03 January 2019

Watching You; Lisa Jewell

Watching YouWatching You by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's stalking, and then there's taking an active interest in what's going on in your little corner of the world. I think that's what Freddie tells himself as he take photos and logs what he sees from his window. It's only later that we (and Freddie) learn that he's an "aspie" and as he claims his label, his world both explodes and implodes. His father's relationship with Jenna, Bella and Joey, and perhaps other women is something he's trying to decipher. And Jenna's trying to keep her somewhat insane mother from hurting herself or others, while also keeping track of Bella (it's not stalking if you're concerned about a friend, right?).

What exactly is going on - is it all misunderstandings? or coincidence? or something more sinister? I did guess the Who and What before the Big Reveal, but it didn't for a second keep me from enjoying how the author drips out that information.

eARC provided by publisher.

Dark Mind Rising; Julie Keller

Dark Mind Rising (The Dark Intercept, #2)Dark Mind Rising by Julia Keller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not reading the first book will be a problem for readers. The other problem is the pacing and some of the big action scenes - many were too fast to figure out what exactly was happening, while others seemed poorly plotted.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Comforts of Home; Susan Hill

The Comforts of Home (Simon Serrailler, #9)The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd seriously wondered where the author was taking Simon after the pretty horrific events in The Soul of Discretion and finally, after five years, I found out. This was a perfect winter's day read.

Setting this on both a remote Scottish island and in Lafferton and toning down the action, focusing more on relationships and identity was a good move. We see Simon, Cait, Cait's new husband and son Sam, and their Simon and Cait's father all searching for what's next in their lives, with a little light mystery in between. The Scottish mystery also centers on identity, while the Lafferton one is slightly more complex and violent.

With luck, it won't be another five years before we head back to Lafferton.

eARC provided by publisher.

Children of Jubilee; Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile, #3)Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you haven't read the first two books, you can still understand what's going on but it really will help you to read them before starting this one.

It's a decent conclusion to the series, and as always I'm happy when aliens aren't always humanoid. The life in the mines and the lack of control the children have over their bodies and actions during their time there is a little frightening but the way in which they figure out how to overcome this is clever. Sadly, there are pacing issues here: the mines go on too long, the ending confrontation is far too quick.

Copy provided by publisher.

The Me I Meant to Be; Sophie Jordan

The Me I Meant to BeThe Me I Meant to Be by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This could have been a very satisfying YA romance but the ending feels very abrupt and there are so many things left dangling. Examples? What happens with Grayson? Are Flor and her "stepmom" going to be ok? Does Flor's father ever wake up? What about Willa's sister? Sigh. Another few pages and this would have been far stronger.

Until that point, the friendship between Willa and Flor, and Willa and Zack were well done. Willa's ability to stand up for herself (except with Flor) was one of the best parts, especially with Beau.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Secrets of Winterhouse; Ben Guterson

The Secrets of WinterhouseThe Secrets of Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost perfect follow-up to Winterhouse - more about the ciphers/codes/word scrambles/anagrams and less about the oddities that abound in Winterhouse, please. The addition of the nearby town (and school) for Elizabeth to explore (or attend) have a lot of promise, but Northbridge's reluctance to actually talk with Elizabeth and share what he knows was disappointing.

eARC provided by publisher.

02 January 2019

A Spark of White Fire; Sangu Mandanna

A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy, #1)A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved that the basis for this book is something other than Greek/Roman/Viking mythology or sagas. But in terms of execution? Well... it's just that the plot is so, so familiar. I've read several books with the same elements this year alone (eg, Imposters, Everless/Evermore, The Queen of Sorrow) and sadly even with the Mahabharata as a underpinning, there was nothing new or different here. Political intrigue, good (or bad) guys who aren't what they appear to be, kings who may not be eligible for the throne, and all the rest just needed something more. There was little reason to root for any of the characters... except Titania.

eARC provided by publisher.

31 December 2018

Gamer Army; Trent Reedy

Gamer ArmyGamer Army by Trent Reedy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

WarCross meets Phantom Wheel (or Ender's Game). Nothing special.

Mega Robo Bros; Neill Cameron

Mega Robo Bros (The Phoenix Presents)Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It seemed fine - but every time I try to read a graphic novel my eyes just glaze over.

OtherEarth; Jason Segel

Otherearth (Last Reality, #2)Otherearth by Jason Segel
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you haven't read OtherWorld you might have problems getting into this book. As it is, too many twists that ended up being obvious and telegraphed set pieces for me.

Copy provided by publisher.