Tag: beach reads


Whatever Wednesday: In a Dark, Dark Wood

Posted 1 June, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Whatever Wednesday: In a Dark, Dark WoodIn a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Published by Harvill Secker on July 30th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General, Genres & Styles, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 352
Goodreads
two-half-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In a dark, dark wood
Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.
There was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room
But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
And in the dark, dark room....
Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood was naturally billed as “for fans of Gone Girl“. We all have feelings about how nothing should ever be marketed this way – but despite this I wanted something light and fluffy so I thought I’d take In a Dark, Dark Wood out for a spin. While this novel is delightfully British – something that never fails to charm me – I still have to put it in the unfortunate category of: you could do worse on a plane.

I seem to have read a string of books that go into the you could do worse on a plane category lately. But I haven’t defined what that means lately in the blog so, let’s hash it out. Books like In a Dark, Dark Wood, aren’t bad per se. They’re just kind of ‘meh’. I’m not sorry that I read it, but I probably could have made it through life without reading it. These books aren’t deep or important, nor are they going to blow your mind in any way.

My biggest problem with this particular novel was probably the marketing (so lazy) and the utter predictability. As soon as it was revealed who was murdered (which is about halfway through the book), it was pretty clear whodunnit. I have to give Ware some props for attempting a bit of a locked room mystery outside the ‘cozy mystery’ subgenre. Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware is not, but it added a little bit of novelty to what otherwise could be considered a rather standard and unremarkable novel in the psychological thriller genre.

So Reader, do you think that In a Dark, Dark Wood might work for you? I think it’s been optioned for a movie, maybe that will be better? Does anyone else out there love a locked room mystery the way I do? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Woeful Wednesday: The Son

Posted 19 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Woeful Wednesday: The SonThe Son by Jo Nesbo
Published by Random House Incorporated on 2014
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Hard-Boiled, International Mystery & Crime, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
Pages: 401
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny's been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don't know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit--or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he's serving time for other peoples' crimes.

Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest--all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo's crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he's happy to play the criminal and the prison's in-house savior. But when he learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison--and from the person he'd let himself become--and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him . . . The darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first--the criminals or the cops?

So this book had the Scandinavian type presence that you feel in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Lots of violence, mysterious and deeply flawed main character, a hardboiled cop with serious secrets, etc. etc. It seems like Scandinavian crime drama is becoming a genre unto itself.

Part of my problem with this book definitely can be traced back to the narration. At first I thought that since I was listening to The Son using CDs instead of Audible, which I speed up to at least 1.25x normal speed, that maybe I just wasn’t used to how slowly normal narrators read. But since I’ve finished The Son, I’ve started listening to I Am Pilgrim, also an audio CD – and the narration speed is just fine. I rambled through all that to say that the narrator was reading waaaaayyyy too slowly. Since I listened to this in heavy traffic I found it frustrating.

But even discounting the irritating slowness of the narration, The Son had some additional problems for me as far as storyline went. Some of the so-called twists were visible from a mile away in dense fog. I mean cut me a break Nesbø, if you want to write a thriller – write a thriller.

The other issue with this book that the application of Sonny Lofthus as the Messiah is applied in the most heavy handed manner. I love symbolism and religious undertones, but Nesbø’s attempt to use Christ-like imagery and allegory was way too obvious to be of any interest.

I’m fascinated with Scandinavia and Oslo in particular, but The Son was a failure to launch for me. To be fair, I didn’t particularly care for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, so I’d probably recommend this book to fans of that series.

The old question, Reader, can the performance of an audio book affect your views on the novel and story as a whole? Anyone out there who adores Nesbø or The Son?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Meh Monday: Eeny Meeny

Posted 22 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Meh Monday: Eeny MeenyEeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge
Published by Penguin on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Crime, Fiction, General, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 416
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense....

So, this book isn’t good, it’s not bad, it just kind of is. I suppose that Eeny Meeny is a pretty decent airplane read. A little bit gory, a little bit suspenseful, but mostly just good grisly fun. Don’t go into it expecting to find anything deep and important, or any insight, or needed to analyze anything and you’ll probably have a good time (if suspense/horror is your genre of choice).

I liked the lead character, Detective Inspector Helen Grace, she’s strong but flawed. Also like most of the characters in this novel, not terribly developed, but maybe just enough. One thing that took me by surprise about Eeny Meeny was the depth of feeling I had for the characters at the end. As I just said the characters weren’t terribly well developed, but Arlidge somehow still made me feel for them at the end.

Like I said, you could do worse on an airplane.

What about you, Reader? What’s your genre of choice? Tell me about your ‘light’ reading.

