Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Fiction

Dragonscale is sweeping the world, burning people and leaving nothing but ash. Maine is a charred wasteland and people hunt those with dragonscale to kill them. Harper works at the local hospital to try and help those sick as much as she can but even the hospital isn't safe. When that goes up in smoke, Harper finds out she has the disease. Harper and her husband made a suicide pact when this disease first started spreading but now that Harper finds out she's pregnant, she's not so interested in killing herself. He husband, who isn't sick, still thinks she should die.

Harper escapes to a camp that hides those with Dragonscale with the help of the fireman. They have found a way to control their disease, which gives Harper hope that she'll be able to live with her baby. But with more than 100 people in this camp, there are 'Lord of the Flies'-type social problems at the camp.

I really enjoy apocalyptic stories because of the imagination that it takes to come up with what kills off most people and how people are coping with it. This is a unique disease and a unique way of dealing with it. Of course, at the core of it this book isn't about the scale. This is just the icing on the cake. But it's really nice icing.

The core of this book is Harper, her relationship with her husband and the fireman, and how these hundred folks with dragonscale create (or destroy) a community they've built up for themselves. Harper, for the most part seems pretty sensible. She's a nurse, she loves Mary Poppins, and she gets rightfully annoyed at people. Her ex-husband is a piece of work that wants to kill her and her new love interest and create birds made of fire. Then there's the community, which is full of a whole bunch of interesting characters.

While I really enjoyed this book, I won't give it a perfect review for two reasons. First, I feel like the book could have lost a hundred or two pages and not lost anything in the story. Second, because Harper and the fireman fall in love after only talking to each other or seeing each other 3 times, which is completely unrealistic.

I still recommend this one though!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. Be sure to get your copy at Harper Collins.

First Line: "Harper Grayson had seen lots of people burn on TV, everyone had, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school."

Rating:
(4/5)
About the Author
Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. He is also the Eisner Award-winning writer of a six-volume comic book series, Locke & Key. He lives in New Hampshire.

Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at his website.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Inferno by Dan Brown

Thriller

Professor Langdon wakes up in the hospital, thinking he's still in Massachusetts. He can't remember anything that's happened over the last few days and is told that a bullet grazed his head. When an Italian doctor enters his room, Landon realizes he isn't in the States, but rather in Florence. Then when that doctor is murdered before his eyes Langdon knows he must run. Another doctor also in the room, Sienna, helps him by bringing Langdon to her home and trying to figure out why he's in Florence. There's a mini projector sewn in to his coat which starts Langdon on his search for Inferno.

The two realize they are hunting a plague, hoping to find it before it's set loose on the world. Following through Dante's Inferno, they must follow clues from this important work and from other artists that have used it as inspiration to find what they are looking for.

Brown's first book with Langdon, Angels and Demons is still my favourite, but this was pretty good. Brown is a master at writing suspense and as a bonus, you learn about some art and history along the way. I don't know much about Dante's Inferno. This made me want to read it just a little bit. Though I know I'd probably never understand all the intricacies.

This isn't award winning literature but it's definitely a fun read.

First Line: "I am the Shade."

Rating:
(4/5)

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Bomber by Liza Marklund

Mystery

Stockholm is getting ready for the Olympics, when there is a bombing in one of the main stadiums, killing one person. The public wants to know if this was a targeted attack or whether it was terrorism. Annika heads up the crime desk at a local newspaper and wants to get to the bottom of who did this and why. She's a female in a male-dominated industry and feels not only the pressure of leading a team of men, but also the difficulties of balancing work and home life. However she has great instincts as a journalist and hunts down some leads before any other journalists do.

This is an interesting mystery/thriller from the journalist's perspective rather than the detective's. And it's set in Sweden, which few mystery books that I read are set in. It makes for an interesting change of pace.

I liked Annika's struggles over being a female not respected by her male peers and her work life balance. However it did get to a point where I thought the author started to overplay it and was really beating our heads with this fact. I would have appreciated it more if it was a bit more subtle.

I felt a little disappointed with the ending. It was a bit predictable and definitely over dramatic.

First Line: "The woman who was about to die stepped warily out of the doorway and quickly glanced about her."

Rating:
(3/5)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Young Adult

Mattie Cook is a teenager in Philadelphia when yellow fever strikes the city. Her mom forces Mattie to leave the family coffee shop and head to the countryside with her grandfather to try and save her from getting sick. Mattie is sad to leave her mom and the coffee shop, which she has dreams for when she could possibly run it herself. Unfortunately Mattie still gets sick, but manages to pull through and survive.

