Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs For The Lazy

Posted February 23, 2017 by Kara in Better Late Than Never, book review, Kara / 3 Comments

Do you have review copies piling up? Do you have eARCs that you requested but never got to because you got overwhelmed by life? Or did you just bite off more than you can chew? (That’s me.) At some point I was still hoping I could review those books, even though my review wouldn’t really be of use to the publisher anymore because it would be still useful to readers, and also to me, because the pile-up was giving me anxiety every time I thought about it. So since it was the new year, I tried my best to suck it up with the promise that if I didn’t like what I was reading, I could DNF at anytime. (I am not great about forced reading. 2016 was almost exclusively mood reading.) And write short reviews. That was important too. I am trying my hardest to read through these quickly, so I am most definitely going to miss subtle details. So that’s how this post was born. And any future posts of late eARCs.

Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs For The LazyThe Taking (The Taking, #1) by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Taking #1
Published by HarperTeen on April 29th 2014
Genres: young adult, science fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.
Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.
Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

I didn’t expect much from this book, to be honest. It got mixed reviews and most of the reviewers I follow weren’t that impressed with it. I only rated it 3.5 stars, but for an alien abduction story that wasn’t all that original, I really enjoyed myself.

The romance was a little weird, but I went with it, though that was probably my least favorite part of the story. The characters were well-developed, and the story was suspenseful and tense.

Kimberly Derting writes well, and the idea of a girl being abducted and showing up five years later, developing superpowers, and having to run from the government, which has a special division to deal with these abductions, worked for me. If this storyline sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because it is. It’s totally derivative, but what it is is fun and entertaining. And isn’t that what matters? I totally intend to read the next installment.

Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs For The LazyThe Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 13th 2014
Genres: young adult, mystery-thriller
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon

With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.
Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.
But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.
So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.
As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

Compulsively readable but forgettable–That’s The Secrets of Lily Graves. I really loved the fact that Lily grew up in a funeral home and was training to take over the family business. I actually enjoyed learning a bit about mortuary science, which is something I knew absolutely nothing about.

I love when a book makes me guess about who the perpetrator is. I really had no idea who did it until the very end. But the way the ending was written was just so clinical and distant compared to the rest of the book. And I really loved the conversational, snappy tone of this whole novel until like the last twenty pages.

The romance was meh, but I really loved the writing and tone of the novel. I would actually like to see Sarah Strohmeyer write another thriller because I think, for the most part, she did a great job with this one. I would just like the novel to go a bit deeper, be a bit more memorable.

Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs For The LazyThe Fall by Bethany Griffin
Series: ,
Published by Greenwillow Books on October 7th 2014
Genres: young adult, horror
Pages: 420
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon

Madeline Usher is doomed.
She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

Once again, I am unsatisfied by an ending. This one was really slow to get started, too, but I stuck with it because of the gothic atmosphere.

Honestly, The Fall was pretty mediocre. I love Bethany Griffin’s writing and loved it in The Masque of the Red Death too, but there is very little plot, the characters are not all that well-developed, and it got repetitive and boring fairly quickly. I love gothic books. But there are so many better ones out there than this.

I think the problem is that Poe’s short stories are dark and atmospheric, but they don’t really work all that great as a full-length novel. There’s just not enough plot there to carry an entire book. And just like Fall of the House of Usher, The Fall doesn’t really work. There isn’t enough story, but there’s a whole lot of meandering atmospheric nothingness. Poe’s writing is a little weird and not my favorite, but I’d definitely recommend reading the real thing instead of a retelling.

Good things? The book was very unsettling and there’s very little romance, which I appreciated because I fully expected the publisher to have forced the author to jam one in there. The voice of Madeline gives off a feeling of despair and hopelessness, and I think that was my favorite thing about the entire book. I appreciate the way the author brought the emotions and the house to life, but there just wasn’t enough plot for me to love it.

3 responses to “Better Late Than Never: Reviews of eARCs For The Lazy

  1. I really enjoyed The Taking when I read it a few years back. I thought it had a lot of originality. However, the books that follow, oi vey. I didn’t think they were nearly as stellar unfortunately 🙁

  2. Overwhelmed is my middle name. 🙂 On top of buying and checking books out from the library, I get some physical review copies as well. I dig myself into these reading holes. I said I wasn’t going to do that this year and read more books I buy, but I haven’t really changed my ways. *sigh*

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