Friday, March 29, 2013

(20) Signs of Struggle

Title: Signs of Struggle by John Carenen
Publisher: Neverland Publishing
303 pages
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: After losing his family in a tragic car accident, Thomas O’Shea finds himself driving around the Iowa countryside, trying to find peace on a quiet afternoon. But when he stops to admire a unique mailbox, he sees a beautiful, bloody woman racing down the country lane from her home, screaming for help. Not wanting to get involved, Thomas considers not helping. Eventually his heroic side wins out.

As Thomas continues lifting up and peering under rocks in the beautiful river town of Rockbluff, Iowa, the more he learns…and the more he attracts those who will do anything to stop him. Attempts on his life are made, but O’Shea is a tough guy with nothing to lose as he struggles with the loss of his family, drinking, women, and his guilt for precipitating so much violence in this peaceful town.

Review: I had no idea what this book was about when I first opened it up and started reading.  It was one of those mysterious books that I downloaded onto my kindle and forgot about until I found myself at the gym on a bike looking for something to occupy me other than trashy tv shows or the news.  I was instantly sucked in.

This book has many mysteries surrounding it, such as who is Thomas O'Shea, for he is not the mild mannered person he appears to be, and what is going on in this small town.  One is answered the other is not but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Thomas is a man struggling.  His entire family is killed in a horrific car accident leaving him reeling.  He is trying to make his way back into life with the help of his bulldog "Gotcha".  He moves to the small town of Rockbluff and with the help of bar tender and owner of the Grain of Truth Bar, Lunatic Mooning, he tries to immerse himself in the community.  In the process he meets a host of other quirky and fabulous characters, such as Horace a dying man who is living every day as if it was his last, Bunza Steele another bar tender at a biker bar on the outskirts of town and many others that leave you laughing and some that make you want to run them over with your car.

My biggest complaint about this book was the ending.  It felt rushed and I was left sort of dangling and wanting more closure.  Who knows maybe the author is writing a sequel, maybe not, either way this was a highly entertaining book that kept you guessing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(19) Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone

Title: Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel by Stefan Kiesbye
Publisher: Penguin
198 pages
Genre: Horror

Synopsis: A village on the Devil‘s Moor: a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. There is the grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars talk of revenants, the old mill no one dares to mention. This is where four young friends come of age—in an atmosphere thick with fear and suspicion. Their innocent games soon bring them face-to-face with the village‘s darkest secrets in this eerily dispassionate, astonishingly assured novel.

Review: This is truly one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time.  Not because of what goes on in this creepy little town but because of the lack of remorse from any of the characters.  Within the first 40 pages a boy murders his sister and a town bludgeons to death a family of 5 and life goes on. There were many moments when I almost just set this book down and walked away, which is rare for me to do with any book, but there was just nothing I found in any way redeeming about the characters. Each chapter is written in the voice of one of the children of the town and I actually felt like I needed a shower and to go to confession (I'm not even Catholic!) after reading some of their stories. I kept reading in the hope that there would be something redeeming to this book but I didn't find it. If you are into creepy stories then this one might be for you, it just wasn't for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday March 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser Tuesday is from: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

"Her hands fidgeted, picking at the edges of the suit jacket sleeves. For the first time, he noticed broken fingernails, the raw skin of her palms. He tried to imagine what she'd had to do to survive and couldn't let himself."

Monday, March 25, 2013

(18) Nocturnal

Title: Nocturnal: A Novel by Scott Sigler
576 pages
Genre: Horror/Mystery

Synopsis: Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is losing his mind.

How else to explain the dreams he keeps having—dreams that mirror, with impossible accuracy, the gruesome serial murders taking place all over San Francisco? How else to explain the feelings excitement?

As Bryan and his longtime partner, Lawrence “Pookie” Chang, investigate the murders, they learn that things are even stranger than they at first seem. For the victims are all enemies of a seemingly ordinary young boy—a boy who is gripped by the same dreams that haunt Bryan.  Meanwhile, a shadowy vigilante, seemingly armed with superhuman powers, is out there killing the killers.  And Bryan and Pookie’s superiors—from the mayor on down—seem strangely eager to keep the detectives from discovering the truth. 

