Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Mystery/Thriller

Camille Preaker is returning to her small home town with many reservations. Having left years ago because her sister died and her mother never loved her, Camille finds herself back. Camille was recently released from a facility to help her stop cutting words into her body and now works at a Chicago newspaper. Her boss wants her to report on a recent kidnapping of a child in her home town, falling on the heels of a murder of a similarly aged child a few months ago.

Camille has a new half-sister, Amma, who gets all the doting attention of her mother. Nothing seems to have changed in the town. Her mother still acts the same way, her mom's friends still gossip as vigorously as they used to, and the police department is too small and inexperienced. Camille starts asking around and instead of getting information on who the possible murderer is, instead gets depressing stories about people that have remained in the town and horrible stories about her mom.

This is Flynn's first book, before Gone Girl became a hit. This is a fantastic book too though and carries its weight against Gone Girl. It had me incredibly angry at Camille's mother, sympathetic towards Camille, questioning Camille's love choices, and pretty much every other reaction I'm sure Flynn was going for.

I could not put this book down. I wanted to slap Camille's mom so many times and just kept hoping for her to get put in her place. This was almost as important to me as determining who the murderer was. I love psychological thrillers and this ranks right up there among the best of them.

First Line: "My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly."

Rating:
(4.5/5)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wandering Prince by Jean Plaidy

Historical Fiction

The Stuart family is run out of England when Cromwell turns the country into a Commonwealth. Charles II is a prince wandering around to different courts while he makes attempts to return to the throne. His mom and youngest sister Henriette (Minette to her brother) are in the French court. The other family members are either imprisoned in England or at court in other areas.

Though this is the first book in the Charles II, it is really about two woman rather than Charles himself. The first woman is his sister Minette. She starts as a child and blossoms into a woman, falling in love with Louis XIV. Louis doesn't find out he loves her back until it's too late and he's already been married. The second is Lucy Waters (though a quick Google search has her name as Lucy Walters so I'm not sure why her name was incorrect in the book). Lucy is described as the most beautiful woman in England and Charles falls in love with her quickly. He can't marry her but that doesn't stop a love affair from happening.

I found this book quite dense and a slow read, though it was still very interesting. Most of my historical fiction reading on the British monarchy is in the Tudor era. I didn't know much of either Charles II or Louis XIV and even though this book didn't focus on those two characters, learning about those around them during the time does a lot to shed light on those royals.

Minette was the most interesting character in this book. She went through a transformation from shy, skinny child to beautiful, joyous lady. It seems like she brought many kinds of art to the French court. A whole book could be written on her.

This book isn't as salacious as Philippa Gregory but it is still a great story of fascinating historical figures.

First Line: "It was late afternoon on a July day in the fourth year of the Great Rebellion."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Mystery

While this isn't the first Sherlock Holmes book, it's the very first that I've read. Holmes and Watson are approached to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. There is only one remaining heir to the Baskerville estate, and one that has not heard of the hound of the Baskerville fable. Was Sir Charles killed by the hound? If anyone can figure out, Sherlock and Holmes can.

Using a unique method of investigation, Sherlock uses powerful deductive reasoning. The answers are all there in front of us, it's just a matter of putting it all together.

This is a pretty short book, though not one that can be blown through quickly. I feel like there wasn't enough time to get a complete understanding of who all the suspects were in the mystery before it was determined who was responsible.

Also, there's a lot of chemistry between Holmes and Watson missing from this book since the two were separated for the majority of book. I enjoyed the chatter between them at the beginning and end of the book. I wish there had been more. It doesn't feel like it was written 100 years ago, there's a timeless quality to it. I've got a few more of these books and I'm sure I will enjoy them.

First Line: "Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb

Mystery

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to a private school when two students discover one of their favourite teachers dead. What looks like an allergic reaction is actually poisoning even though Dallas can't find anyone that has a bad thing to say about this man. Dallas starts peeling back the layers of the school to find out what has been going on and starts to find some motive for killing when her prime suspect also ends up dead.

