Friday, April 29, 2016

Lisa Lutz: The Passenger

Lisa Lutz takes the readers on a suspenseful read with a woman on the run who will do anything to survive:

Tanya Dubois does not do what most women would do if they came upon their husband dead at the bottom of the stairs, she runs, cashes out her credit cards and dyes her hair brown. She is now on the run again, but who and/or what is she running from. As her journey ensues she becomes multiple people along the way and meets those who will both help and hinder her along the way. All she knows is that she has to keep running at all costs and this means doing things she never thought she was capable of.

I know Lutz as an author from The Spellman Files series, which is a great mix of mystery and laughs, The Passenger however, is a completely different realm of Lutz's writing for me and I have to say I like the path that she has taken with this book. Overall I enjoyed this book as you follow Tanya and her run from something all over the USA. You know that she is running from her past and some crime but you really do not find out what it is till near the end of the book which I liked. This really kept the suspense going from what she is running from and who will come for her next and what will she have to do in order to survive and keep going.

It was interesting to see "Tanya" create a back story for each new person that she has to becomes and tries to decide what this person likes. However, because Tanya does this each time she becomes someone new,  you only get to know a little bit of each new person that she becomes and not her as a whole but part of the problem is I don't think she knows who she is either any more. This is evident in her train of thoughts that she has I will say that this speak to her strength and will to survive that is underneath it all but you only really get an eighth of  a character and not a full fledge one that many people are looking for in a book. I think that by having so many partial characters developed and I still found I was able to follow the book and it was still very interesting speaks to Lutz as an author 

I would love a book about Blue, that is one that I would pick up in a heartbeat. Even though she is not in the majority of the book, she is a character that could have her own book. From the very first time that you meet her she stands out. I am interested in her as a character, her past, what lead her to certain aspects and points in the book that we do see of her.

I'm on the fence about the email approach in order to get the tidbits of information about Tanya's past, for some reason I did not like this aspect of the book but cannot figure out why or even a different way that Lutz could impart this information to the reader. Just was not my favourite part. I'm also not sure what Dominic's part in this book was other than love interest. Seemed like Lutz felt like she had to have a love interest for Tanya that she kind of just threw him in. He doesn't really add much to the story or overall plot and things would work out the same if he was not in the book. I think if you are going to give your main character a love interest at least have them have some sort of other purpose in the book.

This was an interesting and good departure for Lutz from the Spellman files. I liked the overall mystery that she created as well as the intrigue of who Tanya will become next. I hope that Lutz stays on this path and I'm interested to see what she comes up with next.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Christopher Moore: A Dirty Job

In the first in a new series, Christopher Moore shows a whole new side of Death:

Charlie Asher has one of the best and worst days of his life all on the same day. The day that his daughter Sophia is born is also the day that he looses the love of his life, Rachel, as well as become the newest Death Merchant (though he doesn't know that yet). Though he does notice that people seem to be dying all around him and he starts to hear whispers coming from the sewer drains, but he can just chalk this up to his Beta Male imagination. But Charlie is about to find out that he has a greater purpose in life and it is up to him to help keep the balance between the dark and light. It turns out to be a pretty dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Moore has created a really fun, cute, funny, quirky and very interesting/creative take on Death (as in the one that passes on the souls, not actually dying, though they do tend to go hand in hand). Death Merchants as they become known in the books are there to help the souls of those who have passed not only find a new body to reside in but to also keep them out of the dark hands. I found it really interesting that Moore did not have everyone have a soul instead a soul is passed on to a person who is right for that soul. In a way it was a type of reincarnation that I have never heard of before. Where the soul moved on to before the right person came along was also interesting as it went into something inanimate that was extremely important to that person. There are some funny ones and I question how the soul would move on from that object, Charlie would have to be very creative not only to retrieve it but to get it to it's new owner. I think the only thing that I did not like about this book is that at times it was predictable.

You often hear men being referred to as Alpha males in book, actually more often than not your main character is a Alpha male. Not so in this book. Moore makes it a point to show Charlie, The main character, as a Beta male and how being a Beta male not only affects his life but also his decision making process. This is not to say there is not an Alpha male in this story, I would say that Minty Fresh (yes that is the character's name) would fill the role of Alpha male.

I really liked Charlie as a main character, he is very witty, very aware of his flaws as well as his strengths and really tries to adjust to being Death as well as one can expect. Also being a new Dad is stressful as well trying to raise a little girl who seems to have some interesting abilities herself (i'll never think of the kitty the same again) everything just seems to pile up on Charlie but he takes it in stride. For the most part when things happen he is very calm and thinks things through before springing into action.

There are some secondary characters that have parts told from their point of view, however, I do not think that they are as fleshed out as characters as Charlie is. Moore has enough there to make them interesting and at times weird but that is about it.

There are some laugh out loud moments in this book and I really enjoyed reading this book and looking forward to seeing what happened next to Charlie especially when the Hellhounds were around. I didn't realize that this is the first book in a series till I added it on goodreads. It will be very interesting to see how Moore creates the second book in the series just based upon how this one ended but I really look forward to finding out.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Gillian Flynn: Dark Places

In true Gillian Flynn style she takes you back and forth between past and present to try and figure out what happened the night of The Satan Sacrifice:

The murder of Libby's family became known as the “The Satan Sacrifice" and she was the only survivor at the age of seven. Well her brother survived as well, but he was convicted of the murders.twenty five years later Libby has been living off donations made to her by the public and funds are running low. She happens to receive a message from a guy named Lyle who wants her to make an appearance at a convention known as The Murder Club. Lyle's group is determined to find the "real" killer of Libby's family, but Libby knows they have it all wrong, her brother Ben murdered her family...Right?

