All the Rage is a novel of losing oneself and finding out what is left in the aftermath of tragedy

All the Rage. There’s plenty of it. It eats away at Romy like termites feast on wood. She’s been raped, ostracized, and made into a social pariah. All for the damnable sin of liking a boy and a having a few too many drinks at a party that went terribly wrong.

Romy is a hard character to get to know and a hard character to like. Yes, terrible things have been done to her, things that no girl (or person for that matter) should ever suffer, and she’s turned her shame and her hate in on herself. She’s suffered and agonized and tried yet failed to contort herself into another girl, an unraped girl who hides behind an armor of red nail polish and red lipstick, but as the story went on I found my sympathy for Romy being replaced by anger at her. Her stubborn refusal to tell anyone what happened to her, what she knows, what’s eating at her started to really grate after a while. I wanted her to stand up for herself, for Penny. I wanted her to fight back, to go after the one who made her the way she is, but she kept hiding in her silence.

The writing is strong. The descriptions of pain, of what Romy feels on the inside are vivid, and author Courtney Summers finds a unique way of bringing forth the internal turmoil and struggle. I liked the way the characters looked at life. Caro with her realization about her unborn child, and Romy’s own mother when she realizes everything that Romy carries and won’t share with those who would help her. Romy’s discovery that she is praying Caro’s baby isn’t a girl. Little thoughts and scenes that build and reflect the overall theme that winds its way through Romy and Penny and the town of Grebe where everyone knows everything and nothing all at once.

Despite my frustrations at Romy’s decisions (and sometimes lack there of), the ending was satisfying. It felt like just the right place to leave the story. I definitely recommend this book. I read a lot and sometimes books all seem the same and blend together until I can barely remember one from another, but this one definitely stands out.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers, St. Martin’s Griffin Books, 2015.

The Little Death: a tale of murder, mystery, and some crazy rich people

P.J. Parrish’s The Little Death is a murder mystery that twists and turns, surprises and shocks. Thriller fiction isn’t my usual go-to read, but I rather enjoyed this different story and its odd characters. The people of Palm Beach are rich, spoiled, egotistical, and rather a bit depraved. Louis Kincaid, former cop and current private investigator, is completely out of his element as he tries to figure out who has killed escort-to-the-rich Mark Durand. The only thing he is certain of is that the killer isn’t #1 suspect Reggie Kent because he lacks both the strength and the stomach to stab, whip, and decapitate his former lover. Is it a crime of passion or a crime of hate? And can Kincaid solve the mystery before the innocent Kent ends up dead in a prison cell?

pjpWhat I really enjoyed about the book was the time period in which it took place. I noticed that the book was written in 2009, but the story took place in 1989. I wasn’t sure why it couldn’t take place today, but as I read I realized there were no cell phones, no internet, no Google search to spew forth answers, and no instant information at the touch of a speed dial button. No DNA tests either. By excluding modern, convenient technology, the author slows the pace of the investigation. The information can only come as quickly or as slowly as one can page through old case files and old investigation reports. Kincaid and his team must truly detect in order to solve. It was refreshing to read a book where someone couldn’t just tap on their iPhone and get answers.

I also didn’t realize that there is an entire series of Louis Kincaid books available and that The Little Death is the tenth one published. I read it as a stand-alone and had no trouble following the story or getting to know the characters. I would definitely read more of Kincaid’s adventures and more in this genre.

How to deal with a bully. Fall in love with him.

bullyWow, just wow! I mean, everything Jared does for Tatum in this book is the definition of true love….if you’re a friggin’ sociopath!!! Jared is a controlling, unstable, jealous wacko who needs loads of therapy, not a relationship with Tatum – the target of his psychotic love/hatred. And Tatum, as much as I tried to like her, is an idiot for wanting him. Fine, I understand that she can’t control who she loves, but at least stay away from him for your own health and safety.

Jared and Tatum used to be besties, rarely separating from each other’s company, knowing one another better than anyone else in the world. Then Jared spends the summer before freshman year with his father and comes back a mean, cruel jerk who does nothing but torment Tatum and spread rumors that ruin any chance of her dating guys or making friends. It gets so bad that Tatum spends her junior year attending school in France before returning home for her senior year, a year in which she will finally find out what happened to her once sweet, childhood friend during that summer at his dad’s.

When the weak and ridiculous reason for his cruelty is finally revealed, all it elicited from me was a very big, very loud: “are you fucking kidding me?!?!?” What happened to Jared during the summer with his father was absolutely terrible, but to take it out on Tatum for the next three years made absolutely no sense. His declaration that he’d loved her through it all was probably intended to make readers go “awwww!” but it just made me vomit.

Tatem’s reaction to him was disgusting. I finally thought I’d found a female character that I could like. Sure, she’d put up with way too much crap because of Jared and all his rumor-spreading and bullying (yes, that is what this is – bullying – not love), but she was finally starting to fight back and then one smoldering look from the Bully, and she’s creaming her panties. Great message to send to young girls about how to respond to guys who are emotionally and mentally abusive.