Category Archives: Fiction

The Hunger Games

I got this book

two days after it’s release and was don

e in less than one. This is definitely one of those books that you can read over and over and still not get bored. It’s like a whole new adventure every time.

I cant decide if I should label it a “girl book” or a “boy book” since the story seems to swing back and forth. There is a lot of weapons and fighting and at the same time plenty on romance and fashion.

This tale takes place sometime in the future. The world has gone through many changes, one of them being the fact that people are forced to kill each other for

entertainment. Two people from all the twelve districts are chosen to take part in a reality game show where only one person can survive.

The story unfolds through the eyes of Katniss Evergreen. She lives in district twelve, which happens to be the poorest and most looked down on district there is. Life is not so rosy here, jobs are hard to come by and so food is scarce. When Kantiss finds out that her small sister has been chosen to represent her district in this game, she quickly switches place with her and goes on instead of her.

The major slip for me in this book was that some scenes seem to have been pulled out of other books like Battle Royale and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Suzanne’s style of writing however, pushes you to over see these faults. From the prose to the dialog, it all pulls you

in and makes you feel like you are actually there.

All in all, this is a very engaging book.

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One Day

I decided to check out this book after hearing and seeing quite a number of people ra

ving about it. Unfortunately I can’t really say I enjoyed it. If you like David Nicholls books then yes, you will most likely enjoy this one too. I felt it to be too depressing.

It is written almost as if it is a screen play. The dialogue is crisp and the scenes are described so vividly you can almost see them. Throughout the book, the author takes us back to this “one day”, July the 15th, through a period of twenty years, to look into the lives of the two characters, Emma and Dex. Starting in 1998 just after the two graduate from college, the story progresses, showing the different paths that they take in life and the changes in their relationship.

What I disliked most about this book is how the story just skips a whole year. It made me feel like I’ve just been uprooted and sent to a different place all together. I suppose it is meant to give you the feel


a year having passed and much having changed, but the feeling that I had to catch up and assume what I had missed in the course of that year was distracting for me. I feel that Nicholls should have included a summary or something

at the beginning of each new year. It’s certainly a clever premise to revisit the same day year after year, but I didn’t enjoy the way it was executed.

Also, I half expected there to be some romance. It’s what we all expect when we see a girl boy story. However, this would better be described as a look at the frustration of relationships. The harsh realities of life were quite accurate but almost too much of a downer. Certainly over four hundred pages with few glimmers of happiness gets difficult to continue to “enjoy” reading. I do give the author a lot of credit for his honest portrayal and perception but I can’t say I was moved by it, rather depressed.

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The Help

Ordinarily I would pass on a book about America in the south in the 50’s

and 60’s since I’ve already read

so much about this period I feel like there is nothing I’ve not seen. But a friend of mine recommended this book and I have to admit it did surprise me.

The story is about a young white woman in the early 1960s in Mississippi who becomes interested in the plight of the African / African America maids. She writes about their stories of mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks while working in white family homes, all just before the civil rights revolution.

The main characters are very well developed. You will fall in love with all of them

over and over again. I laughed and cried with them as they told their stories.

This book takes you in so

much that you can almost see right through the pages into the lives of these people, or even smell the melted tar on the roads of Mississippi and feel the chilly morning right from your cozy chair.

All in all this is amazing story telling and it leaves you wanting to know more. More about the characters and their lives.

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The Girl Who Played with Fire

The girl who played with fireI found this viagra from canada book to be a solid sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in fact, I may have liked it ever better than the first.

In this book we learn more about Salander. Skillfully exposed throughout the course

of the novel, bits and pieces of her background appear until by the end a full picture has emerged. Some satisfying, some not so satisfying. A couple points easily guessed early on.

She’s a fascinating character, and the parts about her were my favorite in the book, (even the parts that were seemingly plot irrelevant and never resolved). She’s a smart, strong, flawed underdog, and you can’t help rooting for her.

This book tackles a lot of topics. Sex trade, the media, police corruption, authority abuse, on and on. I like it because it keeps it interesting, but sometimes it was all over the board. Especially interesting to me is learning more about Swedish culture throughout the course of the book.

What’s best about the book is the pace. It kept me captivated throughout the 569 pages (in my copy), and I couldn’t go to bed until I finished. It’s a well-done thriller.

Incidentally, I didn’t find that you needed to have

read The Girl With

the Dragon Tattoo first, but certainly that would be preferable.

