Tuesday, April 30, 2013

alex cross, run

alex cross, run
alex cross series #20
james patterson
little brown & co
published 2013

Top plastic surgeon Elijah Creem is renowned for his skills in the operating room, and for his wild, no-expense-spared "industry parties," bringing in underage exotic dancers and models for nights of drugs, champagne, and uninhibited sex. That is, until Detective Alex Cross busts one of Creem's lavish soirees and ruins his fun. Now Creem is willing to do anything to avoid going to jail.

But Alex doesn't have time to dwell on that case. A beautiful woman has been found murdered in her car, a lock of her hair viciously ripped off. Then a second woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window with a brutal scar slashed across her stomach. When a third mutilated body is discovered, rumors of three serial killers on the loose send Washington D.C. into an all-out frenzy.

Alex is under so much pressure to solve these three grim cases that he hasn't noticed that someone else investigating him-someone so obsessed and so twisted that they'll do anything-ANYTHING- to get the vengeance they require.

Alex makes some dumb moves in the installment of James Patterson's longest running series.  But moreover, the story seemed to be lacking a bit in excitement.  The killers are kind of one-dimensional and boring.  The two 'main' cases were carbon copies of everything else you've ever read.  The third case that Alex doesn't even know if happening was much more interesting and Patterson didn't even really get into it too much.

Maybe this is proof positive that Patterson is completely losing his touch.  These are the only books that he writes by himself and the last few just haven't been as good as they used to be.

11th hour

11th hour
women's murder club #11
james patterson & maxine paetro
little brown & co
published 2012

Your best friend
Lindsay Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn't slow for a second. When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, she discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco's most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department's evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer--even her closest friends.

Or a vicious killer? 

Lindsay is called next to the most bizarre crime scene she's ever seen: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor. Another head is unearthed in the garden, and Lindsay realizes that the ground could hide hundreds of victims.

You won't know until the 11th hour 

A reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases and Lindsay's personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to--especially not Joe.

Pregnancy has mellowed Lindsay out some because she wasn't nearly as annoying as she usually is.  And since there was no case being tried I wasn't annoyed with Yuki either.

So all around, it was better than the last book.

The two cases that Lindsay and Rich are working on are just okay.  There's someone killing drug dealers out there and you have a hard time really caring if that murderer gets caught or not.  He's not delusional, he's not taking out innocent people.  So there's that.

The other case is weird and everything is sort of out of left field and unexpected, but then I just felt kind of deflated.  Like the killer's motives weren't interesting enough after all that drama.

But still, it was a quick, fun read.  Great little escape!

private london

private london
private #4
james patterson & mark pearson
little brown & co.
published 2012

SOMETIMES WHEN THE NIGHTMARE ENDS - THE TERROR IS ONLY JUST BEGINNING...For Hannah Shapiro, a beautiful young American student, this particular nightmare began eight years ago in Los Angeles, when Jack Morgan, owner of Private - the world's most exclusive detective agency - saved her from a horrific death. She has fled her country, but can't flee her past. The terror has followed her to London, and now it is down to former Royal Military Police Sergeant Dan Carter, head of Private London, to save her all over again. Carter draws on the global resources of Private in a desperate race against the odds. But the clock is ticking...Private may be the largest and most advanced detection agency in the world, but the only thing they don't have is the one thing they need - time.

This whole thing was very confusing.  Warning!!!  This review will contain spoilers for Private Games!!!

This is #4 in the Private series.  It comes after Private Games and that's what makes it confusing.  I made sure numerous times that I was reading the books in the right order.  When I was reading Private Games it is mentioned that a plane carrying most of Private London's head staff had crashed, killing everyone on board sometime before the book begins.  Later on, Jack Morgan tells Peter Knight that the plane was sabotaged so someone had murdered their colleagues.  And then that's it.  The rest of the book is focused on the Olympics.

Private London takes place well before the events in Private Games.  It's described as a prequel, but all it does is introduce characters that are all dead off page between two books.  I don't get it.  Private Berlin, next in the series has nothing to do with London so I'm assuming soon there will be another book based in London that will address the search for the killer?

