25 April 2012

Leaves from the Valley; Joanna Trollope

Leaves from the ValleyLeaves from the Valley by Joanna Trollope
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Usually I enjoy Ms. Trollope's works, but this just didn't grab me.  After 104 pages, I'm giving up.

The characters are very much stereotypes, with Edgar being somewhat priggish, Blanche living up to her name, and Sarah as the intelligent one who will have an opportunity to leave her narrowly defined role behind.  Yawn.  The setting, Scutari during the Crimean War, could have been interesting - as could the characters - had there been more action (the start of the book held promise; once we got to the story proper, however...).

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree; Ann Weisgarber

The Personal History of Rachel DuPreeThe Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This probably deserved more stars, but two things really bothered me: Rachel's passivity and the way much of the story played out in flashbacks.  Telling this as a straight narrative would have been just as effective.

It's not completely clear why - besides falling in lust? in like? in crush? at first sight with Isaac - Rachel decides to homestead with a man who clearly only wants her for her acreage.  She spends the next fourteen years trying to prove to him that this wasn't a mistake (that honeymoon scene where he admits that sex was not part of their bargain? should have been a huge hint to her that she was tertiary to his plans).  Rachel is like many women who feel that they married "up", constantly trying to prove herself to Isaac.  And until the great drought, she succeeds.

The drought, however, stresses the marriage in so many ways, and Isaac's pride that won't allow for even the slightest failure (or consultation with his wife), lead to her heading back home to Chicago.  We learn all about the tiny cracks, her growing doubts that this was the right choice, and watch her making the decision to leave.

A smaller niggle was that, with all this going on, there wasn't a real need to add the "agency Indian" prejudice to the mix.  I suspect it was done to ensure we got the fact that Isaac was a thoroughly unlikeable man, which then sort of undermines our understanding of what Rachel saw in him in the first place.

Copy provided by publisher.

24 April 2012

The House at Riverton; Kate Morton

The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm probably being a little overly generous with this, but with Downton Abbey still in my mind...

The title is a bit misleading, as Riverton is the name of the house (the village is Saffron Green) and not all the action takes place there.  The narrator is Grace, who at 99 is retelling and revisiting her life at Riverton and in service to the Hartford family.  The house is infamous in part thanks to the untimely death of a Great War poet, R. S. Hunter; like Thornfield, much had been destroyed in a fire a few years after the shooting.

Grace holds two Big Secrets, her role in Hunter's death and her place in the Hartford family.  I'd guessed the latter, but for some reason it's never made clear if anyone in the family actually knows.  Her relationship with Hannah, first as chambermaid and then as ladies maid, is strengthened by Hannah's misapprehension that Grace knows shorthand (she doesn't) - thus leading to Hunter's death.  Emmeline is one of those Bright Young Things and you never really learn if there's more there than we're being shown. The final Big Secret I'd also guessed, and it was nice to see it confirmed at the tail end of the book (although here, it's unclear that Grace understands the significance of what she's been told).

The book tries to be slightly more Gothic than it ends up being, in part because of the detail and the lengthy set pieces.  It's certainly fitting that the final party marks the real end of the Hartford family and Riverton, lorded over by the "recently ennobled" Teddy.

23 April 2012

The Body in the Library; Agatha Christie

The Body in the LibraryThe Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I read a Miss Marple mystery - much prefer them to Hercule Poirot, though it's the reverse when it comes to the televised versions.  If this was edited to bring it up-to-date, I didn't notice (the Nero Wolfe mysteries definitely need some updating in terms of language!).

These are such gentle murder mysteries, and it's often difficult to determine exactly whodunnit because it's all down to Miss Marple's observations rather than clues left for the readers.  Her commentary on the parallels to village life and slightly vague manner can be annoying, but much less so than most "cozy" detectives.

Eminent Victorians; Lytton Strachey

Eminent Victorians Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Years ago I read the A.N. Wilson Victorians and vowed that one day I'd read the "original", and now I have.