Looking forward to the 3rd, and sad that it will be the last. This is a really interesting series.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With A Dragon TatooThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a masterwork of fine craftsmanship. When

I reached the final page I was disappointed that there was no more to read. I did not want the story to end. The characters are too intriguing for this to be the end. Apparently this was the first novel in a trilogy by the brilliant writer, Stieg Larsson, who

unfortunately died in 2004: the book contains a tribute to him and his career. I cannot wait to read the sequels scheduled for release in the USA in 2009.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an international best seller and is set in Sweden. It takes a little effort to get accustomed to all the Swedish names and places but then the story moves with lightening speed. There are two key plots happening simultaneously. In one, a Swedish financial investigative journalist publishes a libelous attack about a powerful industrialist and is sentenced to jail, fined a ruinous sum, and has his career torn to shreds. Another industrialist, Vanger, hires the journalist to investigate the 36 year old disappearance of his then 14

year old grand niece. There has been no trace of her in all these years and she is assumed dead. Yet, every year on his birthday, he receives a mysterious gift of a pressed flower, mimicking a gift his missing grandniece used to give him when she lived there. Vanger, an old man, is tormented by the flower gifts, and wants one more chance to find out what happened to her and who killed her. What the journalist uncovers about the Vanger family’s hitherto unknown secrets and connections to the Nazis, will have you hanging on the edge of your seat.

The book is titled after yet another character, Lisabeth Salander, a societal outcast and social ward of the State, uncivilized without any desire to obey societal norms, and replete with piercings, tattoos, and a goth/biker appearance. In short, at first glance a totally undesirable and unsympathetic person. She is a researcher with a corporate security firm and ends up working with the journalist. In truth, she is a survivor of abuse in all forms with low self esteem, and an inability to trust. She is a genius with Asberger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, who sees patterns in things ordinary mortals miss and uses incredible computer hacking skills to accomplish her goals. She is fascinating: ruthless and tough to a fault, yet internally vulnerable, struggling to comprehend her own feelings. She has an appeal that draws you to her, rooting for her, and wanting to understand her. Lisabeth is unforgettable, unlike most characters that populate mystery thrillers. There is such depth here.

The book is a thriller on many levels: The story about the Vanger family itself, the journalist’s crusade to redeem his reputation, Lisabeth’s vendettas and development, and of course, the truth about what actually happened to the missing Vanger heiress. This is a superb novel and impossible to put down. Utterly stunning. Probably the best book in 2009.

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The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing

Tarquin Hall’s new “cozy”, is a great read for those interested in India, its people, and its customs. “Died Laughing” is Hall’s second mystery, and again features Vish Puri, a 50-something detective in Delhi who bills himself

as India’s “Most Private Investigator”. He’s often called on by public officials to look into crimes, as well as investigating for private clients. Puri also has a large family; wife, children, mother, and siblings as well as

a large cast of “operatives”, who often figure into Puri’s cases. In both books, so far, Puri’s mother, “Mummy” and his wife, “Rumpi” team up to solve a more home-grown crime among their friends. Vish, who wishes his wife and mother would just stop trying to do what he does, thankfully never learns about their crime-busting.

“Died Laughing” is a somewhat complicated story that involves magic, murder,

and fake Swamis. Operatives “Face Cream”, “Handbrake”, and “Tubelight” join Vish as he follows it all to a curious end.

Hall writes in detail about Indian society. Reading his books is almost a learning experience. His plots are almost incidental to character development. I’m looking forward to number three in his Vish Puri series.

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So Cold the River

So cold the riverThis book begins with The protagoni

st Eric Shaw at a funeral watching with the family the DVD video that he created of the deceased’s life.

He was trained as a film maker but has had issues with the people he worked with. When he has to take inderal and Xanax to get though the funeral you can figure that anxiety is one of his issues. After the funeral the sister of the deceased asks him to go to her father in law’s home town, French Lick, Indiana and find out something about his past. Her father-in-law has become very rich and is 95 years old but she knows nothing about his past and wants the video as a gift for her husband. She books him in at The West Baden Springs Hotel (This is a real place, a fantastic historical hotel), Google it! She gives him an unopened bottle of mineral water that her father in law, Campbell Bradford has had since

1929. The only thing he has from his past.
When he gets to the hotel, he can’t stop himself from drinking some of the water called Pluto water. He starts to have visions and headaches that is only relieved by drinking more of the water.

We are now in Stephen King territory, a nice place to be. He finds that there is only one Bradford left there and he is a terrible person.The book is very long but makes a very enjoyable read. It made me want to go and check out the area. I think they still have Pluto water there and the whole area is beautiful.

I really liked the book, the characters are interesting and the story is a mystery with lots and lots of strange things going on. I am going to be reading more of Michael Koryta’s books but think they can’t be as good as this one.I highly recommend it for anyone who likes something a little different.

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The Passage

The passageIt has been a while since I’ve encountered a horror novel of

such magnitude

and scope, but Justin Cronin’s hefty tome “The Passage” seems poised to announce itself as the latest true “horror epic.” It’s about time too! Ambitious and thought-provoking, but filled with propulsive action and bloodshed, “The Passage” is the thinking person’s genre thrill ride. This massive book starts in the near future with a pretty unique combination of vampiric lore meshed with science gone awry. But Cronin, while nailing these explosive first chapters, has much more

up his sleeve. The expansive (and sometimes it seems the story will never end) plot resets several times until we have followed the confrontations to their inevitable conclusion many generations later.