Private London is full of fun little twists and turns and a few surprises although the biggest surprise wasn't very surprising to me.  Does that make sense?  When the mastermind was uncovered I had already had that person pegged as the one.  Still, the journey to get to that point was fun.

I'd say that the characters were funny, intriguing and enjoyable, but who cares?  Most of them will be dead before you read this book!

So weird.

Monday, April 22, 2013

a game of thrones

a game of thrones
a song of ice & fire #1
george r. r. martin
published 1996

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Long ago, a friend told me I should read these books, but alas they are so dang loooooong I kept putting it off.  And I'm not a huge fan of knights and kings and queens and the happenings at court so there was a little less appeal for me as well.  Then the show was announced and I thought, well shoot I'd better read those books before I watch the show.  Now I think they're on season 2 and I finally picked up the book for fear that some rabid fan of the show spoil something in the books for me.

I glanced at a few reviews that urged me to bear through the beginning as it is long winded and boring.  There's a lot of scene to set and many characters to familiarize yourself with.

But the book had me with "The wildlings are dead."

So mysterious and ominous.  Who, or what are these wildlings?  And how did they die?  Who killed them?  And in that prologue we are teased with something unreal.  Something not right.  Something other. And then nothing.  We jump right into the worst of treason, betrayal, honor, murder, passion and vengeance.  So many plots.  So many....

The Starks are my favorite.  How can they not be?  They are brave and full of honor.  Ned, while smart and full of love for his King, depends too much on the word of those around him, trusting that they want what is just and right.  Catelyn is fierce and the perfect matriarch for the family.  My only beef with her is her treatment of Jon Snow, but I can see her side as well.  The only Stark I care not for is Sansa.  Useless with a head full of air.

Despite what I fear may be coming I find myself silently rooting for Tyrion Lannister and maybe less silently for Daenerys.  When she finally stood up to her bizarre and misguided brother I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Throughout the book here and there were whisperings of the supernatural, but we only get to see them a couple of times.  And even then I would stop to re-read those parts to make sure I read that right.  But I expect the supernatural will take center stage in the next installment.

Epic, it is.  Good, it is.  Long, it is.  At 800+ pages it's not something you can get through quickly.  Yet, it's near impossible to put down.  I started it Saturday night and got just shy of halfway done and then it got some reading in yesterday before bed and then today while Olivia napped.  I could finish out the series by the end of the week, but I want to sit on it for a bit.  Do some 'light' reading before delving back into the Winter.

Friday, April 19, 2013

black jack

black jack, vol. 1
osamu tezuka
graphic novel/manga/drama
vertical inc
published 2008

Black Jack is a mysterious and charismatic young genius surgeon who travels the world performing amazing and impossible medical feats. Though a trained physician, he refuses to accept a medical license due to his hatred and mistrust of the medical community's hypocrisy and corruption. This leads Black Jack to occasional run-ins with the authorities, as well as from gangsters and criminals who approach him for illegal operations.

Black Jack charges exorbitant fees for his services, the proceeds from which he uses to fund environmental projects and to aid victims of crime and corrupt capitalists. But because Black Jack keeps his true motives secret, his ethics are perceived as questionable and he is considered a selfish, uncaring devil. The Black Jack series is told in short stories. Each volume will contain 16-20 stories, each running approximately 20-24 pages in length.

Black Jack was a serialized comic that gain cult status back in the 70s.  These volumes are collections of the short, 20-ish, page stories that were published back then.  The stories center around Black Jack, an unlicensed but brilliant surgeon who can perform miracle surgeries for the right price.

While he comes across as arrogant & greedy to his patients and other doctors he's actually quite the opposite, but I think his loner style likes to keep people away.  The stories are a bit creepy, completely fantastical with a touch of realism to them.  It was a great, fun read!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

fruits basket

fruits basket, vol. 1
natsuki takaya
graphic novel/manga/comedy/supernatural
published 1999

A family with an ancient curse....

