Review: The Silent Girl – Tess Gerritsen

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Rizzoli & Isles #9

SYNOPSIS: Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning—and a swift, avenging blade. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Well, rereading this book, I enjoyed it far more than I did the first time. The first time I read it, it was just okay. Now it was actually a fair and decent read. There was a chunk of Chinese culture woven through it, and it was done well for the novel. I feel that the balance between Maura and Jane was not quite equal in this one, what with some serious things happening with Maura, and then having those skipped over for the main story here. It just didn’t flow well, but I was also somewhat relieved that I would not have to read her melodramatic internal thoughts again. Sometimes she is just too much. The last novel worked really well, but sometimes she is just way too whiny. Frost got some more time here, which was great, but I really wish we got more of Gabriel Dean in the stories. He’s an awesome character that I find grossly underused. The Silent Girl touches on quite a few topics, a lot of them serious. Love, family, loyalty, honour, memories, justice, vengeance. Overall, I feel that the themes are balanced quite well, which is lovely. I would loved to have read more about Julian, but alas, this was not the novel for it. I am not a big fan of the chapters that skipped to a first person point of view (Iris Fang’s perspective), it was jarring every single time it flipped back to that, but still. I enjoyed the addition of latest detective, Johnny Tam, and how he reminds Jane so much of herself in her youth, her tenacity and spirit. The plot progressed in a manner that revealed just enough at specific times, and at times, things were a little predictable, whereas others, twists were implemented with finesse. What I really liked about this were the vigilantes that were brought into the story. They were strong characters, though shrouded in shadow and mystery. They had an hononur and integrity (not necessarily mentioned, but the actions told a whole story). This series is well worth a read, ups and downs and all. While not as gripping as the last entry, this is still well worth a look see, with a tight plot that barrels along at the speed of light and characters that have become so familiar to us, The Silent Girl carries itself well.

Review: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

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Me Before You #1

SYNOPSIS: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time. – via IMDB

GRADE 7.5Alrighty, so I read this at the behest of Bestie Natasha, while in my reading slump. I must say, when I started this I was relatively annoyed because “I” never got any real descriptions, it was just telling what “I” did for work, etc. and took forever to get to the fact that “I” was actually a girl, so then I could actually start building a character. Me Before You also has a very slow start, and takes a while to get into anything, but when it starts catching, starts moving on, it is worth having stuck around for. Louisa was such an insipid creature in the beginning – lacked confidence, was flat and uninspiring, lived in a closed off, small world. Yet throughout the novel, that girl becomes something else completely. The initial relationship between her and Will is painful to read through. I get where Will is coming from, brusque as he is and all, and I was pleased as punch when Louisa found it within herself and pushed back at Will when he was being a twit. I liked how that was the game changer between them, and loved the friendship that grew from there. There were a few moments in the book that were truly so beautiful to me (specifically referring to the tights here, as well as the silly thank you letter Lou read on the bus). I was not a fan of the relationship between Patrick and Louisa, the guy was such a totally self-centred jackass, and yet she stuck with him because it is all she knew, and she had no confidence. Sad, when that is your life. I also felt for Louisa due to her home situation – definitely not an easy one, and definitely one that will crush the light out of a person and their dreams if they are not willing to fight it. I am not big on romance novels (this you all know), but this one wasn’t just about the romance. This highlighted life. It highlighted experiences. It spoke of the past, the present, the future, and what you choose to let define you. I thought it was a solid read, and something I may very well look into again. SPOILER: I really loved the way this ended. It was shattering, but it was the ending I was hoping (and totally not hoping) for – it was realistic. I was not going to buy into a character like Will deciding at the last moment not to kill himself, to change his mind simply because he loved Lou. I know that sounds so cold, but it is true. It would have been totally against character. The whole concept of assisted suicide is sticky, and I am glad the author went with this, because she looked at it from both sides, which was worth it. I think this book also really looked at how choices are to be made by people, and that, as difficult as they may be, other people need to accept that certain choices are up to certain people. If you haven’t read this, well worth looking into it. There was humour and drama and everything you could possibly think of. I liked this one way more than I was expecting to.