The two return to the city and find it completely changed. None of the markets are opened, people are scared to leave their homes, and robbers roam the city looking to make money off the tragedy.

This book is for young adults and reads as such. I enjoyed the character Mattie. She was probably a bit more level headed than I would expect a 14 year old to be in these circumstances. The only thing that I felt was missing was that this didn't feel like it was 1793. It felt like the story could have been told in 2016 and nothing in the book would need to change. Maybe this is the point, to show people this could happen today, but I would have liked a bit more of a historical setting.

First Line: "I woke to the sound of a mosquito whining in my left ear and my mother screeching in the right."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard

Fiction/Literature

Helen is a recovering alcoholic, having lost custody of her son after he suffered from appendicitis and needed to be taken to the hospital, which Helen did while she was drunk. She only gets to see her son for a few hours on the weekend, and given that she's not a very sociable person Helen doesn't have much of a life outside of those hours until she meets Ava and Swift Havilland. The two are wealthy entrepreneurs and take an interest in Helen and her son. The Havilland's welcome Helen in to their life, and put her to work asking for her help. Eventually, they get Helen set up on a dating site and it seems like they're mostly just interested in the entertaining stories rather than trying to find Helen someone she will like. Helen does find someone, a boring accountant, but a man who is incredibly kind and caring. The Havilland's don't take well to him and Helen begins to question her choice while Elliot is questioning Helen's choice of friends.

Eventually these relationships come to a head, with an accident where Helen's son is involved.

This book has a feeling of dread attached to it through the entire reading. You know something bad is going to happen and you're really just waiting for the shoe to drop. This made for a compelling read for me, wondering what was going to happen. It's a good thing that by the time I got the book, I had forgotten the description of the book though because the book description pretty much tells you the story of the entire novel.

There's a weird element to this book where Ava and Swift continuously make suggestive remarks to each other around others. It doesn't really add much to the book, aside from making me dislike the two characters after they've done it so many times it gets old. I'm not sure what the point was for this to be in the novel, as it was completely fake.

For the ending, the climax of the book was interesting but felt crammed in to the last little bit of the book. There were also a lot of unanswered questions for me. If the pacing of this book was a bit better, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

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

You can find out more about the book and purchase it here.

First Line: "It was late November, and for a week solid the rain hadn't let up."

Rating:
(3.5/5)
About the Author
Joyce Maynard is the author of eight previous novels, including To Die For, Labor Day, The Good Daughters, and four books of nonfiction. Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in California.

Find her on Facebook or at her website.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fluke by Christopher Moore

Humor

Nate and his crew work out of Hawaii, studying whales and trying to figure out why they sing. While out studying, he notices some odd markings on the tale of one whale. When the whale surfaces again, he notices that it says 'bite me'. From there, things get weirder and weirder as Nate gets closer to breaking the mystery.

Moore is known for his humor novels. Sometimes they can be a bit odd, but Moore takes this one way beyond odd. I didn't find it overly humorous and it was too over the top to enjoy. By the end of the novel, I was skimming it to get to the end.

Despite the overall weirdness, there is a good message to preserve our sea and the creatures within it.

First Line: "Amy called the whale punkin."

Rating:
(3/5)

Monday, December 05, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Fiction/Romance

When the restaurant that Louisa has been working at for the past 6 years shuts down, she knows she needs to find a job soon. Her dad thinks he is going to be laid off at any time, her mom is taking care of her grandfather who had a stroke, and her sister wants to go back to school but can't because of her young son. The family needs Louisa's income. She finds a job listing to be a companion for a quadriplegic. She would be responsible for basic care and basic cleaning, but also spending time with this man Will. Lou isn't sure she can do it, but she has no choice and goes for the interview, getting the job.

The two don't hit it off right away. Will is used to pushing people away and Lou is a bit eccentric. Eventually they come to an understanding, when Louisa learns a secret the family has kept from her. She doesn't want to be a part of it, but enjoys Will's company and wants to show him how he can still live a somewhat normal life.

The shining light in this book isn't the plot, though it's good, so much as it's the characters. Lou is quirky. She is annoyed with her sister, complacent with her boyfriend, but just trying to do right by her family. She's a very realistic portrayal and one you can get behind very easily. Will, though being slightly acerbic, you can understand why he is this way and you see the glimmers of wit and intelligence behind his facade. The two make a great combination for this story.

The plot is slightly predictable, you know what's coming, but the journey to get there is memorable and worth while. I really enjoyed this book. However after reading reviews of the second book in the series, I think I'll stay away from that one.

Rating:
(4.5/5)