Archive for May, 2014

Here’s the blurb:

While investigating the brutal murders committed by a mysterious serial killer known only as “Raithe,” bookish LAPD Detective Sarah Milton is unprepared to have her entire world turned upside down. Innate powers to see the dead, lying dormant since her mother’s murder, have reawakened in her after a near-fatal shooting. Along for the ride is Sarah’s irrepressible thirteen-year-old childhood “imaginary friend,” Anna Nigma, a most atypical poltergeist. Amid fears for her sanity, Sarah must come to grips with the realization that her reality is now a mix of the natural and supernatural, where powerful, ancient mystic symbols can grant amazing powers over life and death, and paranormal influence extends even into her current murder investigation. Forced to hide her abilities from everyone, Sarah, aided by her spectral friend, has no choice but to bring Raithe to justice on her own, before the sinister forces behind his murder spree claim yet another victim.

Wow is what I thought. I was given a copy to read and review, so since I didn’t go out and get this from a best seller list I was open to the possibility that I might not like this book.

Wrong. I loved it. About the only complaint I had was a minor thing about possibly too much telling rather than showing at the start, and the motivation for the murders seeming obvious to me, but I think those are my quirks. I’m the sort that can tell a twist is coming a mile away, and that in no way stopped me from enjoying it. I’m also an author in the middle of taking an editing class, so I see holes in everything.

Saying that, this book had very few holes. I loved the relationship between Sarah and Anna, and was on the edge of my seat when I knew Anna was about to make her appearance. It was a nice mystery story-line, decent amount of twists, nice action, good thread of romance that didn’t take away from the main plot, and most of all great humor. I definitely saw the influence of Joss Wheldon in play, but again the humor was played right, not taking away from tension when it needed to be tense.

The descriptions were very vivid. I found myself halfway through thinking this would make a great movie because I could see it so clearly in my head. Not sure if that will happen since movies out lately seem to pick the most angst ridden books, but we can hope. Maybe a tv series. It has that sort of vibe.

Anyway. The major problem I had with this book I noticed a third of the way through (but I’m sure I just didn’t notice it earlier), I couldn’t put it down. I had work to do. I had sleep to do, but no, I wanted to see what happened next. What funny thing would Anna do next? Would Sarah’s coworkers find out? What trouble is Sarah going to land herself into next time?

Then it was over, gone, but unlike other books I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness because the author was nice enough to give a satisfying conclusion. That said, I do want to read the next one and I will be looking out for what the author writes next.

Seriously, check this one out. It’s by an indie author and only has 36 ratings on goodreads. That’s a tragedy for such an great thriller / humor novel. More people need to read this book and spread the word! It’s just so funny and awesome, and everything I could wish a book to be.

Here’s the link to other reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17450007-reading-the-dead

Another Dennis Lehane. Love this guy.

This one was harder to read than my previous one of his: ‘A drink before the war.’ They both deal with difficult topics, but this one seemed to go deeper. I don’t think it was any more graphic, but as a lot of the book was based around one event that tied the three main characters together: one of them getting abducted and abused as a child, and this character was a pov character, it went deeper into the psychology.

Here’s the blurb:

Reluctantly, Sean Devine confronts the world of violence and pain when his childhood friend’s daughter is murdered and the investigation brings him face-to-face with a vigilante killer and a man with a dangerous secret.

I’m not sure that blurb does the best job describing it. Mystic River is a mystery. Most of it revolves around Jimmy’s, Sean’s childhood friend’s daughter being murdered. Sean is detective in the case and sets out to find out who did it. And then there’s Dave, the friend abducted while they were playing. He came home the night Jimmy’s daughter was murdered covered in blood.

I guessed all the twists before they came about, but that didn’t stop it from being a good read, even if I puzzled out who did it a short way through the book. Lehane gives enough clues for the reader to be able to work things out before the conclusion, and while I prefer being shocked, I didn’t mind that. Sure, the puzzle was interesting while it lasted, but it was still rewarding to see the characters find their way to the truth.

Disclaimer here: I’m told I’m unusually good at puzzling out who done its, so the twists may not be as obvious as they appeared to me, and even if they are, it’s nice sometimes for the reader to feel cleverer than the characters.

