Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

After hearing about this book from my friend E., I found it at a library book sale a few weeks ago and picked it up for a dollar.  I’m not generally a mystery person, I’ll admit.  As you might tell from some of the other books I have reviewed, I’m far more into the Fantasy and the Sci-Fi ends of things. And Vampires.  Never forget the Vampires.

I was a bit afraid that it would be dry and that I would put it down half way because the plot was getting too hard to follow, or a plot device came out of left field that tied everything up in a bow and everyone could move on from there quite neatly. Sadly, that has been my experience with most mysteries. But my Grandma enjoys Evanovich, and E. likes a lot of the same types of books that I do.

First, this is a terrible book to read before bed, because you will. not. put. it. down. It hooked me at the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. Finished it in about a day and a half when all was said and done, reading it on breaks at work, before bed, and while food was cooking. The characters are all clear and multi-dimensional, and could easily be someone you see walking down the street. The myriad of plot lines twist and turn together in such a way that though they might get confusing, they never get hopelessly entangled and it never seems as though Evanovich has written herself too far into a corner. The twists and turns in the plot make sense when you get to them and I felt dense a few times when I didn’t see where it was going until after it already got there.

The main character, Stephanie Plum, meets with wonderfully crazy people all over, from completely insane and scary to her almost weekly lunches with her Italian family in Trenton. I’m a person who loves a good dash of reality in all my stories too, and it’s clear to me that research was done for this tale. The details in Stephanie’s cars and forms of transportation was always a wonderful way to break tension in the story too, letting the reader catch their breath when things began to get intense.

My one issue with this first book in the Plum series is that it ended far too quickly. It was very much a fade to black at the climax of the story and it was just explained to the reader in the last chapter what happened. Telling instead of showing. Personally, I felt rather cheated at the ending and would have liked to have “witnessed” what happened instead or having it be revealed later. But to each his or her own, so I can deal with it.

It’s a quick read, so I got my $1 out of it that I originally spent, but I don’t know if I would pay full price for it. Thankfully, there are libraries and Half Price Books, so I’m set for when I look for the next one in the series: Two for the Dough.

As a side note: I’ll be visiting my family and sister this weekend, so I’ll be interviewing the Sister regarding her thoughts on the Hunger Games while I’m there. Something to look forward to.

cover photo of book from here: http://0.tqn.com/d/bestsellers/1/0/g/9/-/-/one_money.jpg


An Almost Book review

I had these great plans that I would have the final book in the Inheritance Cycle finished today and I would write a wondrous review on it.

But then there was work.  And unpacking.

And packing to go on a trip.

And just, generally not enough time in the day to read a good book without the rest of the real world getting in the way.

I am over halfway done with it though, and I am enjoying it so far.  I have a few complaints about it, but those are mainly about how there are plot devices happening that seem to come out of no where, left field, and shoved in there because “crap…I forgot about that loose end that I needed to tie up!”

I feel that a lot of that might be resolved if I sat down and reread the other three books though.  It’s been so long since I have read Eragon that I honestly don’t remember much about it aside from “boy gets dragon, chaos ensues”.  And elves.

So I’ll totally take the blame on any failings that the book has right now until I sit my ass down and reread the others.  because otherwise that’s just not fair to the book.

I hope that Paolini writes quicker now though, so that I don’t need to worry about forgetting everything in the 10 years between book one and the last one.

Book Review Eleven: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My first reaction on seeing this book was how thick it was. It’s over 600 pages as a paperback, and I will admit that I was daunted at first by its size. So many fantasy books of this size are often filled with fluff, and the core of the story isn’t seen until late into the final third.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for Patrick Rothfuss’s first published book, and the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series.

It follows the story of a young boy named Kvothe (pronounced like Quothe) as he travels with his family, performers and actors much like our idealized gypsies. When his father makes a mistake while learning stories of ancient evils in order to make a new song, Kvothe comes back to his family and finds them dead, the Seven, the ancient evils his father was researching, still there, sitting around what remains of his family and their fire.

For some reason, they leave him alive, and thus truly begins the tale of Kvothe. He spends a number of years with just his lute for company, wandering the forests and avoiding human contact. When he eventually makes his way to a city, he finds himself living as a beggar and a pickpocket, trying to survive. After being almost beaten, bloodied, and bruised for being on the wrong side of town, Kvothe takes matters into his own hands and begins a travel that takes him to the University, a place where mathematics, medicine, academics and magic are studied, learned, and practiced.

He finds himself making enemies of several powerful people within the University, students and professors alike, but he makes his friends as well, a new experience for a boy who had otherwise been on his own since the death of his family. Reminders of what happened to them still haunt him though, and his access to the University comes as two fold: to learn true magic and to learn all he can about the Seven.

