Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

Fantasy

Cullen James has come a long way. She has left behind a boyfriend that didn't truly love her and made the tough decision to abort her baby with that man. Still getting over it, her long time friend Danny comes back from Italy to console her. The two eventually get married, have a child, and that's when the dreams start.

Cullen has incredibly vivid dreams of Rondua, where animals take her and her son Pepsi around trying to find bones of the moon. Cullen vaguely remembers similar dreams when she was a child and now this land is back in her dreams. The dreams and Cullen's real life start to intersect, as her and Pepsi find more bones and need to prepare for a fight with the man running Rondua.

This dream work is incredibly imaginative and fantastically represented in the story. I felt like I was right there with Cullen and Pepsi in Rondua. The entire book sets up for an epic battle between Cullen and Pepsi and the villian of Rondua, but the ending falls rather flat with everything happening rather quickly and too cleanly. With a better ending, this book had the chance of being one of my top read for the year.

First Line: "The Axe Boy lived downstairs."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Historical Fiction

Henry is a Chinese American in Seattle during WWII. The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbour and tensions between Americans and Japanese are at an all time high. Henry's parents came to the USA from China, having suffered at the hands of the Japanese and despise them even more than the Americans. His father strictly forbids Henry from having anything to do with anything Japanese, and sends him to an all-white school to keep him out of trouble.

Henry tries to stay clear of the bullies, helps in the kitchens at lunch, and cleans up the school after the last bell. Then one day he's no longer the only Asian at the school. Keiko starts attending Henry's school and performing all the same work activities that Henry does. He knows he should stay clear of her but just can't help but be drawn in.

40 years later, Henry is a father and widower, and is sucked back in time when the Panama Hotel opens up their basement, which is full of Japanese family's belongings from when the Japanese were taken to internment camps. Henry wonders if there's a piece of Keiko in the Hotel and all his memories come flooding back.

This story provides a bit of insight in to what was going on in the US during WWII to Japanese and Japanese-Americans. Americans rounded up the Japanese, removed them of their belongings, and sent them off to camps. Isn't that similar to what happened with the Nazis rounding up Jewish people? The outsiders view of this was interesting, and as sad as the other books I've read on this from the Japanese point of view.

This book is really a romance though. An incredibly sweet and touching romance with an ending that moved me.

First Line: "Old Henry Lee stood transfixed by all the commotion at the Panama Hotel."

Rating:
(4.5/5)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Honeymoon with my Brother by Franz Wisner

Travel

When Franz is dumped by his fiancee a few days before the wedding, he is shocked. The entire thing has been paid for, including the honeymoon. Franz surrounds himself with friends and family on the wedding day and then convinces his brother to take his honeymoon with him. The two travel to Central America and enjoy their time. Why not extend it? All Franz can think about is his ex-fiancee. He needs to break free and what better way than to travel the world.

Franz quits his job. His brother Kurt sells his home. They look at booking in advance but figure that they need flexibility. Europe is the first continent they tackle. Travelling together, the two brothers learn a lot about each other and about themselves. Franz tries to get his head around where his relationship went wrong and from an outsider's perspective it's not that hard to figure out.

This is both a travel and personal journey book. The travel is more interesting than the personal journey part of it, but for the most part it is written together pretty well. Franz is a little annoying. He comes from a privileged background and runs campaigning for Republicans. There's a part where he brags about the millions of dollars he's raised, which was a turn off, but then he dialed back the ego a bit.

An interesting book, but I wouldn't pick up his other one.

First Line: "Amid the pine tree windbreaks and foamy Pacific shore, Sea Ranch, California, is a wonderful place to be dumped."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Mystery

When Dr. Maura Isles returns from a trip to Paris, she finds her street buzzing with police activity. Wondering which neighbour got in trouble, as she gets closer she notices the activity is outside her house. A woman was shot in her car, right infront of Isles house and the woman looks exactly like Dr. Isles. Before she showed up, the police thought it was Dr. Isles, the medical examiner for the area. Relieved that it wasn't her, there are a lot of questions. Who was this woman, why was she there, and who killed her?

Dr. Isles' friend Detective Jane Rizzoli is the one investigating the crime and finds out that this woman is actually Dr. Isle's twin, whom she wasn't aware existed. Dr. Isles is confused but wants answers.

This is the forth book in a series that I haven't started. I knew there was a television show created based on these characters but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was easy to pick up, though I felt far more connected with Dr. Isles than Detective Rizzoli because most of the book centred around the doctor. I'd like to know more about Rizzoli, but really would like to know more about the relationship between the two. I wish there was a little more background on this history in the book for those that haven't started at book one.

The mystery felt a bit disjointed as I was reading it. I wondered how certain events could possibly be connected together but they did end up all getting tied together in the end. Not a bad book!

First Line: "That boy was watching her again."

Rating:
(4/5)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

Thriller

The second book in the Mitch Rapp series sees him actually out in the field. Rapp has been disposing of dangerous men in a network of arms dealing and terrorists. To date, he hasn't had an issue with any of his hits, which is unusual. The team wonders when he's going to make his first mistake. That happens in Paris, where he is ambushed with a team of men that come in to the hotel room spraying bullets. Rapp manages to escape but was shot in his shoulder. He thinks he was set up by someone on the inside and doesn't know who to trust.

The first book in the series focuses on Rapp's training and wasn't the best thriller I've read. This one is much better, as Rapp is out in the field and solving problems on the go. With about 50 pages left in the book, I was starting to wonder how they were going to wrap up all the loose ends but they did a good job of doing it quickly without glossing over any details.

I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

First Line: "The man flew through the air, propelled by one of the other recruits."

Rating:
(4/5)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lineup by Liad Shoham

Mystery

A girl is assaulted and raped in a good Tel Aviv neighbourhood and at first she doesn't want to tell police. Her father forces her to report the crime, resulting in not much evidence since time has passed. The girl's father watches over her apartment every night and a few nights after the rape, notices a suspicious person. He follows this man home and reports him to the police. The father tells his daughter he has found the rapist and when the police bring him in, a faulty line up is performed even though the father has polluted his daughter's mind to think this is her rapist.

The man brought in is Ziv Nevo and is definitely guilty of something. Detective Eli Nahum is desperate to make the rape charge stick. Everyone does the absolute worst thing they possibly could, resulting in a massive mistake with rather tragic consequences.

The book starts off strong, though there are a few characters that all have similar last names making things a tad confusing. However it fizzles out by about 2/3rd the way through. The characters weren't enough to grab you and by the end of the book I didn't really care who the real rapist was.

First Line: "Sarah Glazer raised her binoculars to her eyes and followed the movements of the young man and his dog walking down the street."

Rating:
(3/5)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Historical Fiction

When Charlotte (Charlie) St. Cloud arrives in Europe with her mom in 1947, the only thing on her mom's mind is an abortion for her daughter. Charlie has a different agenda. Her best friend and cousin went missing during World War II and Charlie is convinced she is still alive even though no one has heard from her. She started tracking her cousin down while in New York and was given one name: Evelyn Gardiner. Charlie abandons her mother and shows up on Eve's door, who is blind drunk and threatens to shoot Charlie. Eve is dealing with her own demons.

As Eve learns that Charlie's cousin worked for the same restaurateur and profiteer that Eve did, she reluctantly agrees to help. We learn about Eve in WWI and how she was a spy in France, serving Germans at a local restaurant. Eve carries so much guilt and hatred with her and Charlie slowly starts to chip away to learn about Eve and what a hero she is.

The last female-driven war novel I read was The Nightingale, which I loved. This one has a different tone with post-war time mixed with WWI. The description of the spy network and the stress involved with running and participating in such an operation was very interesting, especially from the female perspective. This is definitely the strength of this book.

Charlie and her romance was the weakest part of this book. She could be a little whiny and annoying at times and the romance was completely predictable, and way too easy to help her get out of the predicament she was in with being an unwed future mother in the 40s.

Overall a pretty good book, but I would still put The Nightingale ahead of this one.

Rating:
(4/5)

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Mystery/Thriller

In the third and final book of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. We are wrapping up the Lisbeth Salander story. She was last shot and left for dead, but Mikael Blomkvist found her and got an ambulance called. Salander has a bullet in her head but it's operable and the doctors think they can save her. Even if she's saved though, the police still plan to prosecute her for a variety of charges. It's all a smear job and Blomkvist thinks he can help her save herself.

It has been a while since I read the first two books in the series so I was worried I would have forgotten too much to have this make any sense. The book does a good job of reminding what happened where the last book left off though, so I wasn't feeling lost. It revolves completely around Lisbeth's upcoming trial and attempting to save herself. Overall it seemed like a long book where not a whole heck of a lot happened (like why did Erika leave the paper and come back? How did that really drive the story forward?), but it was still interesting. I'm glad to be done the series but not sure I'll continue on with the other similar books.

First Line: @Dr. Jonasson was woken by a nurse five minutes before the helicopter was expected to land."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Gone by Mo Hayder

Mystery

In book 5 of the Detective Jack Caffery/Flea Marley, there's a carjacker on the loose. In the car, there was a little girl and the girl is still missing. Was the criminal after the car or the kid?

Flea is still struggling over covering for her brother killing his girlfriend and her whole team is getting tired of her attitude. Vowing that she's going to change, this case is her first in new mind set. Flea is convinced that the kidnapped girl is in an abandoned tunnel, putting herself and her team in danger. Past books have discussed more the way that Flea's dive team works and how they find clues hidden in the depths of water. There was less of that this book. It was more about Flea's emotional state and trying to bring herself back to normality. I hope next book we get back to more of how she works, but it worked well in this book.

Caffery, on the other hand, has very little character development, which is ok. He's trying to chase down this carjacker/kidnapper and realizes that the criminal may be closer than expected.

I don't mind the Caffery series, but I think Hayder is at her best with some of the more perverse mysteries like Pig Island.

First Line: "Detective Inspector Jack Caffery of Bristol's Major Crime Investigation Unit spent ten minutes in the centre of Frome looking at the crime scene."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Fiction

David is a twelve year old boy that's just lost his mom. David's father eventually moves on with a new woman, Rose, and they have a child together. David feels left out and forgotten. He turns to books to pass his time, and finds that they whisper to him from their shelves. Slowly the characters start to come out of the books and David in to them. Eventually David finds himself within one of his books and needs to find the King to figure out how to get back home.

This is a coming of age story, mixed with fairy tales that don't end up the way we all think they do. David learns that "happily ever after" actually means "eaten quickly". David finds out he's a very brave boy and learns what is really important to him.

This book was a bit slow to get in to because it started off very cliche. A boy who hates his step-mother, how many times have we read stories like that? But once David got in to the book, I was much more interested in the story and really enjoyed the different takes on fairy tales. Snow white was a good one. This was a fun read, with a lot of extra (and unnecessary) bits at the end about the fairy tales used.

First Line: "Once upon a time - for that is how all fairy tales should begin - there was a boy who lost his mother."

Rating:
(4/5)