Lily Hayes is an American foreign exchange student in Buenos Aires. Five weeks into the semester her roommate Katy is murdered...moreActual rating: 3½ stars
Lily Hayes is an American foreign exchange student in Buenos Aires. Five weeks into the semester her roommate Katy is murdered in their host house and Lily is charged with the crime. But rather than wait for appropriate representation Lily treats her situation with casual disregard — speaking with the prosecutor without legal counsel and not in her native English, for instance — seemingly indifferent to the events happening around her as rumors of a love triangle between Lily, Katy, and the reclusive neighbor next door begin to surface.
Sound vaguely familiar?
While Cartwheel may be loosely based on the Amanda Knox story it's neither tabloidish nor fodder for TV pundits. Jennifer duBois has written an intelligent story that dives deep to explore layer after layer of character introspection: the naive father floundering in uncertainty; the prosecutor motivated by absolute certainty; the resentful sister; the enigmatic neighbor; the roommate Lily wishes she was more like. And Lily herself, pulled in endless directions of self-discovery.
Cartwheel is a story about the why we do the things we do, about how we decide what to believe and keep believing. If you're looking for a narrative that will keep forcing you to rethink your own behavior, you've found it: this book doesn't end until the very last line...and then begins again.(less)
"There are no coincidences. Only clues you've been too blind to see, doors you haven't found the key to open."
Claire DeWitt is the world's greatest pr...more"There are no coincidences. Only clues you've been too blind to see, doors you haven't found the key to open."
Claire DeWitt is the world's greatest private detective. We know this because she tells us so. It's in her blood, what she was born to do. Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina, Claire is hired to return to her old stomping grounds to find a local district attorney gone missing during the storm. New Orleans is currently in recovery mode; a slow, tormenting reminder of the Hell on Earth days after the levees broke.
Claire isn't without her own share of torment. Fueled by a past marred by the disappearance of her childhood best friend, the murder of her mentor, and an endless devotion to her craft, she is quick to notice that every corner she turns in this city brings what some would quickly dismiss as mere coincidence but what Claire is able to recognize as the most vital of clues to her investigation.
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a refreshing look at the private detective story done in an unconventionally modern way. Fans of the genre will want to grab a copy, roll the I Ching, and settle in for an unorthodox yet enjoyable investigation.(less)
Psychology professor Dr. Sheila Tao has been having a short-lived tryst with her teaching assistant Ethan. Now with her indiscretion weighing on her,...morePsychology professor Dr. Sheila Tao has been having a short-lived tryst with her teaching assistant Ethan. Now with her indiscretion weighing on her, newly-engaged Sheila must end the affair quickly and discreetly. But Ethan isn't kind to the idea of being let go and before long Sheila realizes just how much her poor decision-making is going to cost her.
I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of Jennifer Hillier prior to reading Creep. She definitely has a smart grasp on the suspense genre with a fresh style and I'm looking forward to reading her follow-up, Freak.(less)
Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police has been browbeaten into taking the assignment of the double murder of a well-to-do couple off the coast of...moreInspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police has been browbeaten into taking the assignment of the double murder of a well-to-do couple off the coast of Ghana. The investigation takes Dawson out of Accra and into the coastal city of Takoradi and a host potential suspects with a proverbial — and literal — ax to grind with the oil magnate victim.
As a Westerner what appealed to me about Murder at Cape Three Points was a detective story tossed into Ghanaian culture surrounded by local traditions, beliefs, and taboos, all of which fills the backdrop for Dawson's investigation. Although Kwei Quartey's narrative drags some in the beginning and there is a bit too much deus ex machina in some of Dawson's revelations, Murder at Cape Three Points is a nice police procedural set along the wonderfully depicted Ghanaian coastline.(less)
Being a private investigator isn't easy. And if you also happen to be a narcoleptic it's definitely no walk in the park. Because it's important for PI...moreBeing a private investigator isn't easy. And if you also happen to be a narcoleptic it's definitely no walk in the park. Because it's important for PI's to remember, y'know, details. This is Mark Genovich's life: a day-to-day routine of uncontrollable little sleeps, waking dreams, and all of South Boston looking at him like some broken puppet.
That may be why Mark doesn't balk when a client enters his office saying that her fingers were stolen (remember, this is South Boston). And the woman brings parting gifts in the form of racy photos that lead Mark on a hunt spanning back through his own childhood and before. Being tailed by Southie goons while trying figure out if the case he's on is legit or just a jumble of narcoleptic hallucinations, Mark needs to stay awake long enough to make sense of it all — and stay alive.
