Sunday, April 29, 2018

Book: Never Be Alone by Paige Dearth

Never Be Alone Never Be Alone by Paige Dearth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of Joon via Netgalley for the purposes of providing an unbiased review.

The book ends on a note of hope. That is the single best thing I can tell you.

Joon is full of triggers. If you are at all squeamish about the rough side of life, my sincere advice is to be sure you have support in place for when this book gets tough. And it does get tough. There were several times I seriously thought about stopping and moving on to another book, but Joon is a compelling character. It was impossible to give up on her because despite all odds, she never gave up on herself.

She kept living, kept loving, kept trusting, and is a shining beacon for people who feel overwhelmed by the neverending bad stuff in their lives.

If you are the kind of person who reads stories like this to remind you where you came from and how hard you worked to get where you are, I can guarantee Joon will do that for you. If you are the kind of person who reads stories like this to help you renew your heart and your compassion, Joon'll do that for you, too.

This book is not for everyone, but if you choose to read it, I believe you'll come out the other end enlightened to some degree. Paige Dearth has a way with words, and doesn't mince them. She'll be an author I return to when I need another reminder of how good life is right now, and how much worse it used to be.

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Book: Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd

Dead Girl Running Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley for the purposes of providing an unbiased review.

Y'all, I don't give five stars easily, but this one deserves it.

I got introduced to all new characters I can care about. Kateri Kwinault had a cameo. The mystery about Kellen's past was equally as compelling to me as the whodunit threaded throughout the book. I wanted to know, and I was not disappointed!

There was a subtle and low-key romantic undercurrent, which I cannot describe any better for fear of spoiling you.

Best of all, the book was chock full of women being awesome!

Go. Read. I think you'll be glad you did.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

After Anna After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley for the purposes of providing an unbiased review.

While I did not like this book overall, there were things I did like. Caleb was an awesome kid and he rises to the occasion toward the end of the book. Wreck-It Ralph is a phenomenal name for a cat. The long-term relationship between Maggie and Kathy spans the gamut of emotion, and is a wonderful example of friendship.

Though the craptastic formatting was irritating, and I'm mentioning it, it's not included in my reasons for disliking After Anna.

The first chapter was good. I was certainly hooked enough to continue reading. The next chapter belonged to Maggie and the goddess of exclamation points, and I wasn't even to the bottom of that page before I was rolling my eyes and wanting to tape Maggie's mouth shut.

There was an instance or two early on of infodumping on the courthouse's appearance, which may be of interest to some, but I was reading, "blah, blah, blah" instead. Plenty of awkward phrasing throughout, and so many misused and improperly punctuated words - the proofreader needs to be tossed overboard.

I didn't enjoy the split reverse timeline method of storytelling. It can be done well and ratchet up the suspense, but here it was just annoying. I was at 80% before the plot became interesting again.

There was a glaring mistake in the final rescue scene, and it took me entirely too long to get back into the story for the last few pages.

I was disappointed in the epilogue: too much time was skipped over, and I felt like the characters didn't deserve the endings they got. In particular, too much was glossed over in the family's recovery for the end to be believable to me.

I can't recommend this book unless you are a hardcore Scottoline fan who must read every book.

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In addition to the above, there are some triggery scenes in he last quarter of the book. If you have triggers involving children or sex, please ask so I can help you decide if this book is for you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book: The Dark Divide by D. K. Stone

From the opening paragraphs to the final word, Ms. Stone creates and maintains the perfect pace.

She starts with the right touch of history - enough to be ominous but not tiresome. Then she includes throwaway details - Hunter and his coffee mugs, Rich pumping gas to the nearest dollar, Susan burning eggs because she answered the door - to make these people come alive, make them real. She ends with a soupcon of hope.

Rich's life is still in turmoil, with the aftermath of the fire nipping at his heels, the main story opening with calling the courtroom to order, only in the Canadian way (which was an interesting contrast to the US way), and the suspense in The Dark Divide continues to ratchet higher and higher. Who will testify at the preliminary hearing? Will Rich be bound over for trial? Who will be subpoenaed on behalf of the prosecution? Who the hell is Alistair Diarmuid, and why is Lou the only person in town who likes him?

But as crucial to the future as the court proceedings are, the story here is really about Louise Newman, and about Rich Evans only as his life intersects with Lou's. And frankly, that feels appropriate. Lou's stories are less omnipresent in The Dark Divide, but more on the mark, and there are fascinating responses in her listeners. At one point, I wrote to myself, "Why does Rich not see that Lou's telling him about herself with each and every story?" Little hints are dropped here and there about Lou, her childhood, her "knowing," and for me there is some satisfaction in learning these new things, while at the same time I'm eager to know the rest of her story.

As much as Rich does, I grow frustrated with Lou's inability to tell Rich straight out what her deal is. Then I want to smack her for revealing a big thing at precisely the wrong moment. I'm equally frustrated with Rich: One of my notes says, "What bug crawled up his ass?" These two personify the old rhyme about the little girl - when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid. When things are right between Rich and Lou, the story settles into a happy place. When things are going wrong, sometimes one after the other, it seems impossible to believe they'll come back from this. Even as I'm ready to snatch either one of them bald-headed, though, I never stop rooting for these two kids to work it out.

Ms. Stone's ability to create fables, or fable-like tales, to suit circumstances in the story, is remarkable. There's always a little something which makes me ask, "How do you DO that?" In this case, it was the story about the God of Death. A couple of hundred years ago, it would have been her voice we listened to around the fire in the dark, the atmosphere soothing or crackling with every tale from our collective pasts. She's got a gift.

Despite the fact that the overarching mystery is "resolved" by book's end, I'm beyond excited about the third book. I have no doubt it'll be as suspenseful as the first two, with plenty of surprises along the way.

Go. Read. You'll be glad you did. And if for some reason you haven't read Edge of Wild, hie thyself to your crack dealer of choice.