03 November 2019

Big Sky; Kate Atkinson

Big SkyBig Sky by Kate Atkinson
My rating: =5 of 5 stars

I've missed Jackson and the convoluted mysteries that he gets tangled up in. He's retired (ish - aren't all retired detectives always "ishly" retired?), trying to get his life a little more on track, missing his ex-partner and suddenly he's taking care of her son and dog and trying to untangle what's happening in his quiet new town. There are return appearances by friends and enemies, but if you haven'r read the earlier books either at all or recently it won't be a problem. Here's hoping that we don't have to wait another nine years for the next one.

02 November 2019

Kissing Ezra Holtz; Brianna R. Shrum

Kissing Ezra Holtz (and Other Things I Did for Science)Kissing Ezra Holtz by Brianna R. Shrum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins, with a dose of science and Judaism thrown in (some of the questions Amelia and Ezra ask their rabbi are pretty funny).

London Rules; Mick Herron

London Rules (Slough House, #5)London Rules by Mick Herron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd read a great review of this book and on a whim picked it up - I'm glad I did. Yes, it's the fifth in the series, so there's some catching up to do, but overall the characters and the plot were pretty easy to follow. There's political intrigue, terrorism and a stumbling bunch of cast-offs from the Secret Services in the UK - what's not to enjoy and want more of? The other thing that's sold me on continuing: a colleague with whom I share reading ideas randomly asked if I'd ever read this series and was delighted that I had. So... on to more!

01 November 2019

Rules for Vanishing; Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for VanishingRules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It seems like every small town has its mysteries and legends (I grew up near a psychiatric hospital for criminals... you can imagine what stories got told). Here we have a town with a local ghost, Lucy Gallows, who appears once a year to lure people into the woods into which she disappeared years before. Sara is determined to figure out what happened to her sister Becca with or without her former friends. Of course it ends up being "with" and of course they will need to bond together to save themselves - and possibly Becca (and/or Lucy).

Knife; Jo Nesbo

Knife (Harry Hole, #12)Knife by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another entry in one of the best Nordic Noir series, one that reunites Harry with his past and his drinking, his relationships (with friends and Rakel). At times he's difficult to read about - imagine if this were a real person, how coping with that personality and those "quirks" would feel! But by the end we're ready to see what happens next and where Harry ends up.

31 October 2019

Bellevue Square; Michael Redhill

Bellevue SquareBellevue Square by Michael Redhill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Talk about unreliable narrators! Jean Mason is searching for her doppelganger, a woman who apparently lives close to the bookstore Jean owns. But then curiosity turns to obsession, and to essentially living in the square trying to find this other woman, making friends with some of the regulars. But when Jean's husband starts to worry about what's going on with her... no spoilers! It's a short read, and one well worth spending time on.

Cold is the Grave; Peter Robinson

Cold is the Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DCI Banks has friends within the department, and some enemies. The problem in this entry in the series is that he has to help his enemies because the case involves runaway girls and London, and for some reason his particular skills mean he'll be able to find the girl in question (and solve mysteries, etc.). It's always enjoyable reading his mental fidgeting about this, listening to his music and sipping his Scotch while he muses about his life and that of others. At times, thought, Banks has a bit of the sad sack around him and that's growing to be his default. It'd be nice if we saw a slightly different Banks in future.

30 October 2019

The Evil that Boys Do; T.C. Van Adler

The Evil That Boys DoThe Evil That Boys Do by T.C. Van Adler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Years ago the owner of the Mystery Ink bookshop recommended St Agatha's Breast and I enjoyed it. Apparently the author has written a sequel, and now I've read it. I liked it, but not as much as I'd remembered - could be memory, could be writing style. The mystery was semi-locked room (most of this takes place in a prison) but once again we have a lost Old Master painting that Father Brocard is trying to locate. What bothered me most was Zinka's portrayal, with the constant repetitions about her gender, her hands, her size, etc.. Still, if there's ever another, I'll read it!

The Last True Poets of the Sea; Julia Drake

The Last True Poets of the SeaThe Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A supposed wild child (wild due to family issues and misunderstandings) gets sent to her uncle's house in Maine to apparently get her act together. Did I mention the misunderstandings? There's a potential love triangle, discovering what's really important and working through problems - including mysterious family history. This will probably appeal to teens who can't get enough of this type of book, but it won't draw others in.

