Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

Don't Try To Find Me by Holly Brown
Fiction

Rachel comes home from work to find a note in her kitchen from 14 year-old daughter Marley: don't try to find me. Rachel dropped Marley off at school in the morning but no one has seen her since. She calls her husband, Paul, and the two start making calls including the police. With a history of high anxiety, Rachel doesn't handle this too well and the cops suspect she may have something to do with Marley missing. Paul decides to go to social media and start a massive online campaign to find Marley. Told from the perspective of both Rachel and Marley, we get both sides of the story.

There are many pieces to this book that makes it an interesting read. For me, I was surprised at how little I cared for the characters though I still felt somewhat sympathetic to them because of the tension Brown created with what may have driven Marley away. Rachel was annoying and a little hard to believe due to her inaction. For someone that has an anxiety problem, she was very perceptive about her relationship but completely oblivious in other areas. Without spoiling anything, we learn of one item about Rachel that drove Marley away and it was a complete shocker. There was very little in the book, until about 50 pages before revealed, that even hinted at this being a problem. Despite these annoyances, Rachel was a great medium for walking the reader through what a parent may think when their kid runs away. The other main character is Marley. Again, I wasn't her biggest fan because it felt like she may have run away for very little reason and I don't have patience for that. Despite this, she came off as rather mature for a 14 year old and able to handle herself in adverse situations.

What this book really excelled at was making the reader's mind work in overdrive to figure out why Marley ran away. With each revelation I was wondering who could have done what to whom and what the final reason for the family abandonment was. That said, once the real reason was finally provided, because my mind had been working so hard to come up with all of these reason, I felt like it was a bit of a let down. I expected the reason to be larger than it was.

This book was a page-turner and had interesting character narration. I just would have liked the author to push the envelope a bit more on the conclusion because the journey didn't equate to the end result.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!

First Line: "Don't try to find me."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters

Thriller

Connie Burns is a foreign correspondent that has worked in war zones and high stress situations. After tracking some unusual rape and murders in Sierra Leone, Connie thinks she knows who is responsible but can't do much about it. Years later, she finds herself in Iraq, looking at the same man from Sierra Leone that she thinks caused these crimes. He knows that Connie is on to her and doesn't hide his anger. She is kidnapped and released 3 days after the kidnapping but refuses to say anything about the kidnapping.

Back in London, she hides in a hotel until the media frenzy dies down and then finds a remote cottage to hide in and write a book. She makes friends quickly with the local doctor Peter and the person that lives in the farm close by Jess. Soon, Connie learns about who her cottage belongs to and the neglect that has occurred in that cottage. This helps Connie take her mind off the kidnapping and worrying that the kidnapper is going to find her.

For a thriller, this book was rather slow in parts. It's rare that the major events of a book don't actually occur within the novel. In this book both the kidnapping and the resulting confrontation were completely skipped. Instead, the reader learns about these events through conversations that happen. I can't say I was a big fan of this approach. It may have made things a bit more suspenseful but it resulted in a slower paced book that made me feel like I was missing something.

Despite reading the entire book, I felt like it wasn't really about much and the characters were rather annoying.

First Line: "I don't know if that story was picked up in the West."

Rating:
(3/5)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Children's

When Charlie Bone discovers accidentally that he can hear people in photographs speak, his dad's side of the family takes over. They give him tests and poke and prod him to determine if this is a legitimate gift and whether he should be sent to special school. Charlie tries to deny it but can't because the pictures are so loud. He is sent to Bloor's Academy, away from his best friend and his mom. He learns about secrets that he shouldn't and meets others like him: both nice and mean. With cats that can set fire to things and a box that is trying to open itself, Charlie isn't at school long before he gets wrapped up in a variety of different schemes.

This book has lots of comparisons to Harry Potter but it really is a weak substitute. There isn't "magic" per say, but a few of the characters have unique abilities. That said, these abilities are hardly explored at all in the book and take a back seat once they are announced. I'm not sure I understand what the point is of having a character that can hear people within photographs if he only uses it a couple of times throughout the book.

Not much happens in this book, not much is required to fix the problems, and not much is described of the characters. All in all, it's a pretty shallow book, though I'm sure it would have a good audience of young kids - maybe 6-8 years old.

First Line: "Long, long ago a king arrived in the north."

Rating:
(2.5/5)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Madmen of Benghazi by Gérard de Villiers

Mystery

I received this book from Goodreads as a giveaway.

Malko Linge is an Austrian that contracts with the CIA to complete some rather dicey missions. This time he's called to Egypt after a missile narrowly misses an aircraft containing the future king of Libya. Not knowing that he was the target of a terrorist attack, al-Senussi is bringing his beautiful British girlfriend with him to enjoy Egypt while he does the easy dealings of a future king. Malko is to seduce al-Senussi's girlfriend to gain information about who would want to kill him. True to any CIA contractor, this puts him in danger while he tries to save al-Senussi's life.

There were parts of this book that didn't make much sense. If you're looking to find out about why someone is looking to kill you, I don't think seducing the girlfriend would be high on the list for finding information. Wouldn't searching the person's personal items help more with that? Given that this book is littered with graphic sex scenes, I honestly think this was just a ploy for the author to be able to introduce more sex in to the book. It was a cheap ploy and didn't drive any plot further or make the book any better.

If I hadn't researched this author, I would've assumed he was a debut author. This book reads very simply and seems amateur. I wasn't impressed with this at all and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

First Line: "Ibrahim al-Senussi was stark naked when he stepped out of the shower, and he stopped dead at his bedroom door."

