Review: The Sinner – Tess Gerritsen

the sinner

Rizzoli & Isles #3

SYNOPSIS: Within the walls of a cloistered convent, a scene of unspeakable carnage is discovered. On the snow lie two nuns, one dead, one critically injured – victims of a seemingly motiveless, brutally savage attack.

Medical examiner Maura Isles’ autopsy of the murder victim yields a shocking surprise, but the case takes a disturbing twist. The body of another woman has been found. And someone has gone to a lot trouble to remove her face, hands and feet.

As long buried secrets are revealed so Dr Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, find themselves part of an investigation that leads to an awful, dawning realisation of the killer’s identity… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I have thoroughly been enjoying re-reading these books, though something I must admit is that they won’t necessarily linger too long after the fact. Some, obviously, have better and more memorable stories than others, and while I enjoyed this one, I could barely remember anything about it (which can also be nice in terms of a re-read). The book flows pretty nicely, and this one focused on finally giving us more on Dr Maura Isles, though it did not leave Jane Rizzoli forgotten. If anything, this book is the one that makes them bot more human and identifiable. Rizzoli is struggling with her difficult romance with Gabriel Dean, as well as the knowledge that she is pregnant and has no idea what she is going to do about it. Maura is completely caught up in her whirlwind realisation that she is lonely and cut off from the living and spends far too much time with the dead, and while she is dealing with all this, her ex-husband Victor turns up in town. Maura has always been presented as cold and cut off, so it is nice to get a little of the inside track on her to get a better understanding of how and why she does things. A friendship has also started to develop between Maura and Rizzoli, which is also quite nice and it hasn’t been forced, also something that counts in its favour. Something to note, though, the concept of religion and death is seriously hammered on in this book, which at times grates a little bit and might really annoy some, but most of the time you get past it pretty quickly. The plot itself is alright and is paced fine, but sometimes there are things that niggle at you about it, but no deal-breaker at any rate – it just jumped around a bit, but it was never actually bland. The Sinner is also most certainly different from the last two books in both tone and pace, but I found that it worked. I liked getting a better look at Jane’s family, as we have heard nothing but how horrible it is for Jane to visit with them and spend time, but Angela certainly let Jane in on a few secrets that really makes you view the woman differently. Overall, well worth the read, though this is a book certainly more for the characters than the plot and is not one that is going to stay with you for very long after.

Review: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

gillian flynn gone girl book cover

Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy, seem to have what is the perfect marriage. Well, at a stage it was. Living in New York and perfect, things change when Nick loses his job, and Amy does, too. Their charmed life collapses, and when Nick’s sister Margo (“Go”), calls them to tell them that Nick’s mom Maureen is dying, he grabs at the opportunity as a lifeline. Telling his wife to pack up their unhappy little marriage, they move out to North Carthage, Missouri. Their lives continue there, Nick buys a bar with his sister Go with money borrowed from Amy. However, on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears without a trace, wholly and completely. Nick receives a phone call from his neighbour saying that the cat is outside and the door open. This does not phase Nick until he arrives home to find the living room wrecked, Amy gone. He calls in the police and an investigation promptly begins, Nick (naturally, as the husband), being a person of interest. Amy’s disappearance is not right, and the timing is bad. Nick is left to start the treasure hunt that his wife has left behind, the one that she prepares annually to mark the year that has past.

The more the police look, the more things are not making sense, shedding a really bad light on Nick. As though things were not bad enough, matters are not helped by the fact that he seems somewhat aloof. Amy’s parents, Rand and Marybeth, arrive soon. The trio hover around together, Amy’s parents more upset than he is. Their whole life they have marketed Amy. She was their gift and they plagiarized her life to write their Amazing Amy books, which made a family fortune. Amy has always had strange people surround her, people that were not willing to let her go, and it seems that just one of those people have resurfaced and taken her. Marybeth insists that Nick get more involved with finding her daughter, and he agrees. He starts to call around to the old stalkers and menaces that Amy encountered growing up, though they are of no help. Nick has a problem, too, and her name is Andie. Andie is a young student of his (when he teaches journalism part time at the college), and they are involved in an illicit affair. Nick was ready to end everything with Amy for Andie, and now Amy is gone. All the while, Nick is trying to solve the clues left behind by his wife for their anniversary hunt. The more he uncovers, the more he falls in love with his wife again, though he was sure he could never feel that with her again.