Of the four people profiled, I'd only really heard of Florence Nightingale; Cardinal Manning, Dr. Arnold and General Gordon were complete unknowns to me.  Strachey has written profiles, often biased ones (and those biases show), rather than biographies, so there is some background and context missing.  As for bias, when writing about Cardinal Manning he talks about John Henry Cardinal Newman as being broken and virtually inconsequential after his conversion which is not quite true.  The thread that runs through all four is William Gladstone, who appears as friend, MP and Prime Minister, not always in a good light.

This was not the easiest of reads, and I spent time looking up people and events that would have been common knowledge back when the book was written.  The use of French, Latin and Greek, untranslated, was also a reminder that this was written in a very different time.

22 April 2012

The Lions of Little Rock;

The Lions of Little RockThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was nice that this work of historical fiction didn't try to add people from real life into the story (real events, on the other hand, are in here).  All too often that happens and if you know about the real person it can be jarring.

Marlee's mutism seems to have no physical cause, it's all about her being shy, although I'm not sure that's really the case.  There may have been something psychological that happened when she was much younger, something left unspoken and unexplored.  It isn't until Liz, a new student in the junior high, starts talking to her that Marlee begins to overcome her fears.  It's a little too convenient, too obvious a metaphor for being silent in the face of something that's wrong and then speaking out against it.

Liz' "passing" also feels a little wrong: didn't anyone notice where she lived? Yes, she was new to Little Rock, but it seems improbable that no one (adult) asked questions before she entered the school.  Billie Jean's explanation of what happens when someone passes doesn't explain how Liz' mother thought they could get away with it for long, because someone - at some time - would have seen her going to and from school.

Having said that, this isn't a bad way for middle grade readers to get an introduction to the question of race or the events in Little Rock during the start of the desegregation movement.

21 April 2012

Losing Mr. North; Elaine Kagan

Losing Mr. NorthLosing Mr. North by Elaine Kagan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There were no surprises here, and nothing really special either.

Mr. North is former Detective Jack North, a married man who spends 3/4 of his time with his wife, Linda, and 1/4 of his time with his mistress, Rachel.  Both women are really passive, allowing him to come and go, making no demands (even on something as simple as making him eat chicken rather than ribs).  One day, on the road between Linda and Rachel, he disappears.

The writing is a little like what you'd expect from a screenplay, with the emotions not laid out but supposed to be conveyed by deep, long looks and silences.  It was a little annoying to get the references to detectives on screen and on the page (I really hate that, with the exception of the "Death on Demand" series), and it probably would have been more powerful had we not detoured into the lives of the children, his former partner and Charlie, the local policeman, as it diluted what little emotional impact this might have had.

Complicity; Iain Banks

ComplicityComplicity by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It feels odd. not giving a Banks book 5 stars, but there was something a little off about this one.

Cameron Colley is a drinking, drugging, smoking, gaming reporter in Edinburgh; a few years earlier, he'd written an article that called for a Real Avenger, one that would right the wrongs that for whatever reason the law couldn't.  He's working now on an article about whiskey (a product ruined by the Americans) and nuclear subs, and a strange tipster keeps calling and telling him to look into the connections between five deaths a number of years before.

At the same time, and told from the second person perspective, several gruesome murders - Avengings - are taking place.  The police notice that the people killed are the same people Cameron wrote about, and bring him in for questioning.  Cameron finally figures out who's behind the killings and why (it takes a trip down memory lane).  That's partly where the book goes wrong for me: the bit where the killer/Avenger does his "this is why and how" routine.

Still, it's Iain Banks' excellent writing and interesting twists. The descriptions of Cameron's life and the game of Despot made me feel as though I knew him and could play the game (and is it any coincidence that at the end, when he's given back his laptop, his civilization has been demolished?  Yep, very obvious symbolism there!)  Sadly, I think I only have one more of his books to read before I have to start waiting for him to produce more.

20 April 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home; Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home: A NovelA Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel by Wiley Cash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I read this, I thought of Conroy's Prince of Tides - the plot is very different, but the feeling (for me) was the same.

