23 June 2018

The Guards; Ken Bruen

The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)The Guards by Ken Bruen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not sure what I think about this series, but the writing style was so
very annoying
list-y
needing an editor

Seriously, what was with all those lists? Without, it'd have been a far better book. The story of Jack's fall from grace as a Guard and talents as a private investigator was pretty standard. It was the relationships that elevated this enough to make me way to read another.

The Word is Murder; Anthony Horowitz

The Word Is MurderThe Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read where the author says he doesn't think he inserted himself too much into this in terms of name dropping, etc. but, well, he really did. It was interesting seeing real life and fake detection merging, but we could have done without the meeting between Horowitz, Jackson and Speilberg - for example.

As far as mysteries go, this is done right. The clues are all there, it's the significance that eludes us. And by the end it all makes sense (even though I did figure it out before then, but not much before). Hawthorne is a bit too Holmes-mixed-with-Rebus, but the touch is light enough that it doesn't matter. And I'm looking forward to the next.

ARC provided by publisher.

Neverworld Wake; Marisha Pessl

Neverworld WakeNeverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved the premise: a group of college students is stuck in a moment of time until they make a decision which of them lives. Unsurprisingly, it isn't an easy decision. And this isn't quite a Groundhog Day experience! Every "wake" brings the opportunity to do something different, using accumulated information from previous wakes to explore or make the decision. That the characters are all pretty one note doesn't quite matter because that's part of the conceit of this book.

ARC provided by publisher.

Landscape with Invisible Hand; M.T. Anderson

Landscape with Invisible HandLandscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The wuvv have taken over Earth, promising health and easier lives. Of course that's going to work out, right? There's nothing about that that could go wrong... except... of course it does all go wrong. The dystopia that ensues doesn't feel that off from what where we could end up naturally. And the wuvv? They're not like the aliens we've met before, and not just because they're stuck in the 1950s.

ARC provided by publisher.

I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land; Connie Willis

I Met a Traveller in an Antique LandI Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So much promise, but so little actually happens. Yes, that's probably the point, but we spend so much time in Ozymandis Books that something more should have happened. And the part about libraries weeding books? Just stop.

eARC provided by publisher.

22 June 2018

Legenday; Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval, #2)Legendary by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The follow-up to Caraval, and clearly the middle of the trilogy. The question of who Legend is and what he ultimately wants is teased, but there's the addition of the Fates and a fake engagement and meeting the Empress and, of course, finishing the most recent Caraval. Tella is more interesting than Scarlet, but the change in POV made me wonder whose story we'll hear in the next book.

As for the Caraval part, well... there were a lot of planned coincidences, and the prose is more overdone here than at other times (which is saying something). Plus so much was left hanging (who were the Fates? there have to be more, right? and what about Mom? who is/was she?) that it almost feels like there should be whole books about those pieces. I'd really love if the cards reappear, but somehow I doubt it.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik; David Arnold

The Strange Fascinations of Noah HypnotikThe Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun read, albeit one a little difficult to place in terms of genre: is hypnotism a real thing? or is this more of a fantasy type book? or maybe something else?

Noah is part of ValAlNo (shorthand for Val, Alan and Noah) and one night they go to a party. Noah meets another boy, one who is a little odd, and goes to his home to hang out. Nothing really happens, yet after that night Noah finds himself drifting away from his BFFs, Plus, nothing is quite the way it was before that night. Except for a few things, like his strange fascinations. And his obsession with Bowie. So maybe something did happen?

All that leads to a book that's different from the usual, one that made me think about what I do (and don't) notice about people and how I might react if things seemed different.

eARC provided by publisher.

Darcy Swipes Left; Courtney Carbone

Darcy Swipes LeftDarcy Swipes Left by Courtney Carbone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So. Cute.

All year I've watched the Middle School students read others in the OMG series with great enjoyment (when we get new ones, there's quite the rush). This was a perfect introduction to Austen and I really hope that those students find her on their own and enjoy P&P as much as they've enjoyed this book.