Evidence starts to point more and more to Nick, and his lying and cheating are not helping the matter. Soon his infidelities will be unearthed, and the press has been jumping between loving and hating him. He knows that the news of Andie will be the nail in his coffin.  The police start locking down on Nick when it is discovered that an awful lot of blood was spilled in the Dunne kitchen and quickly cleaned up, and that the ottoman in the lounge could not have been flipped in an argument, but intentionally. Nick is the number one suspect for the cops. Go is furious about finding out that Nick has been screwing around on his wife even though she is not a fan of Amy, but won’t say anything. At the end of Nick’s treasure hunt, he makes an absolutely awful discovery…

What will Nick do with what he has exposed along the way of his treasure hunt? What happened to Amy? Will she be found safely, or has something much more sinister happened to her? Is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? What will happen when all of Nick’s secrets are splashed out for the world to hear, to judge him on? What really happened throughout the course of their marriage?

GRADE 7I must admit that I was really not looking forward to reading this after disliking Sharp Objects so much, but Joseph and I put it on our book club list for February, so I got to it, long teeth and all. But I was surprised, it was not nearly as badly written or as silly as Sharp Objects. Granted, the characters are still not the most lovable, and are a little brusque at times, but overall it is not so fantastical. I liked how the story was told, one chapter from Nick’s perspective and then one from Amy’s and so on, and so forth. It gave a nice insight to how two people felt about the same situation, and how they continued to just miss each other in passing, wanting the same things yet neither articulating very well, both blaming the other for things and both wanting the same things, though assuming the other does not. Amy’s diary entries progress over time, so that you can see how her mindset has changed, how she feels about everything. Nick’s point of view is after the fact, and retracing a lot of the memories is also very interesting. I really liked how both Amy and Nick told their stories – both blaming the other, both playing the reader, and you wonder who is really who and what really happened, as the discrepancies are evident from the get go. The way the story changes, the setting, tone and emotion is also quite well done, though not wholly unexpected. I was not a fan of the totally abrupt ending, though I suppose for what it was it was what was needed.

Millennium Trilogy

This is one of the true beauties of the modern age. Stieg Larsson blew my mind to shreds with this series, and I am so sad that we will never really know how it ends. The literary genius has passed, but not before we got three of some of the greatest novels I have ever read.

When I first saw the rage hitting the shelves, I will admit, I did judge a book by its cover. I was not impressed with the designs (below) and the titles did not ring brilliance to me. I was convinced they were some cheap cock and bull romance novels, and gave it a skip. But then my friend’s grandmother pointed out that I would be a fool to miss out on something so amazing if I did not take the books from her. Oh well, what could I lose?

I borrowed the book from her exclusively to use as a break between studying for the weekend I was working at the guest house. I don’t really watch television, so when I take a break, it is to fictitious pages totally non-related to the studies. I gradually came to that part in the road where I desperately needed a break. Grudgingly I brought out The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and opened to the initial pages in the book. I read that it was penned by a Swede (definitely not the issue), and that the book was translated. This for me is a really big no-no. Not only did the books not look appealing, it was a translated works. I prefer to read in native English, as meaning and description often gets misconstrued and lost when one tries to translate.

