Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Everything We Ever Wanted By Sara Shepard

Everything We Ever Wanted: A Novel
Goodreads Summary

Sara Shepard, the bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, delivers a powerful novel of family dreams, lies, and delusions.  Everything We Ever Wanted begins with a phone call with allegations that rock an upper crust Philadelphia family to its very foundations, unlocking years of secrets and scandals that expose the serious flaws in outwardly perfect lives. A moving, intelligent, and unforgettable novel, Shepard’s Everything We Ever Wanted is exceptional contemporary women’s fiction that will be embraced by book clubs everywhere.

My Thoughts
Sylvie Bates-McAllister is your typical rich matriarch. She comes from old money and serves on the board of the prestigious private school her grandfather helped to restore. She has two sons, Charles the uptight, responsible, possibly unhappily married son and Scott, the adopted, distant and troubled younger son.

When Slyvie learns that Scott, now a wrestling coach, has been implicated in a hazing scandal at the school that possibly led to a child's suicide, her world falls apart. This is where everything sort of fell apart for me. Instead of straight up asking her son for his part of the story, she dances around it, afraid of him or maybe afraid of hearing the truth. She drove me crazy! He's your kid, sure he's an adult but he's your son and he lives in your house. Just ask him!

Charles is no better. He had a blowout with his brother several years before and the two barely speak. Caught in the middle is Charles's new wife Joanne who is whiny and upset at being left out of the family drama. 

I couldn't find a single likable character in the whole bunch. They were all just moody, whiny and/or passive aggressive. They drove me nuts and I just couldn't get engaged in the story. The supposed scandal gets blown way out of proportion with just one phone call and before anyone has any details or even knows what is really going on. 

This entire family is severely dysfunctional. I'm OK with dysfunctional. I have experience with dysfunction. However, it's rather difficult to read about such dysfunction when there isn't a whole lot of resolution. The end comes on rather abruptly with one a few blurbs about where everyone ended up. I felt like we made a big mess with these people and then someone came up and suddenly swept it all away with little explanation. 

The book was well written but I just couldn't connect with the characters, the plot or really, the story itself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres

Goodreads Summary
“I love socialism, and I’m willing to die to bring it about, but if I did, I’d take a thousand with me.” —Jim Jones, September 6, 1975 In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. After Jones moved his church to Northern California in 1965, he became a major player in Northern California politics; he provided vital support in electing friendly political candidates to office, and they in turn offered him a protective shield that kept stories of abuse and fraud out of the papers. Even as Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers found it increasingly difficult to pull away from the church. By the time Jones relocated the Peoples Temple a final time to a remote jungle in Guyana and the U.S. Government decided to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late.

A Thousand Lives is the story of Jonestown as it has never been told before. New York Times bestselling author Julia Scheeres drew from thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together an unprecedented and compelling history of the doomed camp, focusing on the people who lived there. Her own experiences at an oppressive reform school in the Dominican Republic, detailed in her unforgettable debut memoir Jesus Land, gave her unusual insight into this story.

The people who built Jonestown wanted to forge a better life for themselves and their children. They sought to create a truly egalitarian society. In South America, however, they found themselves trapped in Jonestown and cut off from the outside world as their leader goaded them toward committing “revolutionary suicide” and deprived them of food, sleep, and hope. Yet even as Jones resorted to lies and psychological warfare, Jonestown residents fought for their community, struggling to maintain their gardens, their school, their families, and their grip on reality.

Vividly written and impossible to forget, A Thousand Lives is a story of blind loyalty and daring escapes, of corrupted ideals and senseless, haunting loss.

My Thoughts
Wow. I was born in the 80's so my knowledge of Jonestown was limited. I knew a bunch of people had committed mass suicide, and it was where the term 'drink the Kool-Aid' came from. A year or two ago, I caught the tail-end of a documentary about the group and it was horrifying. I couldn't understand why anyone, let alone over 1000 people would listen to anything this man had to say or uproot their lives to follow him into a jungle.