And the girl who will change their lives forever....

Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home.  Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she's introduced to the Sohma's world of magical curses and family secrets.

This one was cute and Tohru was sweet, funny and silly, but I didn't like it enough to read any more books.  I like the Zodiac twist and all the side characters are fun, but it just didn't grab me.

private games

private games
private international #3
james patterson & mark sullivan
little brown & co
published 2012

On your mark
Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

Get set
The opening ceremony is hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Peter Knight, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee has been killed. It's clear to Peter that this wasn't a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He promises to restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and to destroy all those who have corrupted the games with lies, corruption, and greed. Immediately, Karen hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Peter uncover a criminal genius who won't stop until he's completely destroyed the modern games.

One of the things I don't like about the Private books so far is Jack Morgan.  Thankfully, he's not the central character at all in Private Games.  Peter Knight is much more fun to be around.

The book is a page turner all right.  The action is basically non stop!  However, Cronus's motives behind this elaborate and out of this world scheme was completely laughable.  When he revealed his reasons I literally did that, laugh.  It was awful.

But this book got me excited about the last two I have to read.  If Jack Morgan isn't going to rain on my parade I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy these as well!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

10th anniversary

10th anniversary
women's murder club #10
james patterson & maxine paetro
published 2011

For every secretDetective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals--but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.

For every lie
At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life--a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?

There's a different way to die
Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family.

There's always excitement in the Women's Murder Club books.  There's so much going on and things are happening so quickly.  The stories are believable and yet still crazy enough to keep you reading.  I like that they take place in San Francisco because I can easily picture all the scenes in my head.

That being said, Lindsay and Yuki bother me.  I don't know why, I can't quite put my finger on it, but they do.  It all works out in the end, but they just seem to be completely obnoxious about everything throughout the book.

Oh, and Cindy's pretty much an idiot most of the time.  Why is that?!

merry christmas, alex cross

merry christmas, alex cross
alex cross series #19
james patterson
little brown & co.
published 2012

It's Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who's robbing his church's poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again--a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything--and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices.

I'm not sure what the hostage situation had to do with this book.  This felt like two separate stories, except maybe the point of it was to show this insanely never ending day, making Alex question quite frequently what the hell he was still doing in this line of work.

Everyone was a bit different.  Bree was harsh and being a cop herself I found that a little out of character.  Although it seems like since they got married she's been home with the kids more than out on the streets.  Nana Mama is pissy as usual, but even this seemed to get under her skin more and she showed much more emotion than she has in the past books.

Alex crosses a line, which he's done before, although this time I think the stink will linger on him for a few more books.  I'm just not a fan of the Middle East extremist stories.  I don't know what it is about them, but I can't get into it.  When the events went the wayside in Kill Alex Cross I knew we'd be looking for more of this sort of storyline.  Hopefully, that whole part is over with and we can get back to the normal nutcases Alex is usually hunting.

While the action is there, the characters that we know and love, the book felt different and slightly disjointed.  Like I said, I don't know why the hostage situation was featured in the book, but it was a nail biter!


lucy christopher
chicken house
published 2012

A girl: Gemma, 16, at the airport, on her way to a family vacation.

A guy: Ty, rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar, eyes blue as ice.

She steps away. For just a second. He pays for her drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. To sand and heat. To emptiness and isolation. To nowhere. And expects her to love him.

Wow.  Just wow.

This book sucked me in right from the beginning when I read about it on my library's recommendation page.  It reminded me a bit of Chevy Stevens's Still Missing (a book that I HIGHLY recommend) only because it's the recounting of a kidnapping and the events following.

Of course, it wasn't like Still Missing at all.  Quite different, but engrossing nonetheless.  I spent the time reading feeling claustrophobic for Gemma.  Feeling helpless because she was.  I was creeped out by Ty and constantly felt like bugs were crawling on me.

I must admit that I just couldn't stand the idea of being stuck in this sandy, dusty desert.  I wanted to take a shower everytime I picked up the book!

