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 Winter People: Suspense-LESS

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2 of 5 stars

Bottom line: This book had a whole lotta hype for not a whole lotta reason.

The Winter People actually had a great creepy start that really captured my attention. So from the beginning, you are given the impression that there will be chilling ghostly happenings wrapped up in a suspenseful package. But then there isn’t.

So let the book bashing commence…

What happens is this (no spoilers, I promise): in the present day Ruthie’s mom goes missing… in 1908 Sara’s daughter dies and becomes one of the “winter people”… and a random guy named Gary stumbles upon the missing link to the story. The story is about figuring out what happened to Ruthie’s mom, what happened to Sara/Gertie, and what happened to Gary in conjuntion. The entire book is a wild goose chase of putting clues together. I really didn’t get any of the suspense that I wanted, and it mostly felt like Scooby Doo. Really.. Scooby Doo.

The chapters switched back and forth between the present and 1908, which is fine – I’ve read many books written this way and they were great! But McMahon repeats exact elements of the story when going back and forth and creates a very strong sense of deja vu. And you end up being confused if you read it already or if you just think that you read it already. Not okay.

Also, the sideplot with Gary and his wife Katherine was completely unnecessary and distracting. I believe the story would have been much better with further development of the main characters and elimination of Gary and Katherine. Plus, their story was left hanging at the end for no good reason.

This was the first time I have read a book by Jennifer McMahon, and I honestly disliked this book so much that I probably won’t read McMahon again. The story was too cookie cutter for me.. with no intrigue, no exceptional plot, and no major character development

A Natural History of Dragons: Just a little tiny way bit overhyped

My ability to make smart book decisions this month is really suffering. Both books I have read so far, including A Natural History of Dragons, I chose because of reviews from people that I follow who liked them. Something must be wrong with me. Or maybe I’m just figuring out the other readers that I know I have similar tastes with. Either way.. on to the review:

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2 of 5 stars

A Natural History of Dragons is Isabella Camherst’s story of trying to fulfill her dream of studying dragons in a Victorian-type era where women are expected to do socially acceptable woman things like host parties, gossip, wear frilly dresses, etc.. you get the picture. Studying anything scholarly is completely unacceptable for a woman, and from a young age Isabella steals books from her father’s library as her guilty pleasure. She finds ways to secretly study dragons, creates excuses to visit museums, etc. so that no one ever knows her true passion.. or so she thinks… but her father knew the whole time.

This book really had a lot going for it:

  1. FANTASY is always a winner for me.. and this one has a unique take on the genre.
  2. It’s about a stubborn woman trying to make her place in a man’s profession. Always interesting.
  3. Dragons. Duh.
  4. It’s on NPR’s book list… and NPR supports Chris Thile of Nickel Creek pretty hard, so how can they not be right about every other thing ever?!! I basically trust all of their decisions.

The first half of this story had a few intriguing tales of how Isabella got herself in trouble growing up, how she met and married her husband, and then how she manipulated a situation to be included on an excursion to actually publicly study dragons. She’s charming and gutsy, and I mostly liked her. I was entertained but still couldn’t tell where everything was really going.

And then it just fell flat. For someone who is trying not to be defined by the social boundaries for women, Isabella was way too concerned with not getting dirty and being “proper” during their excursion to Vystrana. It was really quite annoying. She also turned really prudish all of the sudden. Her attitude toward the servants that were housing them during their visit was uppity. And she started thinking that she was right about everything having to do with dragons – every comment that a man made contradicting  her, she had some smart ass remark and got mad. I mean… I know she wants to be treated like a man.. but she’s still new to what they’ve been doing for much longer than she has. I just did not like her anymore by the end of the book.

It seemed that the author was overly concerned with being on a feminism soap box by the end of the book. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not against feminist books but subtlety is more my thing. Soap boxes should be handled delicately. You can’t forget to still tell a good story, ya know?

Honestly, I’m not mad I read this book. I did like the beginning, but the last half just really turned me off. I’m a little torn if I’m going to continue the series once the next book is released or not.