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review 2016-08-22 11:41
Review: Pasadena
Pasadena - Sherri L. Smith Pasadena - Sherri L. Smith

 

I received a copy through Penguin First to Read.

 

I loved this one. This is a gritty novel set in Los Angeles with one of the most unlikeable characters I have come across in a long time. It’s one of the rare cases where in spite of the fact that the main character Jude is an unapologetic bitch, her characterization is so good it works brilliantly and as a reader it didn’t even bother me how rude, bitchy and obnoxious this girl is. Usually I hate characters like this. But I still kind of liked this girl.

 

I can’t really say how well the noir homage was done as it’s not a genre I’m familiar with (I don’t think saying I saw LA Confidential once counts).

 

The novel tells the story of the sudden and unexpected death of Jude’s best friend Maggie. Set during summer in LA you really get a sense of the uncomfortable sticky heat of LA in high summer, with the tense atmosphere of the novel it was really visual and I could picture everything going on so clearly, like watching a TV show or a movie. Jude races back from her vacation at her dad’s house (her parents are divorced and she spends the school year in LA with her mom and mom’s string of less than reputable boyfriends). Her good friend Joey picks her up from the airport and the novel progresses from there.

 

Jude meets with some of Maggie’s other friends – just because they all knew Maggie and were friends with her doesn’t mean any of them like each other much. Jude is still in shock from this news – it’s pegged as suicide – Maggie is found floating face down in a pool with a glamorous swimsuit on. Jude’s convinced it’s murder. She’s flat out cruel to almost every other one of Maggie’s group of friends – Dane, Tally, Hank, Eppie, Edina, Luke. Dane and Tally are a couple as are Hank and Eppie.

 

Luke turns out to have a huge crush which boarders on flatout stalking. (Luke’s stalking/crush thing turns out to be a huge plot point that becomes very helpful in Jude’s investigation into Maggie’s death later on in the novel)/

 

Edina and Jude seem to be competing for the BFF spot, though Jude clearly thinks she’s the only one that counts and Edina is a hanger on wannabe and a poor excuse of a person. Most of these people are pretty awful with the exception of Joey (who was awesome) and Hank and Eppie, who were actually nice. Maggie managed to bring all these people together and make them feel special.

 

Maggie herself was rich and extremely popular and desired. Yet of course, had a cruel drama queen streak of her own. As Jude starts digging to the days before and up to Maggie’s death she stars digging into these people who knew Maggie in ways she didn’t. She begins learning some uncomfortable home truths. She speaks without thinking and doesn’t give a crap about what she’s saying or if it will hurt anyone’s feelings. Throughout it all Joey seems to be the only one who can tolerate Jude’s attitude problems enough to stand by. But even he has his limits. His strength to stick with Jude is pretty damn admirable.

 

Of course Jude has her own drama to deal with, digging into Maggie’s friends and her death brings up some uncomfortable home truths of her own she had long thought was buried and stuff she never really dealt with herself.

 

A really diverse cast of very well put together characters who were well fleshed out and believable even if most of them weren’t particularly likeable. Brilliant sense of place and setting, visually striking. It’s a brilliant mystery and completely unpredictable.

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review 2015-08-07 15:53
Review: Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)
Ruby Red - Kerstin Gier

This was a bit of cover lust for me. The cover is simply gorgeous. 

 

The story...not so much. It was slow, with irritating characters, very confusing, a annoying misogynistic tones. Its a time travel novel, so the overbearing misogynistic tones were true to the period, but it was still annoying.

 

The main character, Gwen, comes from a family with a tie to a secret society of time travels. The next female in line to supposedly receive the gene  and go on secret wonderful time travel adventures is her cousin Charlotte, who has therefore been training her whole life. Gwen's mum keeps her family away from this until unfortunate circumstances make them move to London to life with Charlotte and her family.

 

Gwen is a pretty normal 16 year old. She loves films, and gossips with her BFF Lesley. Gwen sounds more like 12 than 16 and came across to be as immature and annoying. She had a few amusing snarky moments, but I didn't feel anything particularly likable about about this character. As it turns out, Mum lied and Gwen is really the time traveler. So Gwen has a few trips back in time. She's freaked. Naturally.