ARC provided by publisher.

29 October 2019

Dead to Her; Sarah Pinborough

Dead to HerDead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This almost got a two star review for being so predictable but then... the ending. There's a twist I definitely didn't see coming and that redeemed most of the rest of this old money Southern society breached by "not quite our type" outsiders.

ARC provided by publisher.

Shine; J. J. Grabenstein

Shine!Shine! by J.J. Grabenstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perfectly fine MG book about not giving up on friends, fitting in at a new school and being kind. There are the usual misfits and "in crowd" but unlike some books, there's never a moment when the mean in crowd and the misfits become friends or build any bridges - each stays true to themselves (although there's a hint of parental driving all the meanness).

ARC provided by publisher.

23 October 2019

Winter Grave; Helene Tursten

Winter Grave (An Embla Nyström Investigation Book 2)Winter Grave by Helene Tursten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with series books that don't require you to have read the previous books but when you're done reading you realize that you really do need to go back because you enjoyed what you read. This is one of those books (and yes, I know, I'm meant to be taking things off the TBR list not adding). Any police procedural set in Scandinavia immediately leads you to think "Nordic Noir" but this isn't that, it's just a procedural. Embla and her colleagues are just quirky enough to keep you interested in their lives, while the mystery has enough depth to not completely telegraph the solution.

eARC provided by publisher.

Impossible Causes; Julie Mayhew

Impossible CausesImpossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There's a disconnect between the summary and the actual book: yes, Lark Island is isolated and fog-bound, filled with secrets and tight-knit. But the religious aspect? Missing. I had thoughts this could be like Harvest Home or In the Night Wood (etc. etc.) yet that's not the case. So my next thought was that it could be like And Then There Were None or any other locked room-like mystery. Again, not the case. Instead it's relatively easy to guess what the Big Secrets are and what will happen. What a waste of setting!

eARC provided by publisher.

22 October 2019

The GOD Game; Danny Tobey

The God GameThe God Game by Danny Tobey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a lot of promise here, despite the idea that some game could upend the lives of a group of teens by making their dreams (or nightmares) come true isn't all that new. Clearly there's someone in the group who is more involved than we're led to believe and all the kids will be greatly changed by what happens in the game. It's the 0-to-60 speed of things that is disappointing, that rather than slowly draw the kids in the game starts to make the serious demands almost immediately. There's also a lot of stereotyping here that is disappointing, like the fact that these kids are misfits, or the really good looking transfer student is hiding Dark Secrets. Yawn.

eARC provided by publisher.

Reputation; Sara Shepard

ReputationReputation by Sara Shepard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perfectly fine book about the damage that keeping secrets can do to your reputation, especially if those secrets are hackable and shared with the entire world. And then there's a mystery about who killed Kit's husband Greg, which Kit and sister Willa are trying to solve before the police (why exactly?). Oh, and also a mysterious college student who probably is in the middle of it all. Too many twists, too many POVs, too many threads to unpick and too little care in the plotting. Paring this down to one main mystery while treating the others as minor ones would have elevated it from fine to good.

eARC provided by publisher.

Famous in Cedarville; Erica Wright

Famous in CedarvilleFamous in Cedarville by Erica Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unreliable narrators work so much better when they they're more competently unreliable. It's unclear what is driving Samson when he starts to help investigate who killed Barbara Lace's assistant. As things progress Samson keeps hinting at the Why and how He Knows More, etc. but then he continues to act as though he's just a guy swept up in events. It didn't work as well as it could have, leading this reader to be far more frustrated with him than was necessary. Fewer hints along the way would have been a better way to go.

eARC provided by publisher.

21 October 2019

The Guinevere Deception; Kiersten White

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always loved me some Arthurian legend, and Kiersten White has become one of those authors I will actively seek out. So when the two are combined? Heaven.

We get a different take on the stories, starring Guinevere. There is less overt feminism than in Mists of Avalon but it's clear that neither Guinevere nor her maid/confidant Brangien are to be trifled with. The usual suspects are here albeit with somewhat different characteristics than their originals - sadly, most seem muted. Arthur reminded me of a puppy, always up for action and running around and eager to be loved but not quite mature enough for running a kingdom. It's the world-building, the dragging out of what's going on, the twists that are telegraphed and the need to keep this going for at least one more book that lost me. Ultimately I rounded up from 3.5 because most of the ideas were good, albeit a little stretched out.

eARC provided by publisher.

