book review: bellman & black

Bellman & Black: A Ghost StoryBellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, I read an ARC of this book while at the cottage this summer, and was waiting to post my review until closer to the publication date. I saw it in the bookstore last week, so I figure it’s about time.

The only thing is, I can’t actually remember what I wanted to say. Oops.

Okay, here’s what I do remember: for the first 3/4 of this book, yawn. Seriously, I kept flipping pages (well, I read this electronically, so I was actually pressing buttons but still) and thinking to myself “when is some action going to take place??”

For some reason I had it in my mind that this was a story about magicians. The title just made me think of magic, and also the cover. I thought the raven pictured there might be a magician’s aid or something. Anyways, I think that they added the “: A Ghost Story” portion to the title after I had already read it. But even if I’d known it was a ghost story, for the first major part of the book, no ghosts!

So it was leaning towards being a 2 star read for me. When Bellman opened the store, and all the stuff with his daughter being ill was going on, the book did take a turn for me and became more interesting. By the end, I did enjoy it. I especially liked the little blurbs about birds, and the collective nouns for them. But I’m weird and like knowing collective nouns. The last segment from the perspective of the bird was cool.

Overall, I can’t quite remember why I gave this 3.5 stars, so a more accurate rating would probably be 3. Because if it didn’t have staying power since I read it in August, it’s obviously not one of my favourites.

If you’re wondering whether to read this book, as long as you don’t mind a really slow pace and not much action, I’d say give it a try. You might like it!

Thank you to the publishers, who via NetGalley provided me with this advance copy for review!

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book review: hourglass

Hourglass (Hourglass #1)Hourglass by Myra McEntire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

{this review contains minor spoilers}

The blurb for this book really didn’t give me much to work with when I tried to get a feel for what to expect. It sounded like a ghost story. The cover is beautiful, and when I saw my library had a e-book copy of it, I decided to give it a go.

The first few pages already had me hooked. The writing style is breezy and fun, Emerson was really likeable; her habit of blurting out embarrassing pieces of information was relatable, and then we got introduced to Michael!

The basic outline of this book is that Emerson is dealing with some trauma from her past (losing both parents), and she can see visions of people from bygone eras. Her older brother asks Michael, employee of the Hourglass, to try to help his sister. Emerson discovers that Michael has a similar gift, and that the Hourglass is actually a weird X-men-like school/house for other people with strange powers. Appropriately enough, since it’s called the Hourglass, most of the special powers have to do with time-travel.

Wait– what?? Time-travel, you say?? I love that stuff! I had no idea that was going to come up in this book, but it just made me enjoy it even more. Despite the odd initial similarities to X-Men (school for people with special powers, mysterious head professor of school who disappears…), the story took a turn for the better with the introduction of the time-travel plot, in my opinion. Later on I read a comment saying that Hourglass was like a Dr Who story, and let me tell you, as a huge Dr Who fan (bring back Amy & Rory!) I can agree that this book shared a similar whimsical spirit with that great show.

So, Emerson is asked to help Michael and the others with a paradox-ridden, time-travelly mission in which dangers and perils abound!

Oh, and of course, there’s also the fact that Michael and Kaleb (another guy with special powers) get to fight over Emerson. And she gets the super-tough decision of, you know, who to kiss. How I managed to be convinced that both guys were right for Emerson just means more fun to come as we watch her deal with the aftermath of book one.

I found the relationships, interactions, and conversations in this book to be realistic and fun. The whole thing was a riot, and I really enjoyed it. I like how the time-travel issue wasn’t too technical (view spoiler)[I mean, there was a ring made of a not scientifically catalogued metal, dark matter made at will, doors/wormholes to other times, and then all you have to do is THINK of the time you want to go to and voila! You’re there! No need for formulas or machines (hide spoiler)].

The mystery was actually pretty tricky, although I’m famous for not seeing the twist, or figuring out whodunnit. I have to say, Jack’s identity sure surprised me!

I was pleased overall with how the end turned out, and excited to keep reading this series! More, please!

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