 

Then she finally comes clean and everyone in the family is in an uproar. She's taken to the secret time travel head quarters where everything gets very confusing. Gwen has a habit of comparing things to movies....if this was a film this would happen. Which got annoying. (Though to be fair, if I found myself in the same situation, my immediate thoughts would be, well it wasn't like this on Dr Who)

 

I didn't have a clue what was going on in this novel. It took so long to get anywhere, by the time things started happening,  I just stopped caring. It felt like it was all over the place. Gwen can't understand why Charlotte, the cousin, is being mean and bitchy. If you'd been preparing for something your whole life and its your cousin who gets the prize, not you, then its completely understandable that Charlotte would be beyond furious. 

 

We're also introduced to Gideon, a very good looking but arrogant boy who is also a time traveler and has been helping with Charlotte's training. He's rude to Gwen and bossy when they go on their time travel excursions. The whole thing seems to revolve around some sort of prophecy featuring different people in time who are named after gemstones and the current society needs their blood to get some special device to reveal a great secret. The previous two time travelers got lost in time and took the device with them but a second one was found. Gwen and Gideon need to get the remaining blood to get the secret from the second device. 

 

That was my understanding of it. There's a rush of action right at the end which leaves a lot of untied threads. And it just sort of...ends. Very very frustrating. Its the first of a trilogy, so I'm guessing answers come in the next books. But I'm not interested enough to find out. Disappointing. 

 

As much as I love my YA, I think I might be too old for this one. 

 

Time Travel Square crossed off for Summer 2015 Bookish Bingo

Primary Color Cover Square crossed off for Story Sprites Round 1

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review 2015-05-23 13:33
Review: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle
The Awakening and The Struggle - L.J. Smith

I've gushed time and time again over how much I loved the first three books of this series. (I found the fourth book kind of unnecessary and even though I've read it as much as the first three I just don't like it as much) I first read them when I was 14 or 15, (many many years ago) and love them and over the years since read them again and again. 

 

Elena Gilbert was just the type of girl I wanted to be - queen of the school popular, with great friends, and lived in an awesome town full of Civil War history. Then in comes sexy mysterious Stefan who Elena becomes entranced with but he's just not returning her interest. Its a complete shock to her system. Stefan's Italian history background is captivating. And of course there is the swoon worthy bad boy Damon. Its all very silly really. And Stefan's somewhat stalkery behavior is of course questionable. Damon is a killer with no conscience and no remorse and not above using vampire powers to get what he wants. This should not be sexy. But it kinda is, even though logically its just wrong. Elena does some insanely stupid things. She can be very selfish and stubborn.

 

I've read series where all these things happen and its driven me up the wall. However, logic does not really apply to reading this series. At least not to me. In spite of the silliness, the friendships, the town itself, the history, the vampires, the magic, the bitchiness of certain characters, the epicness of the romance....I love it as much as grown up as I did a teenager.

 

I will never get tired of reading these books. 

 

Reread Square crossed off for Spring 2015 Bookish Bingo. 

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review 2015-04-02 16:53
Review: Grave Mercy
Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

I snagged a copy from Netgalley when this was available as a 'Read it Now'.

I liked it so much I bought the entire trilogy in paperback before I had even finished the first book.

This is one of those hyped up books that I see enthused over time and time again, and its never really caught my eye. The assassin nun's maybe got my interest, but the historical aspects always seemed a little daunting to me. I got it on ibooks when it was a freebee but never read it. Then saw it on Netgalley and figured what the hell. I'd give it a shot.

And turns out I really liked it. Its a totally different style of book than the high fantasy I usually like. This one focused a lot more on the historical side of things. While it took a while to get my head around the court politics, who was on whose side, who was a traitor, where the plot was actually going...it turned out to be quite absorbing and fascinating.

The barely there romance was also very intriguing as I kept wanting to know where is this going, and had more than a few...JUST KISS ALREADY!!! moments. I loved Ismae's character. She was just incredible. I loved how her character developed throughout and I loved the idea of the Saint of Death and the convent of nuns training to be assassins. Duval was an interesting match for Ismae as I was never quite sure where his loyalties lay. He was another one who's growth throughout the novel bloomed.

The historical side was more absorbing than I thought it would be, quite interesting as well. I loved how it mixed in Isame and her devotion to her Saint and her convent, and how she learned to deal with matters of the heart as well.

Looking forward to the next book in the series.

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review 2014-11-01 17:28
The Stand - Stephen King

I've read this book at least six times, just as good, if not better, every time I read it again.

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