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Wanted More Wednesday: The Jesus Cow

Posted 20 May, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Wanted More Wednesday: The Jesus CowThe Jesus Cow by Michael Perry
Published by HarperCollins on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Humorous, Literary, Satire
Pages: 304
Goodreads
two-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor's heart; a Hummer- driving developer hooked on self-improvement audiobooks is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm; and inside his barn lies a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. Harley's best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to sidestep the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called "a scene."Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door—and Harley's "miracle" goes viral. Within hours, pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a per- centage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy, calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and in the process raise enough money to keep his land and, just maybe, win the woman in the big red pickup?Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and souvenir snow globes. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.

Maybe my lesson is to stay away from satire on Christianity here. I DNFed Christopher Moore’s Lamb, and I almost DNFed The Jesus Cow. This book has its moments here and there, mostly some clever plays on words, that made me smile to myself but for the most part this book is just… not good.

Okay, why? While this is an excellent premise that could have been hysterical, or at least populated with memorable, lovable characters, Perry does neither for his readers. The characters – all of them – are flat and completely two dimensional, acting exactly as expected with little to no growth. Rather than characters, they are caricatures. I couldn’t come to care for any of them, especially not Harley with his dithering and worrying. Get ahold of yourself man.

The ending. Oh Jesus Cow, the ending. It was one of those unfortunate times where it seemed as if the author just ran out of steam and wanted to tie a nice little bow on things. Where the six main characters ended up made little to no sense based on the rest of the novel, but I suppose if you’re looking for a feel good ending then it might be acceptable.

Also, the marketing of this book? The catalyst for action happens on Christmas Eve, so why is it being released in May?

Okay, Reader. I hated this book. Give me something good to read? Would this premise have pulled you in? Does it pull you in still? I won’t judge.

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Mid-Week Mini Reviews: Where I am Underwhelmed

Posted 18 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

the girl on the train by paula hawkins  The Girl on the Train by: Paula Hawkins

Brief summary: Sad girl rides a train every day to work. Drinks something magical called gin and tonic in a can. Has blackouts. How much is she involved in the lives of her fellow lead characters? How much is she responsible for their misery?

Review: I’m in the minority in that I really didn’t particularly care for this book. I felt bad for Rachel, but I didn’t pity her. The rest of the characters were… meh. I also guessed the twist about 1/3 of the way through the book. If you’re going to write a book like this, you better be good about hiding your twists. (2.5/5 stars)

 

burial rites by hannah kent

Burial Rites by: Hannah Kent

Brief Summary: A family in 1820’s Iceland is forced to house a convicted murderess while she is awaiting her execution.

Review: This was another one of those books that was apparently written by a talented author that failed to live up to its hype or really connect with me. The problem is admittedly, probably me, as I am not a fan of historical fiction for the most part. I felt empathy for Agnes and did enjoy watching the evolution of the attitudes that the family had about her. Hoever, in the end I found the overall story just okay. (3/5 stars)

 

 

Is everyone hanging out without me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by: Mindy Kaling

Synopsis: Mindy Kaling wrote a memoir.

Review: I like Kaling okay as an actress, though admittedly that’s limited to her performance in the American version of The Office. Though I would like to pick up The Mindy Project sometime soon. But the book – I’ve seen a lot of people compare this memoir to Fey’s Bossypants or Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but I have to disagree. Kaling lacks both their talent for writing and their talent as comedians. I found most of the memoir to be pretty lackluster and not all that funny. Sorry Mindy. (2/5 stars)

 

What about you, Reader? What are some books lately that just haven’t lived up to the hype for you? What do you think about my assessment of these popular titles?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Release Day Review: The Bookseller

Posted 3 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Release Day Review: The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Published by Harper Collins on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A mesmerizingly powerful debut novel about the ways in which past choices can irrevocably define the present—and the bittersweet confrontation of what might have been1962: It may be the Swinging Sixties in New York, but in Denver it's different: being a single gal over thirty in this city is almost bohemian. Still, thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She was involved, once—with a doctor named Kevin—but when things didn't work out the way she had hoped, she decided to chart her own path. Now she dedicates herself to the bookstore she runs with her best friend, Frieda, returning home each evening to her cozy apartment. Without a husband expecting dinner, she can enjoy last-minute drinks after work with her friends; without children who need to get ready for school, she can stay up all night reading with her beloved cat, Aslan, by her side.Then the dreams begin.1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They live in a picture-perfect home in a suburban area of Denver, close to their circle of friends. It's the ideal place in which to raise their children. Katharyn's world is exactly what Kitty once believed she wanted . . . but it exists only when she sleeps.At first, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. Even though there is no Frieda, no bookstore, no other familiar face, Kitty becomes increasingly reluctant to open her eyes and abandon Katharyn's alluring life.But with each visit to her dreamworld, it grows more real. As the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, Kitty faces an uncertain future. What price must she pay to stay? What is the cost of letting go?

