A Lot Going On. This is one of those books that has a lot of extra plot stuff going on outside of the central mystery. There is a decent examination of what happens when a halfway house opens up in your neighborhood, there are various guards/ cops doing various naughty things, there is the friendship between a reporter and an activist – an activist who happened to get a job inside the house. In other words, enough side stuff to maybe justify the 400 page length of the novel… but the side stuff tends to detract from and/ or muddle the central mystery. So if you’re a reader who prefers a more “clean cut” tale with fewer side jaunts interwoven… I can see where you might rate this tale lower on a subjective scale (and let’s face it, despite my *attempts* at some level of objectivity, *all* reviews are *entirely* subjective). For my own attempting-to-be-as-objective-as-possible purposes, there wasn’t really anything here truly *wrong* to hang a star deduction on, and thus it gets the full five stars. With its quick chapters and multiple perspectives, this is actually a book that seemingly “reads” shorter than its actual length would indicate, and the rather novel concepts here combine with this storytelling style to make this tale one that can easily be read in small chunks – which turns even a book of this length into a potential vacation/ beach read. Very much recommended.
Legal Thriller With Most Explosions Outside The Courtroom. This is a British legal thriller where the trial actually ends with about a quarter or so of the book left to go… and *then* the explosions start. By the end of the trial, you think you know what happened. And then there is the Detective, who, like in V for Vendetta, just isn’t quite satisfied with the answers he’s been given. So he continues to poke around a bit… and in the process the reader gets put through a shock and awe campaign that would wow even the Iraqis circa 2004. Truly an excellent tale very smartly told but covering topics which make a lot of us cringe at – which is one surefire sign of a tale that *needs* to be told. Truly the only potential negative mark here is for those readers who like every single plot thread tied up neatly in a nice little bow by the end of the book. This book… is more messy and “true to reality” than that. Still, partly *because* of that abrupt ending, this book is thus very much recommended.
One Of The Most Hilarious Books I’ve Read Recently. Ok, so maybe it takes being an (elder) Millenial myself and the oldest of three brothers, but for me the comedy of this book was dang near off the charts. Yes, Lucy is a mess. Yes, she is fiercely independent and 100% committed to living her life her way – and you know what? It totally works. There is a touch of 13 Going On 30 vibes with both the opening sequence (which, contrary to the description, is *not* when Lucy wakes up from a coma – that happens later) and when she initially wakes from the coma, but in all honesty if you like that kind of comedy you’ll probably enjoy this book. One main point that the reviewers who *didn’t* like the book commented most on were that it wasn’t a romance, well, it isn’t currently marketed that way. Maybe it was initially, but it isn’t now at publication day. It is a “women’s humorous fiction”, and that category is spot on. The other was that it was part of a series – and it is, though Amazon doesn’t really mention this. (Goodreads does though.) That said, there was enough here that I didn’t even pick up on this until reading the reviews *after* reading the book myself. So now I’ll need to go back and read those tales, since I thought they were *upcoming* while reading this. In the end, I absolutely stand by the title of this review – this is absolutely one of the funniest books I’ve read in quite some time, and if you need a laugh, I very much recommend picking this one up.
Which Sister Are You? Take this interactive quiz created by the author and find out…
Below the jump, the various “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Am I Allergic To Men by Kristen Bailey”
This week we’re looking at a solid family drama that has some elements of mystery and even a few of suspense – but is completely grounded within the family drama. This week we’re looking at Why She Left by Leah Mercer.
Solid Family Drama With Some Mystery. Reading through the Goodreads reviews (as I do before writing my own), a lot of the more negative reviews (anything less than 4* is considered by Goodreads/ Amazon to be negative, fwiw) tended to center around complaints that this book wasn’t a suspense/ thriller. And yet looking around through the description and other materials available, I find no claims from the publisher that this is a suspense or a thriller. The closest claim is that it is a “suspenseful family drama”, which is 100% accurate. There was an event years ago that caused one daughter to flee, and there are a few different events in the present day that build a decent amount of suspense (for a family drama, which is truly what this is, anyway). Yes, the years-ago event becomes rather obvious rather quickly – *hopefully* Mercer intended that. But there are many more wrinkles here that aren’t so obvious, and even my usually fairly perceptive reading didn’t actually catch some of the bigger reveals until they were actually revealed. Indeed, arguably the one true weakness here I can think of isn’t actually one anyone else has cited – it is never truly established just how bad the situation the returning daughter is fleeing from now actually was. Still, for what this tale *actually* is, and seems to *actually* be being marketed as, this is actually a fairly solid story that will trigger some in a variety of ways but which is a truly solid story for most everyone else. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the various “publisher details” including book description, author bio, and social media links.
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Why She Left by Leah Mercer”
This week we’re looking at the newest entry in a police procedural saga that ultimately deals with some issues that have been in the real-world headlines. This week we’re looking at Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten.
Brutal Killings Ripped From (Somewhat Dated-ish) Headlines. Without going into spoiler-y territory, there are themes here that have been in the headlines and have been massive scandals over the last few decades – and which I believe even bigger scandals lay ahead, particularly in the direction this book ultimately goes.
The murders here are again particularly brutal, though perhaps not quite as straight up creepy as from Book 4, and this time no team member is imperiled – and yet Holten still manages to ramp up the tension almost as if they are.
