#BookReview: Off The Deep End by Lucinda Berry

Weird Book But Nothing Technically Wrong. Ever read a 5* review that is probably going to read like the reviewer actually rated it 1*? Well, if you haven’t… you’re about to. Because let me be clear up front: There was nothing from a technical/ objective-ish standpoint to hang a star reduction on here. There weren’t any clear technical/ editing mistakes, the story is at least plausible within the context of the world/ situation set up, etc. Thus, with my subtractive system where every book starts at 5* and I have to have objective-ish describable reasons to deduct stars… there simply weren’t any here.

AND YET… this book kinda sucked, y’all. I hate to say it, but it did. I’m down with a slow burn, I’ve defended a LOT of slow burn books over the years and even as recently as this week. What I can’t defend is a book that is just so *boring* and completely disjointed. Someone once said (paraphrasing) that if you show a red phone on Page 23, it better be used somewhere in the finale – and this… doesn’t happen. There *is* a massive twist at the end of the book, but it comes completely out of left field with absolutely zero foreshadowing *at all*. Instead we get all kinds of irrelevant details such as kid sister sleeping in the bed with her parents over fears of the “rampaging kidnapper/ serial killer”, among other completely irrelevant details that are never really explored or shown why they are crucial to the story being told. As at least one other reviewer pointed out, this story could likely have been told much better from different perspectives – maybe the two boys (even the one who dies in the opener – maybe in an “if i stay” type manner?), particularly given the twist at the end.

Overall though, this *is* a five star review, so I’m going to recommend you read this book – if for no other reason than maybe I’m wrong and there was genuinely a great tale in here that I just didn’t pick up on? Let me know in the comments wherever you may find this review, or on social media somewhere if that isn’t possible. Recommended.

This review of Off The Deep End by Lucinda Berry was originally written on November 24, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Antony

For this blog tour we’re looking at a novel that has some truly novel storytelling mechanisms that work well to elevate the (good in its own right) overall story. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Anthony.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Novel Approach To Novel Writing. I *really* like what Anthony did here with the interludes throughout the book, including opening and closing. It becomes very clear (because one of the early ones is “signed’) quite early exactly who this person is, but the way Anthony writes them and where she chooses to place them are indeed quite novel in my experience, and thus this book is recommendable for this feature alone. Then there are the (Minnesota-specific) actual book recommendations spiced throughout the tale, in the form of newsletters the bookstore/ book club sent out periodically. And again: *Actual. Books.*. As in, you can search for them on your preferred site and buy them yourself! Which, again, is novel and recommendable for this feature alone.

Actual story-wise, we spend the first half of the book with many of our characters in shock and trying to prevent what they see as a travesty… and then a bombshell is dropped when the answers they’ve been begging for are finally provided. This bombshell twists the entire book to pivot in a new direction… and gives them all much more depth. Throughout both halves there is quite a bit of humor and heart, and there are a lot of different threads and themes going on here. (So those readers that prefer a more contained/ linear / singular focused tale… I still say give this one a try, but know going in it may not be your thing.) Ultimately the story itself is strong enough here, and the novel aspects of the writing truly take this book over the top in the best ways. 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 “#BlogTour: The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Antony”