BOOK REVIEW: Eve – by Iris Johansen

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Title: Eve
(Eve Duncan #12)
Author: Iris Johansen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance
First published: April 1st 2011
Finished reading: March 6th 2016
Pages: 378
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“Yes, that was it. That was exactly what John Gallo was. A fever that would leave her if she didn’t let it take over her mind as well as her body.”

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I don’t like being this negative in my reviews, but in this case I really feel like I don’t have a choice. First of all the blurb of Eve is really misleading. It is sold as the first book in a new trilogy, but it is actually the twelfth book in a series and if you haven’t read the previous books (like myself), you will find a lot of details are missing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem I encountered while reading this novel by Iris Johansen. The biggest setback was that I wasn’t a fan of the prose. To be more specific: the physical attraction/romance scenes were cringeworthy to say the least and made reading this story almost feel like voluntary torture. I know I’m not a romance fan and that might have made things worse, but I know a badly written romance scene when I see one. I hate to be so negative about a book, but I truly wish I would have decided to just DNF it… Because it truly felt like a waste of time. The ending was not satisfying at all and from what I saw in other reviews is that it is kind of a pattern to never reveal the identity of Bonnie’s killer. As you might have guessed, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book.

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Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor and is able to help families find closure by piece back together bones, create a face and give the deceased back their identity. She is good at what she does and extremely driven, especially after her own daughter Bonnie was taken from her years ago. Eve never found out what happened to her daughter and is still obsessed with the case… So when a name from the past resurfaces, she dives right in even though it might be dangerous. She doesn’t want her boyfriend or good friend Catherine to be involved, but they follow her anyway… And things will become both dangerous and complicated real soon.

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When I first saw this copy of Eve at my hostel’s book exchange I was immediately intrigued by the cover and blurb. ‘FIRST IN A BREATHTAKING NEW TRILOGY‘ it said… It sounded like the perfect mystery/thriller read, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I actually DNFed it the first time around and I wish I would have let it stay that way, because I had a really hard time finishing this read. The horrible physical attraction/romance scenes made it really hard to focus on the rest of the story and the plot was quite slow and unbelievable in the first place. Unfortunately not a series I will be reading more of in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: Death Of Secrets – by Bowen Greenwood

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Title: Death Of Secrets
(Secrets #1)
Author: Bowen Greenwood
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: January 31st 2014
Finished reading: February 8th 2016
Pages: 336
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“I’m not sure what’s left of privacy right now, but whatever is left, I want to keep it for a while.”

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I got my copy of Death Of Secrets on a whim some time last year and I decided to pick it up last month because I was in the mood for a mystery/thriller read. Unfortunately I wasn’t impressed at all by this story by Bowen Greenwood. It took me ages to get into the story and I had actually originally decided to DNF it. The slow pace, characters that I couldn’t really care about and a prose that just didn’t grab my attention all disencouraged me to continue reading… And the only reason I decided to finish it in the end is that I almost never DNF a book. I continued reading even thouh I wasn’t convinced by it, and it took me a long time to reach the final page. I don’t like being so negative in my reviews, but it is hard to find positive points in a story I really didn’t like and still wish I hadn’t picked up again… The pace was just beyond slow even though it’s supposed to be an action story and the characters and their actions were not believable. And example? Imagine two main characters spending their time shopping and going on a romantic walk while being on the run from a mysterious enemy that wants to kill them… And then tell me that sounds plausible. The dialogue between the characters felt really unnatural as well. The general idea in Death Of Secrets is actually quite interesting though, but I can’t say that’s enough to actually enjoy the story.

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Kathy Kelver is just another student on her way home when she becomes a witness to a murder. Just before the man dies in front of her eyes, he gives her a USB stick and tells her to make sure Jakarta gets it. Kathy is terrified and runs to her dorm to call the cops, but when she goes back with her roommate, the body is gone and all evidence washed away. The police think she didn’t tell the truth, but Kathy soon finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous conspiracy. She has to run for her life and is determined to find out what is on the mysterious computer file on the USB. What she doesn’t know is that that file contains new technology that can change the future and privacy as we know it forever…

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The general idea of Death Of Secrets sounds intriguing and I guess that is why I decided to get a copy in the first place. Unfortunately the novel itself ended up being a disappointment. With a slow pace, flat characters with unbelievable actions, a prose that couldn’t catch my eye and a plot that is more than chaotic I almost wish I had sticked with my original decision to DNF it… Because I’m sorry to say I really struggled to finish this read.