But it was fascinating.  Gemma's struggle to escape, to not care about Ty and to reconcile her feelings with what the right thing to do was.  Gemma was strong, but compassionate.  I wish that the story followed through a bit longer.  I feel like there was so much more story to tell.  I read a FAQ of Lucy Christopher's in which she's asked if there will be a sequel and now having finished the book I can see why people asked.  There's definitely more.

celebrity in death

celebrity in death
in death series #34
j. d. robb
published 2012

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she’s managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It’s a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks as though she could be her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody—drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director’s luxury building.

Talented but rude and widely disliked, K.T. Harris made an embarrassing scene during dinner. Now she’s at the center of a crime scene—and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster to step into the role she was born to play: cop.

There aren't too many series out there that are as long running as J. D. Robb's (Nora Roberts) In Death series.  At 34 books (not including 10 published shorts) it's probably the most published contemporary series.  One would think that the books would start to get tired after awhile.  And I can see how that could be.  Roberts definitely has a pattern for her books and yet, I never grow tired of them.

The last couple of books have been different though.  And I'm not talking major changes here, but there are subtle differences that show the growth of the series.  The evolution of Eve and Roarke's relationship for one is huge here.  After the events in New York to Dallas (a title which I understand, but the ocd in me goes nuts that it doesn't have the 'in death; *eye roll*) there is a definite change in the way they are interacting with each other.  Even Peabody and Dallas's relationship is starting to even out.

I tend to forget how close these books follow each other.  I've been reading these books for almost twenty years, but within the series only 2 or 3 years have passed.  It works well, but sometimes I forget.

So while most books will briefly touch on a previous plot - and by briefly, I mean maybe she'll write a sentence about something that happened previously - this books has a far reaching past.  And I wonder if Icove is really over.

Nonetheless, I always enjoy Eve and Peabody's cases.  This wasn't any different!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

wandering son, vol. 1 & 2

wandering son, vol. 1
wandering son, vol. 2
shimura takako
graphic novels/manga/drama/ya
fantagraphics books
published 2011

Fifth grade:  The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence.  Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki enjoy happy homes and loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates.  But they share a secret that further complicates a ime of life this is awkward for anyone:  Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy....

A quietly powerful story about two children trying to figure out how they belong.  Shuichi and Yoshino both feel like they were born in the wrong bodies and they're timidly beginning to try out how it feels to dressing the way they feel.  Discovering that they both have the same secret they quickly become friends.  Yoshino is bolder and ready to jump right in, but Shuichi is more apprehensive.

While I did like the book this was the first time that I felt like some things were lost in translation.  There were times where I felt a little lost, or something didn't quite make sense.  Still, I was able to get the gist of it and enjoy the books nonetheless.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the perfect hope

the perfect hope
the inn boonsboro trilogy #3
nora roberts
berkley publishing
published 2012

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out—with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be—except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome—and embarrassing—appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him…

Now there's no surprise here.  We all knew Hope & Ryder would get their turn and I knew who the troublemaker would be (there's always a troublemaker), but it was still fun to read.

The story about Eliza & Billy was fun, but sad and Clare's boys are to die for hilarious.  If anything this is the perfect advertisement for the real Inn BoonsBoro!  If I ever plan on going out in that area I'll definitely have to book a room....Eve & Roarke?  Or maybe Westley & Buttercup?  I'd like to try them all!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

the last boyfriend

the last boyfriend
the inn boonsboro trilogy #2
nora roberts
berkley trade
published 2012

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family's construction business with an iron fist - and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers give him grief for his compulsive list making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn't plan for was Avery MacTavish....

Avery's popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation - and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery's thoughts. But the attraction she's feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of BoonsBoro a reason to celebrate. But Owen's hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected - and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last....

This was different.  They didn't all of a sudden fall in love.  It was there, just simmering and they decide to take the plunge.  But before they actually do the plunging they take some time to think about it.  It's all very civilized for a romance novel!

