Sunday, August 30, 2015

Momo by Michael Ende

Children's

When Momo, a little homeless girl, takes up residence in an abandoned amphitheater on the edge of town, the residences come out to see who this girl is. She quickly makes friends of them, listening to their stories and troubles. Soon her friends visit her less and less, and Momo wonders what happened. There are men in grey suits going around stealing time from everyone. Adults have less time thinking they are banking it for later and children are running around free because there is no supervision. Momo wants life back the way it was and sets out to figure out how to do so.

I had picked this book up because the author is that of The Neverending Story. While this book is every bit as imaginative as his previous work, I found it rather tough to get through. I didn't find Momo the character very interesting. I think part of the reason is that almost nothing about her is explained. She's a child, but thought to be very old. There seems to be some mystical features of her but none are actually determined. This, combined with a rather slow moving plot made me rather bored of this book.

First Line: "Long, long ago, when people spoke languages quite different from our own, many fine, big cities already existed in the sunny lands of the world."

Rating:
(3/5)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Fiction

Ellen is an 11 year old girl that starts off with a depressed mom and abusive father and ends an orphan. She takes us through how this happened and how she feels about the losses, being put in her aunt's care, then being removed from it, in a voice only an 11 year old would have. This rather short book only wound up on my bookshelf because I've been slowly trying to make my way through Oprah's books, though I'm not sure why I bother anymore because I don't seem to like many of them.

Ellen narrates with what feels to me like lack of emotion and simplicity. The simplicity fit with an 11 year old, but it clashed with a feeling of disassociation and too much wisdom for what you'd expect from an 11 year old. This book didn't sit well with me and I think that's the best I can do to put my finger on why.

Looking beyond Ellen to the story itself, I felt rather bored during the whole thing. Thankfully, the book is a pretty short one.

First Line: "When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy."

Rating:
(3/5)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Young Adult/Science Fiction

When an alien spaceship comes in to Earth's orbit and fails to contact, people know this isn't going to end well. The first wave cut the lights, the second destroyed the coasts, the third killed the majority of the population, the fourth made it impossible to trust anyone and the it's just a matter of time before the fifth wave starts. Cassie and her brother survive the fourth wave but get separated from each other and Cassie promises him that she'll find him. Knowing that she's being hunted and not being able to trust anyone, Cassie has to figure out how to find her brother.

I immediately was sucked in to this book, though found that I connected more with the story than with the characters. I wanted to know what happened, what the waves were, and what the aliens wanted. Cassie was a vessel to get me that information but I didn't really care for her as a character. The main issue I had with her was the weird love triangle that occurred through at least half of the book. It didn't make a whole lot of sense and felt rather childish.

Putting aside this, I still really enjoyed the novel because of its unique premise and will find the next book in the series to read.

First Line: "There will be no awakening."

Rating:
(4/5)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Strange Blood by Lindsay Ashford

Mystery

Dr. Megan Rhys is asked to assist the police with a brutal killing that looks like it could be a ritual. As a forensic psychologist, Rhys can help the police determine what kind of person would do this. She tries to look past the pentagram left at the scene and focus on other elements of the crime. The killer strikes again, and things hit very close to home. Can Megan hunt the killer down before he takes someone Megan loves?

The mystery plot on this book is pretty weak. The crime scenes aren't described much beyond the obvious red herring. The police working on the crime are shown more for the stupid conversations they have than if and how they are solving the crime. It felt like the author didn't have a strong handle on how the police try to solve crimes so she glossed over this, made them screw up, and focused on conversations between the characters about how they screwed up.

The ending was deeply disappointing. I was about 15 pages away from the end and nothing had been revealed yet. I wondered how the heck everything was going to wrap up. It didn't, or at least not with any satisfaction. The killer was an unknown that didn't seem to have anything to do with anything. It was a cop-out, which matched the spirit of the rest of the book.

First Line: "Delva Lobelo had never got used to going into the houses of the dead."

Rating:
(2.5/5)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel

Fiction

Tita, the youngest daughter of a Mexican family, is destined to take care of her mother for the rest of her life because the youngest daughter doesn't get to marry to make her own life, instead she's stuck taking care of her mother. Tita has fallen in love with a young man who asks for her hand in marriage and is told by the family that this cannot be. Instead, the man married Tita's sister and this breaks Tita's heart. As a fabulous cook, Tita releases her emotions through her cooking. Can true love survive through life's trial and tribulations?

This short book is easy to read and you get in to it fast. There are some magical elements where Tita's emotions can be felt through her cooking. I really enjoyed Tita's story of breaking from tradition and becoming independent. On the flip side, I didn't like how the story played out at the end and specifically didn't like Tita's love interest.

First Line: "Take care to chop the onion fine."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Mystery

Jack Reacher is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's a drifter, having left the military police, and winds up in a small southern town just as two murders take place. The police think he's the murderer and he's brought in to the police station to answer questions. Reacher has a rock-solid alibi, but it is Friday afternoon and they can't verify. He needs to be sent to jail for the weekend. When someone tries to take him out in the jail, Reacher knows he won't be able to let this go. Once his alibi is verified, he works with the police to try and solve the case.

This is the very first book in the Reacher series and for all the intrigue and mystery, it was all surrounded in a world of make believe. No cop would ever share case information with a suspect, even after they are cleared. The fact that this kept happening really bothered me because it was so unrealistic but the only way Child could make the story work.

Putting this problem aside, the book is pretty good. Reacher is an interesting character. I like ex-cops. They know how to do things but are free agents and not restricted to the letter of the law. When Bosch of Michael Connelly's books quit/retired for a book or two, it was some of the better books. This is the same except I suspect Reacher will permanently be like this.

I'll carry on to the next book in the series. There are quite a few so I have a long road ahead of me!

First Line: "I was arrested in Eno's diner."

Rating:
(4/5)

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

Historical Fiction

In the era of King Henry II, John FitzGilbert is the King's Marshal. He's earned his way there though trial by combat and does a good job with the sums. However when King Henry II dies, John must choose a side as two groups battle for the crown.

From a historical fiction point, I found this novel interesting. Most of the English historical fiction I've read takes place later than this so I didn't know a lot about the reign of King Henry II and directly following him. The book does a good job of describing what happened during that time and how much turmoil there was during that time when two families were battling for the crown.

From a story telling point, this book had some pretty boring parts. John is an interesting character but his first wife has less personality than a rock. This doesn't help move the story along much.

This book just plods along, which doesn't make it all too exciting. You want to find out what happens to John but there isn't a whole lot of action or cliff hangers along the way.

I was reading an advance copy so I hope everything had been fixed by the time that the book went for final publishing but there were major problems with placements of quotes. It was difficult to tell when someone was speaking because it was just as likely as not that when the character continued speaking, there would be nothing to indicate this.

First Line: "'Why,' John FitzGilbert asked with icy disspleasure, 'does the list say palfreys when the beasts I've just seen in the stables are common nags?'"

Rating:
(3.5/5)