Saturday, November 19, 2016

Memory Man and The Last Mile by David Baldacci

image from LibraryThing
 David Baldacci does not let me down!  His books are the perfect travel books - short chapters and lots of action.  These two were the perfect ones to take us from Iowa to California and back again this past August!!

Amos Decker is a man with a twisted past - pro football player for one play and then BOOM and his memory turns into a permanent file - nothing ever disappears from it.  That made him a great cop.  But when his family is murdered that never-ending memory also brought to life all his darkness.  He couldn't unsee the murders - they replayed again and again until it caused him to fall off the face of the earth.

Image from LibraryThing
Almost.

He is drawn back into solving crimes when there is a death much like his family's.  There is a school shooting and a truly twisted villian!!

So at the end he joins the FBI as a sort of quasi-cop.  And that starts the next book - where he is drawn to another ex-football player's story.  Melvin Mars is about to be executed for the murders of his parents.  Melvin was a college ball player soon to go pro with amazing talent.  When he murdered his parents and that was that - until his execution is stopped due to a confession by another soon to be executed convict.  That draws Amos' team to the site and the discrepancies start to add up - especially when the confession falls apart.

I really liked both of these books. Baldacci does a great job creating characters that I root for and I like that!  There are twists that I don't always see coming - but enough that you do see that keep you involved in solving the mystery. I REALLY like Amos. He is the anti-hero that I gravitate towards.  He is in this situation not by his own will and he would rather not be here - but there is a goodness in him that keeps him involved for those he might be able to help in spite of himself. And yes, I know that is a crazy run-on sentence - but that is exactly how I see him!!

I would highly recommend these books.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

image from LibraryThing
It's been a long time since I've read a science fiction/time travel book. This one is not like anything I've read before.  It's the future in England and time travel is a thing.  But - it's not what I expect of traveling to an unknown and interesting place - instead the reader is dropped into the midst of an already moving story.

You are in England of the future and all the time traveling of the day is to learn the details of Coventry Cathedral - because it is being completely rebuilt and refurnished to the moment before it was destroyed by Nazi bombers in WWII.

And poor Ned, the main character, has been shuttling around the late 1800s trying to figure out what has happened to "The Bishop's Bird Stump." The reader doesn't even find out what in the world the bird stump is until well in to the book - a hideous vase - and that really doesn't even matter.  Because Ned pulls us in to the world of Muchings End where he is to rest up and recover from his time-lagged state.  But that isn't a Muchings End of current time, but one of the the past where men wear boater hats and float down the Thames and quote poetry to Victorian women.  Into this world the befuddled Ned falls and his quest to find the bird stump slowly begins to make sense.

I enjoyed this book - I sort of liked the off-kilter feel I had as a reader.  I felt like I had come into the middle of a movie and didn't have the energy to ask my neighbor what was going on...so I just stayed with it until it began to make sense. It's also a love story - in a very English Victorian way - and the story of a spoiled cat and a great bulldog named Cyril. By the way, there are no cats in the future.  So, Ned's first contact with a purring feline is rather funny!!

This is a good one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Sarah's life is not what with think of as normal. They move a lot, whenever the cold gets especially sharp and the smell of wet dog gets especially strong.  But, her mom and dad seem to figure out how to make it work, until they don't- and her mom disappears.  That is when she chances to meet Alan, the beastkeeper in the little not quite forest behind her house, and life doesn't return to normal.

This is a dreamy, dark, story woven around a fire on a winter evening of old magic and curses and pain.  It is beautifully written - lyrical and sharp at the same time.

When I finished I wanted to start at the beginning again, because I knew I had not paid attention to the right threads in this story! I have a feeling this will be a book you hear more about!

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Grace is one messed up ambassador's granddaughter.  That seems to follow here all around Adria, the country where she lands with her grandfather.  She lived in Adria with her mother for ,any Summer's before the fire and her moms death.  Now Grace has been bumped from therapist to clinic and finally landed at the last spot available- her grandfathers house.  Grace is haunted by her moms death- she smells smoke and sees the scarred face of her moms killer everywhere. Except her mom was not killed by the scarred man, and there is a death certificate to prove it.

