Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance – Ruth Emmie Lang

Beasts-of-Extraordinary-Circumstance-Ruth-Emmie-Lang
Source: Goodreads

 

Weylyn Grey was raised by wolves. Ever since, he’s been a little bit different. He’s never sure why, but mysterious things tend to happen around him and his horned pig, Merlin. Through his friends Roarke, Mary, Meg, Lydia, and Duane, we learn about Weylyn’s life and its challenges.

 

I was granted an ARC of this book from NetGalley, and I purchased a finished copy as part of my Book of the Month box for October 2017.

This book was marketed as an American fairytale meets magical realism. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it either of those, it does have the same sort of feeling as Big Fish. Weylyn’s presence is often associated with strange occurrences in nature, but he assigns all of the magical talent to his horned rescue pig, Merlin, not realizing that it has been him all along.

It was especially interesting to see how Weylyn adjusted to his strange life as he grew up in midwestern America in the 70s and 80s. I didn’t know how far into his life the story would take us, and it brought a surprising amount of closure to the end of the story. It’s rare that we get to see someone’s adventures through more than a single stage of life, and Lang’s take was refreshing. The characters are all original, flawed, and wonderfully human. Weylyn’s talents in no way detract from who he is a regular person – they just present extra challenges he must face as he grows up.

I enjoyed the story, and I hope they make a film version someday because I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoy other multi-part stories such as Big Fish and Forrest Gump.

 

 

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate (The Bizarre Baron Inventions, #1) – Eric Bower

Bizarre-Baron-Inventions-The-Magnificent-Flying-Baron-Estate-Eric-Bower

Source: Goodreads

Waldo Baron’s parents are amazing scientists who invent things like super speed horseshoes and contraptions that pull people out of wells. W.B. is a little overweight, clumsy, and completely friendless. The friendless part is because his parents are so strange. The overweight part is because he loves food. Rather than getting involved with his parents’ experiments, none of which he actually understands, W.B. would rather sit in his room and read his Sheriff Hoyt Graham novels, living vicariously through the stories about his real life hero. On the day when W.B. is finally going to see Sheriff Graham in person, he wakes up to find his house floating 1,000 feet in the air, about to be whisked out of Arizona territory on a race around the country.

This charming middle-grade adventure set in the historic wild west was just released on May 16th, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. W.B., who goes by his initials because he thinks Waldo is a horrible name, is a slightly overweight kid who just wants to read his books and daydream about going on daring adventures with his hero, Sheriff Graham. He is blessed with two parents who somehow are able to create amazing inventions and withstand being stuck by lighting multiple times a year without dying. He calls them M and P. W.B. has no interest in science, mostly because it doesn’t make any sense to his 10-year-old brain.

The plot follows the Baron family on their around-the-country adventure, fueled by the appearance of Rose Blackwood, the younger sister of the notorious enemy of Sheriff Graham: Ben Blackwood. Rose needs the prize money from the race to hire some thugs to break her brother out of jail, but the Rose and Barons quickly develop much bigger problems.

A lighthearted and fun read, I would recommend this to every 10-year-old I know. The quirky characters help fuel the needed suspension of disbelief, and the H.E.A. ending sets up the family for even more entertaining adventures across the world in the 1800’s.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Torn Hearts – M. E. Gordon

Source: Goodreads 

Chuck and Teddy Monroe have lived in the spotlight ever since they took over their parents business. Their little sister, however, has always avoided it. Elizabeth has her heart set on working at the Library of Congress. That’s why she’s going to college in DC after all, instead of back in New York. She craves the quiet happiness that only books can give her, and she has it until two men enter her life and turn it upside down. Soon Elizabeth’s heart is torn between them, a well-known playboy and a quiet photographer. The media are closing in fast and Elizabeth doesn’t know who to trust. There are some pretty big decisions to make, and no one can make them but her.

M. E. Gordon’s premiere work goes all out. Elizabeth is a delightful character, who embodies exactly how the average woman would react when faced with this situation. No stone is left unturned as Miss Monroe tries to figure out who she wants, and who she can’t live without. The character development is excellent. I felt like I had a good idea of who everyone was in Beth’s life before everything hit the fan, and that definitely helped me make sense of the chaos that was going on due to the dual suitors. As this is a romance, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the more ‘heated’ moments, and I think they were done wonderfully. Not too long and not too short, and they added to the storyline and the character building. The mystery element is done very well. After every twist, I thought I had it figured out when BAM! something new would crop up that would totally change my mind. When I finally reached the end, I was exhausted (in a good way!), and begging for more.

Based on how it ended, I really hope Gordon writes a sequel (or two, or three). The characters are so rich and layered that I can imagine each of them having their own story to tell, and I would love to read them. My rating is definitely a full five stars.

This book was just released at the end of August, and Gordon was nice enough to send me an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) so I could review it. I do not accept payment of any kind for any of my reviews. If you are an author and you’d love for me to read & review something, send me an e-mail at amanda-at-highlightsandhotchocolate-dot-com, or send me a tweet @Amanda_HHC and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars