I was somewhat apprehensive when I picked up Playing with Fire. While I love Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series (so much love!), I didn't really enjI was somewhat apprehensive when I picked up Playing with Fire. While I love Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series (so much love!), I didn't really enjoy the only standalone Gerritsen book I've read, so I had decided to just stick with her R&I series. However, I couldn't pass up the chance to read and review an early release of Playing With Fire, especially since the subject matter seemed so intriguing. And I have to say that, for the most part, Playing with Fire did not disappoint.
First thing that I want to get off my chest: THIS is how you do alternating timelines! I'm one of those reader who's aggravated with alternating timelines most of the time. I just never find them to be coherent enough or flow easily enough for my liking. I also end up preferring one timeline to the other and feel like I have to rush through the least interesting storyline to get to my favorite timeline. I doubly expected that to happen in Playing with Fire because in books about World War II, I always prefer the historical fiction timeline and find myself utterly bored by the one taking place in the present day. But this didn't happen with this book. Both timelines were equally intriguing, equally heartbreaking, with equally developed characters. I loved learning about Lorenzo and his violin, with Pia and the rest of his family. With Julia, I was intrigued by her family history and the current goings on with her daughter and husband. I also enjoyed the mystery aspect as to how Incendio was really created and, it really bears repeating, so, so heartbroken.
So, if I liked the alternating timelines, the mystery, the characters, the historical aspect of it, why am I giving it 4 stars instead of 5? Well, this is one of those books that really would have benefitted from being slightly longer. Not that what's in Playing with Fire is less than satisfactory, and I hate it when authors pad books for the sake of upping the page count, but Gerritsen created such a fantastic story that I wanted it to continue. And I think there was still plenty of information that could have been included to make this book longer. Julia's background could have been expanded upon (especially with everything that happened with her mother), Lorenzo's time with the other musicians could have also been longer and still would have been intriguing. Again, that's not to say that what's included in this book is insufficient, but I just would've loved more. I also feel like the ending to Julia's storyline was somewhat rushed. If I could only choose one thing to be expanded upon in this book, it would be that.
So, I really, really liked Playing with Fire. The historical aspect of this book was well done (and I look forward to reading the books that Gerritsen mentioned in her historical notes) and all of the characters were well developed. The mystery is mysterious and the book is slightly creepy. Highly recommended!...more
This...was a weird one. The Dead House seemed to be right up my alley with the whole psychological thriller, but it might be a horror aspect of it. AnThis...was a weird one. The Dead House seemed to be right up my alley with the whole psychological thriller, but it might be a horror aspect of it. And while I liked it, for the most part, some of it left me feeling really confused and due to that, really fucking aggravated.
The Good: The Dead House has an extremely eerie premise and it really was genuinely creepy. And I love horror books/movies. The Dead House made me hesitant to pick it up when the sun went down and that's the stuff really great horror is made of! I also really liked Kaitlyn. She was rough and raw and right on the cusp of a total breakdown. Due to this, she was really intriguing. I also really liked Naida. She seemed like such a great friend...maybe. Another thing that I loved about The Dead House that really surprised me was the format. I can be hot or cold when it comes to weird and bizarro formats, but it really worked in The Dead House. I loved reading the different diary entries that Carly and Kaitlyn wrote and I especially loved the medical reports from Dr. Lansing as well as the reports from the cops about everything that took place. Seeing as how I read an ARC of The Dead House, I didn't get the full experience from the video footage, but what I did get seemed to be well-done.
The Not-So-Great: Nothing bothers me more than a lack of answers in a book. Don't start off with a huge mystery, lead me through this whole tunnel of creepy and twisty circumstances to then crap out at the ending. I hate those "oh, the author wanted you to come up with the conclusion and the right ending to it. You get to imagine how it ended". Uhh, no, author. Don't make me do your job for you. You're the writer, I'm the reader. You start off with a whole crapload of questions, how about you give me some goddamn answers? Nothing pisses me off more than an open-ended ending. That's really what brought down The Dead House for me. I just wanted...more. I didn't need to have all of the answers, but some would have been great. Maybe I wouldn't have been half as annoyed had this book been shorter. But after reading 400+ pages, I felt really let down after having absolutely no answers to my questions.
Also, the romance was meh, the male characters as a whole were meh, some of it was predictable, and I really wanted to know more about Dr. Lansing's change from actual doctor to her career change at the end (talk about a big fucking tease).
So, I thought The Dead House was just okay. It was intriguing, creepy, it had really great female characters, and it was a page-turner. However, I think a more concrete ending might have satisfied me enough to rate this book a high four stars. Instead, it gets three with a promise to read more from this author in the future because despite the flaws, she really does do creepy well....more
I absolutely loved Vera Dietz. I mean, I really, really liked the book. But I loved Vera Dietz, the character. And once I love the character, the entiI absolutely loved Vera Dietz. I mean, I really, really liked the book. But I loved Vera Dietz, the character. And once I love the character, the entire book can be an absolute piece of crap and I'd still rate it slightly higher had I not loved the character. Vera's voice just rang completely true and ultimately her journey was what captivated me and made me like this book to bits and pieces.
Here's the thing about Please Ignore Vera Dietz: it's gritty, it's raw, it's real, and it's pretty damn awesome. It's also told in alternating time lines and I'm usually all "ROAR! HATE" about alternating time lines, but Please Ignore Vera Dietz does it extremely well. I realized this after I noticed that I wasn't preferring any one timeline to another. They were both equally real and both equally heartbreaking. Another thing that Please Ignore Vera Dietz does that usually makes me want to throw myself off a balcony is have alternating points of view. But again, for the most part, it works here. I loved hearing Charlie's points of view as well as Vera's dad. It just added more to the overall story. The pagoda's point of view, I found rather pointless and usually just skimmed them. I didn't find them all that funny.
Anyway, I'm just going to say that Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a really great book. It gets four stars instead of five because I've been really stingy with my five stars as of late that only something I plan on re-reading gets that fifth star. But I'm really excited about reading more of A.S. King seeing as how I really loved Ask the Passengers (that one got that elusive fifth star). Highly recommended....more
I have always been interested in fatalistic weather. Not impressively interested like those in What Stands in a Storm who are interested in it and theI have always been interested in fatalistic weather. Not impressively interested like those in What Stands in a Storm who are interested in it and then like study weather and become meteorologists and save lives, but passively interested. Interested in a way where I constantly make sure that things such as tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc., don't come anywhere near me and sometimes track them to make sure they stay far, FAR away. However, What Stands in a Storm is my first non-fiction book about a fatalistic weather event. And let me tell you, this book was simultaneously terrifying and heartbreaking.
Kim Cross made me feel as though I was right there in Tuscaloosa, experiencing the affects of the tornado (the fact that there was a massive thunderstorm and a tornado warning...in CT, while I was reading, certainly helped matters as well). She writes in such a visceral way that I ended up flinching and bursting into tears many times while reading this. Mainly because of all of the people who have lost their lives as well as the family of those people who somehow have to pick up the pieces and move on. But I also cried because of the fact that many people banded together to help those who were left destitute and homeless because of the tornado (and it's not something that I think would happen here in Ye Olde New England). This book just made me feel every single emotion.
I can write way more words to try to pad this review and make it longer. But there would be no point. What Stands in a Storm is a brilliant, fantastically written book that will make you cry many, many, many tears....more
Warning: there are massive amounts of ranting and spoilerage ahead...read at thy own risk...
I totally expected to love Never Always Sometimes, mainlyWarning: there are massive amounts of ranting and spoilerage ahead...read at thy own risk...
I totally expected to love Never Always Sometimes, mainly because I've heard/read great things about Alsaid's Let's Get Lost. Plus, I really liked the whole concept of a Nevers List and of then attempting to do those nevers. Unfortunately for me, Never Always Sometimes was an extremely big bust in terms of well...everything.
Let's start with the pacing. This is one of those times that I wish I could allow myself to dnf a review book (although this one didn't come in an ARC form, but rather an actual hardcover) because I was so bored reading Never Always Sometimes. The beginning of the this book was coma-inducing boring. The middle of this book was improved so that it was merely boring. It stayed that way until the ending where I had to deal with not only it's dullness, but with its trying-to-not-be-cliche-but-failing-miserably-in still-being-cliche ending (more on that in a bit).
