You know what, I put off too many mini reviews because I dread formatting them prettily or want to tie them together for a theme. Which is silly, so today’s the start of more casually structured mini reviews, which I think will still be useful even if they aren’t perfect!
Today’s pairing actually does have a theme, though–both stories combine paranormal with suspense, and while I rated them both the same, I definitely thought one succeeded in what it set out to do more than the other.
Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Rating: 3.5 stars
Olivia Mead is fighting for women’s rights in the early 1900s–not an easy task when her father has her hypnotized in the hopes it will make her more obedient. What ends up happening is that she is somehow able to see the “truth” of what everyone’s character is, but unable to speak of it. I quite enjoyed the beginning and ending chapters, and the stirrings of the women’s suffrage movement is definitely a fascinating topic.
While there were some nicely atmospheric moments and the period setting is well-detailed, however, somehow this story and these characters never quite grabbed me by the throat the way I’d hoped they would. I kept waiting to feel passion and outrage on behalf of these women, and yet I read about these events with curiosity and commiseration, but without any real sense of kinship or compassion. I think the story could have benefited from more complex plotting, more intellectual discussion, more nuanced characters (particularly the men), and more feeling as well.
Still, this is an interesting book, and one that I wouldn’t be surprised to find on extra credit lists for showcasing (albeit in a paranormal way that is also a strangely literal manifestation) this period in history. It also helps that Amulet does such a fine job of packaging this author’s books, with elaborate jackets and typography as well as “spooky” photographs from the era. I also liked the somewhat atypical ending (view spoiler), which contributes to bumping this up in star ratings for me.
This one doesn’t quite reach the same level of sophistication of themes and feeling as the author’s previous book In the Shadow of Blackbirds, but it’s a worthwhile read if you’re curious about the book or particularly interested in the era. Expect to have your intellect stimulated, but perhaps not your heart.
Title: Made for You
Author: Melissa Marr
Rating: 3.5 stars
Someone is stalking Eva Tilling. She wakes up from a car accident with no memory of how it happened, and the curious ability to see the moment before someone’s death before she touches them. But will she be able to save those she loves?
I often have trouble with YA thrillers, but I found Made for You to be surprisingly entertaining and engaging.
More positives, with some mild spoilers:
— Eva doesn’t play the “all other girls are evil” game. She stands up for herself and for other girls, even if they haven’t been great to her.
— changing romances were handled believably
— the heroine gets involved with a guy who’s slept around a lot (not sure why, although I think we’re meant to believe it’s from family troubles and not wanting to give into his feelings for his BFF), and not only does her mom gently suggest that he get tested, but Eva brings it up to him immediately. AND he offers to do it on a regular basis!
— the paranormal element and central mystery are interesting
— I don’t normally love killer POVs, but this one kept my interest, especially in the first half of the book
— nice parental dynamics
— Pacing felt a bit uneven in the second half, especially after you discover who the killer is
— I liked the characters, but a little more development would have made these guys more compelling
— Ditto on the paranormal bits.
All in all, a solidly readable, engaging YA thriller. I wouldn’t call this a southern gothic (it’s not evocative enough for that), but I enjoyed the characters and romantic suspense.
Advance copies was provided by the publishers for these reviews.
From previous feedback we’ve gotten, I think people seem to like shorter reviews sometimes–depending on the book, I know I do. In the future, I think I may try out even shorter review formats for books that I don’t have as much to say about as well. I think they work especially well if you know the blogger’s taste well enough and how it compares/contrasts with your own. What are your thoughts?