Review: Dreaming of Antigone – Robin Bridges

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dreaming of antigone cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: “I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5I picked this up because it was recommended to me if I like John Green. So I checked it out, expecting something more like his work, and got Dreaming of Antigone, which I would not say is the not quite the same. Definitely a young adult novel, that’s for sure, and had me thinking “teenagers” more often than not due to numerous different incidents. I think the primary one was the falling in love in like, two days, like. I am not saying that in a derogatory sense, just stating that this book distinctly highlights the thinking pattern of kids. That was just a bit crazy. Not because it has never been seen before in a movie/novel, but because of the history shared by Andria and Alex. It’s rough, supposedly, and if that were real life, it would have been super hectic. The book tries to touch on exceptionally heavy themes, like drug addiction, guilt, medical conditions, resentment, dealing with loss, suicide, etc. but just didn’t handle these themes with as much finesse as it hoped to, and it actually quite soft about the issues, if we are being honest. It felt like they had been glossed over, more than anything. The characters are flat and the story is very, very predictable, which is a bit of a disappointment. Andria is not a character that I liked at all, she just seemed too detached from everything that was going on around her, and the whole thing with Alex was just a bit weird because it all went down so fast. As I said, they have some heavy history that seems to just disappear in a heartbeat, or a few lines of poetry. This was the type of relationship that was a bit sketchy to start with, and the rush job did nothing to make it seem more okay. Despite these drawbacks, the novel is a quick read and flows well, but definitely is not the story it could have been. It didn’t pack an emotional punch, and does not stand out after the fact at all. It did not get me thinking about anything, either, which is what I would have expected from a book dealing with the issues that this one touched on. I don’t know, maybe I am just harder to please, what with not being sixteen anymore and all that.

Completed Book Challenge 2015

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And so my fifty new books for 2015 have been completed, and I will most certainly be undertaking the task once again for 2016, it is so great to explore new novels. I still have a few recommendations that I got from fellow readers and followers, and I will get to them. However, any new suggestions are, of course, always welcome!

Thank you all very much. Without further ado, here is a list of the books that I read in 2015, as well as links to their reviews.

1. Level 26: Dark Origins (Level 26 #1) – Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski

2. The Witness – Nora Roberts

3. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) – James Dashner

4. Twilight (Twilight #1) – Stephenie Meyer

5. New Moon (Twilight #2) – Stephenie Meyer (The most fun I have ever had writing a book review)

6. Eclipse (Twilight #3) – Stephenie Meyer

7. Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4) – Stephenie Meyer

8. The Surgeon (Rizzoli & Isles #1) – Tess Gerritsen

9. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

10. The Witch Of Painted Sorrows – MJ Rose

11. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

12. Sacred (Kenzie & Gennaro #3) – Dennis Lehane

13. The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Isles #2) – Tess Gerritsen

14. The Search – Nora Roberts

15. Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & Gennaro #4) – Dennis Lehane

16. NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

17. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

18. The Sinner – Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles #3)

19. Rememberers (Rememberers #1) – C Edward Baldwin

20. Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) – Elizabeth Wein

21. Blue Smoke – Nora Roberts

22. Mafia: The History of the Mob – Nigel Cawthorne

23. White Crocodile – K.T. Medina

24. River’s End – Nora Roberts

25. Thirteen Days of Midnight – Leo Hunt

26. Body Double (Rizzoli & Isles #4) – Tess Gerritsen

27. Naked In Death (In Death #1) – J.D. Robb

28. Swerve – Vicki Pettersson

29. The Child Garden – Catriona McPherson

30. Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) – Linda Castillo

31. The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) – Graeme Simsion

32. Carolina Moon – Nora Roberts

32. Interview With The Vampire (Vampire Chronicles #1) – Anne Rice

33. Level 26: Dark Prophecy (Level 26#2) – Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski

34. High Noon – Nora Roberts

35. Level 26: Dark Revelations (Level 26 #3) – Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski

36. Glory In Death (In Death #2) – J.D. Robb

37. Abandon – Blake Crouch

38. The Faithful – S.M. Freedman

39. 20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill

40. Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter #3) – Thomas Harris

41. The Last Victim – Jordan Dane

42. Dead Ringer – Jessie Rosen

43. Playing With Fire – Tess Gerritsen

44. Now That She’s Gone (Waterman & Stark #2) – Gregg Olsen

45. Vanish (Rizzoli & Isles #5) – Tess Gerritsen

46. Time To Die (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller #2) – Caroline Mitchell

47. Sandcastle and Other Stories – Justin Bog

48. The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) – Tess Gerritsen

49. The Funhouse – Dean Koontz

50. Keeping The Dead (Rizzoli & Isles #7) – Tess Gerritsen

Book Challenge 2015

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book challenge

Yep, really looks like this will be a never-ending series! I know I just finished posting for last year, and I know I said that I was only going to be able to do thirty and ended up doing fifty last year, but this year I don’t know if I can hit fifty – got some big, scary subjects coming up and my brain is going to be needed. Desperately. Plus if I can wrangle it, I will be doing my practical section for my studies, too. Anyway, this year I am going to put it at thirty again and we will see if I surpass that at all (but secretly I will be pushing for fifty again at least – shhhhhhh).

If there are any recommendations, please give me a shout, I will try to get to them. I still have a few books lingering on my to-read list from a few suggestions last year, but I will get to them (sometimes it takes time :P).

Thanks to everyone who reads my reviews and gives me recommendations, I truly appreciate it!

Review: Death du Jour – Kathy Reichs

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Temperance Brennan #2

This is my eighteenth book in my book challenge, and is the second book in the Temperance Brennan series.

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is closing up her last few days in Canada before returning to the Carolinas for the new semester. A nun was excavated to be examined for an application of sainthood. Brennan is finishing up the last things when she gets called out to a house fire in St-Jovite. What she discovers there sets her teeth on edge: mangled babies and an old woman shot to death as well as a couple that has been burned to death. Brennan joins in to help out as much as she possibly can before her departure.

Brennan’s sister, Harry, comes in to stay with a few days while completing another one of her new age courses. Brennan does not notice her sister become more withdrawn and completely like herself. One of the nuns rings Brennan, desperately trying to get someone to assist her in locating her niece who has gone missing. Brennan puts detective Luc Claudel on it, who is not impressed at all.

Returning home and starting the new semester, homicide detective Andrew Ryan calls her to inform her that he will be in her neck of the woods for a while when one of their leads turned up a link between Quebec and Saint Helen nearby Brennan. Meeting up with Ryan leads to a grisly discovery of a further two more corpses – they have been there for three weeks. Something seems amiss, and it seems that the cases should be joined together, though they are two countries apart. Their investigation takes them to a group which has all the markings of a cult headed up by charismatic leader Dom Owens.

Suddenly things start to screw out – Harry seems to have gone missing, the cult is overly secretive and all the victims seem to be tying back to Saint Helen and a mysterious man overseas running the show for payments for both St-Jovite and St Helen. Brennan is being strongly warned to stay out of it, yet she continues to dig. Will she and Ryan sort out what is going on? Will they be able to conclude their dealings and stop the ruckus before the body count escalates further?

GRADE 5It is so frustrating to read her books. I keep thinking that they will be getting better in time. I mean I read this one and couldn’t reconcile the fact that she was more upset about her cat being killed than having lost her best friend of many years in the previous book. As though that was not enough, Brennan always seems to have premonitions as to what is going on yet major difficulties pulling it up. Then she spends pages lamenting the fact that something bothered her and she wasn’t quick enough on the uptake to notice what it was and make a difference. Reichs also writes in a rather boring and predictable manner, and overall I am just not particularly keen on it. It is fine to read as a filler between really good reads, and maybe she gets better (after all, this was like the beginning for her), but I still don’t really like her writing style. Also, the heroine Brennan seems to be incredibly selfish, rude, cold and totally unrealistic. I blame her immensely flawed logic. She just sets my teeth on edge, to be honest. Not the strongest character to lead with. Not the worst book of all time, but definitely not tight and flowing and perfect, there is too much lull and boredom and filler crap lining the pages. But wait – there’s more! More French. Truly, if the language is that amazing, write the book in that language. If you are going to put French in it – translate all of it. Bear in mind, readers are there for a story, not a new language and grammar pop quiz. So what if it was mentioned earlier what it was? Repeat it for clarity and what not.