The main reason that I found Never Always Sometimes boring was because Dave was such a blah character. This guy needed someone to buy him a personality, ASAP. I thought that this book would improve once we switched to Julia's POV, but it didn't; mainly because, while you have Dave being boring in one corner, you have Julia being a complete fucking asshole in the other. Here's the thing: I hate the whole teacher/student thing with a fiery passion and want that trope to die a painful death. What made it even worse here is that it's not consensual. The teacher isn't giving Julia any type of signal, but she still sets out to seduce him to the point of harassment, so that she can fulfill a checkpoint on some arbitrary list and I'm still supposed to root for her?! No! She was a bitch and should've been arrested for sexual harassment.
Then, you have Dave getting some semblance of a personality and branching out (which is the only time I liked him) by dating Gretchen, whom he then proceeds to dump, but not before getting together and sleeping with Julia. And that would've been fine (well, not fine, but I would've been less annoyed), except that then Dave starts thinking he made the wrong choice. I'm supposed to believe that after years of pining for Julia and then finally getting her, he's going to be all torn up and having second thoughts about Gretchen after knowing her for two weeks (and after cheating on her with Julia)? Uh, nope. I call bull. Oh, and the whole thing with Brett, I saw coming from a mile away.
So, no, I did not like Never Always Sometimes. It was predictable, cliched (you can not have a love triangle in a YA novel and NOT be cliche. Sorry, but that's the rule of the land, according to me), and it wasn't that well-written. It was also the farthest thing from compelling. By skipping it, you won't be missing much. ...more
I don't know what it is about Jennifer McMahon's books that get to me, but they always do. I love picking up her books because I know I'm going to beI don't know what it is about Jennifer McMahon's books that get to me, but they always do. I love picking up her books because I know I'm going to be in for one hell of a creeptastic ride. McMahon's books also introduce me to great characters that are endearing, yet ever-so tragic. And The Night Sister was no exception.
I've said this time and time again, but Oh my God, am I a sucker for a good sister book! I loved reading about Piper and Margot's sweet relationship, but I really, really, really loved reading about Sylvie and Rose's angst-ridden one. It's just so much more real to me when there's such animosity between sisters since that's what I experienced while growing up. While my sisters and I get along now, there was always this tension between us. And I loved that Sylvie and Rose's relationship was riddled with that tension.
More Good: I tend to not like books that have an overabundance of varying points of view as well as ones that flash back and forth. The Night Sister has both of these things. The minute I saw the shifting narrative, I audibly groaned and started panicking thinking that I wasn't going to like this. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the shifting narratives were all highly necessary. Imagine even more surprise when I realized that I didn't dislike any of the timelines or find one more entertaining than the other. There was absolutely no preference because they were all done so well. I loved reading about Sylvie and Rose in the 50s, adored reading about Margot, Amy, and Piper in the late 80s, and was on pins and needles reading about Margot, Jason, and Piper in 2013. And this is the power of the McMahon. She gets you to love things you're you aren't going to love. I loved these characters and was heartbroken in 1955, 1989, and 2013.
Seeing as how this is a McMahon book, you know it's going to be creepy. The Night Sister definitely was. Creepy motels and mysterious rooms that you can't find? Yep, scary. The Night Sister also wasn't just out and out scary, but rather a build-up to scary. And just like angsty sister relationships, I'm a sucker for atmospheric horror/mystery novels.
Overall, I really liked The Night Sister. While it wasn't my favorite Jennifer McMahon novel (that's still Promise Not to Tell, though I will admit I have yet to read The Winter People), it was still really great. And though, this book did have some "Oh My God! Do NOT go in there! WHY are you going in there, you moron!" moments, it actually made it more fun. It's highly recommended (and made me really excited about picking up The Winter People soon)....more
I Was Here made me cry. And I'm one of those readers who tends to rate a book that made me cry higher than I would rate it had I not cried. So, when II Was Here made me cry. And I'm one of those readers who tends to rate a book that made me cry higher than I would rate it had I not cried. So, when I finished I Was Here and realized that I was still bawling my eyes out, I was thinking of rating this book four stars. But upon further reflection, I realized that there were some things in here that bothered me. I decided to stick with the rating I would have given I Was Here had it not made me cry, so it gets three stars.
The Good: Again, this book made me cry. So, that means I felt something for the situation that's going on and that's a good thing. I loved the angsty relationship between Cody and her mom. I also loved Cody's relationship with the Garcia's, particularly Meg's little brother. However, my absolute favorite part of I Was Here were Meg's college roommates. I had the biggest soft spot for sweet, bubbly Alice, really loved Richard, loved Harry, and was endlessly intrigued by Tree. In fact, I wanted to know more about all of them and would have liked to have them featured more.
