Friday, June 28, 2013

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

4.5 Stars

Vic McQueen has been taking the Shortaway Bridge her whole life – finding misplaced items. Sometimes it’s a bracelet, sometimes it’s an answer to a question. Sometimes she only has to go down the street, sometimes she goes across the country. Charlie Manx doesn’t have access to the Shortaway and he certainly doesn’t have much interest in helping people. Instead, he uses a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with vanity plates stating "NOS4A2" which he uses to whisk children away to "Christmasland". When Manx gets a hold of Vic’s son, will she be able to use the rickety old bridge one last time to save him????

Joe Hill has done what I am finding few new authors are capable of doing – he’s completed a trifecta of amazing tales. I was surprised how quickly I breezed through this novel since real life kept getting in the way and I actually put it away a couple of times to protect my own sanity. The suspense that Hill created had me on the edge of my seat through a giant chunk of the book. The only thing I think I loved more than the dangling carrot of terror that he constantly held in front of me were the massive shout-outs to nerds everywhere. References to superheroes, Firefly, Game of Thrones, and a fat dude leading man made me love him a little bit more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

John Dies at the End by David Wong

4 Stars
(rating may actually get higher the more time I spend savoring this one)

If Harold and Kumar swapped some DNA with The Ghostbusters and were birthed by Hunter S. Thompson on a Hitchhiker's Guide through the galaxy, you might end up with something kind of close to John Dies at the End. I had ZERO expectations going in to this book. I knew nothing except what I read on the book jacket and the fact that Wil Wheaton didn't think it sucked. I ended up on a full throttle, high octane wild, grotesque, hilarious, vulgar, long, strange journey and I'm so glad I did.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver

2 Stars

Noa P. Singleton has spent 10 years on death row for murder. This is the story of the final 6 months of her sentence and her bid for clemency by the last person she ever thought would help her – her victim’s mother.

244 pages. That’s how long it took before something ACTUALLY HAPPENED in this book. Please note the entire book is only 310 pages long. I can’t say much without this becoming spoilery, but what a waste of words and disjointed thoughts. I bought into the back cover "praise" from the likes of Herman Koch and Katherine Dunn – now I’m asking myself "how much did those suckers get paid for those blurbs?"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

2.5 Stars

Jasper Dent is your average teenager – he goes to high school, hangs with his best buddy, has a girlfriend. There’s just one small thing that makes him stand out from the crowd – his father is one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. Now there’s a new killer on the loose and Jazz is desperate to help solve the crime (and terrified that the apple may not have fallen far enough from the tree for his own comfort).

Where to begin… I can’t really bash this one hardcore since it is a "teen" novel and therefore certain things like over-the-top violence and gore have to be toned down. The story was COMPLETELY unrealistic, but somehow I think most adults could push past that also. The characters were fairly enjoyable and the dialogue was quick. However, I don’t like solving the "who done it" part of a thriller, and I did that almost immediately. If this was a stand-alone story it would get a better rating. Creating a series (AGAIN WITH THE F-ING SERIES JUST STOP ALREADY), in my opinion, is a terrible idea. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this one a "meh".

Friday, June 21, 2013

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

5 Stars

Yeah, so I’m pretty much completely enamored with Jonathan Tropper. I read "This is Where I Leave You" and was smitten – immediately followed by the fear that he might be a one-hit wonder. Thankfully, that turned out not to be the case and now I’m completely head-over-heels in love with his writing. He writes good people and lots of them. People I want to know in real life. People I can picture vividly while reading their stories. People I want to call up six months from now to check on and see how they are doing.

Silver is an aging former rock star whose one constant in life is failure. Failed rock career, failed marriage, failed parenting, etc. On the cusp of his ex-wife’s impending nuptials, his teenage daughter confides in him that she is pregnant and Silver discovers he has a medical condition that may kill him. The story that follows is a couple of unforgettable weeks with a rag-tag ensemble cast that won’t soon be forgotten.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

5 Stars

Okay, where to begin . . .

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH *sob* *sob* *sniffle* *sob* WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH– yeah, that’s about where I left off after finishing this one last night. So, it doesn’t end well, but the getting there is well worth the tears. This is the 106th book I’ve read this year, and it’s on the top 10 favorite of said list. Read it. Have lots of tissues at the ready, but read it.

Lou Clark is an uneducated 27 year old who has just lost the only gainful employment she’s ever had. When the unemployment agency tells her that her options consist of working at the local chicken processing plant, becoming a stripper, or being a caregiver for a "difficult" 35 year old quadriplegic for six months, she takes the latter. During those six months Will and Lou will discover that the most unlikely person can sometimes change EVERYTHING about your life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

3 Stars

Mr. Hosokawa is being thrown a birthday party by government officials and other muckity-mucks in South America. The true purpose of the party for the government is to persuade Hosokawa into building a factory in their poor nation. Mr. Hosokawa, on the other hand, has absolutely no interest in doing business there – he has accepted the invitation in order to see a private performance by his favorite opera singer, Roxane Coss. The party is in full swing when 18 freedom fighters come barreling into the mansion and take everyone hostage. Bel Canto is the story of their time in captivity.

What a strange little novel. I was hoping I’d form a definitive opinion by the time I finished, but I’m still stuck shaking my head. I did enjoy the numerous amounts of characters in this book. Patchett has done a remarkable job creating a memorable ensemble cast. However, Love in the Time of Stockholm Syndrome??? Weird.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

4 Stars.

Kendra has spent her entire life trying to be perfect in order to compensate for the fact that her brother, Grayson, isn’t. Grayson’s crippling OCD has always been the focus of the family – until now. Kendra’s perfect world is about to come crashing down around her and for once, the blame can’t be put on Grayson. Kendra decides to run away from her problems and take Grayson along so he can hopefully run away from his too.

