Tuesday, September 16, 2014

uncaged


uncaged
the singular menace #1
john sandford & michelle cook
thriller/ya/mystery
knoff
published 2014

Shay Remby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife.  She's got to find her brother before Singular does....

There is a definite John Sandford presence and style here, but you can see Michelle Cook's writing more so.  It's like a watered down John Sandford.  Which is actually perfect for this YA novel.

Shay is alternately naive and jaded.  She's not a hardened kid-of-the-system, but she's not sunshine and rainbows either.  What I liked most about this book was the portrayal of the street kids.  It wasn't your usual trouble makers and they weren't innocent,  but they looked out for each other and tried their best.

There were lots of plot holes though.  Things Singular, as this big, bad company did that didn't make sense and times when these street smart kids just kind of dropped the ball.  There were predictable moments.  I knew who was doomed just a few chapters after they were introduced, if even that.  But it was a good quick read that gave us a bit of closure, but still kept us hanging for the next book (Outrage, out Fall 2015).  I like that unlike other YA books there was basically no romance.  There wasn't a love triangle for you to choose sides over (though that eventually might come given Cade's admiration) and the story focused on what was important: Finding Shay's brother.

I'm looking forward to Outrage.  While it's not necessarily something the regular John Sandford fan would love, it's a pretty good YA book.

landline


landline
rainbow rowell
fiction/romance
st. martin's press
published 2014

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble.  That it's been in trouble for a long time.  She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply - but that almost seems beside the point now.  Maybe that was always beside the point.

Georgie is kind of selfish.  Actually, I suppose she is a lot selfish, but aren't we all?  Don't we all take it for granted that the ones we love will always love us?  And it's only when that ideal is threatened do we actually start imagining what life would be like without that love.  Examining the times we left without a goodbye kiss or hung up the phone without saying 'I love you'.

And that's what Georgie is doing now.  Trying to deny that there is anything serious going on while also terrified that everything is terribly wrong.  When she finds herself actually speaking to Neal in the past she believes this, somehow, is how she can fix her marriage in the present.  We move back and forth from the present to the past and Rowell so perfectly captures the thrill of falling in love and the desperation of heartbreak.

I remembered acutely while reading, my first and only real serious break up.  How helpless and heartbroken I felt.  How much it physically hurt, which was the most surprising thing of all.  Reading Landlines reminded me of all of that and more.

The book is soft.  There is no harsh morals or shocking situations.  It is a love story, a real love story full of highs and lows and reality.  HA!  Reality with a magic phone...

Monday, September 8, 2014

the brutal telling

the brutal telling
armand gamache #5
louise penny
mystery
minotaur
published 2009

Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered.  As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store.  Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.

I was thinking that the more times a murder happens in Three Pines the more unrealistic things will get.  The smaller the victim and suspect pool gets and I began to worry that someone I liked would fall into one of those categories.  It's interesting how things turn out.

How suddenly, a character you liked before becomes someone completely different.  I really, really can't say much about this book because it's so easily given away, but I will say if you are reading this series you're already invested and this will just sink you in deeper.  And while the book ends it doesn't feel concluded.  Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I don't think this story is finished.  I'm immediately picking up the next book to see if it does continue in any way.

But I will say this book changed the way I saw Three Pines and the people who were once so lovely.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

catalyst

catalyst
laurie halse anderson
ya/realistic fiction
speak
published 2002

Meet Kate Malone - straight A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, new girlfriend (to Mitchell "Early Decision Harvard" Pangborn III), unwilling family caretaker, and emotional avoidance champion.  Kate manages her life by organizing it as logically as the periodic table.  She can handle it all - or so she thinks.  Then, things change as suddenly as a string of chemical reactions.  Kate feels that her life is spinning out of her control - and then, something happens that truly blows it all apart.

I loved Speak and Wintergirls.  Laurie Halse Anderson's writing is very poetic and descriptive and I feel like her words are floating around in the air like clouds, lightweight yet heavy with meaning.  The one fangirl moment I had while reading Catalyst was when Melinda makes a quick appearance.  Speaking(!), happy and full of life for a brief moment.

I should have known there was something that would break me and unfortunately I got to that part at my break before I was going to sleep so I had to continue reading because I could not go to bed with that being the last thought in my head.

