Adventure, Fantasy, Reviews

Review: First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5)

First Among Sequels (Thursday Next, #5)First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First Among Sequels, the fifth book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is set some 15 years after the end of the previous installment, Something Rotten. After her adventures trying to save the real world and the book world all while getting Landen back, this novel finds Thursday in a more, settled, domestic situation. Or so it seems.
The first half or so of the novel can be slow going at times as we peer into Thursday’s everyday life with Landen, their children, and her work at ACME Carpets. The final 100 pages though are filled with everything we’ve come to expect from a Thursday Next adventure – forays into the supernatural with Spike, dealing with the wicked Hades family, trouble from the Goliath Corporation, confusing timey-wimey stuff, and several trips into the Book World. Though this one is slower at times, it is still a fun, often funny addition to the strange and wonderful series.

If you are a book lover – the kind of book lover who dreams of living inside of books – or you like your adventures with a healthy dose of craziness, I recommend diving into the Thursday Next series.  So far I’ve particularly enjoyed Lost in a Good Book (TN #2) and Something Rotten (TN #4)

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Adventure, Reviews

Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)

4 Stars

Amelia PeabodyWhat a fun book! In Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters, Amelia Peabody is a woman ahead of her time whose personality and physical appearance does not fit into Victorian society. She has strong opinions, which she doesn’t hesitate to voice and a generous, maternal heart. These traits, along with her desire for adventure – of any kind – entangle her first in the life of Evelyn Barton-Forbes, whom she rescues from herself and takes on as a companion for her trip down the Nile, and then with the Emerson brothers and their embattled archeological expedition. That’s when the fun begins.
There’s a 4,000-year-old mummy stalking them at night, some wicket banter – particularly between Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson, a couple of romantic subplots, plenty of emotions left unsaid – we are talking about Victorians here, an unexpected and unwanted guest, moments of peril, and a twist that ties it all together. It is a romp. Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first book in the Amelia Peabody series, which I cannot wait to continue, may not be the greatest book ever written but it is a great, fun summer read.

If you enjoy Crocodile on the Sandbank, I recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger

Reviews

Review: Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dan Brown’s first book featuring Robert Langdon, Angels & Demons, has many flaws but the critique I’ve seen most often in reviews is about the inaccuracy of the facts contained in the novel. I wouldn’t know about this but to those critics, I say: Why are you looking to fiction when what you are seeking is fact? The role of fiction is not to relate facts but to reveal truths. And, hopefully, to entertain. Despite its many weaknesses, Angels & Demons does both. While the writing style is far from brilliant, the story is compulsively readable and it stays with you long after you’ve put the book down.
That being said, Brown stretched out many scenes far too long, often repeating ideas and feelings. I feel like the novel could have been 200 pages shorter, which would have worked to make the timeline more believable. The final 20 minutes of the countdown, for instance, lasted nearly 100 pages and contained far too much action to be believed. And still the story went on without the famed symbologist, Langdon, making the connection with the most important symbol of all (insert eye roll). As for Langdon himself, I felt that Brown was trying to create some sort of academic James Bond. There was the attractive young woman in distress that he puts his life in danger to help; there is the pointless final scene between them in the hotel room; there is plenty of far-fetched action, and there’s the cheesy dialogue. The dialogue, I believe, is the weakest stylistic aspect of the writing. Mercifully, the story doesn’t require all that much dialogue. My biggest critique, though, is of Brown’s apparent lack of faith in his readers’ intelligence. Often he felt the need to spell out ideas and feelings and actions that frankly were pretty obvious. Either he didn’t believe the reader could figure it out for themselves or he lacked faith in his own ability to make it clear. Either way, his explanations only impeded the flow of the story.
Despite these issues and despite the fact that I figured out who the main bad guy was almost as Robert and Vittoria met him (again, based on the symbol that Robert apparently chose to ignore), Angels & Demons is a face-paced, entertaining read that succeeds in revealing truths and provoking deep thoughts. It may take a mind more open than that of some of the characters to see the truths spoken by both sides of the science vs. religion argument. And it definitely takes an open mind to accept a lot of the far-fetched scenarios in the story.

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