This is one of those books that I had a hard time defining.
I know it’s not popular to like labels or categories, but I feel better when I can categorize a book.


I liked this book. But…. butbutbut…  I wanted it to be more. To be deeper and more important. Of course as a book blogger I love books about booksellers and people who love books, but this novel seemed to deteriorate into something else, into (dare I say it…) chick lit. Which is fine. But I wanted more. 

Regardless, this book is still a fun read — I can’t really complain about it as a genre novel. I loved the pull and push between Katharyn and Kitty, I loved the idea of multi-verses (which while not really explored, is what it felt like to this nerd). 

This is a hard book for me. I liked how there was tension between Kitty’s dream world and Katharyn’s real world. It turns pretty predictable rather quickly – but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the read. This is a good genre novel that is fun and compelling. You definitely could do worse on a plane. 

Recommendation: If you find it in an airport bookstore with nothing else to read but trashy magazines… buy it. If you like chick-lit as a rule… buy it. If you’re randomly bored and you find it at the library… check it out.

A happier review comes from Jennine at My Life in Books.

Let’s talk about genres, Reader. What makes a book ‘chick lit’ to you? What makes a book ‘genre’ to you?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Wednesday Whimsy (and Heartbreak): Lost & Found

Posted 28 January, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Wednesday Whimsy (and Heartbreak): Lost & FoundLost & Found by Brooke Davis
Published by Penguin on January 22nd 2015
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General, Humorous
Pages: 320
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns.Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule.Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam.Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.

Can we start with the cover? I adore it. That and Monika the Book-Pusher (she really needs to just rename her blog) are the two main reasons that I picked this one up. For the most part this book is delightful. My heart broke continuously for poor Millie after she was abandoned by her mother. I spent most of the book terrified on what would eventually become of her.

Lost & Found is told from three perspectives: Millie, Agatha, and Karl. For the most part this technique works very well for this book – the reader is able to enjoy and understand the backstory of each character without it getting too much in the way of the central story at hand – that is finding Millie’s wayward mother. While I enjoyed the sections narrated by Millie the most, so innocent and so weird (in a good way!) Agatha’s story was a close second for me. 

As sweet as Millie is there is something a bit haunting about the sections written from Agatha and Karl’s perspective, they are both haunted by the simple fact that they are aged – something they could never properly conceive during the prime of their lives. Despite this sense of haunting their characters are fun, quirky, and unexpectedly delightful.

As much as this story is about both the elderly and the extremely young being invisible to our society at large it’s also about grief. All of the characters have lost someone – how a person chooses to handle this grief is something I really feel is explored quite well by Davis. I particularly enjoyed the essay included at the end on her handling the grief of losing her mother.

For all the good in this book, I didn’t find it to be great. It’s definitely well worth the read but for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint it lacked the ‘it’ factor that makes me jump up and down and proclaim “EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK!”.  The characters are delightful, the subject matter is heartbreaking but still heartfelt… but there was still something missing for me.

I seem to be on an Australian author kick lately, purely by accident. There’s something fabulous for me about trying to figure out which English speaking country the story is located in. (Spoiler: it’s Australia) 

Excellent reviews also at:
A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Words for Worms

What about you, Reader? Have you read anything lately highlighting the problem our society has in rendering both the very young and very old nearly invisible? Tackling aging or grief?



April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Less Than Thrilling Thursday: The Great Zoo of China

Posted 15 January, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Less Than Thrilling Thursday: The Great Zoo of ChinaThe Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
Published by Simon and Schuster on January 27th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, General, Thrillers
Pages: 416
Goodreads
two-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons—a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong. Of course it can’t…

Aw, man. If I’d read that synopsis before picking up the book, maybe I could have saved myself some time and trouble. So look, call me a Spoiler-McSpoilerson, but I’m going to tell you something you find out in the first five pages of the book – if you haven’t figured it out already. The species the Chinese have obtained to amaze the world are dinosaurs dragons.

This book is basically piece for piece a novelization of the movie Jurassic Park. Sure they’re dragons instead of dinosaurs, it takes place in China instead of Costa Rica. My favorite quote of the book by far is:

“It’s pretty cool and impressive… if you never saw fucking Jurassic Park.”

Also there’s:

“These cable cars are the best in the world. Swiss designed.”

Does that sound anything like John Hammond’s repeated insistence that there is ‘Nothing but the best.’ in Jurassic Park? And so it goes, someone hides in a dumb waiter at some point. The dragons are fierce and intelligent and the humans continually underestimate them. The scrappy but brilliant scientist brings as many people through the park alive as she can. 