The Little Sleep is a fun read. Paul Tremblay writes honest dialog with witty, wry humor and doesn't compromise character integrity. Mark Genovich may be the saddest sap in all of Cape Cod, but he knows and he doesn't mind giving the world a big "Fuck you" for it, too. The Little Sleep is definitely worth your time.(less)
Something isn't right in Marta's life. Since her son moved out things are out of place. She's stopped taking her medication. He...moreActual rating: 3½ stars
Something isn't right in Marta's life. Since her son moved out things are out of place. She's stopped taking her medication. Her home doesn't feel like her own. Her husband Hector seems like a stranger. Now Marta is seeing things: flashes of images; a blonde girl who begs, "Please help me." Is any of it real or is Marta's mind beginning to break?
Emma Chapman may be a newcomer but she writes with the poise and insight of a suspense veteran. How To Be a Good Wife is quite enjoyable if not visually cold in description with Marta and Hector tucked away in the Scandinavian countryside. Chapman uses that blank-canvas-white setting to bolster the uneasiness Marta feels in her surroundings.
How To Be a Good Wife is quite reminiscent of S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep, where Marta's memories falter, leaving her afraid and uncertain of the life she's living. Overall the book is short but the story is a good one and could definitely have been expanded further. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this as a quick read.
— SPOILER — The ending itself has left me conflicted; the resolution seems overly ambiguous and quite debatable. However, as with the best of the genre, we can't always get the closure we seek in the stories that we enjoy; that, too, can be an element exploited by the best writers.(less)
Scam artists. We've all heard the horror stories: someone's life savings taken, identity stolen, their life in ruins. Well Serg...moreActual rating: 3½ stars
Scam artists. We've all heard the horror stories: someone's life savings taken, identity stolen, their life in ruins. Well Serge will have none of that. Florida may be turning to the scam capital of America it won't stop him from teaching these miscreants a little empathy.
Tiger Shrimp Tango, the latest in Tim Dorsey's series about socially-conscious killer and history buff Serge A. Storms, brings Dorsey's familiar style of oddball-ish satire laced with unsavory sycophants. As Serge works to take down a major con he digs deeper into an incident from two books prior where a previous love had been murdered. All the while he spares no opportunity (or expense) in dispensing the appropriate amount of psychotic, vigilante justice (read as: empathy) where he sees necessary.
As with the previous book in the series, Tiger Shrimp Tango is a little shorter than I would've preferred and where this is the sixth Serge book that I've read I'm finding some elements of predictability which I'm hoping won't become more apparent in the future.(less)
Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 was released in the fall of 2012 as part of the show's 25th anniversary. Trek insiders Paula...moreActual rating: 4½ stars
Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 was released in the fall of 2012 as part of the show's 25th anniversary. Trek insiders Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman cover how the series came into being, how it nearly didn't, the fate-like choosing of its cast, and the exhaustive process that goes into developing a weekly TV show — particularly one that already carried a huge fan following before it was even announced.
The book gives a special nod to the show's writers; after all, the character stories are what we all love(d) about TNG. Michael Piller's arrival at the start of the third season helped the show earn its sea legs and propel it to a level of success unmatched by any other Trek series. Piller took over the writing staff and implemented an open-door policy for scripts — meaning anyone could submit a story idea to the show — which was unheard of in TV, even today. It worked. Not only did the process generate fan favorites and some of the best storylines of the series, it gave rise to a new generation of writers and future TV producers such as Brannon Braga, René Echevarria, and Ronald D. Moore, among others.
365 is a large, hardcover book with over 700 pages of photos, "Did you know?"'s, and behind-the-scenes snapshots of each episode printed on professional-grade photographic paper. For any TNG fan, this book is a gold mine. Best Father's Day gift ever.(less)
Normally I have much to say about a book but, honestly, I'm just happy to be done with this one. I wanted to be able to find something positive about...moreNormally I have much to say about a book but, honestly, I'm just happy to be done with this one. I wanted to be able to find something positive about Amy MacKinnon's Tethered, something that bookphiles would find of interest and worth their while, but the story as a whole is just too weak. It's not at all a hard read at a little more than 250 pages but the real struggle was in holding my attention.