Rating:
(1/5)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

Kathryn is woken in the middle of the night to a knock on the door and her worst nightmare. Her husband Jack is a pilot for an airline jointly owned in the USA and England and his plane has just gone down. They don't believe there are any survivors. Robert from the pilot's union is there to guide Kathryn through the grief and answer the phones for her. Katheryn knows she needs to break the news to her teenage daughter Mattie and knows how much it will hurt her.

The next day, a rumor leaks that there was a bomb on board, and it was in Jack's bag. Suicide is what they are calling it. This destroys Mattie and makes no sense to Katheryn. She starts questioning past interactions she had with Jack to see if there are any clues there. Pulling out receipts from Jack's pants he last wore reveals some vague clues and Katheryn starts piecing them together to learn that there's a lot about Jack that she didn't know.

This book seemed to coast along on a wave of grief and mourning until the last quarter where there were a few plot twists. It seemed a bit unbalanced because of this. The other part of the book that bothered me was Robert. The two seemed to be flirting right after Katheryn found out about Jack and it didn't sit right with me. How many people would act that way after finding out their husband is dead?

This wasn't my favourite book, but it was ok. Better than some other Oprah books I've picked up!

First Line: "She heard a knocking, and then a dog barking."

Rating:
(3/5)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben
Mystery

Myron Bolitar is an ex-pro basketball player, ex-FBI agent, and now a sports agent. His partner Win is the muscle and money behind the operation. Bolitar signs Christian Steele, and up and coming quarterback, and is trying to get him the best deal he can when Steele gets an anonymous letter in the mail with a magazine containing the picture of his girlfriend who had disappeared a few years ago. Bolitar doesn't want this to affect his client, so he starts to investigate but he has some history with the disappearance as well. Bolifar was dating her sister. Though you wouldn't expect a sports agent to make a good investigator, Bolitar is able to figure things out and start piecing together the puzzle.

Bolitar and Win are interesting characters with a dry sense of humor that makes for some entertaining banter. It's not a typical mystery but was fun and kept my attention. There was just one thing that didn't make much sense. How is it possible for a person to go from sports to the FBI back to sports? This seems impossible and not much is explained about Bolitar's FBI background, making it seem like a detail that Coben wanted to prove that Bolitar could investigate, but hadn't put any thought in to how it came to be. This bothered me throughout the book. I think it would have been better to just say he went from sports, back to school for law, and then became an agent.

First Line: "Otto Burke, the Wizard of Schmooze, raised his game another level."

Rating:
(4/5)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan
Fiction

The Lazarus Project is in the Arctic trying to find hard ice and the sea creatures within it to reanimate them and bring them back to life. They're hoping to find larger creatures rather than the small shrimp and sardines they've been working with but they never dreamed they would find a human. This story comes from the perspective of three people: Dr. Kate Philo, a top scientist in charge of the expedition, Daniel Dixon, the journalist along for the ride, Erastus Carthage, the egotist responsible for The Lazarus Project, and Judge Jere­miah Rice, the frozen man.

Not surprisingly, bringing the dead back to life creates a circus. Jeremiah Rice left for an expedition 100 years ago and fell off the ship he was on in to the freezing water. He wakes up, what feels like moments later, but is actually a hundred years later with Dr. Philo by his side. Philo and some of the other scientists try to bring Rice up to speed on what's happened in the last 100 years and his condition but Carthage is busy plotting and scheming which is affecting almost everyone.

The science aspect of this book was well explained and not at all tiring to read like some books can make this subject. This provided an interesting 'what if' scenario to ponder over. If we could be brought back to life after being frozen, would you consider it?

This book grabbed me as soon as I started it because Kiernan does such a great job of writing his characters. The style of his character writing rather reminded me of Jodi Picoult. It helps make for a very easy read. This also helped me get through some of the holes I thought there were in the book. For example, Dr. Philo is supposed to be an incredibly smart scientist but when Carthage cuts her down and puts her on a menial job, she makes one threat then does nothing about it. I feel like the rest of the book she's objectified as the token female scientist even though she's no longer conducting any science. There were also some threads that were never wrapped up by the end of the book. An example of this was Dixon looking in to the background of one of the protesters. Except we never found out who he really was, so what was the point of looking him up?

Despite the few flaws in the book, I still really enjoyed this, mostly due to Kiernan's writing style.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour.

First Line: "I was already wide-awake when they came for me."

Rating:
(4/5)

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
Children's

Hannah is visiting her grandparents during Passover in 1988 America, wishing that she could be like her best friend Rosemary and eat candies at this time of year. Instead, she's tired of remembering the past and listening to her family talk about their experiences during the war. While performing one of the rituals of Passover, Hannah opens the front door and is transported back in time to 1942. She is called Chaya, which is her name in native tongue. She is now part of a new family, her parents supposedly died from sickness. Her uncle is getting married the next day and as the wedding makes its procession to the church, Nazis are in front of the church. The tell everyone that Jews are being relocated and to follow them. They aren't given a choice. The whole village is crowded in to a train and taken to Auschwitz.

Hannah lives through the horrors of Auschwitz and slowly forgets her role in the future. The tale is one we've all heard before but this doesn't make it any less of a travesty. This is supposed to be a children's book and I think it's a pretty good way of introducing what happened during the Holocaust to children 10 or so years of age.

First Line: "'I'm tired of remembering,' Hannah said to her mother as she climbed into the car."

Rating:
(4/5)