Review: The Apprentice – Tess Gerritsen

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the apprentice cover

Rizzoli & Isles #2

A year after the close of the Surgeon case, Detective Jane Rizzoli is haunted by the events of the previous summer,  yet still doing her best to work her job. She is a changed woman though, anyone could tell you that. While dealing with her near-death experience and the fact that her partner, Thomas Moore, married Catherine Cordell, the Surgeon Warren Hoyt’s obsession, she gets called out to an investigation which chills her to the bone. Detective Vince Korsak calls her in for input because someone is using the Surgeon’s signature and the crime scenes look eerily familiar yet with minor differences. Dr Maura Isles informs the police of a grisly turn of events in the case: necrophilia.

The FBI is called in, complicating the investigation intensely as everyone is playing cloak and dagger, smoke and mirrors. The latest killer on the loose is soon coined the Dominator due to the nature of his crimes. Attacking couples, horrific murders, teacups as warning systems while he forces the husband to watch the total desecration of his wife in front of him before being killed and the wife being taken. The situation becomes extremely aggravated when the Surgeon makes his grand escape after reading about the Dominator’s work in the papers. His long lost brother has been found, as he thinks, and a bloody plot of revenge to trap Rizzoli develops. Rizzoli is terrified but refuses to let the world see it, and her fights with FBI agent Gabriel Dean ratchet up.

After Dean apparently steps off the case, Rizzoli gets called off to Washington, where more past crimes are laid bare for her, and the case runs far deeper than even she initially suspected. She knew Dean had been witholding information from her, but the magnitude is shocking. Warren Hoyt is missing, and unknown subject is hunting and butchering couples, and there are absolutely no leads. The Dominator and the Surgeon are cut from the same cloth, and working together they will be unstoppable, something that certainly cannot happen. On top of all of this, it occurs to Rizzoli that they still might come after her, and fighting off two will be an impossibility. 

Will the serial killers come for Rizzoli? Will they ever catch up with Warren Hoyt and put him back where he belongs? Do the Dominator and the Surgeon identify with one another, and will they be a terrifying force to be reckoned with? What is Dean’s involvement with all of this?

GRADE 7.5I must say that I enjoyed The Apprentice. I thought that it was a step up a little from the last book in the way that Rizzoli certainly developed more as a character, and you don’t dislike her as much as you did. She has been broken, but I don’t really look at her as a victim, because she refuses to acknowledge that and rails against it constantly. Dr Maura Isles is a welcome addition of a character, and I liked her calm and cool attitude, though I do wish she had been included more. Then again, this is a simple introduction, and one that is subtle enough to work. I really liked Dean’s character, attitude and all, and I was really happy that Rizzoli eventually let herself be seen as a woman, too, and not just the cop. The passages about Hoyt were eerily similar to those from The Surgeon, but when you consider how closely linked these two are, it works. There were certainly changes from the last one, but much was the same. It worked, though, so I have no real complaints there. What I did have issues with is how some things were introduced and then fell away later on, got overlooked and forgotten (and here is specifically referencing the case she was called out on with the airplane man). Also, I felt that the conclusion, even though it was a triumph, was a little rushed and came to a screeching halt. It isn’t the worst thing. There was significantly more character growth in this one for Rizzoli, and I like the direction the books are headed in.

Review: The Surgeon – Tess Gerritsen

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the surgeon tess gerritsen cover

Rizzoli & Isles # 1

SYNOPSIS: In Boston, there’s a killer on the loose. A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician – a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful medic with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and attempted murder but she shot her attacker dead. Now she is being targeted by the new killer who seems to know all about her past, her work, and where she lives.

