Thursday, April 17, 2014


pretty little liars #8
sara shepard
harper teen
published 2010

Back in middle school, Ali plucked Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer from obscurity and turned them into the beautiful, popular girls everyone wanted to be.  Ali was the best friend they ever had.  But she also made them do terrible things and taunted them with their worst secrets.  Now, three years later, all their questions about Ali have finally been answered and they can put this awful chapter of their lives behind them.  Or so they think.

I've been really disappointed with this series for awhile now.  I think after the second book the whole thing got really old and annoying.  I was expecting much of the same for Wanted, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  The girls are still incredibly dumb and irritating, but the story itself was finally coming around to an honest-to-goodness conclusion and that's all I wanted.  When all is revealed everything made sense and all the pieces fit together.  Finally, an end.

Well, not really.  As we all know at this point, this is book #8 and there are currently 14 books in the series (not counting Pretty Little Secrets or Ali's Little Lies) with the 15th coming out in June.  So either things aren't as resolved as we thought they were or these idiot girls do more dumb stuff.  Or a combination of both.  I'm kind of bummed that there are more books because I would have been satisfied with this ending (Kate getting her due justice would have been even better, but alas).  So we'll see what kind of trouble these girls get into next.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

cocktails for three

cocktails for three
madeleine wickham
contemporary/chick lit
thomas dunne book
published 2001

At the first of every month, when the office has reached its pinnacle of hysteria, Maggie, Roxanne and Candice meet at London's swankiest bar for an evening of cocktails and gossip.  Here, they chat about what's new in their lives and what's new at The Londoner, the glossy fashion magazine where they all work.  But beneath the girl talk and the laughter, each of the three has something to hide: High-achiever Maggie is pregnant, and terrified at the prospect of becoming a mother; glamorous Roxanne is losing hope that her secret lover will leave his wife; and kindhearted Candice cannot escape the guilty secret that has pursued her since childhood.  What a chance encounter at the cocktail bar sets in motion an extraordinary chain of events, their lives quickly spin out of control and their friendship is stretched to the limit.  Suddenly, Maggie, Roxanne and Candice must face their fears and troubles alone, and it is only a matter of time before one of them snaps...

I bought this book years ago, maybe even when it first came out.  That was when I read Sophie Kinsella's first few books and thought they were great.  Then I read a couple more and realized I hated her books.  So this one sat on my shelf collecting dust.  This year I decided I would make a dent in my shelf.  I would either get rid of the books I wasn't going to read or read them.  So with that in mind I finally started this book.

And I did enjoy it.  I think maybe I just don't like the Shopaholic character.  There were things that drove me nuts about the characters at certain points, but that was because I could see what was coming much better than they could.  No one was over the top crazy (unless they were supposed to be!) and the stories were all believable.  I related most with Maggie, of course.  The reluctant mother who has no idea what she's getting into and then being in way over her head.

But each character brought her own weight to the story.  Despite it taking me so long to finally read and finish this book it was a quick read.  And my only complaint was that not everyone got what was coming to her by the end of the book!

the darkest evening of the year

the darkest evening of the year
dean koontz
published 2007

Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered golden retrievers.  Among dog lovers, she's a legend for the risks she'll take to save an animal from abuse.  Among her friends, Amy's heedless devotion is often cause for concern.  To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can't allow herself to return, Amy's behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.

No on is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home.  The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny.  Even her two other goldens, Fred & Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha.  But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents.  An ominous stranger.  A mysterious home invasion.

And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy's every more and that, whoever it is, he's not alone.

Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature sh's always been there to save.  But now there's no one to save Amy and those she loves.

In most of Dean Koontz's recent books I've read there is an autistic or child with Down's and a dog that has some uncanny sort of understanding of humans.  Most of the time I love it, but the way that the child was treated in this book was hard to read.  I mean, really hard to read.

The whole story is very slow.  He's building suspense and trying to lay out the story, but this time it didn't feel suspenseful and when the resolution is coming to and end it happens in about 4 pages.  After 10 years of being tormented by this woman there is no confrontation it's just over.  And the outcome is so 'magical' that I just couldn't get into it.  In the end, I just didn't care who lived and who died.

Friday, April 11, 2014

monster, vol. 1

monster, vol. 1
naoki urasawa
viz media
published 1995

Brilliant doctor Kenzo Tenma risks his reputation and promising career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy.  Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate.  Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing depiction of the underbelly of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller.

This one was recommended to me by a friend.  I went to the library and found the first volume and now I wish I had put the others on hold!  Grrrrrr

Volume 1 begins in Germany, 1986 with a young Dr. Tenma, rising star at Eisler Memorial Hospital.  Destined for big things and engaged to the daughter of the hospital director he's also dedicated and hard working, but his ideal life begins to show signs of tarnish when he wonders if the man he looks up to is really someone worth idolizing.  When he goes against the directors orders to save a gravely injured young boy his life goes into a tailspin.

