Friday, April 27, 2012

A Red Herring Without Mustard

Title: A Red Herring Without Mustard
Author: Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia De Luce, book 3
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2011

Recommendation: Enjoyable continuation to the mystery series.
Rating: 7.5/10

Summary: Flavia sets a gypsy's tent on fire and ends up offering the gypsy to stay at Buckshaw's grounds. The gypsy gets attacked during the night and of course Flavia is in the midst of the investigation.

Reactions: This installment in Flavia's story went by pretty quickly for me. It was fun and I enjoyed following Flavia's adventures, her relationship with her family, and her deductions. I didn't necessarily feel that the overarching series story line progressed too much in this book, but we did get a few interesting tidbits about Flavia's mother.

In terms of the mystery plot, I thought it was well done, though some things became apparent towards the end of the book even before they were really revealed. The book timeline strains credulity a bit by placing Flavia in the way of so many murders in the span of some months, but I guess the author really doesn't want Flavia to get past the magical 11th year of her life.

All-in-all, it was a fun quick airplane read that drew me further into the story and made me want to pick up the next book in the series. I am definitely hooked.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Master of Heathcrest Hall

Title: The Master of Heathcrest Hall
Author: Galen Beckett
Series: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, book 3
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2012

Recommendation: An enjoyable conclusion to the series.
Rating: 7.5/10

Summary: The war with the Ashen is coming closer and closer as the red planet draws into alignment. At the same time, the political situation in Invariel is heating up with the new powers at play that Mrs. Quent and Mr. Rafferdy have to face.

Reactions: I've been looking forward to the conclusion of the series and haven't been disappointed. It turned out to be a fairly hefty novel that took me quite a bit of time to get through, but it was enjoyable throughout.

The novel returns to the same characters of the first two books: Mr & Mrs Quent, Lord Rafferdy, his magician friends, Garrit, and various magicians associates of Mr. Lockwell. Together they try to fight the upcoming long night and prevent Ashen from taking over the world. Lots of mysteries started in the first volume finally get revealed and the ending is complete and satisfactory.

Even though it was clear that this is the type of novel to have a happy ending, I did enjoy watching all the different threads of the plot come together and resolve themselves. The author does a pretty good job with the pacing and gets everything resolved in the nick of time. There are some small details of the plot resolution that I find a bit strange (e.g. Lily's fate) and I felt the happy ending was a bit too happy given the circumstances, but overall it's a well written conclusion.

All-in-all, I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes Victorian fiction or character-driven fantasy. It's fun, it's easy to read, it has interesting world-building and a likable main heroine.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March Recap

Hello, April! My March turned out to be a fairly successful month for reading and I am looking forward to reading even more in April since I will be on vacation for a week next month and heading to a tropical beach. In March, I finished the following four books:
  1. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
  2. And Blue Skies from Pain by Stina Leicht
  3. Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
  4. The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
Favorite book: Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks, but I really enjoyed all four of them.

This month also marked the release of The Hunger Games movie, which I was pretty excited to watch. It didn't turn out to be as good as I hoped, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I thought the costumes were great. My biggest complaints are about the casting of President Snow and how some of the character relationships are portrayed in the movie.

Next month, I have plans to finish Galen Beckett's last novel in the Mrs. Quent series, The Master of Heathcrest Hall. The book is already sitting on my table waiting since I pre-ordered it. I am also in the mood to continue reading Alan Bradley's series about Flavia De Luce. And as usual I will be reading whatever catches my eye.

Have a good April, and may the odds be ever in your favor.