This time, I was wrong on so many fronts. I sat down, and read the book that day, finished it, every glorious morsel that was presented to me. I totally forgot about my studies (good thing I had awhile to go before the paper, and no more books to distract me the following day!). I rushed to get hold of the two remaining parts to what I thought was a trilogy (and now, sadly, will only ever be such). I read the The Girl Who Played With Fire like a demon, lapping up the stunning prose, the intensity of the characters and the story, the twists that came, the danger that was almost tangible. This man wrote with a flair I had not encountered in an exceptionally long time. He wrote with passion. I was impressed. I then found that Stieg Larsson had passed a few years before, and I was shocked. How could such a great author lie dormant and then pass, before his peak? His work only caught on overseas when it was translated, obviously, and a lifetime to spread in my country (dammit, we really are so behind). But I do not regret finding the Millennium Trilogy, it was one of the more ingenious works I have encountered in a long time.

Upon my discovery of such a great loss, I read the final installment, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest, painfully slowly. I wanted to savour it, stretch it out for as long as was humanly possible. That lasted me a week. I caved, eventually, and just had to know what was coming.

If you have not indulged in these novels, I suggest you do. I believe that everyone should experience this story at least once in their lives, whether you are into this genre or not.

What were your thoughts on the Millennium Trilogy?

Distance Book Club, I present to you, The Hunger Games!

Somewhere along the line we would be destined to find decent books again. I have said, time and time again, discovering an impressive book is like coming across a great movie… there are millions of options, but a true gem? Few and far between.

I will admit, I was initially skeptical about reading The Hunger Games, mostly because they were recommended to me by someone who is, a) not a reader, and b) a pubescent teenager. I have learned not to take someone who is not a reader seriously when they recommend books, as this is how you end up with books such as Fifty Shades of Grey and the likes becoming overnight phenomena. It does not take much to impress someone who is not a literary veteran, who has not read tons of books, who has no idea what it is to stick by their authors through thick and thin, even when you know they have churned out some rather ghastly work.

Foolishly, in my mind’s eye, I chalked them up to be silly children’s books. I continued without them (but please, let me point out, I have burned my fingers horribly due to book recommendations from said pubescent teenager). I then got my hands on a few movies to watch, and The Hunger Games was among them. It took me a few nights to get to it, as the other movies were, of course, watched first. I had no high hopes. I had read such mixed reviews that even did not know what to expect. I certainly did not foresee enjoying it so tremendously!

I thought the film was a great rendition of the book as it is no simple feat to bring a first person story to life so successfully. But it was done (maybe because they actually let Suzanne Collins have a hand in the screenplay?), and it was done well. The movie kept me interested, they had a strong cast, they portrayed the book effortlessly, and who can deny that Woody Harrelson was a superb choice for Haymitch Abernathy?

The first thing I did was to go out finally and get my hands on the books. I started reading them immediately. It took me a really long time to get into the story, as I really don’t like anything written in the present tense, and I also do not like reading in the first person unless it is a autobiography, in which case I can appreciate. I soon discovered that this was a book I would have to share with my friend. Distance Book Club, here we come!

My friend and I read and discussed the books in minute and extreme detail. This was definitely something new, something different. I heard a lot of people say that it was so similar to Battle Royale it could have been called plagiarism, but I have as of yet not had the time to see what all the fuss is about. I hope, in future, to get back to you about that.

The books do have gaps in between them, there are flaws, but overall they are duly entertaining if you bear in mind the primary reading group is young adults, who are not so finicky about all the little particulars. It has been a while since I read something new that actually kept me hooked successfully. Thumbs up, Suzanne Collins! You cannot miss the fact that a woman wrote the books, though, that is unavoidable. The attention to fashion detail, makeup and beauty is enough to sometimes drive you clean around the bend, but bear with it. Every time I read about it, I failed to get around the awfully loud voice in my head screaming, “it’s a revolution people, not a fashion parade!”. Maybe the dystopian future will be extremely fashion conscious, even when at war, who knows?

Even with the flaws of the story, a box set has been placed prominently on my Christmas wish list (may the odds be ever in my favour 😉 ). It would be a lovely addition to my burgeoning bookshelf (which reminds me, I am desperately in need of a new one!). Ah, to read, to buy books, there is almost no greater comparable joy!

What are your thoughts on The Hunger Games?