Friday, August 5, 2016

August Mini-Reviews

It's Mini Review time again!  My streak of good novels continues--it's certainly been a wonderful summer for reading.  A bit o' popular fiction to share with you this time around:

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Ballatine, 2016
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review

In case you've forgotten, I'm a huge Emily Giffin fan, and fully ADORED her last release (The One & Only).  That put her 2016 novel, First Comes Love, near the top of my must-read list this summer.  However, on the whole I have to say that I liked it, but didn't quite reach "love it" status.  Giffin's usual penchant for relateable, well-rounded characters is still intact--I loved the protagonists, Meredith and Josie, and the fact that they were both so perfectly flawed and quirky.  HOW does Giffin make characters that are both unique and yet have at least one trait that you can totally identify with??  It is a gift, for sure.  This novel is absorbing and involves some interesting discussion topics, but I was unable to get 100% on board when Josie's story got a bit too convoluted and far-fetched for me.  I appreciate Giffin's ability to include lots of gray areas and touchy subjects in her writing, but this one became a bit too hard for me to get behind.  I'd love to discuss with anyone else that has read it!  Overall: worth the read, but just not as outstanding as some of her other work.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Viking, 2012
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review

Yeah, take another look at the info above.  An ARC that I received...4 years ago.  OOPS.  Not long after I started the blog, actually, and well before this book's hype flew through the roof.  But even after the good reviews started rolling in, I was a tad skeptical because...it's a romance.  And as I've said so many times before (see: every time I talk about Outlander) I'm not known for loving the romance genre.  However, one of my friends really wanted to see the movie with me, so I figured it was time to finally dive in.
OH LORDY.  THE SADS.  ALL THE SADS.  Please excuse me while I add to the hype, because this book was amazing.  I adored the two protagonists (Lou and Will), and their ever-changing dynamic is what makes this book a home run.  This is not at all a typical romance, but one that will make your wheels turn (it has some interesting moral dilemmas in the mix).  You'll laugh (I love Lou and Will's snappy dialogue), you'll cry, and then you'll do it all again.  The ending is one that I love to hate, and I'm looking forward to checking out the sequel very soon.  Highly recommend!!


Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow, 2015
borrowed from the library

This was the latest pick for my MOMS Club book club, and I was intrigued, because I've seen many Karin Slaughter books on the shelves before but had yet to pick one up myself.  My first warning to you is that the description of this book on Goodreads/Amazon/etc does NOT give an accurate idea of how much brutality is involved in the plot.  I've read my fair share of violent novels (hi, Stephen King groupie over here), but Pretty Girls is shockingly graphic in a way that I did not expect going in.  Alley stabbings, serial killing, snuff porn, we really cover all the bases here.  It took me a while to acclimate to that, but once I did, I found myself involved in a thrilling story.
Pretty Girls is impressive as a mystery, a thriller, and a crime drama.  The plot twists were never predictable for me, and even though the book is quite long, it never loses momentum.  The main character (Claire) is the perfect mix of tough heroine and annoying Stepford wife--easy to root for, but just naive enough to drive you insane once in a while.  This whole novel came together for me, which is impressive, given the crazy number of plot elements that Slaughter weaves into the story.
Definitely recommend this one as well--I see that Slaughter has quite a backlist, so I'm sure I'll be checking out more of her work soon!

What are you reading lately, bookish friends?

6 comments:

  1. I waited a really long time before reading Me Before You also...and also don't like romance...and still loved it! Did you read the sequel? I didn't b/c I kind of wanted to keep the story as is and didn't really see any other place to go with it.

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    1. I just picked up the sequel from the library! I am a little scared that it is going to ruin things though, because I do agree that the first book ends in the right place.

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  2. Ha, ha, you're like me: I have loads of years-old ARCs waiting to be read AND I hate romances.

    But ME BEFORE YOU got so many great reviews, I thought this one must be special. It is. Plus my sister felt insulted because she recommended it, and I called it YA.

    As a handicapped person, I can tell you that Jojo Moyes does successfully relate the frustrations felt by a person trapped in a handicapped body. So, although the story is told mostly by a young woman who takes a job as a caregiver of this handicapped man and although I guess you could say the story ends up being a romance, it is more than that.

    I thought the first 30-or-so pages are a bore. I would have discarded the book after 50 pages if it had stayed that way. But it gets better.

    Only one criticism: Will, the quadriplegic man, is pretty much left to rot for 2 years before Lou comes on the scene. His parents could have come up with things like different wheelchairs and voice recognition software, yet nothing happens until Lou.

    That is not realistic. But it does serve the story well.

    So, while I don't agree with you that this entire book meets the definition of "amazing," I do agree that there's a heck of a lot more going on here than romance.

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    1. Thank you for your perspective as a handicapped person, as I was wondering how others in a position similar to Will's would react to his story. And I do agree about his 2 years before Lou's arrival--given the means that his parents had, I was very surprised that they wouldn't make a greater effort to do some research, be proactive, and improve his quality of life.

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  3. I'm glad you liked Me Before You, even with all the hype, as that can sometimes affect our opinions. I also liked it a lot; I thought it was a different kind of love story, and it was never done before. So sad though like you said.

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    1. Yes, I loved that it was not your normal romance. So much more to it than just boy + girl = love.

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