Someone Else’s Love Story.. a daunting disappointment

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2 of 5 stars

I had a lot of hope for Someone Else’s Love Story because (1) I’ve heard great things about Joshilyn Jackson, and (2) I really liked the short story intro in My Own Miraculous. So HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT is an understatement.

According to the synopsis, Someone Else’s Love Story is about Shandi Pierce being held up in a gas station and falling in insta-love with William, who puts himself between the gunner and her 3-year-old genius son, Natty. William is a genetics genius and he agrees to help Shandi discover who Natty’s father is. This is all true, but the entire first 25% of the book goes back and forth between Shandi’s and William’s thoughts about the hold-up situtaion, the exact actions of the gunner, etc. Although this is a life-changing moment for both of them, it’s extremely irritating because there is absolutely no story development. We get it, both of them have lost things and had a hard time in the past couple of years… I just wanted the story to move on to what actually happens after.

Then it finally did… and blah, ick, gag… The events that unfold are extremely chick-flicky cliche. Shandi is caught in a love triangle between her long-time best friend, Walcott, and her life-saver (but she doesn’t know if she’s unknowingly been in love with Walcott for her entire life.. oh really?). William is caught in his anger at his wife’s accident in which their daughter was killed and his inablity to have faith unlike his wife. And it becomes apparent pretty early that Shandi was raped but has not acknowledged that she was.

This story is all about banging around inside of two indecisive people’s heads who have been lying to themselves (Shandi about her “rape” and William about his wife’s “existence”). And then everything is wrapped up in a cushy ending. Once again… GAG.

There are details about the other characters who were held up in the gas station, about Shandi’s parents, about Walcott’s parents, etc. that are just completely unnecessary and ultimately annoying because their storylines are left incomplete.

I picked up this book because I have a weakness for science geek socially awkward love interests… in the end that’s all this book had going for it. The story was really not a bad idea, but the execution was just not good.

However, I still like Joshilyn Jackson’s writing.. she uses unique phrasing that adds a lot of emotion. So I think I’ll try another of her earlier books and just hope that this one was a fluke.

The Silkworm: A sequel well worth the wait

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5 of 5 stars!! 

Every time I read a J.K. Rowling book I fall more and more in love with her… she’s such a great, concise, and imaginative story teller… She makes you think you know what’s going to happen and then completely surprises you over and over. She gives you details that are always completely relevant to the entire story and not just filler. I’m obsessed. (Confession: I’m not saying this as a Harry Potter lover… because… well, I never actually finished the series. I read the first 2 books in 6th grade and never picked up J.K. again until The Cuckoo’s Calling. Yes.. I’m ashamed. I will redeem myself in the near future. Promise.)

In The Silkworm, Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin, are once again investigating a murder that the police think they have wrapped up in a nice neat little package. Owen Quine, an author with a twisted imagination and a habit of insulting people through making them characters in his books goes missing. Strike finds Quine’s body mutilated in the exact fashion that the main character is murdered in his newest, not yet released book. The police are able to pin the murder on Quine’s wife, but Strike believes she is innocent. Thus begins a search for the killer out of the vast amount of people in the publishing industry who had access to the pre-print version of the book. Since Quine has managed to make many enemies throughout his writing career, there are plenty of people with the motive to kill him.

The plot is extremely fast moving. I read this 500 something page book in a day, if that says anything. It’s never dull. Most of the story focuses on the murder investigation. But some chapters show Strike’s and Robin’s personal lives and provide more character development for the them individually. Strike is trying to get over his ex-fiance, and Robin is trying to help her fiance to understand her love of her job.

This story honestly reminded me of And Then There Were None because it has a classic mystery feel and keeps you wondering until the very last chapter who the killer is.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of J.K. Rowling’s underlying feelings about the publishing industry are expressed through this story, but then again… I can’t really say what her motives are. Just a thought I had while reading, since the plot thickens heavily around corruption with Quine’s agent and publishing company. Sneaky, J.K., very sneaky. But then again, I think she made it pretty passively apparent.

Either way, I truly enjoy the Cormoran Strike books. This one was even better than the first, and I’m interested to see where Strike and Robin’s relationship will end up. Because we all know, J.K. never does what you think she’s going to.

All the Light We Cannot See… a 3 month journey

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3 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Here we have yet another book that EVERYONE except me loved. I’m obviously weird. I had to set this book down several times because I couldn’t get into it. But I always picked it back up, determined to finish… I guess that says something about the writer.

All the Light We Cannot See focuses on the events of World War II in Europe, specifically France. The main character is really “the war”… and there are beautifully written, snapshots that capture the true nature of the war and the emotion of those effected by the war. There are 3 storylines going on throughout: (1) A blind girl, Marie Laure, is forced to leave her hometown with her father, the security warden for The Natural History Museum, who may or may not hold the “Sea of Flames” – the most precious, most cursed, but most powerful stone ever made because the holder is said to be unable to die. (INTRIGUE!!) (2) An orphan Werner, who has a fascination with learning and engineering, specifically re-making radios so that he and his sister can listen to an old man who broadcasts “illegal” educational shows. (2) Sgt von Rumpel, a German and therefore the enemy, who is dying and is using his position to ransack homes while searching for the Sea of Flames.