Meanwhile, in Dallas' personal life, an ex-lover of Roarke is back in town and making waves. She wants Roarke for herself and will manipulate anyone she can to try and get him.

This is book 20-something in the series, but I have gone more than a year without reading one. I was beginning to feel that all of Dallas' books were the same and I wasn't enjoying the series as much. Having left this for a while and come back to it, I'm glad I gave the series for some time and then returned to it fresh. I enjoyed this book and was surprised at who the killer was. I think good spacing for this series is perhaps one book every 6 months so that I don't tire of it too quickly.

There was a great moment in this book between Dallas and Roarke's butler Summerset. The two are usually at odds and constantly berating each other but I really enjoyed them coming together to help solve the personal problem, and then go back to their old ways. First Line: "Pop quizzes were killer."

Rating:
(4/5)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Circle of Assassins by Steven Rigolosi

Mystery

An ad is placed in a local newspaper, telling readers that they only need to write in to help get rid of the person they hate the most in the world. After careful selection, there are 5 people in this circle of assassins. Each has submitted someone they want killed and each must kill one of those people. The rationale is explained by each assassin. Some make sense, some don't seem like enough. But each assassin has their instructions and must carry out their tasks.

This book is completely unlike anything I've read. I enjoyed the format of it, with some of the story taking place through adverts and letters and some taking place through narratives. Each character is given a letter and a colour. I found myself having to flip back a few times to figure out who was doing what but eventually I started to remember. It would have been preferable if the author only used letters or colours to try and reduce the confusion.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the imperfection of the story. Not all of the victims deserved to die. Some of the assassins were completely selfish. All walks of life were represented in this book which was also interesting. How does an old lady set about to kill someone?

This book had some good twists near the end that kept me on my toes. I would pick up another Rigolosi book in the future!

First Line: "Revenge is sweet!"

Rating:
(4/5)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

Thriller

Klara Walldeen was orphaned as a baby and brought up by her grandparents in a remote part of Sweden. As an adult, she works in Brussels as a political aid. An ex-boyfriend reaches out to her to let her know she'll be in town and wondering if she wants to meet. Klara puts off getting back to him until she's called by him frantically saying he needs to meet. Hearing the urgency, Klara agrees and is brought in to a dangerous situation of the American government's secrets and what they are willing to do to make sure no one has access to them.

Before talking about the book, I want to mention how much I enjoy the cover art. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but the red of the cover is shiny and the ripples of the swimmer are raised. It's really an eye-catching cover.

Klara is a strong female character to centre most of the narrative around and she holds her own. Some thriller novels with female leads make the female weak in some way, usually with a love interest, but Zander didn't do this, for which I was thankful. Klara could have given up many times throughout the story but she didn't. She saw through to the end because of her strong morale foundation.

What I found amazing, and rather scary, about this book is how ruthless the government was willing to be to protect this secret. Local police were involved but had no clue what they were helping the American government do. Some small piece of me believes that this could happen and governments would be willing to take these steps to stop some secrets from being told.

This is a debut novel but it reads like an experienced thriller author. I had troubles putting this down. It's the best mystery/thriller I've read so far this year.

You can visit the author's Twitter if you're interested. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour.

First Line: "Every time I hold you is the last time I hold you."

Rating:
(4.5/5)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich

Mystery

Alexandra Barnaby gets a call from her brother in Miami that ends with a woman screaming. She knows something isn't right so she heads down to Florida to try and find him, coming across NASCAR driver Sam Hooker. Alex's brother stole Hooker's boat so he has reason to try and find him.

Evanovich is known for her fun-loving characters, specifically with the number series and Stephanie Plum. The problem that I had with this book is that it felt like a cheap copy of the characters from Evanovich's number series. Alex was the independent female with a carefree attitude towards danger. Hooker is the sexy but somewhat undesirable man who tries to help. There's also a cast of characters that help these two find the brother. Really, the only thing that was missing was Grandma Mazure.

That said, this book was still fun. Just not as fun as Stephanie Plum!

First Line: "Just because I know how to change a guy's oil doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my life on my back, staring up his undercarriage."

Rating:
(3.5/5)