Originally published: January 1, 1934
Author: Agatha Christie
Page count: 256 (first edition, hardcover)
Genre: Crime Fiction
I was on the fence on reading this book when it came to this month for book club. I remember when we added it to the calendar and I was so excited. The problem is, I couldn't wait and ended up watching the new movie regardless of reading the book. So, needless to say, I don't typically read books after watching the movie. Yes, the other way around is fine for me, but there's just something about reading a book and knowing what's going to happen that I don't like. I guess I feel like it's a waste of time?
Well, the novel itself is pretty much the same as the movie. There are a few more characters in the book, making it more confusing than the movie (if that's even possible) but overall, Hercule Poirot is there to solve the mystery.
I did like how the book was set up though. It wasn't just a play by play like a typical book, it was actually divided into sections based on each suspect and then followed up with a conclusion of insights. To me, it felt like a scientific investigation and I really liked that!
I also liked the performance by the reader of the audiobook. I can't seem to find his name on Google, so sorry for that, but he was very good at changing his voice for all the different characters and having different accents and all. It really made listening to this audiobook fun. I'll give Murder on the Orient Express a 5/5 and probably read more of Agatha Christie, I'm surprised I haven't read anything by her already since I love myself a good murder mystery.
Originally Published: February 28, 2017
Author: Angie Thomas
Page Count: 464
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
The Hate U Give is completely relevant for the current times of our nation. This novel hits close to home for me because I live in St. Louis, and grew up in Ferguson where a lot of the riots and picketing started with this particular topic. The novel is about a young girl who lives in the bad part of town, witnesses her friend get killed by a white cop, and her story as everything unfolds. Like I said, it's completely relevant for the times now. I watch the news and I see people in the streets of my own town marching and rioting and trying to change things. Then you have the opposition that fights for the police officers just doing their job.
In real life, it's hard to see both sides due to the News stations and what you hear from everyone else. You don't know the truth. In this book, the truth is given to the reader, being a fiction and all, and it's clear to see the main character's side of things and all the reactions and thoughts that are going through her head.
This particular topic is not one I like to comment on, because it's such a teeter totter of emotions and one could say it's a hot topic like politics. It's a topic that everyone can see both sides of it, but in no way is going to change your opinion of the situation. I thought this book was well written, and I would assume that it's got some merit as to what would go through a teenage girls mind during all the commotion of her friend getting shot and the uproar in her community against the cop who shot him.
The only thing I didn't like too much about the book was that the main character was a bit of a whiner, but she's a teenage girl so what could I expect right? I'll say this book is good, but not amazing. I'll give it a 3/5 rating and still suggest it. It's a great book for your book club if you like talking about this. I kind of wished everyone else had read the book in my club, because I truly wanted to talk about it this time when I don't typically care to talk about the book if I've read it.
Originally published: November 14, 2017
Author: Andy Weir
Page count: 320
Genre: Science Fiction
Audio read by: Rosario Dawson
Original language: English
Awards: Goodreads Choice Awards Best Science Fiction
I wanted to read this novel because I really enjoyed The Martian, which was made into a movie starring Matt Damon which I loved just the same. I loved The Martian because of the main character and the many times that it made me laugh... a book made me laugh! Artemis however, is not the same. I did not find myself laughing, I found myself more resenting the main character because of her awful attitude and personality.
I will say the science fiction part of this novel is fantastic. The idea of a colony on the moon is great, and I loved all the little tidbits about gravity and everything. I even liked the whole concept of how Artemis came to be a moon colony etc etc. I just could not get on board with the main character. The plot line was good enough to where I wanted to keep reading, but I didn't have the itch to keep reading like I've had in other books I've read recently.
This second novel by Andy Weir isn't horrible, but it definitely does not live up to the amazing par that The Martian has started. I'm sure he put just as much true scientific knowledge as the first, though I'm not sure I believe 100% of how she survives in the end... I guess that's possible if he wrote about it, just knowing about how The Martian was scientifically relevant. I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars.
Author: Karin Slaughter
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Crime Drama
Karin Slaughter is another author that I've grown to love her stories. This is not the first one I've read by her, and it is just another one that keeps the pages turning (or in my case, not get out of the car). The audiobook itself had a lot of cds, so it's a pretty long book. Took me awhile to get through it since the only time I can listen is in the car on my commute to work. Still though, it's a good book.
