Posted in Lists

Thursday Musings: The DNF Graveyard

 

I’ve had a really great streak going lately – the last several books I have read have all been great. I’ve really been on quite a roll.

Which got me thinking about books that I didn’t mesh with – specifically ones that I wasn’t able to finish. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make them “bad,” they just weren’t for me. Usually, if I only get a couple chapters into a book and realize it’s not for me, I don’t post a review. I don’t feel I can truly review a book having only read maybe two or three chapters.

So for the first time, I’m admitting which books I couldn’t finish – at least the first time I picked them up (See more on that below).

  1. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin: After hearing all the hype about the TV series, I was really curious about the books, because that’s how I think. But I couldn’t get more than 100 pages in. Even though I knew it was a fantasy/epic/drama, it was just SO MUCH of all of that. I couldn’t stomach it, I guess for the same reasons I don’t like soap operas. Oh well.
  2. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff: I have always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials, and have even visited Salem, Mass. But I couldn’t get into this book, which blended reality and legend and lots and lots of small details. I couldn’t follow it at all.
  3. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell: I got about halfway through this book before letting it just drift off and finally putting it away. I just couldn’t really sympathize with others the characters here. But maybe that’s because they were just so different from me. Or the fact that I never liked “Sex and the City.” *shrugs*
  4. The Girl with the Dragin Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: Ok, so the first time I picked this book up in an airport bookstore, I let the Swedish names trip me up. I couldn’t focus on the Tory because I was distract d by the hard to pronounce names and places. But then, maybe 2 years or so later, I decided to give it another try. And I DEVOURED the entire series. I absolutely loved it. Which goes to show you: never give up on a book totally. You may change your mind.

What books have you never been able to finish? Or do you think I should give one of these another chance? Let me know!

Posted in For Fun

Exciting New Releases Just in Time for Summer

It seems like there’s been a bunch of great new releases this week – and look at that, just in time for your summer vacation! (I typically pack four or five books for a vacay)

These are books I haven’t read, but hope to read and review in the near future. Let me know what new releases you’re happy to see!

Here’s the two that caught my eye:

 

Block 46
by Johana Gustawsson, Maxim Jakubowski (Translation)

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.


Grit by Gillian French

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they’d realize there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make—all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.

Posted in Reviews

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters: A NovelDead Letters: A Novel by Caite Dolan-Leach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would put this book at right around 3.5 stars. It’s a intense story which kept me reading, but much like “The Good Daughter,” “Dead Letters” had some flaws.

But overall, I did like this book, and I enjoyed guessing to see if I could figure it out (I didn’t). It kept me plenty entertained, for sure.

The story revolves around Ava Antipova, who comes from an incredibly dysfunctional family of alcoholics (including her father who left the family and started again and her mother who was diagnosed with Lewey Body Dementia and is barely able to grasp reality at times), who own a vineyard in upstate New York. She has been in Paris for the past 20 months when she gets word that her estranged twin, Zelda, has died in a barn fire. When she arrives home, not only does it come out that the fire is being labeled as “suspicious,” but her sister may have faked her death. She must follow clues Zelda left for her to find out whether her sister is dead or alive, and why she had to resort to such a drastic measure.

Some reviewers have said it’s more of a “family drama” than a mystery/thriller, so they felt let down or mislead. While this novel really is a family drama on a basic level, there is a mystery right at its core – is Zelda alive or dead? – that I think pushes it over the edge into mystery/thriller territory. I was hooked on trying to figure in out, and the author does a great job of keeping up the suspense. I flipped my opinion with each passing chapter: “No she’s definitely dead….No way, she’s alive!…..Are you kidding me? She’s dead!”

I also loved that it was set in Watkins Glen! I live about 40 minutes away, and love visiting there – and the author really gave an accurate depiction of the region, IMO.

My main issues with the book were that I really didn’t like any of the Antipovas. Like, I actively hated each of them at some point. In the book, Ava admits that all four members of the family are alcoholics, but while she can acknowledge that, she doesn’t do anything about it, so the novel is essentially like watching an alcoholic friend destroy themselves slowly while they refuse to get help. It was frustrating. For girls that seemed to have so much potential, both sisters were completely unlivable in their own ways, and I found myself rooting for the whole damn vineyard to burn down; it was probably what was best for all of them.

Also, the ending sucked. It really did. Without spoiling it, it raised more questions than answers. While the Zelda puzzle is solved, not much else is. I actually had to reread the last chapter because I came up with a new question and thought I missed something.

Basically, if you like reading a good mystery, this one is good. You’ll enjoy trying to figure it out. But if you are looking for character development or redeeming endings, they’re not here.

Moderately recommended.

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Posted in Reviews

The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

The Good DaughterThe Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I want to start off by saying that I liked this book. I’m glad I stuck with it, didn’t listen to the negative reviews. But I understand where they come from.

First things first: one of the main storylines involves a violent sexual assault. Readers should be aware.

The story is good and has potential, lots of it: Dahlia is a woman who has come back to her hometown (or at least the place she lived the longest with her eccentric mother) to care for said mother and finally hear the truth about her past. Then, Dahlia stumbles upon a woman, badly beaten, in the woods. And her mother begins acting stranger than normal. All of it is connected, if Dahlia can only figure out how.

The issue with the story is that it’s like an airplane that doesn’t quite take off. Every time the story gets going, any time there’s a big reveal, the author drops it and move onto another thread. Or starts a new chapter from a different perspective in a completely different place. Its hard to stay excited with that happening.

Also, it’s hard to connect with the characters. They’re so “eccentric” that they’re aloof, really. I couldn’t get a good read on them or their motivations. Like how Dahlia just accepts that she’ll never be more than an under-the-table hotel maid. Just like that. It’s hard to understand.

But the story did keep my interest. You can tell everything’s connected somehow, and I did want to find out. I just didn’t feel desperate to know, like with other mysteries.

I think this book is really miscast as a thriller, when it’s more a drama. Maybe knowing some of that going in, people would understand it better. I might have had less of a “thriller” expectation, and understood that it would be slower paced.

I would say if you have the time and patience to read a good family drama, this would be a good book. It’s going to take a little bit to get into it. But it will turn out enjoyable if you stick with it. Trust me.

If you’re looking for a nice, tight thriller, skip it.

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