BOOK REVIEW: The Whistler by John Grisham

29354916Title: The Whistler

Author: John Grisham

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 10 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Read Start Date: April 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 2, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

My Review: I am a big fan of John Grisham. I have read a few other books of his recently; you can find a review of one of them, The Rooster Bar, here. I have read a few other reviews where the feedback of this book was a bit negative, but I disagree. While I agree that the story does progress rather slowly, I think that it gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters and to develop the plot in a way where the reader can see the evolution of the case against the Judge. There are a lot of moving pieces in this book, and it takes time to spell it out effectively, and in a way that doesn’t create confusion in the reader. Had this book been shorter or less complicated, I think that it would have taken away from the overall story.

I am only giving it a 3 instead of a 4 because the book didn’t compare to some other books that I have recently and given 4 stars i.e., When Life Gives You Lulu Lemons (review is here).  I liked it well enough, but I won’t give a second thought to it tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I also didn’t really give a second thought to When Life Gives You Lulu Lemons either, but that book was more fun to read. Now that I mention it, I guess I would consider this book to be a little dry — but that sometimes happens when the subject matter is predominantly about the law.

In any event, this book is for when you are looking to be entertained for 13 hours (audiobook) and don’t want to read anything thought provoking, and don’t mind that the book is about a legal topic. I mostly listened to it on the way to work in the car, while out walking, around the house while doing chores, etc.

MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man

371792-slender-man-0-230-0-345-cropTitle: Slender Man

Year: 2018

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Mystery

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Watch Time: 1 hours 33 minutes

Platform: Netflix

Date Watched: May 1, 2019

Recognized Actors: The only actor I recognized was Jaz Sinclair. I recognized her from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (which is a really good show that I would recommend).

Brief Summary of Plot from LetterboxdCAN YOU SEE HIM? In a small town in Massachusetts, four high school girls perform a ritual in an attempt to debunk the lore of Slender Man. When one of the girls goes mysteriously missing, they begin to suspect that she is, in fact, his latest victim.

My Review: My impression after the first 15 minutes of the movie: So far the movie seems to be very similar to the plot of The Ring, i.e., watch a video and within seven days something terrible happens to you. All that is missing is the phone call with Samara’s creepy voice whispering “Seven days”. I have failed to jump or be scared in anyway so far, although there is some tension beginning to build.

As the movie progressed, the “attempted” scares were obvious, and you knew that they were coming. Music would build up and then there was a music explosion at the point where you are supposed to be scared, etc. This style of scare tactic plagues most modern horror movies, and in my opinion detracts from the scare affect. Most of the time it was hard to see the Slender Man himself or the scenes of the movie that took place in the dark, but this might have had something to do with watching it on the ipad during the daytime.

Will this movie win any awards? Of course not, but it’s not supposed to. The goal of this movie is to entertain, and it certainly entertained me.

Despite the fact that the ending was totally lame “ya know?”, I still give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

18693763Title: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 57 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Read Start Date: April 18, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 25, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

My Review: This is the second book that I have read by Celeste Ng (although this is the first book she wrote). The other book I read was Little Fires Everywhere. You can find my review here.

This book was fantastic. The characters were extremely well developed and really pulled me into the story. The opening lines really draw you into the story: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

I don’t want to give too much away regarding the plot, but it is hard to review the book without mentioning some aspects. I do not think that the below gives too much away.

Lydia is the eldest daughter to Marilyn and James. Lydia struggled under the weight of her parents expectations. Marilyn, having had to give up her dreams of becoming a doctor (when she became a mother), tried to live vicariously through her daughter. James, who never fit in as a child (because he was Asian), tried to live vicariously through his daughter’s popularity. The problem was, that Lydia was neither popular, nor interested in becoming a doctor.

Nath, the oldest child and only son to Marilyn and James, lives in the shadow of his younger sister Lydia. His achievements are all but ignored.

Hannah, the unwanted third child, is basically invisible to her parents, as all their attention go to the favored child Lydia. There is a great quote from the book describing Hannah: “Hannah, as if she understood her place in the cosmos, grew from quiet infant to watchful child: a child fond of nooks and corners, who curled up in closets, behind sofas, under dangling tablecloths, staying out of sight as well as out of mind, to ensure the terrain of the family did not change.”

In the aftermath of Lydia’s death, the family and their relationship to each other is thrown into turmoil.