The man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Tess Gerritsen is a strange writer – sometimes she’s brilliant, sometimes she’s dull. The Surgeon is one of those that hits the spot. Nothing super amazing, but quite far from dull. The characters are not particularly fleshed out in this debut Rizzoli and Isles novel, aside from Thomas, Catherine, and Rizzoli. I know that Rizzoli is one of the leading characters, and I understand her struggle as a woman in a male-dominated environment, and I can understand how her upbringing also shaped her and how it has messed her up, but I think she is a bit selfish at the best of times, and a little hollow, too, even though I pity her. Moore is a character that I enjoyed and would have liked to have seen more of. The villain in this, though full of potential to be absolutely crazy, was not really given enough explanation when all was said and done. I had a few questions about the partnership, the meeting, the relationship, but they were not answered, and I felt it a cop out. Rizzoli also has a family that irritates me, they are equally as selfish and twisted as she is, and the family dynamic there is enough to just irritate me endlessly. I am sorry, but men are not the be all and end all in this world. Feminist in me coming out here, forgive me. The Surgeon flowed nicely, the writing was solid, but there was a lot of medical work and knowledge permeating the pages. Considering that Gerritsen was a doctor, that is fine, it lends her words credence, but sometimes there are things that are described in excruciating detail in the OR or ER and have no impact on the story or the plot/character development. The romance between Moore and Catherine didn’t jump up out of nowhere, at least, but it was also not the centre of the book (no, I am not a fan of Gerritsen’s pure romance side – so shallow). The Surgeon is a quick read, too, so if you are looking for a filler to pass the time or a new series to start on, I would say that this is a decent place to start.

Review: Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

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Sharp-Objects

Journalist Camille Preaker gets sent to her hometown of Wind Gap by her boss Frank Curry, much against her better judgment. There are strange things going on in the town. A little girl, Ann Nash, was kidnapped and murdered the previous August, and all her teeth were yanked from her mouth. Camille returns to investigate a new story for her paper, and has to go stay with her mother Adora Crellin for the duration. She revisits many old memories she has no use for. Another young girl, Natalie Keene, turns up strangled and missing her teeth, just like the previous little girl.

Camille has a half sister, Amma, who is spoiled, nasty, shallow, false and bitchy. She lives in their deceased sister’s shadow. Marian was always the favourite, though she died decades ago. Camille needs to prove herself back in Wind Gap. The desperate cutter she used to be, the one that was hospitalized and treated, needed to be firmly placed back in the box. She has to find out what the hell is going on, and starts to slowly dig away at family, friends, and the Kansas detective that was brought up to work the case, Richard Willis. Being a local of the town (even though she has moved away) does not make the task of getting people to talk one iota easier.

However, Camille realizes there is something truly wrong with her younger half sister… something that makes her somewhat sick and disturbed. She start paying closer attention to Amma and her actions, and Amma starts paying attention right back at her. The town is breaking Camille. What is going on around here? Who is responsible for the grotesque brutality visited on these two young girls? Camille’s investigation into the story brings her closer to Richard,  but also closer to all the things she fled when she ran off to Chicago. Is she strong enough to beat survive the ghastly little town again?

GRADE 4I don’t know, I read so many rave reviews about Gillian Flynn’s writing, and I have heard what the stories should be about. Right up my alley, I would assume. But no. Everything is so messed up. It is like she glibly adds nasty scenes or inexplicable events to the book solely for shock value. If it contributed to the story in a more real way then it would be fine, but more often than not it is just thrown in haphazardly or just because. Everything is so melodramatic in this book, and unbelievable. Not in the good way, either. The writing style is also jarring, it does not really… flow, per se. It is also written with no real finesse. The self pity that permeates these pages drives me insane – I don’t really have time for people that don’t want to do something for themselves. Everything also feels rushed, and halfway through the book I still felt nothing was happening. It is like it had potential, but there was so much unbelievable crap stashed in it. I could not take Amma’s behaviour seriously at all, far too bizarre and all that. I think that the book’s setting was very depressing, not just the story, but how it was all written about. It had a very melancholy and overly miseralbe and disheartening feel, and that is not always nice. The book was also written first person, which is never really a winner for me unless you are writing an autobiography – it has other times it works, but more often than not it just doesn’t. There is no chemistry between the characters at all, nothing to relate to and get attached to. What a horrid book to work through, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. It irritated me at every word. Not the world’s worst book, it is readable, but something about it just didn’t gel with me.