Reading this book gave me a lot of insight into how people succumb to groups such as this. Scheeres says right in the beginning that nobody joins a cult and it's true. These people didn't know exactly what they were getting into. In the beginnings of this church, Jones promised a color-blind, open-minded group that accepted and loved everyone equally. To be honest, some of their ideals would have definitely peaked my interest. Jones employed a whole host of smoke and mirrors to assert the fact that he was blessed with healing powers. That also drew people to the temple in droves.

Once part of the church, Jones and his goons made it almost impossible to leave. He had many convinced that he had super-natural powers and then promised harm would come to those who defected. He made members sign confessions stating that they'd molested their own children or other crimes which the church would hand over to police if they spoke out or left the church.

Then Jones got them all to follow him to Guyana in hopes of creating an ideal socialist community. What the found there was just short of hell. Under many different types of threats, the people became trapped in Jonestown as Jones himself spiraled into madness and began advocating mass 'revolutionary suicide' to his people.

This book explored all aspects of this case, not just the awful finale. It shows how certain people were drawn to the church and their reasons for staying. It was nice to get the whole story, though it does make the ending that much more heartbreaking.

I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking to delve deeper into the history of one of the biggest mass suicides in history.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Goodreads Summary
Over five years in the writing, Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel ever, a triumph of imagination and research set in ancient Israel.

The author of such iconic bestsellers as Illumination Night, Practical Magic, Fortune’s Daughter, and Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman is one of the most popular and memorable writers of her generation. Now, in The Dovekeepers, Hoffman delivers her most masterful work yet—one that draws on her passion for mythology, magic, and archaeology and her inimitable understanding of women.

In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic historical event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary, bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

This novel is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece.

My Thoughts
Wow! This book is a breathtaking story about four remarkable women in ancient Israel during the Roman siege on Masada where 900 Jews held off the Roman forces for months. The book begins with the story of Yael, a tough as nails young women whose mother died in childbirth and whose father resents her very existence because of it. I loved her for her strength, determination, and fierceness. I worried when the POV switched to another woman that I wouldn't connect as I had with Yael but I needn't have worried. 

Each of the four women have incredible stories of survival, love and loss which become interwoven as they come to work together taking care of the doves at Masada. This story is very heavily detailed though it's so beautifully written that it just flows like water. I took my time reading, savoring it like a delicious meal from the first word to the heartbreaking climax. 

Honestly, I can't say much more than to tell you to go pick this one up. It's a lengthy one but oh so worth every single page.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: All These Things That I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads Summary
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

My Thoughts
This was an interesting one. I loved Anya right away. She's tough and doesn't take crap from anyone as you'd expect a mob daughter to act but at the same time there is a vulnerability to her. Her family situation is precarious and she's all too aware of it. She's the glue that is holding her family together and the it's obvious that the stress is weighing on her but she copes the best she can.

Set in 2083, All These Things I've Done paints an interesting picture of the future. One where water usage is heavily regulated and coffee and chocolate are illegal drugs. The government is still intact but things aren't looking good. Crime is rampant and everything is in decline but Anya just plugs along, trying to keep her family together and deal with the stigma of how she is and what her family does. When everything hits the fan is when Anya reluctantly embraces who she is and her legacy.

Though the book could stand on its own, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series. I'm excited to see Anya take on her rightful role and see where that takes her.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent

The Traitor's Wife. Kathleen Kent
Goodreads Summary

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Traitor's Wife confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.

My Thoughts

Just before I started to read this, I'd been working on documenting my family's ancestry. It's a project I've worked on off and on for quite sometime. I'd just been going through my colonial ancestors the day before I picked this up so the subject matter drew me in immediately. I love history. My husband doesn't believe that because he tends to focus on the wars, impersonal details and technical advances part of history and I don't like that stuff. I prefer people. I love to learn about how people lived in the past. I love hearing their personal stories, how they survived, what they did and why they did it.