The story alternates between the past and the present to give a full picture of the Lee’s life together, and how they became who they are.

My younger brother died almost five years ago (a few days before his 29th birthday) in an accident (he was hit by a driver high on drugs who ran the red light). Some of the descriptions Ng gave of the family dealing with a child’s death really resonated with me. For example, Ng describes a scene where James is looking at his surviving children and he sees bits of Lydia in each of them. I often too experience this. I have the same teeth as my brother, and sometimes I think of him when I see myself in the mirror. Reading this book made me wonder whether when my parents look at me, do they also see my brother in my face? Do they see my brother’s eyes in the eyes of my sister, or his features in those of her son?

Ng’s descriptive language is so powerful and really makes you imagine what you are reading. For an example, James says something nasty to his son after Lydia’s death. Ng says something like, James’ words were like moths in the air that he wanted to catch and pull back, but he was too late because they were already crawling inside his son’s ears. I couldn’t find the exact quote again sadly.

Anyway, in conclusion, I highly recommend this book. Ng’s powerful storytelling with stay with you for quite some time.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

35901186Title: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Author: Kirk Wallace Johnson

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 9 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime, History, Science, Mystery

Read Start Date: April 10, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 11, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

My Review: When I first starting reading this book, I had no idea that it was actually nonfiction, and based upon real events. I had never heard of using bird feathers for fishing lures, nor had I ever heard of a “fly tier” enthusiast stealing exotic bird feathers from a museum — in some cases, the very same birds collected by Alfred Russel Wallace, and other naturalists of the same era (around the time of Darwin’s expeditions).

The writing of Kirk Wallace Johnson was so good, that I was convinced for the first portion of the book that it was a fiction story. After I got into it a bit further, and looked the book up online, I realized that this story is actually true! It seems to be a little known fact, which makes for an awesome and refreshing novel. The story is very engaging, and even though it is nonfiction, there is the distinct smell of a fiction thriller — a daring heist of rare, expensive bird skins leads an amateur detective into the bowels of the fly tier underground, where the secretive fly tier community not only trades in black market and sometimes illegal feathers, but closes ranks when threatened.

Did Edwin Rist work alone, or was there perhaps more at play?

I love that this book unwittingly educated me, not only in the not so known world of fly tying, but also the feather trade in general.

The book alternates between telling the story of the feather heist, and telling the story of the author trying to track down the thief. The author also explains about the history of feathers and fashion, and how during the Victorian age several species were almost hunted into extinction all in the name of women’s vanity and social stature.

This book gets a rare 5 out of 5 stars from me. Everyone should read about this strange little piece of history. Even if you don’t generally like nonfiction books, this book will not disappoint.

BOOK REVIEW: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

36381091Title: The Cabin at the End of the World

Author: Paul Tremblay

Book Length (Audiobook): 9 hours 31 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Read Start Date: March 23, 2019

Read Finish Date: March 24, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door.

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

Reviewer’s note: I really loved that the family in this book was a modern style family with two dads and an adoptive daughter. I think that this is not done enough in mainstream literature.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”.

Reviewer’s note: If it wasn’t obvious enough that something weird was happening (like why would this guy be talking to this young girl?) when Leonard said that line I was thinking “uh oh”. My first thought was some weird paranormal stuff was about to go down like in that movie Sinister.

Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

Reviewer’s note: unexpected twist there. Maybe less Sinister, and more The Cabin in the Woods?

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.

Reviewer’s note: That last paragraph is a bit hyped. I didn’t feel the tension at all. I was a little disappointed actually.

My Review: Where to start with this book? Okay, so first I should say that I don’t know whether I liked or disliked this book, which is why I gave it 3 stars, as it came somewhere in between. It was an interesting premise, but I think that the author could have done more with it. Having less than 10 hours of listening time (272 pages), there really wasn’t much room for character building. I can’t say that I really felt anything for any of the characters, even little Wen. This was ultimately disappointing. In a horror story, who doesn’t want to feel at least some empathy toward the characters?

However, I didn’t dislike any of the characters either. As I mentioned above, I liked how the family had two dads and an adoptive daughter.

Since the book was so short, and since the author tried to give time to the back story of each character, it felt more like a summary of their lives than character development. For an example, it turned out (maybe — it was never really proven or not) that one of the strangers was possibly a guy that one of Wen’s dads had beaten up in a bar years earlier. I didn’t really think that this added anything to the story, other than a side comment that maybe these people were “gay bashers” and were therefore just lying about the whole apocalypse thing.

