This was a satisfying ending to Margaret Atwood's dystopian trilogy. I didn't quite enjoy it nearly as much as the first two books - I think I was exp...moreThis was a satisfying ending to Margaret Atwood's dystopian trilogy. I didn't quite enjoy it nearly as much as the first two books - I think I was expecting a more epic conclusion - but it was a pleasure to return to the worlds she created (both the "chaos" of the world before the plague, and the more peaceful aftermath). I listened to the audiobook version, and the three narrators did an excellent job (although the man who narrated Zeb's back-story reminded me so much of Lewis Black!) This book focuses on Zeb - the brother of Adam One, who led the eco-religious group the God's Gardeners - and again on Toby, who was one of the main characters in Book 2. We also see more development of culture and religious beliefs among the Crakers, the genetically-engineered race of humans. The group of surviving God's Gardeners and the MaddAddam geneticists have banded together and are trying to create a sustainable life for themselves, but they are under attack from two murderous painballers (survivors of a vicious Hunger Games type-reality show). The group of survivors is forced to find and defeat the painballers while also searching for the lost Adam One and trying to rescue him. While I love the world-building of these books, I was a little skeptical that their group wouldn't constantly be under attack from other survivors, and that everything would be peaceful once they got rid of these two individuals that threatened them. Maybe The Walking Dead has warped my vision of what the post-apocalypse would be like! I recommend the entire trilogy though....I still loved this book even though I found the plot a bit meandering and implausible.(less)
Did you ever live in a house with a group of your very best friends in college? You may remember that it was full of drama, heartache and arguments, b...moreDid you ever live in a house with a group of your very best friends in college? You may remember that it was full of drama, heartache and arguments, but maybe you also remember some of those golden, sunshiny moments when you all felt like you could stay housemates forever? Now imagine if some of those arguments had turned fatal - what would happen to you and your friends afterward? That's the situation that Dublin detective Cassie Maddox dives into when she agrees to go undercover to solve the murder of Lexie Madison, a woman who lived under an assumed identity and was found fatally stabbed.
The kicker is that Lexie looked identical to Cassie, and she had used the name Lexie Madison in a past undercover operation. Her old boss in the undercover department convinces Cassie to masquerade as the "new" Lexie so they can get an inside angle on the murder investigation. She's chafing under the boredom of her new job in Domestic Violence, so eventually she agrees. The boundaries between Lexie and Cassie begin to blur in all sorts of interesting ways when she becomes fascinated with the other students who live in the rambling old mansion, Whitethorn House, that one of them inherited from an uncle. They are a quirky group of English Literature PhD students and she finds herself wishing she could stay and become a part of this group for real.
Of course, it's not to be, as the investigation moves on toward a tragic end. Author Tana French shows the same vast talent for capturing different nuances of emotion in her characters that was evident in her first book, INTO THE WOODS. Readers also get to experience the aftermath of INTO THE WOODS from Cassie's point of view, which provides a nice perspective for those who read the first book. Even if you didn't read it, this book provides enough of an intro to Cassie's life that it can also stand alone. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as INTO THE WOODS (which blew me away), but it was still amazing and I can't wait to read the third book!(less)
GAAAAH THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK! What happened?? :( I'm not going to write any spoilers about this ending, but boy was it frustrating. Pratchett and Ba...moreGAAAAH THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK! What happened?? :( I'm not going to write any spoilers about this ending, but boy was it frustrating. Pratchett and Baxter spend the majority of the book introducing the reader to a fascinating world, and then the journey ends abruptly and jarringly. I haven't read any other Pratchett books, so I went into this book with no expectations. In The Long Earth, a scientist has invented a device that allows anyone to cross into limitless alternate earths in other dimensions, or "Step," between worlds. This revolution has vast effects on world culture and economy as pioneers begin journeying into the alternate Earths. We learn that on most of these worlds, humans never evolved, but there are humanoid creatures who can step naturally without the aid of devices. Some humans, like the main character Joshua, also find they have a natural ability to travel between worlds. Joshua is sent on a journey to explore the edges of the alternate Earths. His story is interspersed with some vignettes of the pioneers and entrepreneurs who decide to explore and settle the alternate worlds. I loved the stories of the pioneers and the unique ways the authors envisioned about how a discovery like this would change the world. The rich details allow the reader to really sink into these new worlds. This book would have been a five-star book for me except for the ending. Listening on audio, I actually thought I was missing some tracks when the book ended! It ends right in the middle of the story, very frustrating. Even if there is going to be a sequel or subsequent books in the series (And I hope there are!!), the authors could have done a better job of tying up the major threads of this story before moving on.(less)
THE ROPE is author Nevada Barr's prequel to the Anna Pigeon mystery series. This volume will be a treat to fans of the series, because we get to see a...moreTHE ROPE is author Nevada Barr's prequel to the Anna Pigeon mystery series. This volume will be a treat to fans of the series, because we get to see a young Anna who's plunked straight from the streets of New York into the Lake Powell recreation area in the Southwest. She's still reeling from the death of her husband Zach, dresses in all black, and is pale and scrawny. Her co-workers in the Park Service are all immediately obsessed with the mysterious theater type in their midst - so much so that it strains credulity - some love her, some can't stand her.