Jess is the younger brother of Stump (real name, Christopher) who is identified in the blurbage as being autistic, but I don't think that's the case because he can interact with others, he just doesn't speak, is often in his own world, and doesn't like being touched.  His mother belongs to a snake-and-fire handling church, Church of Christ in Signs Following; it's a church that Miss Lyle, the 70-something town healer refuses to let the children attend.  His father, Ben, is a former football star and son of a mean drunk.

I don't want to get into spoiler territory, so I'll stop there.  The characters are strongly drawn, their stories equally so.  There is a great deal of flashback going on, but the life of these people (in hollers and small towns) makes that backwards glance worth while.  It would not have been as interesting a story had it been told in chronological order, and the central story needs the additional information.

This is set in the 1980s, so the sheriff uses a CB, no one has a cell phone, air conditioning is rare and outdoor priveys aren't unheard of.  For many of us, this type of church and belief are foreign and it was sometimes necessary to remind myself that these people did (and do) exist.

ARC provided by publisher.

Ugly to Start With; John Michael Cummings

Ugly to Start WithUgly to Start With by John Michael Cummings
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories is loosely tied together by the life of Jason, growing up in the town of Harper's Ferry WV.  He, his parents and two brothers live in a cabin (no phone, no tv) in the National Park area; they're definitely poor, but Jason's life doesn't feel like one of real deprivation.

 Since the author is clearly writing what he knows, the time is in the 70s, with the language and attitudes of that time (I'm guessing the date based on a reference to "Fantasy Island" being on tv).  Some of the stories will make you cringe, some will tug at your heartstrings.  SPOILER: there's one about a cat (the titular story) that made me cry.  It can take some time before you place who's who and what's going on, because these stories are so loosely related.

Copy provided by publisher.

19 April 2012

The Watcher in the Shadows; Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Watcher in the Shadows (Niebla, #3)The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely on par with The Midnight Palace (for some reason, Prince of Mist didn't do it for me).

Irene, her mother Simone and brother Dorian leave Paris to move to Normandy; Simone has taken a job working as a housekeeper for an engineer/inventor named Lazarus Jann. Hannah, the maid, conveys all the town gossip and tells the tale of the disappearance of Alma; Ismael, Irene's soon-to-be boyfriend, has Alma's diary. One dark and stormy night, Hannah finds herself in a room she's never been in before, and is somehow convinced to uncork a small flask - a dark shadow escapes.

This is definitely not a just before bedtime read: the evil of the shadow, the various automatons, the question of what happened to Alma, and the house are all written with an eye towards creating that shivver that won't quit. The pacing was a little odd at times, but younger readers may not notice. The epilogue could have been done without, but it does give some closure to Irene's story.

ARC provided by publisher.

Cleopatra; Stacy Schiff

Cleopatra: A LifeCleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The (much deserved) accolades for this book neglect one major thing: this is more than informative, it's funny. Example? "After a while the butchery came to seem almost preordained. Cleopatra's uncle murdered his wife, thereby eliminating his step-mother (and half sister) as well. ... She was not even Cleopatra VII, as she would be remembered. Given the tortured family history, it made sense that someone, somewhere, simply lost count."

See, funny.

Cleopatra's family's antics - betrayal, deposing, murder and intermarrying - left her with some interesting baggage. Her goal, at first, was simple survival; thanks to Julius Caesar that goal became reality. This led to a relatively peaceful reign filled with pageantry, prosperity and the type of riches we associate with ancient kingdoms. Had she not thrown in her lot with Antony, who knows how long the Ptolmeic dynasty would have endured.

Like most readers, my knowledge of Cleopatra has been informed by Roman history, Shakespeare and the movie with Elizabeth Taylor. It's due to Octavian that our knowledge of her role is so skewed (the fifth century earthquake that destroyed much of Alexandria didn't help, either). Pity, because she's such a fascinating person.

