Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Title: Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham
Read copy: Paperback
Published: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Vintage Books
ISBN: 080417072X
ISBN-13: 9780804170727

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

My rating:

A couple of months ago a girl was raped, beaten, and left for dead by the side of the road. She has no idea how she got from being alive and well at the Neptune Grand to half-naked, beaten and raped in a ditch, but she does remember that a Grand's employee had done the deed.

This is where Veronica Mars comes in. The Grand's insurance company has hired her to (dis)prove the victim's story...Only when it comes to Neptune, and Veronica Mars, cases like this never turn out to be simple.

Although the story didn't have the same steady pace of its predecessor the case was still intriguing, and nicely-plotted. The secondary stories from both the movie and the first book came to a more-or-less satisfying end, and pretty much all of the characters and their individual "arcs" are developing nicely.

Pretty much, because of one glaring exception. The heroine herself. Because I have a feeling Veronica isn't developing but standing still ever since the first season of the TV series, and has even regressed a lot from the beginning of the movie. You see, I'm not into book only for the plots (be it romance or mystery), I'm in it for the characters. The characters are the driving force behind everything. And when a character is grinding to a halt, it bugs the hell out of me, and diminishes my appreciation of the story as a whole.

And I have a major problem with Ms. Mars' characterization. The girl has obvious abandonment issues and is, obviously, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. She's never satisfied with what she has, and is always looking for ways out. Even when she's not pushing people away, so they do abandon her, she does the abandoning herself.
I'm surprised that she, as a psych major or minor or whatever, hasn't figured this out and tried to seek help. For she needs it.

You see, at the beginning of the movie she was with Piz, whom she chose (even way back in college) because he was safe and he would never hurt her. But that didn't turn out how she wanted it to (because she doesn't know what exactly she wants), so she went back to Logan...And left a promising law career (which she also chose because it was different from the PI business) behind.
Okay, I'm a LoVe fan, so I can buy that. Logan has changed—we were shown and told in this book just how much and just what his career and his military life mean to him—and their love story was epic, so it seemed fitting (and romantic as hell) for them to end up together. At the beginning of this book they're even living together, but she's already having second thoughts...about his career, about her ability to live with that. But does she talk to him about it? Nope, she keeps it all bottled inside, yet resents him when he does try to talk it through. And then, when he goes back to his duty (protecting not only her but everybody, might I add), she's already ogling up a replacement for the poor guy. Someone more convenient, someone her friends and father like more than Logan. But the whole "liking Logan" thing isn't only on the guy's shoulders, it's on her father's and friends' as well. Because I never noticed them trying to make overly nice to the guy that's obviously grown and changed the most out of every single VM character.

Logan is actually a grown-up, while the rest of the merry bunch had stayed pretty much the same—in high-school, with the exception of Keith Mars, that is.

And on that bombshell (if I borrow from one of my favorite TV shows that has just lost one of it's stars), that has turned into a character study instead of a simple book review, it's time to end.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: Blind Passion by Bonnie Dee

Title: Blind Passion
Series: Wyatt Brothers
Author: Bonnie Dee
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: December 26, 2014
Publisher: CrushStar Multimedia LLC

Through personal darkness, two strangers find their way to each other.

Leah Schaeffer has come a long way since an accident took her sight. She’s finally ready for independence, but convincing her wealthy parents she’ll be safe on her own isn’t easy. The first night in her own place at last, she encounters her neighbor with the midnight velvet voice and her world shifts again.

Since finishing a military tour, J.D. Wyatt has struggled both financially and emotionally. When Leah’s parents hire him to act as her bodyguard, he seizes the opportunity. The catch—she can’t know she’s being followed. As he grows closer to the intriguing woman and begins to have feelings for her, the burden of this secret grows heavier.

Although Leah and J.D. have suffered different types of trauma, their mutual understanding of each other’s pain bonds them. But their relationship, dependent on absolute trust, is rooted in lies which will detonate like an IED when exposed.

My rating:

***copy provided by publisher through NetGalley***

Oh, sweet Jesus!...But not in a good way.

It's difficult for me to find a good book written in first person POV, so far only a few selected choices made it on the list. This one isn't one of them.

Yes, first person POV is one of my pet peeves, but when the author then decides to use the alternative narration throughout the book (in this case switching between the hero and heroine) augments my disdain disproportionately. If you don't know which character to use as your narrator why not try, I don't know, the third person POV and see how it fits.

