Book Reviews

June TBR Challenge: Mid-Month Check In

We’re halfway through June and despite life being disrupted with a lot of work being done to our house, I’ve still managed to get a good amount of reading done. Sadly almost everything from my challenge TBR that I’ve picked up has been disappointing so far, but hey, at least they’re done!

The first book from the list I picked up was The Girl Who Lost A Leopard by Nizrana Farook, which was a fast-paced animal adventure story set on the island of Serendib. As with the previous book by Farook that I’ve read, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant, I enjoyed the animal interactions and the general adventure, but found it a little too matter-of-fact in both writing and plot – it’s a very straightforward story with not much in the way of subplots or character development, and the writing is very terse. Tackling the issue of poaching means this is probably one best suited for older middle grade readers.

Mothers of Enchantment, an anthology of fairy godmother stories, was a bit of a disappointment, sadly. There were only a couple of stories in here that really felt like they had a spark, to me; most of them either didn’t really subvert the tropes or offer anything new, or they were interesting concepts but didn’t feel like the stories themselves were fulfilling. I liked “My Last Curse” by Elise Forier Edie, which sees a group of fairy godmothers cursing princesses with the sole aim of bringing down the patriarchy, but even this was a little weirdly paced and lost its way by the end. I’m sad that there wasn’t as much wit or punch to this collection as I was expecting!

Next up, The Poisoned Pie Mystery by Nicki Thornton, which it pains me to say was not a great time. I’ve enjoyed books from this author before, but the writing in this one felt rather flat – it was hard to differentiate the two different points of view (which is impressive considering one was third person and one first) and the POV changes are very irregular, so I often startled in the middle of a chapter to find a first person statement when I thought I was in a third person chapter. I really wanted to love this because a magical, crime investigating cat sounds amazing, but Nightshade’s character does almost nothing and has almost no impact on the book; the other magical detective also fits very poorly into the storyline and I rarely felt like the story was actually moving along by any of the characters’ actions – a mystery should have a strong investigation throughline, and this just didn’t. The ending was abrupt and really came out of nowhere, as well as making very little sense on a practical level. Also, one last complaint: I can’t believe we’re still printing the word ‘lame’ as in ‘uncool’.

And then my final read of the fortnight, A Far Wilder Magic by Alison Saft, was unfortunately a DNF! I realised very quickly with this one that I just couldn’t get on with the writing style – it’s a present-tense, character-focused story that makes lots of philosophical generalisations about emotions and love and so on, as well as flowery descriptions of basic actions. The prose isn’t exactly flowery, but it’s painstakingly crafted rather than feeling natural, and it reminded me heavily of the angsty, “poetic” things I used to write in sixth form. I suspect if you are still an angsty, literary teen then this might well be perfect, as the bones of the plot seem great (and the book is indeed YA!) but I just found myself far too focused on the try-hard-ness to get into the flow of the story. Not one for me, but I still recommend trying it if the style sounds more like your sort of thing.

So, a bit of a disappointing selection so far in June – let’s hope the other half of the books turn out a little more exciting!

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