It's fun to see all the ins and outs of the Inn & the restaurants & shops.  I'm hoping that the next book will have the opening of the newest restaurant in it.  It's funny how invested I am in the businesses!  I'm curious about Lizzy's story and what will happen with Justine too.

Justine KILLS me!  When she went to box Ry in the ears for being rude to Hope I actually laughed out loud.  More about the brother's reactions than the act itself, but it was probably the first time I've ever actually laughed out loud reading a Nora Roberts book.

So now we're onto Ry & Hope.  Shocker.  Let's see how that one plays out.

Friday, April 5, 2013

take what you can carry

take what you can carry
kevin c. pyle
graphic novel/drama
henry holt & co.
published 2012

His father in government custody, Ken is one of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans forced to move to makeshift relocation camps in the tumultuous months after Pearl Harbor.  As traditional family bonds fray, and sometimes break, he stumbles toward a state of gaman: enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.

Nearly four decades later, another boy also begins a new life.  A recent arrival to his rapidly developing suburb, Kyle assumes the role of daredevil and thief, always willing to take a risk too far.  But when his exploits land him in jail, it's clear that risks have consequence and debts must be paid.

It was the title this time and not the cover itself that caught my eye.  Reminiscent of Only What We Could Carry (a book everyone should read) my hand went to pick it up without even really thinking about it.  As I suspected it did deal with the internment of Japanese Americans, but with a bit of a twist.

The book flips back and forth from a 1978 Chicago suburb and 1941-1944 California.  In 1978 we follow Kyle in bright white & blues.  In the 40's Ken is awash in dark browns and silence.  There are never any words relayed in Ken's story so we're left with pictures which is almost more telling than words.

Incredibly powerful, although I'm not sure if I cry for Ken or for my family.  I wonder if I should have tried harder to get my Grandmother & Great-Uncles & Great-Aunts to talk about their time in the camps.  It was something that they obviously never wanted to talk about.  When asked my Ba-chan (grandmother) would always say she was too young to remember.  My Uncles always changed the subject and with time I understood this was something that they didn't want to to remember.

I wonder what happened when they came home.  How they were treated, what happened to all of the belongings left behind and how they rebuilt everything.  I wonder about Great-Grandparents I never knew, how much they must have suffered.  I wonder what it must have felt like to have always felt like part of a country and then all of a sudden being told you were not, to not belong anywhere.

In class I was once told by an entitled rich kid that the Japanese Americans wanted to go to the camps.  That it was like a vacation for them.  That was the first time I realized people were idiots. 

What struck me most about this book was the way Pyle chose to voice the time in the internment camp.  With no voice.  No dialogue spoken.  It felt to me as a nod to the quiet that covers the events even to this day.  It is not spoken of, expect mostly by Sansei who want their parents and grandparents stories to be told, to not be forgotten.  Well worth the read.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the next always

the next always
the inn boonsboro trilogy #1
nora roberts
berkley trade
published 2011

The historic hotel in BoonsBoro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it's getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett's social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town's bookstore. Though, busy and with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett's transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look ...at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett's happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time, in between blueprint meetings and kindergarten pickups. It's no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something that could arouse the secret yearning that resides in Clare's independent heart--and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next ...

I can always depend on Nora Roberts for a good read, especially with her trilogies.  I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  My favorite books of hers are always the trilogies because I can stay with the characters for a bit longer and it's more fun to watch their stories play out when they maybe would have ended earlier in their own books.

The Next Always has a bit of everything Roberts is good at.  A bit of suspense, a bit of thrill, a bit supernatural and a whole lot of romance.  You can help but smile while reading.  Clare is more realistic than characters in the past have been.  A military widow with three young boys, she's dealt with a lot.  Beckett is her usual hero with two brothers of his own.  This book mostly set the stage for the entire series.  We do get to follow Clare & Beckett down the rabbit hole of love, but we get background on the other four characters too.

And the best part about the book is that these places actually do exist!  The Inn BoonsBoro is a B&B that she and her husband renovated and run in Maryland and Vesta is a pizza restaurant run by her son, Turn the Page is her husband's bookstore.  Even Gifts Inn BoonsBoro is right where she describes in the book.  And the rooms are named after literary couples including Eve & Roarke.  I have to admit I got a little thrill when I read that part.

