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Review: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

My Rating: Omitted. (Fluctuates)

Initial Thoughts: Creative and engrossing.

Post-Thoughts: A bit too long in comparison to what the author had to say but the author certainly has a way with words.

 

 

My Review:

This is such an incredibly hard book to write a review for and because of that I’ve decided to omit a rating. Not because it doesn’t deserve one but because, similar to the main character, my rating seemed to reset itself over and over throughout the book. Sometimes the rating was high, sometimes the rating was low, and sometimes the rating was completely null.

 

First, though, let’s start with why the rating could be high. Kate Atkinson has a way with words and storytelling. At every turn, it was so easy to get swept away. Whether Ursula was living or dying, a child or an adult, I found myself completely engrossed in the plot, which is intricate and creative enough to keep things going at a steady clip. That’s no small feat for a book that is over 500 pages (hardcover).

 

The problem, I think, comes in later, which leads me to why the rating could be low. I found the characters to be a bit dull overall – don’t get me wrong, they have their moments, but none of them were particular standouts. Similarly, while the plot was interesting, I just found the constant resetting of Ursula’s life a bit repetitive – I know, I know! You don’t have to tell me that was the whole point – the exploration of choices leading to different outcomes – but with this book having such a high page count, it gets a bit tedious.

 

Now, as for the null rating that I’ve chosen, it’s a two-fold thing. On the one hand, I really do think that was a superb read for the writing alone and that many people will just love it to pieces. On the other hand, I found it a bit too long (there were a few times that I wish Ursula would die and stay dead) and, personally, didn’t find it to be a standout anything. I mean, am I glad I read it? Sure. Do I want to read it again? Absolutely not.

 

So, again, no rating from me, but it’s definitely a book that’s worth a ratings discussion at the very least.

 

Review: Rise to Love by Lynn Hagen

Rise to Love (Rise of the Changelings, Book 1) - Lynn Hagen

I won’t lie. In the past I’ve been fairly harsh on this author, especially in regards to her Brac Pack series (at least, for the first two). They didn’t really work for me, the writing was sloppy and the second one, ‘Hawk’s Pretty Baby’, really made me uncomfortable – the last thing any reader wants to be when reading an erotica.

That having been said, what a turn around this author has made in my eyes! I was really pleasantly surprised by this entire novel. The writing was tight with very few hiccups and the storytelling has improved by leaps and bounds from the early installments of the Brac Pack.

Dorian, one of the main characters in the story and a human, was a character I could really get behind. Though admittedly he was flawed (every good character is) and at first a bit wishy-washy about where he stood on the whole human-nonhuman issue, he actually had a backbone and stood up for himself! He wasn’t a push-over!

I can’t tell you how thrilled that made me. I know, I know, on the surface that seems a bit silly, but I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve started reading a book – whether erotica or not – and just been bowled over by the fact that a supposedly strong character crumbled like a house of cards. That Dorian stood up for himself, both to Rick (an interesting character all by himself) and to others, really won me over.

The other thing that won me over was that the author didn’t rush through things. True, the pace of the story was faster after the ball got rolling (a good thing), Lynn Hagen took the time to set things up, and I love it when an author does that. I get that most erotica readers don’t but most of the enjoyment I get out of a story comes from getting to know the characters, investing in them, and enjoying the byplay between them so that when they finally are together, I’m grinning because – yay! They finally got their act together! All the buildup was worth it! Sexytimes! 

On a similar thread, I really enjoyed all the buildup in the plot. It rather reminded me of a snowball rolling down a mountain, it started slowly and small and then built up and up until it was huge and fast and kind of intense. Really well done, in my opinion, and intriguing enough that I’ve already bought the next book in the series.

In the end and even though I’m sure plenty of people will disagree, this was an excellent start to a new series and I truly hope that this author continues down this path of writing. If she does, I’ll probably be a fan from here on out.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: The Art of the Deal by B. A. Stretke

The Art of the Deal - B.A. Stretke

I wanted to like this so much more than I did and I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I have to say that, especially since I was convinced it was going to be my new favorite novel. Written in a way that's the perfect example of tell not show, I couldn't help but feel from the start that the author had a good idea but just didn’t know how to execute it. At least, he didn’t know how to execute it in a way that wasn’t, literally, flat out summarization.

I’m not even kidding about that: the entire novel was one big summarization with an occasional break for “real time” events to play out. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun summarization but it was still a summarization that left me disconnected from the characters and disappointed that I didn’t get to ‘see’ more of the things the author described. Incredibly dissatisfying, to say the least.

As for the characters, they left me somewhat frustrated, if only because I never felt like I really got to know them. Sean, who I was convinced I was going to be cheering on, started out strong only to seemingly turn into a doormat. He was constantly railroaded by Coleman and seemed just as disconnected as I was. Coleman, in turn, just seemed like an arrogant jerk (with an absurd amount of power and sphere of influence which was incredibly unrealistic) that needed to be brought down several huge pegs – I actually thought that’s exactly what Sean would do for him, bring him down and humanize him, but instead he just got run over in the whirlwind that was Coleman West.

Another thing I wanted to touch on was this: how ridiculous some scenarios were. A good example of this was the rivalry between Brittany and Sean that eventually culminated in Brittany’s brother, Adam, jumping Sean and beating the hell out of him. Not only was it ridiculous, but Coleman’s reaction to it (which was to go track down Adam and beat the hell out of him) was just too much for me and made me wonder what the hell the author was thinking. 

Coleman ‘s a lawyer, for god’s sake! He’s not going to go put the beat down on someone – he’s going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and very probably ruin their life in the process. C’mon! 

Anyway, though, I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t enjoy this novel at all. It really was a great premise – kudos to the author for that (I’m a fan of ‘Suits’ so, you know, yay lawyers!) – and there were some really good chestnuts hidden within the story. I just wish the author would have taken more time to develop it – maybe with a good editor who wouldn’t be shy to say ‘no, that doesn’t work; no one actually talks like that.’* Overall, a good read that could have been better. 

*Some of the (limited) dialog was just bizarre and stilted at times. No fist bump for you, B.A. Stretke: 

 

no fist bump

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: The Ghost On My Couch by L.A. Gilbert

The Ghost on My Couch - L.A. Gilbert

This was such a lovely little story.

Unexpectedly touching and well-written, ‘The Ghost on My Couch’ was one of those novellas that you wish didn’t have to end. Not only because it was a sweet if clichéd storyline, but because the author did a really wonderful job of creating loveable and well-rounded characters. Alex, a male nurse with not much of a social life and the personal kryptonite of being attracted to only “beautiful” men, was such an easy character to read about. His reaction to having a “ghost” on his couch was pretty spot on to what I was expected: a complete freak out, followed quickly by an “I must be crazy” assumption.

Sid, similarly, really struck a cord with me, especially with his somewhat self-depreciating gentle giant syndrome. It was something I could easily relate to - I'm tall and "big" myself (I also saw nothing wrong with his bunny slippers and ghostbusters tee, so, you know, maybe I'm projecting) - so I ended up really cheering for him, even if he was a bit too good to be true. The whole relationship was a bit too good to be true, but then I'm not complaining about that at all. 

Overall, the story progressed naturally and ended on a high note. It was definitely a 4.5 star read for me, with only half a star being removed for a combination of being a bit too cliched and a bit too short (we never get to see the courtship between Alex and Sid post Sid waking up from a coma). A light and sweet read, I'll probably read it again sometime in the future when I'm looking for a pick-me-up.