Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buncha books

It's been a while since I've done a book review. In fact, my last one was in November. I've read several books since then, though not as many as usual over a similar span of time due to the holidays and such, and because one of them was kind of slow-moving for me. Instead of writing a review per book, I'm just going to tell you what I read and briefly what I thought.

First of all, though I had read Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter in November for the "Something About Me" reading challenge, I never posted anything. It's about a girl who dresses goth and hangs with the few other goth kids. She is always at odds with the most popular girl in school, one of the "Barbies." They finally do something that causes the principal to take them on a "field trip," which traps them in an alternate reality where goth is popular and the Barbies are shunned. Only one kid seems unaffected by this new reality. Will he help them escape and put the world back to normal? Along the way, the girls discover that everyone is essentially the same, how they look is just superficial, it's what's inside that counts, blah, blah, blah. The book was okay. It was a quick read, and was a fairly interesting twist on the same old inside-is-what-counts moral. Teenagers would probably like it, but I think adults would have more of a "meh" reaction.

The next book I read was another off the challenge list, Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman. I was really looking forward to reading this novel. The premise sounded interesting, exciting - edge of your seat type stuff. It's about a family who loses their 6-year-old daughter in the wilderness while on a camping trip. They can't find her themselves, so they call in searchers. To complicate matters, the child has Down Syndrome, so it is not known if she will do what children usually do when lost. Sounds compelling, no? I was disappointed in this novel. It was difficult to identify with the characters; the story seemed to just plod along; when I had to put the book down, I was never compelled to get back to it to see what happens next. It took me a long time to read this book, around 3 weeks, and I usually read a book in 2-3 days. The only part I found interesting was the searching process itself.

Another book from the challenge list was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I probably would have waited longer to read this, but Tessie told me that it was really good, so I went ahead and picked it up next. It's about a young woman who works in her father's antique bookstore. She is contacted by a famous author who is known for making up stories in interviews about who she is and her family. The time has come to tell the difficult truth. This novel was fantastic! I really enjoyed it. This is one I highly recommend.

Fool's Puzzle by Earlene Fowler was also from the challenge list. It's a murder mystery that takes place out west. The main character is a young woman who lost her husband in an accident and now works as the manager at an art studio co-op, which is where the murders take place. Good read. It's the first of more books with the same character, and I'm considering reading more of them. (The main consideration being the teetering pile of books on top of my dresser waiting to be read first.)

Moving away from challenge books, I read True Evil: A Novel by Greg Iles. I love Greg Iles. He consistently writes fast-moving, exciting thriller/mysteries. This one was no exception. It's basically about hiring hit men to off a spouse in such a way as to appear to be natural causes, such as fast moving cancers, strokes, etc. Alexandra Morse is an FBI agent whose sister is killed in such a way. She figures out what is going on and who the next victim will be. She has no way to prove anything, though, so she must enlist the help of the next victim to try to come up with a way to prove what is happening. The only part that I found ridiculous was that, after researching all the medical stuff, and having a mother dying of ovarian cancer, that Alex doesn't know what oncogenic means. Iles used her not knowing and having to have it explained by a doctor as a way to explain it to the reader. It was a clumsy and stupid way to go about the explanation, I thought. If a reader didn't know the meaning, he could go look it up for heaven's sake. I knew what it was, and I'm no doctor. Other than that stupidity (which I had a tough time getting over), I thought the book was really good.

Finally, my most recent read, as in I finished last night, wasCross by James Patterson. You've got to love James Patterson. He writes the shortest chapters EVER, making reading his books a BREEZE. A fairly fast reader can get through one of his books in a single day, and that's WITH doing other things too. Anyway, this was another of his novels featuring Dr. Alex Cross, and it reached back in time to give the reader a little more back story on just what happened when his wife was killed. In this novel, Cross quits his FBI job, but as usual gets sucked into a case because he thinks it may be related to his wife's killer. Good, quick read. Little unexpected twist at the end.

So there you go. Six quick book reviews. Last night I started The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. It's very stream-of-consciousness from the point of view of an autistic teenager (Asperger Syndrome, I think). I am completely enthralled with it so far.

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