Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Read Last Week:

Voices, Arnaldur Indridason (1/18)
In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff (1/19)
The Draining Lake, Arnaldur Indridason (1/20)
Arctic Chill, Arnaldur Indridason (1/21)
Everlost, Neal Shusterman (1/24)

Started/Currently Reading:

I had a hard time latching onto a book after I finished the Arnaldur Indridason books. I'm currently in the middle of Most Evil, by Steve Hodel, but I've put that on hold because I realized I really need to read The Black Dahlia Avenger first, which I'm a few hundred pages into. So far, ok. Hodel's writing leaves something to be desired--its very repetitive--but the subject matter is interesting enough to keep me going. I also started Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, which bloggers seemed to love or hate, so I had to check it out. (I'm already slightly disturbed by it, but intrigued.) I've also picked up Oryx and Crake, because, well, it was time to pick up a book off my shelf and who doens't love a good dystopian novel? I'm also in the midst of the graphic novel Books of Magic.

Up Next?

Probably Everwild, the next book in Shusterman's Skinjacker Trilogy. Then I think it's going to be time to hit up my TBR shelf and maybe get another Booker or NBA book in. Also, I'm planning on starting the Y graphic novel series and getting back into Gaiman's Sandman series.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reading Journal: Gretchen Lowell, serial killer

After an inspiring post by Heather from Tales of a Capricious Reader, I ordered the first two books in the Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain: Heartsick and Sweetheart. Luckily, I received them really quickly. Once I picked them up I couldn't put them down!



Heartsick is an interesting book because, although you know that the series revolves around the serial killer Gretchen Lowell, capturing her is not the plot of the book. At the start of Heartsick, Gretchen is in jail. The criminal that Archie Sheridan is trying to catch has been abducting young girls and murdering them. Interwoven into this plot line are flashbacks to the circumstances surrounding Gretchen's capture and torture of Archie. There is also another plot line based on the reporter Susan Ward, who has been brought in by the police department to profile Archie Sheridan.

The flashback plot line is the most compelling part of the book and, in my opinion, overshadows the present-time detective work. Gretchen Lowell's torture of Archie and his inability to break away from her is psychologically compelling. The present-day killer is just no comparison. And while I found Susan's character to be interesting--a extra-lite Lisbeth Salander type (if Salander were concerned about morality)--in the end, her involvement seemed too coincidental. It really pushed the boundary of what I was willing to accept.

Despite these things, I really enjoyed the book. It was a quick read but well-paced, and left me wanting more. So (after a small detour into Icelandic crime fiction, which I'll write about later) I picked up the next book in the series: Sweetheart.

Again, there were multiple plot lines--Gretchen Lowell's escape and Senator Castle's affair and cover-up. And again, Gretchen's plot line was better developed and more compelling. Cain only hits the surface of Archie's suffering--and this is my biggest problem with these books. Whereas, they are thrilling and I want to know badly what will unfold, Cain doesn't manage to delve deeply into either the psyche of Archie or Gretchen. It's all surfaces. This is a shame, because she has really begun the creation of two very psychologically interesting characters--and a very, very messed up relationship.

Cain also skirts the journalist-exploitation issue. She makes Susan conscious of it, but Susuan just sets the issue aside--she never faces it head on. She reassures herself and continues on without truly tackling the issue. Nor does Cain give us any indication of what Susan's stories are like once written. At the very least we could be allowed to judge Susan's skils for ourselves.

The end was somewhat more satisfying than that of Heartsick. **SPOILER ALERT** Her escape was too easy. Thoughts from other readers are very welcome. She and Archie came to an interesting agreement at the end--it will be interesting to see what happens as the catalyst for the next installment. Also, the Buddy-as-bad-guy reveal was rather coincidental--a problem I had with the first book as well.

Heartsick:
***3 out of 5**
3/50 Novels
3/130 Total read

Sweetheart:
***3 out of 5***
5/50 Novels
5/130 Total read

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (On Tuesday)

Apparently, my blog was closed for MLK day. So I'm catching up today. :)

Books completed last week:

The Man Without a Face, Isabelle Holland
Silence of the Grave, Arnaldur Indridason
Voices, Arnaldur Indridason

Books I gave up on:

Out, Natsuo Kirino (Nothing wrong with it at all, I'll probably pick it up again sometime soon. Other books just caught my eye.)

