Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This is the first novel for this writer, and I absolutely loved it. The main character, Don Tillman, is a professor of genetics and is incredibly smart, but he has absolutely NO social skills. He is crazy rigid in his daily life and is really uncomfortable around people, so it is hard for him to make friends. He is nice looking and makes a good living, but dating is difficult because women don't understand him so he never gets a second date. Also, he can cook, but with his disorder he makes the same 7 dishes over and over and over again. He's just so awkward women can't get past it. Don does have two friends, a husband and wife, who know him and love him for who he is. The wife is a psychologist so she spends a lot of time trying to figure Don out. Don decides it is time to find a wife, so he creates a questionnaire and calls it "The Wife Project" - This leads Don into the beginning of the rest of his life. A very sweet love story that brings to light a personality type that is not easy to understand. I feel that I learned something that could be useful in real life, and I am so happy that I read this book!

Runner by Patrick Lee

As a Lee Child fan I was thrilled to read this book, because Lee Child himself gave it a great review! The main character, Sam Dryden, could be related to Jack Reacher, which is the main character in Lee Child's books. Sam has that same dynamic, strong and extremely competent personality that Jack Reacher has, and I am guessing he is very handsome. The book starts out with Sam running down the boardwalk at 3:00 a.m., where he encounters a young girl in serious trouble. It doesn't take long for him to realize that there is something oddly different about this girl, but since they are being chased by men with high-powered rifles, he can't take the time to figure it out, so they have to go into hiding. The rest of the story keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you begin to realize that nothing is as it seems. I enjoyed every minute of it. If you like fast-paced action, adventure and a different kind of a plot, you will enjoy this book! Read On!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart's publishing house is bound and determined to keep the plot twists of We Were Liars under wraps, and as such, here is what passes for a plot summary, according to Amazon: "A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends -- the Liars -- whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth."

Hooked yet?  I was.

I'm a big fan of E. Lockhart's smart writing, quirky-without-being-precious characters, and creative storytelling. We Were Liars is another to add to the list of Lockhart books I swallowed whole. Without giving too much away (because, having read it, I understand why this story's best left unspoiled), I will say that We Were Liars tells the story of a girl who spends every summer at her privileged family's ancestral home, a private island steeped in family history and tradition. There she reunites every year with a group of cousins who share a close and unique bond. They call themselves the Liars. Which is appropriate, because their lives, their relationships, even the island traditions they hold so dear are all fraught with secrets.  Lockhart's language is dreamy and lyrical, and the sense of place she creates is so well-drawn that I could almost smell the beach-y air.

The publisher-provided blurb commands that "if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE," so... you'll just have to find out for yourselves, when We Were Liars hits shelves this May.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Frederica by Georgette Heyer is a Regency romance by the master at the height of her powers. It’s a delightful story of a young woman determined to take care of her younger siblings with no thought to her own future. She enlists the aid of a distant cousin her father once spoke highly of. Although Lord Alverstoke is not a man who will normally go out of his way to be kind and helpful for anyone, he finds himself wanting to help Frederica. To his astonishment he takes a great interest in her young brothers, and he finds Frederica more and more engaging as he comes to know her as well.

The plot moves along, and there are some wonderfully amusing scenes (including one early on in which the mongrel dog owned by the siblings causes trouble and has to be rescued by the distinguished Marquis). Frederica is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Regency or other historical romances.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Set in Victorian times, Mayhem takes into the dark, shadowy streets of London during Jack the Ripper times.  A new murderer is on the loose dubbed the The Torso Killer (this book isn't for the squeamish!) This killer is known for dismembering the bodies of his female victims and disposing of them, but the heads are kept as tokens. It is up to Dr. Bond and the suspicions of a Jesuit priest to solve this mystery.  With the death count rising, will Dr. Bond be able to find out who the killer is before he loses someone close? Will he be able to solve the mystery in his opium clouded state of mind?  Will the Torso Killer be a close friend of his? Read this suspenseful novel to find out!

