Hope everyone has a wonderful new year!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: Dead Time

Title: Dead Time
Author: Anne Cassidy
Series: The Murder Notebooks (#1)
Publisher: Walker and Company
Publication Date:  May 22, 2012
Reviewer: Kati
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary: When Rose was twelve, her mother and stepfather went out for dinner and never came back. Now seventeen, she lives with her grandmother and goes to school in London. She’s always wondered about her stepbrother, Joshua, whom she only lived with briefly and who was also relocated after their parents’ disappearance. When Rose and Joshua meet again, they find they have much in common, including a desire to uncover the mystery surrounding their parents’ disappearance . . . and a mutual attraction to each other. But when Rose witnesses the murders of not one but two of her classmates, she must uncover who is behind these violent crimes. And when she and Joshua discover that a much larger conspiracy is underway, both of their lives will be in danger. From international bestseller Anne Cassidy, this first in a fastpaced and romantic new mystery series will keep readers guessing.

Review: I kept losing interest in this book, so it took me a good deal of time to get through it. I’m sorry to say, the story left me wanting much more. There were parts of the book that were really great, but too many others that just didn’t work. I'm lost for words on this one. Honestly I don't know how to describe it. It's not a first for me not to be able to describe a book. But I hate it. It sucks. Makes for sucky reviews.

Rate (1-10)[low to high]:
Quality of writing: 7
Pace: 4
Plot development: 5
Characters: 8
Enjoy ability: 7
Insightful ness: 8
Ease of reading: 4

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Rough Country

Title: Rough Country
Author: John Sandford
Series: Virgil Flowers (#3)
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: 
 September 29, 2009
Reviewer: Ethan

Review: A small resort town in northern Minnesota gets a shock when one of its guests, Erica McDill, is shot in the head during a kayaking outing. McDill is a prominent advertising executive, from the Twin Cities, whose death precedes a large transition in her company that would make her the largest stockholder.

Virgil Flowers is fishing with a friend when he receives a call from his boss, Lucas Davenport. With that, his vacation comes to an end and he makes his way to the scene of McDill's murder. You see, Virgil is an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) who only tackles "the hard stuff". He doesn't fit the investigator stereotypes. Rather, he keeps his blond hair long, wears t-shirts with logos of obscure bands, and finishes off the ensemble with blue jeans and boots. Despite his unusual appearance, Virgil is known for getting results.

The investigation takes an unusual turn when Virgil learns that the resort is an all women's establishment. His fears are confirmed when boot tracks, from an expensive women's shoe company, are discovered in the mud near the murder site. Quickly, Virgil is immersed into the small town and its lesbian subculture. With the possibility of past murders connecting to the death of McDill, and the ever growing threat of more violence, Virgil struggles to keep his own emotions in check as he searches for the mysterious killer.

I've been a fan of John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series since reading the first book, Dark of The Moon. There is something very appealing about Virgil's oddball behavior and fantastic instincts. As always, Sandford keeps his writing simple and accessible. More so than the previous novels, however, Rough Country felt a little slower and less important than the other two. The opening portion in particular seemed a bit overlong. How long can you really wander through the woods before losing your audience. Fortunately, just as I was wondering when the book would pick up, Sandford introduced a new thread to the mystery that propelled the novel to a solid ending. The plot of this story doesn't allow as much time to spend learning about this interesting character, but the mystery itself is strong enough to make Rough Country worth the read and to make me eager to continue this series.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Flicks: The Ghost Writer

A weekly review of a book to film adaptation.

Former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) runs into difficulties as he attempts to complete his memoirs. His longtime aid turned ghost writer, died in an apparent accident. The publishers scramble to bring in a replacement, as to avoid any delays in publication. Enter Ewan McGregor as the unnamed replacement author, who is tasked with finishing the memoirs in a reduced time-frame, despite his inexperience in writing "political" memoirs.

Due to Lang's scheduled speaking engagements, McGregor's character travels to the small town on Martha's Vineyard where Lang and his entourage are staying. As he begins reading the draft of his predecessor, he is bored by the writing, and realizes that he will have to start the narrative from scratch. During his interviews with Lang, he begins to suspect the Prime Minister of withholding some of the crucial facts from his past. He also begins to question the mysterious death of his predecessor.

Lang's entire team is soon caught off guard by the accusation by his former Foreign Secretary of authorizing the illegal seizure of accused terrorist to be handed over to the American CIA for torture and questioning. This forces Lang to refocus his energy from the memoirs to repairing his reputation and defending himself against the politically harmful accusations.