I took issue with much of how Tethered was carved out. The unrequited love interest and borderline soap opera-ish dialog gave it a made-for-TV movie vibe that quickly soured it for me. The improbable interactions between protagonist Clara Marsh and police detectives seemed completely unbelievable (e.g., the police consulting with Clara on their investigation strategy; waiting until Clara makes contact with little Trecie before deciding to canvass the neighborhood). The total lack of plausibility and inability to suspend disbelief just killed this story for me. And figuring out the ending ⅔ of the way through the book didn't help either. Sorry, but if you're looking for a mystery-crime book with some meat and not one that's proverbially emaciated, you're looking in the wrong place.(less)
What a fantastic book with an amazing opening line:
"How did it all begin? Well, I suppose it would be the day I rescued a newborn baby from a poisono
...moreWhat a fantastic book with an amazing opening line:
"How did it all begin? Well, I suppose it would be the day I rescued a newborn baby from a poisonous snake, heard the news of my mother's death and encountered my first ghost."
Veterinary surgeon Clara Benning prefers the company of animals to people. Following a snakebite death in her rural English village and the panic that quickly follows with more snake attacks, Clara begins to discover that none of it is by chance and stumbles on a 50-year-old mystery that's been kept tightly hidden within the village.
Awakening is a terrific tale of the sins of the past coming back to the surface in a haunting way. S.J. Bolton builds on a solid background and fills her story with smart dialog and plenty of fascinating snake-ology. Her style and sharp character insight reminded me very much of Tana French. I didn't want to put this book down — or for it to end.(less)
Thirteen-year-old Madison Spencer is newly arrived in Hell. And just what did young Madison do to earn eternal damnation? If yo...moreActual rating: 3½ stars
Thirteen-year-old Madison Spencer is newly arrived in Hell. And just what did young Madison do to earn eternal damnation? If you ask her it's because she overdosed on marijuana...or is overweight. Now before you say, "Wait, you can't—", hang on a minute; let's remember that Madison is only 13 and just now adjusting to her new existence. And if there's one thing that she'd very much like for all of us to know it's this: Hell ain't nuttin' like we've ever been taught.
Now armed with some newfound friends and a fresh, introspective view of her life, death, and life after death, Madison treks across Hell seeking a few pertinent answers. For starters, what the hell is she doing in Hell?
Terribly funny and often poignant, Damned presents readers with a nihilistic view of the afterlife below from the perspective of someone who for 13 years bought into — for the most part with a raised sardonic eyebrow — everything her Xanax-popping, Hollywood mother and billionaire father ever said about life and death. And don't let 13 fool you either if you think that such an age can't possibly offer a unique insight into why we foolishly go about desperately trying to avoid the inevitable. After all, Madison's the one who's dead.
Although Damned is a bit on the short side in terms of length it looks as though Chuck Palahniuk isn't finished with Miss Madison just yet, offering readers a nice To be continued... on the final page.(less)
Sepp Gregory is the reality TV flavor of the week and doing his best to stretch out his 15 minutes. Now he's written a best-selling autobiography that...moreSepp Gregory is the reality TV flavor of the week and doing his best to stretch out his 15 minutes. Now he's written a best-selling autobiography that's reaping praise from critics everywhere. That is except from blogger Harriet Post, a die-hard literary fanatic who considers reality TV to be responsible for the dumbing down of society.
When Sepp's book tour begins with critics gushing more over his abs then his prose Harriet has enough. After reluctantly giving Sepp's book a read she devises a straightforward plan: expose this Jersey Shore-esque clod for the sham he is and track down the stunningly brilliant talent who ghostwrote his book. Find him she does, and that's when Harriet's adventure really begins.
Raw has plenty of enjoyably offbeat and funny moments. I did feel the book was much too short and lacking in more memorable character moments — perhaps I was spoiled a bit too much by Mark Haskell Smith's previous book? Even so, Raw is entertaining as a nice break from reality. (My reality? Yours? Reality TV? All of the above!)(less)
I don't ordinarily go for pulp-ish, noir-style fiction but Fun and Games was recommended based on another book I'd read that I...moreActual rating: 2½ stars
I don't ordinarily go for pulp-ish, noir-style fiction but Fun and Games was recommended based on another book I'd read that I enjoyed greatly and an endorsing comment from Josh Bazel on the cover sold me.
Charlie Hardie is somewhat of a glorified house-sitter. His latest gig comes complete with a B-movie actress who keep telling Charlie that people are trying to kill her: the so-called "Accident People". What's a house-sitter to do? Of course, it doesn't hurt that Charlie once brought down a big "Fuck you!" on a gang of Albanian drug dealers, so maybe his B-movie actress/squatter lucked out after all?
While Fun and Games is sorely lacking in character development, if you're more into Tarantino-esque films with a few memorable quotes or where the traditional plot just spirals out of control into something completely unexpected, this may be a book you'd enjoy.(less)