Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster


Joe is a boy of 11 who has lived in a hospital room since he was 2 months old because he has no immune system to stop himself from getting sick. Joe only has a few things to keep him entertained: tv and video games, his laptop where he in touch with another boy in the States with the same disease, his sister, and his nurses. His sister, Beth, struggles with the decision to move away for school because their parents died a few years ago. That's right. This poor kid is stuck in a bubble and his parents have both died in a car crash. His favourite nurse is Greg and he gets a new on Amir who is a bit of an odd character. He always looks out the window, supposedly looking for UFOs. But maybe Amir can help Joe experience a little more of life?

This book is a very easy read and a fairly emotional one at that. However something was a bit off about it, that keeps me from giving it a higher mark. I think it was a couple of things. First, I didn't fully understand Joe's illness. It makes sense that he has no immune system and needs purified air. But why does that make him consistently tired? The other oddity was Amir's obsession with aliens. Was there any point to it other than for conversation? He seemed a pretty smart guy but then had this weird obsession with aliens. Why?

I'm sure kids would enjoy this book. It wasn't bad, just not fantastic.

First Line: "'I've got a tattoo.'"


Friday, December 15, 2017

The Wild Numbers by Philibert Schogt


Isaac Swift is a mathematics professor that has come up with no meaningful proofs during his tenure. He's feeling lost. His girlfriend tries to lure him away from constant sessions of math but eventually gives up and leaves him. Isaac is depressed, which sinks him further in to long sessions of math in the middle of the night. Issac finds inspiration in an unlikely source and thinks he has come up with a solution for the wild numbers. He is quickly accused of plagiarism but he doesn't think it's true.

Isaac is a pretty depressing guy to read about. We learn how he got in to math as a way to escape as a kid and that what Isaac really needs is some counselling. And that's pretty much the theme of this book: Isaac needs help. He never gets help though, and has to fail to success (sort of?). It's not the funnest read in the world because of how depressing it is but it's ok.

First Line: "Five plus three equals eight."


Friday, December 08, 2017

Eve Green by Susan Fletcher


Pregnant with her first child, Eve goes down memory lane remembering her single mother and losing her at a young age. Eve went to live with her grandparents in Whales after this tragedy on farm land.

125 pages in to the book and that's really all I could tell you that the book was about because it was so slow going. Eve's future husband worked on the farm and there could have been a story there about how they fell in love with each other but that never really started. There also may have been a girl missing but we only met her about 115 pages in and it was just about how she wasn't the nicest girl. Almost half way through the book and I got fed up with the lack of progress being made and decided to give up.

First Line: "Three things happened when I was seven years old."


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie


Detective Hercule Poirot winds up on the Orient Express as he tries to get back home to assist with an investigation. His friend has procured him a ticket as he owns part of the train line. The train stops in the middle of the night due to a snow storm and by the morning, one of the passengers is dead. Poirot must interview all of the passengers in his car and determine who committed this murder.

My mom got me this book as a gift a while ago saying that if I only read one Agatha Christie book in my life, this should be it. While it's not the best mystery I've ever read, it was still a fun one. There's a finite number of options as to what could have happened on this train. Working through all the clues with Poirot and the inconsistencies in the story is entertaining. Most of them I didn't even notice until they were pointed out. This is a great short mystery.

First Line: "It was five o'clock on a winter's morning in Syria. "


Monday, December 04, 2017

Garden of Lamentation by Deborah Crombie


Notting Hill's private gardens are a sanctuary for those that live surrounding them, until one night the body of a local young woman is found dead in them. The girl is identified as Reagan Keating, nanny to a male young upcoming dancer. Detective Gemma Jones is included on the case as she is a friend of a friend of the victim's employer and knows some of the parties involved. Her and DI Kerry Boatman start to investigate.

Gemma is super busy at work but has problems at home too. Her husband Kincaid (also a cop) gets a call that his father is in the hospital so he races out of town to make sure he is ok. His father ends up being fine, but on his way home he stops to investigate the suicide of a friend and undercover cop whom he cannot believe actually killed himself.

