Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Princess Ever After

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

My review:

Princess Ever After continues the Royal Weddings series begun in Once Upon a Prince. Repeat characters make only minor appearances, but the political issue that dominated the first book resurfaces in personal form for Regina Beswick. Reggie is a start-up restoration mechanic in small-town Florida when Tanner Burkhardt shows up at her shop with the surprise of a lifetime. Tanner informs her that she is a long-lost princess and the only living heir to the throne of Hessenberg-- and, oh, by the way, if she doesn't come back with him to assume the crown, Hessenberg will cease to be a country-- and her whole world is flipped upside down.

Regina's struggles to reconcile her future with that of Hessenberg may strike some readers as selfish, but Tanner's personal life and conflicts will be much more accessible. The romance develops at a perfect pace, with lots of fun moments sprinkled throughout. Royal-watchers will love the visits to couture clothiers, the adjustment to paparazzi and life in the papers, and the other luxe and juicy details of life in a modern palace.

The Christian themes are present but not heavy-handed; while non-Christians will probably not be impressed by how the faith is integrated throughout the book, neither is it artificial or cloyingly sweet. Tanner's struggles with God are particularly "real."

Stars: 4

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I borrowed a hardcover copy from my local public library.

My review:

Publisher's summaries- "After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret." And "A tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life-mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore."

I had heard a lot of great things about this book, and raving reviews invariably asserted that it will appeal to all true booklovers. Having read it and considering myself a true booklover, I have to disagree. Mr. Penumbra discusses "books" in the sense of physical objects, and refers to the fact that they contain "old knowledge," but there is little to no reference to the contents of actual works of history or literature.

Most of the action glorifies (imaginary) pulp fantasy and modern technology, particularly the wonders of Google. Though I think Sloan was attempting to quicken a new respect for the history of books, the bulk of his text focuses on revering modern technological marvels.

The love story was paper-thin and the "secret society" would have been more interesting if the book had actually spent more time exploring its inner workings.

Not a terrible read, but nothing fantastic, either.

Stars: 3