Doubting his own sanity and stripped of his badge, Bryan begins to suspect that he’s stumbled into the crosshairs of a shadow war that has gripped his city for more than a century—a war waged by a race of killers living in San Francisco’s unknown, underground ruins, emerging at night to feed on those who will not be missed.

Review: Bryan Clauser is a good cop and has rarely been sick in his life.  He has the nickname "Terminator" among his collegues due to his almost expressionless attitude and deadly aim in a firefight.  Many cops never draw their weapons in their entire career, but Bryan has killed 5 people in clean shoots.  His aim is true and he has saved the life of at least 2 other officers.  When Bryan and his joke cracking partner Pookie get called to a crime scene weird things start happening to Bryan.  He gets sick for the first time that he can remember.  Really sick, and he is hearing strange voices, drawing weird symbols and having dreams about murders that turn out to be real.

With his sanity and his job on the line Bryan and Pookie try to figure out what is happening and why their boss seems to want her best detectives on a case that involves cult symbols and a body count that keeps growing.

This is a fast paced, creepy ride.  You have no idea where things are leading in the beginning and as the story plays out you still aren't sure where it will all end.  Some have compared this book to Stephen King but I would say its closer to John Connelly.  Spooky, detailed and something other worldly.  The characters are wonderful. Pookie in my opinion is the star of this book, despite Bryan being the main character Pookie steals the show with his witty remarks and dedication to his partner who he isn't sure hasn't lost his marbles.  This is definitely a book that could have a sequel but so far he hasn't written any sequels to any of his other novels.  This book keeps you guessing, reading more into those missing persons reports you hear on the news and looking over your shoulder when you go out at night.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Read the latest data on the survival of 21st century reading

Print books may or may not be in danger, but reading in general isn't going out of style. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that about 78% of Americans 16 or older say they've read at least one book in the last 12 months.

Pew looked at variations among reading habits in different communities  For example, 80% of urban and suburban residents alike say they've read at least one book in the past year, along with 78% of those in rural areas. We read for many reasons: 82% of suburban book lovers say they read for pleasure, as well as 79% of city dwellers and 76% of rural residents. At the same time, 79% of urbanites read to keep pace with current events; so do 79% of readers in the suburbs and 73% of rural readers.

Its not all e-books, either: 58% of Americans 16 and older say they have a library card, and 69% say that libraries are very important to them and their families.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday 3/19/13

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser Tuesday is from:  Nocturnal: A Novel by Scott Sigler

"Bryan ran south on Van Ness, the six lanes of sporadic 3:00 am traffic moving along on his right. What few pedestrians there were got the hell out of his way - a black-clad, sprinting man with a Sig Sauer in his hand and blood streaming from his forehead didn't exactly court conversation." 

Monday, March 18, 2013

(17) The Sunflower

Title: The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal
Publisher: Schocken
304 pages
Genre: non-fiction

Synopsis:While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to--and obtain absolution from--a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing.But even years after the way had ended, he wondered: Had he done the right thing? What would you have done in his place?

Review: This is more like 2 books in one.  The first is the story and the second is responses from scholars, religious leaders, and country leaders on what they would do or what they believe.  Its a difficult question with no right answer.

Since I've never been in that situation its hard to know what I would do, I probably would do just what he did, although it would haunt me.  Its hard to forgive, even harder when the person has committed such heinous acts of cruelty. But if we don't forgive, if we reduce "them" to a subhuman category because of their behavior are we any better than they are? I'm not saying I could do it, but it does give me pause.

It reminds me of the Amish parents who forgave the man who shot up an Amish school house. How do you forgive someone who just murdered your child? I don't know. Having compassion for people no matter what  is something that is difficult to achieve.  I do agree with most of the scholars though when they say you may be able to forgive but never ever forget.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

(16) The Whisperers

Title: The Whisperers (Charlie Parker, Book 9) by John Connolly
Publisher: Pocket Books
544 pages
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror

Synopsis: It is there, in the vast and porous Great North Woods, that a dangerous smuggling operation is taking place, run by a group of disenchanted former soldiers, newly returned from Iraq. Illicit goods—drugs, cash, weapons, even people—are changing hands. And something else has changed hands. Something ancient and powerful and evil.