BOOK REVIEW: Everblue – by Brenda Pandos

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Title: Everblue
(Mer Tales #1)
Author: Brenda Pandos
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: July 29th 2011
Finished reading: July 30th 2015
Pages: 304
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“Stars pebbled the heavens and I vowed to never take the beauty for granted once we were back home, guarding the gate like it should be.”

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I have to be honest and say I wasn’t really sure this novel would be for me back when I downloaded it at Amazon. But since I could get it for free and the cover intrigued me, I decided to give Everblue a go anyway. Unfortunately, my instinct was more than right. I came really close to actually DNF this read, and that doesn’t happen often. The main characters were seriously frustrating; especially Ash; she goes from wanting Fin to Callahan to even Collin… Up to the point that I wish I could have slapped her and say: ‘make up your mind already‘! A lot of YA authors seem to feel their novels need a love triangle and Brenda Pandos is not an exception. The worst part: there are actually various love triangles in Everblue! I wasn’t a big fan of the prose either and I felt the story dragged at some points. I guess this story might have worked better as a novella… But even then I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

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Ashlyn and Tatiana are best friends, but Tatiana has a secret. Ash thinks she just has very strict parents, but there is actually a whole different reason why Tatchi and her brother Fin can’t go outside at night. It turns out they aren’t exactly human; they have to hide their secret and tails so humans don’t find out. When Tatchi and Fin suddenly disappear, Ash is more than worried. She just lost her best friend and she actually has a huge crush on Fin… But she doesn’t know what to do to find them. Will she be able to find them again? And what about the secret?

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Everblue is about mermaids, which is quite interesting since these creatures are mostly ignored in YA literature. I liked the descriptions of Natatoria, but that was about it. The prose was actually quite annoying at points and the characters bland and irritating. Still, I think the worst part of this novel is the fact that it has various (unnecessary) love triangles. The romance scenes are cheesy and it seems that Ash changes who she wants to be with with every single heartbeart. Irritating and not exactly believable. In other words, I would definitely not recommend reading this one.

BOOK REVIEW: Claudia Must Die – by T.B. Markinson

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Title: Claudia Must Die
Author: T.B. Markinson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 8th 2014
Finished reading: July 3rd 2015
Pages: 126
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“Claudia’s eyes grew ten sizes when she saw Parker was armed once again. Great! Now she was being locked up with an eerily calm lunatic and an attack dog loyal to the lunatic.”

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I wanted to take a quick break from the YA fantasy genre, so I decided to pick up this Amazon kindle freebie. Claudia Must Die looked and sounded so promising… But unfortunately the only positive I can say about it that it’s short. That’s probably also the only reason I’ve actually finished this novel by T.B. Markinson, because I came really close to DNFing it. I normally love the whole mystery/thriller genre, but this was just bad. The characters and prose seriously annoyed me and the plot wasn’t plausible at all. Such a shame because I was really looking forward to this read! The quote above shows part of my problem with Claudia Must Die: the relationship between Claudia and Parker. One minute everything they are best friends and the next they want to kill each other; not credible at all and quite annoying. But then again, the whole plot is nowhere close to believable. As you might have guessed, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one even if you can get it for free like I did.

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When Claudia finally realizes her husband is bad business, it is already too late… And she sees no other way out than stealing his money and run for her life. She has managed to survive so far, but her husband will not stop until he finds her. He hired two assassins to kill her and Claudia is forced to keep running. When she sees Parker for the first time, she has a new plan. Parker could have been her twin and she decides to sacrifice the college student’s life: make the assassins killer Parker so Claudia can take over her life. But her plan doesn’t work out and things are becoming more complicated by the minute… And more and more people seem to want Claudia dead. Will she be able to escape her fate?

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I don’t think there was one character that felt ‘real’ or that I could have liked. Some were on the border of acting like a schizophrenic and the actions of all of them were highly exaggerated and far-fetched. The plot itself was highly improbable and the prose itself didn’t help either… I almost never hand out such low ratings, but I couldn’t bring myself giving Claudia Must Die more than one star. Such a shame!

