Sunday, November 19, 2017

review: infinite days rebecca maizel

Lenah Beaudonte is one of the most ruthless vampires in England in 1910. On Halloween night, the vampire who turned Lenah agrees to fulfill the 592 year old vampire's wish to be human again--but only after she hibernates for 100 years. When he awakens Lenah in 2010, Rhodes reveals that he will soon die as a result of turning her human, that he's enrolled her at boarding school, and that the vampires of her former coven will be coming after her. Lenah mourns the loss of Rhodes, but quickly forgets his warning about the coven as she dives into high school life. Rebecca Maizel makes some nods to Lenah's intellect gained from centuries of experience and her confusion over modern things like CDs, but mostly has Lenah fit right in with her classmates. Her great beauty (of course) quickly attracts the attention of two boys, but there's barely a triangle in Infinite Days as Lenah thinks of Tony only as a friend. It is Justin who has Lenah's eye. Most of their story plays out as a typical high school romance, but complications arise when Lenah confesses she used to be a vampire (Justin doesn't believe her) and then the coven finally finds her. The romance with Justin is bland, but Maizel does a great job of incorporating Lenah's backstory from her vampire days. There's also an excellent twist toward the end.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

review: don't worry, it gets worse by alina nugent

The essays collected in Alida Nugent's Don't Worry, It Gets Worse are a mixed bag. Some are quite funny, but others are duds. Nugent primarily writes of a life centered around drinking and not have enough money. She generally puts a funny spin on it, but the tales are all pretty sad if one stops to think about it. On the plus side, the essays are easily digestible and short, so the reader need not dwell on each anecdote before moving on to the next.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Plume.

Friday, November 17, 2017

review: shattered memories by v.c. andrews

Oh dear, ghostwriter, why didn't you just leave the Fitzgerald twins be? If The Mirror Sisters is a drawn out a backstory for Broken Glass, Shattered Memories is one ridiculously long epilogue. Two months after being rescued, Kaylee is in therapy while Haylee has been institutionalized (though prison would be a far better place for her). With senior year to finish, it's decided that Kaylee will start at a private boarding school where she pretends to be an only child. And then she lives a normal high school existence. Seriously. Page after page is Kaylee getting to know her new classmates though she reflects on what happened to her constantly. The ghostwriter still has not learned "show, don't tell." He also attempts to be hip by changing up clichés, like having Kaylee's new boyfriend say, "I don't want to sound like a broken CD, but there's something about you that's different." First off, CDs don't break in the same way records do. And second, what high school kid would say that? I'd be willing to bet that most are unfamiliar with CDs, but actually know what a record is due to the resurgence of vinyl. Anyway, eventually Shattered Memories does provide an interesting end to the story of the Fitzgerald twins, but it shouldn't have taken 400 pages to get there.
2/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket.

Friday, November 10, 2017

review: the crêpes of wrath by sarah fox

When her mother’s cousin Jimmy falls ill, Marley takes leave from her job in Seattle to oversee operations at the pancake house Jimmy owns on the Washington coast. She plans to return to her real life soon, but then Jimmy is murdered and Marley finds herself not only an heiress but also an investigator seeking who killed Jimmy and why.

Being the first in a series, The Crêpes of Wrath has a number of characters being introduced to Marley’s life. Some are memorable, but others are not; unfortunately the murderer is among those who are not. Although the murderer’s motive is explained, it felt weaker than that of some of the red herring suspects. And while Sarah Fox created an interesting plot, there’s a lot of Marley making bad decisions to keep the story moving forward. For example, Marley doesn’t leave a message for the sheriff because she doesn’t want to “play phone tag.” Why not? It only makes sense to leave a detailed voicemail so law enforcement gets the pertinent information far sooner than whenever Marley gets around to making the call again. Additionally, there were a number of filler-type scenes (it was entirely unnecessary to spend time interviewing potential employees for the restaurant) that might work once the series is further along and the reader cares about recurring secondary characters.

About the audiobook: The Crêpes of Wrath by Sarah Fox is read by Marguerite Gavin. Gavin set the right tone for the novel and changed the sound of her voice enough to distinguish between characters. One quibble: Gavin pronounced UW (as in the University of Washington) as U-Double U rather than U-Dub as an alum (which Marley is) would. The audio version was published July 2017 by Tantor Audio and runs 7.5 hours.
3/5
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

review: run by kody keplinger

Bo is a teenager with a bad rep simply because her father took off and her mother is a meth addict. It's a huge surprise when Bo gets placed in the advanced English class with Agnes and her best friend Christy. Agnes and Christy are the type to be in church on Sunday morning even if Christy spends the rest of the weekend at the same parties as Bo. Agnes is never there because she's legally blind and Christy says Agnes won't have any fun (really it's that Christy fears she won't get to have fun) being at a dark party (Agnes has some vision, but it's worse when it's dark). The introduction of Bo into Agnes's English class is the catalyst for Bo and Agnes to slowly begin the path to a friendship that changes them both for the better.

Run is filled with details that make it so high school. It's the drama of friendship and the struggles of becoming an adult. But there's another layer with Bo, who knows what awaits if her mother is arrested. When that inevitably happens, Bo is convinced she must run. And Agnes, who has slowly rebelled against her parents' restrictions, comes along for the ride. Nothing goes as the pair planned, but the emotion of the story is phenomenal. Kody Keplinger's choice to tell the story with Bo in the present and the Agnes chapters explaining how they got there is a wise one that serves the story well.
5/5
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

review: touch of red by laura griffin

Brooke is a CSI at the Delphi Center who recently broke up with her possessive boyfriend who works in the sheriff's department. Her friends and coworkers think she needs to start dating again, but Brooke would rather focus on the murder of a woman named Samantha and the child who may have witnessed the crime. Despite the warnings of the detective on the case (who is not only in pursuit of the killer, but of Brooke as well), Brooke quickly becomes deeply entrenched in the horrific conspiracy that led to Samantha's death.

The murder conspiracy of the twelfth Tracers novel is excellent, but Touch of Red could've been a tenser drama had Laura Griffin focused more on that aspect rather than the romance. As the Tracers series has gone on, the blend of romance and suspense has shifted from suspense-heavy to romance-heavy. In this case, the romance was a bit of a turn off as Sean seemed quite possessive of Brooke which is exactly what she cited as the reason for breaking things off with her last law enforcement boyfriend. At one point Sean told Brooke in explicit detail just how attracted to her he'd been when they met at a crime scene. Griffin likely meant it as a sexy come on (the pair were already in a sexual relationship when he told her), but it came across like Sean was some creep sexually harassing a coworker.
4/5
Review copy provided by the author.

Friday, October 27, 2017

review: lucky in love by deborah coonts

A TV dating game show has descended on the Babylon in a Lucky O'Toole novella from Deborah Coonts. Lucky isn't too thrilled about it all, but she's even less happy to have the cameras in the hotel when the contestants begin getting themselves into all sorts of trouble, which includes some Las Vegas-style debauchery since this is a Lucky story after all. This novella comes between Lucky Stiff and So Damn Lucky, so the love-themed reality show really gets under Lucky's skin as she struggles to navigate a romance with Teddie. Lucky in Love is a fun read that provides a bit more insight into Lucky's love life and how relationships will develop later in the series.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, Kate Tilton.