[(Short) Book Reviews] Who Could That Be At This Hour? and Storm Front

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Who Could That Be At This Hour?, Lemony Snicket

The first book in a new series from the nom de plume that signs A Series of Unfortunate Events, the story follows a young Lemony starting an apprenticeship with a completely incompetent mentor and trying to solve a mystery while asking all the wrong questions. Like anything else from Snicket, the book is fun and easy to read, with great plotting and strong characters. The story receives just the right amount of closure to make you happy with the book and waiting for the next one. Filled with irony and great lines, this is a nice pick for both children at age and at heart.

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Storm Front, Jim Butcher

The first book from the The Dresden Files series introduces us to Harry Dresden, a wizard that takes both private cases and helps the Chicago PD in ongoing investigations that seem to have something of the magical world to do with them. An incredibly fast read, the writing might be a bit sloppy at times and the story might not have profound metaphors or deep psychological development, but it is SO. MUCH. FUN. I mean it, it’s caps lock fun. It has everything from a talking skull named Bob to a love potion to giant insects to explosions to a spell called “FUEGO”. And if you’re the kind of person who turns down a book with a talking skull named Bob (I’m not), let me tell you something: the plotting is great. All the pieces of the story connect and make sense, showing Jim’s ability to set the game and then properly close it. I’m dying to read the next ones, which I heard are even better than the first. If you like easy and fun, this one is for you!

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[Book Review] Jinx

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I love chick-lit. I really do. Some people think that the fact that a book does not involve complex psychological evaluations, a political context or profound metaphors makes it bad; some would say that the writing itself has to be intricate and beautiful if a book is to be taken seriously.

I must, however, disagree. I have always considered the hatred on everything that seems to be successful (Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and even poor Mr. Justin Bieber) a bit… if I’m being honest, lame. When it comes to arts, I believe a piece of work can, indeed, be judged good or bad, but that judgement needs to take place considering the goals of the artist. I don’t think a living soul would say that Mozart or Chopin weren’t any good because they didn’t have the lyrical complexity of, say, Pink Floyd: they didn’t want to write lyrics in the first place. So if someone dislikes the idea of reading about teens falling in love with vampires or girls having boy issues, simply read something else. If you like a genre and think a piece of work failed to achieve its goal – a catchy chorus, a sweet romance, a supernatural suspense -, call it bad. But let the ones who like these genres consume them in peace.

Having said that, I can now easily explain why I thought Jinx (written by Meg Cabot, published by Harper Teen, 262 pages) was such a nice book: it reaches its goals. The story follows Jean, nickname Jinx, as she moves to New York in an attempt to escape something (yes, a mysterious something) she left at her hometown in Iowa. Jean has the worst luck even seen: from the moment she was born, everything seems to go wrong when she’s around, which, of course, means that sweet neighbor Zach, his dark hair and green eyes, would never be interested in her. The plot’s conflict is mainly centered, however, on her relationship with Tory, her cousin, who seems to be getting a little too fond of the use of not-so-white magic.

Yes, magic. Meg Cabot is such a talented chick-lit author that she can pull anything off, from girls finding out that they are princesses to witchcraft, in short, concise, fast-paced books. Jinx is no exception: it has exactly the right amounts of mystery, romance and humor to keep the reader sat down from the first page until the last. All characters are very well developed and credible, from Jean herself to German au pair Petra and, of course, Zach – the worst sin a chick-lit author could commit would be creating a “prince” that has no personality or that sounds like any other boy from any other novel. Meg, being the experienced story-teller she is, is able to create one of a kind boys in absolutely every book she writes.

Is it profound and introspective? No. Was it written in Shakespeare’s or Scott Fitzgerald’s style? No. But it was never meant to! Sometimes all we want is to read is a simple boy-meets-girl story and Meg Cabot delivers it as brilliantly as very few authors manage to do. Any chick-lit fan would most likely enjoy this fun, sweet book, which is at the same time interesting and well-written, fast and thorough. If I were to rate it, I would give it a 5/5 faster than you can say ‘jinx’!