Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mini Reviews

A quick look at what I've been reading lately, with an excerpt from the publisher's synopsis (in black) and my thoughts (in purple).

The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans 

In the wake of personal tragedy, Christine and Paul meet on a humanitarian mission in Peru. They must confront their deepest fears and learn to trust and love again.

Above average love story.  Particularly enjoyed the detail of life in the Peruvian jungle.  

Sharp Objects by Jillian Flynn

Camille’s assignment from the newspaper where she works takes her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.  As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. 

Every bit as disturbing and unsettling as Gone Girl.  Won't quite mess you up for life, but it will sure stick with you.

An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham 

Christmas has never brought out the best in the MacDougal family.  In the midst of a sibling shouting match, a stranger appears. He could be a criminal, a madman, or something far more unexpected. The MacDougals take a leap of faith, but when another stranger arrives, they don't know which of them to believe. One of these men can't be trusted. And one is about to bring Christmas into their hearts.

Not as fast-paced as it could be, but I love the slightly un-resolved ending.  A twist on the typical feel-good Christmas story. 
Live by Night by Dennis Lahane  

The '20s are roaring, liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.  Joe Coughlin has graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters.  Joe's climb up the ladder of organized crime takes him from Jazz Age Boston to Tampa's Latin Quarter to the streets of Cuba. 

Not up to what I expect from Lehane.  Ho-hum plot moves agonizingly slow at times.  2 stars for story, bonus star because he's usually one of my favorite authors.

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie, Ranger, Morelli, Lula and all the cast of crazies . . . yada yada yada.  Decent story, no progress.

Silent Night by Deanna Rayborne 

Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together.  Amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories. 

Novella that I really didn't care for but I'm blaming myself.  The story was more about the characters, with whom you need to be familiar, than the mystery.  Poor choice of places to jump into a series.

The Boddy in the Snowbank by Jenna Bennett  

A short story based around the classic game of Clue.  Published on

It had complete sentences and paragraphs and stuff.

The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout

Why has the brilliant sleuth, Nero Wolfe, taken a case for $4.30?  And  why were his last two clients murdered? Archie Goodwin goes undercover as a mortician to find out. And Wolfe ponders the cryptic clues: a gray Cadillac, a mysterious woman, a pair of earrings -- shaped like spiders and dipped in gold.
Classic.  Best sleuth ever written. 

Poseidon's Arrow by Clive Cussler

An attack submarine capable of incredible underwater speeds. Nothing else in any other nation’s naval arsenal even comes close. One problem: A key element of the prototype is missing—and the man who developed it is dead.  It is up to NUMA director Dirk Pitt and his team to go on a desperate international chase to find the truth, from Washington to Mexico, Idaho to Panama. What they discover at the end of it is a much, much greater threat than even they imagined.

Dave and I read this together.  He ranked it a 3 on the scale of all Cussler's books.  I've only read one other, so couldn't really judge.  Plot was good, quick pace, unique story.  But I couldn't get past the narrative changing perspective mid-paragraph.  One sentence calls the hero, Dirk Pitt, by name (as in "Dirk ran up the gangplank." - only, you know, better than that) The next sentence of the same paragraph refers to "he" ("He grabbed the binoculars.") But "he" isn't Dirk - it's a totally different guy on a totally different ship.  Very disconcerting - not to mention confusing.  So it gets 2 stars from me.


  1. Love the reviews and your personal comments - I admire you for reading so much at once! I'm sure glad we share the love of reading - even though our choices are different from time to time - it's always interesting to see what you and Dave are reading. Love the Janet Evanovich books! I have only read the first one :) I plan to read The Snow Child that you recommended very soon!

  2. Oh I just loved Sharp Objects. I think it is actually better than Gone Girl, to be honest. And love your review for the Stephanie Plum book -- no progress and "yada yada yada" is why I gave up on them.

  3. I read The Sunflower and really liked it.
    Thanks for the reviews.

  4. I haven't read any of these; will have to put some of them on my list to read. Hubby likes to read a lot of Clive Cussler; I think I've read one a long time ago.

    You've been doing lots of reading!


  5. I can't remember if it's Sharp Objects I have on my bookshelves - if so, I'm glad it won't mess me up for life!

  6. Yes, I gave up on Stephanie a few books ago for that very reason. Sharp Objects was too dark for me. I'm thinking that Flynn just may not be my go-to girl.