What really marks this book as different from other fantasy coming-of-age tales is the Story-within-a-story feel it has. Kvothe’s story is being told by an innkeeper, a man known as Kote with bright red hair, a Fae student, and living in a town that has seen better times. When the Chronicler for the King comes, tracking down Kvothe’s story, it is revealed that Kote is Kvothe, and there is none better–in his mind–to tell his tale than himself.

In a world that is quickly going to hell in a handbasket, where demons are being seen more and more, and a great war is raging, Kvothe’s story is told.

When I borrowed this book from a friend, I didn’t expect to tear through it so quickly, nor to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s very easy to get lost in the world that Rothfuss created, slipping far enough into it that it’s almost jolting to return to our own when break is done. Staying up late to finish just one more chapter before bed is something that isn’t unexpected, and becomes the norm when you’re reading the tale of Kvothe.

There are two other books in the series: The Wise Man’s Fear and The Stone Door. Wise Man came out in March of 2011, and as of yet there is no date of publication for The Stone Door. This is both good and bad, as it makes it very hard to wait once you’ve devoured these first two books.

The world is richly diverse, well created, and seems to truly breathe with a life of its own. I highly suggest giving The Name of the Wind a read. Just don’t expect to do anything else while you have it in your hands!

Learn more about Patrick Rothfuss and his books here: http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp

Book cover from Rothfuss’ site.

Book Review Ten: Inca Gold by Clive Cussler

My word but it’s been a while since I did a review of a book. I have several in mind for this, but one of them I’m rereading now so that I can hopefully post it later this week.

As for today’s review, I give you a brief overview of the first Clive Cussler book that I ever read and still enjoy to this day.

I think I was in 4th grade when I first read Inca Gold. I was iffy on it at first because, up until that point, it was the thickest book I had ever owned, let alone held in my hands. And how on earth could something happening underwater be interesting to someone like me at all? I wanted to be an astronaut, not a person who studied water! But after constant goading by my mom (who had bought the book for me and assured me many many times that I would actually love it) I finally gave it a shot.

A number of hours later, I finally put it down because it was time for dinner, even though I still had chapters to go!

I reread it a few years ago and it’s just as good as I remember. The premise behind it is that Dirk Pitt, one of the main guys at NUMA (which actually exists, I found out later. Cussler made it) and his partner, Al Giordino, drop into a jungle in South America and rescue a team of researchers stuck at the bottom of a sinkhole filled with water–they found an air pocket when the oxygen tanks ran out, thankfully–and it gets more intense from there. From the jungle where they find the strange remains of a ship belonging, possibly, to Sir Francis Drake, they are taken captive by a military organization which they must make a harrowing escape from.

Pitt soon finds himself caught up in a ring of stolen artwork, missing Inca treasures, a soccer game player with heads, and a hidden river that flows beneath the wilds of the southern US that also leads to a treasure chamber of mind-boggling proportions.

While the book is pure escapism, it’s a heady mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond all mixed together with underwater exploring. If you’re looking for a good read that will keep you entertained, this is the book for you.

Book Review Nine: Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to read a new book, doubly so when it’s from a new author.  Or at least an author that I haven’t heard of before, as Beth Bernobich certainly isn’t new to the world of writing.

And it shows in her first YA novel Fox and Phoenix, coming out October 13th.

Fox and Phoenix takes place in a world like China, only with more magic, less giant walls, and spirit animals accompanying those who live there. Add in a dash of fairy tale, romance, some court intrigue, a dying King and a missing Princess, and you have the beginnings of a story that grabs you from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the end.

It starts off introducing the characters Kai, Mami, and Yun, first seen in a short story Bernobich wrote as a prelude to this novel.  Mami owns a magic shop in Long City (which, as an aside, means “Dragon City”.  I knew those lessons in Chinese would come in handy some time!), and recieves words that the King has fallen ill.  When the court tries to get a hold of the Princess, currently studying at the university in the neighboring Phoenix kingdom, they receive no answer time and again.

As things go more out of control, Kai finds himself taking a cross country journey to the Phoenix Kingdom with just a cranky, re-animated Griffon and his friend Yun as companions.  Of course, it never goes easily, and the trio find themselves fending off assassin attacks, missing magic, and missing spirit animals that had been with them since birth.

And when they get to Phoenix City, their troubles are just beginning.

While this book is billed for those in 6th grade and above there is cursing in it, but nothing stronger than the occasional “damn” when Kai is feeling exceptionally emotional and overwhelmed.  My knee-jerk reaction on reading it was to not let my younger sister who is in 6th grade read it.  And then I remembered what I was reading at her age and decided I was likely being over protective, especially since I would recommend it to anyone else.

My one complaint is that the ending seems to tie up all the loose ends in quick succession, making it somewhat hard to see what had happened the first time I read it.  I feel as though a bit more time at the ending and explaining what had happened would not have gone amiss and would have made the book better all in all.

