18 July 2014

Mort(e); Robert Repino

MorteMorte by Robert Repino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book should come with a warning: if you share a home with four-legged companions, watch out. I spent a lot of time assuring mine that they were much beloved members of my family, not "slaves".

To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of animals-as-people adult books (eg, Watership Down), although the Thornton Burgess books are among my childhood favorites. But Mort(e) is not one of "those" books - it's a riveting read, with Sebastian/Mort(e) as a flawed hero. His love, and search, for Sheba is inspirational and rings so true. The ending was a little messy, with a ton of action that doesn't really seem to fit with the previous pacing and tone; as climactic battle scenes go, it's a good one.

One of the things I loved most was the sense Mort(e) had that no group, not the ants, nor the animals, nor the humans, would ever get it "right" and that society (made up of whatever species) was fatally flawed. His only lodestar was Sheba, and one hopes that at the end, they live happily ever after.

ARC provided by publisher.

16 July 2014

The Great Glass Sea; Josh Weil

The Great Glass SeaThe Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite this going on far too long (about 1/3 could have been cut and this would have easily been a 5 star), I enjoyed entering this world. Even the interspersed (untranslated) Russian words didn't disrupt the read, nor did it feel as pretentious as it does in, say, a Cara Black mystery.

The Great Glass Sea is a gigantic, city-sized greenhouse created by a Russian oligarch, making use of an array of solar panels that reflect the sun back at the earth so there's no differential between night and day, thus increasing productivity and the ability for humans to work around the clock. It would have been a better read had that disruption been explored a little more, but the overriding theme here is the battle between (failed) Communism and Capitalism. The twins and how their lives diverge is almost like that of the brothers in Lahiri's The Lowland, and once again it's difficult to tell whose life is the better.

ARC provided by publisher.

Last Train to Babylon; Charlee Fam

Last Train to Babylon: A NovelLast Train to Babylon: A Novel by Charlee Fam
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Close to a DNF... very close. Unlikeable character? Supposed mystery about Why Rachel Did It? Too much alcohol-fueled bad decision making? Yep all all three counts. And I sincerely hope that the editors/author review the name of the town: SeaPORT is not a town on Long Island, SeaFORD is.

ARC provided by publisher.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold HandsClose Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why is this book being released as Adult? It's got so much teen appeal - the characters, the situation, the writing - that it just seems a natural fit for that market.

When I was much younger, I saw "The China Syndrome" mere days before the Three Mile Island meltdown, and recently, living near Indian Point and hearing all the fuss about it and its future (particularly in the face of the Fukushima Daiichi leak, this really resonated. There are a lot of good things about nuclear power, and a lot of bad things. Luckily, little time is spent here on those issues; instead the action centers on the life of Emily post-accident at a fictional plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It's not an easy life, particularly given that her parents (specifically her father) may have been responsible for the problem, and perhaps that's why it's an Adult book: there are drugs, prostitution and homelessness involved. Still, given other books that have been written for YAs...

On a personal note, I loved the description of the NEK (I have family up there).

ARC provided by publisher.

Just Call My Name; Holly Goldberg Sloan

Just Call My Name (I'll Be There #2)Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's to the author's credit I didn't realize this was a sequel until fairly late in the read - there was some Previously... but it really didn't feel like that!

The focus here on what family is, what loyalty and friendship are is impressive. It really does make one think about how one defines all three, particularly when home/family may not be the safest or easiest place to be. Less impressive was the series of coincidences that had to happen to make the Big Crisis happen. Had there actually been a manhunt, or even an awareness that there was a problem that might involve the Bells, Sam and Riddle.

ARC provided by publisher.

11 July 2014

Rainey Royal; Dylan Landis

Rainey RoyalRainey Royal by Dylan Landis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very nearly a DNF; despite the great things I heard about this, I didn't understand why it was set in the 1970s nor did I find anything likeable about Rainey. There are times when unlikeable main characters still lead to great books, ones that make you think but here? Not so much. If only we'd gotten more about her art, or some reason to live in her world.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Story Hour; Thrity Umrigar

The Story Hour: A NovelThe Story Hour: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked the book, much as I liked The Weight of Heaven. Instead of Americans in India, we have Indians in America, a husband-and-wife who are miserably married and an Indian husband/African-American wife who are happy. Or are they? Throughout the book we learn of their histories, as Maddie treats Lakshmi, trying to prevent another suicide attempt and give her a life worth living. Why Maddie breaks every rule of therapy is never clear, but the effect of those decisions are tragic. Or, again, maybe not.

Perhaps that's why I like Umrigar's books: unlikeable characters, impossible situations, but you have to stop and think because they feel so very real, as though you might meet a Maddie, or a Lakshmi, one day. Even better, the ending is ambiguous, leaving the reader to decide what happens.

ARC provided by publisher.

Murder on the Ile Sordou; M.L. Longworth

Murder on the Ile Sordou: A Verlaque and Bonnet Proven├žal MysteryMurder on the Ile Sordou: A Verlaque and Bonnet Proven├žal Mystery by M. L. Longworth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maybe the blurb needs to be rewritten: this isn't a true locked room (or, more accurately, isolated island) mystery. Yes, there's a storm, but it doesn't keep people from the island for terribly long. And the whodunnit part could have been bumped up while the other stuff, like the number of times we're told that Verlaque has money - a lot, tons, a veritable fortune - could have been lessened. It's also obvious that the author is trying too hard to infuse the series with French flavor; by explaining or translating everything, it just highlights the cultural issues rather than gently inserts them.

ARC provided by publisher.

Mortal Danger; Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So close... so very close. Maybe it's the fact that this is multivolume, so there are passages that just drag, while others speed along because we have to get to a climax/cliffhanger to keep readers hooked? or maybe it's the half-baked explanations and plot twits? Hard to know. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I didn't really like or care for Edie.

The take-off on Faust was great, as was the "Wolfram & Hart"-esque firm that Kian works for. The game? Not quite sure what that was about. And of course Edie was going to have some second thoughts once she started to actually getting to know the Teflon crowd - if only something interesting had been done with that.

ARC provided by publisher.

Unmade; Sarah Rees Brennan

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A generous 3 - really somewhere just over 2 stars. Why? Passages that went on, repetitively, for too long, and the banter between characters that seems forced. Beyond forced, actually. Assuming this world is real, there's no way they'd be joking quite that much given the situation. And that situation? A love triangle that's essentially stillborn, except it's maybe really a question of he and he and he love her? None of the characters made me root for them, except perhaps Lillian (and I did enjoy Jon's neverending stream of L-names). Sigh.

ARC provided by publisher.