Book Review: Calamity Jack

I think of myself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck.

Calamity Jack, the sequel to Rapunzel’s Revenge [my review is here], by Shannon & Dean Hale and Nathan Hale starts with a little background information about Jack and his history as a thief as well as how he came to be on the run when he hooked up with Rapunzel.  Once that’s out of the way, the story picks up right where Rapunzel’s Revenge ended.

What I Liked

– Jack is Native American!  Or Native wherever the book is set.  I didn’t realize that in the first book because I just assumed he was, ya know, weathered.  Because of the whole Wild West (or wherever it is) thing.  What’s really interesting about Jack’s ethnicity is that it explicitly situates him as a trickster figure, which is really kind of cool if you consider the Native American storytelling tradition.

– I liked the character development in this book.  It was nice to learn so much more about Jack, his past, and his family.

– The new characters were also a lot of fun, especially Jack’s old road dog, his mom, and the villain.  FEE FIE FOE FUM.  The way the beanstalk story was handled was very inventive.

– Jack and Rapunzel’s relationship is explored a little more here, and it’s good to see how well he knows her, even if he is clueless about how to express how much he likes her.

– The romantic rival is handled nicely and isn’t annoying at all.

– There’s the same level of humor here.  I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times.

What I Didn’t Like

– The plot is kind of hard to explain.  I mean, yes, Jack is trying to save his mom from the evil giants and restore order back to the city, but everything beyond that is kind of like…what?  That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun ride, but it’s not as straightforward as Rapunzel’s story was.

– I just wasn’t as invested in this story as I was with Rapunzel’s.  I think it’s because Jack, great character though he is, is just not as interesting to me as Rapunzel.  I really enjoyed all of the parts with the two of them interacting, but when she was off-page, I wasn’t quite as into the story.  So I think it’s just a case of Rapunzel being a better character.

In conclusion:  Not as sharp as Rapunzel’s Revenge, but still a fun, breezy read.

YA Reading Challenge:  20/75; POC Reading Challenge:  12/15

Book Review: Temping Fate

Myths help keep the forces of the cosmos in balance; we let you see them in perspective.  We are stories and stories have endings.  When you mortals face small tastes of Chaos…just knowing it all has to end sometime can save you from feeling completely helpless.

Temping FateMy daughter is big into Greek mythology so when I saw Temping Fate by Esther M. Friesner–about  girl who gets a job temping for the Fates–I picked it up.

What I Liked

– The premise.  Sometimes the gods need someone to help out with the boring tasks (like typing up official death certificates) or the low level tasks (boring hero work).

– The temps get an opportunity to sit down and talk to each other and share notes, which is kind of cool.

– Some interesting characters are introduced, especially as it relates to which gods they work for.

What I Didn’t Like

– I honestly couldn’t tell you that much about the main character except that she caught smallpox in Africa (no particular country, just Africa), and her sister used to work at her old job.

– The plotting is horrible.  The villain is introduced a third of the way from the end.

– Also, it’s just really boring.  Nothing happens until the end, and even then, I didn’t care what happened to anybody.  Except maybe Corey.

In conclusion:  Great premise, messy and lifeless execution.

YA Challenge:  19/75