15 April 2012

A Hidden Wholeness; Parker Palmer

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided LifeA Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Friend recommended Parker Palmer's works to me, and this was one of the two books I bought. There's so much here that spoke to me: how to ask open questions, how to hold someone's soul as sacred, and how to create a circle of trust. As a Quaker I understood the underpinnings of his work, and some of his examples of how to translate this to the "real" world without calling it Quakerism made a lot of sense. Beyond this, all I can say is that my response was deeply personal. Highly recommended.

14 April 2012

Read Between the Lies;

Read Between the LiesRead Between the Lies by Lori Bryant-Woolridge
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This chick lit soap opera was a little too heavy handed at times to really appeal. The stories of Felicia, Stephanie, Gabrielle and Beatrice intertwine, with each helping and harming the other. There are love affairs gone wrong, backstabbing, revelations, retribution and all the other elements that one expects from this genre.

The problems, for me, were the stridency of Lexis' rhetoric and the Big Issue of Gabrielle's illiteracy. The former might have sounded better had I read this when the book was published, but today it sounds dated and unsubtle. The latter felt as though it was the entire reason the book had been written, as though the author had said, "I have this illiterate character running around in my mind... what story can I plop her in?" rather than letting it emerge organically. That's not to dismiss the real problem of adult illiteracy, but it doesn't make for a great read. The denouement and Stephanie's comeuppance also felt too neat.

The Knitting Circle; Ann Hood

The Knitting CircleThe Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The conceit here is that knitting - mere knitting - can somehow settle your mind, keeping you from focusing on the tragedy in your life. Tragedy? We're talking about cancer, rape, the premature death of a child, a sick child and the death of a partner, among other things.

In Lucy's case, it's the death of her daughter Stella due to bacterial meningitis: one moment there, the next dead. Her grief seems unending, and one day her mother forces her hand by not just recommending a knitting circle but getting the leader of the circle to call. As Lucy's emotional recovery slowly progresses, she becomes more and more enamored with knitting; as her knitting skill increases, she moves from member of the circle to member of the circle getting tips and tricks and hearing their story of loss and healing. And over the three year course of the book, she learns to make scarfs, socks and sweaters, and contributes "a stitch a month" squares to a blanket (for knitters, some instructions are included).

Is she healed? Of course. This wouldn't be a chick lit book if she wasn't. And because of the genre, it's also a little too pat and obvious in the emotional triggers.

13 April 2012

The Uninvited Guests; Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests: A NovelThe Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was a DNF after I got about a quarter of the way through - the characters of Emerald, Clovis and Charlotte were just not grabbing me. They wanted to be a cross between Bright Young Things (slightly down at the heels), Cold Comfort Farm and something more quotidian, but it didn't quite work. Smudge, on the other hand, had promise, as did their home, Sterne. Perhaps if the writing hadn't tried to be quite so clever and there was more a sense of why these people, why this plot, I could have read more.

ARC provided by publisher.

11 April 2012

Waves; Sharon Dogar

WavesWaves by Sharon Dogar
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is "Ghost" meets Lovely Bones - a teen, Charley, is "half-dead" (in a coma, in the hospital) a year after she is found in the ocean. Her brother, Hal, their parents and younger sister have returned to the family vacation house in Cornwall, where the memory and mystery of what happened that night still haunt them. Told partly in the present day by Hal, partly in the present day by Charley and partly during the previous summer, when Charley fell in love with Pete, we get glimpses of what happened and who might have done it. It's only at the very end, when Hal channels Charley, that we actually find out how she got injured.

The blend of present day and past, and of the two voices works. It's not as creepy as it could have been, and at times Hal's obsession with finding out what happened leads to improbable events. Jackie's friendship, for example, should not have lasted as long as it does, given Hal's problems. Charley's emotions, both alive and in the coma, do ring very true for a teen in love and scared.

Objects of My Affection; Jill Smolinski

Objects of My Affection: A NovelObjects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This read like a Harlequin romance crossed with an episode of Hoarders, with neither side getting the attention it deserved. It's also about addiction, to things, to drugs and to family.