Kingdomtide; Rye Curtis

KingdomtideKingdomtide by Rye Curtis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My guess is that the only reason this is set in the pre-cell phone era is that the author couldn't figure out a way to not use the technology without simply not having it exist. That's a cop-out, because in the area in which this takes place cell phones might not work well - and a 70something woman might not be comfortable carrying one everywhere (let alone the fact that over a long period it wouldn't keep a charge). So from the start I had questions about the book.

Then there are the main characters, none of whom are particularly likable or sympathetic. Cloris' being so very much of her era doesn't help, without even a quirky inner monologue to give readers a reason to care. Debra's merlot addiction made me think that she'd watched Sideways too many times. And the others? Who cared? The opening is so drawn out, and with no reason to want to care about what's going on, any "good" came too late.

eARC provided by publisher.

Followers; Megan Angelo

FollowersFollowers by Megan Angelo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There should be so much more to say about this book, about how it's a great commentary on how our society is heading. Instead it's an odd combination of feeling dated (don't we already have far too many people famous for being well-known and not much else? reality tv showing ordinary lives and/or lives of those trying to shock and impress has been around for decades now) and muted. Even the mystery of what happened before the Spill and who Marlow might become doesn't seem as sharp or interesting as it could have been.

eARC provided by publisher.

20 October 2019

Eight Perfect Murders; Peter Swanson

Eight Perfect MurdersEight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just enough twists and red herrings to make me not completely guess the "who" part, although the answer was one of my minor, barely possible guesses. I loved the references to older mysteries, some of which I knew and some are now on my "need to read soon" list. The biggest drawback was that throughout most of the book I was mentally yelling at Malcolm to just sit back and let things unfold. There were moments when this reminded me of the recent Anthony Horowitz mysteries, with that slight air of superiority, the "I know what's going to happen... and you don't" narration. It's a definite recommendation to those who love old mysteries and those who know only recent era ones but are interested in learning about classics.

eARC provided by publisher.

My Dark Vanessa; Kate Elizabeth Russel

My Dark VanessaMy Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Working in a school for the past nearly thirty years means I'm very aware of how things have changed in terms of education for both students and teachers about inappropriate relationships and limits. So obviously I approached this with a high degree of squick already in my mind. Yes, there are references to Lolita but the book that this most reminded me of was Zinovieff's Putney as both books deal with not just the morality of older man/young girl relationships and "grooming" but the harder issue of how the victims might see themselves as not damaged but more like willing participants (or instigators) in the affair.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Sun Down Motel; Simone St. James

The Sun Down MotelThe Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two timelines, two narrators, one mystery. In the earlier timeline, a lost young woman trying to figure out her life becomes obsessed with a local mystery; in the later timeline, her niece comes to find out what happened and also becomes obsessed with the local mystery. The execution is pretty good, although I was expecting more ghosts and creepy than something bad happened and we're out for justice. How does working third shift affect our ability to think straight? While not explored, that seems to play a role in why neither Viv nor Carly are able to let the question of what happened at the Sun Down that leads to the various Occurrences. Why no one asks that bothered me. My other quibble was with the setting, a small town in Upstate New York... or maybe it was Central New York? or Southern Tier New York? (It's hinted that this is closer to Rochester and Buffalo than Lake Placid)

eARC provided by publisher.

05 October 2019

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt; Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith KrattThe Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The time shifts can sometimes be difficult to interpret: is this today, or in 1929? The South Carolina town of Bound doesn't seem to have changed much in the intervening years, but Judith Kratt is realizing that things have changed and she needs to make a list of those items in her house that haven't. There is great description of the people and town, although I have to admit Judith was initially a hard sell.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Bookwarderers; Anna James

The Bookwanderers (Pages & Co., #1)The Bookwanderers by Anna James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the perfect book for those who loved Inkheart and other children book favorites. As a start to a series the premise is set up well, yet leaving room to expand things in future books rather than staying within this books' boundaries. Sometimes these books use favorite books that are not familiar to the target reader, instead relying on those they loved most. The start here leaves me hoping that we'll continue meeting those that my middle grade readers will know and also appreciate meeting.

