Second Reflections – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of YA Books

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have read more books this year then there are days left to review them individually.  So today I bring ye a muster of mini-reviews.  What be a muster?

Well the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

  1. assemble (troops) especially for inspection or for battle;
  2. collect or assemble (a number or amount); or
  3. a group of peacocks.

Here I take a second look at previously enjoyed novels and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ them again.  They don’t get full reviews because I be running out of time.  But me rule is that I have to review every book I read.  Arrrr!

Side note: the book covers come from Goodreads and ye can click on them to add the books to yer Goodreads’ Ports for Plunder List.  

the graceling realm series (Kristin Cashore)

I remember loving this series back in the day.  This series has folks with Graces – a special extreme skill of magic.  Now in the first book graceling, the main character Katsa has the grace of killing people.  But it could also be something simple like being able to pick out a flattering outfit or something.  I listened to these on audiobook and goodness did me viewpoint change.  I still loved the first book.  Katsa and Po have a wonderful story.  The characterizations are better than the plot but the nostalgia was high and I loved it.  But then I absolutely hated the second book, fire.  I was so very bored and the main character, Fire, was whiny and waffling and she sits and lets things happen to her.  I couldn’t believe how long this book felt even though I still liked the weird world the author created.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to reread book three because of how book two let me down but I did.  Book three was a mixed bag.  Bitterblue is an engaging character but also a waffler.  She also reads more like 12 then 18.  There is a lot of this book where nothing happens.  There is a lot of talk of abuse and how to handle it.  It is rather dark.  Again I thought the plot was weak even if I liked many of the characters.  I don’t think I will ever reread the second and third books.  This series weakened immensely in me adult worldview.  But I am glad I revisited it.

“I’m not going to wear a red dress,” she said.
“It would look stunning, My Lady,” she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. “If there’s anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I’ll hit him in the face.”
― Kristin Cashore, Graceling

the goose girl (Shannon Hale)

I love Shannon Hale’s writing and have read 7 of her books.  This book is the first of the Bayern series.  Not only was this audiobook fantastic but me favourite part was the author’s afterword about her process into writing the book.  The story was so very cute and I am glad I know it.  Her website has more insight into this book and the others of the series.  What I loved about revisiting this one is how nuanced and well-written it is.  The hard elements of the original Grimm tales are there but they are tempered with the growth of the wonderful characters.  As Ms. Hale says, “Even though it was my favorite, its strangeness and brevity always left me wanting more. Why did the princess let her lady-in-waiting steal her identity? How did she learn to command the wind? And what about the prince? I thought the story fairly begged to be written into a longer work.”  I am so very glad she made this version of the tale.

Oh, but I like my geese. Like cats, they can’t be told what to do, and like dogs, they’re loyal, and like people, they talk every chance they get.
― Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl

the bartimaeus trilogy (Jonathan Stroud)

Oh how I absolutely utterly love Bartimaeus.  He makes me so very happy.  For those who haven’t read the series, it takes place in Britain where magicians rule Parliament and tells the tale of teenage magician Nathaniel who summons Bartimaeus, the djinni, and gets way more than he bargained for.  Nathaniel is obnoxious and arrogant but ye love him in the end.  Bartimaeus is sarcastic and funny and provoking and wonderful.  Listening to the audiobooks was such a treat.  In listening to them, I am not sure if book one or three is me favourite.  But the human and djinni relationship is the highlight of these books.  The plots are wonderful but the characters are even better.  I won’t be waiting for so long to read them all again.

One magician demanded I show him an image of the love of his life. I rustled up a mirror.
― Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand

beezus and ramona (Beverly Cleary)

I remember readin’ a lot of this series when I was younger.  I was a major fan of Ramona.  I think there was even a television series that I watched back in the day.  I enjoyed listening to this one in audiobook format but it didn’t completely re-capture me fancy like the Fudge books did.  But the relationship between the sisters is ultimately sweet.  I particularly loved Beezus’ imaginary lizard named Ralph.  I don’t see meself listening to any more of the series but did enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Beezus didn’t know what she would do without her library card. She couldn’t get along without library books. She just couldn’t, that was all.
― Beverly Cleary, Beezus and Ramona

So there ye have it.  Me second reflections on some young adult books from me past.  Arrrr!!

17 thoughts on “Second Reflections – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of YA Books

  1. A book that I loved as a girl that held up super well for me was The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson. I reread it about a year ago and found it just as rich and complicated as I did back then. I think a lot of Paterson’s novels are complicated like that, which is why they always find new readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really should read some of her other works. I have had Jacob Have I Loved on me list to read for practically forever. I haven’t even heard of Gilly Hopkins. That books sounds both sweet and kinda intense. I do love revisiting books even when they don’t always work the second time around. Audiobooks have been the best for rereading for me. Thanks for the comment matey!
      x The Captain


  2. Well, I’m glad you enjoyed Graceling the second time around and agree with your thoughts on Bitterblue. (I also had other issues with the technical aspects of Bitterblue writing-wise.) But… ohhhh, I absolutely love Fire, probably because I connected with her character and admire how she learned to see her powers from a different perspective. So it’s hard to hear a critical response to it… but I also respect your opinion, Cap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, matey. I agree that writing-wise Bitterblue had some problems as well. I am actually perplexed at me change at Fire given how much I loved it the first time. I hadn’t thought about how she learned to see her powers from a different perspective. I do see the lessons in that. Especially because the powers weren’t her fault. I would be interested in yer further thoughts about how ye connected with Fire and yer love for it. Did ye write a review on yer blog? I didn’t find one when I searched but I am hoping I missed it. I absolutely love readin’ contrasting reviews from mine. It is sad when someone doesn’t like a book that I adore but every book can’t please everyone. Lovely comment. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think so… I read all three Graceling books years ago, shortly after they all came out. I wasn’t a very consistent blogger at that point, so I didn’t write reviews on them. (Though I started writing a YA fantasy manuscript shortly after reading Bitterblue, since I was so frustrated with the dialogue that I said out loud, “If I wrote a book, my characters wouldn’t speak that way.” :o)

        I just did a search of my old blog posts, though, and here are some I found that shed some light on why I enjoyed Fire so much:

        This Is My Genre, Now Tell Me Yours (blog tag):

        My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroines:

        Acts of Compassion in Literature:

        How Mirror Characters Can Illustrate Literary Themes (a literary analysis post I wrote for DIY MFA using Fire as an example):

        Oh, wait, I did write a review of Bitterblue. XD Here it is:

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooooh! Look at all the fun links. I don’t have the time to read them tonight but shall do so within the next couple of days. I be soooo excited that ye gave me these. Thanks for the awesome comment!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice! I want to re-read some of the Beezus and Ramona books, but I think I’ll need paper versions of them for myself in order to properly enjoy them.

    I read the first Bartimaeus book, but didn’t connect with it. I think I never got past Nathaniel’s arrogance and into the loving him at the end bit. Maybe the audio book version would help with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The audiobook might help in enjoying Bartimaeus but Nathaniel really is a prat in most of all three books. So I totally get how hard it is for some readers to get past that. I want to kick him most of the time. The strength of Bartimaeus is what pulled me through.

      As for the Ramona books, listening to the first one made me want to find the tv series from long ago. They are sweet and cute.

      Thanks for the comment!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

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