There are a few interesting points on how the dragons are bred, the dragon’s intelligence, and the security system dreamed up for the park. But overall, for me this book was entirely too action driven and the action was entirely too predictable. The author didn’t give the characters any time to just sit down and develop, there were non-stop obstacles and someone was always running from a dragon or hanging onto a racing garbage truck for dear life. 

I also got a little giggle from the author interview at the end (bless his heart), he said that he knew there would be inevitable comparisons to Jurassic Park and pointed out where the two diverge. This book is different (says the author, I’m paraphrasing) because it’s set in China, the beasts are dragons not dinosaurs, China is a country looking to make their mark on the world stage not a private company bringing in experts to see a park and determine it’s suitability, and on and on.

Who might enjoy this? People who love the movie Jurassic Park AND love action novels. This one wasn’t for me as I only fit one of those categories, but on the bright side, this novel inspired me to re-read Jurassic Park and pick up Crichton’s The Lost World for the first time. 

What about you, Reader? Can you sink your teeth into an action packed novel even if the characters are flat and one dimensional?


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Last Train to Babylon (Book Review)

Posted 13 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Last Train to Babylon (Book Review)Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam
Published by HarperCollins on October 28th 2014
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Who put the word fun in funeral? I can't think of anything fun about Rachel's funeral, except for the fact that she won't be there.Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after Aubrey has left her hometown, Rachel's the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can't believe her luck. But Rachel's death doesn't leave Aubrey in peace. There's a voice mail from her former friend, left only days before her death, that she can't bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school-reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone . . . including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between Aubrey and Rachel. In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after-party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters, while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again. But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind . . . or what waits ahead.

I should start by saying that over all The Last Train to Babylon is an excellent suspense read. The cover blurbs about dark humor and biting wit, do not mislead. Fam uses expert pacing, flashing back an forth between present and past slowly unfolding to the reader exactly what happened to Aubrey to turn her life and friendship with Rachel upside down.

Both Rachel and Aubrey’s characters are fleshed out enough to put you in a love/hate relationship with them and make them feel real. The other characters are on the periphery and more one dimensional – but there’s really only one other character that I feel needed to be better fleshed out and that was Adam. What was his deal? 

The setting and details are well written too, Fam has a knack for putting the reader in the story without becoming too bogged down in detail.

The Last Train to Babylon is an excellent debut novel in the suspense genre and I have but one complaint. It’s not very memorable. When I was reading it and after I finished I was sure that this was a four star read for me. But as you all know life has been getting in the way of the blog lately so I found myself unable to get to the review until a week or so after I finished the novel. One week later (and granted I have been under a lot of stress), I couldn’t remember very much about this novel at all, including the ending. I like my love affairs to last longer than a week.

All that being said, if you’re a fan of the suspense genre you should absolutely check out this book. I’m going to trademark my phrase for three star novels (which is a GOOD rating from me) and say, “You could do a lot worse on an airplane.” 

For all intents and purposes it’s a fantastic debut novel from a young author and I’m looking forward to see what else she has in store for us. 

So, Readers, do you have any suggestions for fun beach-read suspense novels? They’re one of my weaknesses! 




I’m excited to be participating in the tour for Charleen Fam’s Last Train to Babylon, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here and the other fabulous posts that have been written on it! 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Freaky Friday: The Heart Does Not Grow Back

Posted 7 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Freaky Friday: The Heart Does Not Grow BackThe Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini
Published by Macmillan on November 4th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Black Humor, Coming of Age, Fiction, Literary, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Pages: 320
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE...Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise?

I have some mixed feelings about this book. The premise is unique, the voices of the characters are distinct, and Venturini makes some interesting and excellent thinking points about the human condition, grief, and loss. However, the first half of this book is a bit of a mess. Maybe it was me, or maybe it was the editing but for the first solid half of this book I had no idea where Venturini was going. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was ready to get the show on the road.


The first half of the book is Dale loafing about, generally feeling tortured and something resembling survivors guilt. The story between Dale’s catastrophe and the main action of the book meanders along for much too long. 

However, once Dale and Mack come up with an ingenious 21st century plan on how Dale can put his powers to use (and perhaps find redemption) the story takes on a life of its own and is becomes something more than a ‘superhero’ novel (which this reader finds to be a bit of a mischaracterization of the genre that this book falls into) and becomes a deeper look at all the deep and important things that it seems the Venturini set out to explore. 

If you’re unsure about this book definitely check out Guiltless Reader’s review here!

What do you think, Reader? Does the synopsis sound appealing to you? What’s your favorite superpower? (Mine’s China, get it?)







I’m excited to be participating in the tour for Fred Venturini’s The Heart Does Not Grow Back, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here and the other fabulous posts that have been written on it! 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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