Wow, I really plowed through this one quickly. This is a well-written crime novel that takes place in early 1980s suburban Sweden. It has subtle socia...moreWow, I really plowed through this one quickly. This is a well-written crime novel that takes place in early 1980s suburban Sweden. It has subtle social commentary, vampires, and creepy, creepy, pedophiles. By creepy, I mean creepy. You think the pedo couldn't get even creepier, but he does. Creep. One more thing which I found quite refreshing - the vampires are not sexy. Unless you find that sort of thing sexy, in which case you are probably of the creep persuasion, but I ain't judging. (less)
I won this book on Goodreads' First Reads giveaway. Thanks Goodreads!
Keigo Higashino won the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award and the Ma...moreI won this book on Goodreads' First Reads giveaway. Thanks Goodreads!
Keigo Higashino won the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize for this book, which is essentially a psychological crime thriller. The premise of the book is at first deceptively simple. A single mother kills her scumbag ex-husband in what is mostly self-defense. After the murder, as the mother and her teenage daughter stand there stunned, not knowing what to do next, the next door neighbor (a brilliant mathematician who happens to have a crush on the single mother) offers to help in the cover-up. There is a secondary storyline of the two police detectives (plus a physics professor who occasionally helps out in police investigations) who are investigating the murder.
This was a very very fast read for me; the book went down smooth like milk. I only have a few minor complaints, namely that the characters don't feel as fully fleshed out as they should have been. There could have easily been at least a hundred more pages for character development. But still, I give it four stars for entertaining me from the first to the last page. (less)
I enjoyed it immensely. Blomkvist is a little Mary Sue-ish though. Now I really want some Swedish open-faced sandwiches. Dark rye with cheese or cavia...moreI enjoyed it immensely. Blomkvist is a little Mary Sue-ish though. Now I really want some Swedish open-faced sandwiches. Dark rye with cheese or caviar from a tube. Mmm.(less)
Cute mystery. The narrator, 11 year-old Flavia de Luce, has the voice of a 60 year old upper-class Englishman who came of age when Queen Victoria was...moreCute mystery. The narrator, 11 year-old Flavia de Luce, has the voice of a 60 year old upper-class Englishman who came of age when Queen Victoria was still alive. Flavia is obsessed with chemistry, and exalts its beauties every chance she gets. There are some references to Sherlock Holmes, which is not surprising, as the author is a huuuuuge fan.
A little twee, but not annoyingly so.
However, I could not finish it. I read the first hundred pages and decided that I don't really care enough to continue. It's a very classic whodunnit, and if you like Agatha Christie, etc., you'd probably like this too, but it's not really my taste.(less)
You know one thing I especially like about these books? The mundane details. Exactly what groceries Lisbeth buys. The kind of sandwiches she eats. A l...moreYou know one thing I especially like about these books? The mundane details. Exactly what groceries Lisbeth buys. The kind of sandwiches she eats. A list of everything she buys from IKEA. (less)
WOW. INTENSE. There was a lot of rage and pain in this book. The other other Sherman Alexie book I've read was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Tim...moreWOW. INTENSE. There was a lot of rage and pain in this book. The other other Sherman Alexie book I've read was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a YA novel. Indian Killer is about an Indian serial killer. Though this book is much darker and a lot more violent, Alexie offers social commentary on Native American issues and the tensions between the Native Americans and the whites (which I guess almost goes without saying, as this is a Sherman Alexie book). Alexie is a powerful writer, no matter what genre he's writing in. But this is not a book without flaws. For example, some of the characters are caricature-like at times (well, the radio host in the novel is based on Rush Limbaugh who IS a caricature) but despite this weakness, I really enjoyed it.
Side note: I'm guessing there is a reason why Alexie gave his characters certain names such as Jack Wilson and John Smith. Use of irony? The inversion of real figures in Native American history? Hmm. Jack Wilson in the novel is an ex-cop-turned-crime-novelist who is white but desperately wants to be Indian. He pretends to be Indian. He is an Indian poser. There was a real person named Jack Wilson, or Wovoka, who was a Paiute Indian prophet. The Paiute Jack Wilson was adopted by a white Christian family in his early teens. The Paiute Jack Wilson eventually founded the Ghost Dance movement - and the Ghost Dance is a recurring theme in the book). In the novel, there is also a John Smith who was a mentally ill young Indian man who was adopted and raised by white parents. Since his adoption records were sealed, John Smith grows up not knowing about his Indian culture or even what type of Indian he is - what tribe he is from. Tribal identity is extremely important. He has no identity; he may as well not even exist. Is it possible for him to be saved? And there was, of course, John Smith, the English explorer who was saved by Pocahontas. (less)
The book automatically gets at least 4 stars because of these two parts: p. 133-34 "By the next Wednesday I was up, so I took Amy to prayer meeting. Bei...moreThe book automatically gets at least 4 stars because of these two parts: p. 133-34 "By the next Wednesday I was up, so I took Amy to prayer meeting. Being a school teacher, she kind of had to put in an appearance at those things, now and then, and I sort of enjoy 'em. I pick up lots of good lines at prayer meetings. I asked Amy, I whispered to her, how she'd like to have a little manna on her honey. And she turned red, and kicked me on the ankle. I whispered to her again, asked her if I could Mose-y into her Burning Bush. I told her I was going to take her to my bosom and cleave unto her, and anoint her with precious oils."
