Last week I read a grand total of 2 books - The Spook's Curse (part II in the Wardstone Chronicles) and Aurelia - a YA fiction debut novel
Here is for The Spook's Curse:
This book just took me a lot longer to get through. Now granted, it is longer than The Spook's Apprentice, but it wasn't as engaging. I guess second books rarely are as BA-BOOM! as their predecessor, but still, I was at times disappointed with the direction of the story. For one thing, I missed a lot of Delaney's descriptive style that he seemed to write so well in the first book. It's really complicated to explain, because he's still the same great storyteller, but for some reason his writing seems less magical here than in the first book. And the subject matter wasn't near as engaging to me. Maybe it's because I am a religious person, but the whole nature of the story (an evil "godlike" spirit and crazy/weird priests) was very off-putting. I much preferred the scary witch in the first book to overzealous religious fanatics. So I docked off a star for the constant "priests are BAD!" message. I don't have the patience for those kinds of stories. And yeeeeeeeeeet: I still like the series and will definitely progress to the next installment. For one thing, Delaney excels at what I would consider the #1 Storytelling Must: a lovable MC. Thomas Ward is such an awesome character/narrator and I love him to death - he's only slightly "less cool" than my all-time favorite MC: a Mr. Perseus Jackson. Oh and let's not forget Alice: she's easily my favorite character in the series. I found myself getting mad at the Spook for being so harsh (and hypocritical) with her...I easily forget that characters are, ultimately, not real!
Rating: 3.5-3.9... My final rating would be somewhere between 3.5-4 stars...maybe 3.8 or 3.9. It wasn't as engaging as the first book by any means, and sometimes I felt like plugging along through it was more out of duty than enjoyment...but it got better, and I like the characters too much to quit now!
And for Aurelia:
"I'm going to start this book review off with a confession: **I am a very, very hard person to keep entertained/engaged. Kindergarteners can focus better than me - well okay, some can... Usually it takes me a few days at least to get throug...more I'm going to start this book review off with a confession: **I am a very, very hard person to keep entertained/engaged. Kindergarteners can focus better than me - well okay, some can... Usually it takes me a few days at least to get through a 200+ page book, either because I stumble over some pacing potholes or because I just flat can't concentrate... - THIS BOOK is...NOT one of those books! It only took me a few hours to read this - not in the least because it's short or anything, but because it was such an enjoyable reading experience. I wish all authors could pace their stories the way Ms. Osterlund does. Her sequences of events flow very effortlessly and never once does the story lag or excelerate too rapidly. - One thing in particular I really enjoyed about this book was the attention given to the setting. I love it when authors take the time to visualize for us the worlds they create, and I got such vivid descriptions of the places in the story that I felt like I could paint them. So bravo and thank you for that! - And let's not forget the characters: they all were relevant to the story. Now that may sound like the most basic assessment out there, but so many books have characters that are just really random and don't seem to serve much of a function other that background drapery. Here, every person we are introduced to matters and has a very special role to play in the story's development. I especially liked how she wrote Robert: he was strong and smart yet deeply caring. It was so refreshing to have a "love interest" character who was *not* a jerkface :) - The only thing I have with the book (and this is most definitely a "me thing" probably, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the writing) is the MC herself: Aurelia, a spunky, plucky, "princess who kicks butt". She was a little too spunky and plucky for my taste, and she got on my nerves sometimes in what I perceived as her constant need to be right: with her father, with Robert, etc. If I was reading this as a teen, I would probably not even notice it, but I'm 21 years old and so that kind of stood out to me. - Maybe it's because I'm still seething from last semester's teaching observations and all the "I know everything because I'm a TEENAGER!" attitudes I encountered from that experience, but teen characters who are written to be the bastion of knowledge and insight really grind my nerves. And I didn’t really get the feeling that Aurelia wasn’t supposed to be right all the time…it was as if the story was saying, “Because of her really bummer childhood and the fact that she can’t trust anyone, she is totally justified in making all the judgment calls.” In her encounters with Robert especially, her attitude bordered on arrogance (or at least, that was my perception). It always should be a warning sign when somebody presumes to tell you what your thoughts mean… And I never thought I’d be able to use the stuff I learned in Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy! Now I will admit to being biased towards a lot of these YA-age, “girls who do things” characters, because I personally like the “girls-who-don’t-think-guys-helping-them-makes-them-weak” characters better. Am I right, Annabeth Chase?!
- Anyway, this is a credit to the author and her storytelling ability, in that even though Aurelia got on my nerves, I still cared about her and wanted everything in the story to work out for her. And they did! For now, at least… I heard there’s going to be a sequel, and I will eagerly await its release!