Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher:Hachette Book Group
Publshed: June 2012

Giddy from excitement of the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, no one expects a tragedy that will alter the lives of Nantucket's year round residents.  Penny Alistair recklessly speeding drives her twin brother, boyfriend, and friend off an embankment.  Initially, everyone thinks it was an accident until the toxicology reports and statements from the others bring up some doubts. With Penny dead, her twin Hobby in a coma, and her boyfriend Jake and friend Demeter unscathed, all the certainties start to unravel.  Tragedy is the great leveler.
As Hobby heals from his injuries, he has to adjust to life without Penny and the loss of his athletic prowess.  His mother, Zoe,  loses a child, has to become nursemaid to a convalescent, and loses a lover in a short period of time.  Jake, Penny's boyfriend, must get used to Penny being gone and being in all the spaces that remind him of her.  When his Dad decides to move to Australia, he is not too happy about it.  After spending the summer away, both he and his father decide to move back to Nantucket and deal with their loose ends
Everyone wonders why Penny would drive so recklessly; she was so disciplined in every other area of her life.  Only Demeter knows why.  Desperate for attention and acceptance, Demeter tells Penny a pretty big secret regarding her family.  Penny, who as it turns out might be more than a little disturbed, flips out and follows the course of action which leads to her death.  Shaken, Demeter keeps this incident to herself and tries to keep a tough front. 
I really tried to like this book but couldn't get into it.  Summerland seems a little heavy for beach reading.  It's set in one of those claustrophobic towns where everyone is all in each other's business and have the sort of relationships that require charts to follow.  For all the gossiping in the town, several significant secrets are kept simply because people ignore what they don't want to see.  Like apparently actively ignoring your kid's obvious problems isn't going to help them get any better. Who would have thought?  It just seemed like so many problems could have been solved if people tried to have actual conversations with each other as opposed to avoiding any conversations that could have gone unpredictably.
** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 2012

The Reckoning is the 2nd book in The Taker Trilogy.  We resume company with Lanore and Luke shortly after the events of the first book.  Lanny feels the reconnection of her psychic bond with Adair and realizes her must have been freed from the prison she created from him.  She knows he's coming for her and the realization both frightens and excites her. 

First, she has to settle things with Luke.  Then she has to find the other members of Adair's entourage.    She begins to see that while she was happy to be free of Adair and his imperious whims, the others were lost without Adair's rule.  Despite all this, she tries to pump them regarding information about Adair and the possibility of breaking the curse of their immortality.  Along the way, she realizes Adair truly loved her despite all the drama of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Adair is coming to terms with the modern world that engulfs him once he emerges from his prison. He is awestruck by the wizardry of the everyday items like cars, computers, the Internet, etc.  (In my mind, this played out like Thor and his reaction to coffee.) Using the connection, he finds Jude and sets to work getting acclimated to the modern world and finding Lanore.  In addition to finding his spell books and using new spells, Adair discovers and hones his increased capabilities in the dark arts leading to a discovery of a new entity that could spell trouble in his new world.  Adair starts to realize that he might actually care for Lanore as something more than a sexual plaything or bonded sycophant.

The inevitable reunion between Lanore and Adair occurs in a manner neither of the two anticipated.  Folded back into Adair's company against her will, Lanore chafes at even pretending to want to be around Adair.  To her surprise, Adair has changed in ways beyond her comprehension. 

In The Reckoning, we get more parts of Adair's story and start to see the events that shaped him into the man he became.  If the first book was about Lanore, this book provide a fuller picture of Adair and his motivations.  His change when he emerges in the modern era are startling but provide good context for his character development.  Lanore is pretty much scrambling to outmaneuver him while still recovering from the demise of Jonathan.  There were a couple of time where I started to wonder how one lived for so many centuries being so naive especially in regards to people who were reprobates when she knew them.  The supporting members of Adair's entourage were the same old, same old.  Overall, this was a great continuation of the series.  Can hardly wait for book three.

** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.   **

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans
Publisher: Gallery Books Publish date: June 5, 2012
appily Ever After by Harriet Evans is a somewhat typical growing up story. Growing up in the English countryside, Eleanor Bee wants to work in publishing. After several weeks on her friend's couch, she starts to fret that her dream is not going to happen. Chancing on an ad looking for a secretary for Bluebird Publishing, she applies. Luckily, no one else did. Over the course of several years, she progresses in her career at Bluebird, weathering a merger and first love and heartbreak. She makes new friends and gains some lovers. Coming to terms with the true extent of her mother's alcoholism and her own fledgling alcohol problem while running from a complicated "situation", she jumps on an opportunity to move to New York. Despite finding love and success in New York, she still feels like something is missing. A trip home to England in attempt to tie up loose ends leaves her feeling even more adrift. She begins to wonder whether she should leave her New York life, the fantasy she made into her reality, or stay and deal with the longings for something to fill the void in her life. Happily Ever After is in the vein of Bridget Jones' Diary and Something Borrowed If you like those types of books, you'll like this one. The major difference is that Elle is successful in her job and her love life - even as she struggles with the way her success dictates her choices. The choices Elle makes seems true to the character and her actions. I also liked the fact that the book was written as a complete book and not a prequel or part of a continuing series. ** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**