Lehane’s writing was great. Don’t expect the humor you get in his Kenzie and Gennaro series, but you still get the emotional poignancy. Even though I knew the twists were coming, they still wacked a emotional punch.

Everything wrapped up pretty neatly by the end, even if some bits were so darn sad. All in all, I’d say this was a good read. If you liked the film, read it. If you like mysteries, read it. I think the only people I’d warn not to read this are those who only like ‘happy, happy, rainbows’ books. This is not one of those.

For more reviews on this book see: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21671.Mystic_River

 

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. For my review on the first book, take a look here: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/book-review-wednesday-cinder-5-stars/

Here’s the blurb for the second:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Now I loved the first one, so imagine my surprise when I ended up loving the second one even more. This one adds a couple fresh characters: Scarlet and Wolf. I was worried that Scarlet may end up too much like Cinder, but I shouldn’t have. Scarlet was a much tougher character. She strikes me as someone who’s been through the ringer quite a few times. She knows how to stand up for herself, and she’s not afraid to do anything for the ones she loves.

Cinder became tough in the first book. She had to, but she still had an air of vulnerability about her. She was also nice to those around her. She didn’t go out of her way to cause conflict. Scarlet on the other hand is prickly with everyone she meets. In that way, I guess Cinder is the more human of the two. Funny since she’s the cyborg, and Scarlet the human.

Wolf is another awesome addition. Imagine a really really dangerous, but also insanely cute puppy. That about sums up what Wolf is like. He’s got the mysterious loner thing going on, and then he’ll catch sight of something he’s interested in like the view out the window of the vehicle he’s in, or any type of food, and you can practically see his tail wagging.

And then there’s my new favorite character: Thorne. Thorne is what makes the second book better for me than the first. He’s just so funny. I turned each page hoping for another interaction between him and Cinder.

Here’s an exchange which sums up the relationship between these two:

“A relieved grin filled up Thorne’s face. “We’re having another moment, aren’t we?”

“If by a moment, you mean me not wanting to strangle you for the first time since we met, then I guess we are.”

I love this guy. I want to read the next book, just so I can read more of him.

Everything in the second book seemed better than the first, and since I loved the first that’s pretty damn awesome. The plot seemed faster paced, there was more action, more mayhem and higher stakes. And did I mention the humor? Seriously, this book was funny.

My opinion, read Cinder if you haven’t already, then read this one. It’s awesome.

Here’s the link to read more reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13206760-scarlet?from_search=true

Another Stephen King. I’m slowly making my way through them.

This one ranks right up there with my current fav Stephen King book ‘Cujo,’ (I know everyone seems to hate that one, but you can’t help what you love). The writing as usual was excellent. The guy is a master of prose.

Sometimes I feel his stories meander, but this one felt on point all the way through. And before I continue, I best let you know what it’s about in case you don’t know. Here’s the blurb:

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

He keeps the tension high all the way through. I did wonder about the religious lady though, she seems two dimensional. He did make a point to say she’d been harmless before the whole mist thing, which I liked. It made the psychology of it all more interesting. The other characters seemed decent enough.

The psychology side of things made it all more interesting. Some ordinary characters became heroes, and other ordinary characters became villains. Some people turned stupid, while others kept their heads. I love that exploration of how ordinary people react to a crisis.

We get theories about what caused it all, and some evidence supporting one of theories, but no one outright confirms it. For me that worked, because you as the reader are put in the same confused mindset the characters are in. You don’t know how far the mist has gone. If there is an end you can reach, or if it covers the whole world.

That same ambiguity covers the ending of the story. You leave the characters still in the mist. You don’t know if they’ll get out, or if they’ll even survive another day. There’s a certain hopelessness to the whole thing, but also at the end a thread of hope. They might make it, or they might not.

I think overall I preferred that ending to the completely downer ending of the movie version. Don’t get me wrong, the movie version had one of the most powerful endings I’ve seen, but I liked that the book ended with a little hope, no matter how meager.

So, if you like Stephen King ‘The Mist’ is worth a read. And in case you want to read more reviews on this book before making up your mind, here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/813214.The_Mist