Fast forward 9 years later and life is much different for Dr. Tenma and he seems to be happy with his new outlook on a doctor's life.  But things that happened 9 years ago are threatening to come back to haunt him.

I was told that Naoki Urasawa is Japan's Master of Suspense and that's evident here in this first volume.  But he's also really good at creepy.  There's a few creepy characters (I don't want to name any names so as not to spoil the story for you) and a few despicable ones too!  The other thing I really like is that I can easily tell the different characters apart!  One thing that always bums me out with lots of mangas is how everyone kind of looks the same.  Not necessarily main characters, but the supporting cast of friends, co-workers or relatives all tend to have that same look and I start getting people confused.  But Urasawa's artwork is unique and distinctive.

The story is goooood and leaves you with pretty much no closure.  What I expected to happen, happened, but that wasn't a bad thing and now I need to get my hands on Vol. 2!

Monday, April 7, 2014

attack on titan, vol. 1

attack on titan, vol. 1
hajime isayama
graphics/sci fi/action
kodansha comics
published 2011

Humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids knows as the Titans.  Little is known about where they came from of why they are bent on consuming mankind.  Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see.  For the past century, what's left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city.  People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about the change everything.

I can see why everyone freaks out about this series.  It was definitely a good beginning with an amazingly ridiculous cliffhanger.  There are so many things that are only briefly touched upon that the book is soaked with mystery.  I was thinking I would just read the first volume, but seeing as how it ended I have to read the second one now.  And I doubt stuff wraps up so I'll probably be in this for the long haul!

stupid perfect world

stupid perfect world
scott westerfeld
harper teen
published 2012

Kieran Black lives in a "perfect" world.  Disease and starvation have been eradicated, sleep is unnecessary, and it takes no time at all to go from the Bahamas to the moon.  But now Kieran has to take Scarcity, a class about how people lived in the bad old days.  And as if sitting through an hour of Scarcity every day wasn't depressing enough, it's final projects time.  Each student must choose some form of ancient hardship to experience for two whole weeks.  Kieran choose having to sleep eight hours a night, which doesn't seem too annoying.

Maria Borsotti has never thought much for Kieran, but she decides to take pity on him and help him out with his project.  Soon, Kieran is sleeping and having vivid dreams, while Maria, whose Scarcity project is to give up all teenage hormone regulation, is experiencing emotions she never knew she had.  As their assignments draw them closer together, they begin to wonder if the olden days weren't so bad.  Maybe something has been missing from their perfect lives after all?

Ha!  This was awesome!  I love how Westerfeld's mind works.  The Uglies is one of my favorite series so I shouldn't be surprised that he's come up with another crazy world to write about.  I love just about everything in this novella.  I love that they can teleport to the moon, they don't sleep, Kieran hangs out at the North Pole, I love "headspace" and that they can't go outside their apartments because the parks are protected wildlife areas.  But I love Scarcity the most.  Seriously?  A class about how people lived in the olden days and then they get to experience something of those days.

I wish this was longer, but I don't think it would have enough meat to actually be a full length novel.  Nearly perfect!

Monday, March 31, 2014

dust to dust

dust to dust
kovac/liska #2
tami hoag
published 2000

Sorry.  The single word was written on the mirror.  In front of it hung the body of Andy Fallon, a Minneapolis Internal Affairs cop.  Was it suicide?  Or a kinky act turned tragic accident?  Either way, his death wasn't a crime.  The investigation will be a formality, a duty that veteran Homicide detective Sam Kovac isn't looking forward to.  He doesn't want to spend any more time than he has to in the bleak, empty world of the victim's father, Iron Mike, Kovac's old mentor and a department legend.  It's too much like looking into his own future.  But Kovac has a sixth sense for crime, and it's buring.

Together with his partner, the wisecracking, ambitious Nikki Liska, Kovac begins to dig at the too-neat edges of Fallon's death, uncovering one motive and one suspect after another.  The shadows of suspicion fall deeply not only on the city's power elite, but into the very heart of the police department itself.

While Ashes to Ashes was touted as the first Kovac/Liska book they merely had background roles in the book.  Kovac was present more than Liska was, but not much.  Here in Dust to Dust they are both in the forefront working together, but also separately on two different cases.  Both of them involving the police department.

Kovac's case is personal and he's pretty much the only one who thinks that a crime actually occurred.  Liska is following up on a closed case, much to the irritation of their boss.

There are times when I wonder why Liska makes such dumb choices, or ignores something that any self respecting cop would ignore.  And there are times when Hoag goes off describing something or added a scene that was completely unnecessary.  The book was longer than it should have been and to be honest, there were no surprises anywhere.

Who else could the killer have been?  The players could all only fit into certain roles so the pieces all fit in much faster than I think Hoag was aiming for.  

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