On the other hand, was character development really so important to the story? Could it have been rather that the story itself was more the focus?

I am also currently reading a book by Stephen King and Owen King called Sleeping Beauties. Similarly, it is about the end of the world, so to speak — but it is more than 700 pages long. I am not saying that you need 700 pages to truly develop a character or story, but it might have been nice if Tremblay had allotted a few more pages to the task.

I finished The Cabin at the End of the World in two days because I listened to it over the weekend, and I tend to listen to audiobooks a lot on the weekends. Had this been a paperback book, or had I started the audiobook on a Monday, I am not sure whether I would have been able to finish it in so short of a time, so I cannot say that the pace at which I read the book is any indication of the likeability of the book.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the book. I typically like books that fall within the horror genre, and I don’t ever expect to be scared, but I do expect some sort of feeling that what I am reading is disturbing or creepy. Even if the story was more the intended focus than the characters for me, I would have liked to have liked the characters more, especially in light of what happened to them in the book.

This book reminded me a bit of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, except that I liked The Road a lot more. Let’s face it, cannibals (especially as vivid as McCarthy’s descriptions were of them) are always super disturbing, and are always going to beat out weird kidnappers / slashers in that department.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so it is really hard to give further examples of how the story fell a little short of expectations.

Have you read The Cabin at the End of the World? What did you think?

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

12291438Title: The Madman’s Daughter

Author: Megan Shepherd

Book Length (Audiobook): 12 hours 50 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads : Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

My Review: After a horrifying scene in London, where Juliet walks in on some medical students performing vivisection of a live white rabbit, Juliet discovers that her father was in fact alive (although presumed dead for many years). The author describes the scene with the rabbit so vividly that it left me queasy for days. I still shudder when I think of the rabbit’s screaming. I know it is imaginary, but things like that really hit me hard. I cannot stand to think of animals suffering, even fake ones.

Similarly, that Dr. Moreau performed his operations on his creatures without any pain killers or anesthesia is just terrible, unthinkable even. I wanted to cry just thinking of the pain inflicted on these poor animals. What a sick and twisted character. What makes me more upset is thinking that maybe in real life back in those days scientists really did perform these types of “surgeries” on animals. Animal cruelty is just so not okay. I was bothered that no one tried to stop Dr. Moreau. Why didn’t Juliet or Montgomery just kill him? I felt like maybe they were a little brainwashed, or maybe this was supposed to be an indication that they had “morals”? That they were not killers like the mad doctor. I don’t think that I could have stood by and let that go on.

I read some reviews which pooh-poohed the love triangle between Juliet, Montgomery, and Edward, but I didn’t feel the same. I didn’t find it sappy, or unbelievable. Montgomery was Juliet’s childhood friend (even though he was their servant’s son), and as an adult her childhood affections had turned romantic. She had conflicting emotions, however, because he was helping Dr. Moreau torture animals to make his “creations”. With respect to Edward, there was something in him that Juliet was physically drawn to despite her mental reservations about it, although we don’t really find out what that physical draw was until the surprise ending.

The writing was very good, and the story was suspenseful. Although I liked this book, it left me unsettled — the same feeling I came away with after reading H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. I cannot fathom why this book would be classified as “young adult”. I wouldn’t say this book was “scary”, but it certainly was very disturbing, and I think that the story will stay with me for a while.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Parasite by Mira Grant

13641105Title: Parasite

Author: Mira Grant

Book Length (Audiobook): 16 hours 6 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.”

My Review: The main character, Sally Mitchell “Sal” awoke from a coma without any memories of her life before the accident. Her life was saved by the tapeworm living in her intestines. The book starts six years after she woke up. Her relationships are complicated, due to the fact that she was not a very nice person before the accident. Everyone in her life of course remembers this person, but she herself does not. Although Sal is an adult, she is often treated like a child by her parents (Sal’s Dad is the head of USAMRID), and her doctors at SymboGen see her as an anomaly and therefore study her and monitor her every move. In fact, the only person in Sal’s life who treats her with any normalcy is her boyfriend, Nathan (a parasitologist at the hospital).