Two women, sisters, have their lives uprooted when they were teenagers. Since then they've been dealing with life and trying not to let their troubled past catch up to them and ruin anymore of their lives. Well, this novel doesn't let that happen because then it wouldn't be interesting to read right? There's a school shooting in their home town. One of the women, the "good daughter" never left home, followed in their father's footsteps, and became a great lawyer. Well, the other daughter also became a lawyer, just let home entirely to get away from all the bad memories.
Basically, the novel is about these two women trying to find out the truth about the school shooting and ultimately save the "shooter" from death row.
This book hits close to home with the whole school shooting thing, and I commend Karin on using something so devastating in the times that we are having right now. On top of that having the two main characters trying to help out the said shooter is a good read. The novel itself is fast paced and I loved how every once in awhile the author snaps back to the past to recant the story of the two girls' tragedy some 30 years ago. Each time adding a new fact that really adds to the anticipation and the horror of it all.
I'd recommend this book if you like crime dramas. I will say that I've liked her other books better than this one, but I still would like to read the other novel she's written based on the same characters. I believe it's a prequel? Nevertheless, it's on my list as are other books by this author. I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Author: Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty has become one of my favorite authors. The first book I read by her was The Husband's Secret and loved it. This book is the same. Big Little Lies, which is now a television show that I too want to watch if I can ever get my hands on it, is about the drama of kindergarten mothers and the dramatic filled days that lead up to someone's death.
In this novel, I liked how the reader has no clue who actually dies until the very end. Moriarty is able to build up the anticipation and the suspense with each second/page turn of the book. I for one (if I were reading instead of listening) couldn't put it down. I found myself sitting in the car longer before and after work just to listen to what was going to happen next.
Does anyone know how I can watch the series? I think it was on HBO or some channel like that that I don't have access to. I would think they have it on DVD??? Maybe I can rent it some where. I'd love to see hoe Witherspoon, Kidman, and Woodley bring these pages to life on screen. And the fact that it was so popular makes me want to watch it that much more. I did hear that another season has been approved.
I'll for sure be reading more from this author. It's 2/2 with me on the ones I've read. I think I have another one sitting at home waiting for my attention. If you love dramatic sequences, thrilling aspects, and overall fun with a little bit of romance thrown in there, you'll want to tackle this novel. (5/5).
Author: Tana French
I've had this book since I was a part of the book of the month club. Since then, I realized that was a waste of money because I prefer to listen to audiobooks since I rarely have time to sit down and read a book. So recently, I've been getting the audiobooks from the library even though the paper book is sitting on my shelves in my home library.
This one was not the greatest book. Yes, it was thrilling and the suspensefulness of it keeps you enthralled, but the fact that a lot of the "scenes" in the book are drawn out just makes me anxious and almost angry. The novel is about a detective, her co-workers, and the murder of a young woman. It follows the detective around (and is told from her perspective) as she deals with being a woman on the force, a messsed up background, and the no-bullshit type attitude.
Back to what I was saying about the drawn out sequences. There was one part, where the lead detective and her somewhat superior co-worker were interviewing the prime suspect. I'm not sure how many "pages" this was, but it was at least 3 discs worth of them talking to the poor man. I thought it was never going to end! After this point, the book didn't feel as drawn out. Perhaps it's because I needed to take a break and listen to another half way through? Watch out for that review next.
I'll give this book a rating that falls in the middle of the scale. It's not awful, but definitely not exhilarating like other suspense novels I've read. (2/5). I've had her other book, In the Woods, on my list for awhile but I'm not sure I'll be tackling that one after this.
Quick Hit: Michael Crichton’s posthumous novel is a bit of a letdown from his legacy.
Michael Crichton, he of the Jurassic Park fame, had a penchant for taking science and shoving it into novels in a way that was both exciting and educational. There may be some shortcuts made in his most famous books, (Timeline is my favorite of his, which combines history and science) but most are generally well written, with well-rounded characters and fun plots. Pirate Latitudes, the second of two manuscripts discovered and published after the author’s death, is a bit of a mess. It’s a quick read, and not very complicated, but its issues are really too great to ignore.