p. 189 "He was sort of skipping, jerky, rather than running or walking. He was skipping and tossing his head, and his hair was flying. And he still had his elbows held in at his sides, with his hands doing that funny floppy dance, and he kept saying - it was louder now - that old siren was warning up - he kept saying, kind of screaming: 'Yeeeee! Yeeeeee! Yeeeeeeeeee. . . !' He was skipping and flopping his hands and tossing his head like one of those holy roller preachers at a brushwood's revival meeting. 'Yeeeing!' and gone-to-Jesus and all you miserable sinners get right with Gawd like I went and done. That dirty son-of-a-bitch! How low down can you get?"
OH MAH GAWD, AMAZING! I wish that I had read The Killer Inside Me about ten years ago, when I was in my late teens and of a more angry and misanthropic nature, and my favorite books were The Torture Garden, American Psycho, and Crash. But it don't mean I still don't like a good well-written yarn narrated by a murderous sociopath. Oh man, I am so pleased to have read it.(less)
I was mainly interested in this because of its setting in Iceland. I spent a week driving around Iceland two summers ago and it was the best trip of m...moreI was mainly interested in this because of its setting in Iceland. I spent a week driving around Iceland two summers ago and it was the best trip of my life so I was looking forward to this quite a bit, and was delighted when I found it in my university's library collection. This was a typical easy read sort of murder mystery. There wasn't really much else to it. The only other Scandinavian thriller series I've read is the Millennium Trilogy which is infinitely better than Hypothermia. Indriðason's writing style is pretty streamlined and straightforward and doesn't really evoke much of a sense of Iceland other than a general feeling of gloom (which I guess is quite Nordic), and periodic mentions of very Icelandic things like eating pickled liver and sheep's head terrine. This book did little to dispel the stereotype that Scandinavians are a morose bunch of people. Ahaha. I wouldn't go out of my way to track down another Detective Erlandur mystery, but I'm not adverse to the idea of reading more either. Um, shamefully, the most fun for me was trying to pronounce the Icelandic words and names out loud. There were quite a lot of opportunities for this. Sigurdur. Valgerdur. Sindri. Thorgerdur. Tryggvi. Halldora. Kirkjubaejarklaustur. There's also some driving itineraries which I'm assuming is real: p. 229: "They began with a small circuit of the city. He had studied detailed maps of Reykjavik and its vicinity, and was surprised at the vast number of lakes that were to be found in a relatively small area. They were almost uncountable. He and Eva Lind started at Lake Ellidavatn where a new suburb had sprung up, then did a circuit of Raudavatn on a decent road, before continuing to Renisvatn which had now disappeared behind the new suburb of Grafarholt. From there they drove past Langavatn and had a view of numerous little lakes on Middalsheidi Moor before slowly proceeding to Mosfellsheidi. They inspected Leirvogsvatn beside the road to Thingvellir, followed by Stiflisdalsvatn and Mjoavatn. It was late by the time they descended to Thingvellir, turned north and passed Sandkluftavatn which lay beside the road north of Hofmannaflot on the route over the pass at Uxahyrggir and down the Lundarreykjadalur valley. They picnicked beside Litla-Brunnavatn, just off the road to Biskupbrekka."(less)
Some points: - Fun and brisk read with a slow build-up and an explosion of gore and uh, other bodily secretions at the end. - Ryu Murakami seems utterly...moreSome points: - Fun and brisk read with a slow build-up and an explosion of gore and uh, other bodily secretions at the end. - Ryu Murakami seems utterly convinced of the moral degeneracy of modern Japanese society. Because he knows the books he wrote probably contributed to this. - Kind of misogynistic (maybe a Japanese kind of misogyny?) but with some interesting social commentary. - (view spoiler)[ The doggy. :( (hide spoiler)] - The ending was too abrupt for my liking. - (view spoiler)[If you become obsessed with some mysterious hot babe, listen to your friends who tell you to be careful, cuz that hot babe is a little creepy. Otherwise you might end up with your feet sawed off. (hide spoiler)] - I'd love to read more of the author's works but it appears that people keep stealing his books from my university library, those bastards. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The 20-year-old narrator Kenji, who shows foreign male sex tourists around Tokyo, has a seriously superhuman sense of self-preservation. I really enjo...moreThe 20-year-old narrator Kenji, who shows foreign male sex tourists around Tokyo, has a seriously superhuman sense of self-preservation. I really enjoyed this book. The title completely sold me, for one thing, and then there's a blurb on the back cover from one of the former members of Cibo Matto! Oh, the late 90s. Anyway, though there was a lot of sex, gore, and violence (and this is the selling point of the novel, judging from the cover), but these sexploitative things are actually secondary to the social commentary on the loneliness of people in these highly developed countries - Japanese society, American society, on how the Japanese view foreigners and vice-versa. Seriously compelling stuff. I took off a star because I found the ending generally unsatisfying and the creepy American tourist too cartoonish at times in his perversity. (less)
