Bite Sized Books // Three Different Books Dealing With A Similar Theme

07 August 2018

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I have such a review backlog so please be prepared for more bite sized reviews to come. I’m going to review three books which have a shooting as a central part of the storyline. They’re pretty different books but you’ll be able to see that from my reviews. I didn’t originally intend to review them all together but that thought how could I not?

Published: 5th April 2018

Source: Library

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

My Rating:
Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.
I've long claimed Kelley Armstrong as a favourite author (for at least a year or two when I discovered her books anyway). She has written so many good books series so when I saw this YA book being released I knew I wanted to read it. Even better, my library went and got a copy in so I could read it! I admit, I was wary and the reason I went to the library was because I had heard mixed reviews from folks when it came to her YA books. Considering I claim many of her books as favourites of mine that concerned me because how could she write lacklustre YA books when those marketed as adult ones were so good?

This book deals with the aftermath of a school shooting (it’s in the name guys) and rather than looking at the victims or the perpetrators this one focuses more on the unintended victim of Skye, whose brother, Luka, was one of the shooters and Jesse, Skye’s best friend and who also loses his brother from the shooting. Skye left town after the events and had no plans to return where her surname is synonymous with tragedy and where she lost a brother she loved. And she certainly didn’t want to return and face her former best friend, Jesse, now when she feels her own guilt over what happened to his family.

The book doesn’t wholly focus upon the shooting, though, although it does show how Skye feels her own sense of blame, but also on the misplaced blame others attribute to her because of her brother's actions. This book is more about the mystery of who is terrorising Skye with images and recordings of the shooting. Who is pushing her to look deeper into the shooting and why are they doing it? She doesn’t want to look at the moment her brother became a monster because that is never who he was to her and why should she have to hate him so utterly when she knew there was good to him?

I admit, I enjoyed the mystery aspect but it wasn’t as surprising as some of the mysteries Armstrong has written before. This may be due to it being a standalone book whilst I am used to her writing longer series where various mysteries are developed over several books with small hints dropped throughout. I also admit that the way the mystery was developed and everything was a little weird. I felt like there had to be a suspension of disbelief occurring and maybe that’s because it was elaborate for teenagers… but then teenagers are way smarter than we give them credit for.

I liked the book but it was flawed. I don't know if that's partly because it's a single book as opposed to a series like I'm used to from Armstrong or maybe it's the continued effect of the slump I was in. Something stopped me from loving the book, but it was a good enjoyable book and I’m glad I read it.

Shelter in Place
Published: 29th May 2018
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Thriller
My Rating:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes Shelter in Place—a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This wasn’t my first Nora Roberts book and from the few I’ve read I knew what to expect. Some angst, a lot of good romance, and an interesting story. I was excited about it because it dealt with something different for me and this book began well. The book focuses on two main characters, Simone and Reed. Both were unfortunate to be at a shopping mall when shooters entered and starting opening fire. Both were there for different reasons, Simone was upset over a break from a boy who didn’t deserve her attention so was at the mall cinema with friends to cheer her up. Reed is working waiting tables. Neither expects what the day will bring and how this will shape their future.

The shooting is described in the opening pages of the book and I really think Roberts dealt with the panic and the trauma of the event and the aftermath of the event so very well. and She was sensitive to something which many will have thoughts about, especially with gun control being a key issue in the US right now. I honestly had a lot of respect for how it was written, I felt the terror and the confusion and then the guilt afterwards and the grief and the utter confusion about what’s next. The event was disjointed and filled with confusion and it’s only as the book progresses you begin to get a clear picture of what happened. Like I said, it began well with every day becoming this shocking event. The way the shooting was written with it being quick and disjointed made sense and I had a lot of respect for the initial aftermath.

Then the book began jumping about a bit and rushing forward and it began to lose me.

