Wednesday, August 5, 2015

goodnight june

goodnight june
sarah jio
published 2014

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book!  This was one of those sweet beach reads that takes barely any time to read and you feel like you know where the story is going, but there are surprises here and there.

The book is told in part through the letters that June finds and I just loved it.  But I didn't think the book would revolve so much around family and the relationships between sisters both blood and the sisters you choose to share your life with.  I actually could have done without the romance part of the story because I felt like June didn't really need to find someone right away.  That her staying in Seattle could be just for the bookstore and the life she needed to carve out for herself and not because she fell in love, but it was wonderful nonetheless.

I think maybe loving the book might have to do a bit with how it reminded me of You've Got Mail which is one of my favorite movies of all time.  A little children's bookstore struggling, part of so many memories.....good stuff.

obsession in death

obsession in death
in death #40
jd robb
gp putnam's sons
published 2015

Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media.  She - and her billionaire husband - are getting accustomed to being objects of attention, of gossip, of speculation.  But now Eve has become the object of one person's obsession.  Someone who finds her extraordinary and thinks about her every hour of every day.  Who believes the two of them have a special relationship.  Who would kill for her - again and again.

For a bit Obsession in Death dragged terribly for me.  She went over and over and over the crime scenes so many times I wanted to scream.  I don't know why this time it seemed like too much.  I didn't feel like she was doing anything different, but it was repetitive.  You see the crime when she sees it.  Then she talks it over with Peabody, then Roarke, then Mira then to her board, in her head, and on and on.  Like this description.

But then when I felt like this book was going to be my first JD Robb disappointment things got good.  I stayed up late into the night because I just couldn't put the book down.

With that being said, it took more than two thirds of the book for me to really get into it.  For the first time in the series I considered putting the book down and taking a break for a bit.  I guess in 40 books it's not that big of a deal for one to be a dud, but I was still bummed.


lunar chronicles #1
marissa meyer
feiwel & friends
published 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Here is an exception to the rule.  Remember this because there are few of these.

I started to hear a lot of hype around this series (as I write this there are currently 3 novels, several novellas and another novel set to release later this year) and everyone was stark raving mad about how much they loved it.  I already owned Cinder (I think I got it one day when it was on sale for $2.99 or something), but hadn't read it yet because it just wasn't high on my radar.  When I started hearing more and more reader friends raving about it I was both curious and put off.  Generally when people all really love a book I end up disappointed in it.  Few exceptions occur (Twilight was the weird one off), but generally when people go nuts over a book I distance myself.

But many of the reader friends who loved it had similar loves as me so I thought, I have the book might as well give it a shot.  And it was good!  Cinder is a fun, complicated character and the story itself (a retelling of Cinderella - obviously) was much more complicated than I expected it to be so it held my interest quite well.

It was most certainly a book that kept me reading and enticed me enough to continue on with the series.  A nice mix of romance, teen angst, sci-fi and suspense.

Friday, July 17, 2015

flower net

flower net
red princess #1
lisa see
published 1997

The first body was found in ice: the U.S. ambassador's son, entombed in a frozen lake outside Beijing's Forbidden City. Thousands of miles away, in the heat-baked hold of a Chinese smuggling ship, another corpse is uncovered, this one a red Prince, a scion of China's political elite. Suspecting the deaths are linked, the American and Chinese governments pair ambitious attorney David Stark and brilliant detective Liu Hulan to uncover a killer and a conspiracy.

The only other book I've read by Lisa See is Snow Flower & The Secret Fan and I loved it!  I was looking for something to listen to while I did some work and saw she had a trilogy of crime novels.  Flower Net is the first, introducing Liu Hulan and David Stark who met in America when they were both working at the same firm.  I think.  I can't remember exactly!  I know they were in love once, but Liu gets word that her mother is sick and she returns to Beijing.  Family obligations have her remaining in Beijing, never returning to American and from what I could gather, never contacting David again until murders oceans apart appear connected and the two must work together.

The story itself was mostly interesting and I'm not sure if it was the narration of the book or the book itself that didn't enthrall me, but I wasn't in love with the book.  I'm pretty sure it was the narration.  And the strange background music that kept going on.  I think I'll try the next book in actual book form.

rules of prey

rules of prey
lucas davenport #1
john sandford
published 1989

The "maddog" murderer who is terrorizing the Twin Cities is two things: insane and extremely intelligent.  He kills for the pleasure of it and thoroughly enjoys placing elaborate obstacles to keep police befuddled.  Each clever move he makes is another point of pride.  But when the brilliant Lieutenant Lucas Davenport - a dedicated cop and serial killer's worst nightmare - is brought to take up the investigation, the maddog suddenly has an adversary worthy of his genius.

It has been over 20 years since I first read this book and started the wonderful journey through John Sandford's prey novels.  These are among my most favorite books and after the last few books I kept thinking, I should re-read this series.  So that's what I'm doing.  One down, twenty-five to go.

I love the way that Sandford has Davenport thinking.  Even though he's fishing he's plotting out what he's going to do to trap this guy.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes shit hits the fan, but it's always entertaining.  I sit there sometimes and try to figure out if and how he's going to get away with stuff he pulls.  It's fantastic.

I love that it's been so long that I've forgotten the details enough that the book is still fun to read.  There are still surprises and at the same time there's the familiarity with the characters.  I did get a little sad when certain characters who met their demise later in the series showed up, but like greeting old friends, it's nice to see everyone.

This is certainly a great introduction to Lucas.  It has all the things about him that I love about him and I remember why I love this series and kept reading it for twenty years!

one kick

one kick
kick #1
chelsea cain
simon & schuster
published 2014

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick's experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past.

I was soooo disappointed in this book.  Loving Chelsea Cain's Archie & Gretchen books I had high expectations I suppose, but I thought she really missed the mark with Kick Lannigan.

The story is jumbled, missing pieces which I assume it's because the book is part of a series and she wants to keep the reader interested throughout the next few books.  But for me, it only made me frustrated and made characters seem flat and unfinished.

And Kick.  Oh, I was most disappointed in her.  She talks for pages and pages about how many ways she can kill or incapacitate a man.  How she can take care of herself, she'll never be a victim again, etc. And yet every dangerous instance she finds herself in she is over powered, outgunned, out manned and just plain out of her league.  She prepares endlessly for 'every' situation, but then fails at every turn and must be saved by a man!  It was so utterly disappointing.

I'm not even sure I have enough interest in the book to continue with the series.  We read this book for our book club and the ones who hadn't read Cain's other series seemed to like it much better than I did.  So maybe a lot of it was my high expectations, but still....I wanted more from Kick.

Friday, June 12, 2015

the ocean at the end of the lane

the ocean at the end of the lane
neil gaiman
william morrow books
published 2013

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

There is something incredibly bewitching about Neil Gaiman's writing and it's only emphasized when you listen to the audiobook read by him.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is creepy, haunting, terrifying, sad and magical.  A different kind of coming-of-age tale with the most wonderful of characters.  Lettie and her mother and grandmother were so rich and delicious.  I wanted to be friends with them.  I was desperate for them to come and save the boy from Ursula Monkton.

I loved how the character's names sounded coming from Gaiman.  Ursula Monkton, Lettie Hempstock....and how the narrator, the boy, had no name.

I kept thinking how freaking terrifying the entire experience would be.  How helpless he felt, how strong Lettie was and was heartbroken at the end.  I wanted him to remember.

All in all, a fantastic read (or listen)!

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