Thursday, June 25, 2015

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Once again, I step into a series right in the middle. Will I ever learn?

Rizzoli & Isles is a series, and apparently a TV show, with a Boston Detective and a Medical Examiner as the main characters. Women characters. Just so you know....

I got this book as an Advanced Reader's Edition from LibraryThings Early Reviewers. I feel bad I'm just getting to it but not that bad, because I devoured it in a day and am already searching out the other books in the series

Rizzoli is on the case of Leon Gott, a big game hunter, who was found suspended by his ankles and gutted - much like the game he hunts. He was low hanging fruit and when the family pets get hungry.... the detail was pretty descriptive for how Bruno the dog and the kitties had to fend for themselves.

Isles is the ME assigned to the autopsy. As gruesome as it is, it seems like a stand alone. Someone angry at big game hunters and takes their revenge.

The story jumps back six years to a safari team in Botswana. Six of the seven members of the vacationing group are either murdered or missing. One of those is Gott's son.

A vicious attack on a zoo keeper leads Rizzoli and Isles to the zoo where a leopard is munching on Debra. What is happening here? More deaths, most are seemingly unrelated, more jumps back to the bush camp in Botswana, more confusion.

This really was a fantastic mystery. I don't hunt, so that didn't hold any appeal to me, but it was a great addition to the story. Well worth picking up even if you haven't read any of the series (like me).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman

I love Goodreads. It showed me that I started this massive set of comics in February 2013 and finished it yesterday. It seriously did not take me this long to get through it because I kept putting it down and away as I watched the series. It was difficult for me to decide if I wanted to travel along with Robert Kirkman - the TV writer - or Robert Kirkman - the comic author.

I chose the TV writer.

The TV show is dark and violent. The comics are even more so which actually, I don't know why, surprised me. I would say there is more sex, but in reality it was the violence of the sex that caused me to put this away for a bit and carry on with the, less sexually violent, show. Having finished the first compendium, I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the show. Unless they are one of those Daryl Dixon fans ("If Daryl dies, we riot" people) because the Dixon brothers don't exist in the comic world. As much as I do like Daryl, I was fine with him not being in this world.

We have a lot of the same characters as the show and a lot of the same plot points. But throw those in a basket and mix them up because the same plot points don't happen to the same characters. Which made this a very interesting read and comparison to the show. I wondered, more than once, why the change to the show? Rick loses a hand in the books, doesn't in the show. Dale lives and loses a leg, Dale dies early in the show. Hershel loses the leg but doesn't in the books. Andrea is actually someone I like in the books, not so much in the show. And Lori and little Judith? That part actually took me by surprise, the violence of that scene in the book.

We end this compendium with the Governor's storm (and several botched attempts - he was a bit smarter in the show) of the prison.

I already have Compendium 2 so hopefully that won't take me years to finish.

Gathering Prey by John Sandford

I notice that I start some series, read a bit, then get bored because it becomes very formulaic. You can basically pick up any Stephanie Plum book or any Anita Blake book and just start because, to me, they are nearly all the same.

The Prey series doesn't feel that way. Gathering Prey is book #25 of the Lucas Davenport series and I'm still sucked in to each one. I remember starting these WAY back in the day and thought it had promise. Davenport, as a character, is complex and can be unpredictable, as in this book. The cast of characters that he surrounds himself with - Shrake, Jenkins, Del, Flowers, Letty - are always good for a side plot that never really takes away from Davenport. I even really love the Virgil Flowers series just as much.

In this book, there is a gang of "disciples" (think Manson) who follow Pilate, a frickin' insane biker guy, into torturing and killing people. Travelers, folks who just travel the country, are targets, but not always. Skye and Henry are two travelers who meet up with Letty, Lucas' daughter, and they tell her about Pilate (or Pilot). They part ways and eventually Henry becomes prey to Pilate and his gang. Skye contacts Letty and Lucas for help and we're off to the races.

My main problem with this book is that the characters seemed.... stupid? I guess that is the word I want because the disciples were all morons, Skye herself acted completely naive (you get kidnapped once, you're saved, don't go back to the people who kidnapped you in the first place - really?) that I wasn't surprised at what happened to her. The cops, Letty and BCA investigators all were top notch so I'm just sorry the people they were trying to catch and/or save were so dumb.

Overall though, this was another great Davenport book and, based on the ending, I'm not sure where the next one will take us. But I'm happy to keep following along.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

I don't know that I would have picked this book on my own. But since it was part of a book club, I read it. I wondered, as I read, if I liked it. I felt that it had a slow start and I didn't quite get how this would be

"A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss... " Dennis Lehane

But I get it now.

We settle into New Bremen, MN in 1961. Frank and Jake Drum are two preacher's kids who are typical kids, wandering the town, doing yard work for their grandpa, getting ice cold root beers from the drugstore and just hanging out being kids. The novel is Frank the adult's memories of a summer of death that seemed to skirt around the boys until it finally clobbered them.

Initially, a little boy is killed in a train accident and everyone knew that Bobby was a little slow and probably didn't mean to be on the tracks at the time. Frank and Jake knew Bobby so it was close to home but not a big part of their reality.


After following the train tracks and ending up in an area known for homeless men, they encounter their second death of the summer: a homeless man who had passed on. They meet an Indian who was going through the pockets of the dead man, pointing out that he didn't need those things anymore.


The next death hits terribly close to home and threatens to destroy not just the Drum family but the Brandt (the wealthiest residents of the town) family as well.

Suicide. Murder.

This isn't a murder mystery. It's really just a recollection of Frank Drum on how he and his brother survived the summer. It's heartbreaking and sad but there is also optimism from the little brother, Jake, who seems to understand things about life that others fail to see. And Frank, not letting the deaths of anyone go unnoticed and not letting himself go unchanged by them.

"The dead are never far from us.  They're in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all the separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air."

A Beginner's Guide to Reality by Jim Baggott

I made a mistake with this one and listened to the audio book. There was just way too much information to take in while attempting to commute to and from work. Read the book.

The book is basically an attempt to take a look at what we perceive our reality to be. The Matrix is actually referenced quite a bit. The first section, Money, really focuses on the reality that society has set up and the reality that everyone buys in to. That rectangle with Andrew Jackson on it that you exchange for goods? That only means $20 because society has deemed it as such, ergo that is our reality. This was an interesting section mainly because we really do take a lot for granted because we just accept that this reality and the social norms are what we must accept.

Colours is the next section and it's about what we perceive with our senses (Does color exist in the dark?). The we get into Light and some physics that I will admit lost me for a while. Here is where an actual book would have made a lot of difference.

While Baggott does reference the Matrix, this book uses the movie as a jumping off point. The philosophy and physics discussed could lead to some very interesting thoughts and conversations. Again, the audio book was well narrated but not how I should have read this book.