The authorities suspect something is amiss, but what they can’t know is that it is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in men’s hearts. As the smugglers begin to die one after another in apparent suicides, Parker is called in to stop the bloodletting. The soldiers’ actions and the objects they have smuggled have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector. . . .

Review: Charlie Parker is back to living a simple life, he is taking jobs for insurance companies, and disgruntled housewives when a father and upstanding citizen hires him to look into the death of his son.  What he thought was going to be a simple case turns out to be not so simple and when he is water boarded he calls his friends for back up.  Of course the body count grows and so does the mystery.  Who or what is causing people who supposedly would never take their own life to do that very thing?

Ancient artifacts and supernatural lore are of course part of the story and the bigger question is why does Charlie keep finding himself involved in these crazy cases? I haven't read a Charlie Parker novel in a while but I did find that this one moved a little slower than normal and it almost seemed a little disjointed.  The characters we have grown to love are all there but not for very long and they don't have a big part to play.  In all nine books this is the one I liked the least.  It had a good premise and but there were big gaps left either unexplained, unexplored or left to dangle.

Monday, March 11, 2013

(15) Gone Girl

Title:Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
Publisher:Crown Publishers
415 pages
Genre: mystery

Synopsis: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Review: Dark and increasingly disturbing this book took me to a place I didn't see coming and that is rare.  I figured certain parts out long before they were revealed but the extent to which this book is twisted is a path I didn't even consider going down.  Is it a love story? A story of obsession? A story of betrayal? Or maybe its all of that rolled into one.  The beginning of the book is a little slow and it took me a while to get into the groove but then it picks up and swings you around and takes you on a wild ride that you didn't see coming.  This is psychological thriller at its best.  Its not graphically gory its just down right disturbing.  Did I love it or did I hate it? I still don't know I just know I will probably recommend it to others because I need someone else to talk to about it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

(14) Lone Wolf

Title: Lone Wolf: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
Publisher:Atria/Emily Bestler Books
448 pages
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Estranged from his family while living in Thailand for the past six years, Edward Warren is summoned home to New Hampshire when his father, Luke, a renowned wolf expert, and Edward’s 17-year-old sister, Cara, are critically injured in a car accident. Cara’s wounds are not life-threatening, but Luke has suffered severe brain damage and languishes in a vegetative state doctors say is irreversible. As his father’s legal next-of-kin, it falls to Edward to make the hard choices about life support and organ donation, a nearly impossible responsibility, given that father and son parted on angry terms the night Edward tried to confide to Luke that he was gay. Then Cara becomes a volatile advocate for her father’s right-to-life, taking impulsive steps to wrest control away from Edward.

Review: True to form Jodi Picoult has given us another ethical quandry, when do you terminate life support for a loved one and who should make that decision.  Its a challenging question and one that I will admit that I struggle with often when thinking about writing out a living will, I mean I don't want to die and whose to say I won't get better?  That is the challenge facing these two children and yes I say children even though Edward is of age to make the decision.  I find that the mother of these children is very absent in her decision leaving it up to them to decide and since they are on opposite sides not wanting to take sides.  I find that hard to swallow.  I can't imagine she wouldn't have something to say even if it were to sit both of them down and get them to talk it out.

If you can put aside that flaw I find the arguments and the counter arguments very compelling.  When it comes down to it do we make a decision based on what we want or what we think the person whose plug is being pulled would want? And how do we know what that is for certain?  And during such an emotional time are you really able to set aside your own feelings and make that choice for someone else? If nothing else Jodi Picoult has a way of making you think and getting you talking about things that normally don't get talked about.  Is this her best book? No, is it up there on the list? I'm not sure but I did find it compelling enough to keep reading and questioning what I would do.  Its a story that will sit with me for a while and that to me is worth the read.

On a side not the information on wolves and pack behavior is fascinating and really gave me some good insight on the crazy pack of 4 dogs I live with.  They may not be wolves but they are close enough.
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