Review: The Nature of Cruelty

The Nature of Cruelty
The Nature of Cruelty by L.H. Cosway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5 stars. I don't know what the hell happened with this book. Actually, I do. The MC male was so off-putting that I couldn't understand the MC female's attraction for him. She was fairly irritating too. Robert was a bullying creep to Lana when they were children but she's harbored an attraction to him. All grown up and off to embark on her Ph.D program, she stays with BFF Sasha (Robert's sister) whom Rob has moved in with temporarily as his girlfriend Kara has put him out of his apartment. Apparently, attraction is rekindled and the mance happens. Let me just say that Robert never came across as one who was truly sorry of guilt ridden about the torment he inflicted on Lana. He gave a perfunctory apology and though it was enough to make her heart sing, it did nothing in the way of giving me a reason to root for these two or like Robert one iota. Lana even made excuses for Robert's bullying ways. He has Daddy angst in the box of pain he carries around. I. Don't. Care. Guy was a jerk and so he earned this book being tagged with "Hero such a jerk I don't care why". Because basically, nothing I was given here, explains it sufficiently or excuses it. I couldn't even work myself up to hate Lana because I just wrote her off as too ridiculous to begin with so when she ceases to take care of her health because she's in "lurve" I just didn't care. He wasn't worth all this angst and she was a twit.

I'm glad I got this out of my TBR pile but wow do I wish I could get those hours back. Thankfully, it was only hours & not days I wasted. I don't recommend this one. Pass.

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Review: Threshold

Threshold by Janet E. Morris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. I'm a sucker for stories set on space stations and this one delivered. It reminded me of Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh in some ways and that's not a bad thing.

Mickey Croft runs Threshold and is basically determined to herd cats as many things converge upon the space station at a very critical time. His mandate to his people is "Do what needs to be done to make sure a problem isn't". Earth is now an off limits location to most everyone except a very wealthy and select few (more an eco preserve than anything else) and this complicates making the hajj for Muslims from Medina so they've arrived on the station to get as close to Mecca as possible. In addition to this there's a conference discussing "humanity" status and rights for those beings deemed "subhuman". This ties into the Medinan delegation visit too as their protective servants are so designated. Added to this already volatile concoction is the catalyst that no one expected, a starcrossed love affair between Dini Forat, the Mullah's teenage daughter and Rick Cummings III, the teenage son of an eco/business magnate. They set off an interstellar incident complete with the complications of smuggling biological contraband & psychotropic beetles that turns into a bridge to book two in this series. Their involvement puts the lives of the Alis (Medinan protective servants) at immediate risk and calls into service Vince Remson to not only preserve those lives but also get them some sort of established personhood & accompanying rights. Over in Customs & Immigration, Riva Lowe & Reice are dealing with what they call a Relic. Astronaut Joe South, newly arrived at Threshold in his ship STARB1RD (lovingly called Birdy) after awaking from cryosleep off his course and way out of his time, by 500 years! He's, understandably having major adjustment problems and is causing some worry. Luckily, due to some help from Lowe he's given a task that becomes integral to something else huge going on at Threshold. A spacer scavenger named Keebler's found some otherworldly and unreadable orb and South has had a relevant encounter with it during his 500 year sleep.

I quite enjoyed this book and loved how everything came together. I definitely will read the next in the series. Definitely recommended to scifi fans.

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Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's a whole lot of crazy crammed into this story and I rather enjoyed it. I did figure out somewhat early what must have been the thing that the three women had in common and I enjoyed reading along to find out that I was correct. I found the reveal, confession & resolution rather quick (it's literally a few pages) but I've read other books where this happens so I think it must be that the journey was really the point and the Who and Why is not the raison d'ĂȘtre.