Throughout the story, Marie Laure grows into a strong woman who supports the underground movement against Germany; Werner is taken to a training school for gifted boys to learn about radios/receivers and is eventually recruited into the war to help locate illegal radio broadcasts that are supporting the German opposition – he is constantly conflicted as to whether he is doing the right thing; and Sgt von Rumpel is truly scary… he searches for any people who have connection to the Sea of Flames, gets information from them, and then disposes of them all while keeping a creepily calm demeanor. 

The way that all of these stories tie together in the end is really great, almost like a true story – the ending actually felt like I was sitting next to a World War II survivor letting them tell their story. So it was very well researched and well written. However, the beginning took me a very long time to get into. I kept reading though because I could tell that this writer is truly talented. Eventually, you start seeing how everything connects and the book is much more readable.

What I disliked was the setup… the book jumps back and forth in time and also jumps from character to character, so it gets confusing. I found myself having to check the dates often. The jumping through time just feels unnecessary and does not add any suspense or glamour to the story. I think it would have been much easier to follow and get into if everything had been in chronological order and only skips from character to character. But that’s just me.

Overall, this is a beautifully written story. I would recommend it… when it starts lagging, just know that it does pick up and the ending is worth it.

New Releases: How to Tell Toledo vs. One Plus One

Hi all!! Sorry I’ve left you all so lonely for so long. I forgot how crazy the moving process is. Things are finally starting to slow down again, so I’m back to reading and reviewing. I finally got internet hook-up today, therefore we begin the long process of catching up on reviews.

First… two books released today that I realized after reading have much of the same features – a quirky girl with a different outlook on life, a nerdy but lovable guy, some family drama, and a little bit of romance – with slightly different plots. I received both of these books through NetGalley in return for an honest review. I’ll give you a little info and let you pick the better summer read for yourself.

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3 of 5 stars

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is the story of Irene and George, two astronomists with completely different outlooks on life. George is a dreamer – far more than you would ever think a scientist would be – and a lover, and I mean sleezy, womanizer sleeps-with-his-students type lover because he’s searching for the girl that he “used to dream about but can’t quite remember”. Irene is an anti-lover and doesn’t believe that love even truly exists. She ran away from her drunk mother to pursue her dream of discovering the make-up of a black hole and therefore creating a black hole to revolutionize science. The only outlet she has in life is lucid dreaming where she can visit with the sober version of her mother.

Sound weird? My first thought about 5 pages in was “WHOA”. Here’s what I expected based on the book summary: a Rosie Project type story with some smart people romance and a different twist because their parents organized the entire thing. What is not mentioned in the book summary is that there is also some pretty deep philosophical details involving gods (somewhat Greek but more modern), destiny, soul twins, and other astrology related things. The story switches between Irene’s mom – Bernice, George’s mom – Sally, Irene, and George’s points-of-view to explain the set-up and key events from George and Irene’s childhoods. There are also lengthy philosophical breakdowns about the stars and destiny. I kept reading through the end of the book still trying to figure out if it is good weird or bad weird… and I finally decided – GOOD weird.

The plot, even with all the philosophical speak, is still pretty fast moving. It starts with Irene and George meeting as adults and then goes back from there to learn the details of their set up. There is a lot of adventure with George – he’s a very spontaneous and carefree man, and a lot of brooding from Irene. The love story is a bit cheesy, but this is still a good quirky read. This book is honestly the weirdest book that I have ever read.. it is unlike any other. Was it lacking in some areas? Yes. Good or bad? At the end of the day, I end up choosing good because the philosophical aspects make you think. I hear that’s good for you!!

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4 of 5 stars

One Plus One is an entirely different type of geeky love story – Ed is a wealthy half-owner of a software company who has a lawsuit looming over his head because accidently gives away insider trading details for his company. Jess is really a large mess – she has two children that she busts her butt for but just can’t make ends meet. Her daughter, Tanzie, has been accepted to attend an elite math school, and the Math Olympiad with a $5000 prize is their only hope of paying he tuition. Not to mention, the problems with her son, Nicky, getting beaten up at school over and over. Thus, ensues a brilliant adventure where Ed’s and Jess’s lives are tangled together and they go from silently tolerating one another to sparking romance in just a few days during one road trip with enough mishaps to last a lifetime.

This is the definition of a romantic comedy – and one that was well written. There is substantial character development. Jess’s life has had so many things go wrong that you can’t help but hope with your whole gut that something goes right for her. Ed also has so much riding on his shoulders – when the story begins, he is merely trying to do something to help someone else in order to forget his own troubles. And Tanzie and Nicky’s voices add perfectly to the story to bring an outside view into Jess and Ed’s world.

The only drawback to this book, is the intensity with Jess and Ed’s romance. It was 0 to 60 in about a day. I guess this is slightly excusable because they were stuck in a car together 24/7.. but it still bothers me. However, not enough to not enjoy the rest of the story. It’s just a great feel-good summer read… all the way down to retaliation against the boys who continue to beat Nicky. It makes you laugh out loud at Tanzie’s quirkiness and cry right along with Jess during her heartbreak at her life’s circumstances. I was 100% invested in all the characters. Oh and I read it in less than a day… I definitely wouldn’t mind a sequel!

Hope this helps with your New Release picks! Happy summer reading! Any other new summer books that I need to know about??