Monday, 17 December 2012

Review: One for the Money - Janet Evanovich

One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)One For The Money by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This is one that people have suggested I read for quite a while, but I never got around to it. It was released as a film this year starring Katherine Heigl, but it must have been a bit of a flop because I hadn't even heard of it. There is a movie tie in version of the book, but I don't know if that's just a cover change or whether it's been updated a bit.

Stephanie Plum is from New Jersey. She's still expected at her parents' house for dinner at 6pm sharp every evening. She's been without a job for 6 months and has run out of things to hock. Her phone has been cut off and the repo guy (who she went to primary school with) is coming for her Mazda Miata in the morning. Her cousin Vinnie is looking for someone to do some filing, so she swallows her pride and goes to check it out. It turns out the filing job is taken but he does need someone to take over the case load of one of his agents who is in the hospital. Vinnie provides bail to those who need it. If they skip bail, he sends someone to bring them in. After she blackmails him with the threat of telling his wife exactly what he likes to do to ducks (!!!), Vinnie agrees to give her a week to bring in a big murder case. Joe Morelli was a cop charged with murder. He also took Stephanie's virginity when she was sixteen and let the world know about it. She might just enjoy bringing him in.

I enjoyed this quite a bit once the story actually got going. There are a lot of characters to introduce and there's also a lot of description of the neighbourhood. It's dated, almost 20 years old and it really shows. Big hair and spandex a plenty. The story itself holds up well though. It's a fairly standard murder mystery with a bumbling heroine who manages to get herself beaten up far more than is healthy, but it made me laugh in places and I finished it in a day as I was keen to see what would happen next. Next time I have a gap in my reading schedule I'll read the next one.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alice Love is 29 and expecting her first child. She's madly in love with her husband, Nick and they're renovating their dream house. Only this was all 10 years ago. Alice fell at her step class and banged her head and has lost the last 10 years. She has no memory of her 3 children and is shocked to discover that she and Nick are headed for divorce. What on earth has happened over the past 10 years to get her to this point? And when she remembers, will she want to go back to life with Nick or will her memories reinforce the choices she can't remember making?

This was a lovely book. It captures really well the realities of life with children and indeed life without children. Alice's journey is believable and quite moving. The asides, in the form of journal and blog, from Elisabeth and Frannie provided moving and amusing counterpoints and really helped flesh out the secondary characters and fill some holes for the reader.

This was a deal of the day on Amazon and was more than worth the 99p purchase. I would recommend it even at full price.

Particularly recommended for those closer to 40 than 30, with a slight warning for those who might find discussion of recurrent miscarriage and infertility upsetting.

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Review: Gravity by Melissa West

Gravity (The Taking, #1)Gravity by Melissa West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review based on an e-galley provided by Entangled Publishing.

First impressions:

I was first taken by the beautiful cover. It's just gorgeous. Then I read the first chapter and knew I had to read the rest. The extract ends with Ari saying, "Everything that just happened is swarming my thoughts at once, but one thought rises above all the others... I'm not sure I can wait until tomorrow night to find out what's going on." That summed up how I felt exactly. The premise of the story really grabbed me from the start and I wanted to see what would happen next. A sci fi, dystopian, young adult novel. And interesting combination!

The story:

Ari Alexander is 17, the daughter of one of the most powerful and respected families, not just in the city of Sydia, but in all of America, and indeed the world. Her father is the Engineer General, and she has trained her whole life to take his place.

Following the last, devastating world war, the Earth was invaded by a race of aliens known as The Ancients. The Ancients offered to terraform the Earth and make it habitable again, but they extracted a price from the human leaders. In order to survive on Earth they required human antibodies; every human, once they reach age 10, become a host for an Ancient who harvests their antibodies in a process known as "the taking". One night, Ari can't find her patch, the seemingly innocuous piece of cloth that renders humans helpless during the taking. Finding herself unable to resist, she opens her eyes, curious about the Ancient who takes from her every night. She is shocked to find her classmate, Jackson Locke. Could it be possible that the Ancients are living among them, masquerading as human?

Jackson promises her answers, but she has to wait. What she discovers causes her to question everything she's ever known. War between the Ancients and humans is looming. Which side will Ari choose? Will she stop the war or help destroy the Ancients and free humans from their perceived slavery?

The verdict:

I loved the first three quarters of the book. It was pacey and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. Ari is a strong character who is faced with a difficult moral dilemma. Gretchen, as her best friend, is less well developed. We know she loves fashion, but don't really get a good sense of who she is. Lawrence, the other member of their trio, is even more duty bound than Ari. I'd have liked to see more of him. Jackson is charismatic and mysterious and it's little wonder that Ari falls for him quite quickly. There is a nice amount of romantic development, but it doesn't overshadow the main story.

The last quarter of the book wasn't as satisfying. The build towards the climax seemed quite rushed and the first person present tense narrative, difficult to pull off at the best of times, got a little messy at points. There were a couple of sentences which could have been more tightly edited, but then I am quite pedantic.

This is the first of a series, not a stand alone novel, so of course the ending leaves a lot of loose ends and lots more room for development. I look forward to finding out about Loge, the Ancients' home world and seeing what exactly Jackson has planned.

It's reminiscent of recent YA offerings, particularly Matched and Divergent and stacks up well against them. At one point I thought it might even be better than Matched, but I found the final quarter of the book somewhat dissatisfying.

Definitely worth a read, even if you're not normally a fan of sci fi.

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