Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Right Side ~ Spencer Quinn (earc) review [@atriabooks @ChetTheDog]

The Right Side
Atria Books
June 27, 2017
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Read review (under the book description) first if you want to avoid spoilers . . .

LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically. Now missing an eye and with half her face badly scarred, she can barely remember the disastrous desert operation that almost killed her. She is confused, angry, and suspects the fault is hers, even though nobody will come out and say it.

Shattered by one last blow—the sudden death of her hospital roommate, Marci—LeAnne finds herself on a fateful drive across the country, reflecting on her past and seeing no future. Her native land is now unfamiliar, recast in shadow by her one good eye, her damaged psyche, and her weakened body. Arriving in the rain-soaked small town in Washington state that Marci had called home, she makes a troubling discovery: Marci’s eight-year-old daughter has vanished. When a stray dog—a powerful, dark, unreadable creature, no one’s idea of a pet—seems to adopt LeAnne, a surprising connection is formed and something shifts inside her. As she becomes obsessed with finding Marci’s daughter, LeAnne and her inscrutable canine companion are drawn into danger as dark and menacing as her last Afghan mission. This time she has a strange but loyal fellow traveler protecting her blind side.

Half (at least) of The Right Side takes place prior to  most of the second paragraph of the book description. While reading the novel, I admit, I kept wondering when the dog was going to show up. There is, after all, a dog on the cover, mentioned in the description and it's written by Spencer Quinn (writer of the Chet & Bernie Mysteries). As things progressed, though, I was glad that we got to know LeAnne - both in the present and through peeks at her past - first.

If her meeting with the dog had come earlier, readers would just think she was mean and angry. Coming, as it does, after all that we've already seen and what we've learned of LeAnne it still is those things, but you understand the why better.

There is some great foreshadowing or symmetry or whatever in the beginning:
"Right side taillight still intact?"
"What's intact?"
"Unbroken."
LeAnne peered down. She had very sharp eyesight, according to Dr Ralpundi, who did the preseason examinations for all the sports teams -- 20/15 in her left eye, even better in her right. "Yeah."
"Break it."
-pg 4
LeAnne is not a happy person. After losing her eye following an attack in Afghanistan, not to mention having friends die, she's at Walter Reed, supposedly receiving care and dealing with things. Except, she's not so much dealing with things as forgetting about them and/or deciding not to deal with them. Her memory is faulty, she's in pain, she's angry and not content to do what others tell her.

The glimpses at who LeAnne was both prior to that last mission and prior to her joining the army not only let us see who she was (and how different and not so different it is from who she is now) but understand some of the decisions she made.

LeAnne is a messed up character, but with some very real, understandable reasons. She is someone you can relate to and empathize with, even if you don't share any of her experiences. The addition f the dog to her life and the story is fantastic. It is not an easy fit (at least not outwardly) but it is perfect. They both have strong personalities and I truly loved their interactions and what they brought out in each other. There was something kind of magical there.
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The Right Side is very different from Spencer Quinn's Chet & Bernie Mysteries and readers may be used to his lighter, humorous writing but this novel and character, with their darker, more troubled and pained story are very well written. (That's not to say there's not some humor here, too, but it doesn't have the same tone as Chet's.) The dog is, of course, fantastic fantastic and a perfectly integral character.







digital review copy received, via NetGalley, thanks to publisher

Waiting On Wednesday [@DelacortePress @juliebux]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



WHAT TO SAY NEXT by Julie Buxbaum
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

published July 11th by Delacorte Press

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?

I love when something unexpected brings two characters together - and here I know there will be that added layer that the death of Kit's father precipitated everything. I am curious to see how their relationship develops, how the honesty works, their (and everyone else's) reaction to thier newfound friendship, and what it is about he truth of the accident that might end it all.

There's also the fact that David has been counting the number of days he's been in the high school. For whatever reason, I really love that he knows he's been attending Mapleview High for 622 days.

(And the cover is very cute.)


That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One Perfect Lie ~ Lisa Scottoline (earc) review [@LisaScottoline @StMartinsPress]

One Perfect Lie
St Martin's Press
April 11, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

I love that One Perfect Lie does not let readers know all of what it's about prior to actually starting reading it. Based on the description, there will be a lot you don't know ahead of reading. I makes each discovery all the more shocking and confusing.

You do know, from almost the very beginning, that Chris Brennan is not being honest with everyone (or anyone, really) in Central Valley, Pennsylvania. He's hired as the new government teach and assistant baseball coach but you know he's not qualified to be either of those and that he's doing it only for an ulterior motive. It is understanding what that motive is - and if he'll be successful that make the story so startling and compelling.

The teenage boys that seem to maybe, be a part of Chris's plan and their families add some interesting side stories and where each of them is (in their families, with their friends, personally, etc) impacts what Chris is trying to do. I did like that the actual story was not as cozy as the description made it sound. Raz, Jordan and Evan all have something about their family life and their relationship with their fathers (or their lack of a father, for whatever the reason) that make them potentially perfect for Chris's plan.

It was seeing things from Chris's perspective but also the boys' and their mothers' that really made things compelling. The main characters were well written and you felt for them even as you found them frustrating. They are characters you can understand even if you don't always like them.

There were some real surprises in this story yet they all fit with the characters and what we already knew. I loved that things could be taken in a whole new, surprising direction, but still work so well. One Perfect Lie is a story that pulls you in from the beginning, leaves you wondering if that is really what's going to happen . . . no, really?! and the characters and ending are great.







digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2017 (So Far)


This week's Ten:
Top 10 2017 Reads So Far
(2017 releases but some were read in 2016)



Daughter of the Pirate King (#1) by Tricia Levenseller


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Goodreads // review


Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman
Goodreads // review


Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James
Goodreads // review

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Goodreads // review

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig
Goodreads

Traveler (#1) by L.E. DeLano
Goodreads // review

Right Behind You (Quincy & Rainie #7) by Lisa Gardner
Goodreads // review


One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul


Alone (The Generations Trilogy #3) by Scott Sigler


What can be learned from this list? Apparently I am quite fond of books with pirates in them and, more importantly, 2017 has been a great year for book's with pirates in them!




Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite reads from 2017!
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