Review: The Great Gatsby – Francis Scott Fitzgerald

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THE GREAT GATSBY F SCOTT FITZGERALD COVER

After reading Keith’s review of The Great Gatsby, I decided to read the book prior to watching the film. He is one of the few that read the book and then watched the movie, and wrote a very good review. After that my interest was piqued, I need to be prepared. Best way? Start with the book, progress to the film (hopefully tonight or tomorrow night). In any event, this is my thirteenth book in my challenge.

Nick Carraway is a World War I veteran who moves to West Egg to be a bond salesman after attending Yale. He is barely making it, though he lives in a well-to-do neighbourhood, but he is the neighbour of the the most interesting millionaire, shrouded in eternal mystery: Jay Gatsby. Known for his elaborate and lavish parties, Jay Gatsby is the talk of the town, what with the wild parties every other night. Nick tells the story of the summer of 1922, and a story takes shape.

Nick knows nobody in the Long Island area save his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom. When he attends a dinner there, he meets Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy’s. They get along and enter into a relationship. Nick finds out that Tom has a mistress, a married woman named Myrtle Wilson, and has the misfortune of being involved in a party where he meets her. As the extravagant parties continue next door, Nick eventually meets Jay Gatsby, and soon they are very good friends – or as good as you can be with someone you know nothing of. Gatsby’s guests are not all invited, but a steady influx of people who will take advantage of any situation. Nobody (invited or not) knows much about the man, where his fortune comes from or what he does, and more often than not they have viscous and dark explanations as to his wealth.

Gatsby confides in Nick his love for Daisy, and that he wishes to meet with her. Jordan fills Nick in on how Gatsby and Daisy were in love long before she met Tom and married. In 1917 they had a romantic relationship. Gatsby has redefined himself as a person and a perception, even purchasing a house across from the bay from her. He is sure that their love is eternal, and that he can convince her to leave her husband, Tom, to start a life with him. He is positive that they can rekindle their romance and that he is able to give her anything and everything her life desires. Nick gets involved with reuniting them, though what happens after that he will have no control over. The awkward reunion turns warm, and soon Gatsby and Daisy spend inordinate amounts of time in each others company, until Tom soon starts suspecting that something is going on that he is not privy to, and the knowledge of his wife’s infidelity angers him greatly.

Soon confrontations abound, accusations are thrown wild, nerves are lost and shady pasts are dredged up. Irrevocable mistakes are made, and love and delusion give rise to decisions being made. Will Daisy and Gatsby rise up, will Gatsby’s driving dream become his reality?

GRADE 9The style of writing was gorgeous, and the prose beautiful and flowing. The language usage was decadent and superb, painting a picture of the times as well as the events that shaped the story, it really made this book one of the most beautifully written things that I have ever read. The further I read into this book, the more I wished that it had been a set book for me at some point in my academic career, that I could take a more in depth and detailed look into it. However, that will be my mission on my own as I continue. I kept having to remind myself that this book was written in a time where a man screwing around was acceptable, but women did not have such freedom. Gatsby was a fantastical creation, and the book is truly wonderful.

SPOILER: It was truly heartbreaking to see Gatsby was ultimately alone, that nobody came for him, that nobody stood by him. His father felt pride, because evidently Gatsby had achieved what he set out to do. His need to protect his love eventually led to his death and demise. Daisy was shallow, and he was caught up in the dream that he could have it all. He reinvented himself for her, not only himself. 

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!

The Magic of a Book

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For me, there is nothing more enchanting than a book. The great escape, the new identity, the time travel, the unexpected voyage… it all eagerly awaits you. You just need to summon the courage to turn the folio, and a whole new world is at the mercy of your fingertips.

I honestly cannot understand how there are so many people that do not read. It is one of the greatest joys to pick up a book and be taken away to another world! That, for me, is one of the greatest lures to a novel. Not that I want to be escaping my own world or anything like that, but to be a part of another person’s universe is simply too irresistible to pass up.

There is beauty in not knowing where exactly your adventure will take you, and how events will progress, or what the perimeters will be, but to discover it in the process is amazing. You disappear into another time, another place, another life altogether.

