Friday, August 29, 2014

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Women's Fiction

Shandi and her little boy Natty are moving to Atlanta, after her father offers up his condo so she can be closer to college. Her best friend Walcott is helping with the move and the three stop at a Circle K on the way. Shandi and Natty go inside to get some drinks where a cute man looks lost looking at laundry detergent. Coming up with a thousand ways to approach him, she doesn't really notice another man enter the shop with a gun. He charges the cash register and robs the store but before leaving, a police officer enters the store and the robber shoots her. Realizing he can't leave, the robber takes everyone in to the back and both Shandi and the cute man, William, relive past events in the fear of not having any future ones.

Shandi gave birth to Natty a virgin. She has chosen to forget the day Natty was conceived but in the back of the Circle K, she starts to remember being drugged that night. William lost both his wife and kid in a car crash exactly a year ago. He forbid anyone from mentioning his wife's name infront of him shortly thereafter but starts to relive courting her during high school and remembering how much love they had for each other.

Having read quite a few of Jackson's books in the past I was looking forward to this one. She does a fantastic job of writing imperfect southern women. Shandi isn't the best character Jackson has written but she is typical to Jackson's writing. She's southern, she makes the reader like her, and she has many flaws that she acknowledges and tries to sort out. I think this is part of the reason why I like Jackson's books so much. The characters know they aren't perfect and they usually try to sort things out.

Also typical to Jackson books, this one was very easy to get in to. I started reading and felt like I couldn't stop. I needed to find out what these characters were hiding from themselves and how they were going to get past their issues.

Despite all this, by the time I completed the book and put it down, I felt a little bit let down. There were two reasons for this. The first was that the ending was crammed with revelations. In about 20 pages, there were two plot twists which made me feel like there wasn't enough time to digest what was happening and get resolution out of it. The second was the story of rape that seemed to get played down as not being a big deal. It's not surprising that the rapist himself tried not to make a big deal out of the rape, but when other characters started going along with it, it bothered me. Rape is rape, regardless of the back story that goes along with it.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this book tour.
Buy the book here.

First Line: "I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K."


Saturday, August 16, 2014

On the Beach by Nevil Shute


Everyone in the northern hemisphere is believed to be dead, following WWIII and the thousands of nuclear bombs dropped on the USA, China, Russia, and many other countries. The radioactive cloud is slowly making its way south, killing those in its path. An American Navy Captain is docking his submarine in Melbourne, Australia, one of the most southern major cities in the world. Captain Towers and his men were not able to return home after their last excursion and they believe that their families are now all dead. The Australians ask them to take one more trip up to Seattle where they are getting radio signals from. Australian Peter Holmes goes with the team and watches them pull close to the shore and call out for survivors, never seeing anyone.

Those in Melbourne must come to grips with their impending death. It is only a few months until the radioactive cloud is expected. Some do every day lasts like planting a garden, some take up car racing, some try to fall in love.

I picked up this book because I very much enjoyed Shute's A Town Like Alice. This one has the same gentle and fluid writing style though it's quite a different subject matter. The denial by characters and then their slow or fast acceptance was rather interesting. It makes you wonder how you would come to grips that your time on earth is ending soon. It also makes you question how you would spend your remaining time. It was surprising that so many people were working up to almost the end. Why bother? Wouldn't you want to make the most of your time left?

This book was utterly depressing and at times I felt let down because just when you think something is going to happen, nothing really does and it's steady as she goes for the entire novel.

First Line: "Lieutenant-Commander Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy woke soon after dawn."


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Science Fiction

In the previous novel, Ender's Game, the buggers are no longer threatening earth and Ender has become the Speaker for the dead for the buggers. As Ender and his sister Valerie travel the worlds, their names live on in infamy. Valerie continues to write, Ender continues to speak. When a speaker is requested on Lusitania when a xenologer is killed by a new race of species, the piggies, Ender knows he must travel to speak the death and find out what the piggies were malicious in their murder or whether it is a misunderstood custom. When Ender arrives, 22 years later, there has been an additional death and Ender knows he must save the piggies before yet another race is destroyed.

Where Ender's Game was about war, tactics, and gaming this book was about society, guilt, and races living together. Despite characters being the same through both books, it was a completely different dynamic. But it completely worked. This novel was eloquent (though a bit preachy at times) and captivating.

I would have liked for Card to explore some of the characters a bit further, such as Jane who is a computer persona, but I suspect we'll learn more about her in future books. I will definitely be continuing on to the third book in the series, though I've heard it isn't as good as the first two.

First Line: "In the year 1830, after the formation of Starways Congress, a robot scout ship sent a report by ansible: The planet it was investigating was well within the parameters for human life."


