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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

“Looks Can Be Deceiving” by Jim Conners

This book was a fun read.  The author is a former high school classmate of mine, so we both hail from Western New York State where the story is set, and when it comes to reading enjoyment, for me, a great deal is about the setting.  So being able to relate to the actual places described in the book was a big plus.  Written in first person with a gruff and gritty dialogue style, the main character came across  as realistic and down-to-earth, and most of the secondary characters were developed enough to make the story come alive.  One caution: the book could use another round of editing for punctuation and word usage, although I think too much refinement in this case could distract from the style of writing and the feel for the main character. All in all, the story seemed to work for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Jim, I’m looking forward to your next book.  Keep up the good work!
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“No Way Back” by Andrew Gross

No Way Back

Just finished “No Way Back”, Andrew Gross’ new book. He manages to keep the excitement going throughout, as usual, while getting you personally invested in the characters, and I love how he manages to weave real-life events into his plots. Looking forward to the next one, Andrew!

“Game of Thrones” – Books vs. TV

It’s official- I have become a “Game of Thrones” junkie.  Nobody dares disturb me from 9:00 to 10:00 on Sunday nights.  But I don’t know if I’ve spoiled it a little for myself by reading ahead in the books.  I suppose it takes some of the surprise off, and my emotional reactions are tempered a bit since I can anticipate most of what’s going to happen, although the series in regards to at least one story line (Theon Greyjoy) has jumped ahead into Book 5, I believe. So there are surprises there for me.

I have read all of Book 3, “A Storm of Swords”, by George R.R. Martin, and I must say I am hooked. It’s marvelous how he can A Storm of Swordskeep so many characters and story lines going at once, and as soon as I think I have figured out what’s going to happen next, the author manages to astonish me with a twist I never saw coming! And even though I have seen every TV episode at least 2 or 3 times, I always manage to pick up some tidbit or nuance I didn’t notice before.  I guess I love the complexity.  Some sections tend to bog down, but I just skim through those, and some important events need to be read twice to really understand what all is happening.

Even though I am not surprised at everything that happens on TV, I still delight in the reactions of my friends who have not read the book when we share observations on Monday mornings.

So the question is, should I continue to read ahead with the next book, or am I missing out on some of the fun of the TV series?  Any thoughts?

Movies and Other Updates

I finally saw the movie, “One for the Money”, based on the Janet Evanovich book, and was pleasantly surprised.  It even kept my husband interested, and he’s not a movie person.  But I would have done some of the casting differently.  I would have liked to see Sandra Bullock as Stephanie (she would be a better tough Jersey girl, but they probably wanted someone younger for the part) and Debbie Reynolds was entirely too well coiffed and, for lack of a better word, too “normal” for the way I pictured Grandma Mazur.

Shemar Moore would have made a good Ranger, but Daniel Sunjata was fine.  I would have preferred a “prettier” Joe Morelli.  Any casting suggestions?

I also saw “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” from the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and loved it.  It might be hard to follow though, if you haven’t read the book.  The movie of the next installment is in the planning stages, and I can’t wait!

As for “The Laws of Our Fathers” by Scott Turow, I finally finished that book, but I can’t really think of anything more to say about it than I already have.  I’ll only say if you enjoy legal thrillers and appreciate good writing, it’s well worth your time.

“The Laws of our Fathers” by Scott Turow

Currently making my way through “The Laws of our Fathers” which is a very interesting book, but it is soooooo long:  817 pages.  I’m almost halfway there, insomnia having kept me up until 2:30 this morning, reading.

I love Scott Turow’s writing;  however, I think you need to be a serious reader to get through his collection of legal thrillers, as he describes everything in extreme detail which makes these long and fairly difficult to read.  I had to read the first chaper of this one twice in order to understand what was going on, as it describes a gang shooting and is filled with street jargon that I had trouble understanding.

The reward comes in some of his courtroom scenes where every nuance of the players’ actions are conveyed, making you feel as if you are almost there in the courtroom too, experiencing the drama and emotions along with the characters when the defense attorney finally elicits the answer he is after from the witness.  Very effective writing!

He also makes liberal use of flashbacks in order to get you well acquainted with his characters and to further draw you into the story.

I’ll let you know how this one turns out.

“Eyes Wide Open” by Andrew Gross

The unique thing about “Eyes Wide Open” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011) is that it was inspired by a real life tragedy.  In 2009, the author’s 25 year old nephew, Alex Gross, was found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay, having jumped or fallen to his death. Severely troubled, Alex had only days before been released from a hospital mental health ward in care of a small halfway facility from which he went for a walk, never to return.  Was it suicide or something else?

Andrew has taken this real-life and very personal happening and crafted a book which begins wth a fictional character suffering the same fate as Alex, and then proceeds to unravel the mystery of his death.  It is also a story of two brothers, one successful and one wayward, trying to bridge the gap between them, while each revelation from the past puts them in more danger.

Andrew has made this story exciting, thought-provoking, and also heart-wrenching, all the more so because of its link to real life, and it is well worth a read.  An author who may never find the solution to his own real life mystery has perhaps achieved some sort of closure by inventing a fictionalized solution for his characters.  Well done, Andrew.

To read about Alex and the circumstances of his tragic death go to www.alexwemissyou.com.

My Summer Reading List

My apologies to any readers of my blog, as other personal committments have kept me from blogging for quite a while now.  But that doesn’t mean I have not been reading, and I hope you have been too!

Here is a run-down of my summer reads:

“McNally’s Caper” by Lawrence Sanders – Another “mystery of the rich and famous” solved, of course, by Palm Beach sleuth and man-about-town, Archy McNally.  Not as interesting as some of the others in this series, so not one of my favorites.

“Swimsuit” by James Patterson – Standard Patterson fare:  a fast read with plenty of action and violence.  I got the feeling I had read it before (I probably have.  Many of the Patterson plots are similar and thus not especially memorable.), but I enjoyed it again anyway.

“Where There’s Smoke” by Sandra Brown– I always like the combination of mystery and romance.

“The Best Laid Plans” by Sidney Sheldon– This book feels a little dated, but the plot was interesting.

“The Doomsday Conspiracy” by Sidney Sheldon– I read this up until I discovered it was about little green men landing on earth, and then I ditched it.  I know my reading list is old, but this was way too dated for me.

“Breath of Scandal” by Sandra Brown– What can I say, I like Sandra Brown.

“The Shack” by William P. Young– This one is very different, and not exactly a mystery.  It is a Christian book about a man whose daughter is abducted and killed, and how he comes to know God and understand how He can let these things happen to young innocents.  The depictions of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are definitely not conventional, but if you can get your head around that, the book is quite thought-provoking and yields a satisfying ending.

“Let Me Call You Sweetheart” by Mary Higgins Clark– A reliable entry from this well-known author.

“Sanctuary” by Nora Roberts– Secrets from the past threaten a family and bring romance, naturally.

“Double Cross” by James Patterson– Alex Cross faces danger from homicidal maniacs on two fronts.  Again, formulaic Patterson.

“Standoff” by Sandra Brown– If you’ve read this far, you already know I like Sandra Brown, but this premise was so compelling I read the whole 217 pages in one sitting.  I just had to know how it ended!  It’s about a standoff with a gunman who tries to rob a convenience store.  The romance (or should I say sex) part was really not necessary to the story and could have been abbreviated, but then it wouldn’t be a Sandra Brown book without it.

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