Monday, June 23, 2014

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Another spot on the Bingo card for summer reading ... down. I have 2 boxes in a row now. Yay.

Another recommendation by Books on the Nightstand and this one was a doozy. They warned it was creepy. It was. I think, but don't quote me on this, that this is the most unusual psychological thriller I think I've read.

We have no idea what is going on except that when people see something, they end up going insane and killing loved ones and then themselves (or just themselves if they are alone). No one knows what they see: creatures? monsters? radio waves? We just know that the characters in the book are forced to live life with their eyes closed or shut up in a house with covers over the windows.

We know it lasts at least 4 years, as that is how old Malorie's children are in present time. She found out she was pregnant at the time the "visual plague" started. We flip back and forth to present to when the phenomena started happening and, honestly, none of it makes sense but the unknown horror that looms out there makes your skin crawl.

Excellent book. Well-written and sufficiently creepy to keep making me look over my shoulder.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Third in the Divergent series (and final), this one didn't fall flat like some of the other 3rd books in trilogies (looking at you, Mockingjay).

Tris, Tobias and crew are stuck inside Chicago where Evelyn, Tobias' mother, leads the new city, by forbidding factions and keeping the factionless armed and patrolling the city. Just another tyrant on the wall.

The Allegiant is formed, a group of people who want the old way of life and who want to follow Edith Prior's video of leaving the city walls. A small group of Divergent, including Tris, Christina and Tobias, head out and discover..... an airport. Otherwise known as the government who is using people as experiments. Now we're getting creepier.

Allegiant explains the purpose of the Chicago experiment and genetically "damaged" vs genetically "pure". It all got very Hitler/Nazi-esque to me, which I suppose is what it was supposed to do.

Someone has to rise against, and they do, with some dire consequences to some main characters. I'll give props to Roth on the ending. Quite powerful.

Since I refuse to spoil, I'll finish with: this is a great ending to a great series. Bravo!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Another recommendation by Books On The Nightstand podcast. Another GREAT recommendation.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

I can't, wouldn't, give away anything in this review, because it is a jaw-dropper. A WTF? book. A go-back-to-the-beginning-and-reread-instantly book to see HOW you possibly missed this.

You missed the twist, the WTF moment because the book is so well-written. Cadence Sinclair, one of the first Sinclair grandchilden, one of the golden ones, has an accident on the family's private island. Her memory is lost and we step into the book where she's trying to remember her accident and the events surrounding it.

This is a book that would appeal to adults and young adults. It's a short 240 pages. I didn't read it in one sitting, although I would have if I could have. But there was nothing that I picked up that would have pointed out the twist. Once I caught a glimpse of it, I was hooked.

Go. Read. NOW. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

How did cars become so evil?

At least in Mr. Mercedes, the car is just the medium for evil, it's not the source thereof.

The source is an incredibly disturbed young man who decides it would be great fun to run a stolen Mercedes through a crowded parking lot full of job fair seekers. We learn that he kills 8 of them, including a baby and her mother. Right off the bat, King has made you despise this man.

We meet with Bill Hodges, a retired detective, who despite his impressive list of closed cases, never managed to find Mr. Mercedes. Until one day, contemplating suicide, Hodges gets a letter from....

Which sparks his interest in re-investigating the case. Which leads him to the sister of the owner of the car, who committed suicide months before.....

Which leads him to the cousin of the sister, Janey, who is very neurotic and smothered by her mother...

and downward we go into a spiral of mass terrorism.

I'd rather you read this instead of me telling all. Because this one, this is a classic King novel, and it needs to be enjoyed and it needs to freak you out too.

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

For some reason, I enjoy reading drink recipes that either famous authors enjoyed (Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writersor, in this case, are based on books. 

I grabbed this one from the library as a fun read. It didn't disappoint. It's a excellently illustrated book with just enough tidbits of info about the major books the drinks are based on to keep you entertained. And if you are mixing up the cocktails as you go, hey, more power to you.

I'm not a cocktail girl, preferring my drinks straight as they come, but I had the makings of at least one of the drinks: Rye and Prejudice. Rye whiskey and grapefruit juice. The first sip was bracing but the rest was just excellent. I've made note of the rest of the drinks to try, leaving out exceptionally fruity concoctions, and we will see how it goes. This is a good reason for me to beef up the liquor cabinet with mixers!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

B-I-N-G-O!! Wait...Wrong Kind...

