Monday, July 31, 2017

You Will Know Me

I really really got into this book, but it just lost steam towards the end and I hated the conclusion. But the suspense, intrigue, and heartache leading up to that point really did grip me. In a nutshell this is the story of a mother so wrapped up in her daughter Devon's gymnastic's career that she doesn't notice when things start to fall out of place. She and her husband have been their every step of the way for their exceptionally talented daughter and have been grooming her for the olympics along with their coach and other Belstars parents and teammates. Even Devon's little brother Drew is okay with always being overlooked consistently because he knows how important his sister's rise is. Everything starts to come apart when one of the coach's boyfriend is tragically killed in a hit and run. It begins to tear at the gymnastic community and then slowly starts unraveling the mother's tight knit family. It started off so solid, I was bummed that the end couldn't keep up. Some twists, turns, intrige, and a crappy ending.

The Lying Game

This author has gotten a lot of hype as thriller author with good twists (The Woman in Cabin 10) so I thought I would check her newest book out. While I wasn't head over in heels about it, the premise was good, the plot solid, and there were some good twists. While in boarding school Isa befriends three girls and they immediately become inseparable. Weekends are spent together, drinking, laughing, and playing the lying game. The goal is to say outrageous lies to people (strangers, peers, professors, etc.) and get them to believe you. Points are awarded on if they believe you, how tall the tale was, and if you could get one of the girls to crack and start laughing. The only rules are: stick to your story, never get caught, never lie to each other, and know when to stop lying. Their time at boarding school was cut short by a tragic accident (of which the reader won't find out until much later) and the girls haven't seen each other in well over a decade. However a chilling text from Kate (I need you) brings the four girls back together again. What they don't realize is that their biggest lie of all is going to come back and haunt them. For fans of suspense and plot twists.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Every Man a Menace

I've read lots of books about drugs, but this was the first that really went in depth and focused on the operation as a whole. Hoffman provides fascinating insight, back stories, insider knowledge, and twists and turns to make this a fascinating and dark read. 5 separate, yet related, short stories intertwine to put together the puzzle of a complex ecstasy smuggling operation that spans continents. Flawlessly executed and plotted this is a must read for crime fiction readers. This would also make an excellent movie adaptation.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness

Poundstone, Paula. The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness. 6 CDs. unabridged. High Bridge. 2017. ISBN 9781681684031. 

Comedian Paula Poundstone (NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, HBO and Bravo comedy specials) pursues the secrets of happiness with a series of over the top unscientific studies. Whether it's learning to dance, getting in shape, getting closer to nature, or binge watching movies, Poundstone dedicates herself to trying anything that promises happiness and recording the results. Peppered with hilarious asides, family squabbles, failures, cat litter, and hands on research; listeners will find themselves laughing along with the absurdity and hilariousness of Poundstone's search for human happiness. Expertly narrated by the comedian herself, it listens like a good stand up comedy and will garner Poundstone even more fans. For fans of comedic memoirs and zany scientific endeavors. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Infinite Ground

I have no idea what I just read. There is surrealism, madness, mystery, and adventure and the reader must decide what is real and what is not. A retired police inspector takes on a missing person case and decides that he must become Carlos in order to find him. When that doesn't work the inspector decides that Carlos must have escaped into the jungle and then goes deeper and deeper into his inner psyche and the jungle. It's beautiful and lush but hard to follow. Their are theories, what ifs, spiraling threads, and insanity. I could never discuss this or analyze it. It's far too off the war. For fans of surrealism and literary fiction.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Born to Run

Not exactly a groundbreaking memoir, but still filled with heart and ambition. I've never been a die hard Springsteen fan but this memoir gave me a new appreciation for all the hard work and dedication it took him to become the superstar he is. In this autobiography Bruce goes into detail about his childhood, rocky road to becoming a musician and then his eventual rise to fame. I did enjoy listening to his music while reading this and lots of his songs had new meanings when you learn about the back stories in them. A pretty decent biography, but it will be of most interest to the rabid Springsteen fans rather than the general public.

Come Sundown

This was my first and most likely last Nora Roberts book. I was not impressed and it was so formulaic that you could see the twist and the ending a mile away. Some might try to classify this as romantic suspense, but the suspense is so minimal I don't even want it included. It's nearly 500 pages of romantic fluff, cliches, cowboys, ranch life, independent women, kidnapping, and family secrets. It goes back and forth in time to show the disappearance of a girl in the early nineties, the mind of a deranged kidnapper and rapist, and the modern day life of the manager of a huge family ranch and resort. It's nothing to write home about.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Han, Jenny. Always and Forever, Lara Jean. 8 CDs. unabridged. Recorded Books. 2017. ISBN 9781501942143. 

