Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mini Reviews for Grown-Up Titles: Rabbit Back Literature Society & French Coast

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
Release Date: January 20, 2015 (orig. 2006)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Pages: 343
Keywords: writing, winter, fantasy
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
A highly contagious book virus, a literary society and a Snow Queen-like disappearing author 'She came to realise that under one reality there's always another. And another one under that.' Only very special people are chosen by children's author Laura White to join 'The Society', an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips. But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, 'The Game'? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura's winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there another tenth member, before her? Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light . . .  In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.
I want to start by saying how much I love the look of this book. I will read pretty much anything, but I firmly believe that a book's look matters when picking it up or recommending it. This one looks awesome. You can tell it's going to be a literary sort of book, but that's it's also got an air of mystery about it, and you don't quite know what's coming.

The interesting thing about this novel was the storytelling. That's all it really was. Ella was invited as a tenth member of the town's famed literary society (basically an uppity club of writers who had a very strict set of rules and only talked with one another). She's working on a piece that's going to become an exposé of the group, however, so she institutes a long-forgotten rule of the group called The Game. It's a form of scary storytelling where you can surprise another member and force them to feed you information using various potions/weird drinks to make them tell the truth. Much of the story revolves around other stories, and learning about the past through memories of the members. It was interesting, and there was a good portion of mystery that interested me, but I wanted there to be more action in the book. It was very slow-moving, and it took me a while to finish this one because I wasn't that invested. Every few chapters, the narration switched to the view of another member, Martti Winter, who I didn't particularly like. I mean, he was a bland sort of character, but having the story from his perspective didn't seem to add anything, so I'm not sure why it was done in the first place.
As interesting as the premise was (the description is AWESOME), I was disappointed with the delivery. It was too slow for my taste, and I felt like nothing was really answered and nothing really happened through the whole course of the book.

French Coast by Anita Hughes
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 304
Keywords: France, seaside, romance
Format Read: finished copy via publisher (thanks!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Serena has the job she's always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.
Everything feels unbelievably perfect . . . until it doesn't. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she'll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette's who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate's generosity, but it seems that there's more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents' marriage, and it isn't long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new 
friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track.
Oh man, do I have some feels about this one. If there were NO ROMANCE plot, the book would be great. I was super into Serena's job and her interview with Renault, and I loved the friendship between Serena and Zoe and the mystery behind who Zoe really is and why she's pretending to be someone else. However, there had to be a romance.
This guy bumps into her randomly while she's engaged, and then proceeds to follow her to other places. It's supposed to be charming, but this is what STALKING is. Eventually, he tracks her down because she lost an object (no spoilers) and literally figures out her exact hotel room even though her name isn't on the room, and she's staying with a random stranger (Zoe). He proceeds to be super creepy by not telling her where they're going to dinner, various places, etc, and I could never actually like this guy because the whole time I was wondering if this was going to turn into a creepy serial killer novel.
It also didn't fit with Serena's character. She was this big, strong executive interviewing an awesome woman and she went to Cannes by herself to pursue this. And then she got plummeted in this weird "relationship" with stalker-man. It felt very forced and unnatural, and the book would have stood just fine without it.

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