I think perhaps this is one of those novels that I just had heard too much about before I read it. This frequently happens when I've allowed myself toI think perhaps this is one of those novels that I just had heard too much about before I read it. This frequently happens when I've allowed myself to get swept up into the hype...I end up often feeling let down when I don't feel the love that everyone else felt.
Don't misunderstand, I thought Genova's novel about a middle-aged Harvard professor suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's was a well-written book. Reading things from Alice's perspective as her entire life was taken away from her by this horrible degenerative disease was heart-breaking. Perhaps more heartbreaking was watching how her husband dealt - or really, failed to deal - with her condition. It was awful. Human, yes, but awful nevertheless.
It was a good, competent novel and as I rated it above, I felt bad for the 3 stars. Yet as I hovered over the 3 stars, GR says "I liked it." And that's how I felt about it. Nothing more and nothing less. Sigh. Next time I'll wait a few more years for the hype to die down, I suppose. Dang it....more
This was the first CJ Box novel I've read and I was *not* disappointed. Billed as a standalone novel (as opposed to his long-running series), I foundThis was the first CJ Box novel I've read and I was *not* disappointed. Billed as a standalone novel (as opposed to his long-running series), I found that he has actually written one novel prior to this one that featured this same protagonist. Events in that prior novel are certainly important to this one so I do take issue with the whole "stand alone" thing. I was able to figure it out, but as a reader who does NOT like to read things out of order, it really bugged me throughout. So I do warn you, if you like to read things in order, please find the novel previous to BADLANDS and zip through that (The Highway) first. Goodreads has this book properly marked as Cassie Dewell #2, but it doesn't have The Highway properly marked as Cassie Dewell #1, so it gets confusing.
Badlands focuses on detective Cassie Dewell, a character I really enjoyed. Cassie is pushing middle age, a single mother, has just about given up on ever losing that last twenty pounds, and doesn't have the time or inclination for a proper haircut. In other words, she's a real person. What's not to love? She's also damn good at her job and smart as a whip. She's taken a new job in the badlands of North Dakota where the oil is booming and crime is even worse, mostly due to the huge influx of the drug market. And with drugs come the violence of gangs who don't think twice about murdering those who get in their way. Cassie's first case involves police corruption and a heart-breaking mentally-challenged young boy who inadvertently finds himself in the middle of drug gang that will stop at nothing to recover their lost product. The police corruption offers the boy no protection and it's Cassie's job to figure out who to trust and save that boy.
A true page-turner, CJ Box paces his novel perfectly and you won't want to put it down. Cassie is a fantastic protagonist...flawed of course, but just as we all are. I do hope he writes more about her because I will read it eagerly....more
Debut novel. It's not easy to write a review of a debut novel so well-written as Panowich's Bull Mountain. I threw it into the sub-genre of HillbillyDebut novel. It's not easy to write a review of a debut novel so well-written as Panowich's Bull Mountain. I threw it into the sub-genre of Hillbilly Gothic for lack of a more descriptive term....but you're going to hear a lot of different descriptions of this amazing story. Set in the mountains of rural North Georgia, don't mistake this for Appalachia/West Virginia literature. Panowich gave this novel a setting that is so unique it becomes it's own character.
A vast mountainous region belonging to the lawless Burroughs family for generations, Bull Mountain takes on a life of it's own from the very beginning of this story which bursts out of the starting gate like a racehorse on steroids. Non-linear and told from multiple points-of-view, the reader is left in no doubt just how morally corrupt the Burroughs family is and has been for generations. That one lone son has managed to somehow escape this fucked-up-ness seems a miracle in and of itself. Our quick jaunts back in time to fill in bits of family history only enhance this present-day miracle.
But if you're looking for the white hats and black hats of good guys versus the bad, you're not going to find that here. Because the world of Bull Mountain only displays varying shades of fuck-up-ness. Not only among the Burroughs family, which is to be expected, but throughout even those sworn to serve and protect. It's a bad world out there.