I had this mystery all figured out, from her moms actual killer to the shady figures appearing in the empty embassy down the road.  But, I was wrong! I love it when I am wrong!  And boy was I wrong!

This story didn't begin or end with this book.  This continues on in the next book. But there are details that are cleared up. Grace solves part of the mystery- and realizes she is not all alone. That makes a big change for her!

I liked this- it was a mini Bond-there was spy work, some acrobatics and diplomacy between embassiesand some pretty big twists. I enjoyed this quick read.

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Image from LibraryThing

Hallelujah, not the best name for a cool girl-so when Hallie was welcomed in to Luke's group and then his arms she as sure she had arrived.  Instead, she became the butt of harassment and ridicule. And it just wouldn't stop.  Life in school and church had deteriorated to the point that Hallie's only real wish is to disappear. And the it was time for the youth group camp out.

When Rachel, the new girl, tries to make friends Hallie one more time and Hallie snubs her- that is the end.  Rachel breaks off the hiking group and starts back to the camp . Hallie feels bad and joins her and Jonah, Hallies old friend joins them.  It should be an easy walk down the mountain.

Should be., but it isn't.  There is a rain storm, a mudslide, and that is all it takes for these three to become hopelessly lost.

So- this is a pretty predictable story.  The there have to depend on each other to make it back.  There is a bear, some unexpected injuries, no food and a bear.  The part that wasn't as predictable was their relatives bishops with God and how that is woven into the story.  I appreciated the honesty and the non- preachy attitude. I also liked that it wasn't all tied up neatly at the end. Hallies questions remained.
I would recommend this one. Survival stories are a hit, weave in a love story and a growing friendship and this was really good.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Crash by Lisa McMann

image from LibraryThing
Jules is haunted by an image of a fiery crash and body bags. This private video plays again and again on billboards, road signs and her computer screen.  Her own private hell to watch over and over.  And if that isn't enough - the video slowly adds details, including the face inside one of the body bags - and she knows him!

Mental - right!  On top of that, Jules father is a hoarder. His mental illness makes Jules fear that she is also losing her mind!   Her dad's breakdown was traced to the beginning of a feud with a rival pizza family.  And it just happens that the son of the pizza dynasty is the face in the body bag that Jules sees!  Oh yeah, and he is her secret love!

What is a girl to do???

That is the story.

This premise really intrigued me.  How would you convince someone else that you know something bad is/might/could happen to them without everyone thinking you are completely off your rocker?  Because really, visions can't be true - right?  But, what if they are true?  What if ignoring this vision brings Sawyer's death?

It was a little weird to read a book that centers so much on pizza following Saint Anything which also focuses on pizza!  It made me hungry!!  Just an odd coincidence.

This is a slim book - and the first of a series, the vision seems to be moving on to other characters. There is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet feel to this - but with a vision twist. I would recommend this book.  It grabs the reader quickly, with very little background and keeps your attention throughout.


Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

image from LibraryThing
I like a good Sarah Dessen! I can count on strong female characters, a bit of a love interest, a family plot and some sort of twist.  But, most of all, I can count on a happy ending - there will be a resolution!

That is just what I found in Saint Anything.  This is the story of a girl, Sydney,  hidden in the enormous shadow of her older brother, Peyton.  That is just fine - until Peyton veers farther and farther from the straight and narrow and ends up in prison.  And then Sydney realizes the depth of his shadow on her parents - they simply don't see her at all!

In an attempt to start over, Syd transfers schools and slowly makes friends with Layla and her family at Seaside Pizza, the family restaurant.  That sets the stage for this book.  Inside the pages there is a creepy, lurking friend of Peyton's, a band competition, a moment of alcohol and a medical emergency.  Through it all, Sydney learns to trust her heart and finds her voice. And her parents finally see her as the individual she is.

I would say finding what is lost in an unexpected way is the theme of this book, whether that is friendship, strength or a new and different reality.

I enjoyed this book and it's comfortable predictability!
I recommended this already to my niece and my daughter!
As I said - Sarah Dessen doesn't disappoint!