BOOK REVIEW: The Next Best Thing – by Jennifer Weiner

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Title: The Next Best Thing
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
First published: July 1st 2012
Finished reading: December 29th 2014
Pages: 448
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“You don’t get perfect-but I was going to grab this happiness and hold it as tightly as I could. I was going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted.”

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I had promised myself to start using my TBR jar again as soon as I finished the Bookish Bingo challenge. I guess that didn’t work out the way I planned… Instead of getting a nice surprise and a refreshing read, I got The Next Best Thing. Which ended up being closer to my next worst nightmare than anything else. Sure, a contemporary romance novel isn’t exactly my cup of tea in most cases and the problem with this book could have been me. Still I struggled and had to literally force myself to finish this book, crossing my fingers things would get better later on. Unfortunately, the tremendous amount of cliches, boring characters and bad storyline in general just make me think I’ve wasted my time reading this book. If you are into contemporary romance, you might like this novel by Jennifer Weiner, who knows? But if you don’t, it’s best to stay far away from The Next Best Thing.

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Ruth Saunders was left without parents and with terrible scars on her face and body after an accident when she was a little girl. She was raised by her grandmother and now that she has grown up, she is determined to make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood. She moves to Los Angeles with her grandmother and soon discovers it is harder than she thought to get a job without the typical pretty face… And while she gets a job in the end writing for a different show, this is not what her dream is. She has written her own show, The Next Best Thing, and desperately tries to convince the big guys of approving her show. When she finally succeeds and she gets the green light to run her own show, she doesn’t realize things won’t go as she had planned initially. Soon enough the show she had originally written is being altered piece by piece, leaving it without its original message. And there is nothing Ruth can do about it. And not only that, certain men are causing her problems and try to break her heart…

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Even writing the short summary made me realize how much I disliked The Next Best Thing and I wonder how I managed to finish this novel. I’ve heard Jennifer Weiner‘s earlier books are way better, but I don’t think I will give those a try after having read this one. The cliches, bad storytelling and boring characters just ruined it for me. It might have been a case of not-for-me, but unless you love contemporary romance and cliches, my advice would be to stay away from this one.

BOOK REVIEW: The Abstinence Teacher – by Tom Perrotta

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Title: The Abstinence Teacher
Author: Tom Perrotta
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Religion
First published: October 16th 2007
Finished reading: February 21st 2013
Pages: 358

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“Abstinence is perfectly reasonable in theory,” Gregory said, “It just doesn’t work in practice. It’s like dieting. You can go a day or two, maybe even a week. But eventually that pizza just smells too good.”

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To be honest, I was completely underwhelmed by this book. I know I only started reading it because I didn’t have another book available at the time, but still… This was absolutely disappointing. The lack of imagination and the abuse of cliches made me almost throw my copy of The Abstinence Teacher against the wall. And trust me, I would have felt sorry for the wall. A sex education teacher versus religion, really? Very, very frustrating. The uninspiring and dull writing style wasn’t really helping either, and overall I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up DNFing this novel by Tom Perrotta. This author unfortunately will go to my do-not-read list… In short, this novel was even less than I expected when I started reading it and I would only recommend it to my enemy.

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Ruth Ramsey is a sex education teacher with liberal ideas about how to educate her kids. She believes that knowledge is power, but is then forced to change her approach to an abstinence-only program in which she has to go against all her beliefs. Tim Mason is a former member of various rock bands and addict who was saved by God. Tim now is an active member of The Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church and he is also Ruth’s younger daughter’s soccer coach. This causes problems when he asks the girls to pray together after a game… Ruth has huge problems with The Tabernacle ever since they criticized her liberal ways of teaching and the school forced her into abstinence. Tim and Ruth mistrust each other, but since her daughter isn’t about to give up soccer and her older daughter actually wants to join the church, Ruth was left no choice and has to talk to Tim… With certain consequences.

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The struggle between Tim and Ruth is almost like a small ‘war’ where rather tacky opposites attract… And that is only one of the many cliches used in this novel. The Abstinence Teacher left me bored and above all frustrated wtih the hours wasted on reading it. I normally don’t enjoy to DNF a novel, but I wish I would have done it with this one. NOT recommended.