Book Reviews

Book Review: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Spells by Rose Pressey

Have you ever been disappointed by a book? I mean, really disappointed. Like, you start reading it, thinking it’s one of the best, most enjoyable books you’ve ever read, and then something happens and you discover you can’t wait to put the book down.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. By the end of the book, I was so glad I hadn’t actually paid for it. I know that may sound harsh, but that was really and truly how I felt about it. And it was such a shame. I started out liking this book so much. I was sure it was going to be a four-star book, at least. I laughed in all the right places. And, although I thought it was kind of odd that Elly’s grandmother would run off so abruptly to leave her to run the cafe all by herself, I went along with it for the sake of the story. There is such a thing as “suspension of disbelief,” you know.

From that almost stellar beginning, though, things went downhill really quickly. Take, for instance, Elly’s best friend’s most grievous error. She is supposed to be giving an order with a heavy love potion to one customer, but she gets so flustered by a handsome guy (who she sees every day, just looks at as a brother, and tries to fix up with Elly) that she gives him the food instead.

And, of course, Elly and the dreamboat start dating, but when they’re on their first date, she tells him, “Tell me about yourself. I don’t know anything.” And he says he owns a farm—which is fine, except for the fact that they’ve already talked about his farm—eight pages earlier. They treat it like it’s completely new information, but it’s not. And the same sort of thing happens in Elly’s conversations with Tom, the magic authority. I just don’t understand. It seems that the author couldn’t remember what she’d written from one day to the next (which, admittedly, does happen), but she didn’t go back to read through it?

At the beginning of the book, the author thanks her editor for making the book what it is, and I have to wonder: Why didn’t the editor catch these issues? I mean, things get missed. Mistakes happen, but these were pretty big things to let slip. A good editor would have been able to catch those things and fix them. I know I saw them.

And then there was that intriguing conversation with the weird drunk guy mumbling about “bad people in town” in the middle of the book. Sadly, it never really seemed to go anywhere—unless he was just referring to Rory’s ex, Kim, but she wasn’t all that bad, and the way he said it made me expect more. … Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. It was a strange bit of “foreshadowing” that, in my opinion, didn’t really work.

Okay, and let’s not leave out the absolutely ridiculous ending! Who’s Elly going to end up with? The dreamboat she’s been obsessed with since Day One with whom she doesn’t really have that much in common, or the magic inspector who has been with her, helping her save her restaurant from total ruin from the very beginning, so that they share so much more of substance? Guess.

And that inane comment about other people not having as much excitement in their lives because they don’t get kidnapped? Completely callous, if you ask me (which no one really has, of course). People do get kidnapped every day, and it’s no joking matter.  Bad form!

One last nitpicky thing: This is set in Kentucky, but some of the characters (IMO, which should count for something since I’m KY born and bred) seem to be written as if they were from the Deep South. Everyone has a “southern accent.” And, if you’ve spent any time in Kentucky, you know that true Kentuckians don’t really have what most people would think of when they hear the term “southern accent” (or is it just me?). They do say “y’all.” There is a certain nasal twang to some words and a distinctive dropping of the final “e” sound in the diphthong “I,” but when it comes right down to it, Kentuckians can’t hold a candle to the folks in Alabama, and the mere mention to a Virginian that Kentucky is anything remotely resembling “Southern” is absolutely laughable (I went to school in Virginia). Ah, but this is a book review – not a linguistic/cultural lesson.

Back to the book: There were some great bits toward the end (as there were in the beginning) that made me smile for all the right reasons, but there were many more parts that had me rolling my eyes and screaming at the computer screen (yes, I did say screaming). So did I like this book? I’m not sure.  Yes and no, with a little more emphasis on the “No.” I gave it three stars on Amazon just because their system won’t let you give half stars; otherwise, this would definitely have been a two-and-a-half star book. So disappointing!

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