04 October 2019

Starsight; Brandon Sanderson

Starsight (Skyward, #2)Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A worthy sequel to Skyward, with Our Heroine Spensa traveling from her homeworld to the world of those trying to keep her world isolated from everyone else. No spoilers, though, about why and how and what happens there. What I will say, though, is there needed to be more MBot/Spensa (one of the things I loved about the first book) and definitely more Doomslug. I will say that I can't wait for Book 3!

eARC provided by publisher.

The Bone Houses; Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Bone HousesThe Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grave diggers and graveyards are always creepy and Ryn, the grave digger/grave tender for her village, knows that others distrust her because of what she does even though it protects them from what seem like zombies (the titular "Bone Houses"). Suddenly there's more activity around the town, and Ryn's attempts to keep everyone safe is that much harder. Plus she and her siblings might lose their home. And then there's the mapmaker, Ellis. While much of this feels familiar, the way things come together will hold readers attention and feel new. There are great questions raised about life and love hidden in the tale of love and revenge and curses and redemption.

eARC provided by publisher.

03 October 2019

The Headmaster's Papers; Richard A. Hawley

The Headmaster's PapersThe Headmaster's Papers by Richard A. Hawley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quiet epistolary novel about a Head of School who simply hasn't kept up with the times or with how the school has changed over the 30 years he's been Head. Over the years I've met faculty and administrators who are, to one degree or another, like Greeve (and seriously, that name? hmmmm....), so many parts rang very true to me.

The Poison Garden; A.J. Banner

The Poison GardenThe Poison Garden by A.J. Banner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Too much of a soap opera to be a real thriller, but a good beach read. Nice island atmosphere, stock characters.

eARC provided by publisher.

02 October 2019

The Long Call; Ann Cleeves

The Long Call (Two Rivers, #1)The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Cleeves' Shetland series and have enjoyed watching Vera's career and relationships with her staff grow. So a new series? Ok... I"m up for it. In addition to the mystery, we dip into Matthew's family life, his religious upbringing and leaving all that behind (and getting kicked out of his family as a result). It's all complicated and all intertwined, at least in this book. Whether this will play a role in future books, well, we'll see.

Deadly Little Scandals; Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Deadly Little Scandals (Debutantes, #2)Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you haven't read Book 1 (Little White Lies) it won't matter that much. Some of the relationships can be complicated at first but soon it ceases to matter and it's just fun. The old-school older generation has secrets (gasp!) and it's up to the younger generation to figure them out. Of course they do, and of course their parents and grandparents aren't happy. Throw in secret societies and it's a great beach/cabin read.

eARC provided by publisher.

01 October 2019

Africaville; Jeffrey Colvin

Africaville: A NovelAfricaville: A Novel by Jeffrey Colvin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So much in this book - more usually is less but here, less left me wanting more. That there was a vibrant community of blacks in Halifax after the war, settled by escaped slaves and others, was news. Who wouldn't want to learn more? Then we meet the Sebold family and the ways in which family history and identity can change over the generations, sometimes wittingly and sometimes not. And again, more, please. This story lost points because the elisions and the lack of opportunity to explore the questions raised in greater detail.

eARC provided by publisher.

Miss Pinkerton; Mary Roberts Rinehart

Miss PinkertonMiss Pinkerton by Mary Roberts Rinehart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For fans of Golden Age Mysteries.

30 September 2019

Their Little Secret; Mark Billingham

Their Little Secret (Tom Thorne, #16)Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let's call this a comfort read: coming back to a set of characters you know, in a slightly different setting, satisfying ending. Thorne is similar to Logan McRae in that his career is not on a smooth trajectory, and here he's not an upward swing. But somehow... some way... he gets involved with a serious case and once again proves why he can't be counted out. And I can't wait for what's next.

Wake, Siren; Nina MacLaughlin

Wake, Siren: Ovid ResungWake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do you know the source material? That may not matter, but having some understanding of who the gods are and what they have done to humans does matter. They're cruel, capricious, misogynistic: we're pawns and objects to them. There isn't one story here, it's a series of short stories, so easy to dip into or skip a story if it is too disturbing.

eARC provided by publisher.