This has a similar type of format to Gone Girl (except the previous time is not based upon journal entries), so if you have read that book and liked that format you will enjoy this book as well. You are continually waiting for the last hour of the day when Libby's family was killed. I liked the back story that this format gave this book as there were multiple points of view; Libby, Ben and their mother. As this format seems to be one that Flynn prefers I will say that I liked it better in this book than in Gone Girl and I think this was due to the fact that it did not have the journal aspect. I was able to figure out the majority of the mystery presented here but not entirely, which is always a plus for me, but I will say that when everything is revealed it lacked some of the shock factor of Gone Girl (though maybe this is due to the fact this is the last book I have read all the previous books by Flynn so you know that there has to be something "big" coming).

I always love books with small towns featured and in this book it is a small farming town in the 80s (where devil worship was the mainstream thing at the time) made it all the more interesting. It is crazy to see how people make the leap from a few facts or how someone looks to devil worshiper. You can also tell that the town did not really care for Libby and her family as bad apples and a horrible mother, when really they are trying to do the best they can. Though we don't get to read much about the investigation or trial at the time, lets just say you can tell that they were all to ready to believe the easiest root but the more you read from Ben's point of view, you go back and forth whether the law enforcement at the time had it right or not.

I liked Libby as a character with her insecurities and quirks, for example the kleptomania that she seems to have. It was kind of funny to see what random thing that she would take next from a person's home, she just felt the need to have it, like a soap dish. I appreciated that Flynn did not have her come unscathed from the mass murder on her family, she is selfish, moody, angry, anti-social and just really emotionally troubled. In fact she is not able to hold down a job and relies on the money that people donated to her after her family was killed. The interesting part of this is that she feels entitled to this money and when another tragedy cause people to stop donating to her she feels pity for herself and not the other person who has suffered a tragedy. And really the only reason she agrees to "help" Lyle and the murder club out for the money that he is willing to pay her.

Lyle was a quirky character, he has really poor social skills that at time reminded me a bit of Sherlock Holmes (TV version in Elementary) in the fact that he was more concerned on getting to the truth of what happened that he was unable to actually garner a rapport in order to get the information that he wanted he would just jump right in to the questions.

I enjoyed this book and I think that it is Libby who makes this book, as she is not your typical main character as she is very flawed and really is only out for herself. I believe i have new read all the books the Flynn has released (other than the new short story she has released), so I'm looking forward to what she comes up with next. On a side note, I have yet to watch the movie adaptation of this book so I'm going to check it out to see how well they did, though I'm not sure already if I believe Charlize Theron as Libby.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

George R. R. Martin: A Dance With Dragons

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have heard of George R. R. Martin's Fire and Ice series (either the books or the TV show). This is a review of the last book in the series (so far, but no one seems to know when the sixth book is coming out), so if you are interested in this series make sure to read the previous books first or you will be completely lost in this book; Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows

The Seven Kingdoms is still out of balance as many still try to conquer and control it, however, there are threats in every direction to those who seek this control, especially from those they consider their allies. And on The Wall Jon Snow tries to protect the south from the horrors that live beyond the wall which threaten the Seven Kingdoms as well. This Dance with dragons, is going to be chess game where there wrong move will lose you the kingdom and probably your life as well.

This book occurs at the same time as book four in the series. My understanding is that Martin did not think that he could do all of the characters and plot line justice if he only had one book at this moment of time in the series. Therefor, we get a little bit of a repeat from the previous book but told from a different point of view. So while I may not have enjoyed the repeating parts as you know what was going to happen (and what is going on), I appreciated that they were from a different point of view and a different perspective. 

This book was also more political than the previous books. There are no real major battles, deaths or weddings that take place therefore, this book is much more about the cat and mouse game, however, it is in the cat and mouse game (this seems to be true for basically all the characters within the book) is where you will find the most shocking points in this book (I really do not want to spoil them but lets say they are big). That said due to the fact that this book is a cat and mouse game it does tend to drag on a bit and feel very slow at times.

Tyrion has always been one of my favourite character, and I think that is probably true for most of the readers of this series. However, I got tired of how many times Tyrion would ask "Where do whores go"? This questions was asked multiple times when there were sections from Tyrion's point of view and I mean multiple. I do not think there was a section in this book where he does not ask it. I just found that Tyrion was more whiny in this book and I missed the whit that he had presented and became known for in the previous books. I will say that the further you get in the book the old Tyrion does come back at times, I just wish he was there throughout.

I really liked that we finally got to find out with happened to Theon (Reek) as it has been awhile since Winterfell and his betrayal of the people he once called family, The Starks. It was interesting to see the degradation in his character and the darkness that Martin inserted into this part of the book. The tortures that he must have suffered were great but you can still see the "real" Theon underneath it all and what he thinks is owed to him.

While I a few parts of this book did not live up to the previous installments in this series, I think every reader who has made it through all the books is anxiously awaiting in the next book in the series to see where Martin takes the characters and well with the cliffhangers of the last two books in the series. I know I feel the need to read on. I'm just glad I have not been waiting the six years like some people have been (well I hope I do not have to wait six years).

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