So once again, Books On The Nightstand podcast has brilliant things to share. For your summer reading enjoyment, they are offering up Bingo cards. What? Yes, you read right. Bingo!

Episode 282 explains the whole concept and links to the cards. Each time you hit refresh, you get a new card. I helpfully supplied the link here.

I'm all about this kind of stuff, so I went, hit refresh and printed out the first card - basically without looking at it. I also made a shot to share with you here.

I'm making it even harder on myself by deciding that all the books I read for this bingo MUST come from my library here at home (which is over 1,000 books and growing). I have a ton that I haven't read, but picked up because I wanted to read them someday. Well....someday is here.

Where to start? How should I play this card? I'm fairly certain my book "With a red cover" is going to be Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Naht Hanh that I recently picked up and keep eyeballing. That means I can go horizontal and get the free square (Ann recommends watching a movie based on a book for that one) or vertical and hit a translation.  Hmmmm....

This will be an interesting summer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

A lot of hoopla surrounds this book.

Well-deserved hoopla.

I've been thinking about this one since I finished it a few days ago and I just wasn't sure what to write. I read other reviews and, aside from the ones FULL of animated gifs, I kept saying "Yeah, kinda right".

I think I'll write this review starting with some background - brief background. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was about 7 years old. It's a horrible disease but still a better disease than some others. Colitis, like Crohn's Disease, can turn deadly quickly or slowly. Mine chose to go quickly. Within 2 years, I had my entire colon and rectum removed because eagle-eyed, intelligent doctors at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis saw that cancer was a very definite possibility. I am a lucky one but it was a scary, horrific ordeal and I'm well aware that I got a second chance. The "big surgery" came with a warning that I might not make it. UC is never cured but I'm still thankful that I never had cancer.

That kind of experience, as a kid, saddles you for the rest of your life. While your cohorts and peers are running around, having a blast and enjoying life.... you are not so much doing that. You are aware that things are bigger, scarier, and, honestly, that kids die. Being at Riley for so much of my childhood, that was very apparent. Kids. Die.

I was looking for a notebook to write in the other day and grabbed a random one. In it was a listing of my free-flowing thinking from 2 years ago that all started with "I want....". It spanned four pages and started with: "I want to leave behind something bigger than me".

And there is exactly why I loved this book.

Green pegged the cancer kids, the sick kids, exactly. The love story of Hazel and Gus was an uplifting thing to read, don't get me wrong. I wanted those two crazy kids to work out. But Gus' almost-obsession with needing to leave something great behind, because otherwise - really - what's the point in dying young, made me keep nodding along. Yes. I want that too. It is almost an obsession, a drive, to have all the struggles and pain mean something. But Hazel's sentiments are probably the correct ones. Tread lightly and love deeply but not widely. Move on to whatever is next.

Hoopla well earned. Plus it was so fun to have it set in my town (or near town). I've spent my time on Funky Bones, watching the stars. It's a well written, well meaning, well worded book.

This is not an ordinary review. Except I still leave you with READ THIS. It's worth it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Field of Prey by John Sandford

Book 24 of the Lucas Davenport series....

I won't mention names but there are some series I just stopped reading because the author was churning out the same thing, over and over. Then there are series that I dread will end. Sandford's books are the ones I don't want to ever stop because even though we have had the same characters for 24 books now, it's not old. New people are introduced into each book, make you like them and they go away only to pop up in another book or series.

Davenport is in charge again with the usual round of characters in the background: Flowers, Del, etc. In Field of Prey, we meet Catrin Mattsson, a detective who is part of the investigation for the Black Hole Killer. Multiple skulls and body pieces are found in a cistern out in the middle of nowhere, all pointing to a serial killer, spanning over a decade of killings. The case is lukewarm turning cold for a bit, as per usual, then speeds up into a fairly horrifying conclusion.

I did yell at Davenport once when he got the name of the killer, in a batch of 3 possible names, and only investigated two... obviously not the killer. D'oh! There were same strange twists and turns in this one and one complete WTF moment where I had to go back and re-read some sections (applauding Sandford for that one) and still never picked up on that plot twist!

My only complaint isn't really a complaint. I get that this is part of the story of the sexual deviancy of the killer bothered me. I KNOW there are people like this IRL but, towards the end, it was rough to read.