Lucy is one of those people who is unattached to "stuff", but completely oblivious to what's going on with the people around her. Her son, Ash, has become a drug addict and she's sold virtually everything she has to send him to a rehab program. The first job she has is that of cleaning out the house of a very feisty, aging, slightly sick artist - if she can manage to clean it out, selling whatever can be sold at either auction or a yard sale, she'll get a huge bonus.

Of course, working with Marva isn't easy and there are a number of confrontations. Marva is a definite hoarder, but she's also pretty savvy about Lucy's blindness to her son's problems. Slowly - no surprise - the two start to work together and to move forward with both their lives. The reasons behind the hoarding finally come out, but Lucy's lack of interest in things doesn't really get discussed in any detail.

The romance part comes from Niko, one of the contractors hired to haul stuff out of the house, and Daniel, her former live-in boyfriend, with whom Lucy broke up over Ash's addiction. This is romance lite, with feelings and emotions constantly being interrupted by either Marva's or Ash's needs.

ARC provided by publisher.

Shadow of Night; Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As with A Discovery of Witches, this book is overlong and studded with references to famous people and events. There were many times I found myself thinking "that paragraph could go... so could that sentence" - if the third book is the same, the series will be over 1500 pages long.

At times it might have made more sense (and tightened the writing) to not have so many famous names involved. For example, the scenes with Queen Elizabeth (the first, not the current Queen) required much set-up, yet it seemed their only purpose was to continue to impress on us how important Matthew's life had been in the 1590s. It also started to get on my nerves how many times the author mentioned "the house was filled with daemons, vampires and witches" (or something similar).

Having griped about that, I wasn't annoyed enough to stop reading - with less filler, the story of Matthew, Diana, their families and the search for Ashmole 782 would have been even better.

09 April 2012

A Discovery of Witches; Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a relatively quick read, and I can see where many of my friends have fallen in love with it: the mixture of Anne Rice (both Letstat and Mayfair series), Da Vinci Code, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Twilight make the series feel comfortable while introducing enough new stuff to keep you reading.

Diana's witch heritage should be strong, but since her parents' death she's avoided using any of her talents. Matthew is a 1500-year-old vampire who discovers Diana using a tiny bit of power and gets curious - he's also heard that she found, and opened, a manuscript long assumed lost. Soon other vampires, witches and daemons are crowding into the Bodleian Library, trying to learn what Diana did to open the book and what she learned.

That's all that's needed for us to start, and soon we're reading about the Congregation (which sets laws for the three non-human "species"), the Knights of Lazarus, vampire history, some witch history and a house that takes care of the people who live there by obligingly growing, shrinking and keeping track of furniture and doors when there are guests.

The biggest problem was the writing. Big! Important! Matters! are met with shock, horror and then complete acceptance, too much time is spent on some rather trivial matters while other things are glossed over, and there are altogether too many adjectives. I also got quite tired of sentences like, "A vampire watched me while I slept" (he has a name, Matthew, and unless you're trying to ratchet up the tension by implying that somehow another vampire got into the room, use it!). And while I love the age of the vampire, why did he have to know everyone from Kit Marlowe to Charles Darwin and beyond? Seemed like an excuse add some additional paragraphs to book that could have some editing (600+ pages?!).

Still, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Copy provided by publisher.

07 April 2012

The Shoemaker's Wife; Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This work of historical fiction is the author's love letter to her grandparents and the Italian immigrant experience. Ciro is a boy who has recently lost his father and his mother is so deeply depressed and without money that she leaves him and his brother in the care of the nuns; Enza is part of a large family further up the Alp from Ciro, they precariously eking out a living as a carriage-for-hire. When Enza's youngest sibling, Stella, dies, Ciro is sent to dig her grave - the two fall in love.