So, when Anna goes missing, everyone first thinks she's fled back to New York. Actually, unknown assailants have knocked Anna out, drugged her, mutilated her leg and trapped her in a solution hole, a natural prison formed by the desert landscape. While Anna is trapped in the hole, she learns to understand and appreciate the solitude of the desert and the sensations of being alone in the natural world, and finally, to think quickly and make a plan for her first daring escape.
Here, the author returns to her wonderful descriptions of the outdoor landscapes that I missed SO much in the last Anna Pigeon book, BURN (set in the urban landscape of new orleans). All the descriptions of the natural area are wonderful and vivid. It's also a treat to see how Anna's theatre experience helps her in many of the situations she encounters as she solves her first mystery, and to see her grow from the pale urban theater geek into a buff, crime-solving ranger.
However, this book still has the darker undertones (domestic abuse, rape, evil acts, constant tension between women and men) that characterize all of Barr's more recent books (WINTER STUDY and beyond) - they are not "light" mystery reads like the earlier books in the series are and some readers who lean more to the cozy-mystery side may not enjoy that.
If you have been thinking about starting this series, start now with THE ROPE! And, if you're already a fan, you'll enjoy reading Anna's "origin story" - it will only make you love her more : )(less)
This is the first book I've read by Ellen Hopkins and I have to admit I'm pretty skeptical about novels-in-verse, but it was an enjoyable read. I appr...moreThis is the first book I've read by Ellen Hopkins and I have to admit I'm pretty skeptical about novels-in-verse, but it was an enjoyable read. I appreciated how some of the poems were actually two-in-one, and the reader could enjoy them both "horizontally" and "vertically." The poetry format makes them quick and addictive reads. (less)
I'm not one of those people who's "into" reading about the Kennedy assassination, so I wasn't sure what to expect our of Stephen King's tale of Jake E...moreI'm not one of those people who's "into" reading about the Kennedy assassination, so I wasn't sure what to expect our of Stephen King's tale of Jake Epping, a high-school English teacher who becomes a kind of time-traveling secret agent with a mission to stop Lee Harvey Oswald. Actually, this book named for the date of JFK's assassination really is about much more than the mission Jake embarks on when he accepts the offer from local diner owner, Al, to travel through the time portal that exists in the back of his restaurant and save JFK. What is it actually about? - Like the TV show "Mad Men," 11/22/63 captures the era with beautiful details and atmospheric descriptions, making the reader feel like she has traveled back in time with Jake. - It's an era-crossing love story that will appeal to fans of "Somewhere in Time," especially at the conclusion of the book. - It's a world-bending and creepy tale of alternate realities that fans of King's Dark Tower series will enjoy. I'm pretty sure it's an origin story for at least one of the realities the Dark Tower characters visit in that series. - It's an exploration of the sad, harmful realities of domestic violence and abuse, and the harm that men and women can do to each other in relationships. - For people like me that used to participate in high-school theatre, there are some truly heartwarming and happy tear inducing small-town high school theatre moments in the book, as Jake becomes a drama coach as well as an English teacher during his time in Texas. I enjoyed this book so much more than King's other recent novel, "Under the Dome." I think this novel will be one of my favorite Stephen King books for quite a while. I listened to the audio version, and narrator Craig Wasson does an amazing job portraying all of the characters in the book, especially Lee Oswald's wife, Marina, and all of their Russian emigre friends. Bravo to King & Wasson for a great journey.(less)
Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and stories of women overcoming adversity will LOVE "Before I Go To Sleep." Christine Lucas is a London hous...moreReaders who enjoy psychological thrillers and stories of women overcoming adversity will LOVE "Before I Go To Sleep." Christine Lucas is a London housewife who is afflicted with a rare form of amnesia: Every night when she goes to sleep, the last couple decades' worth of her memory is erased. Each morning when she wakes, she thinks she is a twentysomething college student, only to find that she is middle-aged, married, and living with her husband and caregiver, Ben. She can retain memories of what she learns each day, but every night these short-term memories are erased.
