Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Club: The Last Communist Virgin – Wang Ping

The Last Communist Virgin
From the restaurants of New York’s Chinatown to the retail emporium of Bergdorf Goodman, and from remote Chinese military outposts to the streets of Beijing, these stories open a window into the rapid transformations of an ancient culture.  As the characters struggle to find their way, a young girl discovers love amidst a sea of angry Red Guards, émigrés navigate New York’s relentless rat race, and an old man returns to a Beijing he doesn’t recognize on a mission to restore his son-in-law’s flagging honor.  In the heatrending finale, the origins of humanity and its reckless dash toward an apocalyptic future are distilled into a love store with far-reaching implications.

1/5 stars (did not like)
Too many characters and the transition between characters was not well done.  I ended up not really caring about what happened to each character.  Also the only thing they all had in common was that they either currently lived in China or came to the U.S. from China.  I would rather have had a story about one family rather than all these that were not related to eachother.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill – Mary Sharratt

In “Daughters of the Witching Hill”, Mary Sharratt brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching novel of strong women, family, and betrayal inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow lives with her children in a crumbling old tower in Pendle Forest.  Drawing on Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance from her spirit-friend Tibb, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future in exchange for food and drink.  As she ages, she instructs her best friend, Anne, and her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft.  Though Anne ultimately turns to dark magic, Alizon intends to use her craft for good.  But when a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate tricks her into accusing her family and neighbors of witchcraft.  Suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights as friends and loved ones turn on one another and the novel draws to an inevitable conclusion.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
The subject of witches, and especially witch trials that took place in the early 1600s really fascinate me.  This book starts out with Bess Southerns as a young woman learning the craft and getting her own familiar, Tibb.  She then goes on to teach her daughter Liza about being a healer but it is not a path for her daughter.  Then her daughter has a daughter named Alizon who Bess believes will take over for her once she is old.  The story is then told from Alizon’s point of view.  Her struggles and denial in being chosen.  The last third of the book was where everything came together.  Alizon, Bess, Annie & Anne are all accused of witchcraft.  The magistrate tricks all of them to accuse each other.  I loved the ending of this book as well as the writing style of the author.  I will definitely be checking out any other books written by her.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary.  Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River.  Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages form Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.  Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades and endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.  Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one they love.  With is twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence.  Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife?  And what was in that silvery gift boxy hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

3/5 stars (liked it)
The book started off a bit slow and I guessed whether Amy was really dead or not and whether Nick killed her or not.  I don’t want to give it away but I knew right away what was going on.  So I thought how can I be surprised when I basically know how this book is going to end.  Well it did surprise me.  This book is filled with a mentally screwed up husband and just if not more mentally screwed up wife.  Both have terrible faults and I really didn’t know whom I wanted to root for.  They are both so screwed up that they deserve each other.  The author did a great job at sucking me in and having me want to know how things would play out in the end.  The ending really did surprise me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Countdown City – Ben H. Winters

There is just 74 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is out of a job.  With the Concord police force operating under auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank’s days of solving crimes are over…until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone.  With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

The second novel in the critically acclaimed Last Policeman trilogy, Coundown City  presents a fascinating mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse—and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions beyond “whodunit.”  What do we as human beings owe to one another?  And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around us?

Book will be released 07/16/13
4/5 stars (really liked it)
I enjoyed this book a lot more than the first one.  This books starts out with a  missing person, Brett Cavatone but it turns into so much more.  With the asteroid getting closer and closer people are doing some strange things.  There are people out there that believe they can stop it, others who believe in government conspiracies.  I really enjoyed getting to know Hank’s dog, Houdini, which he acquired in the last book.  Also getting to know his sister Nico and a little bit about Hank’s childhood.  In a world where a lot of people have given up or have just said “screw it”, Hank finds himself still caring about right and wrong.  This book had me guessing on so many things and gave me a few surprises.  I can’t wait to see where the next book will conclude and whether or not the asteroid will really hit Earth.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Book Review: Rapture – J.R. Ward

Rapture (The Fallen Angels, #4)
Mels Carmichael, reporter for the Cadwell Courier Journal, gets the shock of her life when a man stumbles in front of her car outside the local cemetery.  After the accident, his amnesia is just the kind of mystery she likes to solve, but she soon discovers they’re in over their heads with his past.  Over their heads with passion too.  As shadows walk the line between reality and another realm, and her lover’s memory begins to come back, the two of them learn that nothing is truly dead and buried.  Especially when you’re trapped in a no-holds-barred war between angels and demons.  With a soul on the line, and Mel’s heart at risk, what in Heaven—or in Hell—will it take to save them both?

3/5 stars (liked it)
I can always count on J.R. Ward to give me a book that will be steamy.  This book has Mathias, a character from the previous book, except this time he has amnesia and a woman in his life.  So Jim & Devina get a re-do on his soul, although the last one does count.  I thought the book was a little repetitive in terms of how the other books have been.  Also seems like all the male characters are about the same in her books.  Although she does know how to write steamy scenes.  Overall a good book and the ending with Devina and Jim surprised me a little bit.  I will definitely keep reading these books.

Book Review: Into The Still Blue - Veronica Rossi

Into The Still Blue - Veronica Rossi The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate.  Aria and Perry are determined to find this la...