I enjoyed reading this novel. I am intrigued with books dealing with Jack the Ripper and that time frame so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I jumped on it.  This book kept me reading until the end although some parts of it seemed to lag a bit with a lot of the action starting roughly midway through the read. It is written as historical fiction with some facts of that time period included in the telling of the story. This book also has a high character count so if you have a good memory or a knack for keeping characters straight then you shouldn't have a problem reading this story.  Overall I would give this book a 3.5 stars if I had to rate it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Submitted by Sharon, teen reviewer:

At 17, Isaiah Walker thinks he'll never make it out of the slums of his hometown. Being in foster care since age six, he figured the world was against him. When he and his roommate need rent money, he turns to the only place he can think of to ear quick cash: the drug races. Isaiah doesn't let people in. He doesn't get attached to anyone but this one night sends him crashing into someone he never thought he could deserve.

Rachel's whole life has been determined by her mother's happiness. Her brothers' lives, and hers, are thanks to her older sister's battle with cancer. It's all Rachel hears: "You were born to make mom happy." But making her mom happy means hiding who she really is. When she is thrown into a debt, the guy with tattoos and piercings becomes her savior in ways that Rachel won't even know. As their relationship deepens, can she fight for what she wants and loves?

I've always been an eager reader of Katie McGarry. She's had me hooked on her books since Pushing the Limits. I love how all her books are some way, some how connected to the each other by the characters and how she takes something so real and gives it the good ending we all want in life. My favorite relationship in the book is the one between Abby and Isaiah, mainly because I can relate to their relationship really well. Crash Into You is a good, excellent, riveting ride between Rachel and Isaiah.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery (audiobook version)

The Angel's Kiss will never win awards for "great literature," but that is no excuse for a Whovian not to read listen to it. This all-too-short sci-fi noir story is essentially a prequel to the Doctor Who episode "The Angels Take Manhattan" as well as being the mystery referenced within the episode. It is not *spoilers ;)* the entire novel from the episode; there are some important...erm, elements missing from this version penned by Justin Richards, "Melody Malone." However, listening to the story read by Alex Kingston, including a not-to-be-missed epilogue, is a fabulous 90 minute treat.

The Angel's Kiss will be available for checkout as soon as I can make myself return it.

The First True Lie by Marina Mander, English translation

Luca, the narrator of The First True Lie, tells a disturbingly possible tale. He's never known his own father, but his depressed mother "every now and then" tries out a new dad for him, including a man self-employed as an intersection window washer. Luca claims not to mind, probably because these relationships make his mother a bit happier and then he doesn't have to expend so much energy never appearing unhappy himself. Nor does he mind that he's "half an orphan," but he desperately fears becoming an orphan for that would mean (in his imagination) having to conform in an institutional setting rather than being in his own odd but unique family. So, when his mother doesn't wake up one morning, Luca decides he must not let anyone know, even accidentally by being unkempt.

Luca pulls off his deception long enough to make the reader squirm, yet his story is more hopeful than gruesome as he struggles to become an individual. I was bothered not by the telling of the story but the possibility of a child making these choices and suffering alone.

There are some translation hiccoughs that will hopefully be resolved in a final copy. The copy I read was short--under 150 pages. The First True Lie is due out later this month.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber was good but not great. It did not live up to its intriguing premise for me. It is set in 1830, soon after it came to light in England that not only were bodies being snatched from graves for anatomy study, two laborers named Burke and Hare had been killing people for the purpose.

The main character, Lady Keira Darby, had an arranged marriage to an anatomist. He chose her because of her skills as an artist and forced her to sketch his autopsies. He is now dead, but society feels she is “unnatural” because she was willing to watch her husband work, not realizing or accepting that she had no choice.

Lady Darby is now living with her sister’s family on her brother-in-law’s estate in the wilds of Scotland. The book opens with the murder of a guest at the estate. Mr. Sebastian Gage, son of a well-known inquiry agent in London, is also a guest. He surreptitiously asks Lady Darcy to assist him in investigating the murder.

Lady Darby and Mr. Gage are supposed to have a Pride & Prejudice like attraction, strongly disliking each other at first but being drawn to each other physically and admiring each other’s good qualities. When the change in their relationship comes, turning romantic instead of antagonistic, it seems quite sudden, without proper plot twists that bring them to realize and accept their attraction to each other.

I am not a historical fiction purist. I don’t know enough about any time period to notice when a few words or behaviors are out of place in a time period. However, the way Lady Darby and Mr. Gage talked and acted felt too modern for 1830 Scotland.  I was often pulled out of the time period and location.

The Anatomist’s Wife is the first in a series. I recommend it for someone with lots of time to read who enjoys historical mysteries with a touch of romance set in England.