Sunday, April 16, 2017

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone
Haylen Beck
expected publication date: June 2017
2/5 stars

Driving cross-country to escape an abusive husband, Audra is pulled over in Arizona and arrested for possession of marijuana.  Her children are with her when she is pulled over, but the officer says there were no children.  Audra's life descends into a nightmare as she is accused of killing her children, and can't find anyone who will listen to her side of the story.

Here and Gone starts out strong, with a great premise and a few good early chapters that seemed to lead into a suspenseful tale.  Then, the story starts to be told from several points-of-view, including that of Audra's son, Sean, and that of the arresting Sheriff.  Because of this, the reader knows what is happening with the kids--and why, and how, and where--so that the sense of suspense is lost.  It simply becomes a matter of filling the time with backstories until the conclusion. As a result, I did not find this novel gripping, thrilling, or even satisfying.  What began with great promise became a chore to finish.

Monday, April 10, 2017

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying
Karen M. McManus
anticipated publication date: May 2017
3/5 stars

In this YA mystery, five high school students attend afternoon detention, but only four leave alive. The police become convinced that it is murder and that one--or all--of the four are guilty.

One of Us Is Lying switches between the point of view of all four major characters, which was nicely done to keep the plot moving.  Sadly their voices are not well defined, due in part to the four being stereotyped YA characters, and without the heading it would often be hard to tell them apart.    As for the mystery, it was relatively easy to solve, but McManus contrived to keep the story flowing and interesting enough to make for an enjoyable read all the way to the end.  It's certainly not an outstanding novel, but it is entertaining and should be well received by the intended audience.

Friday, April 7, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
Sandhya Menon
projected publication date: May 2017
3/5 stars

Dimple Shah, high school graduate, has no desire to fill her future with marriage and kids, but instead is looking forward to Stanford and a life of coding--her passion--afterward.  She resists her parents traditional Indian values and just wants to live life her way.  Rishi Patel is just the opposite.  He loves the traditions of his family, and he does every thing he can to please his parents: including going to MIT for engineering when what he truly wants is to be an artist.  They are set up by their parents to meet at a six week coding conference with hopes that it could become serious in the future.  What will happen when the traditional and nontraditional meet?

When Dimple Met Rishi is a standard YA romance with Indian overtones, and that pretty much sums it up.  It deals with typical YA subjects: parents, bullying, trying to achieve, making decisions for the future, romantic ups and downs.  It switches back and forth nicely between Dimple's perspective and Rishi's, but without a noticeable change in voice, which was a disappointment.  Overall, it lacks charm and is not a compelling read.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
4/5 stars

Le Cirque des RĂªves is a circus that arrives unannounced and is only open at night.  It is a magnificent, enchanted place, and with good reason.  It is the venue for a competition between two young magicians, Celia and Marco.

I struggled with this book for the first half.  After Morgenstern used "sheer" as an adjective three times in six pages, I nearly gave up.  There was no real world building, and it wasn't easy to decide if she was placing her story in Victorian England or an alternate universe, due to her characters acting in distinctly non-Victorian ways, such as kissing in public.

About half way through, though, when Marco and Celia met, the novel began to gel.  The writing became less stilted, the jumps back and forward in time flowed better, and the story became more interesting.  As it progressed toward the conclusion, it became hard to put down.

The bottom line is, if the reader can slog through the first 200 pages or so, the Night Circus becomes an enjoyable and rewarding read.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Happy April Fool's Day

March Wrap Up

March Wrap-Up

A surfeit of Bollywood explains my low numbers this month.

Books Read:
The Celebrity at Home (1904) by Violet Hunt   4/5 stars  (my review here)

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor    4/5 stars (my review here)

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylen    3/5 stars (my review here)

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller  3/5 stars (my review here)

Final Girls by Riley Sager    4/5 stars (my review here)

Audio Books Completed:
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield    3/5 stars
This is an enjoyable modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice that bogs down toward the end, giving it a weaker conclusion than expected.

The Jupiter Myth by Lindsey Davis    4/5 stars
Still in Britain with his family, Falco comes across a dead man he recognizes from his last case, and finds himself involved in the burgeoning British crime racket.  As with most of the Falco mysteries, it is engrossing, humorous, and good reading from beginning to end.

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder    5/5 stars  (my review here)
This reread was the best book of the month.

Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler   3/5 stars
This is the fourth in the Bryant and May series, and it wasn't particularly impressive due to a mystery that wasn't convincing.  While I really like the characters of Bryant and May, I'm not sure if I'll continue with this series.

Did Not Finish:
A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities by J.C. McKeown (my review here)