ARC Reviews I Missed Sharing
I'm an obsessive list keeper. But, I have so many lists that sometimes I fall a bit behind in updating them. I was just spending time updating my ARC (advance reader copy) list and realized there are a few ARCs that I've read and never reviewed. Now is the time! (most recent read to oldest)
Do You Follow? by J.C. Bidonde
Published January 2022, 248 pages
(read Feb '22) Do you see the twist coming? An interesting book about a young woman stretching her wings for the first time after being released from a psychiatric facility by finding a job, a boyfriend. Then the chapters start alternating between her and her twin sister as the secrets and back story are gradually revealed. It actually took me a bit of work to differentiate the sisters and keep their stories straight at the beginning. But once I settled into the pacing of the story, it was fine. Even though it's not a terribly original plotline, with sisters having a terrible childhood trauma that ruins their lives, I none-the-less found myself interested in what crazy thing was going to happen next.
The psychiatrist warrants a few chapters near the end as things escalate and then resolve. Nicely plotted and I liked the book though not any of the characters.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published June 2021, 369 pages
(read May 2021) Well, this is definitely a late review - I read this book in May of last year! But, it's a very good book about family dynamics and how the actions of parents affect their kids in obvious and subtle ways. Set in 1983 Malibu, it's the story of 4 siblings of a famous singer, but each talented in their own rights. The action takes place at a party on one night where the long-held secrets and emotions that have been simmering all come to a head.
I enjoyed how each of the 4 siblings were individually well developed and showed growth of character as they dealt with various personal issues and how each was such a strong representation of different ways that parental attention, or lack thereof, can manifest in behavior. I thought that was handled VERY well. While books that totally revolve around feelings and personalities are not my usual choice, this one was very worth my time and expanding reading experience. I particularly liked the lack of "oh woe is me" angst that is often present in these types of books.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Published May 2021, 320 pages
“Good writers borrow, great writers steal. —T. S. Eliot (but possibly stolen from Oscar Wilde)”
(read June 2021) This is sort of a story in a story. A struggling author has taken a teaching job as he continues to "work" on his novel. One of his students claims to have a blockbuster, sure-thing of a plot and when he dies suddenly, the teacher, Jake, takes the unfinished manuscript as his own. Then Jake gets an email accusing him of a being a thief so he begins to obsess over who knows. He becomes an amateur detective as he tries to figure out who knows about the book.
Slow starting, actually a bit of a drudge as author Jake revisits over and over (and over!) the fear of being exposed for 'taking' a plot idea. However, the the last half of the book really accelerates and finishes strong with a nice ending. It borders on being too angst filled for me (one of my pet peeves), but is saved by short appearances of other mildly interesting characters and his efforts to figure out who's threatening him. A couple of twists make the wait worthwhile.
My husband (who has written a couple books) and I talked about the underlying premise of this story and what constitutes plagiarism and theft of a plot or idea or story. It made for an interesting discussion for us.
Stork Bite by L.K. Simonds
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published November 2020
(read November 2020) I'm not going to lie, I didn't remember much about this one till I looked at my notes. A good reason to write reviews shortly after finishing a book, while the story is still fresh in my mind.
For me the book felt almost like 2 distinct and separate stories. The first story of David and his encounter with a Klansman is set in 1913 and then secondly the story of the two women in 1927. Story #1, David accidentally kills a Klansman giving him a hard time, hides the body, and feels like he can't return home, so moves on and into a different life path. Story #2 Cargie and Mae - one a black woman finding work as a bookkeeper, and Mae, a black woman going to college. The tenuous thread between them? A hinted at back story of Cargie's husband. Too tenuous for me.
My brain kept trying to find the connection and that pulled me out of the story - I kept wondering what happened to David. I don't know if I just wasn't reading carefully enough or if the connection is too vague, but I sure didn't find it till the very end of the book. For me, that detracted from the overall story. I liked the individual stories, just wish the connection was stronger and more of a direct connection between the stories or characters. I found it a very good representation of that era in the south.
Thanks to #NetGalley for the ReadNow copy of this novel. The opinions are my own.
Now I'm all up to date on published reviews for every ARC I've received. I have a few that were DNF, but most of the books I've requested, I've finished and enjoyed on some level. Currently I have 13 ARCs lined up to read before the end of the year. How are you doing on your pre-publication reads? How many are sitting on your e-reader, waiting for you?