Sunday, May 20, 2018

review: how hard can it be? by allison pearson

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Seven years ago Kate left her high-powered job to stay home with her kids, but now her husband is out of work and spends all his time cycling; it's time for Kate to get a job. As she's about to turn 50, Kate decides it'll be easier to get a job if she reinvents herself as a 42 year old. Although she does get the job, Kate realizes the lie is hard to keep up—she must change the ages of her kids and her résumé could give her away with a reference to taking O levels (Kate is British). Allison Pearson tries very hard to make How Hard Can It Be? funny, but falls flat. The running joke of "Roy" as Kate's assistant for her perimenopause-addled brain grows old while the so-called disasters are either ridiculous or should've been easy to solve. The writing is choppy with little sense of any character other than Kate which makes it hard to rationalize some of her decisions.
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Friday, May 18, 2018

review: if i die tonight by alison gaylin

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When a has-been pop star reports a high school football standout was killed in the course of her being carjacked on an isolated road, there are plenty of rumors and suspicions in the small town of Havenkill. Amy, with a history of addiction, is suspected of making up the carjacking story, but others in the town think Wade, an outcast at the high school, could've been the carjacker. Alison Gaylin shifts perspectives between a number of characters which keeps the reader guessing what really happened in this outstanding mystery. The different perspectives could've made the narration confusing, but Gaylin gave each person a unique enough voice that it was easy to follow along. The subplots develop the characters and are woven in expertly so that nothing seems extraneous.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Friday, May 11, 2018

review: the drafter by kim harrison

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With the world building not coming until chapter 5, The Drafter gets off to a confusing start. Set in the not too distant future, there are people known as drafters who can rewrite the past. These drafters require anchors, who as the name indicates, anchor the drafters to reality. It takes trust because the anchor could mislead the drafter. The plot has potential, but the poor character development combined with very little world building make for a tedious, uninteresting story.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

review: the myth of perpetual summer by susan crandall

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Tallulah James had a childhood filled with "hurricanes"--that's the word Tallulah and her siblings used to describe the unpredictable behavior of their father (clearly suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness). Their mother, who preferred to be called Margo, frequently ran off to volunteer for a cause like civil rights. So when things really fell apart for the James family in the 1960s, Tallulah took the opportunity to flee Mississippi for California. It's not long though before another family tragedy brings her home.

With the narrative shifting between Tallulah's teenage years and her later return to Mississippi, not enough attention was given to the catalyst for Tallulah's return or the revelation about a murder that happens because of it. In fact, all of it is wrapped up in a few paragraphs. The journey there is excellent though with Susan Crandall creating a vivid depiction of life for the James family in 1960s Mississippi.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Friday, May 4, 2018

review: the high season by judy blundell

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Every summer, Ruthie gives up her home to vacationers. It's the only she and her ex-husband (who inherited the home) can afford to keep it the rest of the year. They don't want to move entirely because their daughter is in high school, but the situation is far from ideal. This summer it's even worse. The renter is the elegant widow of Ruthie's former boss. For reasons not quite explained, Adeline's attractive 23 year old stepson is tagging along. Almost instantly Adeline is dating Ruthie's ex and the stepson is far too flirtatious with teenage Jem. And it doesn't stop there for Ruthie as some members of the board for the museum she's director of are actively working to get rid of her.

The High Season is well-written with a plot that immediately sucks the reader in, but it comes a bit off track with the additional perspective of Doe (who works at the museum and also becomes involved with Adeline's stepson). Doe's perspective almost becomes important, but then Judy Blundell inserts a last minute save for Ruthie. Although an entertaining book, The High Season had the potential to be a fantastic scandalous romp with a huge scam being pulled; unfortunately, Blundell chose to neatly wrap it up instead.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Random House.