It is clear that Bernobich has done her research into Chinese culture enough to integrate it into this world of hers, which makes it come more alive with every passing phrase.  Words in Chinese that might not clearly be known by readers (such as the Griffon’s name) are explained within the story itself, really immersing the reader in a fully fleshed out world.

I highly, highly suggest you read this book when it comes out.

Pre-order and buy it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fox-Phoenix-Beth-Bernobich/dp/0670012785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318222498&sr=1-1

Visit the Author here:  http://www.beth-bernobich.com/

Interesting addendum not really pertaining to the book, but still a cool thing I wanted to share:  Apparently Beth Bernobich attended the Universität Heidelberg in Germany. I will fully admit to a squee when I read that and I wonder if she and I had any of the same professors from when I was there in 2010.  Some of them looked to have been around since the end of WWII…

DEXTER WEEK DAY FIVE: Book Review 8: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

With this review, we have reached the end of Dexter week.  I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to create it.  Let me know if there are any other themed weeks you would like to see in the future!

Double Dexter is the sixth book in the bestselling Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.  While it’s publishing date is set for October eighteenth, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and see how it stacks up to the previous ones in the series.

It doesn’t just stack up to the others; it blows them all out of the water and then some.

The book starts out with a lyrical description of the night, a full moon in the sky and rain clouds ready to burst.  Tension is created almost immediately by the prose here, and my thoughts from last week on the disappearance of “poetry in prose” from books in more recent times have now been rethought.  Dexter, normally written in first person, is written with the word “we” instead of “I”, a word choice that shows a difference between when Dexter has on his mask and when he is free to be himself: the man and his Dark Passenger.

Even the murder that occurs right at the beginning of the book is described in this way, giving it a feel of surrealism that I don’t think could be accomplished another way.  It is only after Dexter realizes that he has been seen, that there had been a witness to his crime, that the word “we” changes to “I” once more, marking an end of his world and a return to the real one.

The majority of the book then details Dexter’s private quest to find the Witness and to kill him before his secret night life can be spilled.  This fear overrides him to the point where he is unable to see the problems at home, work, and everything in between.  With his wife drinking nearly half a bottle of wine at night, his job as a blood spatter specialist at the local Precinct during a case where policemen are being beaten to death, and searching for a bigger house, it’s amazing that he can keep it all straight.

Oh, and he’s being investigated for the murder of a co-worker.

With events coming to a head in the Keys, Dexter finds himself face to face with his Witness, a man who had decided that he was going to be the “next Dexter” and has to choose between taking a safe path and following the events through to their completion.  When his kids are taken from him by the now murderous Witness, his choice is made for him, and the book races towards its darkly devious denouement.

Overall, this book is well written and is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.  There are some points where Dexter seems especially dense, mainly those involving Rita and her drinking. Perhaps it’s because I am female that I was able to figure out WHY she was drinking as much as she was before Dexter was.  With him going out at night and not coming home until later, smelling like he just showered…well…I can see pretty easily where her thoughts were going.

As normal, the characters are well-written and any changes between books are explained through events that happened earlier or between novels.  The setting is clear and crisp, a place that truly exists in Dexter’s world and in ours.  Suspense and tension is drawn out enough so that we want to stay up to keep reading, but short enough that we do not get bored and the payoff is worth the time spent.

Lindsay is once again at the top of his game in Double Dexter and I enjoyed every moment of this book.  If you are a fan of Dexter, either the books or the TV show, I suggest you pick this up as soon as it comes out and read it for yourself.

Roadtripping and Books

Thursday through yesterday was spent Road tripping with S. as we went to his grandfather’s 90th birthday party.  I ended up meeting all of his family at once (at least on his dad’s side), which quickly got a little overwhelming.

But there were also wonderful conversations about books and writing, and how it seems now we, as readers, are more interested in the “instant-gratification” of books and story, and hate to sit through those that have too much detail and setting creation.

It got me thinking about what books are still out there today, being written today, that are written like that: poetry in the prose.  As much as I want to be able to, I can’t think of any off the top of my head (though that could be lack of sleep), and that is something that saddens me.  A lot of books in times past truly were able to take you away, and we as readers could almost hear and smell the world around us after getting sucked into that world for hours at a time.

Are there any books out there that still do that to you?

In other news, Borders is closing.  As sad as that is, it also means great deals on books.  A quick trip with S over to the local one landed me three new books for under $3 each.  Now on my reading list is Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge–I fell in love with the first one and lept at this one when I saw it–Mercedes Lackey’s old book The Fire Rose, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in San Fransisco in the 1800s, and finally, upon much squeeage from Jim Butcher and his Gnome Priscilla, I also picked up Harry Connolly’s Child of Fire.

There’s also a surprise that I am currently working on for next week, but it involves me finishing another book first, and writing up a weeks worth of material.  For next week, my friends, is Dexter Week here on Inkblabber!

Now to get ready for work and then recover from this road trip.  See everyone later!