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Monthly "Reads" > Barry's Steamy July

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message 1: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2960 comments Undone: Karin Slaughter
When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you.Friedrich Nietzsche
Yes, Undone is the Abyss, and with flawed characters, echoes of past novels, and the countless pieces of baggage each of the characters drags around perhaps telling us a tale of our own flawed existence, the abyss is looking back at you. Slaughter is never for the faint of heart, and maybe more so this time as we see so many people being treated so badly. Sara Linton is back, more than 3 years since the ending of the last book, and is joined by SA Will Trent, the dyslexic cop, and his near hysterical partner Faith. Slaughter balances the 3 characters well, and uses this book in what seems a springboard to the next. Another strength is that Lena is not in the book at all. (A-)

The Rabbit Factory: Marshall Karp
I had really hoped that the Slaughter would be my best book so far this year, but a few little quibbles held it short. Not so for the Rabbit Factory. This is the best book so far, and I will read more Karp. At any given moment, the book could be entertaining or poignant, while embracing a solid mystery in good humor. The set-up helped, a Disney like empire, where the first murder is of a pedophile rabbit. No place to go but up from there. (A)

Plea of Insanity: Jillian Hoffman
I've always felt her books started strong, but ultimately, she jumped off a cliff (in a literary sense). I was quite pleased for nearly 200 pages, thinking that she had good devices, good characters and a good story line. I never looked out the window and noticed the yawning chasm next to me, but it was there, and sure enough, the story veered in that direction. In fairness, I have read worse books, and this is quite readable, but Hoffman remains an author full of promise, not one in her prime. (B-)

Dark Places: Gillian Flynn
Any of us who read Sharp Objects know we are dealing with a lady here who has some strange things going on in her head. In this book, her m/c is the survivor of a murder of most of her family when she was 7. Her brother is in prison, and has been for 25 years, as the purported killer. Her drunk father is living somewhere, and a club of obsessed mystery solvers want to prove her brother innocent. Libby, the m/c, does not particularly believe them, but she is running out of money, and thins she can scam them out of enough to go on. So Libby spirals through life, Flynn drags us along for an uncomfortable ride. (B+)

Finger Lickin Fifteen: Janet Evanovitch
I've stopped buying these, but when they fall into my hands, I will sure enough read them. I have to admit, this was funny. The story revolves around a threat to Ranger, which he calls on Stephanie to help with, and a threat to Lula, which provides the majority of the comic relief. (B)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
A reread, but after seeing the movie, I needed to reacquaint myself with where the story goes. (A-)

Below Zero: CJ Box
Box might have tarnished his reputation a bit with the last stand alone, so he goes somewhat back to roots in Below Zero, a Joe Pickett novel, involving the family and friends we know. The story is not bad, the twists interesting, the ending somewhat telegraphed, all the elemets that get a book at least to a 'B'. The distinguishing characteristic that was missing in this book though is the quest by Joe to find his moral compass. Efforts are made, but he did not seem to be doubtinghis thoughts and methods near as much as before. (B)

Dead or Alive: Michael Mcgarrity
I gather this was supposed to be the "comeback" novel, an arresting of the slide in quality in McGarrity's last few novels. I, for one, enjoyed the last few books, even if they sacrificed some action to get in to his live and personal development. This must have been the criticism that McGarrity heard, because he gives us a real bad guy, lots of violence, lots of action, and not just a car chase, and not jst a foot chase, but a horse chase too. I'm not realy sure he gave us a better book though. (B)

Stone Cold: David Baldacci
A Camel Club book. This one is certainly the work of a mature series, but I am not sure I really love the Camel Club. Baldacci always seemed strongest to me in his stand alones. Trust is certainly thematic here, but the club itself reminds me too much of the gang of misfits that helped Mulder and Scully in X-files. (B)

Diamondhead: Patrick Robinson
Maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to any author that comes to New London to discuss is books as Patrick did. He looked just like his picture on the book, and was no different than I imagined him to be from his writing. This might not be a particularly good thing.
Every decade or so, somebody feels they need to rewrite day of the Jackal. But hard to beat the original N'est pas? None the less, our SEAL hero, wronged by the government in his eyes (I'll leave that judgment to you) feels the need to take a contract to kill a French Gaullest presidential candidate, as well as a number of other people. As Schwarzenegger said in True Lies <> "They were all bad". So among my problems with the book, there was the idea that the assassin was a 'good' guy, and a technical issue where Patrick uses a Sidewinder missile as a ground attack missile. A more general complaint is that his politics interfere with the book. I don;t think he can conceive that somebody might disagree with his stance, or if they do, they must be wrong.
I will give the devil his due though. This is billed as a novel of suspense, and vast stretches of the book will leave you on the edge of your seat. One review I read called this a beach book. With the technical and character flaws that would interfere with serious reading, I have to agree. (B)

