22 August 2019

Raven Lane; Amber Cowie

Raven LaneRaven Lane by Amber Cowie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I could never live on Raven Lane - all that forced togetherness. And sadly it leads to tragedy, when our MC's husband accidentally backs up and hits one of those neighbors, killing him. Or was it an accident? Esme is pretty sure it is, but there are enough questions about her past life that might bias her judgement. The ending twist is the best part of this book, taking me by surprise even though I suspected that there was more to what happened than we knew.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets; Sarah Miller

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne QuintupletsThe Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets by Sarah Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This seems to be the summer of the Dionnes, between Quintland and this book. During the SLJ Teen Live event the author mentioned that most YA readers won't have heard about them, which is true... unless they've heard Sondheim's "I'm Still Here" and looked them up. There's also been some coverage of them as the original "kidfluencers" but that may be escaping teen notice.

This is NF and pretty well done. Because the Dionne family hasn't been all that forthcoming there's a lot of unknowns about their lives, especially life once the girls moved home and what their siblings thought/think. Their exploitation by everyone, from their doctor to their neighbors, is truly tragic. Equally tragic are the statements made later by several of the nurses in charge of their care as they realize the effects of their treatment on the family and the girls.

eARC provided by publisher.

21 August 2019

What Makes Us; Rafi Mittlefehldt

What Makes UsWhat Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was interested in Eran's story up until we started to explore his mother's past, at which point it all felt very forced. DNF.

eARC provided by publisher.

A Madness of Sunshine; Nalini Singh

A Madness of SunshineA Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A relatively ordinary mystery/romance elevated by the setting (hence raising it from 3 to 4 stars). There's such a great sense of modern New Zealand life here, how a small town with a mix of whites, Maoris and others forms a community that watches out for each other. There's the typical wariness of outsiders and socioeconomic divides, etc. etc. Having said that, the whodunnit follows the genre's usual format and becomes more obvious as the book progresses, despite the author's attempt to add red herrings.

eARC provided by publisher.

20 August 2019

Good Girls Lie; J. T. Ellison

Good Girls LieGood Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author's note says that many of the traditions and setting were taken from her college alma mater (Randolph-Macon Woman's College) the location of the Goode School appears to be Chatham Hall. Not that it matters, except that there are some things that make more sense for a college than an all-girls prep school. I'm not talking about the secret society parts, or the tunnels (I worked at one school with the former and attended a school with the latter) but the college acceptance part. There are schools with high acceptance into the Ivies. But The Goode School's rate? No. Plus the school appears to look down on the SLACs and the Southern Ivies, many of which are just as competitive and prestigious. And the idea that a non-athelete could get accepted into college pretty much on the Head of School's say-so? Maybe before World War II (I've seen the letters at MPOW and know that held true for other New England schools) but not now. Not for several decades.

It was also puzzling as to when this was set. Javascript is apparently a huge new thing, which suggests mid-90s but then there's a reference to Billie Ellish which suggests this year. You can't have both! There's a big plot twist that is strongly hinted at throughout the book that wasn't surprising, and all I'll say is that I've recently read other books with a similar twist that were done better.

eARC provided by publisher.

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The Poison Garden; Alex Marwood

The Poison GardenThe Poison Garden by Alex Marwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A lot of promise here but the title and one scene gives away a major plot point (not as We Have Always Lived in the Castle as I'd hoped, though). It was a little surprising that in this day and age the whole "being acclimated to the real world" thing was done so poorly by the child services people and by the people working with Romy. Sarah is given no information about their beliefs and practices, nothing about how to help them integrate into school. Granted, her story isn't the happiest either given her parents' religious bent. Still, had that part been better covered it would have bumped this up to a four or five star. As it is, the ending feels like a cop out.

eARC provided by publisher.

19 August 2019

The Wives; Tarryn Fisher

The WivesThe Wives by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thursday is a plural wife who doesn't live near the other two (aka "Monday" and "Tuesday") but has her own condo and life in a nearby city. She's never met the others, only knows what she hears from her husband. And what she knows is that she can be the perfect wife, the one who gives him the perfect life that they can't provide - like home cooked meals and adoration. So far, so good. But Thursday seems to like alcohol a little too much... and obsesses a little too much about the others. Not a good combination, particularly when it comes to reliable narration. There are a few moments when the plot twists in such a way that you're not sure whom to believe, but because none of the characters really gel this only rates a three star.

eARC provided by publisher.

Ali Cross; James Patterson

Ali CrossAli Cross by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved most of this but there were some real holes in the story. Ali, son of Alex Cross, is going to appeal to MG readers and perhaps provide some crossover to other mystery/thriller writers. His caring about his missing friend and determination to find him is appealing, but there's where the holes are: surely the police would have been a little more involved? Either a missing person's report was filed by the parents or it wasn't. If it was, wouldn't they have interviewed Ali? and if not, wouldn't they have said something to him about the parents claiming he's ok? so confusing.

There's a substory about Alex being sued by the family of a man he possibly shoved and put in a coma (Alex says he slipped). I have no idea if this is part of a story from the Alex Cross books, but it won't matter to MG readers because it's explained well enough for them without requiring them to have read another book.

ARC provided by publisher.

18 August 2019

Highfire; Eoin Colfer

HighfireHighfire by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Vern. He's worth one full star. And because of the way this ended, I suspect we haven't seen the end of him. YAY! It would be nice to see Waxman again, but that looks unlikely. I'm a little confused about how this is an "adult" book, though, because it really feels like there's nothing here that couldn't be read by teens, and it might be overlooked by adults. We'll see. As for plot, it's your typical dragon vs. mankind and corrupt constable vs. honest townspeople story set in the Louisiana bayou. And who doesn't love that?

eARC provided by publisher.

Book of Colours; Robyn Caewallader

Book Of ColoursBook Of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction about an atalier of limners working on a Very Important Commission for a lower noble, as well as that noble's wife's life. We move between those two stories, learning the secrets held by most of the characters and how people struggled during the 1320s in England. The headings for each chapter were really interesting, forming the book that Gemma is creating to "train" her son (and others) in the art of illumination. Sadly, some of the build up to the Big Secrets was better than the actual secret and the way in which they were revealed was a let down.

There's not a lot of action here beyond a few brawls and the tension of when (or if) London would be invaded by the Marchers armies. However, for those looking for historical fiction about that era, it's a good read.

ARC provided by publisher.