Sunday, December 9, 2018

Review: The Chemist

The Chemist The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one breaks my heart. The Host is one of my all time favorite books and I expected The Chemist to fight for the position, or at least come close. Within the first 100 pages I had an inkling but I soldiered on in hope.

Listen, I had my romance phase, it burned hot and heavy for a good couple years, but turns out I'm more than over it. As soon as this turned more toward the feelings and doe eyes, I checked out. Thats 418 pages of checked out reading and that isn't easy to swallow, folks. I read a hundred books between the time I started this book and the time I finished it. I'm nothing if not stubborn.

The premise here was fantastic, unique with a female lead, perfect mounting tension and just the right amount of action. A dangerous woman on the run, Oleander has all the bones to be an American Lisbeth Salander but unlike that tattooed heroine, Meyer's girl couldn't keep it together.

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My Rating System

I feel like I should explain my rating system a bit because as I peruse, it's clearly a tad skewed. If you read posts based on labels, you'll see that the great majority of the reviews here at Novel Junky are books I read for a paid review. 

Let me clarify, paid does not mean positive. I have turned down many paid review opportunities because the author or publisher insisted on a positive review. My rule is that I write my review based on my opinion and if my opinion is that it sucks, you won't find me raving about it here, on Good Reads or on Amazon. It has happened that my review wasn't favorable and whoever hired me chooses to not have me post a review at all. That's fine with me. They're paying for a review, if they don't want to publish that review, what do I care?

All that said, I rate paid reviews on a different scale than I rate books I choose for myself. It's my Work Scale. When I review for a paying client, I put the focus on more technical details; the flow of the story, character consistency, believability, editing errors, etc... I don't have to have that hug the book to your chest moment to give it a fourth or fifth star. A well written book in a genre I loathe, even with characters I despise, can be higher rated because there are no barriers in the way for a reader who does love the genre or connects with the characters. Even five stars are handed out more freely when the writing is great or there is clearly in depth research that went into it. Just because I didn't fawn all over it doesn't mean millions of others won't. 

When I review books I have chosen for myself, it's all about me. I call it my Me Scale. How did I like the plot? Did I love the characters? How angry was I at the ending? Me, me, me... get it? A book has to have been pressed into my chest for a fourth star. I have to have found myself drifting back into that world with those characters after I've finished it. Every other book that author has written is now on my To Read list. If one or all of those happened and I tell my bookie friends to read it, if I give my copy to my sister with the stipulation that I get it back because I have to have it with me, there's my elusive 5th star. Sometimes I don't even write a proper review for the books I choose for myself because my feelings will change about it over time. I will go back months, even years after to finally express how a book impacted my world.

And that is the difference. The books I choose for myself, I expect an impact in some way, good or bad. That's a high standard to rate by. My paid opportunities are, for lack of a better word, work. I'm reading them because I have to in order to get paid. That doesn't mean there haven't been books that came to my attention as work and ended up reviewed on my Me Scale.

So now that I've made that clear as mud, continue on...

Review: Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you need your thrills delivered via shocking twist after aha moment, this isn't your jam. I thought I was one of those people, demanding psychological thrillers knock me off balance that way but Behind Closed Doors knew better.

There is no moment where everything you thought you knew becomes skewed, you get the awful truth delivered piping hot, front and center. In fact the horror of this book is such that you almost wish for a twist to make it not so. The shock comes in the reality.

I loved it, it felt fresh and treated me like a grown up who could handle the horrible truth. That's a bit of a rarity in this genre recently.

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Review: The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit the first identity twist got me, something that happens less and less often these days, but once that one wore off, the rest of the ‘who is she/he really’ reveals felt forced. That ‘no freaking way’ punch only once more when we get the entirety of circumstances behind Vanessa and Richard’s break up.

The Maggie, Jason, Maureen, even Kate aspects of the plot could have landed on the cutting room floor and the book would have survived for me. I didn’t need any of them to love the book and love the book, I did, despite the previous statements. It’s not easy to pull off even one good plot twist and these ladies did two brilliantly.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Review: Just One Look

Just One Look Just One Look by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Harlan Coben is one of those authors whose books I buy every time I find one and I've yet to be disappointed. Just One Look, on the surface, differed not. The tried and true formula of creating misconceptions and slowly revealing truths that Coben excels at is front and center again. Characters are well developed, in many cases so well that when they've succumbed to the author's viscous blade you're left thinking, "wait, he's dead already?!?!" That'll teach you to cozy up to a character.

While there's nothing I hated in this book, other than what you're supposed to hate, in the end I felt unfulfilled. All the loose ends are tied up, the truth of the whole thing is clever as usual but I keep wondering why this was so... generic. I would never discourage reading this book, I just can't rave about it the way I have about others.

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