Review: The Baby-sitter – R.L. Stine

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R.L. Stine The Babysitter

High school student Jenny Jeffers gets a job with the Hagen family to babysit their young son, Donny. Donny looks like an angel, and is cute as a button, and Jenny takes the job seeing as her and her mother need the money.

Around town, there have been some vicious attacks on babysitters, but Jenny cannot dwell on this, no matter how much her overactive imagination wants to go there. The new boy at school, Chuck , the class clown, seems to be interested in her, and she likes him, too. But being the girl that she is, she is not overly interested or intent on finding out more. Her best friend, Laura, is rather pushy about Chuck with Jenny.

Jenny starts her new job at the Hagens, and on the first night, she gets a strange call, and knocking on the door and threats. It scares her something silly, and she does not know what to do. However, she feels that she can do this, and returns. Each time Jenny goes back the threats are getting worse. She does not want to tell Mr Hagen, as he is an excitable and paranoid man. She can only imagine how much this would freak him out.

Between all this, Jenny is dealing with the creepy neighbour alongside the Hagens, Mr Willers. He creeps around the yard, scares Jenny, and just overall gives her the chills. Jenny’s job seems doomed when Laura invites a friend over with her and Chuck to visit Jenny at her job one night.

The threats are still not stopping, and Jenny is terrified. It seems that some sick psycho is intent on scaring her to death, or giving her a heart attack of note. Worse yet, he really might be coming for her, and any night could be her last night on Earth for all she knows.

GRADE 3.5Granted, it is a book aimed at young adults, but there were just too many things that worked against it for me. The story did not exactly flow, and it was written (at the time it was probably great for its audience) in a way that didn’t gel too well. The story was flimsy and at times even downright childish, and reaction to the situations simply ludicrous at the best of times. It is a fast read that does not require too many functioning braincells. At only 167 pages, and a decently sized font, it is a breeze. The Baby-sitter was not particularly disturbing, or thought provoking at all. I do think that as a kid it is more frightening, and due to lack of life experience, possibly more realistic. I used to enjoy R.L. Stine books as a kid, I used to consume as many of them as I could lay my hands on in my library, but then I got older and met Stephen King. Granted, the two do not compare, but still, the bar has been set.

Review: Last to Die – Tess Gerritsen

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Rizzoli & Isles #10

Here we are, my fifth book for the fifty book challenge. The encouragement knowing I have a total to work toward is very satisfying. This is also the tenth book in the Rizzoli & Isles series that I have been reading and reviewing.

Detective Jane Rizzoli is called in on her day off. Everybody has been called in, and Jane can only assume the worst. Arriving at a house, she is walked through a butchered foster family, and a surviving child, Teddy Clock, who managed to make it out. This is the second time he has made it out by the skin of his teeth. Two years prior to his foster family being wiped out, his actual family was murdered. She needs to make progress with him to see if there is any way that they can tie it all together.

Dr Maura Isles goes to Evensong to visit with Julian “Rat” Perkins, and is shocked by how truly isolated the school really is. Anthony Sansone owns and runs the place, but seems rather off with her, and it throws her somewhat. While there, Maura meets some other students, and her skin crawls when she realizes that all the students are what the board calls “survivors”. All victims of violence and brutality, they are the ones that made it out. Things worsen when she establishes that there are another two children in Evensong that had their biological families killed two years ago withing the same week, as well as their foster families now recently, both kids surviving both ordeals narrowly. Claire Ward is an oddball, and Will Yablonski a geek. Maura contacts Jane to inform her of the development, and Jane takes it upon herself to visit Teddy again. When there, an intruder breaks into the home and Jane is sure that Teddy was the target again. She calls Maura, and whatever Maura’s misgivings are about the school, she insists Jane bring him there to her after she hears of the second attack.