Books I'm currently reading:

In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff
Flyte, Angie Sage (working on this one slowly on my kindle when I'm at the gym)

Books I still need to review:
I don't even want to talk about it!!!

Up Next:

I've got the next Indridason book in my bag with me: The Draining Lake

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mystery Read-a-Thon: Library Recon

I haven't been doing such a great job of keeping track of the time, but I suppose my personal goal is to try and crank out some of these books since I keep checking more and more out from the library.

I just went to pick up Arctic Chill before anyone else could get to it and I ended up checking out two other books and like 4 graphic novels. The good part is some of them are mysteries! I currently have about 700 books checked out from the library, so I need to crack down!! I guess its good that I didn't buy them. My mom would drive up here, tie me down to my recliner, and point her index finger generally in my direction while scolding me.

The good news: I finished Silence of the Grave. It was quite enjoyable. Different enough from Jar City to be interesting, but similar enough to be clearly part of a series. I'm thinking I'll write one long journal post later when I finish all the books so I can give a clear overview.

Mystery Read-a-Thon: Introduction Post

1) Give us five fun-facts about you. (Things that are so trivial you wouldn't think of them right away, but that might make others smile.)
  • I still have my Christmas tree up.
  • I'm obsessed about checking my mailbox, and get sad when there's nothing interesting.
  • I love ballet flats.
  • I hibernate like a bear during winter.
  • I drive a beige Camry that my sister and I lovingly named Poo to rhyme with my previous car's name "Blue" (It was blue) and my sister's car "Bu" (it is a Malibu).

2) What is on your TBR stack for the next two days?

I've got books 2-4 of Arnaldur Indridason's Reykjavik Thriller series and I'm going to walk over to the library at 10 and pick up the fifth book. Also, I have Tokyo Year Zero and some of Charlaine Harris' Lily Bard books if I need a change of pace.

3) Do you have any specific hopes and plans for this read-a-thon?

Just to have fun reading.

4) Did you participate in the Mystery Read-A-Thon in the past?

I haven't participated before.

5) If you already participated, can you give the new participants any tips on what to do and what not to do?

6) If this is your first Mystery Read-A-Thon, how do you plan to go ahead?

I'm just going to read in my spare time. The books I've picked are quickly paced so other than wanting to nap, I'll probably just be reading until I hang out with Katie (of the Bitterness Blog and You're So Vain).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reading Journal: Mystery Read-a-Thon

Well, technically the Mystery Read-a-Thon starts tomorrow, I'm starting tonight because my plans fell through and well...dammit I just want to read these books!!!

Here's what I've got:

Books 2 through 4 of Arnaldur Indridason's Reykjavik Thiller series
  • Silence of the Grave
  • Voices
  • The Draining Lake
and Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace.

I'm super excited about all of these!!! If I need a change of pace I have some of Charlaine Harris' Lily Bard books around here somewhere.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading Journal: Outlander (Challenge Book)

This series was first recommended to me by my boss. She had a very hard time describing it to me, it was a little bit of everything: romance, time travel, historical novel, adventure. I didn't really know what to think of it. But then I started realizing that my blogging friends were completely gaga for this series, so I just had to see what the fuss was about.

I read this chunkster on my Kindle so I wouldn't break my back getting it to and from work. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this one because everyone loves it so much. I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. I wouldn't call this high-literature, but it is definitely well-threshed out, well-written, and well-researched. Once I got into this book, I couldn't get out of it. When Claire is propelled into the past, I felt as though I went with her. (Possible Spoilers alert: This post is really meant more as a discussion with those who have read the book, so I might give some things away. If you haven't read it, DO IT! then come back here!)

I loved Claire's character because she was a believable mix of strength and weakness. She needed some "saving" in a time period completely unknown to her, but was also able to prove herself useful many times over. It's clear that Claire has a good head on her shoulders. She doesn't bumble around, even though she certainly makes some stupid mistakes.

And who couldn't love/want Jamie? His character is a little more predictable, but still enjoyable. I really find it hard to believe that a man like Jamie would be a virgin. But that's his appeal, I suppose: a sexy, hardened warrior on the outside, but a soft little teddy bear on the inside.

The sex scenes are enjoyable and never felt like they were pornographic or overly cheezy. My feminist side bristles at Jamie's need to posses Claire through sex--but the hopelessly romantic in me wants that same thing--so I think this is a strength of the book.