This is book 17 in the well-established Kincaid/Jones series. Since I had never read any of the previous novels, I feel like I missed a lot of who the characters were and all the previous cases and issues they had been through. Very little was mentioned to help a new reader pick this series up at this book and make sense of it. For example, Kincaid is investigating the undercover cop's death, there has obviously been history between those two from previous books and a reason for Kincaid to believe he hadn't killed himself. Having no awareness of that history, I couldn't connect to this story line as I knew nothing about the undercover cop or why Kincaid would think this way.

The other confusing part for a new-to-series reader is the number of characters in this book. It took me 50 pages to realize that Kincaid and Duncan were the same people. The author mentions everyone by their first name with the exception of Kincaid who is mentioned by his last name. I'm not sure why there is this discrepancy but it was confusing for me.

For the mystery that was self-contained within this novel, I enjoyed it. The murderer wasn't too obvious and the story of snobby neighbours was believable.

Definitely start from the first book in this series. If you're already invested, you should enjoy this book!

You can purchase this book at Harper Collins. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour.

First Line: "She stood at the bus stop, shuffling her feet."

About the Author
Crombie lives in McKinney, Texas with her husband, two German Shepherd Dogs, and two cats. She travels to Britain frequently to research her books.

Find her on Twitter, Facebook and at her website.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Bridget Jones' Diary by

Chick Lit

Bridget Jones wants to start her year off right. Lose weight, drink less, smoke less. She starts at a new years party where her parents are trying to set her up with Mark Darcy. Bridget isn't having any of that though. She has her eyes on another man from work.

Bridget writes in her diary for us every few days, telling us of the humorous and horrendous predicaments she gets herself in to. Typical to these types of novels written as diaries, the novel is written from the characters perspective while things happen on that day, not like the character is writing a diary. I always found that odd with diary books. A person doesn't sit there and write in between everything incorrectly happening. Why do people write books this way?

I read this book because it was on the BBC top 100 (#75). I personally don't think it's worth of that list, though it was a fun read.

First Line: "I will not drink more than fourteen alcohol units a week."


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen


Jack Tagger is obsessed with death. As an obit writer at the local newspaper, he knows which celebrities have died at a certain age and wonders if he can outlive them. Jack didn't always work on obits. He was relegated to that desk when he told the new newspaper owners that they were killing the paper for profits.

Jack learns that the lead singer of a band he liked back in the day, the Slut Puppies, has passed away Jack sets out to write the obit. He contacts the widow and the sister and gets two completely different stories. Printing what he can for his deadline, Jack knows this isn't the end of his story. Something is off. Investigating further, he finds that the singer never had an autopsy. Was he murdered?

Jack is a pretty interesting character to be leading a mystery novel. He is self deprecating and pretty down to earth, which is the opposite of most cops that solve mysteries. It was a nice change of pace for a mystery. The romantic interest was a little awkward and off putting but other than that a pretty good novel.

First Line: "Regarding the death of James Bradley Stomarti; what first catches my attention is his age."


Friday, November 03, 2017

Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler


Peter Hessler starts in China as an English teacher, eventually moving his way over to journalism. He keeps in contact with his students and their stories are brought to life in this book. He uses these stories to tell a bit about China's past and teach the reader about more recent history. For example, he has a student move to Shenzen and get a job at a factory there. Peter tells the recent history of Shenzen and how it is an experimental city, built with many factories that have attracted young people to come work. This makes it different from many other cities in China as it is one city where the younger generation isn't living with their family.

There are lots of interesting stories like this interspersed in the book. I learned a lot about the Uighurs, a group I had no knowledge of before. Peter describes then as having similar problems as the Tibetans but without the Dalai Lama to make their plight more well known.

At times, this book could be a bit slow and too detailed. There were also times where Peter would start to examine one subject, stop, and come back to it later 50 pages. It at times made for a disjointed read. However it told an interesting story of an unknown China to me.

First Line: "From Beijing to Anyang - from the modern capital to the city known as the cradle of ancient Chinese civilization - it takes six hours by train."


Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards


Lucy is an international traveller, currently situated in Japan with her boyfriend Yoshi. She's currently unemployed and feeling lonely and sad. Getting an email that her mother has been in a car accident is a perfect excuse to go back to the USA to visit her home town and the Lake of Dreams. Lucy was last there when her father died. There was family drama with her dad's family and unfair distribution of wealth and the family business. Lucy also left behind a boyfriend and a brother. When she goes back, there's a lot to catch up on.

She finds pamphlets hidden in her mom's home from the early 1900s on the women's suffrage movement and a name she's never heard of: Rose. Who was Rose? How come she had never heard of Rose in her family history? Why has her history been erased? Lucy wants to uncover her story.

There's also events that are unfolding in the present that require Lucy's attention. There's the attraction she still feels for her ex, her brother's girlfriend is expecting a child, and her mom is thinking about selling her house.

This story was interesting up until Lucy started avidly pursuing Rose. I felt no connection to Rose and couldn't bring myself to care about what her story was. The present day predicaments were far more interesting to me. It's unfortunate because I felt like there was promise at the beginning of the novel but it just didn't pan out the way I would have liked.

First Line: "Although it is nearly midnight, an unusual light slips through a crack in the wool, brushing her arm like the feathers of a wing."


Monday, October 09, 2017

The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut


Frank Eloff is a doctor in a poorly funded hospital in remote South Africa. He is coasting in life and career, with his marriage just a signature away from divorce and his career moving nowhere in this small town. When a new doctor shows up for a year rotation, Frank is forced to share his room. Laurence Waters ends up being an idealist, wanting to make a difference in the world. Frank tries to tell him that's not the way things work in this hospital, but Laurence won't take that for an answer. Frank doesn't completely shut Laurence down though. Laurence is able to chip away at Frank's exterior, but it's not just Frank he's fighting against.

An interesting premise, but I'd be lying if I said I understood the ending. The whole book has a pretty depressing feel to it and the final state that everyone found themselves in was probably the most depressing of all. The more things change, the more they stay the same is very true for this book. Though the people of the village weren't discussed too much in the book, I can't help but feel like they were the real victims in this entire story.

First Line: "The first time I saw him I thought, he won't last."


Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


Jeannette Walls had a very unusual childhood. She lived with her 3 siblings, alcoholic dad and artist mother traversing the country, hardly sticking around in a city for very long. Her father dreams of making it rich off gold but can't hold a steady job while her mom has a teaching degree but doesn't want to fit in be pigeon holed in to that lifestyle when she just wants to be free.

The kids are very smart, but not from schooling as they keep moving around and living unconventionally. However they are pretty much left entirely to their own devices. At the age of 3, Jeannette is trying to making herself a hot dog and sets herself on fire, having to go to the hospital. There are at least three times mentioned in this book where one of the kids almost dies due to the neglect of their parents, though it's not presented that way at all in the book. Jeannette clearly loves her parents though by the time she grows up she's completely exasperated by the way they choose to live. I honestly cannot understand how parents who love their children can let them go hungry (by choice) and leave them completely to their own devices so that they risk injuring themselves.

Though Jeannette never presents herself as the victim in this book, it's hard not to come away feeling angry at her parents for her. It's also unbelievable how well the children turned out given the environment they were brought up in.

This was a very interesting and engaging book. I picked it up pretty cheap at a used book sale and it was definitely worth the price!

First Line: "I was sitting in the taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich


I always pick these books up after a serious or slow read. It's like a little treat to get you ready for your next serious book. I'm not sure whether these can really continue to be called mysteries as there isn't much of a mystery. It's always Stephanie trying to find a bond only to learn that the bond is nowhere to be found. And having no luck with those she can find. Yes, it's the same thing over and over again but it's fun. Would I like some more progression with Stephanie and whomever she picks as her boyfriend? Absolutely. But chances are I'll still read without that.

First Line: "'I don't know why we gotta sit here baking in your car in the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, in the middle of this crummy neighbourhood,' Lula said."