Remembering Sarah: Chris Mooney
On the face f it, a story about a man that does not give up when his 6 year old daughter is snatched. The book began that way, it ended that way, and in the middle, maybe a few more things happened that caused the man to reexamine his other relationships. Maybe there were a few loose ends, and maybe it dragged on a bit more than it needed to, but in the end, it was not so bad. (B)

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson
It only took me a couple months of part time reading to get through this, but I was rewarded with enough pages to bring my "average page count" for the year back over 350. I know such a statistic should only be an indicator of fact, but knowing the fact as it develops is just too great a temptation to alter it by reading longer books to keep the count up. Bryson's book itself takes difficult (or boring) material and presents it in a way that makes it fun to read. This has always been a great strength of his, and continues in this volume. He picks and chooses which of the sciences he will discuss, and and if one area is more of a concentration, it would be the origins of life. (B)

Wall of Brass: Robert Daley
A senior cop solving a high profile murder in New York. This is an older book, perhaps standards have gone up. (C+)


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14285 comments Nice month Barry!
I agree with you that statistics can help steer us down a path to read a few more books or a few more gig fat books to meet out yearly goals, and in the reading we often find jewels.
It is killing me to not be able to read the posts about Undone yet, and to barely read your comments. I am not sure that I can wait for my turn at the library, it is taking way too long.
I am currently reading Dark Places A Novelwith a bit of lackluster enthusiasm, and your review doesn't encourage me to keep picking it up...

Barry wrote: " A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson
It only took me a couple months of part time reading to get through this, but I was rewarded with enough pages to bring my "average page count" for the year back over 350. I know such a statistic should only be an indicator of fact, but knowing the fact as it develops is just too great a temptation to alter it by reading longer books to keep the count up."





message 3: by Sherry (new)

Sherry  | 3587 comments
Remembering Sarah: Chris Mooney
On the face f it, a story about a man that does not give up when his 6 year old daughter is snatched. The book began that way, it ended that way, and in the middle, maybe a few more things happened that caused the man to reexamine his other relationships. Maybe there were a few loose ends, and maybe it dragged on a bit more than it needed to, but in the end, it was not so bad. (B)


a few years ago i was at a harlan signing at the boston borders and was browsing the shelves before hand. chris mooney happened to be in the same shelf and handed me a copy of remembering sarah, then signed it for me . i felt the same way you did about it.


message 4: by Marcy (new)

Marcy | 865 comments I read The Rabbit Factory when it first came out and remember being surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Somehow I forgot to put Karp on my author-radar.




message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14285 comments Sherry:
How fun to meet an author in the stacks of a bookstore! (and then to get a personal autograph!)

Sherry wrote: "a few years ago i was at a harlan signing at the boston borders and was browsing the shelves before hand. chris mooney happened to be in the same shelf and handed me a copy of remembering sarah, then signed it for me . i felt the same way you did about it. "




message 6: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2960 comments The local UBS had both of Karp's other books. A friend snapped them up before pointing that out, but I will see them soon.


message 7: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 1189 comments >>The Rabbit Factory: Marshall Karp
I had really hoped that the Slaughter would be my best book so far this year, but a few little quibbles held it short. Not so for the Rabbit Factory. This is the best book so far, and I will read more Karp.<<

>>I read The Rabbit Factory when it first came out and remember being surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Somehow I forgot to put Karp on my author-radar. <<

I've always seen good reviews for The Rabbit Factory on various web sites but have been put off by the page count. Will put it on my TBR and give it a try now since you guys have rated it so highly.


message 8: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2960 comments He runs multiple story lines, like a procedural would, but this is no procedural. I felt he could have dropped one of the lines and made it a 350 page bok, but I am nt complaining about the result.


message 9: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7808 comments An entertaining report, as always, Barry.

I saw The Half-Blood Prince yesterday at the local Imax theater, and am longing to reread the series. The movies are good but necessarily way condensed, and I'm always left with the images of subplots excised when I leave the theater.


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14285 comments Carol:
I bet IMAX is the way to go! A friend at work waited for that version's release and enjoyed it last weekend.

Carol/Bonadie wrote: "I saw The Half-Blood Prince yesterday at the local Imax theater, and am longing to reread the series. The movies are good but necessarily way condensed, and I'm always left with the images of subplots excised when I leave the theater. "




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