I love a good road trip story. This was really enjoyable. The first Jennifer Brown I read was "Hate List" which was dark and shocking. Although this is not a happy-go-lucky little novel, it was much lighter than Hate List, and I was pleased that I liked it just as much. The sibling relationship/being in the shadow of the other/etc. were all very believable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

4.5 Stars.

Synopsis: That's great, it starts with an earthquake, raining fish and frogs, a UFO. The Tibetan monk is not afraid. It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. (My official apologies to R.E.M. for slaughtering their song.)

Good v. evil with angels, witches, demons, witch hunters, 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, Satan’s spawn and on, and on, and on, and on. So fun. Gaiman’s sense of humor and timing is impeccable.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

3.75 Stars.

Paul, Serge, Claire and Babette are spending an evening together having dinner. After running the gamut of dinner conversation (movies, menu, etc.) they will eventually run out of small talk and have to broach the subject of a horrible act that involved their teenage sons.

Okay, first STOP COMPARING THIS TO GONE GIRL. For real, it's like apples and orangutans. If you must compare this to something, I kept thinking of the Hitchcock classic "Rope" while reading this. You know something bad has happened, the author tells you almost everything you need to know right away, you just have to ride it out through this one teensie little dinner to get the whole payoff. If you go into it not expecting a high octane thriller like Gone Girl, but appreciate the subtlety of Koch's approach, you should enjoy it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

3.5 Stars.

Vera and Charlie had been best friends since she could remember. They knew absolutely everything about each other and had never told anyone else each other’s darkest secrets. That is, until Charlie started hanging with a different crowd. Not only did he betray Vera’s trust, he died and only Vera knows the truth about what happened. Will she clear up the circumstances surrounding Charlie’s death, or will she say nothing – believing it was just karma coming back around???

Unfortunately I read "Everybody Sees the Ants" almost IMMEDIATELY prior to reading this. I actually didn’t even know they were written by the same author – the two books were recommended by different sources. This book was definitely decent, but paled in comparison to The Ants.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

1.5 Stars.

Christine wakes up every morning not knowing who she is/where she is/who she’s sleeping next to. She’s had amnesia for the past 20+ years and each night when she falls asleep she forgets everything. With the help of a new doctor, she’s journaling in an attempt to spark her memory. The only problem is the first page of her journal tells her not to trust her husband. It is now up to Christine to figure out who she can and cannot trust or to come to terms with the fact that she might be creating conspiracy theories in her own head.

If you've ever known the ending to any episode of CSI (insert city of choice name here) or an M. Night Shyamalan movie do not - I repeat DO NOT - read this. There were ZERO twists and turns and the ending was completely predictable. Total bummer. I'm glad I read fast so at least I only wasted one day of my life. Finding out I knew what was happening all along after plowing through Christine's journal and her daily recap of figuring out who she is/why she's older/who she's waking up to (à la 50 First Dates), I was ready to punch someone in the throat. If you want to go on a trippy psych-thriller voyage choose Gillian Flynn. At least if you figure out the ending she'll take you on a wild ride to get there.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

5 Stars

A social studies assignment of creating a survey question and evaluating the data has Lucky excited for the easy A he’s sure to receive. His question: "If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?" is viewed quite differently by the school administration. They want Lucky evaluated to make sure he isn’t a danger to himself or others.

I went in to this book with no expectations and was very pleasantly surprised. I’m always impressed when a writer can create such a realistic character of the opposite sex (especially when said character is also going through the turmoil of puberty). Lucky was such a likeable young man with a dry sense of humor that really came across the page. He also left me blubbering like a huge baby at one point. I agree with King that everybody sees the ants and I don’t even use the stupid shampoo either. I’ll be checking out more of her work in the near future.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

5 Stars

Mort Foxman has passed away after a long battle with stomach cancer.  His dying wish was for the family to sit shiva.  That means Judd Foxman will have to spend seven days with three siblings (along with their spouses/significant others) that he hasn't seen in years.  While juggling the plethora of mourners who come to pay their respects each day, Judd also has to come to terms with the fact that his wife has left him for his boss - a famous shock-jock radio host - and is now pregnant.

There's nothing I love more than an ensemble cast in a comedy/drama.  Tropper has managed to develop TWELVE (yes, 12) unforgettable characters in This is Where I Leave You.  I absolutely fell in love with the Foxman family and I laughed until my sides hurt.  If you come from a big family, the riotous interactions will bring back fond memories.  When you find yourself wishing for more, set your mind at ease knowing it's becoming a movie.  Jason Bateman, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways . . .

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

1.5 Stars (because it was just a tad less puke inducing than 50 Shades).

Synopsis: She's f-ed up, he's f-ed up. Neither want to ever fall in love/get married/whatevs which means they meet, bang, and fall in love within one week.  It's a porno, hence it's not too heavy in the plot department.

I think I can officially say I'm not a fan of the mommy smut. The "love" scenes (*blergh* *dry heave*) are pretty much like listening to a broken record playing. I'm also not a fan of the dirty "C" words and Sylvia Day reminded me just how many there are and then proceeded to use them incessantly. My squick-out factor was riding high throughout the book. The one plus? While I wanted Christian Grey to be locked up for the rest of his life for being a psychopathic woman beater, I only wanted to file a restraining order against Gideon Cross.

In a nutshell, if you are a complete prude like me - stay far, far away. On the other hand, if you like to let your freak flag fly with a dirty book, this will probably be your cup of tea.