It concerns a fictional account of a real historical occurrence where a British privateering ship attacked a Spanish fortification from Port Royal in Jamaica. This was just a semantics difference from piracy, something that a book called Pirate Latitudes really wants to explain to you.
Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest problems in this book. About half of the book is really exciting, particularly for someone like me that enjoys sailing and learning about the historical aspects of maritime warfare. But a lot of the copious amounts of explanation start to drag on the book after a couple hundred pages. Especially because at times it is at the expense of characterization. Hunter is a really fun character – indeed, all of the characters are fun, and most of them have fun names, like Whisper (due to a cut throat) and The Jew. It’s a good bit of writing, even if it’s a bit cliché.
What isn’t a good bit of writing is the fact that some characters that seem to be written to be important, like Anne Sharpe, and Emily Hacklett pretty much disappear amongst all the male characters. Even Lazue, who’s a woman pretending to be a man (like in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flags!) seems to fall by the wayside unless she’s taking off her tunic. It’s pretty unfortunate, but it’s actually not the worst part of the book.
*************Spoilers here for pretty much the whole book***************************
The worst part of the book is how many plot hindrance are thrown in the characters way that are overcome in seemingly only a few paragraphs. The characters face, and I’m not exaggerating – all in a 300ish page book – being captured by the enemy, being captured in a storm, being captured by a hurricane, being nearly overran and captured by another enemy, captured by someone else in a “twist”. AND A KRAKEN. That’s an insane amount of obstacles, but never fear – there’s only a few of them that actually stick around past a few pages.
So, Pirate Latitudes is worth a read if
Author: Kristin Hannah
I wanted to read this book because of the first book I've read by Kristin Hannah: The Nightingale, which I loved so much and definitely recommend for reading. The Great Alone is nothing like this other book. Probably the same writing style, it's harder for me to tell since I mainly stick to audio books, but it's not a historical fiction like The Nightingale.
This book however is still great. It follows a young girl, thirteen at the beginning of the novel, until she grows of age. Her family packs up and moves to Alaska, but not just any part of Alaska, the part that's considered the last frontier. It has no plumbing, no electricity, and all kinds of wild animals.
The novel brings to light a lot of hardships that Lenny had to go through. Her father was a mean and abusive drunk man who suffered from PTSD due to the Vietnam War. She had to watch her mother get beaten for 5 years while they lived in that Alaskan cabin.
Young romance along with multiple tragedies riddle this book with tension and the notion to keep turning the pages (or in my case, pop in the next CD while sitting in rush hour traffic).
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Not as much as The Nightingale, but definitely enough to still recommend it to everyone. It will definitely make you think about all the hurdles that women have overcome in the law due to domestic violence and abusive relationships. And it will definitely make you teary eyed at the fact that these characters can overcome to very uphill battles and still end up happy as ever.
4 out of 5 stars!
Quick Hit: 80s nostaligia, video game madness, and almost no deeper than that.
I’m a big fan of things that are nerd extreme. I have been especially enjoying the recent explosion of 80s themed things that are reoccurring – from Balthazar Bratt in Despicable Me 3, the obvious 80s implications of Stranger Things, and of course, the recent box office smash of IT, things are going well for the decade. Enter Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The book is now a movie, and was recommended by my father, who also purchased the book.
It’s the year 2044, and Wade Watts is our unknowing hero. He’s an orphan, living with his aunt in a stack of trailers with several other families. That is, when he’s not in the Oasis, an extreme Virtual Reality experience where people now spend nearly their whole lives. Some of this is the availability (it’s free) and some is the experience (you can be anyone you want to be). But a huge part is searching for the Easter Eggs left behind by the creator of the Oasis, who left his entire considerable earnings to whoever could solve his puzzle. And hence, enter Wade, who has spent the last five years looking for them.
Ready Player One is two things. 1) It’s a nerds paradise, with references to just about every huge 80s game, movie, tv show, and diving even deeper into some more obscure fare. 2) It’s also an escapist family, with some of the language to match.
Now, I’m not saying I have to love every aspect of a book to enjoy it – I actually enjoyed large pieces of the story, and I’m a sucker for a dumb romance where you know it will work out. But man does this have some really convenient plot turns and twists. I know how to suspend disbelief pretty easily – my favorite stories involve multiple words and a mythical King Arthur descendant who wields revolvers better than anything – but it was pretty tough here. And not what happens in the Oasis, which I thought was excellent, but the things that happen outside of it. It’s clear that Cline was as ready to get back inside the Oasis as any of us, and it shows, because he’s constantly dropping the plot when he’s outside with Wade.
