Size Doesn’t Matter (13): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (13): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud
Narrator: Emily Bevan
Length: 11 hrs, 55 mins
Series: Lockwood & Co. #3
Published by Listening Library on September 15, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror, Historical
Pages: 385
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
four-stars

As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests against the psychic agencies throughout London, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness between the team now that Anthony has shared his childhood story, and Lucy is feeling more and more like her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.'s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes's and Rotwell's lives. Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure.

Whoa, I was SO not prepared for that ending emotionally at all. While not a cliffhanger, that’s a serious gut punch to end on, and oh my god do I have a desperate need for the next book which doesn’t come out for almost a year. The life of a reader is fraught with pain.

Okay, that aside, The Hollow Boy may be the best book in the series yet. I loved the debut too, but shit is really starting to hit the fan here at Lockwood and Co. This is also the first book in the series that deviates from the formula, which tends to be a good sign. Where there has previously been one really massive case, there were actually three pretty scary cases. The last one of course was especially horrible, but the scale of what they’re dealing with is way more intense as they’re being more recognized as a talented agency.

There’s a lot more development with Lucy’s abilities, and I’m so intrigued by this new bit of world building. It’s obviously going to be important, but I’m not entirely sure where Stroud is going to take it.

Also, we’re getting to see more of Lockwood opening up, and I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS ABOUT THAT. My little middle grade ship has gone from being something I was kind of into to being something I have massive feelings about. Damn you, ship of pain! Lockwood and Lucy are so cute and frustrating in this book, and I can’t even smash their faces together because they’re young enough still I’d feel a bit weird about it.

One thing, though, I very much did not like about The Hollow Boy, and, were it not for that ending, this book would not have gotten such a high rating from me because of this thing. There is so much girl hate in the series. I didn’t really mind it up to now but with the addition of a new character, Holly, Lucy explodes in hateful jealousy and I can’t even. It would be fine if Lucy didn’t already dislike every other girl in the series, but she does, so her immediate loathing of Holly was not fun. She does come to an understanding that she’s been unfair but that’s really not enough to make this okay for me.

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (13): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason
Series: Stoker & Holmes #3
Published by Chronicle Books on October 6, 2015
Genres: Steampunk, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 360
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

And then she mouthed a word at me—an unmistakable word that told me everything I needed to know. “Checkmate.”

Evaline Stoker & Mina Holmes have reluctantly agreed to act as social chaperones and undercover bodyguards for Princess Lurelia of Betrovia, who has arrived in London to deliver a letter that details the secret location of an ancient chess queen that’s been missing for centuries. But when the letter—which will heal a centuries-old rift between England and the Betrovians—is stolen out from under Evaline and Mina’s watchful eyes, the two girls are forced into a high-stakes race to ensure they find the chess queen before anyone else does…including their foe, the Ankh. For the chess queen is not only a historic symbol of a woman’s political power, but it has literal power as well—the queen will unlock the chessboard, revealing both treasures and ancient secrets the Ankh would kill to possess. It will take Mina’s smarts and Evaline’s strength to beat the thief and untangle this mystery before it is too late.

I really enjoy this series quite a lot. I’m always here for historical novels with strong heroines (mentally in the case of Miss Holmes and physically in the case of Miss Stoker). The Chess Queen Enigma is the weakest in the series thus far, but it’s still a good read and I wouldn’t let that scare you off the experience that is Stoker & Holmes.

The main issue I have with The Chess Queen Enigma is the pacing. It alternated between being a touch on the slow side and rushing far too fast. That sounds bad, but it’s still quite readable and enjoyable. I just felt like everything could have been smoother. The plot does come together really nicely, as Gleason’s do, and I actually really like that things don’t wrap up in a neat bow. View Spoiler » Lurelia ends up serving a purpose, but she’s rather boring and a big part of why this one tended to be a bit duller.

The character arcs were really moving in The Spiritglass Charade, but they’re not evolving quite as quickly here. Miss Stoker faces down some lingering feelings from the prior book, but then shakes them easily enough as soon as faced with a new vampire. Miss Holmes is mostly just frustrated about the Ankh. Mina and Evaline don’t have any of the cute moments together of the prior book. There’s not nearly as much progress on the romances as I would have hoped, though things are looking good for my ships. The most interesting thing character-wise is that View Spoiler », which I totally did not see coming yet in the series.

This series is awesome, and, though The Chess Queen Enigma wasn’t quite as good as the other two, I’m still chomping at the bit for book four.

Size Doesn’t Matter (13): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerMistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance by Lyla Payne
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In "Mistletoe and Mr. Right," Jessica (not Jessie) takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays for Christmas break, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily ever after. But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . . . and least.

The holiday hijinks continue in "Sleigh Bells and Second Chances," when Jessica's best friend makes her own way across the pond! Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it's her duty to babysit one of London's hottest bands at their last-minute concert on Christmas Eve . . . even though she had a fling with Cary, the band's lead singer, that never officially ended. Now forced to reconnect, Christina is starting to think that maybe London is exactly where she's supposed to be to get the perfect New Year's kiss--at least until she finds out that he's been lying the whole time. Can Cary find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve? Or will the New Year ring in a new romance?

Lyla Payne wraps up two perfect holiday novellas, ties them with a ribbon of romance, and tops them with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!

These stories are so cute. If you’ve been frustrated at the lack of truly fluffy new adult novels, you’re going to want to grab these sweet Christmas romances ASAP. Payne’s done a great job creating adorable, shippy romances that seem like the sort of thing you might watch on ABC Family.

The first story, “Mistletoe and Mr. Right.” does not have any mistletoe in it, which I find somewhat puzzling. The story itself is very similar to the movie The Family Stone, which I happen to love. It’s a ridiculously quick time frame on the romance, but, if you can roll with that, I think Payne does a really nice job with it. The two do share a bond of sorts, and it managed to keep me from rolling my eyes, which is a serious accomplishment.

The second story, “Sleigh Bells and Second Chances,” doesn’t have a sleigh ride, though the first story did. This one is another form of romance catnip for me, with a celebrity romance. This one’s pulled off really well, I think, and it’s enhanced by the family plot line. Plus, I’m down for a Christina having sexy adventures with a celebrity. I mean, come on.

Super cute if you’re looking for holiday reads or fluffy romances. Especially if you’re into British and Irish boys.

6 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (13): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. I love holiday reads, fluffy romances, AND British and Irish boys!! How did you know! Lol. I’m actually glad I didn’t read Mistletoe last year so I can get this book and read both stories 🙂 I want to do lots of holiday reading this December, especially since my Halloween reading in October didn’t work out so well hah.
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Review: The Virgin’s Daughter by Laura AndersenMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      They’re not anything new but they are super cute and shippy and who caaaaaares? I think you’ll enjoy. 😀

  2. Oooh someone else who loves Lockwood & Co! Why is that series so severely underrated?? I totally get what you mean about the Lucy/Holly thing.. I’m glad she finally got over herself but it set a pretty funky tone for the book overall. But that ending. Man.

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