When Chris begins seeing a new doctor, he encourages her to begin keeping a journal to record each day's events, to try and strengthen her memory. As she writes each day in the journal, she struggles to learn more about her own history, her past career, and her loved ones. Soon she discovers that Ben is concealing information from her and lying to her. As Christine moves closer and closer to learning more about the traumatic event that caused her amnesia problems, she discovers she can't trust anyone: who is telling the truth and who wants to hurt her? Ben, Dr. Nash, her best friend from college, Claire? Further complicating her situation is an amnesiac tendency to "confabulate," or make up memories to fill in missing spaces from her life. Readers will find themselves rushing toward the climactic scenes of this novel desperate to learn what is true in Christine's life, and what is a malicious lie.
Even though I guessed the main plot twist well before the end of the book, there were a lot of other facts Christine learned that completely took me by surprise! I listened to the audio version of this book, expertly narrated by Orlagh Cassidy, who manages to make all the characters seem either comforting or sinister, as the plot demands.(less)
I really, REALLY wanted to like this unique, quirky book but I don't think I can bring myself to finish it. Kit and Fancy are the teen daughters of a...moreI really, REALLY wanted to like this unique, quirky book but I don't think I can bring myself to finish it. Kit and Fancy are the teen daughters of a serial killer which is an interesting premise - I thought it might be similar to the Dexter books - but the execution of the story is so weird, with every word I read I feel like the whole thing is going right over my head. Maybe it's because I haven't read Reeves' first book, Bleeding Violet, which takes place in the same setting. The girls' hometown, Portero, is a spooky, supernatural place containing many doors to other worlds - but it just didn't click for me. Despite my hopes for this book I'll be relieved to stop reading it!! (less)
"Wench" is a historical novel that takes the reader into a unique setting and a precarious point in time. The place is Tawawa House, a resort in South...more"Wench" is a historical novel that takes the reader into a unique setting and a precarious point in time. The place is Tawawa House, a resort in Southern Ohio, and the time is the 1850s. The four main characters are slave women who travel to the resort every summer with their white masters. The story is told from the point of view of Lizzie, an educated slave who has a very ambivalent relationship with her master, Nathan Drayle.
The book begins one summer when the slaves at the resort are joined by Mawu, an mysterious woman from Louisiana who stirs up trouble at the resort with her talk of escaping to freedom. The southern Ohio setting is very important to the story, as the women are technically staying in the free North but are still required to fulfill their roles as slaves. Each of them gets to see and experience little tastes of freedom but they know at the end of the summer, they will each return to their Southern plantations and nothing will be different.
The second part of the book takes the reader back to the early days of Lizzie's complicated relationship with Drayle at their plantation. We learn why she has developed feelings of love for him but is also able to hate his role as her master at the same time.
Finally, the women and their masters return to Tawawa House the following summer to an atmosphere of unrest. The resort is starting to fall apart as less Northerners want to associate with the Southern guests and their slaves. Each of the women has important decisions to make as changes are beginning to sweep the region and the culture.
This book didn't have a single, sweeping plot that left me engrossed from start to finish, but I enjoyed immersing myself in the descriptions of the complicated characters and the tension-fraught setting in place and time. A great read for fans of the Civil War era and books dealing with the emotional legacy of slavery.(less)
All right, I'll admit that I picked up the audio book of "Basketball Jones" because of its cover image! : ) This is the first book I have read/listene...moreAll right, I'll admit that I picked up the audio book of "Basketball Jones" because of its cover image! : ) This is the first book I have read/listened to by E. Lynn Harris and I'm very sorry to see he passed away in 2009 because I think I am a fan. The story centers around an issue I had never really thought about before: closeted gay male athletes in professional sports.