But still, you don't want to miss out on this novel because it's worth every darned page. And don't worry....justice can still prevail sometimes, just in the places you least expect it. I do urge you to read this book. Because a lot of folks are going to be talking about it....more
Ruth Galloway is back in 2015 and this time a local developer has unearthed a WWII plane with the pilot still intact. The only problem is that it's noRuth Galloway is back in 2015 and this time a local developer has unearthed a WWII plane with the pilot still intact. The only problem is that it's not the original pilot and this corpse has a bullet through his head. What the What? Enter Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist. This was one of the best Galloway mysteries since the series began...bravo! Add to that some very interesting developments (finally) in their personal lives and wow. I hope this movement doesn't flag in the next installment, which I am going to have a difficult time waiting an entire year for. I do wish Griffiths could churn these books out faster --- I know, I know...how selfish am *I*? Ha. Start at the beginning, if you haven't read these books...they're fantastic....more
It's always difficult to review books that are a part of a series. Any recap of plot utterly ruins it for folks that are on, say, book two of the seriIt's always difficult to review books that are a part of a series. Any recap of plot utterly ruins it for folks that are on, say, book two of the series (they'll know then what happens to various characters by this later book and that's unfair to them). So I refuse to say what is going on in our various character's personal lives. I will say that I'm enjoying Ruth's career progression - she deserves it - and the mysteries are still solid in each story. Griffiths does solid writing each time out and I hope she keeps this series up for a long time to come....more
A vast improvement over the previous book in the series which I struggled with. My heart nearly stopped at the end of this one....if you've been folloA vast improvement over the previous book in the series which I struggled with. My heart nearly stopped at the end of this one....if you've been following the series, yours will too. The thought of losing one of our big supporting characters was nearly too much to bear.
If you're not reading these books, start at the beginning!...more
This is a kindle short story that falls into the Ruth Galloway mystery series and for a short story, it really is quality writing. Most Kindle ShortsThis is a kindle short story that falls into the Ruth Galloway mystery series and for a short story, it really is quality writing. Most Kindle Shorts aren't that great, but Griffiths gives her readers good stuff here as she tells the story of Ruth and Kate's first Christmas tree (Ruth not being the holiday type person but now that she has her daughter, well, things change when kids come into the picture, right?). Michelle and Nelson make an appearance, as does Cathbad. It's worth the 20 minute read if you've been following this fantastic series. Free on Kindle....more
Another in the Ruth Galloway series and as you can see from the 3 stars, not my favorite. But still, any Ruth Galloway mystery is far and above betterAnother in the Ruth Galloway series and as you can see from the 3 stars, not my favorite. But still, any Ruth Galloway mystery is far and above better than most mystery series so I'll take it. ...more
First in a very popular series I've been meaning to read for ages and ages. And it's cute. A cozy mystery, I suppose, but not as cozy as many I've reaFirst in a very popular series I've been meaning to read for ages and ages. And it's cute. A cozy mystery, I suppose, but not as cozy as many I've read so I liked it better because of that. Agatha Raisin is a retired big-wig PR firm owner from London who has moved to the British country side and is trying to figure out how to do this small-town retirement thing. She's been separated from a loser husband for decades and has no children so she is essentially alone in the world. And because she has always been a high-powered business woman, her small-town social skills are hysterically lacking.
In an attempt to fit-in her small town surroundings and get the village folks to like her, Agatha enters a quiche backing competition. Unfortunately she doesn't know how to cook at all so she buys a quiche from the city - cheating - and when the smarmy judge of the competition falls over from poisoning, everyone sees Agatha as not only an outsider, but a murdering outsider even when the local police clear her of wrong-doing. But Agatha does think someone wanted that smarmy judge dead and so she goes nosing around herself - with disastrous consequences. And that's the general plot in a nutshell. It's a very cute story....Agatha is funny as hell and the town folks make for a great supporting cast.
Will I be reading the rest in the series? I'm not sure. Maybe someday. I'm embroiled in several other really *good*, meaty series right now that take precedence so perhaps someday I'll come back to Agatha. She would make GREAT summer beach reading....more
I've been a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway mysteries since the first, Crossing Places, was released mostly due to the protagonist herself. A single, apI've been a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway mysteries since the first, Crossing Places, was released mostly due to the protagonist herself. A single, approaching-middle age forensic archaeologist in England, I wouldn't call Ruth a flawed character although she is far from perfect. She's simply normal. And that is why I continue to love her. A single mom, never married, unsure how she feels about the (married) father of her child and just muddling through life, Ruth is just like so many of the rest of us. She's just getting through life.
The House at Sea's End was one of the better mysteries. Ruth is trying to juggle new motherhood with her job (not easy) and trying to figure out how the father, a local police officer and someone she has to work with on occasion, is going to fit into all of this. As this mystery unfolds, we get a bit of a glimpse into this. The full-complement of secondary characters that I've come to love so much are out in full force, although it's difficult to give any kind of plot synopsis here without spoiling things where all the characters are concerned and I don't want to risk that at all.
