A Collection of 5 Mini Reviews
In an effort to catch up on my reviews, here are reviews for a few books I've read recently.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Genre: Chick Lit (RomCom)
Published May 2021, 364 pages
I see that her newest offerings are all over the internet (Book Lovers and Beach Read), both titles guaranteed to draw summer readers! In fact Beach Read is on my own Summer Reading List. I added this to my TBR thanks to the YouTube review by Jack Edwards (Jack in the Books).
Bear in mind that this is NOT my usual reading fare. In fact, I tend to avoid covers and stories like this. But the phrase "Harry met Sally vibe romance" that I saw somewhere, and Jack's recommendation, pulled me in. This book uses the trope of long-time friendship gone awry (when they kiss), then turn into lovers (eventually).
The spin that made this book a little different is that their friendship from college through their 20s is based on traveling together and they've built up a decade of shared wonderful memories. The story is told from Poppy's POV and her memories all the way back to when they were kids together. We get their whole history told in alternating chapters covering all their trips together, versus the present day trip to his brother's wedding where she's trying to repair their friendship. There is some good banter and Poppy is a quirky, funny character; the story has a great ending. In spite of myself, I have to say it's a good escape book.
Under Color of Law #1 by Aaron Philip Clark
Genre: Mystery (?)
Published October 2021, 298 pages
I've read MANY Amazon first reads and most of them are ho-hum. This one made me sit up and take notice. The story attempts to show the experiences of a black cop (Trevor) who wants to make a difference in the department and his community but finds he has to make some uncomfortable compromises along the way.
He's fast-tracked to detective amid lots of grumblings from other more senior cops, causing even more problems. Four years later he's called on to investigate the murder of a black Academy cadet and one of those earlier decisions surfaces and impacts this case. Once again he's faced with hard choices. And the answer may end his career or his life.
I like that the character isn't a paragon of virtue - he makes decisions that seem right at the time but are morally wrong - all in the name of the greater good. Who among us hasn't made similar decisions? That's what makes a character believable - some flaws that the reader can identify with. The ending created a lot of questions so I'm interested in seeing what happens to him next. Blue Like Me is the upcoming release follow up and I'll be reading it.
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2009, 373 pages
I listened to this book performed by a cast of voices which made it very interesting and easy to differentiate characters. Though there aren't THAT many to follow. The debut story alternates between the main characters of husband and wife/parents of 7 year old Calli (Grif and Antonia), her big brother Ben, and her best friend Petra, as well as Petra' dad, Martin. The local investigator, Lewis, also has a few chapters. The chapters are relatively short and in each person's POV, so you get varying perspectives of each event, which moves the story forward very effectively. Calli hasn't spoken a word in four years but Petra understands her and often speaks for her.
Grif is a drunk and abusive man. When Petra and then Calli are discovered missing one morning, all search efforts are begun and last throughout the day. I was drawn into the emotional upheaval of each of the characters, all for different reasons. Love, betrayal, misunderstandings and wrong assumptions turn deadly. It has a very satisfying conclusion. This is a well paced, character driven story that I liked. If you don't like reading about abducted, hurt, or abused children, this book probably isn't for you. Though not graphic, it is the backbone of the story.
Into The Drowning Deep #1 by Mira Grant
Published 2017, 440 pages
An interesting coincidence - I've read two books about mermaids this year, and not surprisingly, they are VERY different is style and content from each other. Into the Drowning Deep is about a crew on a exploration ship that are intent on proving that mermaids exist. There's a variety of scientists on board that have been recruited to test and study what they find. What they find is not the romanticized lovely idea of a mermaid but a huge group of generally mermaid-looking fish-like creatures that are violent and predatory and attack the ship. Mayhem ensues.
The book has some good characters - scientists with interesting specialties that will try to communicate with mermaids, try to figure out how they can live so deep, etc. None that I REALLY cared about, but no terrible people either. The descriptions of the mermaids and how they function as a tribe (pod?) were interesting. There's a fair amount of action when the mermaids attack - I could totally see it becoming a movie. And yet. It felt pretty repetitive in places, and somehow the over all story fell flat for me.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Published 2019, 166 pages
I read Rivers Solomon's first book, An Unkindness of Ghosts, about a black slave woman who lives in the slums of a spaceship and how she tries to escape her life. The Deep was nominated for almost every scifi award for best novella. It has an unique premise: the mermaid society is formed from the pregnant women slaves thrown off slave ships to die. They've evolved to this underwater society and each generation one among them is chosen to be the keeper of all memories. In this generation, the keeper doesn't want the burden to rebels and leaves the tribe (pod?) to return to the surface. As the remaining mermaids struggle with the flood of memories, the keeper falls in love with a human girl who finds and saves her.
I read these books a couple months apart and found them both interesting though not compelling. Into the Drowning Deep has a fair amount of action, but it was also peopled with some interesting characters and motivations for studying potential mermaids. The Deep was perhaps a more complex story in the way it handled societal commentary and slave trauma. In addition to introducing slave trauma, it also touches on gender identity, the pain of generational memories, and belonging. That's a lot of heavy themes for such a short book.
Hope you found something interesting, something that you might want to read. Happy Reading this week!