However, for various reasons, both end up separated, heading to America. Enza gets very ill on the voyage over, and she and Ciro meet again at the hospital (he's punctured his hand with his shoemaking tools); once again, they separate and only meet two or three times before the Great War comes. Following the war, Ciro meets Enza on her wedding day and persuades her to give up her finance, her career as a Metropolitan Opera House seamstress (and sometime cook for Enrico Caruso), and travel West to Montana to start a new life. Of course there's much more, like the friends they make, the careers they have and their life in Montana.

The thing is, at the start of the book Ciro's voice rings very true. He is a lost, angry, abandoned boy who takes incredible pride in his work and in making a place for himself with the nuns. As he ages, however, that voice doesn't change, and by the time he's 35 and back in Italy he still has the interior monologue of an 11-year-old. Enza does change and grow, not as much as one might have liked, but you can see in her younger self the capable, steady, loving person the adult will be. The historical fiction brings to vivid life their childhoods in Northern Italy, but once they arrive in New York there's none of the prejudice that we know existed (it is entirely plausible that they were lucky and didn't experience it, but no mention of it? that rang false).

ARC provided by publisher.

04 April 2012

Canada; Richard Ford

CanadaCanada by Richard Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure how I felt about this book - it's one of those slow reads, not a lot of action but also not a lot of internal reflection/philosophy. It's written from the viewpoint of Dell, as a 60-something, looking back on his life over half a century earlier, mostly in the voice of someone without a lot of education but eager to hide that fact with somewhat stilted language.

Dell was an Army brat born in Detroit, twin to Berner (who is older, female and has decided that she doesn't really like him), and eager to get on with his education. The family has settled in Grand Forks MT and he's actually looking forward to high school and joining the chess club. His parents are a mismatched couple, Dad being a relatively uneducated Army corporal from Dixie and Mom being an educated non-practicing Jew from Tacoma; these differences and their lower class status, as well as Dad's inability to make a decent living and transition out of Army life, that radically change Dell and Berner's lives.

The book reflects the bleakness of the landscape, slightly (or more than merely slightly) rundown and lower class, in some ways like Robinson's Home or Gilead. In part this is sentence structure, but it's also the passive nature of Dell. This changes a bit in Part Three, written in the present day and in a different voice, with less stilted phrasing and dialog.

ARC provided by publisher.

01 April 2012

Evil Intent; Kate Charles

Evil IntentEvil Intent by Kate Charles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Talk about making your story relevant: this mystery covers the controversy in the Anglican Church over gay priests and women priests. On the "pro" side are Leo (Jamaican, closeted gay), Frances (one of the first women ordained and a good friend of Leo's) and Callie (recently ordained, mentored by Frances. One the "con" side are Father Jonah (Nigerian, with a flair for calling Leo "Son of a Slave"), Father Vincent (who might have a few secrets of his own) and Father Richard. When Father Jonah is strangled with Reverend Cherry's stole, with the exception of Father Richard, the lives of the rest will be changed.

I thought I'd guessed the murderer, but I was wrong - yay! Double yay: I didn't guess Father Jonah's secret. The interconnected stories blended in a great way, with only one character's relationship to the others feeling forced. I've read at least one other of Ms. Charles' Callie Anson series and the relationships here evolve naturally later in the series. Only one small problem - when I think of Callie, for some reason I see Dawn French. Could be worse, right?

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated CartoonistsNursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists by Chris Duffy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a fun, perfect read: the various takes on old nursery rhymes made me smile and (in some instances) led me to another view of the poem. Great fun for children of all ages!

Getaway; Lisa Brackmann

GetawayGetaway by Lisa Brackmann
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yet another reason to not have a one-night stand:  recent widow Melissa is on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, where she meets Danny and, well, one thing leads to another.  Which leads to a midnight robbery in which Danny is hurt and their cell phones being accidentally switched, and suddenly Melissa is drawn into a situation about which she has no idea who is safe, who is lying, who she can trust and what is going on.

The level of suspense plateaus quickly and doesn't abate, but at no point does Melissa seem to find the nous to figure out what's going on and how to deal with it.  She's more of a ping pong ball, bouncing between event and event, betrayal and betrayal - some character growth would have been nice.

ARC provided by publisher.