Welcome To The Next Verse, Same As The First. Looking back over my review of The Sorority Murders, book 1 of this series, and having read literally 247 books in the 354 days since reading it… much of what I said about the first book could well be said here as well. Specifically, this is also a “solid mystery that could have used better pacing” and it is also “an interesting and compelling mystery that will keep you guessing until it wants to reveal it secrets – and then transitions into a bit more of an action/ suspense tale to finish up the case”. The body count is seemingly a touch lower here, and the innovative use of podcasting is gone, but the overall solid mystery and, yes, perhaps bloat as well, absolutely remain. For a more average reader who perhaps will read only a *few* books between entries in the series, it is likely going to be an overall better experience, but there is absolutely enough here that even if you don’t remember the details of the first book, you’re not going to be lost following the actions here. As it seems to conclude the threads left dangling in the first book and doesn’t really leave many, if any, of its own, this could well serve as either a series finale or as a mechanism to allow the series to proceed without too many entanglements to prior books – and thus it will be interesting to see if and/ or how Brennan chooses to move forward here. Very much recommended.
Needs More Showing And Less Telling. This is almost “Novel Writing 101” these days, but a classic and oft repeated bit of advice for new writers is that they should *show* the actions of their characters rather than *tell* the readers about it. Here, Grisham – a normally masterful storyteller and legend in the business – somehow manages to miss that, to the detriment of the overall tale here. The tale itself, a multi-generational saga tracing two families through 60 or so years of Coastal Mississippi history, is actually quite good. I was 15% into the tale before I even realized it, and not much had happened at that point. The back quarter to third or so could *really* have been quite legendary in its own right with more showing and less telling, but even in this format it was still a compelling tale. The ending is a bit abrupt and perhaps too open-ended for some readers, but other than the abruptness I thought it actually worked reasonably well. But getting there, across nearly 500 pages that other readers have compared to investigative nonfiction rather than an legal fictional thriller, can in fact be a bit of a slog. Still, other than the “show don’t tell” aspect, there really isn’t anything here to actually say “this is particularly bad” about. Thus, only the single star reduction. Still, this really is a great tale for those who can bear with it, and for that reason it is very much recommended.
The More You Think You See, The Easier It Will Be To Fool You. For the first time since I began reading McKenzie’s books (with 2018’s The Good Liar) at minimum, here McKenzie uses her former profession as a lawyer to craft a women’s fiction tale that almost rivals the legends of legal fiction such as John Grisham. The prologue pulls you in, the alternating timelines build the mystery, and while the pacing gets slow between the prologue and say the 3/4 mark or so, it is always with a tinge of menace right around the corner. And then that final 10-15% or so, where the title of this review *really* kicks in. Almost until the last word, McKenzie begins flipping everything you think you know around so much it begins to look like a Rubik’s cube master’s speed run. Quite an interesting tale, and very much recommended.
For this entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a grounded yet funny fake marriage romance… during a traditional Indian wedding week! For this blog tour entry, we’re looking at The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff.
Solid Second Chance Romance. This is one of those second chance / forced proximity / fake dating types of romance tales, all combined during a five day traditional Indian wedding celebration. The angst between the two leads is palpable, and their own individual motivations are solidly grounded. The Indian family interventions – and ensuing irritating (for the characters) hilarity (for the readers) hijinx – are well done, and Shroff does well to explain the various ceremonies reasonably well in-story so that those not familiar with them can follow along and not get lost in the story, yet not so much that it becomes an academic treatise on each ceremony. Overall a fun, funny, and short-ish (220 ish page) romance that gives a solid break from reality for many, and really… isn’t that most of what we expect a book to do? Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff”
Solid Examination More Memoir Than Treatise. I was actually going to 4* this one until I went back and re-read the description, which did in fact hint at this being more memoir than treatise – which was my only real reason for docking the star. I had thought, reading it well after actually picking it up, that I was getting more treatise with just a smattering of memoir.
That noted, Katzberg does a remarkable job of showing the problems he notes as only an insider can, and sets the stage for further exploration – perhaps, as he so often notes, from someone more scholarly inclined – of the exact issues, their exact causes and histories, and maybe some examination of potential solutions, even including Katzberg’s own. Ultimately more Failure Is Not An Option (Gene Kranz’s remarkable memoir of his time as a Flight Director during the Apollo era) than Rise Of the Warrior Cop (Radley Balko’s complete record of policing in America and in particular its militarization of the last 50 years or so), this is truly a spectacular effort, well written with concise points, solid anecdotes, and an appropriate smattering of humor. Very much recommended.