I was fascinated to learn that this story is based on real people. Martha Allen was a real person who was one of the nineteen women who were named as witches during the Salem witch trials and hanged as a result. This story doesn't cover that though. You'll have to read The Heretic's Daughter to read up on that part of her life. This story is set several years before and follows her meeting and courtship with Thomas Carrier, a Welshman with a dubious past.

I really enjoyed their romance. Sure, it was a little slow going but hey, they were Puritans. What do you expect? I thought they were very sweet and I loved that Martha wasn't afraid to speak her mind (though that probably didn't help her in the end). She's a woman after my own heart. I don't like to take other people's crap either. So, I related to her despite our 400 year old time difference.

I really enjoyed reading about this time in history. I think the last book I read in Colonial America was The Scarlet Letter. I think this one was much more engaging and easier to read.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads Summary

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.      Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

My Thoughts 

I'll admit, this cover pulled me in first. It's pretty. Elsewhere is a sweet story about life after life. I thought it was a new and interesting take on the afterlife. Liz Hall has a hard time adapting to life in Elsewhere and accepting the fact that she has died. Even harder is accepting the idea that she will continue to age there but in reverse. As a teenager, that's a huge setback. I remember thinking that I would NEVER turn 16, it was just taking sooooo long. Now, I think I would kill to be 16 again but that's besides the point. 

As she slowly begins to adapt to her new life, Liz is able to find happiness with her new friends and with the grandmother she'd never met in life. She also finds fulfillment in her work with dogs. The dogs in the book are just so cute.  Eventually, she finds peace and acceptance of her situation. 

The book is an easy and quick read. (I finished it in under a day) It mixes light-hearted moments with more serious ones. I did have quite a few questions regarding the world of Elsewhere that weren't covered but considering it's audience as a YA book, I could let that slide. I found it entertaining and enjoyable.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss
When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
-Synopsis from Goodreads

So Wren is a witch who knows nothing about being a witch because her mother won't talk to her about it. All of the women have the power but it's swept under the rug and no one talks about it. It's clear that Wren has never seen Practical Magic because when her boyfriend dies, she figures it's ok to bring him back from the dead. Listen up people, this always ends badly.

I did feel for Wren. I understand she was heart-broken and desperate to see her boyfriend Danny again. I get it. I've had people close to me die and I know what that feels like. But, honestly, what did she expect to happen afterwards? He can't go home, she can't take him to her house, he can't be seen by anyone. So what are you going to do?

My Boyfriend's BackIt was a sweet little story about lost love and all that but mostly I felt like I was watching a cheesy 80's/90's movie. Oh wait, that's been done. I don't know. Maybe I just don't get the appeal of the zombie boyfriend. Aren't zombies supposed be, like, gross?

I also felt that the new love interest was just a little bland. The whole thing happens too quick and it feels a little strained. Of course, he's trying to help her with her undead previous boyfriend so I imagine that will put a little strain on the relationship. I just think if you're so in love with someone that you're willing to bring them back from the dead, you probably won't be quick to lock lips with the new boy just because he has a pulse.

So, overall, it was alright. It was entertaining but I wasn't head over heels for it.

*Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Goodreads Summary
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.

My Thoughts 
The blurb on the book compared Juliet to a romantic Davinci Code and they weren't that far off. Julie Jacobs runs off to Siena, Italy after her aunt dies and leaves her a message letting her know that her inheritance is in a box in the Italian city and that her real name is actually Giulietta Tolomei. 

Once in Italy, Julie/Giulietta discovers that her family is embroiled in an old family feud and that she is a direct ancestor of the inspiration for Shakespeare's Juliet. Her mother has left her a box filled with writings and books as a treasure map of sorts and it's up to Julie/Giulietta to interpret the meanings all while being followed by mysterious men in tracksuits and on motorcycles. 

