Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The blurb on the front of the book reads

"A Literary Miracle"

I'm inclined to agree. I put off reading this book until the 11th hour, for no particular reason (perhaps because I had seen the words "love story"). I'm very glad I picked it up and gave it a chance.

We begin in 1962, as a dying young actress arrives by boat to Porto Vergogna to stay at The Hotel Adequate View. Pasquale Tursi is out building his beach to try and bring in American tourists. The actress, Dee Moray, was working on the film Cleopatra when she was told she had stomach cancer.

We jump to present day and Claire Silver, an assistant of Michael Deane, a somewhat washed-up but cunning film producer who jumped the shark and is trying to get back. Shane Wheeler is a young man meeting with Claire to pitch his movie about the Donner Party.

From here, the book jumps back and forth between, one thinks, two different stories. Not so, dear reader. As Alvis Bender, an "author" who stays at Hotel Adequate View 2 weeks a year to write his novel (of which there is only one chapter) says to Pasquale:

"Stories are people. I'm a story, you're a story.... [ ]. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we're lucky, our stories join into one, and for awhile, we're less alone." 
 The stories in Beautiful Ruins are so wonderfully woven together that once I got started, I couldn't stop. I had to know more and be with the characters longer. It is a love story, a story about family, a story about chances and regrets. It's beautiful.

There is much more to the novel, but you need to discover it for yourself

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

1) I'm really surprised I even bothered to read this book.
2) I'm more surprised that I enjoyed it.

I listen to a few science podcasts but my favorite is Science...sort of. When I was listening to the backlog (episode 166), I heard an interview with Daniel H. Wilson while I was commuting to work. He was discussing his science fiction book, Amped, and it sounded interesting but honestly, I don't really read science fiction so I wasn't inclined to read the book.

But the more they talked, the more I thought I should give it a shot. So I downloaded it from the library as an audiobook and started it on February 3rd. I finished it today, April 11th. No, it's not really that long of a book.

Amped is set in the near-future where humans have a choice to get brain implants to help them become smarter or faster. It's used for kids who are a little slow or people with mental illnesses or brain problems (ie. epilepsy). But the non-implanted people are getting upset about the amps (implanted people) getting ahead in schools and work. How dare they be able to change themselves to be better? We come in to the story with Owen, a teacher who is trying to talk a student off the ledge, literally. Samantha is an Amp and she doesn't think the world will accept them. She jumps.

Things start going downhill fast because Samantha wasn't wrong. Laws are set that say Amps are not considered people. They have no rights. Owen is forced on the run since he has an implant for epilepsy following an accident.

Owen ends up in Eden in a trailer park refuge with other Amps and soon discovers that his implant isn't what he thought it was. He is right in the middle of a war: between the Pure Humans and Amps. And it's getting ugly.

It took me a bit to get through because I'm not terribly intrigued by science fiction and, in the beginning, it just didn't grab me. I wanted to finish it though so I kept going. I forget which chapter or point finally dragged me in but this book really picked up for me and I couldn't stop listening to it. I finished the last 5 hours in a matter of days.

After this, I'm definitely not opposed to trying out Wilson's other books and giving more Sci-fi a try.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

I'm really good at reading series out of order lately. I used to watch Bones on a regular basis but have since quit (mostly when Brennan and Booth had a kid....). I still love the books because the Tempe Brennan that is in the books? A much more likable person.

Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist and her books read true. The crimes to solve are often horrifying and this latest novel is no less awful to read about since it involves children.

It looks like Anique Pomerleau showed up way back in Monday Mourning. Goodreads tells me I read it back in 2007 but amazingly enough, the plot from back then was easy to recall when Pomerleau's name appears again in this novel.

Children are being murdered and showing up in Brennan's Charlotte, NC backyard. She's asked to work some cold cases and manages to tie several disappearances and murders together. DNA is established as Pomerleau's and Brennan is off. Off to get Andrew Ryan who has disappeared off the radar since his daughter died. The two of them get back in to the (rocky) swing of things and go after the killer.

There are several twists along the way and, although I felt that the first twist was false, things did get interesting.

Enjoyable book. I think this could be read as a standalone because history on Pomerleau is given but it's worth a read of Monday Mourning too.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Raging Heat by Richard Castle

This is #6 in the Nikki Heat series but it appears I'm just reading them as I see them on the shelf. It doesn't seem like I'm missing too much doing it that way though.

I love watching Castle on TV and always enjoy these books (as a coworker calls them "junk food for the mind"). This one was not an exception.

Nikki and Jameson are investigating a body that falls from the sky and crashes into the planetarium. There's little left of the body to go on but what they find leads them to some powerful politicians.

This is a nice little murder mystery that even takes you a bit to the side to start doubting the main characters. To add to the stress of the murder, Hurricane Sandy is about to touch down and they have to catch the bad guy before it hits!