Wednesday, January 28, 2015

John Dies @ The End by David Wong

Profane and hilarious, this book is like a mashup of "Ghostbusters" with "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." Humanity is in peril as portals to another dimension open and spit through evil beings, and the only ones (maybe) able to save us are a pair of twenty-something slackers.

David works in a movie rental store, and John can't keep a job for more than a couple months. At a summer party where John's (horrible) band plays, a new drug gets passed around. Nearly everybody who takes the "soy sauce" dies in a dramatic and horrific way - except John, who goes comatose.

Turns out the drug turns your brain into a supercomputer able to do astronomical calculations of probability in a split second, and allows you to see horrific and fantastic things invisible to everyone else.

This book is incredibly smart - and also really, really dumb. It's twisty and unpredictable, funny and fun, but not the kind of thing that will last long in your memory. Sometimes you just need a good flight of fancy, and this one has certainly been entertaining for me.

There is a sequel, and I will be looking that one up too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Arcady's Goal

by Eugene Yelchin

What do you know about the children left behind by Russia's enemies of the people in the beginning of the 20th century?  This work of fiction sheds just a little light on the life of one boy whose luck might just turn for the better.

Arcady has spent most of his life in a children's home.  While life is tough, he excels at one thing - soccer.  Although the children must play all games one-on-one, he is able to beat anyone the guards place against him.  It doesn't sound like much, but his skill is sometimes the only way to win food rations from the stingy guards.

He dreams of the day his talent will lead him to a better life.  When it does, Arcady must learn just how difficult life on the outside can be.

The author's note at the end will have you clamoring for more information.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Herbie's Game by Timothy Hallinan

Junior Bender's crime sensei - his father figure and burglary mentor - is dead, and it's up to Junior to figure out who and why. But in the course of tracking down the truth, he learns more about Herbie than he thought possible and it's not all good. Can his memory survive the tarnishing?

In this 4th book in the Junior Bender mystery series, Junior is more introspective than we've seen him before. He's a bit adrift, unmoored by Herbie's death, and unsure about the truths upon which he's built his life. This soul-searching also leads to deep conversations with his girlfriend, his ex-wife, his daughter, and several of his crime-world friends.

This book is a wonderful addition to the series - something a bit different, but leading to a new, fuller understanding of the characters. Also, in the author's note, he admits the storyline allowed him to kill off a few characters and thin out the cast list moving forward. It's nice that Hallinan hasn't fallen into a rut with the books, especially how quickly he's putting them out. Each book has been diverse and unique, and each time I finish I can't wait to see where he goes next!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

A lonely teacher becomes the much-anticipated 10th-and-final member in a lauded writer's group. But before her initiation can be properly carried out, the famous children's author who founded the group disappears mysteriously - leaving the newest member unmoored and without a mentor.

The woman learns about the group's history and relationships though a strange "game" the members play. It's a kidnap-and-interrogate system that lends the whole thing an illicit element and makes every revelation feel like a dark confession.

This is a strange, dark story (translated from Finnish) and I was never sure if I was reading a supernatural novel, a murder-mystery, or literary fiction. It could be a good book discussion title, if only to see and discuss what others thought of the characters and story.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

In the second of the Red Rising trilogy, class rebellion is nearer to erupting as red-hiding-as-gold Darrow negotiates the political and social intrigue of the ruling class.

This book is all about tactical planning - political, social, and in battle. There are crosses and double-crosses, friends who turn out to be enemies and enemies who aren't what they seem either, and lots of literal and figurative backstabbing.

While Darrow believes every person should be free, he can't let that be know. And now that he's lived among the ruling class for a few years - and enjoyed the fruits of that class' position on the hierarchy - does he still have the drive his wife Eo's death once lit within him?

I could NOT put this book down. It's all scheming and doing, running and fighting, leading and inspiring - action from start to finish. I'm totally recommending this series to my teenage nephew as his next read (and I cannot wait for Morning Star).

Monday, January 5, 2015

Return of the bad girl by Codi Gary

Even though she's been gone a long time, Caroline is still regarded as the town bad girl.  Most business owners are still wary of her, and she regularly faces open confrontations wherever she goes.  She's determined to start fresh and repair relationships.

She's got a great new apartment lined up and her plans are lining up.  Too bad the place was also promised to ex-con Gabe Moriarty.  Their reluctant compromise brings forth a smattering of sensational sparks.  It also shows enough of Gabe's character to melt anyone's jaded heart.

These two come with back stories that will make any tenderheart cry.  Luckily, they've both learned a lot about how strong they are.  The real trick is learning to lean on someone else for a change. 

Codi Gary's newest novel is filled with fiery outbursts and endearing moments.  It's sweet, sexy, and I'm pretty sure Gabe has stolen a piece of my heart.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The lodge on Holly Road

by Shelia Roberts

If you are looking for a chaste, sweet story of new love, this is it.  You'll find several new couples who have a happier holiday because they chose to stay at Icicle Creek Lodge. 

From the single mom whose children just want a dog and grandparent for Christmas to the man planning to propose, the lodge is filled with hope in this holiday story.  Of course, there is the mall Santa who is feeling curmudgeonly facing his first Christmas after losing the love of his life.  Can his grown children help him find his spunk, or will he need the magnetic pull of someone new?

Oliva Wallace and her son, Eric have their hands full making Christmas magical for their guests.  Luckily, there's enough holiday spirit to make the week special for each of them as well. 

Sheila Roberts has knocked out another heart-warming tale for the holidays.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

In this twisty mystery, a suburban London neighborhood churns with private dramas after a woman goes missing. Three women - and two timelines - converge into one unexpected climax.

Every day, the train stops or slows at the same signal - right behind the house where Rachel lived with her now-ex-husband. Her life's not so great, and it's a small pleasure to make up domestic stories in her head about one set of neighbors who she glimpses almost every day. Then one day she sees the woman kissing another man. The next day, the headlines indicate that same woman is now missing without a trace.

Critics love to say a book is hard to put down, but that really is the case sometimes; this story hooked me early with a narrative peek into the private lives of these women. Chapters alternate between Rachel, her ex's new wife Anna, and the missing woman (from a year prior). I consumed the book over a weekend, and will be recommending it to fans of domestic suspense.