In between Julie's modern day chapters are chapters dedicated to retelling the story of the real Giulietta Tolomei and her Romeo Marescotti. Those chapters were especially beautiful and heartbreaking. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and both stories within it. There was a good mixture of romance, suspense, and mystery throughout.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

The Winters in Bloom: A Novel

Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, whom they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

Lyrical, wise, and witty, The Winters in Bloom is Lisa Tucker’s most optimistic work to date. This enchanting, life-affirming story will charm listeners and leave them full of wonder at the stubborn strength of the human heart.- Summary from Goodreads

My Thoughts
When I started this book it just seemed like a run of the mill kidnapping story where the overprotective parents turn their back for one second and the kid goes missing. As we get further into the story, the main characters back-stories begin to be peeled back layer by layer. David has an ex-wife who may or may not be responsible for their own sons death and Kyra has an estranged sister who wants to punish her for something we don't learn about until the last few chapters.

It's not until the back-stories come into play that the story really pulled me in. These characters are tragic and seem just relentlessly unhappy all the time which made them had to connect to. I have down days but I'm generally a happy person, David and Kyra are not.

So while I found the story to be interesting, I wasn't completely engrossed in it nor was I really invested in these characters lives. I've been very busy in real life as I read this so my distraction may have contributed to my lack of investment.

*Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
Goodreads Summary
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing. 

My Thoughts

I've heard quite a few great things about this book and I loved Oliver's Delirium but it took me some time to pick this one up. I'm so glad I finally did.

At first, I thought the hype was unwarranted. The first few chapters just felt like we were dealing with some snotty popular girls who were fairly unlikeable. As Sam starts to replay the last day of her life, everything changed. Oliver does a great job of showing the gradual changes that Sam makes as she begins to connect the dots from her behavior to the behavior and feelings of others. As she strives to change her way of thinking and her behavior, I fell more in love with her.

Her growth was slow enough to be frustrating but I felt that was fairly accurate with her being a spoiled teenage girl because, hey, they are a stubborn bunch. The portrayal of high school was scarily accurate. I'd never really been bullied and I sure wasn't popular but I still felt as though I'd been transported back 10 years to high school. Oliver writes beautifully, the words just flow like water down a stream and makes it so easy to get caught up in the story.

If you are one of the, what, 3 people who haven't read this book. Go do it now. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: The Legacy by Katherine Webb

The Legacy: A Novel
A fresh and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction, Katherine Webb debuts with a haunting novel about a secret family history. Already a sensation in the United Kingdom, Webb’s The Legacy is a treat for every fan of upmarket women’s fiction and literary suspense in the vein of bestselling authors Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, and Diane Setterfield. Taut, affecting, and surprising—a story that ranges from present-day England back to the American West in the early twentieth century—The Legacy embroils two sisters in an investigation into the strange, never solved disappearance of their cousin, a dark mystery that opened deep family wounds that never healed.- Synopsis from Goodreads

The Legacy centers on two sisters Beth and Erica who have jointly inherited their recently deceased grandmother's manor house. They return to the house to sort through the belongings and decide what they should do with the house. Sounds fantastic except that the home holds a rather unpleasant memory, one Beth has been trying to run away from and Erica has been trying to figure out.

While trying to sort out the demons in their own closet, Erica stumbles upon a mystery surrounding her great-grandmother Caroline who held onto a secret of her own. Chapters alternate between the sisters story in the present and Caroline's own story set in 1903. The language is beautiful. I found myself sucked right into the story, able to perfectly picture each and every setting.

I did connect more with Caroline's heart-wrenching story than I did with that of Beth and Erica. There was something in her that just made it a bit more compelling. Of course, both secrets come to the surface around the same time though I thought they would be more interconnected. Caroline's secret, while interesting for the sisters, held little to no real significance on their lives and had absolutely nothing to do with their own secret. It just made the stories a little disconnected for me. I would have liked to see them woven together a little more than just having Erica doing the detective work. Despite all that, it was still a good story and an entertaining read.A great representation of the way secrets and lies affect not just our lives but the lives of those around us.

*Disclaimer- I received a copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

The Stranger You Seek: A NovelGoodreads Summary

The papers have called me a monster. You’ve either concluded that I am a braggart as well as a sadist or that I have a deep and driving need to be caught and punished.  