This is labeled as Book 5, so that alone tells you that it *is* part of a series, and somewhat deep into it at that, but as a police procedural (even a British based one), it is still episodic enough that you can jump into the series with any particular episode, then backfill to see how the relationships amongst the team got to the point you first encountered them. And on that particular front, there are a couple of great reveals in this particular book, one from Jamieson herself and the other from another teammate in the closing paragraphs.
Yet another thrill a minute read that will keep you invested through all of its 400 pages. Very much recommended.
Intriguing Mystery. Explosive Ending. This was my first book from Holten, and thus obviously I hadn’t read the prior three books in this series. And yet this book totally works. Yes, there are references to prior events, but they are explained enough to keep the current story going without overburdening the current story with prior details. If you’ve ever started in the middle of a military technothriller series ala Tom Clancy or Dale Brown – similar feel here.
Overall, the world is interesting in that you get a typical-yet-not detective and an entire cast of well developed characters all working together almost in an ensemble fashion that works so well in so many mediums. Holten shows herself adept at the technique of using the final sentences of a chapter to hook the reader into reading the next, and indeed uses the final chapter of the overall book to similar effect – the reader is left almost breathless in desperate need for the next book.
If you’re open to police procedurals at all, particularly those set in the UK, you’re going to enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you should really give this book a chance – the characters are that strong. Very much recommended.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at Book 2 of a series that can very much be read as standalone (and totally works that way) yet which together with its predecessor forms one of the more courageous romance series I’ve ever come across. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh.
Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:
And Now, Part 2. In the second part of this courageous series of romance books, Leigh goes from MF romance in Book 1 (Forgiven) to MM romance here, a genre she is apparently much more well known in. And given the vitriol for MF romance in so much of the MM world, I expect this book to be received better than the first book was – and at this moment, the early Goodreads reviews are at least trending slightly in that direction.
Here, we get the full-on romance of two characters first introduced in Forgiven – the brothers of both of that book’s leads. And it is again a fairly standard gay/ bi romance. Fairly high degree of angst, lots of issues for both men to work through, sex scenes later in the tale given the inexperience of one of them, etc. If you like MM romance generally, this one will be another solid one for you. If you’re just exploring the genre, this is a good one to try out – and maybe even read Forgiven first, if you’re more comfortable in the MF romance space.
While I don’t see where this series goes from here, if indeed it is to continue, I’m not opposed to coming back to this world. Leigh does a truly solid job of establishing it and allowing her characters to live mostly real lives within it, including the added tag of drama near the end of this one – which can happen to most anyone. Very much recommended.
Below the jump, we get a little over a page from – IIRC – Chapter 1 as an excerpt, followed by the book information provided by the publisher. 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh”
Not An Actual Love Square, But A Solid Romance. I’m a math oriented dude. The imprecision of “love triangle” has always bothered me. For those, assuming both sexes are involved, you need two bi people and a straight person, at minimum. (There *are* possible variations, but a true love triangle would have Person A in love with Person B and Person C – *and* Person B and Person C in love with both Person A *and each other*.) “Love Triangles”, in the common parlance, are actually Love *Angles*, such that two points are connected at a common third point. Similarly, for this Love Square to work, it would really need 2 couples such that each couple is in love with each other *as well as* exactly one person in the other couple. Here, we get two side by side Love Angles such that *three* points are connected at a common *fourth* point.
Math technicalities and English imprecision aside, however, this was actually a solid romance tale of finding oneself and what one really wants that put an interesting spin on the colloquial “Love Triangle” by introducing a *third* man that the common woman falls in love with. And in some fairly direct ways, it actually parallels a lot of what Padma Lakshmi said about her own “love triangle” in her memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate. You’ve got the guy that our female lead – Penny – has an instant connection with. Then you’ve got the guy that actively pursues her and they wind up together almost via fluke. Then you’ve got the guy Penny is introduced to and has a fun time with, but who isn’t interested in long term or commitment generally. And along the way, Penny gets thrust into situations she doesn’t always have complete control of, all while still trying to discover herself after having survived cancer at a fairly early age – mid 20s. The characters are all solid and interesting, and each of the guys makes very strong points about love and what matters. In the end, if you like romance novels at all, you’re probably going to enjoy this one. And if you don’t, give this one a chance – at least it has a few more-interesting-than-normal wrinkles. 🙂 Very much recommended.
Writer’s block still plagues me, but here’s the Goodreads/ BookBub review:
Nuanced Courtroom Thriller. This is an interesting one. One with a main protagonist that… has several rough edges, at least a couple of which come back to bite her. One with a strong commentary about the role of Muslims in British (and by slight extension, Western) society, at many different levels. One with a strong discussion of what it means to be the “other”… in so many different ways. And one with secrets almost literally to the last word. Tremendous book, and very much recommended.
Solid British Police Procedural. This was my second British police procedural in the same month, and this one was a much easier read than the other. The mystery is gripping and compelling – 6 women are found dead after a fire rages through an abandoned hospital on the same night that two other people are stabbed to death in a home. Touching on several issues in the public arena even in America, Hodge manages to deftly tie together several different ideas into a truly fantastic work. Very much recommended.