Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: The Cutaway by Christina Kovac @christina_kovac

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac book cover and review
The Cutaway kept me guessing and did a good job building up the tension.

Virginia Knightly is a television news producer who has been relieved of her producing duties.  Good thing, because she's become intrigued with a missing person's case.  A young attorney in Washington D.C. has disappeared after leaving a restaurant with her husband.

It's D.C., so there's politics involved.  Virginia's ex is investigating the case, and maybe he's lying to her? There's a varied cast of characters and things start to look like a police coverup.  But why?  What did this very young, inexperienced attorney have that would make her a target.

I liked Virginia.  She's strong and resilient.  She's smart, and I found it easy to root for her. I really enjoyed the twists and turns in The Cutaway.  It kept me guessing as Virginia follows leads and you think, "now she's got it!" but no...that's not it either.  I didn't figure it out until she did.

The author is an experienced reporter and familiar with TV news and assumes the reader is too.  I'm not.  I did wish for a little more explanation of the workings of the news cycle, and what is involved in getting the nightly news on the air.  There were some terms and expressions that I didn't quite understand.  I really don't even get the title. Well, I guess I understood kind of, but there was a lot of tension over stories and timing that I just didn't feel.  I don't think this took anything away from the actual story, but I think she missed an opportunity to educate her readers.

The other thing that was a small issue is the denouement.  After the case is over and done, there is a lot of personal stuff that gets resolved.  Maybe I was just tired, but it seemed like a lot of pages of this. Once again, not a huge issue.

The Cutaway is definitely a worthwhile read for mystery fans.  Especially if you like the kind where it's about investigative reporting and not about police procedure. I think older teens would enjoy The Cutaway also.

Published by Atria, Marcy 21, 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
320 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stacking the Shelves - An Old One and a New One

Happy Weekend! I only acquired a couple books this week and here they are:

For Review:
Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas book cover
Local Girl Missing, by Claire Douglas from Edelweiss

From the Library:
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz book cover
Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz
My book club selected this for our next read!

I'm always interested in everyone's STS posts, so leave me a link!  Thanks for visiting.  Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews




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Thursday, March 16, 2017

AudioBook Review: Confessions by Kanae Minato

Confessions by Kanae Minato book cover and review
What in interesting book Confessions is.  The unique way it is written makes it a very compelling read.

We begin with the end of the school year, when Yuko Moriguchi, a middle school teacher in Japan, is explaining to her students why she is retiring from teaching.  It seems that her 4-year-old daughter died in the school's swimming pool, and Moriguchi believes that she was murdered -- by two students in her class.

She is vengeful and explains what she has done to those students in a very matter-of-fact way.  Confessions continues with perspectives from the class president, the two murderers, and Moriguchi again.  As we hear their stories, we are exposed to the lives of these characters and how those experiences contributed to the events.

Even though we get some of the same story from each person, it isn't at all repetitive.  Because they each have such a different perspective.  What really grabbed me about this method of telling the story is how you can never truly know the motivations of people.  Since I work in a school and see hundreds of students, this is an important lesson for me.  Kids get into trouble. They do stupid things. But as much as I think I might know "why," I really have no idea.

In Confessions, the reader is told by Moriguchi why something happened, but then when you read another character's story, you realize there is so much more.  Things aren't always what they seem.  And each character adds to the story, telling an additional part. I did find the life histories a bit tedious at times, but all the detail also deepened my understanding of each character's place in the story.

We also get a glimpse of Japanese culture as it pertains to education and family life, and these traditions contribute to the actions of these characters.  The book is translated from the original Japanese, and I had no difficulty with the translation.

It's very creative, and I found myself more and more anxious about how everything was going to wrap up as the story progressed.

The narrators, Elaina Erika Davis and Noah Galvin do an excellent job.  Galvin sounds like a young kid (maybe he is?) They use Japanese names which are pronounced correctly (or seem to be...what do I know?)

There are twists and surprises, and well, the revenge? Hah.  Yes, there is revenge.  Is it appropriate?  Well, it's twisted, but I'll let you decide. I highly recommend Confessions if you are into murder and revenge stories.

Published by Mulholland, 2014, Hachette Audio
Audiobook obtained from the library
234 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs book cover and review
Nemesis was so intriguing.  I just couldn't figure out what was going on, and as I traveled through the story I got more and more anxious to find out what the heck is happening. Unfortunately, the explanation left me wanting.

It all started when Min and Noah were young.  Their entire class was given injections, supposedly for some chemical spill.  But Min and Noah were then taken to a different place where something else happened....but they don't really remember.

Also, Min gets murdered on every even numbered birthday.  Always by the same guy, and she always wakes up in perfect condition in a field outside of town.  Noah has "dreams" every other birthday.  He dreams a man is killing him.  Always the same man.  And Noah always wakes up in the same cave, and he never remembers falling asleep.  They are both seeing Dr. Lowell, a psychiatrist.  Min tells him nothing.  Noah tells him everything.

Min decides to figure out what the heck is going on.  And...terrible things are happening to the rest of the planet.  Earthquakes, floods, and flocks of birds dying. Min and her friend, Tack, break into Lowell's office to see his records.  She finds out that Noah is also seeing him.  So the three of them start taking some risks to find out the truth. And there are some kids who are bullies.

It all sounds confusing, and it is, but that's what makes you keep reading because this is all so nonsensical that you have to know.  And you hope that it all makes sense when you find out. But it doesn't.  The big reveal at the end is lame.  There are just so many holes and things that don't make sense.  I'm pretty good at suspending my disbelief, but I couldn't get past it in Nemesis. I can't tell you about all the questions I have because that would spoil it, but I'm sure if you read it you can come up with some.

