Usually when a book doesn't work for me (and frequently when it does), there are problems I can point to—thin characters, bad prose, dull language, plot issues, etc. I don't particularly enjoy talking about those, but they're easy enough to write about. I hate talking about books that left me cold and disinterested despite being incredibly well-written.
The publisher's blurb reads:
Recovering alcoholic, lover of secrets, and quickly approaching middle-age, [Hal] Scott discovered his best friend dead in his downtown Dallas apartment. And all fingers point to Scott as the murderer.
There is a conspiracy under way, and it is tied to a gubernatorial campaign, illicit photographs, and a video that will undermine the election. And more than likely get Hal Scott killed.
The only one Scott can turn to is "Lemon" - the self-proclaimed bastard son of Lee Harvey Oswald. Lemon's mother owns Conspiracy Books, just blocks away from the old Texas School Book Depository, and she used to dance at the Carousel Club, owned by the notorious Jack Ruby. The FBI, the CIA, and the John Birch Society all want what Lemon has discovered in her mouldering attic. What he found is bigger than them all, and there will be a price to pay for it exposure.
Bank teller Hal Scott seems like an unlikely protagonist in a story of murder, blackmail, and conspiracy theories. Scratch that, he is an unlikely protagonist—I don't understand why so many characters are drawn to him, rely on him, open up to him, or (the most unlikely) find him to be a threat. But they do. So, you roll with it as he investigates the suicide/murder of a friend and stumbles on to the rest. The resolutions to all the storylines feel incredibly appropriate and fitting—yet I found at least two of them dissatisfying.
Skip this paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. One of the reasons I don't see why anyone in Scott's life would rely on him is that the reader can't. He's the worst kind of unreliable narrator—I trust his narration so little that I honestly doubt everything he said. There's not one word in the blurb above that I can be sure actually ever happened (obviously, I'm speaking in terms of the novel itself, I'm aware that it's fiction).
I didn't realize when I read the blurb is that Oswald's son's important discovery would've been tied to what made his father infamous. That's on me. I don't know if I've ever been interested in any use of the JFK assassination in fiction—and Miller devoting so much of the novel to it was a major turn-off for me.
I think contemporary noir relies too much on vulgarity, I don't want to open that can of worms right now, though. I think Miller serves as a prime example of this, and too often comes across as unnecessarily crass. It's entirely and clearly purposeful. Many writers fall into it out of laziness, I don't think that's the case here. I just think it's wasted effort.
The depictions of addiction—its pull, its effect on the choices (both while using and while clean and sober), the destruction it leaves behind—are the highlight and saving grace of this book. They're powerful, heart-wrenching, and beautiful (in their own way). There's an account of suicide that's so well-written I had to stop reading and simply soak in it for a while after I finished it.
This book comes across as being precisely what the author intended—no mean feat. There's not a wasted word, not a sentence that doesn't seem painstakingly crafted. While I can't recommend this novel, any book that comes across that way isn't going to get panned by me, either.
There's a pretty clear theme to my observations—this was not a book written for me. I'm cool with that. It describes most books published, most of which are probably not as well written. There are plenty of people who will feel differently—and should. I hope this book finds its way to their hands.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from the author via Lori @ TNBBC Publicity in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this, I do appreciate the opportunity (despite what it may read like).
|For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle
A fantastic exploration of hate and revenge told from a variety of perspectives. From betrayed exes and disgruntled employees to vampires and fairy tale characters not satisfied with The End.
This collection includes my drabbles, "A Giant's Revenge", "Bluebeard's Bloody Test", "Guess My Name", "Fate of an Evil Queen", and "One Night in the Lumberjack Camp".
Some of my personal favorites in this anthology were Peter Foote's "Crushed Heart", Kimberly Rei's "The Last Dance", and Maura Yzmore's "The Weave" among others. It was very difficult to narrow down. There were so many great twists, clever word plays, and wonderful descriptions.
Good variety of stories. Some were gruesome, some were humorous, some were beautiful, and some were downright twisted.
These bite-sized stories are perfect for fitting a little reading time in to a busy day and taking small journeys into the darker side of life.
I walked into this series already knowing I would love it. Nina’s ability to create a character with richness and realness, build them a world you could live in, and make it all feel important to you — it really is a gift.
Having made the rookie error of reading book three in this series first, I had a good idea about how some things were going to end up — but I loved getting there.
What I loved:
First, I loved learning more about the town of Hope Lake. Seriously, I wanna go there, maybe move there. (Ok, not move there, I don’t do snow, lol!) Kinda like the fans in the football stadium are sometimes called the “12th man” at a game… supporting their team and influencing the process, I feel like this town is another character in the story. There are some things that happen in the story ONLY because they’re in a town like Hope Lake.
I loved the families and friends of the main characters. They all contributed so much to the entire feel of the story. The scenes with Emma and the other two parts of their “friendship quartet” were really great, and I loved seeing how close they all still were, even with the rift between Emma and Cooper. The elderly ladies group cracked me up and made me cheer.
I loooooved every time Cooper called Emma “Emmanuelle”, even though it drove her nuts. I loved that even though he made her crazy now (for any number of valid reasons), she still allowed herself to remember some of their happier times. She didn’t shut herself off from those memories. I loved Cooper’s steadfast belief in the town, and his interactions with the residents during his campaign. Even when he wasn’t 100% sure of himself, his genuine dedication to them never wavered.
As far as the conflict with these two — this mashup of “second chance romance”/”friends to lovers”/”enemies to lovers” tropes — I was worried that it would get to me, but it didn’t. At each point I could see something happening that, in other stories would get dragged out too long, or handled badly, but this author just nailed it! Yes, I cried when things got mucked up, and that sucked cause I don’t like to cry, but I didn’t spend page after page feeling gutted and horrible about the situations that were happening. I SO appreciated that! Then — when it was time for the happy — I was ALL ABOUT THE HAPPY!!
What I didn’t love:
This is the second time that I feel like the leading lady “got off easier” in the responsible for the pair’s conflict. Yes, Cooper broke her heart… and yes, when you’re young, you don’t always handle that in the best ways. But there were circumstances in both pivotal moments of their younger years that *could* have been handled differently — on both of their parts — and I feel like Emma blamed Cooper for all of it, and he just took on all of it. She could have done things differently, too. Having said that — everything was written realistically — I can easily see exactly those situations happening, and them going exactly as they were written.
Of course I loved this book. I was thrilled with my HEA, and I can’t wait to get to the next in the series.
I Hate, Hate, Hate This Time of Day, is a book about an elephant that does not like going to bed. Know any children that are like that. I am sure you do. We all have either gone through it or done it ourselves.
Well, this book focuses on that time of day. This is a good bedtime story. It creates a routine for Edgar with his mom. Though Edgar seems to think that playing and having fun is best. Though can you make it fun to get ready to go to bed.
The author does this quite well. I love the pictures. It easy to read. I love Edgar's response each time his more asks. Children just love to play and have fun. Maybe this book will help with bedtime.