I wonder how impactful this book would be for a young adult and if it would be as meaningful to them as it was to me.  I found Kate to be kind of a pushover and even at the end she wasn't someone who stood up for herself as much as I needed her to.  There was very little resolution, but there was an ending.  Does that make sense?

I didn't find any characters well rounded or sympathetic.  Kate treated her brother like a kid yet I found him to be more mature than that.  Her father just seemed like a mess, her best friend was just there and her boyfriend was flat and uninteresting.

In the end, I thought the whole thing, like Pangborn, kind of fell flat.


Meet Kate Malone-straight-A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, new girlfriend (to Mitchell "Early Decision Harvard" Pangborn III), unwilling family caretaker, and emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, things change as suddenly as a string of chemical reactions; first, the Malones' neighbors get burned out of their own home and move in. Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri's little brother. The days are ticking down and she's still waiting to hear from the only college she applied to: MIT. Kate feels that her life is spinning out of her control-and then, something happens that truly blows it all apart. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak,Catalyst is a novel that will change the way you look at the world.

Friday, September 5, 2014

attachments

attachments
rainbow rowell
fiction/romance
dutton adult
published 2011

It's 1999 and for the staff of one newspaper office, the internet is still a novelty.  By day, two young women, Beth and Jennifer spend their hours emailing each other, discussing in hilarious detail every aspect of their lives, from love troubles to family dramas.  And by night, Lincoln, a shy, lonely IT guy spends his hours reading every exchange.  At first their emails offer a welcome diversion, but as Lincoln unwittingly becomes drawn into their lives, the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them.  After a series of close encounters, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart...and find out whether there really is such a thing as love before first sight.

To be honest if I read this book before I ever set eyes on Eleanor & Park I probably wouldn't have read E&P which would have been a travesty!  Don't get me wrong, Attachments is a great book, but it's on par with every other adult contemporary novel out there.  Despite some references to D&D and Kevin Smith (which bumps my review up a whole star for that alone) this could have been any other Jennifer Weiner or Emily Giffin book.

But she's funny.  And the book is sweet.  She does really well writing in the male characters voice without it sounding stilted or strange.  I loved Lincoln and wanted to punch Sam in the boob!  Beth and Jennifer cracked me up all the time and I didn't see how everything was really going to come together in a not fairy-tale sort of way.

But it did.  And I'm glad I read it.

the enchanted

the enchanted
rene denfeld
fiction
harper
published 2014

"This is an enchanted place.  Others don't see it, but I do."  The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits.  Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot.  Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs with the devastating violence of prison life.

The sad fact of the matter is, my book club passed up this book.  Thankfully, it was one of my choices and I already had it on my TBR list for this year.  So I started reading it and I found I had a really hard time putting it down.

The interesting thing is there isn't really a story here.  There is a telling.  Observations and bits of tales all put together.  Facts are blurry and we don't really know what these characters have done to find themselves in this enchanted place, but we don't need to know.

Denfeld has been compared to Alice Sebold and I can see that.  She writes magically about a place that by all rights should have no magic.  That one would never describe as "enchanted" as we tend to perceive enchanting.  She writes about darkness by bringing it into a lighter place.

There is much that is left unsaid, but for whatever reason I wasn't bothered by this.  I sighed when I closed the book after the last page.  I didn't need more, I just wanted peace for the silent man and a cabin in the woods for The Lady.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

the collector


the collector
nora roberts
suspense/mystery/romance
putnam
published 2014

When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn.  Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one...

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn't capable of violence - against himself or others.  He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened.  Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her.  But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession...

There is something comforting about Nora Roberts books.  I don't know if it's because she's one of the first 'adult' authors I read as a teen or if it's because her writing, at this point, is so familiar to me, but either way, reading her books is like wrapping myself in a favorite blanket.

The story is, or rather form of it, is slightly predictable even when the characters are sometimes not.  We know that Lila will be independent and 'fiery' and Ashton will be powerful and protective.  We know that she'll have a best friend who is equally beautiful and he will also have a mate who is handsome and can be counted on.  All of these elements are there as I know they will be and yet I'm not bored.

Lila's job is interesting and alluring.  I almost wanted to become a professional house-sitter myself!  The subject of intrigue is interesting insofar as I wanted to Google it as I was reading along.  The book is quick.  Once I got started I finished in a couple of hours and as always, Roberts paints a picture you can immerse yourself in.

Always a good read and despite is predictability, never boring.

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