The Eh: I Was Here sort of exemplified the feeling I have for Forman's books (the ones that I've read which is really just If I Stay and a short story included in My True Love Gave to Me) and that is that they tend to have pacing issues. I felt it while reading If I Stay. I felt it even more while reading I Was Here. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the overabundance of details that don't really add much to the overall plot. Maybe it's just that it feels as though Forman loses steam in the middle. Either way, there always comes one moment where I contemplate putting the book down because it just starts getting boring. And this happened with I Was Here.
The Bad: The romance in I Was Here killed this book for me. I'm of the opinion that you don't mess with your BFF's boyfriend (ex or otherwise) and you also don't mess with a BFF's crush, especially when that BFF slept with that crush and that guy was a huge dick to her afterwards. There's a code. You don't break that code. But Cody didn't break the code, she freaking demolished it. Plus, Ben reminded me of Jess in Gilmore Girls...I hated that douchebag with every fiber of my being. Ben was an asshole. And that whole good girl reforms bad boy thing is so overdone...and is annoying in every situation it pops up in. I've never seen it done in a way that doesn't infuriate me. I Was Here was no exception.
Overall, I thought that I Was Here was just okay. After a bit of a slog, it did end up being a page-turner and it was a massive tearjerker. However, there were still definite pacing issues, and the romance was just so aggravating and cliche. Despite my issues with this book, I still think I'll check out more of Forman's books, mainly because I still have Where She Went on my shelf and because I really did love that short story she wrote in My True Love Gave To Me....more
I'm a total sucker for a good friendship, summer read. So, I was very excited to read Proof of Forever...especially when you add in that this book isI'm a total sucker for a good friendship, summer read. So, I was very excited to read Proof of Forever...especially when you add in that this book is being sort of compared to The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants (and I LOVE that book/series) just with a time-travel aspect to it. And then I opened the first page, and saw that the author had a Sarah Dessen quote in it and so my expectations kind of sky-rocketed after that because just like I love The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, I tend to love Dessen's books. However, upon finishing Proof of Forever, I found myself slightly disappointed in it. It was okay, but nothing much more than that.
The Good: I absolutely loved Joy. She definitely seemed like the sweetest of the bunch and I found her to be such an enigmatic character. In fact, I probably would have liked Proof of Forever slightly more if it had focused mostly on her. I also really loved Zoe and I identified with her feeling of being slightly stuck and feeling as though you're not moving forward. The romance aspect with these two characters was also really sweet, for the most part. Proof of Forever was also really engaging and I didn't have any desire to put it down.
The Not-So-Good: I really couldn't stand Luce or Tali at all. They were such insufferable characters and so prone to the dramatics. Tali was completely self-involved and remained that way through 80 percent of this novel. Luce was entirely way too wishy-washy for my liking. She was up, she was down, she was all-around. Towards the end, I felt bad for her boyfriend, Andrew because this chick had no idea which way was up or what the hell she wanted, but had no problem stringing him along for the ride.
However, the biggest problem I had was that despite the fact that Proof of Forever was touted as a "friendship" book, it focused very little on the friendship between Tali, Luce, Zoe, and Joy. And I'm not all that into comparing two novels, but seeing as how this book does the comparison first, I'll get over it. One of the things that I really loved about The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants was that despite those four girls spending the summer apart and spending so much of the book not being together, I was also highly invested in their friendship and I always felt it. There was also a theme of self-discovery in Sisterhood that happened that summer with the girls through different circumstances. My main issue with Proof of Forever was that while it also had a theme of self-discovery, each of these girls discovered who they were by having a romantic encounter. In TSOTP, while two main characters discovered themselves through romance, only one of those was actually about the romance while the second was about a bigger issue. But with Proof of Forever, the author focused more on the romances that these girls were having as opposed to the connections they were supposed to be making towards each other. So much that when they actually did reconnect, it didn't really ring true to me. After 2 years of not speaking, I'm supposed to believe that these four girls are now going to be the best of friends because they went back in time for five days and didn't really spend all that much time together? Nope, sorry, not really buying it.
So, overall, I thought that the Proof of Forever was just okay. I really would have loved it if it had focused more on the friendship with a bit of romance thrown in as opposed to a romance novel with a bit of friendship within it. I still think it deserves a read and I liked it enough to check out the author's future novels....more