20 April 2014

The Taking; Kimberly Derting

The Taking (The Taking, #1)The Taking by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alien abduction? or simply a girl who ran away? In this case, it's the latter and Kyra's five years away haven't changed her a bit. Who took her? That's not explored. What is explored is the changes the time away have brought: her boyfriend and BFF have become a couple, while the erstwhile boyfriend's younger brother is now a potential love interest. Mom and Dad have divorced, and Dad is now obsessed with alien abductions and the "returned". Even better, just being near Kyra and touched by her blood can kill.

All-in-all, not a bad story, although the characters are completely predictable and it's the start to a series that seems to be going no where special (hence the drop in rating).

ARC provided by publisher.

The Missing One; Lucy Atkins

The Missing OneThe Missing One by Lucy Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My biggest gripe about this book? Why didn't Dad just tell Kali what was going on? Oh right: no book if that had happened. But it's that lack of communication that sets everything off, with Kali heading off to the US (from England) to hunt down her mother's past - with nearly tragic results. I'd say the author is going for a gothic feel but the setting and the action don't quite match.

What saves the book is the characters. While some (Susannah) are annoyingly stereotypical, others have depth that you don't quite realize until later. Kali's search, clearly born of grief over her loss and her possibly unfaithful husband, also felt real: who hasn't done something unexpected and stupid as a way of coping with a stressful situation?

ARC provided by publisher.

29 March 2014

I Become Shadow; Joe Shine

I Become ShadowI Become Shadow by Joe Shine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ren's voice is the best part about the book and what lifted it from a two to three star. The premise isn't a bad one, but the execution is somewhat lacking. Too much time spent on the training, and when the Link happens it just didn't seem to fit with that. Even worse is the last part, with Ren trying to save Gareth and go against what F.A.T.E. decrees. Part of me suspects there will be a sequel, and that the plot issues are because of the need to both pad (to fill two books) and edit (what plot points go where).

ARC provided by publisher.

Frog Music; Emma Donoghue

Frog MusicFrog Music by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a very different read than Room! I write that with pleasure, not surprise or sadness that the author has changed genres. Instead of a modern day story we have a historical supposal about a mystery set in 1870s San Francisco: the question isn't really who shot Jenny Bonnet, but why (and was she the real target). Told in 'present' day as well as flashbacks to the previous five weeks activities by Blanche Beunon, we learn about both Jenny's uniqueness (wearing trousers, riding a high-wheel, catching frogs) and Blanche's somewhat abusive relationship with her macques (the man with whom she lives, the man she keeps by stripping and prostitution).

While less of a gripping read than Room, Frog Music is as well-written. I can't wait for her next book.

ARC provided by publisher.

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me; Julie Anne Peters

Lies My Girlfriend Told MeLies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Does it mark a turning-point (as some reviews say) when the sexual orientation of the characters doesn't matter? It's not that the orientation doesn't matter here, it's that the plot could be anyone in love who discovers they've been betrayed. Alix's reaction to Swan's death and her discovery of Liana is one that isn't reliant on them all being women; change the gender of even one of them and the story still works. The insertion of Joss and her grief didn't work quite as well and could have been handled better.

ARC provided by publisher.

Those Who Wish Me Dead; Michael Kortya

Those Who Wish Me DeadThose Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Decent suspense novel, with a few twists and good action. The question of why this is an adult novel, not YA remains: yes, there's violence, but nothing so horrific that it couldn't be shown on tv. I'm not saying that adults won't read this story (where the main focus is a 13-year-old) but younger readers will also enjoy it an may not know about it because it'll be in the adult section.

There was also one of those "huh??" moments towards the end, not really connected to the book but to they way we think. The brothers (and I did enjoy their conversational style) are described as having emigrated from Australia "at the turn of the century". Usually, when I hear that phrase it's the start of the 20th century but here it's the start of the 21st. How long before that automatic association changes?

ARC provided by publisher.

Bittersweet; Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

BittersweetBittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great Gothic beach read in the Anne Rivers Simmons vein.

The Deep Secret of the Winslows and Winloch is actually two secrets. The first is pretty obvious, the second not as much. That twist convinced me to goose the rating up a bit. And the setting isn't the usual one, but northern Vermont on the Canadian/New York border, another twist to the genre that goosed the rating. Mabel, Ev and the others are definite stereotypes, but in a beach read does that really matter?

ARC provided by publisher.

Fan Art; Sarah Tregay

Fan ArtFan Art by >Sarah Tregay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit on the obvious side, but not a bad book and certainly one that would be good addition to a GLBTQIwhatever collection.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Lost Mission; Allen Zadoff

The Lost Mission (Boy Nobody, #2)The Lost Mission by Allen Zadoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rumor has it that the title of the first book is being changed, but Boy Nobody really works best in setting up the series and premise; this sequel is worthy of that start.

Here, BN has gone off the grid - stunned by his reaction to his last mission, he just needs time alone to think. Hah. Of course the Program can't allow that and soon Father has essentially kidnapped Boy and inserted him into another mission. Why "lost"? Because the previous Boy has vanished, and this is their attempt to figure out what happened and how. What didn't ring true to the series is that the Program gives up on Boy far too easily; my guess is that the existential angst he was going through at both ends of the book will continue. My preference would have been for a little more of these "Alias"-like missions, with the angst as a slow build.

ARC provided by publisher.

Unlucky 13; James Patterson

Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club, #13)Unlucky 13 by James Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Truth in authorship would say "From the factory of James Patterson" but I guess giving Maxine Paetro second billing is slightly better.

This is the first of the Women's Murder Club mysteries I've read and it's definitely going to be the last. The "club" is a group of four friends, a cop, a coronor, a DA and a reporter. So why were only two of them featured? The DA is off on a cruise - that entire subplot had nothing to do with the main mystery and could easily have been cut. The "featured" murder (belly bombs) had promise, yet the investigation didn't live up to that promise, while the "carry over" (a serial killer) had much more promise but was in some ways given short shrift. One or the other would have worked, or a longer more detailed book. But this? It was mystery lite (not a cozy, just lite).

ARC provided by publisher.