Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blood Memory by Greg Iles

Blood Memory by Greg Iles
800 pages
Finished 8/25/08

Iles writes pretty good mystery/suspense novels - he's an author that I've added to my mental list of authors I tend to like, so I look for his books more when I go to the book store.

I feel like it would take a novel just to give a synopsis of what this book is about (mainly due to the twists and turns), but this book is about a forensic expert named Cat that has had an incredibly messed-up life, beginning when she was 8 years old and her father was murdered. She is an alcoholic and has a married lover, and after having some black-outs at the scene of the crime of multiple homicides that are the work of a serial killer, returns to her hometown to escape. Of course, once there she only finds more mystery, and the story then follows both the mystery of her father and her childhood, along with the serial killings that are going on.

The story itself is pretty interesting (heck, I think I just made it sound a little more interesting than it was!). Unfortunately, the main character is one of the least sympathetic characters I've read in awhile. It just seemed like she had little redeeming qualities, and if I had a nickel for every time she blacked out or almost blacked out, I'd have...a handful of nickels. :)

The plot did wrap up nicely after a zillion different twists and turns, and it wasn't the most predictable read, so that was nice.

Three stars.

Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge

Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge
352 pages
Finished 8/20/08

You know it's a bad sign when you can barely remember a book you finished a week ago, but unfortunately that is the case with this book. Granted, I've completed one other book, and am half way finished with another in that time, but still.

This book is a fiction novel about a woman released from prison after a nine year stint for attempted murder (she tried to run down the man who killed her son) who comes back to her hometown, an extremely small island. She tried to get re-acclimated with the world and her family. At the same time, a man comes back to the island after the death of his grandfather, and the two connect. The story follows what they go through, and it also follows a back story of their grandparents during WWII. (And yes, I just had to look at the back of the book to get this refresher on what it was about)

Overall, the story was a little weak, but I did remember what exactly I hated the most about this book. Apparently it had little to no proofreading done, because there were typos galore throughout the thing, and it drove me nuts. I noticed two within the first 35 pages or so, and that was enough to make me almost quit right there (missing quotation marks was the biggest offender, along with missing capitalization and some spaces issues).

It was a very fast read though, and not as entirely horrible as I've made it sound. I think the typos and the fact that I can't remember much about the book has made the review a little more negative than it would have been if I would have written it last week.

Two and a half stars.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
447 pages
Finished 8/19/08

The Devil in the White City is a true story about the World's Fair that happened in 1893, and tells two stories - the bringing of the World's Fair to Chicago and the building of it, along with the story of a serial killer operating in Chicago at the time.

Unfortunately, I found that the story revolving around the main architect and the building of the fair so incredibly boring. I had to fight my way through it, and only kept reading to get to the parts that mentioned the serial killer. Until the fair was actually built and running, the story was so dense and uninteresting. The story of the serial killer, on the other hand, was extremely interesting. I would have preferred to read a book about the killer than the combined book that I read - it felt like two completely different stories that didn't totally intertwine as well as it should have.

Two stars.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
496 pages
Finished 8/14/08

Those Who Save Us tells two stories - one set in modern day Minnesota, and focusing on Trudy, German native who was brought out of Germany by her mother at the end of WWII when her mother married an American soldier, and the other set in WWII that focuses on Trudy's mother Anna and the decisions she made in the war to support her infant/toddler daughter. In Trudy's storyline, she is working on putting together a history of WWII survivors (mainly German) by interviewing them.

While Anna's story was a pretty compelling one, I found Trudy's to be a little boring and forced. I'm not sure if Trudy was supposed to be a sympathetic character or not - I wavered back and forth while reading it. To be quite honest, I found her more pathetic than anything. It seemed there was a lot that went unexplained in her history that perhaps could have made her a stronger/more likeable character, but it was never really delved into enough to make me care too much about her.

Overall, I found the book very enjoyable until the last 40 or so pages. Then I found that the book made a predictable turn that I was praying it wouldn't make, and it ended up making me feel really let down. Would you believe I was let down because the book gave some closure? I really felt that this was one book where a "happy ending" wasn't necessary, and I was disappointed to find the author went that route anyway.

Still, Three stars.

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
309 pages
Finished 8/11/08

I picked this book up for a couple of reasons - one, I LOVED The Road by the same author, and two, I vaguely remembered that this had come out as a movie last year, and I thought I remembered that it got great reviews.

I'll start by saying what I didn't like about this book, and that is the author's writing style. While I found McCarthy's quirky style very fitting for The Road, it just seemed too off in this book. I wasn't able to get past that while reading, and so I don't think I was able to fully get into the book as much as I'd have liked to.

That said, it's still an awesome story, no doubt about it. The coolest part when reading the book, though, was realizing when I got to one scene..."Holy cow, I remember seeing this scene in a preview for the movie!" I was then able to place the book to the movie and realized that not only did it get great reviews, but it also one an Academy Award or two (I'm pretty sure it won for Best Actor).

I did some research after reading the book and found that the movie follows the book VERY closely, at times even word for word. That actually sounds great - the book/storyline/characters were overall very good, and I can't wait to see how it translates on screen. This is a movie I actually can't wait to see (which is good, considering how much I hate watching movies).

Overall, I give the book Three stars.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

768 pages
Finished 8/4/08

I've been putting off writing this review for awhile, mainly because I'm still not sure how I feel about the book. This book is the fourth and final installment in the series (following Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse). As you can see, I had varying degrees of liking the first three books, and this book was no different.

I didn't like the beginning of Breaking Dawn. It tried too hard to be cheesy and romantic, and I just wasn't feeling the G-rated loving that was going on. Yes, I know, this book is written by someone who is highly religious, and the book is for teens, but still.

The problem with this book is that it takes an unexpected twist in the beginning, and the book isn't the same again. By unexpected, I mean...illogical. I saw the twist coming right away (the author tries a little too hard with the foreshadowing), but the twist doesn't make sense. (Wow, it's hard to write this review without giving away a major part of the plot!)

The book gets better as it goes, and I was pleased with the ending (although I know some people definitely are not!).

Overall, I would say three stars. The author wrapped up Bella's story nicely, but also left it open to continue on if the money and demand is there. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter
608 pages
Finished August 1, 2008

This book is the sixth book in a series about Georgia pediatrician and medical examiner name Sara and the police chief, Jeffrey. The books can probably be read separately, but I really recommend reading them in order. They are decent mystery/thriller books, although for the strong characters (Sara), the books do have their share of weak characters (Lena, another police officer).

This book centers around Lena and something that happens to her while she is visiting her home town. Sara and Jeffrey rush to her rescue, and have a mystery to unravel.

I will say - I knew a MAJOR spoiler of the book before I read it, and I was still excited to read the book. The ending was fairly shocking, but well worth it.

I definitely recommend checking out the series (starting with Blindsighted).

Three stars.