Nevinsbuzz

Engaging Methuen Readers


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Bookish Confessions: Finishing a Series

Ah, books in a series.  I love them and I hate them, and it usually has to do with how/when I start to read them.  Let me explain:

Often I start a series (particularly trilogies – I typically don’t read the super long never-ending type series you might find in the mystery or science fiction section) after the first two books have been published.  Then, if I’m hooked into the story, I’ll race through the first two books and impatiently wait for the final book.  If I read a trilogy as it publishes, I’ll race through the book, wait impatiently for the year it takes for the next book, repeat until the last book comes out.

And then?

Well…   then I get scared to actually finish the series.  Why?  Because then it is over.  This world is done, the characters I’ve loved (or hated) are gone and somehow I’ve got to move on.

book meme

THIS, but for a series of books!  From Purple Clover on Facebook

I can’t tell you how many trilogies I have started, completed 2/3 of, and just cannot finish.  Of course this isn’t always the case.  I have finished plenty of series as well.  With few notable exceptions, I am almost always disappointed in how the story finally finishes.  This track record does not actually encourage me to go back and finish some of my favorite series, no matter how excited I am to see that final book all shiny and new at the library or in the bookstore.

How about you?  Is this a problem for you or not really?

 


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Review: The Princess in Black

The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale

Princesses do not wear black. Princesses do not run. And princesses certainly do not fight monsters. Princess Magnolia, however, does all of these things.

While dining with Duchess Wigtower, Princess Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off. She has to sneak away from the Duchess to stuff a monster back down the Monster Hole or he is going to start eating goats left and right. She manages the task, but while she is gone the Duchess has been snooping through the palace. Will Princess Magnolia’s secret be discovered?

The theme of The Princess in Black is what I love so much about this book. Princess Magnolia can be a princess, but she can also be a superhero. While it is potentially problematic that she cannot show people that she is also a superhero, the message to the reader is that she is good at being both. She even maintains the tiara while she is doing her superhero duties which indicates that her personality overlaps between the two jobs. This is a strong heroine who doesn’t have to choose between being a princess or being a superhero because she is great at being both.

This chapter book is ideal for children 2nd-4th grade who are interested in princesses. It is heavily illustrated and contains short chapters. This is definitely a princess book, but one with pizzazz that shows the strength of the female lead. She needs no rescuing, she will rescue you.


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Atmospheric Mysteries

Recently I finished the Tana French mystery series set in Dublin. A strong part of its appeal is the glimpse into modern Ireland today, with its uneasy mix of rich but tragic history and twenty-first century commercialism and economic problems. That got me thinking about how crucial atmosphere is to the success of many of the best mystery series today, along with strong plotting and memorable characters.

There are so many great series out there that it’s hard to know where to start, but here are a few:

Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice

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Colin Cotterill’s series starring crime reporter Jimm Juree, set in Thailand

The Scandinavians, including Steig Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbo:

 girl with the dragon tattoopyramidredbreast

Alexander McCall Smith, who has evocative series in settings as disparate as Botswana and Scotland

No. one  44 scotland

And there are many, many more…what other mystery series stand out to you because of their setting?


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A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland

In A Dance Through Time, Elizabeth Smith falls asleep in Gramercy Park, NYC in 1996 thinking of 14th century Scotland and the Laird of the MacLeod Clan only to find herself thrust backward in time and into handsome Laird Jamie’s arms. Humor pervades the story in both the romantic, saucy banter between Elizabeth and Jamie, and the “fish out of water” scenario which each experiences in their due time. The author also takes care to add some wonderful, and at times odoriferous, historical details to remind the reader which time period they are in, but they do not distract from the easy flow of the story. The theme of family and belonging, whether it be blood kin or clansmen, runs throughout the book and contributes to a feeling of warmth and inclusion. This will be an entertaining read for someone who likes their romance and fantasy on the light side.


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Book Review: The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Fans of adventure and mystery of The Magic Tree House series are sure to love The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone. This first installment, based on the author’s love of the Thorne Miniature Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago, is enthralling in its mystery. The story focuses on Ruthie and Jack, best friends who visit the Art Institute on a school field trip and discover that the rooms are more magical than they could ever have imagined. After finding a key that allows wonders beyond belief, they are able to enter these tiny rooms themselves. In each that they visit, they come closer to unlocking the secret of the magic behind these worlds. How does the magic allow them to shrink down to enter these dollhouse rooms? How are there worlds beyond each? Will life ever be the same for Ruthie and Jack? The wonder will pull you in as well while you accompany them on their journey of discovery.