Friday, December 30, 2011

A Special Guest Post by Abby Mae reviewing Ap Miller's Newest

Abigail is just the cutest and sweetest girl you're ever going to meet.  I'm not just saying this because she happens to be related to me and her mother is likely to hit me on the head if I don't.  She really is sweet, and she's cute as a button.  I think I like best, though, that she's as sharp as a tack.  So (drumroll, please) here is my lovely daughter Abigail Mae reviewing Ap Miller's Peter and the Pumpkin Patch.

My Review of Peter and the Pumpkin Patch by Ap Miller
by Abby

This book is just wow! It's funny.  It's classic pumpkin!  And... it's like a mythical comedy story. I mean, pumpkins--they all get turned into pumpkins! Crazy funny.   I can't explain.  You will have to read it yourself.
p.s.: Funny, funny, funny!

Okay, tell me she isn't the coolest seven year old in existence!  Alright, here's my take on the book.  I have seven kids.  That's right.  Seven.  Go ahead, take a breath, breathe in...breathe out.  You okay now?  Alright, I have seven kids.  That means I've read more than my share of children's books.  Let me tell you a horrible secret.  Most of them suck.  There, I've said it.  Most children's books are pablum-spouting, boring, idiotic, patronizing, pedantic, semi-socially-conscious forays into the kind of lowest common denominator crap adults get thrown at them.

Thankfully, Ap Miller doesn't fall into this category.  I reviewed her YA book, The Boogedyman, and I loved that one, too. I just love when an author doesn't treat my children like stupid idiots.  I mean it, this book is clever and doesn't pander.  I loved it.  My twelve year old, my ten year old, and my seven year old each read it individually.  Then, they took turns reading it over and over to each other until they were practically reciting from memory.  It's great.  I love it.  You'll love it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Judy Serrano, Brother Number Three

Okay, so I already told you I'm not a big fan of the romance genre.  However, my review of Judy Serrano's Easter's Lilly also pointed out that I'm a pretty big fan of Serrano.  This book is the sequel to the first, and it explores the character of Lilly as she continues her strange and varied relationship with three on-again, off-again criminal brothers.

On-again, off-again is a pretty good way to describe Lilly.  I swear that girl moves from guy to guy like nobody's business.  Still, it's remarkable the way Serrano handles it.  Lilly isn't some kind of easy, promiscuous tart (at least she doesn't think she is) but instead truly becomes overwhelmed with the emotional response to the three very...very...very persuasive brothers.

This book is a fine read.  I like the way she develops all of the characters.  Serrano refuses broad strokes, which are so common in this genre.  I appreciate the way she's developed the characters even more in this book rather than rely on what she did for the first book and just throw them into new situations.

There are a few weaknesses.  I think there was far too little freaked-out panic going on about Lilly's son, and I think no three brothers would really pass a woman around the way they do in this series.  Really, though, it's a part of the whole romance thing, so it's a tiny criticism.

If you're not a romance fan, you still might enjoy this series.  Give it a shot.

Judy Serrano, Easter's Lilly

I have to tell you something.  Publisher deadlines, The Spirit of Poe Anthology, and just family holiday obligations have kept me from posting reviews as I should.  It's rotten of me because there are a number of good books I've read and just stacked around the house, waiting for a spare few minutes to get a review up.  I'll be posting like a rabid...uh...blogger in the next several days.

Judy Serrano is one of the authors who deserved better attention.  I'm not a big fan of romance in general because I find the characters are often one dimensional and shallow and the plot lines are nothing more than operatic libretto geared to getting us to the next aria (or in romance speak, the next heart-fluttering moment.)  Serrano's book isn't like this at all.  There are a number of aspects to the book I really enjoyed.

First of all, Lily isn't one dimensional.  She has depth you just don't usually see in the broad strokes we're used to in romance books.  Of course, there are some implausible aspects to her character, but that's the genre, not a flaw.  Even the unlikely aspects of Lily's personality, though, push the story along in a positive and an enjoyable way.  I especially like the way Serrano portrays conflicted emotions.  This isn't the typical junk of melodramatic "does he love me or doesn't he" or "which one should I chose."  All of that's in this book, but I guarantee you don't imagine a sweeping orchestra in the background telling you how you're supposed to feel.

Maybe that's indeed what sets Serrano apart, here.  She doesn't fall into the trap of spoon feeding the reader the emotional impact she's looking for.  Instead, she portrays the actions and emotions of the characters and allows you the whole gamut of emotions involved, from "Awwww" to "What the hell is your problem, Lilly?"  When you think about it, that's what separates a good novel from a bad one.

No, the book's not perfect.  I think there is a great Milky Way Galaxy law somewhere that makes us think of certain male characters as attractive despite their criminal nature.  My wife tells me that it's wonderful in a fantasy world even if she'd run like hell in the real world.  Then, she usually says, "Shut up and let me read."
I'm still not really a romance fan, but if all romance novels were like Easter's Lilly, I might be willing to revisit that statement.