Yay, more of Gillian Flynn's completely fucked up characters! I actually felt more sorry for Libby than actively hating her, though. Sure, she's kindYay, more of Gillian Flynn's completely fucked up characters! I actually felt more sorry for Libby than actively hating her, though. Sure, she's kind of a horrible and useless human being but her whole life is so pathetic that I almost had to admire her overarching selfishness.
This is one of those good, long, drawn-out mysteries, where you get a tiny tidbit of clue that then obliterates what you thought you knew about the case beforehand. Two steps forward, one steps back. I love mysteries and thrillers like that, but if you like neater stories you might not like this one. I didn't find it nearly as gripping as Gone Girl, though I'm not exactly sure why. I'm not sure the characters were as developed here, or maybe they just didn't read as true to me--which is kind of a strange thing to say, when the characters in Gone Girl were so over the top--but sometimes I didn't buy their actions and decisions. I also found certain elements a little predictable. While this one definitely had some good twists, it wasn't a sucker punch every chapter....more
This was my first Lord Peter Wimsey story--I've been meaning to read more classic mysteries--and though maybe I should have started at the beginning oThis was my first Lord Peter Wimsey story--I've been meaning to read more classic mysteries--and though maybe I should have started at the beginning of the series with Whose Body?, I still enjoyed this one. I completely understand why Sayers has so many fans: the plot was clever, with witty little asides, and it's just so very British. Like many literary detectives, Lord Peter is a bit eccentric and maybe things come to him a little too easily at times, but he's a fun character.
This particular mystery takes place at an advertising firm, which gives Sayers tons of opportunities for wry social commentary in the form of marketing quips. It's a little like what I imagine Mad Men to be, though I only saw the first episode, and of course it's set in a different time period.
I definitely plan on picking up some more in this series....more
I actually may have liked this even better than the first book, In the Woods. The concept is absolutely ludicrous (a college student who looks exactlyI actually may have liked this even better than the first book, In the Woods. The concept is absolutely ludicrous (a college student who looks exactly like Detective Cassie Maddox is murdered, and what's more she's using the name Cassie went by when she was undercover years ago, so Cassie goes undercover again, this time as the dead college student, fooling all her super close housemates and professors and advisors.) WTF? Somehow it works.
Bleak, depressing, and incredibly suspenseful.
Anyway, I'm totally into this series now and can't wait to read the next book....more
I feel like every Gillian Flynn book I read has even more fucked-up characters than the last. Except the first one I tackled was her most recent, GoneI feel like every Gillian Flynn book I read has even more fucked-up characters than the last. Except the first one I tackled was her most recent, Gone Girl, and finished up with this one (her debut), so maybe it's actually the opposite. In any case, Sharp Objects was totally horrifying and I loved every minute of it.
I did suspect the killer fairly early on, but then I kept rethinking my suspicion so that didn't detract from the book or make it any less suspenseful. As with Flynn's other books, I found this one totally riveting.
Trigger warning for cutting, though I actually didn't find it as triggering as I expected from the description. Still, I try to warn about these things in case others are more sensitive....more
Apparently I'm on a trashy paranormal kick this week. Don't judge me.
I watched the first couple seasons of True Blood on HBO, but then lost interest -Apparently I'm on a trashy paranormal kick this week. Don't judge me.
I watched the first couple seasons of True Blood on HBO, but then lost interest - not because there was anything wrong with the show, but because I've never gotten the hang of watching shows faithfully. I always forget what night or time they're on and then if I miss one episode I need to catch a re-run before next week, cause I can't stand to watch things unless they're in sequential order. Invariably I end up missing episodes and not getting a chance to catch up and then I give up on the whole season entirely. I always say I'll go rent the DVDs and catch up, but it never seems to happen. So yeah, that's my True Blood history, in a nutshell.
Anyway, the library has this whole series on Kindle and I figured I should see what the source material was like. Guess what? It's pretty much exactly like the tv show. Super guilty pleasure, with awful, trite dialogue and steamy sex scenes. There are some differences: some local police officers that basically serve no purpose are in the book in addition to the sheriff, Lafayette is unfortunately a much smaller character, and Tara doesn't even make an appearance (in Book 1 at least; I can't speak for the rest of the series). But Bill's possessiveness is just as infuriating and Sookie is just as annoyingly naive. Her fashion sense is even worse, though - honey, banana clips and scrunchies just aren't sexy.
In all honesty, I should probably hate this, but I just can't. It's total brain candy. And I'll probably even -GASP!- read the rest of them....more
**This review may contain some slight spoilers, because I don't know how to write about this book without hinting at some things. You've been warned.***This review may contain some slight spoilers, because I don't know how to write about this book without hinting at some things. You've been warned.**
I have so many questions!