29 September 2019

The Pretenders; Rebecca Hanover

The Pretenders (The Similars, #2)The Pretenders by Rebecca Hanover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The questions raised in the first book about clones and friends (or frenemies) are answered to a large extent here, and the revenge plot really ramps up. So much, in fact, that it feels over the top - perhaps another book, drawing out the reveals, would have been better. Still unsure if this is it or if there will be another book; if there is, I hope the constant twists become occasional ones. Having said that, the school and the originals and clones are people I want to spend more time with.

eARC provided by publisher.

Your House Will Pay; Steph Cha

Your House Will PayYour House Will Pay by Steph Cha
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on a real event, we get the decades long after-effects of an unfortunate racial shooting on the families of both the shooter and the victim. Can healing ever happen? Or is everyone permanently scarred by that event? This is being billed as a thriller or mystery, but I don't see it. To me, this was more of a character study, looking at how events and people have layers that maybe aren't seen by those we interact with and what we read in the news. I hope people can get past the genre label to read this as a look at what we know and what we think we know about (sadly) recurring current events.

30 August 2019

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro; Christine Feret-Fleury

The Girl Who Reads on the MétroThe Girl Who Reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's nothing really new in this story about a socially reclusive young woman who becomes friendly with an even more reclusive bookseller, but oh, is it charming. The "bibliotherapy via passeur" idea is simply perfect and warms my heart. Where are those people in my life? And how can I be like that in theirs? The title and author dropping made me want to re-read so many books. Most of the characters are lightly drawn, with only Juliette having any depth or color. That rarely works but here it does. Such a wonderful back-to-school read.

eARC provided by publisher.

29 August 2019

Where Bodies Fall; Shelia Kindellan-Sheehan

Where Bodies FallWhere Bodies Fall by Shelia Kindellan-Sheehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite many visits to Montreal, the Westmont area isn't one I know at all well, so this setting was greatly appreciated. More of that would have been great for me, but possibly not other readers. As for the mystery, there was one decent twist but otherwise it was pretty standard.

Two odd things though. First, this is the only book by the author here and yet I see that there are several others that she's written about most of the characters here (not just the police, but also the Donovans and Camille/Carmela). Next time I'm there, I'll see if I can find them. Second, the procedures didn't seem set in the same system as those in the Inspector Gamache books, making me wonder if there's a difference between city and province Surete? Or perhaps there's something else I'm missing that does tie the two together?

Copy provided by publisher.

The Gravity of Us; Phil Stamper

The Gravity of UsThe Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you're a teen and want to be a journalist, creating a blog/Tumbler/podcast/Instagram account to promote your talents is not a bad idea. Cal sees himself attending journalism school, so is working now doing more in-depth things like covering the elections (national and local) or what is going on around him. That part was the best of the book, with the rest a fairly standard romance fitted in around a NASA-based Mars mission. If this inspires either an interest in NASA or in journalism and how it can be used for good, it'd be great.

ARC provided by publisher.

28 August 2019

Cursed; Thomas Wheeler

CursedCursed by Thomas Wheeler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is less a YA updated version of Mists of Avalon than something completely new that uses the names of the Arthur saga to tie it in to the story. I think that what threw me a little, the waiting for the Arthur stuff to match what I knew of his story. The mix of POVs and what seems to be a mix of eras and fashions and beliefs get a little confusing (eg Druids during the Middle Ages). Having said that, had the author used different names and belief systems this could have been a great book. We have a strong heroine who decides lead her people (kind of like Joan of Arc) against those who think they're heretics/pagans/a threat, fight scenes, romance - what more could you ask for?

eARC provided by publisher.

The Third Rainbow Girl; Emma Copley Eisenberg

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in AppalachiaThe Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In addition to following the murder, the author goes off on long tangents about her life working in Appalachia that distract from the book's arc. More about the girls, more about how the murders affected the town and the investigators, and something about how it affected the Rainbow people (and future gatherings) are sorely needed.

ARC provided by publisher.