I found it most difficult to abide with Rache but she's the first unreliable narrator I've enjoyed reading in a very long while. This close look in with an alcoholic was suffocating, uncomfortable, pitiable and infuriating all at the same time. Ultimately, I think she was well written because I felt a lot for and toward her as I read. I even hoped for her to succeed at something, anything, for herself in the end. Meghan, while she had her own box of issues was a bit less real to me or more correctly, she was remote. I don't know if that was by design or just my interpretation while reading about her point of view. Though told in her voice, I felt that I never knew who she was. I was reading about her but I never felt like she was quite there. Given how things unfold in the story, perhaps that's the point. Anna seemed a clear character and while I didn't like her either, I saw where she was coming from and took some satisfaction in the truths that rained down on her about the life she cattily constructed and had thought she was immune from.

The men in the story, Scott, Tom and Kamal were fine as characters but never felt as well crafted as the women and given that they are the hinges on which most of the angst is hung, I found that a shame. Still, their actions did come together neatly and I thought they were woven in well.

I know this is oft compared to Gone Girl (which I've not read) so I don't know if it's a must read for fans of that book, but I do think it's a great and fast read for fans of mysteries and psychological thrillers. If you like intimate looks at the not so pretty sides of people, give this one a read.

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Review: Little Beach Street Bakery

Little Beach Street Bakery
Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read chick lit, I read Brit chick lit and so I was very happy & satisfied with this one. Adored it & will definitely read the next in the series. Polly was a character I rooted for from the start and I very much wanted things to work out for her. She had a tough go with bankruptcy and the break-up with Chris (who I thought was a first class twerp most of the story but who had a redemptive salvo) and while things didn't just go perfectly for her when she moved to Polbearne it was still a considerable improvement. From the first loaf of bread that she made complete with her own tears, I was swept away. Neil, the puffin brought a first friend and much needed levity & also something to care for. I loved meeting the fishermen. I thought Tarnie had better romantic chemistry with Polly but I can see why Huckle had to be the one in the end (hopefully his & Polly's romantic chemistry is better in the next book). Gillian was from hell and even when I found out what ailed her psyche, I still didn't feel that justified the horrible way she treated everyone (who the hell tries to outlaw bagels for an entire town?!). She acted like she'd cornered the market on a hard life and took it out on everyone else and they all cowered and kowtowed to her! I liked that Polly felt charitable pity for Gilllian and her situation because I'd none to give. I did like how the two were sort of in a lifeboat situation for work and how that gave Polly the space to bake and thrive that she needed. I liked Huckle and his friend Reuben (who I just knew was going to be the perfect match for Kerensa).

Polbearne was an adorable setting and described beautifully even in the off-season full of likable characters that I didn't want to leave just yet. I enjoyed reading about it and very much look forward to the next installment. I'd definitely recommend this one for a weekend or vacation read (perhaps in a sleepy seaside).

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Review: Spare Brides

Spare Brides
Spare Brides by Adele Parks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent read. Definitely a 4.5 (why is there still no way to grant half stars on Goodreads?!) This was the first historical fiction that I've read by Adele Parks but I've read plenty of her contemporary fiction and I like her style. I wasn't disappointed with this book and she continues to have a way of writing women and their relationships, dreams and lives, in a way I find witty, poignant and true. I actually liked each of the women portrayed in this book so that was new (I usually find there's always one I don't much like in Parks' books but I still find them terribly interesting to read about). I completely bought in to their individual desperation & how they each went about achieving their goals. Life following WWI was a bit grim if you were a woman looking for a male mate and it was clear in this story that many were. I won't spoil here but I will say that I didn't think I'd root for Bea as much as I did. She came off as a bit bitter to begin but then I'd feel for her because of her unfortunate looks, cankles and grim finances. She's worse off than Edith Crawley and it hurt to watch. Even though everyone else was suffering in their own way, I felt she'd suffered enough at the starting gate. so the added indignity of "maiden aunt" status was more than I wanted her to bear for too long.

I think this would be a great read for book club and should it come up in any of those I'm a member of, I'll be happy to read this again & look forward to the discussion. It's not a hard read but it can be engrossing so while it's not a chore to get through, you may experience aggravation at having to put it away during a commute or reading lunch. I don't consider books lengthy until they reach the 500 page mark but I do know some book club reads around the 450 (this one is around that) or so mark can be considered a bit long & too much of a commitment with a looming deadline. I still think this one is worth the read.

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