So this is ostensibly a murder mystery, sort of, but it's unlike anything remotely related to that genre that I've ever read. First of all, it doesn't get mysterious at all until after the first hundred or so pages, and no one dies until over halfway through. It's more of a coming-of-age story with some awesome conspiracy elements, or possibly the ravings of a delusional, grieving teenager with an overactive imagination. You pick!
Another thing that makes this different is the lack of conclusion. Unlike most whodunits, here we never actually find out who dun it. There are probably as many red herrings as real clues, and the case is never wrapped up in a tidy bow. For every answer we get, there are a dozen more questions. It should be immensely frustrating, but somehow it isn't. Usually an ending like this would tempt me to throw a book across the room, but I felt strangely satisfied after turning the last page. I don't know. Writing a novel this unique, when so much literature is so formulaic these days, must have been super risky, but something about it just works.
I also totally want to read all the books that the chapter titles are named after now, as well as all the other works alluded to. It's a loooong list!...more
I don't know how Agatha Christie constantly manages to fool me--I spend the whole book suspecting everyone except the actual culprit.
I've read a couplI don't know how Agatha Christie constantly manages to fool me--I spend the whole book suspecting everyone except the actual culprit.
I've read a couple of Hercule Poirot mysteries, but I figured I should go back to the beginning. This first case didn't disappoint, and if you typically like Agatha Christie you'll like this one. Yes, Poirot's eccentricities often cross the line from endearing to obnoxious. Yes, the relationship between Poirot and Hastings is a formulaic knockoff of that of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. And yes, the twisty plots, constant red herrings, and subsequent grand reveal can be extremely contrived. I still love them when I'm looking for light reading....more
This book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a lockedThis book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a locked planet mystery, if you will. Fourteen people are reassigned to a small settlement on a planet known as Delmak-O without being told why or what their mission is. Pretty soon, they start dropping like flies. And because it's PKD, it gets a little weird after that.
This is definitely one of Dick's philosophy/religious exploration novels, so it's a bit trippy as you'd expect, but still pretty lighthearted and entertaining. I really liked it. One thing I thought was hilarious is that in the table of contents, each chapter is titled -- for instance, "8: Glen Belsnor ignores the warnings of his parents and embarks on a bold sea adventure" or "13: In an unfamiliar train station Betty Jo Berm loses a precious piece of luggage", but none of these have anything to do with the story. There aren't even any train stations or bold sea adventures in the book. And that is why I love Philip K. Dick.
Sidenote: Fairly early in the book, there is a line that made me sit up straight because it was so familiar: "One day," Babble said, "your pills are going to hatch, and some strange birds are going to emerge." I finally realized this is extremely similar to the only lyrics in the Coil song Strange Birds, which goes "One day, your eggs are going to hatch and some very strange birds are going to emerge." Coincidence or not?...more
After recently enjoying Beukes' other novel, Moxyland, I decided to pick this one up. Wow. It's very different, but just as wonderful, maybe even moreAfter recently enjoying Beukes' other novel, Moxyland, I decided to pick this one up. Wow. It's very different, but just as wonderful, maybe even more so.
Set in a dystopian-fantasy version of South Africa where traditional African culture and magic mingle with modern technology, the story follows Zinzi December, ex-con turned small-time private eye. You see, part of what makes this world different is in addition to jail time, violent criminals are "animalled" -- a physical manifestion of their guilt becomes their companion, along with some type of magical power. Pretty fair trade off, I think, though it kind of sucks that having an animal is a pretty obvious stigma and "zoos" are seriously disadvantaged in society. Zinzi's animal is a sloth, and her power is the ability to find lost things, tracing intangible threads from their owners. Unfortunately, finding the occasional set of keys for old ladies isn't enough to pay off her massive drug debt (oh yeah, she also used to be a junkie), so she's been roped into writing 419 scams for some shady folks. Until she gets roped into solving a missing persons case for some even shadier folks.
At its core, this is really a pretty simple mystery story - urban fantasy with some noir elements - but it's executed brilliantly. There are tons of quotable passages and lots of clever quips from Zinzi, who is a totally kick-ass heroine. I wish Beukes had elaborated on some parts, though, especially Zinzi's backstory: I wanted to hear more about how she got her brother killed (this isn't really a spoiler, it's mentioned quite early in the book), her Former Life as a journalist, and her time in jail. I would have also liked some clarification on Hell's Undertow. Maybe this is a book that actually needs a sequel?
Anyway, I hear it's been optioned for a film, so if you're one of those people that likes to read the book first, get on it.