Despite the coma and memory loss, Sal seems to be living a pretty average life, that is, until things start to get strange. People start developing a “sleeping sickness” and the infection is spreading. It is not known until the end how Sal fits into this sickness, and I won’t spoil it for you.

When I first started to read this book, I had been expecting something a bit more “apocalyptic”– so I was a little bit disappointed when it wasn’t; but, maybe this comes in the next 2 books?

I was also surprised to find out that this wasn’t a Young Adult book, because it certainly read like one. Other than the occasional swear word, the language of this book was super easy. The romantic relationships were PG all the way, and despite the family drama, other relationships in the book were rather uncomplicated and one-dimensional. The characters were interesting, when they were not totally unrealistic.

SPOILER ALERT: One of the characters that I did not like at all was Tansy. Tansy was a human who had been taken over by the tapeworm — so basically, Tansy was a tapeworm wearing a human shell. The only problem with Tansy was that her character was supposed to be crazy, and I guess the only way to illustrate this was to have her act like an unhinged Rambo who sometimes had cringe worthy one-liners? I think that the author could have developed the characters better. I also did not understand why the description of the characters was necessary — did the fact that Tansy have pink streaks in her hair make her seem more “crazy”? Otherwise, it just seems like these descriptions were just fillers without any real motivation.

This book was entertaining; I listened to the audiobook while running / walking. If you are looking to be entertained, you should give it a go. I would just caution to manage expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Origin by Dan Brown

32283133Title: Origin

Author: Dan Brown

Book Length (Audiobook): 18 hours 10 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery,

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.”

My Review: This is the 5th book in the Robert Langdon series. Dan Brown has his formula down pat for his books: male and female protagonists, with a twist at the end. This book fit right into the mold. The book was fast paced and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what the big secret was. I was entertained throughout. I am only giving it a 3 out of 5 stars, however, due to the below aspects:

1. Eye Rolling Repetition of Phrases

I found myself rolling my eyes at several points and cringing at the repetition of some phrases. For example, if the phrase “where did we come from and where are we going” was stated once in the book, it was stated 100 times. It was the theme of the book — but one I guess that needed to be bashed over my head. Also, how many times did we need to hear that Ambra Vidal was the “future queen of Spain”? We get it Dan Brown. Thanks.

2. Bad Ending

The ending was also not what I was expecting, and left me frankly disappointed. The book did not make any new revelations about “where did we come from” — evolution. And as for “where we are going”, well, SPOILER ALERT (do not read on if you want to read the book), humans will become integrated with science / technology. This will be the next evolution of the species. I was like really, that’s the big reveal? I thought it was a bit unoriginal.

3. What about Inferno?

At the end of Dan Brown’s last book, Inferno, the entire population was infected with some pathogen that made 1/3 of the planet infertile. Why wasn’t this mentioned at all in this book? Did Kirsch take this into account when he made the model / prediction for the future?

4. Romantic Interest, Or?

I was also really confused about the relationship between Vidal and Langdon. Did they have feelings for each other or not? Although there was no chemistry at all during the entire book, the ending made it sound like they were beginning to fall for each other, and that they would each miss each other in the romantic sense. I found this strange given the lack of intimacy or flirting between them during the story.

Despite the above 4 negative aspects, I would still recommend this book to anyone who liked the other Langdon books. I would just caution that one should manage expectations because Origin is definitely not the best one of the 5.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Outsider by Stephen King

36124936

Title: The Outsider

Author: Stephen King

Book Length (Audiobook): 18 hours 49 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Horror, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Link: Goodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.”

My Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book, and I have really struggled with this review. On the one hand I liked it, but on the other hand I was not that impressed. I have some spoilers in this review, but i cannot give my full opinion without giving away some of the story. The beginning of the book starts out like any other murder mystery / crime novel. As with all of his books, King’s writing is impeccable, and the characters are well-developed.

The issue I have is with the supernatural monster, who turned out to be the real killer. In a nutshell, this monster was a shape shifter that was capable of becoming other people, even down to the DNA level. This is how he would perpetrate the crimes, and the humans from whom the monster had stolen the DNA (like Terry Maitland) would get the blame. The monster fed on children and thrived on the grief the killings caused the family members. It had white blood filled with worms, and it would use the worms to infect humans so that it could control them to do its bidding.

After Detective Anderson (and his team) figure out that the real killer is some sort of monster, they track it down to a cave system and ultimately destroy it.