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares


The third book in this series shows the four girls, Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget, as they have just finished high school and are in the summer before going to university. Carmen finds out that her mom is having a baby with David, her recently married husband, and questions her decision to leave home for school. Tibby's younger sister falls out a window which makes Tibby question how good of a sister she is. Hanging around the hospital so much, she meets a cute intern. Lena is taking art classes when her dad learns that she's drawing nudes in class and pulls his financial support for art school. This forces Lena to figure out how to win a scholarship to still be able to go to art school. And finally Bridget is back at soccer camp where Eric is also a coach. Everything comes full circle for her in this third summer.

These girls are a lot of fun and very supportive of each other, which is so nice to read. I enjoyed this book more than the second book. The girls seemed to learn a lot about themselves and it was much happier than the previous book.

First Line: "'Ok, Bee with Greta and Valia and Lena,' Carmen ordered, shepherding a wandering grandmother with her hand."


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Death Cure by James Dashner


Before The Maze Runner movie comes out, I figured that I should finish up the trilogy and read The Death Cure (see my reviews of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials). As you can see, I wasn't too big a fan of book 2 which is why it took me so long to get to book 3. However a colleague at work picked it up and reminded me that I really should finish this series. I won't give a plot summary here because it would be spoilers for anyone that hasn't read the first two books. Suffice to say, it's fewer games and trials and more "real world".

I had much the same problem with this book that I had with book two. These kids are put in so many awful situations and in the first two books I had hoped so much for their survival but became so used to everything going to shit that I stopped hoping because it was pointless. There is absolutely no positive situation for these Gladers. I'm not sure I've ever read a book before where I've just given up on hoping for the best. But in this case, why bother wasting energy. Everything goes wrong and everyone almost dies. Yes, it happens again.

By the end of this book, I had more questions than I had answers. Why did Theresa flip-flop in her decisions? Who the heck was Chancellor Paige? Was Brenda just another variable to get them to their final destination? In terms of wrapping up the series, the ending was a bit weak but not entirely unsatisfying. Though I wasn't surprise as the series went downhill from the first book.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

Don't Try To Find Me by Holly Brown

Rachel comes home from work to find a note in her kitchen from 14 year-old daughter Marley: don't try to find me. Rachel dropped Marley off at school in the morning but no one has seen her since. She calls her husband, Paul, and the two start making calls including the police. With a history of high anxiety, Rachel doesn't handle this too well and the cops suspect she may have something to do with Marley missing. Paul decides to go to social media and start a massive online campaign to find Marley. Told from the perspective of both Rachel and Marley, we get both sides of the story.

There are many pieces to this book that makes it an interesting read. For me, I was surprised at how little I cared for the characters though I still felt somewhat sympathetic to them because of the tension Brown created with what may have driven Marley away. Rachel was annoying and a little hard to believe due to her inaction. For someone that has an anxiety problem, she was very perceptive about her relationship but completely oblivious in other areas. Without spoiling anything, we learn of one item about Rachel that drove Marley away and it was a complete shocker. There was very little in the book, until about 50 pages before revealed, that even hinted at this being a problem. Despite these annoyances, Rachel was a great medium for walking the reader through what a parent may think when their kid runs away. The other main character is Marley. Again, I wasn't her biggest fan because it felt like she may have run away for very little reason and I don't have patience for that. Despite this, she came off as rather mature for a 14 year old and able to handle herself in adverse situations.

What this book really excelled at was making the reader's mind work in overdrive to figure out why Marley ran away. With each revelation I was wondering who could have done what to whom and what the final reason for the family abandonment was. That said, once the real reason was finally provided, because my mind had been working so hard to come up with all of these reason, I felt like it was a bit of a let down. I expected the reason to be larger than it was.

This book was a page-turner and had interesting character narration. I just would have liked the author to push the envelope a bit more on the conclusion because the journey didn't equate to the end result.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!

First Line: "Don't try to find me."


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters


Connie Burns is a foreign correspondent that has worked in war zones and high stress situations. After tracking some unusual rape and murders in Sierra Leone, Connie thinks she knows who is responsible but can't do much about it. Years later, she finds herself in Iraq, looking at the same man from Sierra Leone that she thinks caused these crimes. He knows that Connie is on to her and doesn't hide his anger. She is kidnapped and released 3 days after the kidnapping but refuses to say anything about the kidnapping.

Back in London, she hides in a hotel until the media frenzy dies down and then finds a remote cottage to hide in and write a book. She makes friends quickly with the local doctor Peter and the person that lives in the farm close by Jess. Soon, Connie learns about who her cottage belongs to and the neglect that has occurred in that cottage. This helps Connie take her mind off the kidnapping and worrying that the kidnapper is going to find her.

For a thriller, this book was rather slow in parts. It's rare that the major events of a book don't actually occur within the novel. In this book both the kidnapping and the resulting confrontation were completely skipped. Instead, the reader learns about these events through conversations that happen. I can't say I was a big fan of this approach. It may have made things a bit more suspenseful but it resulted in a slower paced book that made me feel like I was missing something.

Despite reading the entire book, I felt like it wasn't really about much and the characters were rather annoying.

First Line: "I don't know if that story was picked up in the West."