27 August 2019

The List of Things That Will Not Change; Rebecca Stead

The List of Things That Will Not ChangeThe List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My parents were happily married for nearly 60 years, so what it would have been like for them to divorce and to live between two houses is unimaginable for me. Bea is in that situation, trying to figure out this new life but armed with a notebook that includes a list of things that will not change despite having two rooms, two apartments and the possibility of her parents finding new partners. There have been many books that cover similar territory, including this summer's The Year We Fell From Space, but what sets this apart is Mission and how his character stays true to himself.

ARC provided by publisher.

Ivory Apples; Lisa Goldstein

Ivory ApplesIvory Apples by Lisa Goldstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books about books are one of my favorite things, particularly when I really would love to read the book we're talking about. And Ivory Apples, one written by Adela Martin, sounds like one of those books. At first I thought that Adela/Maeve would be one of those who had spent their lives trying to get back to the world of Ivory Apples, but that's not what this is - it's about others trying to get into that world and her family trying to protect her. Which works, somewhat. There's more going on here but no spoilers. I just wish we heard more about the original story and less about Kate Burden.

eARC provided by publisher.

26 August 2019

The Library of the Unwritten; A.J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten (A Novel from Hell's Library, #1)The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So much promise here, and with a little tweaking it could have been an easy four star. The problem was the action sequences felt a little unplanned, or rushed, or something. I also could have used more of how the library worked: how were books acquired (particularly in the Unwritten Wing)? what were the librarian's daily duties? how did they get appointed?) and what other branches we might explore in this series. Here's hoping the next book covers some of that. Points for creativity (the gargoyle!), the Hero and Claire's relationship, and Ramiel.

eARC provided by publisher.

Look Both Ways; Jason Reynolds

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten BlocksLook Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is going to be interesting getting student reactions to this book. On the one hand, they love Jason Reynolds. On the other, they don't love short stories (I have no idea why). This book combines the two, loosely threading the life of several students in middle school. It's one day in their lives, in just a few hours, during their walks home. Block is a story, separate from the others and yet tied together by the fact that these students all attend the same school and share teachers and some of the same route. Will my readers see this as a whole, or as ten stories? I can't wait to find out.

eARC provided by publisher.

25 August 2019

Before the Devil Fell; Neil Olson

Before the Devil FellBefore the Devil Fell by Neil Olson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book this summer set in/near Ipswich (the first was The Chain - is there something going on? Anyway, this one does a decent job of placing the action in a small town near enough to a bigger town and even bigger city, with all the claustrophobic "everyone knows everything about everybody" small towns engender. The everyone in this case are members of the Seven Families, a group that seem to have migrated from Wales to England to Maine (back when Maine was still part of Massachusetts) and then to Massachusetts. Some - a few - have escaped to other parts of the country, but there are enough still in town to know each other's business.

That business seems to have something to do with a spirit circle and Something That Went Very Wrong when Will was five years old. Decades later it's still a problem that must be dealt with, and Will knows just enough to get in trouble yet not enough to really figure things out. As always, there are problems that could have been solved if people just actually explained things and/or asked questions. To be honest, that's one of the weaker parts of this book, the explaining the Seven Families and what they do or how they interact (or not). Added to that are some flat characters that are difficult to connect with, and you get three stars.

eARC provided by publisher.

One Night Gone; Tara Laskowski

One Night GoneOne Night Gone by Tara Laskowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Small towns that swell in the summer have their own peculiar social strata and ethos. The locals tend to stratify between those who work in the shops over the summer and do the general work of the town and those who own those shops and lord it over the town, while the Summer People are both needed and despised by the locals. Add to that a missing "local" (a runaway from home who becomes one of the locals) who was never found and a Summer Person (over the start of winter) who could help solve that mystery, and you've got a decent mystery. Even better? A twist I nearly missed and didn't only because I've read so many of these books, especially this summer.

eARC provided by publisher.

23 August 2019

Curse of the Evil Librarian; Michelle Knudsen

Curse of the Evil LibrarianCurse of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good follow-up to the previous books in the series, and possibly the end of our following Cynthia and Mr. Gabriel. Cynthia's voice is very Buffy here, which I loved and LB was a great addition to their quest. Usually I'm against the whole love triangle thing but in this case I'll make an exception for Cynthia/Ryan/Peter. If this is the end, that's fine. But I'd be happy to meet them again.

eARC provided by publisher.

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.