Case and point: Cline specifically points out that the money Wade makes from ad revenue is a “meager amount” that could “afford an apartment for about a year”. Then, Wade proceeds to extravagantly live to the point where he has a booby-trapped home with a personal computer and a high tech Oasis rig – some components of which he doesn’t even use (a Smell Generator, because, of course there would be a Smell Generator). It’s contradictions like that that have the tendency to bring me outside the story rather than letting me language in the Oasis, which is a hell of a place to be.
Particularly for nerds like me, the Oasis sounds like a little slice of heaven. I’m also a fan of RPGs, so this just plays further down my alley, eventually knocking down all but a few pins. I loved the references throughout, but I think a slightly better approach would be to approach it much like Michael Crichton has in the past – footnote the references, and make your reader flip to the back if they don’t understand. But that would also remove a large part of the book, which would have left for more in depth characterization.
So, do I think a lot of people will be entertained here, particularly if they recognize the material? Yes. Do I think at times the writing fades into juvenile form, particularly in the character descriptions? Yes. But did I have a good time with it? Yes. I’m giving it a “C+”.
Quick Hit: Science Fiction full of heady ideas and well-written characters.
So I’ve never written a book review before, outside of maybe some assignments when I was in high school. In one aspect, books are similar to movies, so you’d think it’d be a natural conversion for me. However, I don’t just love books like I love movies – books are literally a huge part of who I am. I’ve alluded to this time and again, but I don’t think it literally comes across how big of a fan of the written word that I am. Except that maybe I type longer reviews than I should, and many of you know that already.
I’m consistently seeking out new and entertaining books to read, particularly in the fantastical, the science fiction, and the horror genres. I tend to use the St. Charles County Library’s “books like this one” feature, and just go on long spirals until I found books that are interesting. And I really like book series too – I just find that so much more can be done with a story when it is branched across several books, and the author (or authors) don’t feel limited. In fact, most series tend to start with authors who feel their ideas wouldn’t be best served with just one book, but need them spread out over several. That’s what happened when Stephen Baxter and Terry Prachett began to collaborate on The Long Earth and its corresponding sequels. Today’s review will be an amalgam of all five books, but mainly focused on the last one, since it’s what I read most recently (obviously).
The Long Cosmos picks up the story of the famous stepper, Joshua Valiente, as he confronts yet another Long Earth crisis. For the uninitiated, consider a deck of cards, with the Datum Earth as the center in the deck. With a “Step” you can go into the next world, a parallel one that is like our earth, but different in miniscule ways. The farther you “step” the more different these worlds seem. And there are also other species of humanoids out there – from trolls, to beagles, to elves, and even a super human braniac race called “The Next”. There’s a lot to catch up on there, I’ll just say to check out the books, particularly books one and two – I was a bit indifferent to The Long Mars and The Long Utopia myself.
I found myself feeling this way for most of The Long Cosmos as well. With Mr. Prachett’s passing, Baxter alone completed the novels, and you can feel the difference in the language at times. A lot of big book series like these contain one of my biggest pet peeves, which is extra explanation as to who the characters are, what the rules of the world are, so to speak, and all together other things that if you read the books should understand already. I know that this is because most book series have installments released years apart, but just reread the previous books if you don’t remember everything.
Probably the best part of this book is its willingness to go deeper into certain versions of the Long Earth than any other has done to this point. Most of the series has been obsessed with going deeper and deeper, rarely stopping to smell the roses. Here, the characters tend to find themselves on one world, and stay there, and it makes for a much better book than the last two treks. Valiente finds himself stranded on a world, and the trolls become not only his saviors, but one older troll nicknamed Sancho becomes his teacher and his friend. I thought that the book series was at its best exploring the characteristics of other humanoids, and that’s why here I liked it so much.
It’s a decent conclusion to the series, but it sure ends quickly. Almost all of these books tend to realize that the end of the book is in twenty or so pages and rush along to a predetermined conclusion. It’s unfortunate, because most of the characters are well-written and deserve better. But, I’ll salute this Navy novel from my twain, with only one thing left on my mind – a better earth is just a step away.