Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: "Pop Goes the Weasel" by MJ Arlidge

Disclosure: This ARC ebook was provided to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Title: Pop Goes the Weasel
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: NAL/Penguin Group
Pub. Date: October 6, 2015

The second installment of the DI Helen Grace series is, in one word, amazing. I think I like this book even better than the first book in the series (Eeny Meeny), and I loved the first!

In this book, DI Helen Grace is back in all of her complicated, damaged glory. This time, she is on the trail of a killer posing as a prostitute who is luring men to their deaths. Not only are the men murdered, but then the killer sends gruesome tokens through the mail to their familes and coworkers. 

This is another book that I like to call a "one sitting" book: you sit down and finish it all in one go because you just can't wait to find out what happens. DI Grace is as compelling a character as I have encountered in a while. After the events of Eeny Meeny, she comes across as even more vulnerable, a trait she hates, but we as readers love. In this book, the author gives us deeper insight into the other characters as well, especially DI Grace's fellow cop Tony. He is flawed and really makes you feel empathy for his situation. The action in this book is top-notch: short, flashy, visceral violence that makes you wince yet greedily read more. 

Hooray for M.J. Arlidge! He has given us yet another winner in the mystery/thriller genre, and he is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: "Eeny Meeny" by MJ Arlidge

Disclosure: This ARC ebook was provided to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Title: Eeny Meeny
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015

As a die-hard fan of British mystery/thriller/police procedurals, I couldn't wait to read "Eeny Meeny". Let me say up front that it did not disappoint! This book hooked me from the very start and begged - nay, forced - me to read it in one sitting.

"Eeny Meeny" introduces us to DI Helen Grace, a fiercely good cop whose past has left her severely emotionally damaged, leading her to some questionable lifestyle choices. She is tough, she is complicated, she is damn near perfection in a character. She is on the hunt of a psychopath who kidnaps pairs of people and forces them to make the ultimate decision of which one will live and which one will die.

The author's television background is apparent in his writing style: the scenes are visual and gruesome and the chapters short and fast-paced. You will catch yourself reading faster and faster just to find out what happens, much as you would impatiently fast-forward through commercials.

M.J. Arlidge has a winner here with this new series and I can't wait for the other installments!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: "The Truth According to Us" by Annie Barrows

A special thank you to The Dial Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: The Truth According to Us

Author: Annie Barrows
Publisher: The Dial Press
Pub Date: June 9, 2015

"The Truth According to Us" is one of those novels. You know, the kind that you either breathlessly anticipate or read grudgingly. I have to admit I viewed it as the latter. While I liked the authors last book ("The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"), I wasn't really fired up about this one. Set in Depression-era West Virginia, this book tells the story of Willa, a 12-year-old girl who is starting to wonder about herself and the goings-on of her once-powerful family. Add in a young woman who has come to town as part of the WPA to write a town history, some eccentric family members, and some "family secrets", and you have the basic gist of the book. 

First, the pros of "The Truth". It definitely has some shades of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Willa shares a lot of the same motherless waif characteristics with Scout Finch. This book would also be a good book club book as it covers lots of topics: the Depression-era south, the WPA (part of the New Deal), family tragedy -- basically, a little something for everyone.

Now, unfortunately, the cons. First and foremost, the length. This whopper clocks in at over 500 pages. Way. Too. Long. And it seems even longer given that there is no real climax of the story. It just shambles along, alternating between letters and actual chapters of narration. Another issues is that there are entirely too many characters in this book, making it hard to keep track of who everyone is. It also makes it hard to care that much about any of them. A third problem is the characters themselves. Felix has no redeeming qualities, Layla is shown as funny and sharp in her letters, but as a simpering romance novel character in her everyday life, and Jottie is this sort of woman-child who just shuffles through life. 

I really enjoyed "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (also by this author), but if you think you will be getting more of that, you are mistaken. While both books are about life in a small town, the books are completely different, and not in a good way. 

Thank you to Net Galley and The Dial Press for providing this ARC for the purposes of review.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars