Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions #1) By Lemony Snicket

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Title: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
Series: All The Wrong Questions
Author: Lemony Snicket
Published by: Little Brown
Release date: June 17th 2014
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Middle Grade
Format: Paperback
Why I read it: I read Snicket’s previous Series of Unfortunate Events books, and loved them.
What it’s About: A teen aged Snicket becomes the apprentice of S. Theodora Markson, and the two travel to a small semi abandoned town to steal an object of great value. While in the town of Stain’d by the Sea, Lemony meets a series of…..interesting people and gets swept up in a bigger mystery than he realized.
The Review: This series is supposed to be a prequel to Snicket’s Series of unfortunate events books. And I read somewhere (maybe goodreads, I’m not positive) that as the books progress characters that we met in SOUE will make cameos. That being said, you do not have to have read SOUE in order to read this series. Or at least not this book. It reads like a stand alone series.
What I liked: The silliness was just a fun as it was in SOUE, in fact that was pretty much the only indication that it was even remotely related to SOUE. The wacky characters were funny and irritating at the same time. The setting was just as wacky as the characters and, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be half as entertaining to read if it wasn’t. Also the time period is ambiguous as it is with SOUE, and it has a feel that it could be set anywhere. I like how Snicket never mentions a recognizable landmark like Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty. You as the reader can imagine it taking place in any country you wish. I Also like how it wasn’t like SOUE. In SOUE, you knew that it wasn’t going to end well. Bad things were supposed to happen to the  Baudelaire’s, but in this series, the outcome could be good or bad.
What I didn’t like: Like I said above, some characters were irritating. Like The Mitchum’s. I understand that they were supposed to be the useless police officers, but they really were very useless, and their arguing was just tiresome. And don’t get me started on their kid. he was a nightmare. And Prosper Lost for me just wasn’t a needed character at all. He didn’t add anything to the story, and just seemed like a filler character.  Another thing I didn’t like was that Snicket gives very little background information on himself. I know that it’s supposed to add to the mystery, but when he says things like ” I had an unusual education” I’d like to know more about this education myself.
Would I reread it? Most likely, yes.
Would I purchase it? I did purchase it, and no regrets about it.
Would I recommend it? I would if you loved SOUE. I’d love for my 8 year old nephew to read it, but I think he thinks too literally to get the silliness.
Love it or Leave it? Somewhere in the middle. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

 

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Debut Author Challenge : Hollow Earth by John & Carole Barrowman

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Yay! My first challenge,and my first challenge entry. For my first entry I went with Hollow Earth.

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Title: Hollow Earth
Author: John Barrowman and Carole E. Barroman
Length: 382 pages
Genre: fiction, middle-grade, fantasy
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4/5
Why I read it: John Barrowman, need I say more?

What it’s about: The synopses says it’s about twins who can put themselves into pictures, but that is slightly inaccurate. The twins Matt and Em, can put themselves into pictures, but they can also draw a picture and animate them, thus bringing their drawings to life, or manifesting them into reality (I.E. if they draw a key to get into a locked room, they animate the drawing and can use the key to unlock the door). Anyway, one day they are with their mother at work when they animate themselves into a painting, unfortunately The Council has been keeping an eye on them and notices their antics, so the Calder family has to flee to Scotland. Once they get there, Matt and Em learn more about their abilities and how to control them.

The good: In genre that is being taken over by witches, werewolves, vampires,angels, and zombies, this was not only an original (or at least close to one) concept, it was filled with imagination that I really wasn’t expecting. I mean, I love John Barrowman, and I loved his autobiographies, but when it comes to actors, it’s one thing to write a good book about your life, and it’s one thing to act out a story from someone else’s imagination, but it’s another thing entirely to make your own imagination into a story (I’m not saying actors can’t be talented authors, just that it’s a nice surprise when they are). When I first heard about the book, I was excited about it simply because John Barrowman is one of my favorite actors. That is the same reason I bought the book and the reason I read it. But as I was reading I seemed to forget that it was written by an actor and his sister, it was simply so good that it wouldn’t have mattered who wrote it, I would still love it.

The bad: Unfortunately, the book is not without flaw. first off, there were a few too many characters. One person, Vaughn, was introduced in chapter ten, and didn’t make another appearance until chapter fifty-six. Which brings me to my next qualm. The book simply had too many chapters. A whopping Seventy-five chapters total. 19 chapters more than the fourth Harry Potter Book, and still 400-odd pages less. Granted the chapters were, at most, five pages long. The next thing that irked me was the obviousness of who the villain was. Maybe it was the fact that this character didn’t have a close relationship with anyone else in the book that gave it away, or maybe it was simply the fact that the person played a key role, but was also overlooked until an opportune time. Lastly, the title makes it sound like Matt and Em would actually learn more about Hollow Earth, or that it would play the biggest role in the story, but alas,all that was found out about it was that it was real and there was a society formed in its name to oppose The council, and they want the twins because they are powerful. Nothing more. No idea what the HES wants in the grand scheme of things, no idea what Hollow Earth itself is. An Alternate universe? a secret school for animere? I don’t know.

Final thoughts: Despite the faults of the book, it was fun to read, and I do eagerly await the sequel, but I don’t really think it should be a middle-grade book. YA, sure, sci-fi, maybe, but I think just given the chapter count alone kids 9-13 may not have the attention span for it.