cover

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Release Date: September 2, 2003
Publisher
: William Morrow Paperback
Genre:
Fantasy
Pages: 370
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Own It

There are not enough words to describe my love of Neil Gaiman’s writing style. And of Neverwhere. This book was the perfect magical masterpiece that I needed right now.

I recently took Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass on The Art of Storytelling. Before taking it I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman. Since taking it I have worked my way through most of his books and this one quickly became my favourite.

Gaiman has this effortless grasp on the workings of fantasy that is just so beautiful and enticing as a reader. The world of London Below feels so fantastical, yet so gritty and as real as London Above that you forget you’re reading about a world that doesn’t exist. London Below is dark and comes with teeth. It’s dangerous, it’s full of the most unique and fantastical characters, and it’s ready to kill all of the characters. I like that this book was so simple, yet so complicated at the same time. Gaiman built a world so like the one we know, but with twists and turns that were unique and stood out on every page. The best way I can put it is that Gaiman is just clever. The way he describes his characters (giving them funny hats as he said in his MasterClass), builds the world, and creates tension is the work of a genius. And this was his debut novel!

Neil Gaiman is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers, especially after reading Neverwhere.


Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them?

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7 Comments

  1. I feel like there are so many books that just aren’t classified correctly, especially with YA/adult books! It’s crazy too because most of the books I read and don’t like are because of a false synopsis or something along those lines too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I feel like all I’ve been reading lately are books that haven’t been marketed correctly, in my opinion. The genre a book is marketed in sets a lot of expectations for readers I feel and it’s really disappointing when those expectations aren’t meant. I know that we’re getting into a grey area with books between classifying them as YA or adult, but I feel like I’ve read a lot that are ‘adult’ and really should be in YA. Especially with fantasy. When you put these books up against other adult fantasy novels there is a huge difference. I find it very frustrating. – Amber

      Like

    1. Yeah I was really sad about both of them too. I really wanted to like them, and while they weren’t bad books they just weren’t what I expected. The Age of Witches was a well-written book though, just wasn’t witchy enough for me I guess. The Year of the Witching is definitely deceptive. While not a bad book either, it really wasn’t what I feel like the publishers made it out to be. – Amber

      Liked by 1 person

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