Not a bad read, it was fairly engaging. I did nearly stop reading after the first thirty pages because I didn't care for the hostile narrative first-p...moreNot a bad read, it was fairly engaging. I did nearly stop reading after the first thirty pages because I didn't care for the hostile narrative first-person voice (though the hostility certainly is understandable). A lot of the secondary characters felt undeveloped and one-dimensional and the ending was abrupt.(less)
I wasn't too crazy about Chevy Stevens' previous novel, Still Missing, but I was curious enough about her new thriller to enter the First Reads giveaw...moreI wasn't too crazy about Chevy Stevens' previous novel, Still Missing, but I was curious enough about her new thriller to enter the First Reads giveaway, which is how I obtained this book. Thanks Goodreads!
Never Knowing is about a woman named Sara who was adopted as an infant. She had always wondered about the identities of her biological parents. She hires a PI and finds out that her mother was the only surviving victim of a serial killer's attacks. Sara's father is the serial killer and he is still on the loose.
Never Knowing is like Still Missing, but improved. You can't help but compare the two closely when they are so similar to each other. The format that Chevy Stevens used for her new psychological thriller is the same that she used in her previous novel - protagonist is a woman in her early 30s, first person narrative, chapters broken into the sessions the protagonist has with her psychiatrist, the Vancouver Island setting. The plotting is similar too, down to the climax and the twist at the end but I did enjoy Never Knowing better. The supporting characters generally felt a little more fleshed-out, and Sara herself was generally more likeable than Annie was in Still Missing. The biggest fault in the novel was the somewhat clumsy incorporation of the psychiatrist in the story.
But Chevy Stevens does know how to write an entertaining page-turner and Never Knowing did not disappoint. (less)
p. 422: "I'm not jealous because you made some money. It's because if those men are willing to pay that kind of money to you, Kazue, they must be the type who like monsters. I mean, you're ugly too. If some kid came across you in the dark, you can be sure he'd burst into tears. And you don't have much of a future. You're just going to keep falling lower and lower. You're going to have to quit your job at the firm before long because no one's going to be able to bear looking at you." Yuriko's eyes glittered. I may have been a rock-bottom whore but the thought of slipping even lower frightened me. According to Yuriko's prophecy, at some point a monster-loving man would appear and kill me. I wonder if I'd be killed by Zhang. I remembered the humiliation I'd felt when he tossed me aside after sex. He hated me. He hated sex. But he liked monsters.
p. 467: Women have only one reason for turning to prostitution. It's hatred for others, for the rest of the world. Not doubt this is incredibly sad, but then men have the capacity for countering such feelings in a woman. Still, if sex is the only way to dissolve these feelings, then men and women really are pathetic.
Utter brilliance. An angry social commentary on the elitism and misogyny embedded in Japanese society. Grotesque is categorized as a crime novel but I think it's written in too unconventional of a way to be considered that. I have to say that this is one of the bleakest and most pessimistic novels I've ever read. It's a great story to read over Christmas. :)
The ending was weak in comparison to the rest of the novel due to the decision by the American publisher to censor a part of the novel that involves underage male prostitution - a rather gross display of double standards, I have to say. (view spoiler)[Because this part has been omitted, the actions of the narrator (Yuriko's older sister) at the end do not make much sense. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a well-written crime novel. Takes place in some tiny town in Mississippi. I've never been to Miss. but the novel did evoke a pretty strong se...moreThis was a well-written crime novel. Takes place in some tiny town in Mississippi. I've never been to Miss. but the novel did evoke a pretty strong sense of setting. I'm not really sure if the comparisons to Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy etc. are merited but it was good. (less)