Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling Book Review

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

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After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Review by Brittany:

I'm a little late to the party on this book, despite looking forward to reading it for a long time, and I loved it.

Strike is a bit unprofessional and disorganized, but his skill level for the job he is doing is made evident throughout the story. The prosthetic leg adds a bit of background and personality to Strike that aids in his character development. I also thought it was interesting how much focus was put on his relationship with Charlotte that ended at the beginning of the book. I liked this added bit of story and character development. Robin, Strike's temp, was also a great character. She added some humor to the story, and she was quick-witted and invested in her job working with Strike. She made a good addition to the story and I'm hoping that she gets an opportunity to be a major character in further books.

The story itself was intriguing to me. I enjoyed Strike's conversations with people and the little ways in which he would extract information from him. There were often times he would catch a detail that I missed, and I was impressed with the way the story was written and with how Strike managed to fill in those little pieces. I thought there was enough to information to infer what had happened, but I still didn't know the whole ending until the climax of the story. I had it narrowed down to two suspects, so I was on the right track but it wasn't immediately obvious.

I think this one is a good example of a subtle detective story that isn't too much in the reader's face but gives just enough information. I enjoy J.K. Rowling's writing and will most definitely be continuing with this series.

Notable quotes:

But the lies she told were woven into the fabric of her being, her life; so that to live with her and love her was to become slowly enmeshed by them, to wrestle her for the truth, to struggle to maintain a foothold on reality.

But they had already tried, again and again and again, and always, when the first crashing wave of mutual longing subsided, the ugly wreck of the past lay revealed again, its shadow lying darkly over everything they tried to rebuild.

There, in that first night, had been everything that had subsequently broken them apart and pulled them back together...

"He's not sane. Which isn't to say he's not a clever fucker."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Hypnotist's Love Story Book Review

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

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Ellen O'Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It's a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She's stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn't mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she's optimistic. He's attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk.

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick's ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen things, Actually, that's kind of interesting. She's dating someone worth stalking. She's intrigued by the woman's motives. In fact, she'd even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn't know it, but she already has.

Review by Brittany:

As a fan of Moriarty, I have collected all of her books to read, so I anticipated enjoying this one. What I didn't expect was to find it to be one of the most honest insights into an ending relationship that I've ever read.

The author really made me empathize with Patrick's stalker, Saskia. She does this in part by making Saskia's sections of the book first person and Ellen's sections of the book third person. This helped me relate to Saskia on a certain level at which I didn't with Ellen. Saskia is also written as a heartbroken character, one who felt completely blindsided by the ending of her relationship, and she felt as if her whole life was snapped away from her when Patrick left her and took his toddler son with him.

Ellen finds herself dying to know more about Saskia. Instead of viewing this woman as a threat, she looks at her as a fascination. Even with her relationship with Patrick progressing, she finds herself unable to focus on how Saskia's behavior is affecting him. As a reader, I found this incredibly interesting because I had the same struggle. I think this also comes down to the way the novel was written, as if the author intended for readers to relate to Saskia instead of feeling sympathy for Patrick.

Although the book deals with these heavy themes, it was still light-hearted at times. There were moments that made me laugh and roll my eyes, despite the intensity of the focus of the novel. I think there's something to admire about an author who creates a villain that readers can relate to and even sympathize with.

Overall, I adored this book. I think it gives an amazingly accurate view of the feelings a breakup can cause and the crazy things we all think about doing when we are the ones left behind. I also thought the writing was beautifully done, and all of the characters were interesting. This is a fab example of women's literature that I definitely recommend.

Notable quotes:

For a while, each had been the person who knew her best, who spoke to her every single day, who knew where she was at any particular time, who would have sat in the front row at her funeral should she have tragically died.

"That's what I hate most about this thing with my ex. She's in control. She affects my life and I don't get any say in it and there's not a thing I can do about it."

This was the way the world worked. Relationships ended.

The birth of a first baby. One of those everyday events that only seem incredible to the people involved.

The oddest things came out of her mouth when she was feeling awkward.

It's strange how I still feel like I'm the mother of a toddler, even though he's a schoolboy now and he doesn't belong to me anymore. It's like I'm frozen in time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Heartless Book Review

Heartless by Gail Carriger

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Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines, Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

Review by Brittany:

This is the fourth book in the Parasol Protectorate, a series that I am still enjoying.

In this book, Alexia and Conall move forward with their plan to "live" with Lord Akeldama, trying to appease the vampires by removing the threat that Alexia's child may cause. Because I love Lord Akeldama as a character, I'm fine with this turn of events and am interested in seeing more of him. I also liked how this book touched on his strained relationship with Biffy. There's something about those two that I just adore, and I enjoyed reading more about them.

This book also touches on Madame Lefoux's feelings as a mother to Quesnel and in dealing with the aftermath of Angelique's death. Her latest mechanical invention is a physical manifestation of all of the feelings she has and the revenge she wants to take on those she feels took something from her in Angelique's death. This invention is also pretty cool, and I loved reading about all of the elements that Madame Lefoux had incorporated. As the story plays out, Madame Lefoux's future totally changes from what she's used to.

At the end of the book, Alexia finally gives birth to Prudence, her "infant inconvenience". I'm interested to see how Prudence changes things for Alexia and Conall and how this might affect her relationship with Lord Akeldama.

Overall, I'm still loving this series. This author has a way of writing these stories that keeps me hooked. I'm excited to read the last book, but I'm not sure I'm ready to be done!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Passenger Book Review

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz


Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband's body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It's not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive's eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy - and dangerous - alliance is born.

It's almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret...can she outrun her past?

Review by Brittany:

I requested a free copy of this book on NetGalley for review purposes because the blurb sounded interesting, and I recognized this author's name.

I really enjoyed this book. Lutz begins by throwing the reader into the action of the moment, which is actually about halfway through the story. The main character is Tanya, except she's actually not. Tanya is an identity she picked up along the way, as is her way of life, and she continues to do so throughout the book. The author wrote about identity exchanges with knowledge, making it seem realistic and keeping it interesting. There were also times when Tanya was forced to be a squatter, thanks to her unconventional way of life, and the author made those parts believable as well.

Blue was an interesting character to me because she was a minor character who played a huge role in moving the story along. Although there aren't necessarily any good guys in this book (except maybe Domenic), Blue seemed to me to be the most sinister. She was manipulative and sneaky, always leaving out just enough of the truth to keep the main character off balance.

The ending was a bit anticlimactic, but it still worked. After all the running and all of the high-tension experiences the main character has, the ending sort of wraps up neatly, which was a nice contrast to the rest of the story.

Overall, I really liked this book. I haven't read anything else by Lutz, but I can see why she's such a big name in the mystery genre. I definitely recommend this one to fans of the thriller, suspense, and mystery genres.