I've decided to spend this month reading one book at a time so I tore through this one in a couple of hours.  I'm off to the next.  Might as well finish out the trilogy tomorrow instead of dragging it out!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

gregor & the code of claw

gregor & the code of claw
gregor the overlander series #5
suzanne collins
published 2008

Everyone in the Underland has been taking great pains to keep the new prophecy, The Prophecy of Time, from Gregor. Gregor knew from the beginning that it must say something awful, but he never imagined just how awful: The prophecy calls for the warrior’s death. The warrior, of course, being Gregor. Now, with an army of rats approaching, and Gregor’s mom and his sister still in Regalia, Gregor must gather up his courage in the face of this terrifying prophecy to defend Regalia and get his family safely home. But, soon Gregor learns that leaving won't be as easy as he thinks. The entire existence of the Underland is in Gregor’s hands and time is running out. There is a code to be cracked, a mysterious new princess to contend with, Gregor’s burgeoning dark side, and a war to end all wars. In this action-packed and suspenseful final installment in the acclaimed Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins unfolds the fate of the Underland and the great warrior, Gregor the Overlander, in a manner that can only be described as masterful.

Here is what I know of Suzanne Collins to be true now that I have read both The Hungers Games trilogy & the Gregor the Overlander series:
  1. She likes to kill people
  2. She writes endearing and wonderful characters
  3. She writes crappy endings
I loved this series, just as I loved The Hunger Games, but like THG things happen that bring to mind a sort of 'well, what the fuck was that for?' moments.  And just like THG when it was over I was completely unsatisfied with that sort of blah ending.  Collins certainly has a writing style.

I don't agree that this is good for ages 8 & up.  Maybe 12.  Maybe 16.  Maybe that's the parent in me wishing to keep such darkness, so much death from my kids for as long as I can.  For this was certainly dark and mostly full of death.  The line I remember the most was 'A little girl missing an arm stared at them with empty eyes.'  It wasn't just the missing arm part that was hard to swallow, but a 12 year old kid recognizing the empty eyes.

I cried.  I cried a lot reading these books.  I pretty much cried throughout Part 3 of this one.  I sat ramrod straight in my seat read.  I couldn't keep my hands from intermittently flying to my mouth to cover the horror my eyes were taking in.  I can't soothe the hurt.  It's like this actually has happened.  That these books are history and not fiction.

It be unforgettable, it be. 

yotsuba&!, vol. 2-11

yotsuba&! vol. 2
yotsuba&! vol. 3
yotsuba&! vol. 4
yotsuba&! vol. 5
yotsuba&! vol. 6
yotsuba&! vol. 7
yotsuba&! vol. 8
yotsuba&! vol. 9
yotsuba&! vol. 10
yotsuba&! vol. 11
kiyohiko azuma
graphic novel/manga/comedy/ya
yen press
published 2009-2012

More all ages comedy from the creator of Azumanga Daioh. Yotsuba hasn't gotten much smarter, and her neighbors still haven't gotten used to this wacky tike's exploits. A truly heartwarming comedy that will make you laugh out loud!

It is books like these that make me truly glad when I step out of my comfort zone and read a genre that I never did before.  Even when I started reading graphic novels I never did much more than glance at manga, but I really loved the Bunny Drop manga series and that just opened up so many more possibilities.  The best so far being Yotsuba&!

Yotsuba&! is a series that I would have no problem letting Emma read and at the same time I find them utterly entertaining.  Yotsuba is HILARIOUS.  I mean really.  There are parts in every book that I have laughed out loud at.  The greedy goat, Dad forgetting his wallet, the fundoshi, Yotsuba's nemesis....the list goes on and on.

I promise you won't be sorry if you read these.  They're cute and sweet and full of innocence and laughter.  If you're in a gloomy mood the best way to get out of your funk is to pick up a Yotsuba&! book!

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