Friday, September 16, 2011

Mini-Reviews: The Beast Call & If Sons, Then Heirs

The Beast Call by Anne Tibbets

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website:
Seventeen year old Dray is no ordinary human. But possessing a magical capability to talk to animals in a land where magic is feared, is dangerous. When Dray's adventure hungry brother leaves the family farm to join a rebel militia, Dray follows him, but as Dray discovers her natural warrior capabilities, and word of her magical talents are discovered by the rebel General, Dray becomes an intricate part of the revolution, and the evil King Nuro would like nothing more than to see her destroyed.

When I was first offered the chance to review The Beast Call, I jumped at the chance. I'm always on the lookout for good fantasy, something reminiscent of the Kristin Cashore's spectacular Graceling and equally thrilling Fire, so a book about evil kings, superhuman powers, and extraordinary main characters sounded like just my kind of book. Sadly enough, I didn't end up enjoying The Beast Call nearly as much as I thought and hoped I would.

One of the main reasons this occurred was because of the main characters. The characters presented were interesting, ones I would have loved to know more about. However, due to the lack of character development and a constant switch of narrators, I barely was able to keep track of who everyone was let alone whom they were deep down inside.

However, the premise of this one was very intriguing and unique, and I did enjoy learning more about the kingdom and its problems as well as the main character's special abilities. The whole understanding and talking to animals never ceased to further the plot in interesting ways. The only thing I didn't like about the plot, though, was once again the lack of development once again. A lot occurred that was never explained or developed fully, and the plot sometimes manage to jump from one topic to another with little to no resolution, like the whole thing with Dray's brother as well as the insta-love connection she felt with one of the army's men. I don't know if it was because of the book's short length (my eBook version was around 80 pages long) or the because it's the first in a series, but whatever the reason, I do hope Anne furthers the development in this series as more books are produced because the premise of this one is very promising. 

While The Beast Call wasn't my kind of book due to the lack of development, I still recommend this one to fans of fast-paced stories that are on the shorter length.

Grade: C

The Beast Call is now out!

Source: Author- thanks Anne!

If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
The critically acclaimed author of Black Ice, Pride, and The Price of a Child offers this deeply moving story of a family's challenge to reunite, understand the truth about its past, and secure its legacy. 

If Sons, Then Heirs
sheds light on a uniquely American, largely untold story of African American land ownership, the outmigration from the South, racial violence, and the consequences of past decisions on present realities.

After World War II, Needham family members migrated north to Philadelphia from South Carolina, leaving behind the tragic injustice surrounding the violent death of their patriarch, King. His devoted widow, Selma, remains on the old home place. Over the years, she raises King's children, including his great-grandson.

Rayne, on whom falls the responsibility to bring the family together to save the family land and mend the rift between him and his mother. Rayne and the other vividly drawn characters face challenges big and small that mirror the experiences of families everywhere. But in the masterful storytelling of Lorene Cary, so distinct and unique are their voices that they will live in the minds of readers long after the last page is read. If Sons, Then Heirs is a tour de force that explores the power of family secrets, bonds, and love. This gripping novel is certain to be on the must-read lists of all who enjoy brilliantly rendered stories of family, love, and American history.

If Sons, Then Heirs is a very different kind of book compared to the ones I usually read. It divulges into African-American history throughout the last hundred or so years as well as some universal themes: love, family, and the ties that bring people together in the end. However, while I managed to learn quite a bit from this book and its characters, I still had a few little problems with it.

One thing I did enjoy, though, was the characters. The main front-runners (Rayne, Selma, and Jewell) were three-dimensional as well as thoroughly well developed. I especially enjoyed how Lorene switched between their POVs because it gave me a look into three very different yet interesting viewpoints: a widow who still trying to bring her family together after all these years, a mother's last chance to reconnect with the son she gave away all those years ago, and a young man who's left up to pick of the pieces his family left behind. All three were presented in the kind of way I love to see characters: likable and easy to root for yet still flawed. The other characters involved, such as Rayne's girlfriend and the rest of the Needham family, were just as interesting, but I have to say I would have loved to see a bit more development into each.

The plot in this one was based on lots of secrets, drama, and introspection.What I enjoyed most about it, though, was the different pieces of history I learned throughout the book through flashbacks and the characters own experiences. It ended up creating an interesting atmosphere to say the least.

However, as I mentioned above, I did have a few small problems with If Sons, Then Heirs. For one, I felt that even with the interesting characters and plot lines, this book tended to move at snail like speed at times. I love a book that's thoroughly developed, but sometimes less is more, and in this book's case, I think that would have rung true. I also didn't like how everything towards the end was wrapped up so quickly and nicely so to say. In relation to the rest of the book's speed, it was very quick, even though this was the part of the book I felt should have been a bit slower.

In all, If Sons, Then Heirs was still an interesting novel regardless, one that even leaves the reader with a bit too think about it, and even though the speed of the book did bring it down a few points, it's still worth a read for any person who enjoys a bit of history and character introspection in their books.

Grade: C+

If Sons, Then Heirs is now out!

Source: Publicist at Simon and Schuster- thanks Cristina!

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Lauren. I love reading fantasies once in a while so just from the premise, The Beast Call sounds like my kind of book. The shifts in POV and the lack of character/plot development is disappointing though so I'll probably pass on it.


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