I'm really hoping that Gabaldon will start to unravel the time travel mystery in the next book. I'd really like to know about Gellie Duncan and why certain women are pulled through the rocks. So far this issue is a little shaky and coicidental, so I'd like to see more of an explanation for that. I'd also like to know what Frank is up to during this time.

What did you love about Outlander?

Outlander
, Diana Gabaldon
*5 out of 5 rating*

2/50 Novels
2/130 Total Read
Source: Amazon, for my Kindle DX

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Books completed last week:

(1/4) Heartsick, Chelsea Cain (#3)
(1/5) Jar City, Arnaldur Indridason (#4)
(1/5) Sweetheart, Chelsea Cain (#5)
(1/8) Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde (#6)
(1/9) The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist (#7)

Books I gave up on:

None!

Books I'm currently reading:

Out, Natsuo Kirino

Books I need to review:

This is list is always longer than I want it to be. All the ones listed above plus Outlander and I still want to review American Salvage.

Up Next:

Probably one of these

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

and then a YA book.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reading Journal: First book of 2010

Well, we are officially well into the New Year and I'm officially off to a great start with my reading. This is thanks mostly to a ridiculous number of days off, ridiculously cold weather, and ridiculously strong winds that kept me in about 3 layers of pajamas and 2 blankets for about 5 days straight. So as of today, I have read 5 books and I'm currently working on the sixth, Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey.

Now, to be fair, two of the five I started at the end of 2009. But I'm counting them for 2010 because otherwise I get too confused! The first book I finished was Ring by Koji Suzuki. This is the Japanese book that the movie The Ring was based on (first a Japanese movie, then an American one). From what I can remember of the movie, the plot is similar enough with the main change being the gender of the main character.

The book itself was rather underwhelming. It never really seemed that suspenseful and the language was very bland. I don't know if this is the author or the translator's fault. Certainly Murakami isn't translated that way.

My biggest problem with the plot is the psychic photo phenomenon. We were just supposed to take that ability for granted, as if it were a common psychic occurrence. I for one I have never heard of it and I watch tons of paranormal shows on tv. (I'm not claiming to be an expert, my point is that even with some general knowledge I'd never even heard of it.) There wasn't enough build up of her powers--and it was mostly just conjecture anyway.

Overall it was interesting, but not that exciting or thoughtful. I'd read the next one if I got it through a swap, but I wouldn't buy it.

Ring, Koji Suzuki

*3 out of 5 rating*

1/50 Novels
1/130 Total Read
Source: paperbackswap.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

From Sweetheart, by Chelsea Cain (the second in the Gretchen Lowell series)

--"Quite upsetting. That was one way of putting it. The funny thing was, at the time, it had been nice to have someone to talk to. Too bad she carved up people for fun. 'She was a good listener,' Archie said."

(Ok, not two sentences, but the whole paragraph is crucial to the beat.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Well I've been in a state of hiding for the last few days as the temperature in my area is in the teens and the wind has been blowing at what I swear is hurricane force. So, I managed to get out of the apartment today. Where did I go, you ask? Oh that's right. Barnes and Noble. Oops.

I went specifically to get Jasper Fforde's new book Shades of Grey as I've been waiting not-so-patiently for it for quite some time now. Well I got it. And I might have also bought:

  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist
  • Jar City, Arnaldur Indridason
  • Out, Natsuo Kirino
And when I say "might," I mean that I did.

When I got home from this unexpected spending spree (Mom--I had a giftcard for part of it so don't yell at me when you read this) there were two paperbackswap books waiting for me at my door!!! I received Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott and Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain--the sequel to Heartsick, which I'm reading now.

Sidenote: While I was at Barnes and Noble, I got to play with a Nook for the first time. Now, I own a Kindle DX (the big one) and I LOVE it, so when BN came out with another e-reader with e-Ink, I was like OH SHIT. I really prefer searching and buying books from bn.com. "There's no reason I need both," I chanted to myself. Then my cousin-in-law pre-ordered one. And I became a little jealous. Well, after playing around with it, I'm happy to say that I still think I made the right decision. I prefer the larger screen of my DX, and they don't have a Nook that size yet. Plus the color touch screen is a little cumbersome--especially if you are like me and have fat-finger syndrome. I would say that those of you who are iphone users probably wouldn't find it as cumbersome as I did, and the Kindle's purchase screen certainly leaves much to be desired. But after playing with the Nook, I didn't see anything special about it that makes me regret getting a Kindle.