Monday, December 29, 2014

death of a gossip

death of a gossip
hamish macbeth #1
m.c. beaton
warner bros.
published 1985

Scottish highland village cop Hamish Macbeth must find which target was provoked enough to strangle and drown nasty fat widowed tabloid reported Jane Winters, who revealed many others' guilty secrets.  Much is from the viewpoint of a naive secretary seduced by a blue-blood playboy.  Icy blond aristocratic Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, lends a hand.

This book was incredibly short!  And what is it about book written in the 80's that make it feel like they were written in the Stone Age?

Nonetheless, it was a quick read (I want to say it was around 150-180 pages long) so right when you get into all the characters someone dies and that gets wrapped up pretty quickly.  Most of the characters are horrible, save for a couple.  The most annoying, unfortunately was the naive secretary whose input to the story was completely unnecessary.  Was she supposed to provide the romance aspect of the story?  Or the idiot part?  She definitely covered that.

But it was quick enough and well written enough that I can see myself reading a few more.  I got one of the books for free from Amazon or Book Bub or something, but of course it wasn't the first book so I had to search the library for this one!  We'll see if I make it to my free book.

fear nothing

fear nothing
dd warren #7
lisa gardner
dutton adult
published 2014

The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark.  Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear....She is later told her managed to discharge her weapon three times.  All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose.  The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D. D. Warren, who still can't lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

I'm still slightly bummed at the way this book ended!

I really enjoyed the characters, good and bad, and found the backstory of Adeline and her illness incredibly fascinating.  There was quite a bit of injustice all around here so it was a tough pill to swallow at times, but it made for some good reading and finding sympathetic characters where I wasn't expecting them.

There were times when D. D. got to be a bit annoying, but I feel like she is in every book.  She has a harder time getting over herself here and that's got a lot to do with her feelings of helplessness after her injury.  I found the parts with Adeline and Shana to be the most interesting to read.  I probably could have skipped over D. D.'s parts!

food: a love story

food: a love story
jim gaffigan
crown archetype
published 2014

Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has made his career rhapsodizing over the most treasured dishes of the American diet and decrying the worst offenders.  Fans flocked to his New York Times bestselling book Dad is Fat to hear him riff on fatherhood but now, in his second book, he will give them what they really crave - hundreds of pages of this thoughts on all things culinary(ish).  Insights such as: why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question "which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger.

Though very funny, this is mostly just a rehash of his stand up performances so if you've seen them and are very familiar with them this might be a bit boring for you.  There are some laugh out loud moments nonetheless and stuff I hadn't heard before so I was still, thoroughly entertained.  Beware, this book will make you hungry for everything you should not be eating.


virgil flowers #8
john sandford
putnam adult
published 2014

In Southeast Minnesota, down on the Mississippi, a school board meeting is coming to an end.  The board chairman announces that the rest of the meeting will be closed, due to personnel issues.  "Issues" is correct.  The proposal up for a vote before them is whether to authorize the killing of a local reporter.  The vote is four to one in favor.  Meanwhile, not far away, Virgil Flowers is helping out a friend by looking into a dognapping, which seems to be turning into something much bigger and uglier - a team of dognappers supplying medical labs - when he gets a call from Lucas Davenport.  A murdered body has been found - and the victim is a local reporter.

Now I'm not saying that Deadline is going to keep you at the edge of your seat.  Or that you'll be stunned by the ingenious ways of the bad guys.  There is just something about Virgil that keeps me highly entertained.  He's funny for one, but most of all, the stories seem so real.  The characters are not caricatures of people, they are almost real life people.  Flawed, sometimes ditzy, sometimes cunning, simple, complex, nice, greedy, and real.  The conversations Virgil has with people is almost mundane, but somehow it's fascinating.

And really, let's be honest, Jenkins and Shrake should really have their own series by now.

gone girl

gone girl
gillian flynn
broadway books
published 2012

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary.  Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River,  Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.  Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.  Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love.  With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence.  Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife?  And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Yeah, that book was fucked up.

That was utterly, fantastically fucked up.  It's a weird sort of panic when you get to a point in a book where you realize you have no idea who to root for.  Beware: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!  Everyone had already told me that they hated both characters so I went in this with expectations.  But halfway through I kept thinking, Amazing Amy doesn't seem so terrible.  What's the big deal?  I understand disliking the apathetic, philandering jerk of a husband, but what's wrong with the long suffering wife?  She's basically forced to move from New York City to this terrible suburb to deal with her in-laws and her absentee husband.  What did she do to garner so much dislike from readers everywhere.

And then.


But it was also brilliant.  And during the time she was gone I was still kind of rooting for her.  I mean, her dedication and planning was truly genius.  And Nick just kept doing dumb stuff so I still just didn't think he deserved to win.  But when they are reunited she's just too crazy.  And not crazy in the 'wow, that chick is batshit crazy' kind of admiring crazy, but the 'wow, that is one psycho bitch'.  She becomes gross, creepy and I was completely disgusted by her.  I couldn't see how Nick could not win at this point.  Amy can't possibly account for everything, but in the end it wasn't so much about making her pay, but Nick's addiction to her.  He cannot live without her.  He wants to beat her at her game, but not as much as he wants to play her game and in the end that is his undoing.

During the 'real Amy's' narrative things were very predictable.  I knew what was going to happen to her with her two friends at the Ozark motel, knew who she would call when she needed help and what would happen didn't seem to matter that it was predictable, because it was so interesting to see crazy in action.

Of course I didn't like that ending.  But how else could it have ended?  At first I was thinking there wasn't a happy ending, but I think for Amy and Nick that was a happy ending.

bury your dead

bury your dead
armand gamache #6
louise penny
minotaur books
published 2010

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong.  But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society - where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder.  Could a secret be buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

There are nearly three different stories moving along here in Bury Your Dead.  First we have the investigation that Armand is haunted by and then the murder of the historian and at the same time, Jean Guy is quietly investigating the murder from the previous novel, The Brutal Telling.

I knew next to nothing about Canadian history, much less about Quebec's so there was an interesting history lesson happening during Armand's reluctant investigation at the Lit & His, but truth be told, after the initial lesson I was bored.  Interspersed between the present going ons, both Armand and Jean Guy recall the events that led them to the places they are.  The horribly botched case that takes place between The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead.  Jean Guy's investigation in Three Pines kept me reading because I too thought there was no way that Olivier had committed the crime of that he was convicted.

Had this book been only about what happened in Quebec I would have been quite disappointed, but it wasn't so I hung on.  It was a nice change of pace for Jean Guy to interact with the villagers in Three Pines, especially Ruth and the gripping recounting of the previous case kept me biting my nail until the very end.

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