Book Review – Y is for Yesterday

Note:  I was very saddened just after Christmas to find out that Sue Grafton had passed on.  (Eff Cancer).  I, along with a lot of readers, learned my alphabet on her covers.  I think I’m more upset with the world that there was just one book left than I would have been had it ended part way through.  I had finished this just before the news was released.  At the publishing of this post, it will have been about a month.  I’m still shocked and saddened by the loss of Sue. 

 

TITLE: Y is for Yesterday
AUTHOR: Sue Grafton
FORMAT: Hardback and EBook (I had both)
PUBLISHED: 2017

Y is for Yesterday is the 25th installment in the alphabet series of cozy-ish mysteries starring Kinsey Millhone (rhymes with Bone) and her cast of characters (ie her friends).

In this book, we flip between two story lines.  Several years in the past, there’s some extraordinary teenage angst happening at the school, somebody steals a test and then somebody else dies.  Oh, and somebody makes a sex tape.  In the current time line, there are two story lines – the same cast of characters as the past, and Kinsey’s.  Because the guy who went to jail for Sloan’s murder has just been released from juvie, and, well, he’s being blackmailed.  They have the tape, he has the money, and maybe just maybe they could swap.

Oh, and while all this is going on, a jackass from *kinsey’s* past is around.  And he’s trying to kill her.  Ned is a total piece of crap, and nobody’s safe while he’s on the lam.

 

So, as soon as I got the book, I immediately texted my mother to tell her I had it already and did she.  Then several updates as I read the book.  We’ve both read the series together for years.  It’s one of the things I liked so much about the series – it’s not one demographic.  It appeals to so many.   At Christmas, I stopped in to visit my Mom’s aunt, and she had it sitting in her coffee table.

Which is why what I’m about to say pissed me off so much.  When you read a series like this, you expect something.  I mean, we’ve done TWENTY FOUR other books with Sue, and when you do that, your readers gravitate towards your books because you expect them to work a certain way.  Longtime readers to the blog will remember that I’m the one that did the review of 50 Shades of Grey.  I say that because I want you to really appreciate me saying this:  *I AM SO FRIGGIN PISSED* that in the first third of the book she *graphically described the sex tape*.  I mean we know what got stuck where and I don’t always mean body parts.    It probably wouldn’t have upset me to find that in another book by somebody else.  But again, Sue’s been writing a certain way most of my life, and I’ve been reading her for over 20 years.  I expect a certain something and that isn’t it.

And for Sue’s *readers* that isn’t it.  I remember way back when her message board was a thing somebody complaining because Kinsey said bad words.  Now you’re going to tell us where to stick something?

In Kinsey’s normal cast of characters, we of course have Henry, her wonderful elderly landlord (I always thought the series would end with his death, not Sue’s…), and a couple transients that he’s picked up.  Homeless people who pitched a tent in the dirt patch that was his back yard.  One of them is fat.  Really fat.  Apparently so fat that I have forgotten her name but remember her plumptness because she was friggin’ fat shamed for most of the begining of the book.  I can’t tell you anything else whatsoever about her.  Not her eye color or hair color or anything.  Just her fatness.  Because Sue talked about how we had to shoehorn her into her clothes, etc.  She hardly talks about any other character’s body type, so this was a bit over-the-top ridiculous, too.

With that said, once you get through about a third of the book, it’s a huge sudden shift.  I know that the family has said that Sue was adamant that she wouldn’t have co-writers or ghost writers or anything else, but I’m serious when I say that the first third of the book sounds and feels like a totally different person wrote it.  I don’t know if there was a different editor or she set it down and came back to it months later or what happened, but it was definitely a very different book from that point on.

Oh, and at some point (I don’t remember where) there’s some unfortunateness involving Ned and Henry’s cat.  That I legitimately wanted to punch Sue for.  The cat comes through okay, but there’s not a lot I don’t ever want to read in a book, and animal abuse – even potential animal abuse – is way high on the list of shit you just don’t.

The last two-thirds of the book are something that I would expect from picking up a Sue Grafton book.  There’s a fantastic scene with Pearl and Ned, some really classically Sue stuff happens involving Fitz (the one getting blackmailed), and it was balanced nicely with Kinsey’s family stuff.

 

So rating this book is hard.  The first third as a Sue book gets about a 1/5, but a much higher rating if I had just stumbled upon it elsewhere.  The second and third third (that sounds funny, lol!) get at least a 4/5.  But combining them together…?  I’ll give the book a solid 3/5 overall.  If you can overlook the first third of the book, you can bump it up to a 4/5, but if you’re expecting a typical Kinsey Millhone read all the way through, you’ll be disappointed.

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Book Review – Daughter of Deep Silence

TITLE: Daughter of Deep Silence
AUTHOR: Carrie Ryan
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 2015

I’ve got to start this review out by saying that I love, love, love Forest of Hands and Teeth that Carrie wrote several years ago, so when I saw this in the library, I snatched it, despite the overly full armload of books I was already carrying.

With Forest, I was transported to a world with amazing details, and a story that I hungered to finish, and as somebody who absolutely hates first person – especially first person present – 90% of the time, I loved that the story carried me through so well that I didn’t care that that was how the book was written.  I figured that Carrie’s writing style would continue on to another book.

 

Daughter of Deep Silence starts off on a cruise ship.  Except something has gone very terribly wrong.  Armed men have come aboard the ship and outright murdered everyone on board.  Well, almost everyone.  The senator and his son of course make it out perfectly fine.  And Frances Average-And-Boring Mace and her newly acquired rich BFF Libby O’Martin, who dies just an hour before a boat finally rescues them.

