Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Sinner

The third installment in the Rizzoli and Isles series, finally, focuses primarily on medical examiner Maura Isles.  With the arrival of her ex-husband more is revealed about Maura's life before she moved to Boston.  Case-wise, Jane and Maura investigate a brutal attack inside a convent, which leaves one nun dead and another battling for her life.  Also found is a woman with no face, no hand or feet - could the two cases be connected?

The characterization is spot on, and there are plenty of twist and turns within the plot that kept me reading.  Nothing is ever simple, and the real culprit is always hidden away until the last few chapters.  A fantastic read. 

The Apprentice

Detective Jane Rizzoli, having survived her encounter with The Surgeon, is brought into an investigation of a married couple who have been brutally murdered.  The case takes a turn for the worst when Rizzoli can't help but notice similarities between the crime scene and the work of The Surgeon's in the first book.  Maura Isles is finally introduced as the new Boston Medical Examiner.  However, The Apprentice is about Rizzoli's struggles with the emotional scars left from her showdown with Warren Hoyt, as well as the arrival of the mysterious FBI agent Thomas Dean who keeps usurping her authority.

The best thing about Gerritsen novels, aside from a great plot, are that her characters always come across as fully fledged people, warts and all.  They manage to have lives outside of their work and Gerritsen weaves these elements effortlessly within the main case.  The Apprentice is equally as good, if not better than it's counterpart and I look forward to reading The Sinner.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus was so hyped prior to release last year that I couldn't go on Twitter, let alone enter a bookshop, without hearing how Erin Morgenstern's debut novel was amazingly magical and the best book of 2011.

Set in the late 1800's - early 1900's, Morgenstern debut presents a challenge between two opposing illusionists within a mysterious circus.   Short chapters with third person narrative which allows for multiple perspectives, ranging from the illusionists Celia and Marco, to employees and creators of the circus who are caught within this challenge and then to the visitors, such as young American teenager Bailey.

The book is beautiful in design (I love both the American and English covers) and theory, but is hollow in content.  Not enough time is spent with a single character to really know them; this meant that when major events did occur I never felt engaged emotionally.  There were some good ideas but overall I felt the book was screaming at me to find it magical.  Alas, it was a giant cliche.  

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Book of Summers

Emylia Hall's debut novel The Book of Summers reads as a fairytale without the conventional use of make believe.  Reality is twisted into fiction, creating a beautiful, and most importantly readable, hybrid.

The story begins with (and is all about) Beth, who has been given an unwelcome package from her father.  Upon opening said package The Book of Summers is revealed to her, as well as some sad news.  This causes her to reflect on her childhood and the seven summer vacations she spent in Hungary.

To read this book on a holiday would be like taking a double vacation.  The descriptions of Summer in rural Hungary left me warm, intrigued and slightly jealous.  The passion for the country oozes from Hall's  prose; which in the beginning felt convoluted but eventually provided Beth with a clear voice I felt emotionally engaged with such a simple story.  I was so impressed that I hope The Book of Summers is not a fluke and that Hall's next offering is just as, if not more, magical.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

We need to talk about Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a close contender for my favourite book of all time.  Eva Khatchadorian is writing letters to her estranged husband trying to come close to figuring out why her 15 year old son turned into a mass murderer.  The past mingles with the present as Eva's memories move from discussions on whether or not to have a child to noticing disturbing behaviour in said child, to her now monthly prisons visits.

As soon as I finished, I had the urge to talk to some one about it and find out what they thought.  When I read the first chapter I was unsure as it was so verbose but once I settled into the novels rhythm I hardly noticed anymore and if anything those big words added to Eva's character.  Is Eva to blame?  Or has Kevin been evil since birth?  While there are no definitive answers I have been very tempted to buy my own copy, once my reading schedule lets up, so I can scour the pages for more clues towards the correct answer.

Second Grave on the Left

After the initial chapters, which are heavy with exposition and previously... moments, Second Grave on the Left hits its stride with a clever mystery at the core.  I managed to forget about what I hated in Jones' previous offering First Grave on the Right and enjoyed reading Darynda Jones' second offering about a female Grim Reaper.  Then that moment was spoiled with a cliched passage centering around a family in crisis.  Another thing I found frustrating were contradictions to the lore that Jones had established in the first book.  Charley's impeccable memory, which means she remembers being born and meeting Reyes for the first time, is re-mentioned within the first few chapters of SGOTL and then completely forgotten by page 156.  I understand that authors often contradict themselves within their own series, but for it to happen in the second book of a planned series is worrying.
 Overall, it is a improvement.  I would perhaps recommend Second Grave on the Left without the "it has to be read to be believed" warning, and I may even pick up the next book, Third Grave Dead Ahead, which was released at the end of January.