In this case it would've fit a lot better, but you also have to know how to work that one. The omniscient narrator would, of course, require a more "mature" voice, compared to the high-school like character voice that was used for both heroine (which could be understood to a degree) and hero (which was laughable since the guy was supposed to be military - I never imagined a soldier, no matter the age, would sound like the guy in this book). Sheesh.

Then I checked the categorization and realized this was supposed to be "new adult". If these two were new adults, so older than young adults and hence no longer minors, no wonder everything is going to hell in a handbasket. I wouldn't give these two voting rights for at least another decade or so. And here I thought young adult was bad, seems new adult is much, much worse.
Or maybe either genre wouldn't be so bad in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing. I don't really want to find out.

Anyway, both characters in this one were immature and one-dimensional, the story had no flow, the voice was grating, and I just didn't care what happened.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd

Title: Virtue Falls
Series: Virtue Falls
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Twenty-two years ago, the beautiful Misty Banner was brutally murdered in her home in Virtue Falls, Washington. Her daughter Elizabeth, four years old at the time of the murder, has lived her entire life believing that her father committed the crime. Now, decades, Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls and hoping to find out the reasons behind the murder. What she never expects to learn, though, is that her father was innocent all along. In fact, the real killer is still out there. And Misty was not his only victim...

My rating:

The book started off with a bang. The prologue was creepy and chilling, yet attention-grabbing. Unfortunately, that was all there was to it.

The next few chapters were boring, the story dragged like it had all the time in the world, everything else was explored (even earthquakes, tsunamis, and ghosts) instead of focusing on the main plot...You know, the thing that got me into the book in the first place. You know, the thing that was promised in the prologue.

My attention span isn't as good as it once was, the percentage of "book read" in the lower right corner of my Kindle app didn't seem inclined to change, and I got fed up. I skipped to the end to see it things improved enough for me to stick with it, but, although the ending, the big confrontation, was probably supposed to be nail-biting and action-packed, it just didn't resonate with me.

Review: The Listener by Christina Dodd

Title: The Listener
Series: Virtue Falls
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: July 1, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

...a story of mystery and intrigue in which misfit and computer security expert Cornelia Markum hacks into a text conversation between unidentified Virtue Falls residents...and realizes she’s stumbled into a murder plot.

My rating:

What can I say? It was a good story, although narrated through the eyes of a character I just couldn't connect to. Cornelia Markum seemed more of an automaton, than a person. Yes, she's a character in a book, but that doesn't mean a story from her point of view should feel so unemotional, detached, and rather inhuman.

The murder plot could've been much less predictable, and the outcome as well. Even though it was a short story everything, characterization and plot, could've been done better.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Trust No One
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz

Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Putnam Adult

It’s no coincidence when Grace Elland finds a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. The bottle is a terrifying—and deliberate—reminder of the horrors of her past.

Grace retreats to her hometown to regroup and tries to put everything she’s learned about positive thinking into practice—a process that is seriously challenged on the world’s worst blind date.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe her evening with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright. She has nothing in common with a man who lives to make money, but the intense ex-Marine does have some skills that Grace can use—and he’s the perfect man to help her when it becomes clear she is being stalked.

As Witherspoon’s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will help Grace step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her...

My rating:

When she was sixteen Grace saved a little boy (and herself) by killing a murdered with a broken bottle of vodka. Now, a bottle of vodka of the same brand is found near the body of her boss that she oh-so-conveniently found dead in his bed...When the vodka makes its entrance again, it's obvious someone is stalking her, trying to make her look like a suspect. Only she suspects the stalking has less to do with her dead boss and his missing money than with what happened in the past.

Though maybe not as gripping, intense, and page-turning as River Road this book still packed quite a punch. And the sometimes almost-eery atmosphere of the little town around the lake helped with the punch-packing.

Unfortunately, it was a tad predictable, show/hide spoiler
I couldn't help but anticipate the involvement of the two friends in the larger scheme of things, but other than that it was a solid, well-written and well-plotted suspense novel with a wonderful cast of characters. When you pick up a book by Ms. Krentz (in any of her "forms"), you know you won't end up being disappointed.

Although it would've made a nice little twist in the end if the hero ended up being the bad guy. It would've hammered the trust no one rule solidly home.