NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Today's Review -- last one of 2009

No more Picoult novels for me..., December 31, 2009

This was a total disappointment and it's the last Picoult novel I ever plan to read. I slogged through every other book by this author, hoping for a repeat of my favorite, MY SISTER'S KEEPER (incidentally also sat through a totally awful movie masquerading as the same story) or perhaps even as good as Salem Falls. I had predicted the complete plot and story lines of all her other recent books, but I was naively hopeful about this one. Well, my hopes were dashed. The plot: mother of child born with osteogenesis imperfecta sues for "wrongful birth" because she wants money to raise her daughter. Meanwhile, as in Picoult's other books, the family falls apart since the focus is on this daughter with the special needs. I really didn't like reading the story from all points of view and it was annoying as it moved back and forth in time. The only honestly sympathetic characters turned out to be stereotypes -- the wrongfully accused physician who was once the best friend, the zealous lawyer with a tragic secret, and the bumbling but ethically correct husband and father. This was another ridiculous attempt to disguise originality with banality -- the completely unbelievable verdict in the court case (WHO were those jury people anyway??) to the last chapter that basically repeated from previous books what was supposed to be a shocker of an ending. Jodi Picoult's formulaic writing is a recipe for boredom and I won't read another. Skip it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today's review

Just another 'misery' memoir..., December 20, 2009

I read all the positive reviews of this memoir co-authored by the four Welch children whose father died suddenly when they were very young. Unfortunately, after selecting and muddling through the book, I came away with a very different opinion about it. Mostly -- who cares? Yes, it was sad that the children lost their father. And yes, sad also that he wasn't really rich after all and that the circumstances surrounding his death were questionable. Even sadder was when their mother was diagnosed with cancer. But, ultimately, there was nothing unusual or earth shattering here that made this story or this family any more interesting than any other family that experiences tragedy and inexplicable death.

The truth is, I'm sorry for them, but really this isn't a story that was so unique that it HAD to be told and I wonder why it was published. I had a struggle to get through it, found it redundant and a bit boring, and didn't like that every child in the family had to tell the same event from his/her own point of view. Glad they all turned out "all right", however, there are a lot of children who face this type of tragic event and don't go through the self-destructive, dysfunctional way of dealing with it. I think anyone who typically reads what I call 'misery memoirs' will recognize The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir as the same sad story they've read before -- just with a different title and author.

Sorry, but I would pass on this one because, in many cases, your own family history might provide a more interesting book.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today's review...

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

3.0 out of 5 stars Short on suspense and heavy on romance, December 5, 2009

This was a fast-paced but predictable thriller with way too much romance for me. I liked the premise: attractive young couple next door as murdering pair of psychos -- but the whole angle involving the "love at first glance" bit between the mother of the kidnapped girl and the private investigator hired to find her was just too distracting and took away from the suspense in the narrative.

Sam is lured away by the next door neighbors and held prisoner while her mother, Zoe, and various other characters try to find her. The action moves along well, but with no surprises. Colin and Tiffany are not the perfect couple -- they are not even perfect psycho killers. They make one mistake after another as they try to outwit the detectives and others assigned to the abduction investigation. Jonathan Stivers, the PI who donates his time to a victims' organization, is called into the case to help the police. He probably would have been better at detecting had he been less interested in Zoe and she in him. The other characters in the story are not well-developed and are stereotypes of the sadistic psychopath and the abused wife. The actual investigation is never fully explained as the police don't make any headway in finding the girl even though she is right next door. I simply felt in a hurry to get to the conclusion of the story knowing how it would all end.

All in all - not a terribly exciting mystery thriller even with the grisly details.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today's review...

The Wrong Mother
by Sophie Hannah

3.0 out of 5 stars Complex and thought provoking tale of the dark side of motherhood..., December 4, 2009
By Denise "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
This was interesting and compelling but ultimately an overly long novel about families and murder. The introduction and premise were intriguing -- a woman is watching television when she sees news of a case involving a mother and daughter who are dead, perhaps a murder suicide. She starts when she hears the name of the surviving husband and gasps in disbelief -- the name is familiar for it is the man with whom she had an affair on a week-long fling in the previous year. When she sees him on the TV, however, she can't believe it -- it is NOT the man she had been with. Sally Thorning decides to begin her own investigation of the case and it leads her to an examination of her own marriage and motherhood. Who was the man she spent a week with and what is the connection she bears to the dead mother and daughter -- co-incidentally a mother that she resembles. Who killed them and why? Is Sally in danger? The resultant investigation probes into the lives of mothers and their children -- how hard is it to raise a child and balance work and home? Shouldn't every woman love being a mother and be able to put her children first?

The somewhat pedantic story never quite rises to the level of suspense that is anticipated and is told from several shifting viewpoints that slow down the pace and bog down the narrative. The brief glimpse the reader has into the personal lives of the police are but teasers as this aspect of the novel is not given much depth. Thus the investigators remain cardboard characters whom we don't get to know. The story ends in such a manner as to indicate that there will be a sequel perhaps involving these same detectives.

All in all the climax and denouement are not exactly predictable, the "who" in the whodunit seems to come out of nowhere, and the last few pages race toward the conclusion in an unsatisfying manner. It was all a bit of a let down at the end.

I'll give it 3.5 stars and probably will look into a follow up by this author.