Maura and Jane need to establish what is going on and how these kids are involved and quickly link them together. Evensong may be a safe school, a type of fortress even, but it also makes the women think of sitting ducks, and the feeling is not assuaged when the school psychologist, Dr Welliver, takes a swan dive off the top of the building. Time starts ticking by too fast and too slow all at once, and Jane needs to find a way to investigate this. Lieutenant Marquette gives her a little leeway to find out what is going on when detective Darren Crowe closes the case of Teddy’s foster family’s slaying overly quickly. Bringing in her partner Barry Frost is all Jane asks for, and together they start hunting down answers that seem impossible to render complete.

GRADE 6.5The story was gripping in a way, but did not draw me all the way in. The writing was tight and neat and the story flowed effortlessly. However, I was expecting the plot twist to be far bigger than it actually was in the end, so I felt a little let down. I am glad that Jane and Maura finally sorted their differences out for the better part, and Anthony Sansone’s character was so different from usual in this book. Julian is doing so well, which is great, and it is awesome that Tess Gerritsen keeps that story nourished and on the go. The drama in the Rizolli family is reaching new level of crazy, and the more I read about it, the more I dislike her father, Frank Sr, and brother, Frankie Jr. What chops. Overall, a decent addition to the series,  but not one hundred percent what I was expecting to read.

Book Challenge 2013

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Keep Calm and Read A Book

Yep, that’s right. I think that this is where I am in life now. I blame this inspiration entirely on my friend Natasha. I just have to get out of my reading slump, which has slowly but surely been becoming a reality, and the more I read about her antics, the more I want to read more, if that makes any sense!

So I decided to immerse myself in a book challenge (while still keeping up with my addiction to movies and series). I need to establish how many, but for the meanwhile, let’s play it safe and call it fifty books for the year, and I can calculate the few that I have read for 2013 so far. We will make it a 2013 fifty book challenge. That is a reasonable amount, it is enough to get the juices flowing. It is not an excessive amount, granted, but it is a place to start. I can do this. So any book suggestions, pass them along to me and I will look into them!

Check out Natasha’s hundred book journey for the year so far, and wish me luck!

Review: Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

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mockingjay book cover

Hunger Games #3

SYNOPSIS: My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I am so over Katniss being this tortured soul, though I understand certain aspects of it, this is war. Also, this thing with her, Peeta and Gale is madness. Gale understands that she will only ever pay any attention to him when he is in pain, and it seems the same holds true when it comes to Peeta. It is almost like she then feels obligated to satisfy and love one of them. Again, I agree with Haymitch’s assessment that she would never deserve Peeta, no matter what. I really wish we had a better understanding of what Gale did later on in life when the book ends. It was a typical and classic Suzanne Collins ending, quick and rushed. However, this is the one time I don’t feel that she could get away with it seeing as there is not another book to pick up the pieces and bind them all fairly again. I honestly feel that some more explanation was required for us all to be one hundred percent satisfied, not only partly. Katniss also seemed to slot into killing people rather quickly, though she fights tooth and nail with Gale about it all the time. Had me wondering a bit there. I understand the circumstances that surrounded that, but really, if you get complicated about it, Gale is thinking of that feeling all the time he is making plans, not just when it is actually happening. Suzanne Collins may not be my favourite writer in terms of style, etc. but I have to give her credit for a great story, one of the better ones we have seen in years. I loved this trilogy.

SPOILER: I find it unfair of readers to hate on Gale because of the unfortunate bombs in the Capitol that killed Prim. This is war, and there are casualties. It does not make it right, but he was not even aware of the use of his concept weapon. Also, it really got my goose how Katniss made it seem like she was sacrificing so much and doing Peeta a favour by being with him and having his children right at the end. Even then it was almost like she was not entirely happy.