Lara Jean romances her way through her senior year of high school in the final installment of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy. Everything seems to be going Lara Jean's way; she has the cutest and most adoring boyfriend, she's on the verge of perfecting her perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, her father is engaged to their next door neighbor, and she has college to look forward to in the fall. There is only one problem, she's on pins and needles waiting for her college acceptance letter to come. When it finally arrives her picture perfect world seems to fray at the edges. What's a girl to do, listen to the head or the heart? Beautifully narrated by Laura Knight Keating who manages to capture the ups, downs and naive beauty of teenage angst and romance. Teens will eat up the satisfying conclusion to this laugh out loud romance trilogy. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Olive Kitteridge

I enjoyed this book but it wasn't remotely what I thought it would be. Olive Kitteridge is the common thread between all the stories in this novel. Set in a small town in Maine, Olive is a retired school teacher who loves her son (too fiercely perhaps), enjoys in the goings on of others, and tries to make sense of her life as she ages. Some of the stories are from her perspective and many others are from other townsfolk as they view her, sometimes from a far distance. She is a bit prickly and stoic but she is also very relatable and sympathetic. An interesting and complex  look at an aging woman and then lens through which she sees the world around her and the way that others perceive her as well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Reason You're Alive

Matthew Quick never lets me down. He is wonderful at getting in the mind of his characters and letting his reader understand mental illness and emotional distress. The Reason You're Alive is the story of Vietnam vet, Daniel Granger. After a car accident makes him have brain surgery he is sent to live with his son and granddaughter. Told in a crass, un-politically, unapologetic voice, this book is sure to win over readers. Daniel tells it like it is, from his marriage, experiences in the war, troubles with his son, guns, and race. It's funny, shocking, distressing, and hopeful. I wasn't sure where the story was headed for the first half of the book but it wrapped up nicely at the end and brought everything back together. Another slam dunk for Matthew Quick.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Veil of Roses

Halfway though I realized that I had, without a doubt, read this book some years before. Not that I minded. It was a good re-read. I do have some concerns with the author's research on Persians and modern day Iran and I don't think all her assumptions are fair or accurate, but other that that I thought it was a good story and premise. A young Iranian woman comes to the United States in order to find a husband (her visa is only good for three months). She wants to escape the radical religious government and have freedom (unlike her parents who are trapped in Tehran). She stays with her sister and her husband and together they look for a suitable Persian American while she takes English classes at the local library. During the midst of this she meets a charming barista at Starbucks but she doesn't give him the time of day because he would never understand her predicament. Or would he?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Into the Water

Suspenseful, riveting, and unique. The ending was a little anti-climactic, with a twist the reader could easily sniff out, but it was still a fun, morbid read. Told from multiple narrators, a manuscript, and some flashbacks, Into the Water, tells the story of Nell Abbot's fall? suicide? into the drowning pool where many other women before her have entered the water depths never to re-emerge. The narrator includes her estranged sister, her 15 year old daughter, the mother of a girl who also died in the drowning pool, some cops, a psychic and some other characters. Full of twists and turns this reads fast all the way up to the lackluster conclusion. Still a good read despite that though.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rebel of the Sands

Arabian Nights meets Aladdin meets teen romance. A wonderfully executed teen fantasy novel set in the harsh desert where guns are the currency of the land. As a woman, Amani knows that she has no rights and might soon be forced to marry her uncle and become one of his many wives. Trying to escape she goes to the pistol pit disguised as a boy trying to win a shooting contest to get money to escape the hell hole she's grown up in. While their things get out of hand and she finds herself befriending a foreigner who is almost as a good shot as she. Little does she know that her chance encounter with him will forever change her future. Full of daring escapes, magic, folklore, and all around badassery, this young adult novel is a slam dunk. I'll have to check out the second in the series.

P.S. I Still Love You

I thought this was a pretty solid follow up to the first book. It wasn't amazing, but I thought it stayed true to all the characters and the overall feel. Lara Jean and Peter are going to try out a real relationship rather than the charade they've put up for everyone, but their fledgling relationship gets off to a rocky start when a video of the two of them making out in a hot tub on their ski trip becomes a viral sensation. Suddenly everyone thinks Lara Jean is a slut and Peter is a hero. Lara Jean knows that Genevieve, Peter's malicious ex-girlfriend and her former best friend has to be behind it. Can their relationship survive all the drama?

Monday, July 3, 2017

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

I found myself really enjoying this book, I think it's about as honest and believable as you can get in teen fiction. Lara Jean is the middle girl in the song sisters trio. Raised by their father after their mother's sudden death, they are as close as sisters can get. That is until Margot, the oldest, goes to Scotland for college leaving Lara Jean to look after her younger sister Kitty and their father. As if things couldn't get any more trying Lara Jean's hat box containing love notes written to all the boy's she's had crushes on over the years goes missing and all the letters get mailed out! She's mortified and finds herself bumbling in and out of awkward situations. Truly adorable and awkward and relate-able. I can't wait to read the next in the series.

The Historian

The amount of research put into this book is astounding. It's richly detailed, innovative, spellbinding, and truly chilling. It's like "The Davinci Code" meets "Dracula" full of historical twists, research, and bone chilling intrigue. It's denseness can be a little intimidating but once you get passed that it's impossible not to be hooked. The story goes back and forth between a young girl's journey to find her father and learn about his past and the father's actual account of what happened. It weaves together beautifully as they search for the real life Dracula through libraries, museums, foreign cities, and old research. Wonderfully written and imagined.