Note on the Kindle version: This had some formatting issues, mostly random line breaks and the occasional lack of space between two words. It didn't affect readability or my enjoyment of the book, but did jar me from the text a few times. YMMV....more
It's been a while since I've read a good mystery, and I really enjoyed this one. The case is anything but straightforward and there's a nice twisty plIt's been a while since I've read a good mystery, and I really enjoyed this one. The case is anything but straightforward and there's a nice twisty plot. I also found French's writing really beautiful and there was a surprising realness to it. The characters' actions and dialogue were very authentic, especially Ryan's inner monologue and chatty little asides. I found it very refreshing, though occasionally I wanted him to stop going on tangents and get back to solving the damn mystery!
I want to talk a little bit about ending, so here be spoilers:
(view spoiler)[I loved Ryan and Cassie's relationship, so that just made me even more irritated when Ryan turns into a giant self-obsessed dickface just after the halfway point. He had seemed like such an admirable person, the only one on the force who accepted Cassie as "one of the guys" even though she was a woman, and then goes and turns into a walking chauvinist cliche by sleeping with a girl and then completely ignoring her afterwards? Are you serious? He seems somewhat aware of how much of a jerk he's being so maybe that makes it a little better, but that shit really rubs me the wrong way. I guess I'll have to wait and see if he redeems himself in the next book. I'd assume he and Cassie reconcile, since I can only imagine they're back to being partners in the next book.
I had suspected Rosalind from fairly early on, and it drove me crazy that Ryan was in such denial about her. The fact that she got away with her crimes was frustrating--I wanted that psycho bitch to get what she deserved!--but I'll generally take a complicated, haunting ending over a neat happy one any day, so I have to give French some props. A lot of authors would have pulled some evidence out of their ass to convict her and wrap the whole story up tidily, so I kind of admire that she had the guts to leave things that way. Ditto on Ryan's childhood mystery--I totally thought the cases would be connected and we would have the whole disappearance solved in the end, so the fact that it wasn't was supremely irritating, but I liked the unexpectedness of leaving it up in the air. I guess there's always room for that mystery to be solved in a subsequent book. (hide spoiler)]
So, certain personalities aside, I liked this a lot and will be reading the rest of the series--sooner rather than later.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I recently saw the first episode of the BBC series Sherlock, a modern interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle's work. Having thoroughly enjoyed it (not tI recently saw the first episode of the BBC series Sherlock, a modern interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle's work. Having thoroughly enjoyed it (not to mention drooling over Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role), I realized I had never read any of these classic stories and decided to rectify that. So I started at the beginning.
Yeah, Sherlock Holmes is kind of an asshole. But he's a charismatic asshole. I really enjoyed Watson's descriptions of his eccentricities and mannerisms as they met and got to know each other. The mystery itself was slightly spoiled for me since the TV episode I saw borrowed from it heavily, but it was still good fun and highly original, with a number of twists and red herrings.
I listened to this one on audio and I think that was a good choice. The narrator, Simon Prebble, had pleasant intonation and was very British. The bonus story on my audio edition, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, was also pretty good....more
Time travel makes my head hurt in the most wonderful way.
This isn't a direct sequel to Doomsday Book, it merely takes place in the same universe and sTime travel makes my head hurt in the most wonderful way.
This isn't a direct sequel to Doomsday Book, it merely takes place in the same universe and shares a couple of minor characters. The tones of the two books are actually quite different, and this installment is much more lighthearted and humorous. It's a bit of an homage to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, a book which I have always meant to read but never quite gotten around to, though I feel quite inspired to pick it up now. There are also numerous references to P.G Wodehouse's Jeeves series and the classic mystery novels of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. It helps to have at least a passing knowledge of these works, but it really isn't necessary to the enjoyment of the story.
I'm still not completely sure what the bishop's bird stump is, but at least I learned all about penwipers....more
I'm kind of lukewarm on this one. My dad read it when it first came out and loved it, and I've been meaning to read it ever since. Then several otherI'm kind of lukewarm on this one. My dad read it when it first came out and loved it, and I've been meaning to read it ever since. Then several other friends recommended it as well, but I think they oversold it.
The story is certainly inspired. I love alternate history novels but there aren't too many of them out there, and the majority that I've come across have been of the "Nazis won the war" variety, which this is a nice variation on. Still, I found it lacking. The plot was a bit hard to follow at times (or maybe I'm just dense), and I found the conclusion to the mystery extremely underwhelming. Maybe I would have appreciated this novel more if I were more in touch with my Jewish culture and heritage, or if I cared at all about chess. Still, I loved the flavor of the story -- I mean, there are Chasidic mobsters! Chabon's use of Yiddish words to enhance the text is done very well, and has inspired me to learn more Yiddish. (My grandfather would be so proud.)