I am sure we have all been told we are escaping reality by reading? So what if we are? Is there a crime to want to be a part of something totally different and unique? I don’t think that there is. I have also heard the most absurd insinuation that one does not learn from a book. I beg to differ with this point on so many fronts. Books are wonderful centres for learning! By this, I do not just mean educational texts, but novels as well. We pick up on a great deal from novels. For instance, you discover a variety of  personality types, means of dealing with certain situations, how some people work and operate, and numerous other examples could be listed here. Reading excercises your memory  how your brain organizes your thoughts and how information is recalled. It vastly expands your vocabulary, and that can never hurt.

Books offer freedom, alternate realities, and unmistakably broaden the horizon of the imagination. How are there people that can’t have a book take them away?! I love reading! Pages breathe life into fictional characters and revitalize sections of history and the present. The art should be respected, as such.

I think one of the most difficult things to do is finish a series of books and try to go straight into a new one, or just a straightforward stand alone. It is not just that simple. Also, when you have finished a great book, if it does not have a sequel, it is no effortless feat to just pick up another book and move on. Each and every story that you read becomes a part of you!

How do you feel about reading, and the books in your life?

Dr Seuss, brilliant elementary literacy!

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One massive learning and fun factor of my childhood was undoubtedly Dr Seuss. The man is a master on so many fronts. From him I learned rhythm, rhyming, speed and comprehension. The man taught me to read, and more importantly, how to love and appreciate it.

There was nothing more enjoyable as a child than yanking up the Seuss-meister from a shelf and poring over it. They were fun books, they were educational, and heck, I learned so much from them. Green Eggs and Ham taught me to try new things, instead of knocking them down when you have no idea. My favourite, The Lorax, taught me to respect our environment, be conscious of the things around you, respect others and how you don’t always need everything you want. Then, of course, there was The Cat In The Hat, so great for many a rainy day. Elementary literacy at its finest! Such a pleasure, however. The Sneetches railed against discrimination and racism of any kind. Everything about the books worked. The colours were so vibrant, the artwork was unforgettable, and so amusing to read. I feel as though his work is timeless, a true stroke of brilliance that has not faded over the decades.

I have pretty much given the movies a skip. I watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat In The Hat, Horton Hears A Who!, and I am avoiding The Lorax, being the Speaker of the Trees. I am terrified that they desecrate something that is so perfect and sacred to me. The Cat In The Hat was ruined. They could not have gone worse than casting Mike Meyers as some sexually depraved cat. That destroyed a large chunk of my childhood. So I have learned to avoid the movies, but apparently The Lorax was great. I don’t know if I want to find out, though. Horton Hears A Who! was sweet, but not the book. It was a better forage into the attempts at a Seuss flick than anything else I have seen. I see that there is a remake of The Cat In The Hat in the pipeline, and really wish they would leave the story well alone!

I would love to buy a Dr Seuss box set! Or a whole bunch of little ones… there is only one place that has them here, and they are so insanely expensive, and then they are only little mini sets! Maybe I should add that, too, to my burgeoning and ever-growing Christmas wishlist? Hmmm…

How do you all feel about Dr Seuss?

A few excellent authors

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Authors… you get excellent ones, and you get disappointing ones, and you get mediocre ones. Here are some authors that I enjoyed reading, and will not turn down the opportunity to read.

Karin Slaughter… wow. That is all I can say. And so few people here where I am actually knows who she is, so I don’t really have anyone to discuss the books with. I accidentally found Blindsighted in the back of a closet, gearing up to be chucked out. The book was old and tatty, but its sequel, Kisscut, was also there, and I had nothing else to read. It was crime thriller fiction something or other, that is all I recall thinking when I picked it up and read that she was compared to Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, both who write decently, although not too consistently, for my taste.

So I bagged them, saving them from certainly being thrown out with the dusty stacks of newspapers piled everywhere. The books could not go, they are not in the same category as the shabby newspapers were. I had no other books to occupy me, and I started with Karin Slaughter’s debut novel. I have one word for her writing style: respect. By the end of the Grant County series I had forgotten they were fictitious characters, and lived on a steady diet of chocolate when I had finished with Skin Privilege.