Of course, controversy sells. It is no surprise then that the publisher requests the memoirs be completed within the coming weeks instead of the original time frame. As the Ghost Writer investigates further into the life of Adam Lang, he begins to uncover inconsistencies in his claims. There are connections between Lang and an American professor (Tom Wilkinson) who is rumored to have worked for the CIA. As the Ghost Writer delves deeper into the life of Adam Lang, his is thrust into a conspiracy that spans nearly four decades. In the end, he must discover the truth behind the lies of Adam Lang before his meets the fate of his predecessor.

The film is based upon the novel The Ghost by author Robert Harris, who also co-authored the screenplay with the film's director, Roman Polanski. This is a taut thriller, with quick pacing, genuine characters, and a twist ending that you won't see coming. The entire film feels cold and disconcerting, in thanks largely to the production design, cinematography, and minimal score. The plot generally stays faithful to that of the fantastic novel, echoing the political allusions to actual Prime Minister Tony Blair and his controversial relationship with the United States. This is a first rate thriller and possibly one of my favorite book to film adaptations.

Have you read the novel or seen the movie? If so, what did you think of it? What book adaptations would you like to see as a future Friday Flicks post?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Go With Me

Title: Go With Me
Author: Castle Freeman
Publisher: Steerforth
Publication Date: 
 January 15, 2008
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: The Vermont hill country is the stark, vivid setting for this gripping and entertaining story of bold determination. The local villain, Blackway, is making life hellish for Lillian, a young woman from parts elsewhere. Her boyfriend has fled the state in fear, and local law enforcement can do nothing to protect her. She resolves, however, to stand her ground, and to fight back. A pair of unlikely allies – Lester, a crafty old-timer, and Nate, a powerful but naive youth – join her cause, understanding that there is no point in taking up the challenge unless you’re willing to “go through.” In this modern-day drama, a kind of Greek chorus – wry, witty, digressive; obsessively, amusingly reminiscent; skeptical, opinionated, and not always entirely sober – enriches the telling of this unforgettable tale as the reader follows the threesome’s progress on their dangerous, suspenseful quest.

Review: Lillian is fed up. Whatever her boyfriend Kevin, now ex-boyfriend, was mixed up in has gotten way out of hand. Even worse, he's fled the small Vermont town leaving her to fend for herself. The guy who he wronged, Blackway, has now turned his attention to her. It started as simple threats, but quickly escalated, leaving her car wrecked, cat killed, and her emotions at a head. When the local police can't find any way to legally assist her, she decides to hunker down and put an end to this by herself.

At the suggestion of the sheriff, she seeks the assistance of a local man who had his own run in with Blackway years ago. Blackway carries a reputation of being someone you don't want to get involved with. Most in the town seem to accept this as a fact and steer clear of any mention of him. When she goes to the old mill to try to find help, she is met instead by a group of old-timers who pass the time by drinking and swapping stories and gossip. The recommended helper is nowhere to be found, but at the insistence of Whizzer, the kind of leader of the group of men, she leaves accompanied by Lester, a man who has worked at the saw mill for most of his life, and Nate, the young guy who is just learning the ropes. With the help of these two men, Lillian seeks Blackway and attempts to put a stop to his violence.

This is a strange little story. There is no doubt that author Castle Freeman has a strong voice in his writing. At only 160 pages, however, there is little time for the characters to really develop. Instead, each character is given a kind of face value exterior with only subtle hints at deeper emotions or motivations. As the story alternates between the mismatched trio's search for Blackway and the group of old gossiping men, reminiscent of a Greek chorus, the story tends to lose some of its steam. With constant interruptions, the action kind of ends with no real bang, leaving me wondering if it was really worth my time to follow these characters in the first place. Part of me feels like this story had a lot of pottential and could have been fleshed out into someting great. The other part questions the intention of the author and his seemingly trivial story.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: Ink

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods (#1)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 
 June 25, 2013
Reviewer: Kati
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion                                                              sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive

Review: OMG! OMG! OMG! Sooooo flipping addicting! I started this book and I loved it. It's based in Japan. It's about a girl named Katie. Her mom dies and she has to live in Japan with her aunt until her grandfathers in remission from his cancer. The story line is so strong and well crafted I never really wanted it to end. I literally read at work even on my lunch breaks I loved it so much. I have a small love for the Japanese culture and the language. A few years ago I tried to teach myself Japanese. I was never good at remembering that kind of stuff so I kind of quit by shockingly I remember most of what I focused on learning so I may continue to try and learn the language. But anyways the book is so amazing you won't want to put it down. You will defiantly want to read it!  I really wish book two was out already. I read a tiny blip of it but I couldn't help but want to read it all and I couldn't. 

Rate (1-10)[low to high]:
Quality of writing: 9
Pace: 9
Plot development: 9
Characters: 10
Enjoy ability: 9
Insightful ness: 9
Ease of reading: 9

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