Aldridge "AJ" Richardson is the secret boyfriend of a hot NBA player, Drayton Jones. Dray has been taking care of AJ ever since they began their relationship years ago in college. Once Dray feels the pressure to conform and marries his rich heiress wife, Judi, AJ's life begins to change drastically. At first there didn't seem to be much of a plot to this book but readers will be able to guess that eventually someone will threaten to take AJ and Dray's relationship public.
Soon the secret lovers are dealing with one (or more!) mysterious blackmailer(s) that want to tear them apart. Some of the plot twists I could see coming miles away, while others came as a total surprise. While the tone of this book overall was quite "fluffy", AJ's deliberation about whether or not to end his relationship conveys a deep emotional resonance to readers.
On the audio book version of "Basketball Jones," Narrator Mirron Willis does a truly masterful job of evoking each character with his voice. I felt like I could picture each of the characters in my head very clearly, especially AJ's new friends Jade and Cisco the trainer. I'm going to pick up Willis' narration of "Invisible Life" next!(less)
I was first attracted to read this book because I had an almost identical idea for a book a couple of years ago (my exact thought was, "Like 'Twilight...moreI was first attracted to read this book because I had an almost identical idea for a book a couple of years ago (my exact thought was, "Like 'Twilight,' but with past lives instead of vampires!"). So of course I had to read the book that used this idea. The main characters, Daniel and Sophia, have a relationship that stretches across centuries as each of their souls is reincarnated into new bodies and new lifetimes. Daniel is unique because he can remember each of his past lives, whereas his love, Sophia, like the rest of humanity, forgets each life as she is born anew.
We begin in the present day when Daniel and Lucy (Sophia's name in her current incarnation) are high school students. Through each of the chapters, Daniel retells stories from his past lives. He was the cause of Sophia's death in his very first life on Earth and has spent each subsequent incarnation trying to find her soul and make it up to her by loving and taking care of her. In their current lifetimes, an awkward run-in at a high school dance forces Lucy and Daniel apart until they are college students. As Daniel tries to find Lucy again, he learns that a malicious adversary from his past lives is also stalking her.
Some of the plot points and sentiments in the book are spot on. The section where Lucy travels to England to see the manor house from her recently-remembered past life is goosebump-inducing. The way that Brashares writes the voice of Daniel, an "old soul" who has been around for centuries inhabiting a young man's body, is also haunting, and the ideas surrounding reincarnation in the book are definitely food for thought.
For me however, the ending of the book definitely left something to be desired. Although Brashares avoided making the ending as cheesy as it could have possibly been - a relief - and the ending was consistent with the tone and themes of the rest of the book, it still felt very abrupt and left a major part of the plot unresolved. I can only hope that the author is planning to write a sequel! I want to know what happens to the couple next and I am sure I'm not alone.(less)
"The Tale of Halcyon Crane" is a fast-paced, eerie ghost story in the spirit of Stephen King's "The Shining." Hallie James is shocked when she receive...more"The Tale of Halcyon Crane" is a fast-paced, eerie ghost story in the spirit of Stephen King's "The Shining." Hallie James is shocked when she receives a letter in the mail - from the mother she never knew was still alive. When her newly-discovered mother and her father die within days of each other, she is devastated and decides to travel to the Great Lakes resort community of Grand Manitou Island to find out what happened to estrange her father and mother.
Hallie soon learns she has inherited the entire estate of her famous photojournalist mother, including the sprawling island home which has been in her family for generations. When the islanders give Hallie a chilly welcome, she's forced to depend on a few new-found confidants to help her navigate her twisted family tree, and to defend her against the sinister ghosts she begins seeing on the island.
Hallie soon learns that her ancestors were both gifted and cursed by witchcraft, and she must use her gift - the greatest in generations - to set things right. Part murder mystery and part fairy tale, this book is more lightweight than I had expected but it was a fun ride, and the spooky ambiance of the island (a ringer for Mackinac) is perfectly described by the author. (less)