It is possible to read any of these books as a stand alone. Griffiths always gives a quick background filler to let the reader know who is who and what is what. But that's really kind of cheating yourself. Don't do it....head back to number one and enjoy....more
Each month, I allow myself to purchase one current "best selling" or "most talked about" book. A book-of-the-moment, if you will. Sometimes I read theEach month, I allow myself to purchase one current "best selling" or "most talked about" book. A book-of-the-moment, if you will. Sometimes I read them right away, other times if I think the hype has just gotten too big, I'll set them aside for later because nothing kills a book for me quicker than too much hype (I'm bound to be disappointed). But just enough people we're talking about Anne Tyler's new book A Spool of New Thread to catch my attention and it wasn't too much attention....perfect. Add to this the not insignificant fact that - gasp - I had not yet read a Tyler novel. What a gap in my literary career.
I chose the audio version out of sheer convenience (an Audible credit was begging to be used and it was a nice narration change to hear a good strong American accent - a rarity these days). Tyler's story about three generations - although not necessarily told in a linear fashion - of an American family in Baltimore had me hooked from the very first paragraph and held me riveted throughout.
The Whitshanks are nothing remarkable from the outside. They are your standard American family. The family dynamics within are nothing remarkable either. But it's Tyler's telling of the story as she reveals layers of each generation that proves how little we all know about our own nearest and dearest that is so remarkable. We all think we know everything about our closest family members...Tyler shows us that no, really we do not. She does so in such an understated, fact-of-the-matter way that I simply fell in love with her right then and there. And promptly went and purchased every other book she has ever written (my huge Amazon box full of them arrived yesterday). I now have little trouble imagining how she won her Pulitzer.
I didn't necessarily fall in love with the Whitshank family, but I don't think that was Tyler's intention. I enjoyed my time with them and I enjoyed what Tyler revealed to me about them. I listed to the story every spare moment I had (something I don't normally do with audiobooks). What I walked away thinking after the novel was finished was that this was truly an American story, without any false notes or patriotism thrown in...nothing so obvious like that. It was straightforward and deft in the telling. There was nothing I did not like. Highly recommended....more
This was a book that my 9 year old and I read together and I have to tell you, he was riveted. It's a classic by now (first published in the 80s) andThis was a book that my 9 year old and I read together and I have to tell you, he was riveted. It's a classic by now (first published in the 80s) and for good reason...it keeps the reader on the edge of their seat for the entire book.
If you're not familiar, here's the premise: child of divorcing parents is sent from his New York City home during summer vacation up to visit his father on a work site in the northern Canadian wilderness via a small, single-engine airplane. Enroute, the pilot suffers a heart attack and dies. The plane crashes in the wilderness, off-course. Child survives but no rescue crew can find him. The only tools he has are a hatchet and his wits. He must learn to survive.
Wow. Talk about riveting. My son spent the entire book trying to anticipate what was going to happen, whether the survival techniques he was using in the book were smart or not, whether they'd work, how it could be done better, etc and so on. In other words, it made him think.
As for the veracity of the book, Paulsen did his homework. The airplane scene, which stretches on for some time, is spot on. As a pilot, I'm always dismayed by authors who try to write about flying scenes and don't even take the time to ask a real pilot (such as easy, quick question that all pilots would be happy to answer to make the scene realistic) basic questions...it frequently makes me toss a book aside. Either Paulsen flies himself or thought to ask and the result is a realistic crash scene. Bravo! He also describes in an afterward to the book all the research he did on the survival techniques his character uses in the book...he tested each one himself, even the foods his character eats (eeeewww, trust me, eeeeeww). Perhaps this is why the book is so loved all these years later....it's realistic. Kids love it. I loved it.
Age range for reading? I'm thinking 3rd grade and up. I've seen it read in classrooms starting around 3rd grade and that is the age where my son could really grasp the implications of what was going on. Also, due to the divorce issues also going on (Mom has a 'boyfriend' which is why the marriage is breaking up), it would probably be difficult for a younger child to understand what is going on there.
Well-written but uninspired sci-fi dystopia in which a heart-broken young widower unthinkingly fulfills his dead wife's dream and gives up his life onWell-written but uninspired sci-fi dystopia in which a heart-broken young widower unthinkingly fulfills his dead wife's dream and gives up his life on earth to live on a experimental space colony. It is only upon arrival, where of course there is no option of returning (of course), that he finds the predictable draconian dystopian rules implemented on the colony. It's very well-written in terms of readability but so full of plot holes that it makes it difficult to enjoy the author's talent with words. I'll keep reading his work, though, searching for something that is better thought-out in terms of plot. He's clearly talented....more