24 April 2016

The Square Root of Summer; Harriet Reuter Hapgood

The Square Root of SummerThe Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So much I didn't understand, and not just about the math! That was unclear enough, and I suspect that it doesn't fully make sense (haven't had the opportunity to check with my math/physics nerd friends). The use of so much German was annoying and not because it's not translated but because it didn't seem realistic to use that much. Both combined led to a near-DNF/heavy skimming.

ARC provided by publisher.

White Nights; Ann Cleeves

White Nights (Shetland Island, #2)White Nights by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bella was so unlikable it was almost a pleasure watching her world unravel. From my perspective, there was too little of Bella in the book. Oh well. The nearly dead hamlet in which she lives is nicely described, as are the few remaining inhabitants. So when the killer is identified, it was a bit of a surprise because it felt incongruous with what we knew of the people there. I'm also not thrilled with the Big City detective coming in and competing with Jimmy.

Dead Water; Ann Cleeves

Dead Water (Shetland Island, #5)Dead Water by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Given that Blue Lightning was supposed to be the end of the series, learning how Cleeves extends it was going to be a test. She's done a good job of moving things along in a way that feels natural, always a plus. And the mystery is pretty good, although I'm not sure I bought the whodunnit part, much less the whydunnit. Some of the characters, like Jerry's parents, were more of a caricature than I'd have liked, and I'm not sure I like Willow as a new main character.

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Blue Lightning; Ann Cleeves

Blue Lightning (Shetland Island, #4)Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an ending - poor Jimmy.

Beyond that, the atmosphere on Fair Isle was pretty toxic and Cleeves flirted with the locked room genre (but only flirted). Getting to meet Jimmy's parents was interesting and at the same time rather annoying - what is it with the gruff island men? Peter May does the same thing! I'm not looking for warm fuzzies, but this is overly stoic.

Killer Game; Kirsty McKay

Killer GameKiller Game by Kirsty McKay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Given my school's second round of Gotcha ended just last week, I'd thought maybe this book could provide some new twist to the game that I could bring to the organizers. Sadly... not so much. There's an opportunity here that gets missed big time: the involvement of anyone outside of the Killers (like, maybe the rest of the school bets on who the Killer is?). So there's no incentive for them to keep quiet about the various killings, right? Except when things go wrong, no one says anything. Why? And the And Then There Were None possibilities were also left unexplored, much to my disappointment.

ARC provided by publisher.

Just Like Me; Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Just Like MeJust Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF. I understood the reason why this was written, but it read too much message, too little other reason to read.

ARC provided by publisher.

Asking for It; Louise O'Neill

Asking For ItAsking For It by Louise O'Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was hard to feel sorry for Emma - she's not quote a mean girl, but close. She's also incredibly insecure and much of the meanness is a cover, but only we see that internal dialog. Her behavior around boys and potential "threat" girls is questionable at best, destructive at worst. And then there's That Night, when That Thing happens. Who is to blame? What really happened? The implosion of Emma's life, both personal and family, is almost painful to read; the reaction of friends and strangers is even worse.

Ultimately the questions raised by this book could lead to some interesting conversations, but there's also the worry that it will only be seen as slut shaming or insisting that it's up to girls to avoid these situations, rather than equally the fault of the boys/men involved.

ARC provided by publisher.

Thin Air; Ann Cleeves

Thin Air (Shetland Island, #6)Thin Air by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a pity the folktales and legends weren't a larger part of this. Instead, we get a lot of relationships not being what they appear to be (spying on your spouse, for example) and Jimmy being somewhat angsty about Willow. As mysteries go, this was more of a "solved offstage" than I like, but the setting is still so appealing. Again, I'm not sure what I think about the continuation as the earlier books were more appealing but, profits, probably.

10 April 2016

With Malice; Eileen Cook

With MaliceWith Malice by Eileen Cook
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Narrators with amnesia are, by nature, somewhat unreliable. We have only Jill's word for the fact that she can't remember what happened in Italy, how the accident that killed her BFF Simone really occurred. By the end of the book, having been prompted all along to be careful of believing in false, planted memories, we're still unsure. It's that question that raised this from a 3-star, but the device of the Justice for Simone blog, with no idea who was/is behind it and the court case's denouement kept it from being a full 5. Had the author figured out a way for us to learn that (as she allowed us to see beyond Jill's world via transcripts and texts) this might have been the perfect book.

ARC provided by publisher.

Beware That Girl; Teresa Toten

Beware That GirlBeware That Girl by Teresa Toten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SWF for the NYC prep crowd... but that's a little simplistic. Kate and Olivia both are far more complex than they appear for most of the book, complex in a way I'd usually expect from an adult, not a YA, book. That's very much a good thing, by the way. I wasn't as fond of the depiction of the prep life, which feels a little facile (reading today's paper, for example, I see two very prestigious schools dealing with adult "misbehavior" and a third still in the news over boys behaving very badly; you can't convince me that Mark would have been hired without a serious background check - I wasn't!). But that aside, the dance between Kate and Olivia is fascinating to watch and that's why this got four stars.

ARC provided by publisher.