I'm glad I read it, and maybe teens will be more forgiving. (But I know that some of them won't be.) I know this is the first in a series, and maybe more explanation of how this all works will help (after all, this is only Phase 1), but I needed enough explanation in this book to make it at least somewhat plausible. Too bad. Interesting premise, just needed to make it work a bit better.

Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, March 21, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
464 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stacking the Shelves - A Lot of Excitement!


I got some books this week that I'm really excited about.  Here they are:

For Review:


The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein book cover
The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth Wein from NetGalley
The Prequel to Code Name Verity, which I must admit wasn't my favorite book, but I really enjoyed Rose Under Fire and was okay with Black Dove, White Raven so I'm in!

Bang, by Barry Lyga book cover
Bang, by Barry Lyga from NetGalley
I loved the I Hunt Killers series, so I can't wait for this one.

The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye book cover
The Crown's Fate, by Evelyn Skye from Edelweiss
The Crown's Game is my book club's favorite book so far this year. They are so excited for this book, they are going to be jealous! 

From the Library:
Confessions by Kanae Minato book cover
Confessions, by Kanae Minato, audiobook
I don't usually include audiobooks in these posts (mostly because I forget) but this is the first one I've downloaded through the library's Cloud Library so I'm pretty excited. So far it's very interesting but weird.

So that's what I'm excited about this week.  How about you? Leave me a link and be sure to check out all the participants at Team Tynga's Reviews.






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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review: The Sleepwalker, by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian book cover and review
Bohjalian's novels have been hit or miss for me, but The Sleepwalker was a definite hit!

Lianna is our narrator, and she's telling the story of her mother's disappearance, which happened in 2000. It's an interesting perspective since there's no reference to the present until the end of the novel, so there doesn't seem to be a need for this.  But it works.

Her mother, Annalee, was a sleepwalker.  One who left the house and could have been in danger.  As a matter of fact, Lianna found her about to step off a bridge into a rushing river one night.  Her sleepwalking had been under control, mostly because Lianna's father had not been traveling.  Annalee always tended to sleepwalk when Lianna's father wasn't at home.  And sure enough, when he went away for a few days, her mother disappeared in the middle of the night.

Gavin is the detective who has asked to work on the case.  It seems he knew Annalee from the sleep clinic they both attended. Gavin is a sleepwalker too.  He and Lianna become friends, then more than friends, but she doesn't entirely trust Gavin.  She's pretty sure her mother and Gavin were not having an affair, but she knows Gavin isn't telling her everything he knows.

I don't want to say too much more about what happens. Pieces are slowly revealed that add to the mystery.  And eventually, we discover what really happened.  And I was surprised.  I thought there were several ways the story could go, but the final outcome was not one that I had thought of.  Not that I don't think some savvy readers could come up with it, but I certainly did not.

Bohjalian crafts the story and characters so that you can't stay away.  It's been a while since I've experienced one of those "I need to read now" kinds of books, and I really enjoyed The Sleepwalker.

The Sleepwalker is accessible to older teens (some pretty vivid descriptions of sex), and I think any mystery fans would love it.

Published by Doubleday, January 10, 2017
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Revew: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne book cover and review
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is not the typical, long, descriptive classic that I have come to expect.  It's thrilling!

I probably don't need to tell you much about the plot.  Our narrator, Professor Aronnax and his two companions are trapped on board the Nautilus with its mysterious Captain Nemo and his crew.  Since they have discovered this unusual and magnificent submarine, they must spend the rest of their lives on it so no one else will find out.

There are many descriptions of the flora and fauna at the bottom of the sea, but most of the story is one adventure after another.  Some life threatening, some exceedingly unusual. I felt Aronnax's turmoil as he tried to enjoy all the knowledge and wonder the trip entailed while dealing with his captive state.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a comparatively short book for a classic also. I read this using my Serial Reader app, and there were only 47 issues (unlike my previous read, Anna Karenina, which had 159 issues.)

I would recommend Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to anyone who enjoys a science fiction adventure.

eBook obtained from Serial Reader
336 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Book Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me, by Gayle Forman book cover and review
Gayle Forman forays into the realm of adult fiction with a stirring account of a woman in crisis in Leave Me. I found the book captivating and engaging.

Maribeth, a workaholic mother of 4-year-old twins, suffers a life-threatening heart attack that she doesn't even realize is happening. This event triggers many emotions in Maribeth, and when her husband says he will build a bubble around her, she takes it to the limit and gets on a train to Pittsburgh, leaving everything at home (except a hefty withdrawal of money from the bank.)

She finds a simple apartment in the city and has sense enough to find a doctor for her follow-up care. For a long time, she doesn't make any contact with her family or friends.  She was adopted as an infant, and she eventually decides that, because of her health, she should pursue finding out who her biological parents are.

It is interesting to see Maribeth work through her difficulties.  She gets assistance from some unlikely places -- her doctor, who becomes more than a doctor and is suffering in his own way.  Also, her young neighbors and Janice, who is assisting her to find her birth mother, play important roles.

I think it's pretty obvious how this is going to end, but that isn't important.  Going through Maribeth's struggle along with her is what keeps you reading.  I became attached to her and felt myself yearning for her to work it out.

Leave Me is appropriate for teens, and I included it in my library because of the popularity of her teen books (If I Stay).  But it hasn't been checked out very much. I thoroughly enjoyed Leave Me and would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction.

Published by Algonquin, 2016
Copy obtained from the Library, eARC obtained from Edelweiss
340 pages

Rating: 4/5





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