This book was told with multiple POV which was fine. Once I'd connected to the key characters I was fine with that. But the multiple POV also had time passing at a rapid pace. I expected to see the immediate aftermath and people's reactions but instead, it kept bouncing forwards in time seeing major events in characters lives. It made sense to progress the story forward, and I understood that, but it also meant I grew distant from these characters as I saw these glimpses to their lives but didn’t understand why it was significant to see it. and I got used to that too seeing how even through large gaps of time the shooting still had an impact. I did feel like it was rushed though until Reed and Simone met. I get that was the big romance Roberts was building to but I could have skipped the middle events if that was the case because this book felt dragged out in places and rushed in others. Like Roberts was eager for us to see what was going in their lives and how they changed, but didn’t want to waste time with that and then it felt like the story stopped at their meeting and really dragged during their romance and by that point I was more interested in the mystery, stop telling me about their romance when I wanted to know the whodunnit of who was bumping off survivors!

Oh yeah, because that’s what the plot really needed to focus on. After the shooting which Reed and Simone survived people slowly moved forward with their lives. It wasn’t immediately obvious at first but slowly those who managed to survive the shooting at the mall and move forward started getting killed. It often wasn’t labelled as murder because the killer was skilled at hiding how they did it. Making each death seem like an accident or something, and it’s only as the killer gets sloppy people begin to suspect it’s not a tragic accident but something more.

I admit, you know who the killer is because you get told, but I was eager to learn how they would be discovered and stopped. So you’d think when you reach the big finale I’d have been excited… it sort of felt flat. It went on for a while and then you kept expecting it would end and the story dragged out some more. In fact, I began to skim read because I just stopped caring, I wanted the killer to be stopped and if it has happened 50 pages earlier that would have been awesome.

I know I’m grumbling, but I did enjoy the book in some ways. I just wish it had been shorter. My issues overshadowed the good parts which sucked.

The Ones Who Got Away
Published: 2nd January 2018
Source: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:
It's been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she'd never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home. Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot. When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs…

Liv's words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she'd known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.
This book was one I wanted to read because everyone was talking about it! I eventually gave in in April and purchased me a copy because I didn’t know what I wanted to read but this angsty sounding romance seemed like it could fit. I was in a massive reading slump and I needed something. Anything! Luckily, it helped kick start my reading a touch. Or at least I made it through when I thought the angst and drama would put me off.  As usual, all of my doubts about reading this book were wrong. I am always wrong, this is what I need to remember when I have bookish doubts.

This book focuses upon Liv and Finn who were both survivors of a school shooting which shocked a community (right, there’s a theme here guys) and they also have a messy past as the two hooked up a whole lot at school, up to and including the night of the shooting. A whole lot happens with the shooting and the survivors go forward with their lives.

Liv is so easy to like and connect with because she is just so nice. She tough and fun and flawed, and really who can’t relate to that? She survived that tragic event and whilst she, like anyone, intended to grasp hold of life and let nothing stop her she ends up being far more scarred by that tragedy than she let on. She was scared to live and risk really admit that she wasn’t happy with how things turned out or even say what she wanted in life. The documentary which brought everyone back to town after that shooting is actually the thing which helps her kick start her life again. Seeing the friends she gained from that tragedy helps her realise she needs to do more, and seeing Finn makes her realise she needs to go for what she wants a bit more.

Finn was more difficult for me to like. He was the romantic lead and he did grow on me, but he frustrated the hell out of me too. He was all about Liv living her best life and wanting the best for her. He pushed her to recognise her brilliance and talent and to stop putting herself down and giving into the haters who tried to tell her she was less than. But he never took his own damn advise! I wanted to shake him with his self sacrificing macho bullshit. I really did. Whilst Liv had big changes she embraced change quite well and was good about admitting what she wanted. I just wish Finn had been a bit quicker on the uptake but he got there in the end and I loved every moment Liv and Finn were together. They deserved that second chance to get it right.

This book wasn’t as angsty as I thought it might be but it was most definitely filled with good romance. I got sucked in and was so glad I read it (even if it took me a while). I was totally excited for the next book… but not because Rebecca did some things I wasn’t a fan of in this book. I’ll be reviewing that soon (I hope).

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And do you ever find yourself inadvertently reading books with a similar focus?

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