In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer is pushing the city to its breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting, writing taunting letters to the media, promising more death. Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer before another victim meets a shattering end, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind: ex–FBI profiler Keye Street.

And you must certainly be wondering if I am, in fact, the stranger you seek.

Keye was a rising young star at the Bureau until addiction derailed her career and her life. Now sober and fighting to stay so, Keye picks up jobs where she can get them: catching adulterers, serving subpoenas, chasing down bailjumpers, and dodging the occasional bullet. With multiple victims, little to go on, and an entire police force looking for direction, the last thing Keye wants is to be pulled into the firestorm of Atlanta’s worst nightmare.

Shall I convince you?

And then it suddenly becomes clear that the hunter has become the hunted—and the stranger she seeks is far closer than she ever dared imagine.An electrifying thriller debut, The Stranger You Seek introduces a brash, flawed, and unforgettable heroine in a complex, twisting novel that takes readers deep into a sultry Southern summer, a city in the grips of chaos, and a harrowing cat-and-mouse game no reader will ever forget.

My Thoughts 

As someone who never really thought they were into thriller type novels, I found I've been reading and enjoying quite a few lately. The Stranger You Seek is is no exception. With the debut of a new detective series, Amanda Kyle Williams brings us the delightfully flawed but lovable Keye Street. 

Keye is a recovering alcoholic whose been fired from the FBI and now makes her living nabbing bail jumpers and serving court documents to difficult people. I thought she was fabulous from the start. She's tiny but tough and mouthy. I totally wanted to just hang out with her. 

When Keye's best friend Rauser calls her in to help him and the Atlanta PD track down a new serial killer, the actions ramps up. I had a hard time putting the book down at night when I needed to sleep because something new would come up and of course, I had to see how it played out. Williams is good at diverting your attention and making you believe you know who the killer is, then just as you begin to doubt it she slams you with a total curveball. I never saw the true identity of the killer coming. It was a total surprise. 

There was one small part near involving the resolution and revelation of the killer's identity that I didn't feel was explained enough and left me a little confused. It wasn't enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. It could possibly be that I simply misread something or accidentally skimmed an important paragraph in my hurry to read on and ensure that Keye was ok. 

Over all, I thought it was a fun and exciting ride. I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, even if you don't think you do. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Robopocalypse: A Novel

Daniel H. Wilson, the author of this book, has a doctorate in robotics from prestigious Carnegie Mellon and his writing credits include the nonfiction How to Survive A Robot Uprising and How to Build a Robot Army. That knowledge alone should activate your senses as you enter Robopocalypse, a realm where robots run free and humans flee skittering in many directions. Told with the unfolding menace of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this novel will keep you up late and your computer unplugged.- Synopsis from Goodreads
Robopocalypse is like a big summer blockbuster movie, which coincidentally it's in the process of becoming and has been given the honor of Steven Spielberg directing. That says a lot. It's highly entertaining, keeps you on the edge of your seat and waiting for more. I practically needed a bucket of popcorn on my lap as I read.

When explaining it to my husband I described it as a cross between Skynet from Terminator and I, Robot. In the near future, the human population is surrounded by robots. They have cars that talk to each other in order to avoid accidents, domestic robots to help out at home, military robots, etc etc. Then, as it always goes, one robot gets a little too smart for it's own good and decides that the humans aren't really necessary anymore. At what they call 'Zero Hour' all the world's robots snap and begin to rise against the humans. This is where all hell breaks loose.

The story starts at the end of the war where a group of humans have located what they call the black box of the war. It replays stories from the war, focusing on the small group of humans whose actions were deemed heroic and essential to the human resistance. The rest of the story is those scenes. Events leading up to and foreshadowing the coming war, during 'Zero Hour' and up through the end of the war. It's a great collection of people and will no doubt make a compelling ensemble action movie.

The book read quickly as I found myself sucked into the story. It felt like it was written as a movie and I could see the entire thing play out in my head. It's not perfect but it sure was entertaining as hell and I'm eagerly awaiting casting news for the movie. With Spielberg at the helm, I have no doubt the movie will be just as entertaining.

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