Mini Book Reviews: Radiant Angel, Mosquitoland, and Eight Hundred Grapes

May 28, 2015 Mini Book Reviews 13

I read all three of these books in the hopes that they’d be candidates for my 2015 Summer Reading List. Some panned out and some didn’t. 

Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMilleRadiant Angel, Nelson Demille
Fiction – Mystery/Thriller (Released May 26, 2015)
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it…if you’re a fan of counter-terrorism thrillers.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary: The disappearance of a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service posing as a U.N. diplomat (Vasily Petrov) from a Hamptons party sends John Corey on a quest to stop a threat from a re-emerging Russia.

My Thoughts: Every now and then, I love a good espionage or counter-terrorism thriller and Nelson DeMille is my go-to man. Though Radiant Angel was an enjoyable read, it isn’t one of DeMille’s strongest books. I was interested in the spy tradecraft, the Russian terrorist mindset, the real life “what if” scenario DeMille poses (how a newly aggressive Russia could attack the U.S.), and the security weaknesses we still have in the post-9/11 age. John Corey, the ex-Anti-Terrorism Task Force agent who stars in many of DeMille’s novels (i.e. The Panther, The Lion’s Game), is his usual sarcastic, salty self, but the dialogue got a bit cheesy at times. I was also disappointed by the caliber of Corey’s adversary (Vasily Petrov)…he wasn’t quite as brilliantly evil as “The Lion” or “The Panther”. And, I wish the suspense had been more intricate…there was only one real question to be answered rather than a web of intrigue to untangle. Though this wasn’t my favorite of DeMille’s work, it would still be a good read for fans of this genre or those interested in the newly re-emerging Russian threat.

Mosquitoland, David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Fiction – Young Adult (Released March 3, 2015)
354 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: After moving to Mississippi from Cleveland following her parents’ divorce, sixteen year old Mim Malone goes on a road trip to find out what happened to her mother and why her father and new stepmother are trying to keep them apart.

My Thoughts: Mosquitoland is a quirky, but heartwarming book starring a precocious teen who pulled at my heartstrings. Mim’s voice is distinctive in a Dawson’s Creek, “older than her age” kind of way, but she also throws in the lingo of a teenager. The story is told partly through letters Mim writes while on the road trip to Cleveland and partly through her real time experience. After a delightful beginning that caused me to fall in love with Mim, I was ready to write this book off as “perfectly fine, but no more than that” as the road trip progressed. I swung between loving the letter sections (which mostly provided background about her family situation and her feelings about it) and really feeling the YA-ness (not a good thing) of the real time sections. But, I loved the direction the story took towards the end and it enabled me to view the rest of the book through a different (and better!) lens. If you like quirky teen stories, give this one a shot…and hang in there! Mosquitoland is going on my 2015 Summer Reading List.

Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura DaveEight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Fiction (Release Date: June 2, 2015)
272 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary: When Georgia Ford returns to her family’s Sonoma Vineyard after discovering her fiancé had been keeping a huge secret, she doesn’t find the comfort she’s expecting.

My Thoughts: This novel was blurbed by Jonathan Tropper (author of This Is Where I Leave You) and I love books about family dysfunction, so I’d hoped for a fun and funny summer read. Alas, Eight Hundred Grapes was fairly predictable…and forgettable. There are certain elements straight out of “You’ve Got Mail”, This Is Where I Leave You, and Seating Arrangements (all books/movies I loved), but the combination of so much “been there, done that” makes this novel feel like it doesn’t have its own identity. Eight Hundred Grapes felt like a mildly entertaining romantic comedy (starring J.Lo) in book form, but I ultimately just didn’t care about these people or any of their family secrets.


13 Responses to “Mini Book Reviews: Radiant Angel, Mosquitoland, and Eight Hundred Grapes”

  1. Diane

    Tooo bad about Radiant Angel. I recall the last DeMille book i read was a bit cheesy as well. I still want to try it though (I can skim the so so parts).

    • admin

      Though it was a bit cheesy, I’ll still take a DeMille thriller over most other authors any day!

    • admin

      Thank you 🙂 Ha – I feel like it’s not really that much compared to other bloggers! But, I’m also not trying to write a book at the same time!!

  2. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    I think Mosquitoland would be a fun read! I did finish Eight Hundred Grapes; I liked it more than you did, but I wasn’t expecting much – ha! I think I was drawn in by the story line of family legacy, through the winery, and I like the way Laura Dave writes about relationships. Having said that, there was definitely some predictability; I kind of anticipated that. Hope you’re having a great day!!

    • admin

      I saw your Goodreads review on that today! I feel like a lot of people will probably like this one – it has that vibe. Just wasn’t for me. However, I’m LOVING To Kill A Mockingbird right now!

    • admin

      Ha – so did I and I’m with you on Team Pacey! But, it’s just the child talking like an adult type of dialogue that’s similar to DC..the rest of the book is totally different.

  3. Donna @ OnDBookshelf

    Count me amongst those who really enjoyed Eight Hundred Grapes. I didn’t have high expectations for it, but I particularly liked all the info about vineyards and wine making.

  4. Kathy

    I’m sorry Nelson DeMille’s book was disappointing. He’s always been a solid read for me in the past, but I haven’t read this one. Eight Hundred Grapes caught my attention a week or so ago on Goodreads, but I passed it up because of time more than anything. I’m not sure it would appeal to me if it’s pretty much what you’ve said. I guess I’ll pass on that one.

    • admin

      He’s always been solid for me too and I still enjoyed this book, it just wasn’t up to HIS usual standards for me!

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