14 January 2017

The Weight of Zero; Karen Fortunati

The Weight of ZeroThe Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not an expert on teen depression, or even adult depression, so I'll take the author's word for her expertise and depiction of Cath's illness. It certainly felt real and was easy to relate to what was going on in Cath's life, including her fears not only of being ill (and the return of the Zero part of being bipolar) but also of what her former friends thought about her now.

My quibble is with her relationship with Michael. It did feel that her starting to come out of her shell with Kristal and the others in her group helped, but at times it was Michael and that relationship that - to me! only to me! YMMV! - read as though it was some magical device that would help "cure" her. While I did buy that those friendships and ties could help her reach some sort of peace with the reality of being bipolar and recognizing that Zero might return but perhaps was survivable, it kinda felt to me as though with Michael in her life, Zero would never return. Which did not feel real or plausible.

ARC provided by publisher.

Word of Mouse; Joe Sutphin

Word of MouseWord of Mouse by Joe Sutphin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute Middle Grade fiction, but something felt a little off to this adult reader. Maybe the message about using mice in experiments didn't quite resonate? or maybe it was the sense that there should be some humor but it wasn't there?

ARC provided by publisher.

Life in a Fishbowl; Len Vlahos

Life in a FishbowlLife in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Jack Tumor and The Truman Showand I've enjoyed Vlahos' writing style, so the three combined? Ok, I'll bite.

What made this a four was that this is appallingly all-too-plausible. Not the auctioning off of the life (although apparently Craigslist and eBay are constantly pulling similar things off their listings), but the way in which the reality tv program twists and distorts "cast" actions to goose ratings. So that particular hell was incredibly well described. That Jared made the decision without consulting his family and was allowed to sign all those contracts without them (or their signatures) didn't feel quite as real, but what do I know? My closest call with reality tv was being told that if I attended a HS graduation part for two students I tacitly gave permission to be filmed and shown on tv (note: I did not attend!). It's Jackie's response to all this, and her relationships with her parents, sister and online friend that really made the book.

Dropping it from a 5 to a 4, however, was some of the subplot (crazy billionaire guy really lost me). But the tumor? Loved the depiction.

ARC provided by publisher.

Caraval; Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My biggest problem with this is that I kept wondering what it would look like as a mini-series: the world of the Caraval would be so cool to actually see. There were minor annoyances (how the different Empires got started never being explained - which isn't important to the story itself, but I did wonder) and that this will be a series, but overall I really liked the story. Not sure I completely bought Scarlett as a heroine, or Tella's decisions, which seemed to be somewhat undermined at the end; equally not sure that the Night Circus comparisons are accurate. But the world created is incredibly vivid and I loved the allusion to Disney's "behind the scenes" reality and how different the Caravel world was from the usual settings.

ARC provided by publisher.

Boy Robot; Simon Curtis

Boy RobotBoy Robot by Simon Curtis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One or two too many stories, something I've noticed with series starters. We meet someone interesting, or start an interesting action, then jump to another and may not get back to that person/event for quite some time. UGH. It's not clever, it's not innovative, it's annoying.

As for the plot, standard dystopia with a delightful homophobic episode tossed in. Readers are almost as in the dark as Isaak, which really doesn't help.

View all my reviews

31 December 2016

Click Here to Start; Denis Markell

Click Here to StartClick Here to Start by Denis Markell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Escape rooms are quite the thing these days, aren't they? So no wonder there's a book that uses that as its main plot device. And it goes a good job of it, overall. The problem is less with the puzzles than with the characters, who exist to serve that part of the plot. The BFFs (Ted and Caleb), the girl who becomes part of their BFFdom (Isobel), the "evil people" all fell a little flat - but the puzzles? Quite nice.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Moth Catcher; Ann Cleeves

The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope #7)The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, Ms. Cleeves, I get it: Vera Stanhope is fat. Can you cut the references to that down to perhaps once a book? Even Rex Stout only referred to Nero's "eight-of-an-acre of yellow pajamas" infrequently.

Beyond that, if you like this series you'll like this entry. It's been interesting watching how Vera interacts with her team versus the public and how she has grown (kind of) as a result. Mystery-wise, the whodunnit isn't obvious except at the end. There are hints, there are clues brushed off as not being important - but once you hear whodidit, it isn't impossible to figure out. Difficult, yes, but not impossible.

A Necessary End; Peter Robinson

A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)A Necessary End by Peter Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Robinson's for a while. Even though this is a series, you can read it totally out of order (which I have been doing) and this is the earliest book I've read yet. Banks' wife is out of town during this episode, his kids are youngish and he's living in the old house; if you read the later books you know how much this all changes. As far as plot and mystery go, it's good... but Banks does get better over time. There's a lot of music in this, and several red herrings - including a near-useless map at the start. My only quibble is that the solution is one of those "magic" ones, with some intuitive leap that readers might not make along with the detective.

And yes, the earlier books are on order for future reading.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies; Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a difficult book to review, as I don't know much about OCD and mental illness. But I do wonder if the ending isn't too pat, too "YA perfect". It's obvious that Norah is supposed to be our window into this illness but... something just doesn't work. Maybe it's the meet-too-cute situation, or the convenience of mom being out of town?

ARC provided by publisher.

You Don't Know My Name; Kristen Orlando

You Don't Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles, #1)You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kind of a cross between the Boy Nobody and Gallagher Girls series. I'm not sure I bought the ending, which seemed a bit rushed and trying too hard to lead to the Big Cliffhanger. Regan's parents, particularly her mother, are stock characters. Regan herself has promise but ultimately there's not enough character development and too much fake teen angst.

ARC provided by publisher.