Chemistry Lessons; Meredith Goldstein

Chemistry LessonsChemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved the setting (just across the Charles from me) but... the plot is so predictable. BFFs (the new "girl and gay boy" configuration), a break-up/broken heart, the idea of getting the guy back. Sigh. Introducing STEM was great, but (no spoilers) the project? Again, sigh. Still, as a summer Dessenesque read, teens won't really care.

ARC provided by publisher.

Tell Me No Lies; Adele Griffin

Tell Me No LiesTell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sigh. I always hate it when authors write decent YA fiction and forget to set it today - there was no reason to keep this set in the late 80s (except for the author "writing what she knows"). I'm not seeing a lot of my teens responding well to the 80s timeframe when there's a vaguely contemporary plot. And figuring out which school this was wasn't difficult, another problem for me (please - be creative! create a whole new school in a new place!!).

ARC provided by publisher.

The High Season; Judy Blundell

The High SeasonThe High Season by Judy Blundell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, Judy Blundell writes adult fiction now? Ok, let's try it.

(reads)

This is actually a pretty good beach/summer read. If you know about the Hamptons Life, you know about the crazy that happens during the summer and yes, renting our your home is a real thing. The soap opera bits were just overdone enough to make this fun, rather than so overdone that my eyes rolled and rolled.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Nameless Dead; Brian McGilloway

The Nameless Dead (Inspector Devlin, #5)The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yes, I confess: there's been a bit of an Irish mystery theme going this year. This one is less intense in terms of the Troubles, dealing more with current day and the aftermath. As far as mysteries go, this isn't that much of one (there's more about Devlin's home life) but still, pretty well done with the whodidit not being as obvious as in some series.

I'll be reading more.

Cult X; Fuminori Nkamura

Cult XCult X by Fuminori Nakamura
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried. The premise was so intriguing, but the execution? Too many digressions, too many lectures, and too long getting to anything like what the summary promised. DNF.

eARC provided by publisher.

21 June 2018

The Ensemble; Aja Gabel

The EnsembleThe Ensemble by Aja Gabel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Knowing that several of my former students are in ensembles (or have been) made this very real for me. The members of the Van Ness Quartet are, at first, locked into their character roles but but the end there's change and more growth than I'd originally hoped for. The life of the Quartet as a group feels standard, with few surprises. Yet there's something about this that also felt universal when applied to any small group (be it social or professional).

ARC provided by publisher.

We Own the Sky; Luke Allnutt

We Own the SkyWe Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was difficult for me - it felt as though the author was playing up the pathos of the situation rather than letting the reader's emotions develop naturally. And while I appreciate Mr. Allnutt's personal connection to the topic of fighting a life-threatening illness, this was possibly more cathartic for him than anything else.

ARC provided by publisher.

Flunk. Start.; Sands Hall

Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in ScientologyFlunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology by Sands Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally! Despite reading many, many books about Scientology, I've never had a clear idea as to how this is a religion. Where is the worship? the rituals? Thanks to this book, I have a better idea (spoiler: there really isn't worship or rituals). Ms. Hall's story of getting drawn in to Scientology, her relationships with her family and friends, and eventual leaving Scientology behind will interest anyone finding themselves getting involved with any group at a young, impressionable age. The overwhelming need to fit in, to find a 'home' is universal, and her continuing to question that home will resonate with many who have wondered about their 'home'.

Ship It; Britta Lundin

Ship ItShip It by Britta Lundin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a little conflicted about this book - on the one hand, it helped me understand the "ship" culture, but on the other I found the idea that fans can/should control the direction of a show really annoying. I know that Claire is young, but doesn't anyone around her bring up things like the horror that was Dave and Maddie on Moonlighting? Or how much better Xena was for winking at the audience but not giving in to the "shipping" of her and Gabrielle? Sigh.

As far as characters go, Claire felt very one-note, while Forrest had more depth (which was odd, as they're presented as being the opposite!). And the plot? Pretty predictable.

ARC provided by publisher.