Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Dare MeDare Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had such high expectations for this novel since so many people have said this is Megan Abbott's best novel. So, perhaps I went in with too high of expectations. It's definitely good. And definitely a good example of Megan Abbott's ability to bring young adults to life on the page. But, I'm not sure I'd say it was the best of her novels that I've read (which is only 3).

The book revolves around the world of high school cheerleading and part of my issue with the book is that it didn't ring true to me in terms of cheerleading. I also didn't think it did as good a job of capturing the 'voice' of the teenager as some of the other books of hers that I've read. Some of the language felt very off to me.

My biggest issue was with the plot was that it ultimately didn't feel realistic. The twists weren't very twisty. The weaving of the story didn't feel effective. I just didn't love it.

If you're a Megan Abbott fan, definitely read this one since it's one that is always mentioned in combination with her name. But, I think that You Will Know Me is a much better book overall.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Wolf RoadThe Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I kept hearing great things about this novel and wow ... the great reviews were right! This is such a good book! Pretty unlike anything I've read before and so fascinating!

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and the resulting world is very wild west-like. The story revolves around a woman who was raised by a man she encountered in the world who ultimately raised her as his own and taught her how to survive ... and survive well. When she finds out something about this man and decides to escape from him and try to find her own parents who she hasn't seen since she was a child. That decision begins a journey that is unpredictable and interesting. Dark and wild, this story is so fantastic. The cat and mouse game that begins between Elka and the man who raised her is such crazy journey. The entire story just grabbed me and didn't let go until the last moment. The momentum of the story combined with the details about the brutal world in which this book takes place just made this such a fantastic read! This is really a story of survival and redemption. One that is unputdownable - not a word but it's the best way to describe this book. I highly recommend this gritty novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat while also giving you so much to think about!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a great psychological suspense novel! I'm not a huge suspense reader but this may be among one of the best I've read. The stories exploration of memory is simply fascinating. The interplay between the characters gives this novel something really special. The story being 'told' by the therapist working with the main character (Jenny) and her family was an interesting and strong choice. I think it made the overall effectiveness of this novel much better.

The story revolves around a rape and how the victim is given medication to lost all memories of that experience. The novel explores how that medication didn't actually remove the memories and the story. The therapist works with the family and the victim to make sense of things.

But the novel is so much more than just that and there are a number of surprises. This definitely is a psychological suspense novel ... but so much more. I highly recommend it and don't want to say much more so you don't get the story spoiled for you. This one is best read with little information.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Sex ObjectSex Object by Jessica Valenti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm really struggling with rating this one - I wanted to love it and give it 5 stars. And yet, it didn't quite meet my expectations so I'm giving the entire thing a 3 star but some of the content deserves something closer to 5 stars.

Jessica Valenti put to words a great deal of the things that women in general can relate to and have frankly experienced. She spoke to me in so many ways. She doesn't downplay the crude and disgusting experiences that we experience as women every day. She tells the truth. She puts words to the experiences we've all had. It isn't always easy to read her very direct and focused exploration of sexism and misogyny. For that alone, this book needs to be read. Despite how uncomfortable it might be. Despite how hard to read it is.

The thing that didn't work as well for me was that some of the content didn't work for me. It fell flat in a way. I just didn't connect to it in the way I did other content. Each of the essays didn't seem to add up into one cohesive book for me. But, that doesn't make the impact of the impactful essays go away. It just means the essays individually were more impactful to me but the entirety of the work didn't work quite as well for me.

However, I DEFINITELY recommend this and hope you will read it despite it's faults. I think it gives the reader a critical look at something we all need to better understand.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is definitely a twisty, turny novel. If you like that sort of thing, this is definitely the book for you. It keeps you guessing throughout - giving you one thing, then taking away another, and so on. It's a quick read, one that I finished in a day. That is definitely due to the superb pacing and the twisty turny-ness. Although I enjoyed the read, there were several flaws that stuck out and made it stay at 3 stars. The story started off great but it did deteriorate a bit as we get closer to the end. It didn't have the same punch at the end as one would expect given the earlier success. The character development wasn't as good as it could have been particularly for certain characters such as Marco. The story ultimately ended up being a bit forgettable. I read it weeks ago but I barely remember anything about it. In fact, I had to go read a synopsis to remind myself. I just think there are better novels in this genre who offer a total solution to the twisty, turny thing! But, if you're a fan of this sort of thing, this one is worth checking out!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Difficult WomenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm such a fan of Roxane Gay. She writes like no one else. This short story collection is searing, beautiful, terrifying and frankly brilliant. You should know up front that this is a very difficult collection to read - the need for trigger warnings abounds. Almost every story explores a woman's life in searing detail and unflinching honesty. The women in this collection are shown in raw and real ways that you will feel in ways that make you uncomfortable and break your heart at all the same time.

Although not an easy read emotionally, it's worth every single moment of reading time. It's a tough read and not for everyone. I think my favorite story is the first which centers around two children who were abducted and held captive during which they were sexually abused. It tells the story of how that experience affects them for the years to come. Heartbreaking and haunting. I'd say that probably does a good job of describing much of this collection.

This collection isn't for everyone ... it's one that will not work for a lot of readers. So beware if you have delicate sensibilities. This may not be for you. However, if you can tolerate the content ... it's such a worthwhile read. It's beautifully written and so complex. I highly recommend it!

NOTE: Received a copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

Review: Wrecking Ball by P. Dangelico

Wrecking Ball (Hard To Love #1)Wrecking Ball by P. Dangelico
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this novel! What a great read! I'm a sucker for the beauty and the beast story line and this is a really fun take on it. Cam was such an interesting heroine - very sassy with a strong personality and interesting voice. It was wonderful to see such a strong woman heroine in a romance. They aren't as common as I'd like, honestly. And Calvin (the hero) really grew on me over time. He is certainly a challenging character although you grow to understand exactly why as time goes on. The story unfolds a little slowly but I was never bored. In fact, I was fully engaged the whole time. The relationship between Cam and Calvin really grew over time which I think was fantastic ... it wasn't just a love at first sight sort of story line. It took awhile to build their relationship. I loved the addition of the nephew and how he was so integral to the development of their relationship. I loved Cam's bestie and I really hope she gets her own book one day! All in all, this was a really enjoyable romance read!

NOTE: received a digital galley of this book from the publisher for an honest review.