Elements of this story heavily reminded me of It (also by Stephen King) and the Strain series by Guillermo Del Toro — which is why, for me, the story did not really feel all that original. It reminded me of It because the monster went after children, hibernated after feedings, and lived underground in an abandoned mine. It reminded me of The Strain series because of the worms and the white blood (in The Strain, the vampires made new vampires by infecting humans with worms, and said vampires had white blood).

I was on a business trip in Japan while reading this book, and was severely jet lagged for most of the week. Since this book received very high reviews in general, maybe the jet lag prevented me from really appreciating the story, as every time I read the book, I was very tired. In any event, since Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, I would still recommend to read this book.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

35212978Title: The 17th Suspect

Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 4 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Thrillers, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Crime

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Brief Summary of the Plot: The 17th Suspect is the 17th installment in the Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. You don’t really need to read the other books in order to understand what is happening in this 17th book (the author gives a brief summary of the events relevant for the book, if necessary); however, I always like to read the books in order, but that is just me. Honestly, I am debating reading the books over in order to give a real review on them.

Generally, though, the Woman’s Murder Club is a group of women who are friends and get together to solve crimes. Per the James Patterson official website, the cast of characters is as follows:

Detective Lindsay Boxer: “a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department. Lindsay is five foot ten. She was a sociology major and graduated from San Francisco State (to which she transferred from Berkeley when she found out that her mother had breast cancer). She loves beer and butterscotch praline ice cream. She has a border collie named Martha. She enjoys running, loves to read travel books and mysteries and her secret hobby is tai chi. Lindsay has been divorced once and is now married to long-time boyfriend Joseph Molinari. She has a younger sister named Cat and a father named Marty, who was also a member of the SFPD. Marty left Lindsay’s mother when Lindsay was 13.”

Cindy Thomas: “pretty, blonde and city cool. She’s a crime desk reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Cindy is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she was a sociology major. She loves yoga, jazz music and, like her friend Lindsay Boxer, loves to read travel books and mysteries—she’s even a member of a book club. She also has a tattoo, but unlike Lindsay, she has two small G-clefs on her shoulder.”

Claire Washburn, “Claire is black and heavyset; she always jokes, “I’m in shape… round’s a shape.” Claire is wise, confident, kind, and the Chief Medical Examiner for San Francisco. She is married to Edmund, a kettle drum-player in the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Claire and Edmund have two teenage sons and a young daughter named Ruby Rose. Her tattoo: an outline of a butterfly just below her waist. She also goes by the nickname “Butterfly” and has it embroidered on her lab coat at work.”

Yuki Castellano: “an ambitious, young San Francisco district attorney who is passionate, brilliant, given to speaking at 90 miles per hour, and sometimes wears a magenta red streak in her glossy, black, shoulder-length hair. Her parents met at a graduate school mixer for foreign students and married within three weeks. Her mother is Japanese and her father Italian American. Yuki’s favorite drink, when out with the other members of the Club, is a Germain-Robin sidecar.” Yuki joins the Women’s Murder Club in book #5. She replaces another lawyer, Jill Bernhardt who was killed.

As with the other books, this book takes place in San Francisco and has two main cases. In the first story, a man is going around the city shooting homeless people, and Boxer has to investigate the murders (this story is more focused on the police side). The second case is about a man who has accused his boss of rape, and Yuki is prosecuting the woman for rape. It is a controversial case because usually women are not accused of raping men (this story is more focused on the legal side and the other girls are not really involved). Cindy and Claire only make cameo appearances in this book, as both stories are more focused on Lindsay and Yuki.

My Review: As with most of the James Patterson books, the writing is nothing special. Patterson’s books are classic beach reads. Quick and entertaining for a day at the beach. I read this book during the winter while running, but it kept me entertained, so that’s something. The stories remind me of Law and Order Episodes, as there are usually two stories, one focused on “the law”, and the other on “the order”. My feelings overall are rather ambivalent. As with most beach reads, the book isn’t meant to stir up any emotions, it is just there to entertain you.

The Audiobook Recording: Nothing to report.

Expectations/Recommendations: Since I have read many of Patterson’s books before, I knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed. I have to say though that the Patterson and Paetro collaboration is one of my favorite collaborations from Patterson. If you are looking for a quick read, and aren’t expecting anything intellectual, this is the right book for you.