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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 4 star ratings
4 reviews
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3.8 out of 5
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    Entertaining and heart warming

    Hold onto your hats for this 19th century hot air balloon adventure hosted by a dapper detective and an escaped aerial artist! The story begins in Switzerland as Beatrix (Bee) awaits a routine beating from her boss, circus ringleader, Ziro. That is, after she wows dinner guests at a mountain mansion, on behalf of the circus. Bee and one guest, the Colonel, a tall chap in a top hat, both find themselves fleeing the evening’s gathering. Bee joins the crew aboard the Colonel’s floating home, the Ox, on a hunt for just what or whom she will have to deduce as she goes along with the Colonel’s (literal) fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach. An alchemy of exquisite detail and colorful characters yields a robust plot. Bee and the Colonel build up as characters from the outside in. Bee’s scant circus attire and the stench of Colonel’s yak urine lip balm concealed by fresh flowers tucked in his suit’s crevices reflect complex inner traits. Bee’s acrobatic single-mindedness offsets the Colonel’s larger than life demeanor. The hard working Scottish couple, a scatterbrained lighthouse attendant and a host of animals also inhabiting the Ox compete with the Weasleys from Harry Potter for best supporting roles. The entourage serve each other well traveling through Europe and Northern Africa on a scavenger hunt with warring treasure seeking families. Drawings at the end of each chapter highlight the playfulness of the story. The story steers clear of moralizing. The treasure hunting families are clearly the bad guys up against a dynamic family of free spirits. But winning or losing is not the point. Set in the 1800s, the book is a refreshing break from dystopias, saving the climate, and other subjects of much current young adult fiction. Steering a floating building, training birds, planning prison raids and sewing torn envelopes are the stuff of this book’s adventures. Romantic intrigue takes a back seat to a deeper love; the book celebrates the age old virtues of friendship. A coming of age story for all generations, The Colonel and the Bee entertains and warms the heart.
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    Great read for young adults!

    The Colonel and the Bee is a great read for young adults! Even though my this isn't my regular genre, I enjoyed it immensely. The story flowed well and was easy to follow. While this book is fiction, individuals can relate to events similar to those in their own life. The character progression through the story is believable and they are the main reason I kept reading. I just had to find out what happened to them in the end! I would recommend this book to any young adult or anyone else that enjoys this genre!
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    Good Read

    It's an interesting read and the first book I've read by Canning. His story has an interesting premise, and brings the reader on a journey. It revolves around two characters and has an interesting old-movie vibe. I enjoyed reading the story, as it's adventurous and adds a bit of excitement. There is a tone to it that doesn't really heighten or lower the story. The characters are developed but maybe need a bit more depth. I look forward to reading more work by Canning.
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    The text was easy enough to read

    The Colonel and the Bee promised much from the outset with a dramatic cover and our initial introduction to Beatrix. The story is told by her in the first person and I found myself immediately drawn into her character as a talented gymnast with feisty ambitions to make more of her life. The idea of her travelling around the world in such a magnificent machine promised a great deal. Along the way there were some exciting incidents but generally that promise was not fulfilled. The overall plot did not excite me and between the moments of action there were long periods of drudgery and attempts at comedy that mostly fell flat. That may have been because the book was almost certainly not aimed at someone with my profile. That said, I do have to wonder who it was aimed at. The story and its characters would appear suitable for young teens looking to progress from simpler magic stories but if that were true then was the Colonel’s condoned attitude towards young women suitable for such an audience? Although I was drawn in by Beatrix’s personality I was not so convinced by the other characters who were either flat or stereotypical. This, I am sorry to say, included the mysterious Colonel who had little warmth. The synopsis suggests that Patrick Canning has set The Colonel and the Bee in the 19th Century. The hot air balloon and the magic lantern would support that suggestion but many of the places visited appeared to be stuck in medieval times with some unrealistic comic touches. Nothing made me laugh out loud. Also, the Ox is remarkably manoeuvrable for a balloon powered solely by air currents in that they could steer direct courses to anywhere in the world and, with one notable exception, arrive within a day or so. The text was easy enough to read and I persisted to the end, ever hopeful of some magic moments that never quite appeared. My overall feeling is that there could be a good novel featuring Beatrix and the hot air balloon but I don’t think that The Colonel and the Bee is that novel. I have awarded three stars.
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