I have been inexorably drawn to her work since Blindsighted, experienced a spectrum f emotions throughout Kisscut, and that was only the beginning for me. After that there was the Atlanta series, and the two merged together for the Georgia series. I was skeptical about how she would bring two totally different story lines together, yet she does so effortlessly. She is one of my top favourite writers, hands down.

Then there is Stephen King. I will not hear a bad word about him! I know that there are so many that dislike his movies (even though it is apparently forgotten that the Green Mile and the Shawshank Redemption are both King creations), and I know that he writes with excruciating detail, and that some might find this to be a bit of a cliché, but Stephen King is a master. I love him!

I cannot remember precisely what my first taste was, but I think it was either Dreamcatcher or Carrie. Either way, I was in love with how this man brought horror and life to the pages of his book. I have read so many of his works and they are rich in detail, description, action, thoughts, everything. You can follow what is happening, the feelings and everything is brought into stark light within the covers of his stories. When you pick up a book by Stephen King, even if the cover was missing, you would know it to be his work!

I started reading his books when I was about eleven years old. I had already whipped through everything in the children’s section and dominated the young adult’s section. The library was nice enough to allow me a card and permission into the adult section. I was stunned. There were gigantic tomes of books with their faraway stories waiting to unfold. I had to know more, and there were horrors, bona fide, true horror books, not the childish ones I had become accustomed to. Naturally, the King shelves dominated the horror section, the closest secondary rival by for space being Dean Koontz. I have started building on my Stephen King collection, but I have a suspicion that it will take a long time to get where I want it to, seeing as it is such a vast compilation.

I spoke of Stieg Larsson in a previous blog that I wrote, and explained my deep seated infatuation with the man and his genius. I maintain that everyone should read his Millennium Trilogy. The story unfurls effortlessly, it keeps you hooked, and nothing can waver your anticipation. You experience the journey as though a part of it. The writing style is smooth and neat, and very well structured. I have been looking for a nice box set, and have as of yet not found anything in my region, which is rather daunting, as I believe these books belong on anyone’s shelf, and I would love to have it as a collected works.

J.K. Rowling is another classic to this list. I wrote a blog on Harry Potter, here, too. But about the author, and how I stumbled upon her books? Wow. Really. I think it one of the best things that I had ever had the fortune of coming across (not that it would have been easy to miss a few years later when it got super popular). I was reading them pretty much since release. My aunt loaned me The Philosopher’s Stone when she heard that I couldn’t get to the library until the weekend. I read the book 4 times before I returned it to her. I was in love. There was this beautiful world, with great people, with crazy adventures, and real lessons. It was amazing.

Obviously, as a child, you read it and you know it is fiction. That did not prevent me from waiting for my very own letter from Hogwarts for years. Alas, it never came, and I was sorely disappointed. I think the Potter series was also great because it gave children something to believe in, to hope for. He had it tough, and he survived it. Things are not always what they seem, and anything can be overcome, and evil does not triumph against those who will fight for the greater good.

I truly enjoy Anne Rice. I loved her Vampire Chronicles, and painstakingly and extremely expensively built that entire collection up from scratch. I love her writing style, but her work is very deep, dark and thought evoking, not light reading to just pass time. The way the characters are introduced and their development is amazing, but I really wish she would have focused a bit more on Armand. He was my favourite character of anyone she had ever written about. He was the strangest one, the most demented, dark and tortured soul ever.

I obviously watched the movies, (Interview With A Vampire and Queen Of The Damned)  but they really are nothing compared to the books. Sad, because if done right the movies could bear so much potential. The first book that I ever read from Anne Rice was The Vampire Armand. I was totally drawn in and besotted with his character. He was perfect… perfectly broken, that is. She really is the Queen of dark, romantic and gothic writing. One thing that she nailed perfectly is realism for vampires, not this twinkly rubbish that we have been submitted to recently. I hope to start on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches soon, as they were rather intriguing to me when they come up in the later novels in the Vampire Chronicles.

This calls for the Distance Book Club again! I would love any author/book suggestions, so throw them along!

Who are some of your favourite authors, and what drew you to them?

Millennium Trilogy

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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?