Reads of May 2023

Roger Rabbit, Xerious Business, Gary K.Wolf
The fourth novel of the series and perhaps the best. This shows the human side of Jessica before she became a toon. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first and fourth book possibly being my favourites. Don’t expect these books to follow on, one after the other. They each have their own stories and don’t pick up where the other left off. Take them for they are, as the author has written them, and they’re fun, though not as zany as the film. Don’t expect Disney here.

Inkspell, Cornelia Funke
I became more involved with Inkspell than I did Inkheart, possibly because in this one we enter Inkworld. Incidentally, from the German translation, the title actually reads Inkblood, which is directly linked to events in the trilogy and the books’ titles (Heart, Blood, Death). The wealth of characters may be perhaps the most absorbing thing about this book. There are many wonderful moments of tension, and I have to say also sadness, and all the characters get a goodly amount of ‘screen time’. I would say this book is better than Inkheart. This also feels much more like a fantasy intended for younger and older readers alike, but that’s where it’s imperfect. It’s a hefty read and I find it hard to pinpoint a right age to read this. It’s going to depend on the individual, their reading skill and love of books, so labelling it YA is only a rough guide. This book would feel overly long for some adults, so teens might well struggle with this. And although Meggie often acts childish (even thoughtless), she sometimes seems older than her 13 age. Perhaps older would have been better as the author somewhat unsuccessfully suggests a romance blossoming here between her and Farid, a relationship I’m not sure I believed. Indeed, the author excels most when tugging at the reader’s heartstrings dealing with the tragic. I love believed love elements through the bonds of father and daughter, husband and wife. Believed, but didn’t always feel — these books are action based — whereas Meggie and Farid seem more linked by a shared adventurous spirit rather than actual love; perhaps fitting, considering they’re so young.

Dark Halls, Jeff Menapace (ebook)
I expected a different antagonist and outcome, but the book has all the plot points needed to tell this story. The ghosts and spooky children are an excellent concept and made me want a bigger payout. The writing was a little too basic for me and the story would have benefitted by being more atmospheric.

Live and Let Die (James Bond), Ian Fleming (audio, read by Rory Kinnear)
I fully believe books are of their time and should remain as originally written, but have to admit even I blinked a time or two at the racist and sexist remarks. But then these books will never translate well to modern day, but such is the Bond universe, too. As a sign of the times, they have to be regarded as such, and no longer taken seriously. I also rolled my eyes when Bond faints from having a pinky finger broken. Fine, anyone might faint from pain, but Bond’s a secret agent and should have trained to withstand a certain amount of torture; later on in the book he undergoes worse with stolidness. This being only the second Bond instalment I’ve listened to, it amazes me how bad Bond is at blending in (also apparent in the films). It seems a running flaw of Fleming’s work that his undercover agent seldom truly works undercover. The reading was good to excellent in parts, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book either through the reading or story.

Dark Rivers of the Heart, Dean Koontz
A re-read for me, but one I quickly scanned through when I remembered I found it rather draining the first time. I quickly recollected much of the story which says something not having read it for many years, though not necessarily for the right reasons. With some interesting characters and a wonderful dog, this novel lacks the supernatural elements of so many of this author’s books. One for those into secret government agencies, but the reason the protagonist wants to track down an unknown woman is tenuous. The biggest fault of the book is over padding. I’m sure it could have lost 200 pages and been better for it. So many sequences seem never-ending. It’s a hard one to review, as many like it. Maybe one to read once, but not a keeper for me. The best thing about it for me was the dog, Rocky.

Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie
It’s marvellous to love a book as much on a re-read years later as much as when first read. This is one of those. I still rank this as Crusie’s best book. A steamy small town romance and mystery perfectly blended. This is a rare book where not one sentence seems out of place. With a perfect balance of characters (especially Sophie and Phin), and an ending that still made me laugh and smile, this book brings a bright meaning to carrying on family traditions. Top marks.

Faking It, Jennifer Crusie
This is a companion book to Welcome to Temptation, which I’d never read, so I read both books one after the other. Faking It is Davy’s story (brother to Sophie) from the first novel. While the plot may be as perfectly told and wild, it didn’t quite match my love of the first book, although it came close. One of the best things about Crusie’s books, are her wonderfully off the wall characters and there is a wealth of them here, even down to Steve, the dog. Yes, everyone here is deceitful in their way, but worth loving for the hysterical ending where everyone seems to have a thing for hiding out in the closet. A cute, fun story. I’m glad to have spent time with this.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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