Senator Wells and his of course perfectly amazing (*swoon*) son Grey have lied about what happened; they say a huge wave took out the boat.  Frances wants to speak up, but then she’s offered the deal of a lifetime from Libby’s father – she looks enough like Libby that she could pass as her, so why not?  After all, her parents were killed on the boat, she’s got no other family.  Why not be a child of affluence instead of an orphan lost in the system?

Fast forward four years, and Frances-turned-Libby is now out of high school and ready for revenge.

*sigh*

I hate the characters’ names.  Grey reminds me of 50 shades, Frances Mace is clunky and hard to say (I’ll wait), which also makes it clunky to read, and Libby O’Martin sounds cheap… like Patty O’Furniture or something.  Seriously, there wasn’t a name in the book I really liked at all, and when the very name of a character is grating, it makes it hard to read the book…

And back to the whole first person present thing.  I came of age right about with the YA movement.  I was there when YA was crap, I was there when it picked up steam, and now that I’m a, um, bit older *cough* I’m still reading the stuff.  When the genre started, the authors were perfectly capable of books that didn’t feel like trashy romance with the sex (barely) removed, and they were perfectly capable of past tense and third person.  I don’t know when we got to the part where those things were totally not allowed, but I really really miss those books.

I get that I’m a little older than it’s target audience, but oh dear gods.  The MC spent the better part of the start of the book gushing over wonderful amazing Gray.  Page after effing page of what pretty much boiled down to how much in love she was and how she couldn’t help but feel him touching her and if only they could be a couple and…  ARGH.

If she were even 16, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.  But the chick was fourteen.  FOUR TEEN.  Fourteen put me in Junior High, and I can assure you that I wasn’t worried that guys were effing amazing and if I could just make out with them, let alone falling in love with some guy that I had met a day ago and already kissed.  So, sometime around page 80, I realized that I just wanted this bitch to take a cold shower and shut up already.

Oh, and also, we’re dealing with her going back to Libby’s home and ending up with the guy that Libby’s father basically raised as a son and who was in love with Libby.  You know, because if from the time you’re five until you’re twenty, you’re raised like this kid is your sister, you’re totally going to be head over heels for her, right?  We’re talking Libby’s Dad adopted him.  Forgive me while I’m grossed out.

But I had anticipated this book for so long that I was going to read the damn thing at least for a little while longer.  The story line was on an upswing and I hoped that it would improve.

Okay.  Deep breath.  Let’s keep reading.

Somewhere about page 300, the story finally got exciting for me.  Stuff was happening, and we were mostly over the crap about Frances being in love with Grey and totally over the crap about Libby being in love with Shepherd.

The ending got a little over-the-top.  Obviously Carrie Ryan wasn’t going for the less is more thing.

Fortunately, it was a fast read, so I’m only out about four hours of my life.  But still.

 

I think the story about what happened *before* this book started would have been way more interesting than this thing.  I’m sorry I picked it up, and I’m sorry that an author I loved has now been downgraded to “Well, she wrote that one thing, but…”  like Ursula K. LeGuin or several others.  And yeah, I know that I won’t love everything that every author ever does, but it just makes me sad when I come across something that I can’t even *like*.

Bottom line.  A lot of the things that annoyed me about this book were things that might not annoy other readers.  If you like first person and/or present tense, then you’re not going to be nearly as annoyed with this book as I am.  If you don’t care that we have young teenagers stupid in love with each other, then you won’t have nearly the problems with this that I did.

I waited a couple days after reading to rate this.  Before the last 100 pages, I’d’ve given this book a two, but the ending was mostly satisfying and left me with a better taste in my mouth than the start of the book, so I’ll give it a three out of five pages and happily return it to the library.

Book Review – Raising Hell

TITLE: Raising Hell
AUTHOR: John G. Hartness
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2015

Okay, full disclosure because I believe in that kind of stuff. I happen to know John because we travel in the same extended circles. So when I stepped up to his table at Con Carolinas to say hi to him, he told me to buy a book, I told him to give me one to review, and after pimping the blog, I ended up with a copy of this in my hot little hand. Mostly his choice, although I did request something short.

This is a novella that follows around a demon hunter named Quincy, who happens to know Dracula. Yes, that Dracula. From what I gather, it’s the 2nd in the series, but I didn’t really need the first one to understand anything happening here.

In this book, Q has to get a demon out of a teenage girl who is too far gone already and then gets revenge for the girl by the frat boys that turned her and their uber rich father who lets it all happen.

I’m not a huge fan of horror (which is funny because the story I finished writing not 24 hours ago was a horror story for a charity anthology), but this one wasn’t bad. I liked the length, which I guess means less novels and more novellas or even novelettes for me, mainly because my brain is often mush after work and I liked being able to read this in a short amount of time and actually get through it unlike the book I’ve been reading since January and am still not halfway.
There was some gore in this one because, well, exorcism and demons and the like, but it wasn’t too over the top (Side note – all gore feels over the top to me. I really am not into that sort of stuff), and it all felt necessary. For the most part, it was more about a bad dude versus a badass, so I was okay with that.

I think there are a few places that could be polished, and I’d like a few things fleshed out a wee bit more. Even for the length, there were a couple places that I seriously wanted to have a few more paragraphs added in. I think 500-1000 more words over the course of the book would have made it awesome.

But, if horror is your genre or you just really like seeing frat boys and their rich daddies get their just desserts, you should check this book out. It’s good for what it is. And for that, 4/5.

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