The comparisons to Stephen King’s “The Stand” seem apt and, I believe, will be widespread. And in case anyone has a passing interest on where I fall on “The Stand,” I think it’s the best book of its type that I’ve ever read. Although the books are quite different in plotting and structure, thematically they share much. From the veritable destruction of the world as we know it, to the efforts to rebuild some semblance of a new world order, to the ultimate confrontation between good an evil replete with the requisite supernatural underpinnings–both books challenge ordinary citizens to rise to extraordinary levels to champion the human cause. In the right hands, these apocalyptic epics can be unforgettable–and I’ll just say that Cronin’s hands are quite capable.

Don’t misunderstand the King reference, however, “The Passage” stands as its own unique portrait of a ravaged future. It’s just that there are so few horror novels that set out to accomplish so much in storytelling. Cronin’s novel is gutsy, challenging and filled with high level drama of the first order. It’s not breezy or light entertainment, however. It’s a serious reading commitment for those looking for their gore mixed with a lot of substance. A real change-of-pace and a welcome new addition to the ranks of horror lore, “The Passage” has earned the title of “epic.”

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The Last Child

The Last ChildI dare you to read the prologue of this book without getting totally pulled in to the story. My heart was pounding by page 2, and I think my boss might want to have a talk with Mr. Hart because I went in to work a couple of mornings on very little sleep because I couldn’t put this book down until I got to the last word.

Johnny Merrimon was once a happy child. He and his twin sister, Alyssa, lived with their beautiful, vibrant mother and strong, caring father. Then Alyssa goes missing. She’s seen being pulled into a mysterious van, and a year later, Johnny’s life is completely different. His mother is bullied into passivity by a rich, abusive man who keeps her strung out on drugs and treats her like a possession. Johnny knows in his heart that he can find his sister, bring his father home, and save his mother, and for months he plays a dangerous game of spying on local child predators, convinced that at least one of them knows what happened to his sister. Detective Hunt is the haunted cop who cannot break out of his obsession with Alyssa’s case – and the beautiful mother – to save his own family from falling apart. Jack is the wounded best friend who idolizes Johnny and tries to mask his own pain with the alcohol he steals from his cop father.

Hart could have taken the easy way out and turned this into a suspenseful but heartwarming story of mystery

and redemption. Instead, he creates complex, rich characters and places them in terrifying, soul searching situations. Johnny is a child living with nightmares, and he reaches into ancient mysticism, searching

for strength and clues to help him heal his family. He’s seen too much of the harsh reality of life for someone his age, and this dark desperation colors all the events in this book.

I was, simply put, blown away by this book. It is well written, intelligent, and impossible to forget. A week after finishing it, I’m still thinking about it. Hart is now on my must-read list, and I look forward to reading his next novel.

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Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10)

Dead in the family“Dead in the Family” has a very appropriate title — all sorts of family members pop up, and not just for Sookie. Charlaine Harris still can whips up a pleasant warm Southern vibe for her not-so-urban fantasies, but unfortunately this latest novel isn’t quite up to her usual standards: it’s basically a mass of fluffy in-between storylines that rarely go anywhere.

Just after Amelia leaves for New Orleans, Sookie’s cousin Claude appears at her home and asks to move in with her, since he’s a lone fairy who needs the presence of another. Bill is suffering from silver poisoning AND depression, and Sookie has to find a “relative” who can help him.

And Eric has some family issues as well — his maker Appius Livius Ocella shows up on Sookie’s doorstep, along with his “son”/lover Alexei.

To make matters worse, unidentified fairies and were have been crossing Sookie’s land,, and it also turns out that there’s a dead body buried back there. And it’s not Debbie Pelt’s. Now Sookie must unravel the secrets plaguing the supernaturals around her, or there might be even more deaths.

“Dead in the Family” feels like Charlaine Harris wrote half-a-dozen short stories, ripped them apart at the seams, and then sewed them back together. There’s no central plot to this book, just a mass of fluffy subplots woven loosely around each other. And some of the stories don’t really have much point to them, so the book feels cluttered and fragmented.

The saving grace is that some of those subplots ARE interesting, mainly the ones that develop the characters — the whole subplot involving Bill and the elderly Caroline Bellefleur is quite sweet and touching, and it should be interesting to see where Harris takes the religious/political pressure on the weres. And the typically bloody climax is a pretty shocking, gruesome one, if a bit slapdash.

But Sookie’s characterization is very shaky in this book — Harris zooms through her

entire recovery from being TORTURED in ONE CHAPTER (ARG! Cop-out!), and initially she seems so aggressive that it feels like she’s channeling Anita Blake. Fortunately she gets steadier and sunnier after

the first few

chapters, and it’s intriguing to see her various family members interacting with her — fae, were and telepathic human.

And there’s some much-needed development given to the sexy, devil-may-care Claude (it’s very cute when he’s goofing around on the playground with Hunter), as well as new insights into Bill and Eric’s lives and families (both living and undead).

“Dead in the Family” is all about the family ties, but it feels like Charlaine Harris just whipped together a bunch of short story ideas rather than writing a cohesive plot. Better luck next time.

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