Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Bat, by Jo Nesbø

Borrowed Kindle version from my local library, based on bookczuk's review of a newer book in the series. Of course I couldn't read *that* book without reading all the books that led up to it, so I started with the first Inspector Harry Hole novel, The Bat.

The plot (paraphrased from amazon): Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is sent to Sydney, Australia, to observe a case involving the murder of a 23-year-old Norwegian woman, who is a minor celebrity back home. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. He fails miserably.

I wasn't too sure about this book through the first few chapters—it was full of Crocodile Dundee-like stereotypes as Harry Hole settled into the story and that made it uncomfortable for me to settle into the story. As it went on, I felt a little more at ease, but I don't know that I always knew what was going on; I was often surprised by a turn of events, a twist, an unexpected reaction, and I liked that. I also liked that everything is important in this story. I will visit "Harry Holy" again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ripper, by Isabel Allende

I don't know who I am more disappointed by: Isabel Allende, for the way she wrote this book; Edoardo Ballerini, for the way he read this book; or me, for reading/listening to this book for 14+ hours. I think we may all be equally at fault.

This book is full of stereotypes and condescending preachiness and unlikable, unbelievable characters, many of them barely veiled real-life pop culture figures. It is a series of character vignettes loosely held together by a murder mystery that is being solved not by the San Francisco police department, but by the 16-year-old daughter of the investigating deputy chief and her merry band of computer role-playing gamer misfits around the world. Oh, and her grandpa. All of whom are given unusual access to confidential police files of an active investigation. Allende also takes on the U.S. military and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly Navy SEAL Team 6, which just seems wrong. She may be spot on with her depiction of war and its post-traumatic stress, but its delivery was just off. And that may be the fault of the reader, Edoardo Ballerini. His tone throughout this whole book was that voice people use when they feel sorry for you.

Maybe he did feel sorry for me because I chose to listen to this book.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman kept Niece No. 4 and me company from North Carolina to West Virginia and we loved every minute. Stardust was the perfect antidote to my misguided beach read of John Dies At The End. Where John was dark and depressing, Stardust—especially Stardust read by Neil Gaiman—was magical.

I read the actual physical book once before, and have seen the movie a couple of times; after this re-read, the book wins hands down. It has a much better, romantic, and gentle ending than the movie and it was just what I needed to hear.

Friday, July 04, 2014

John Dies at the End, by David Wong

So, maybe this wasn't the best book to read at the beach. It's not very light, there are some darkly funny moments, but overall I found it rather depressing—a normal person might have deduced all this from the title alone. Apparently I am far from normal.

I have read too many of these dystopian apocalyptic books of late. I want to laugh. I want to love. I want to believe in the goodness of humankind. I want a do-over.