Category Archives: suspense

Ready Player One

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This novel is pure nostalgia in a lot of ways. While I didn’t grow up in the ’80’s, the movies, music, and television from that era are so pervasive in American society and pop culture. John Hughes movies are still shown on television as are TV shows like Family Ties and Square Pegs. Turn on any classic rock station and you can find Pat Benatar and Foreigner. I really enjoyed reliving many of the classics I grew up watching and finding out new ones. Ernest Cline knows the decade well.

I loved how the novel incorporated so many elements. It’s like playing a real video game at times in your head as the characters battle it out in the OASIS. The theme of the blurring of reality and fantasy was so well done. And is just as pervasive in our world. This is the reason many people read. To escape their own reality for a little while and enter someone else’s. And in the OASIS, that’s exactly what happens. Your world erases and you are allowed to build a new one. You can create a character to be anything you want. There are no limitations.

That is why, in Cline’s Ready Player One, the OASIS is so popular. The real world around them has crumbled and they’ve retreated into the comfort of the OASIS. Enter the main character Wade, better known as Parzival. He’s a self made gunter, a person hunting for Halliday’s famed Easter Egg and his fortune. Halliday was the creator of the OASIS and when he died he left behind him the greatest game he ever made, the hunt for the Egg and for his massive fortune.

During the journey for the Egg, Wade begins to realize that perhaps virtual reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nowhere is perfect. It may be easier to hide behind your avatar but rarely does the easy path lead to change.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

Coming Soon!

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Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a book that is going to be an upcoming movie. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to read for this challenge. A lot of the “books becoming movies” I’ve read before or came out last year. Finally I found Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When I worked in my local bookstore we could not keep this book on the shelves. Customer after customer would tell me how amazing the novel was and how much they liked it. I finally got my hands on a copy of my own and decided why not.

The premise of the novel sounds spectacular. I love the ’80s, though I haven’t played many video games myself. I can’t wait to see how ’80’s pop culture is incorporated into the novel and what quest the characters will find themselves on.

Stay tuned for the full review of Ready Player One. Happy reading!

The Library at Mount Char

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Wow, just wow. This was honestly like no book I’ve ever read. At first I didn’t know if I liked it or was just confounded by it. In a roundabout way, The Library at Mount Char is a story about creation, with definite biblical tinges. The world is now in the fourth stage of creation and ruled by Father, a heartless monster of a person who is training his “children” in different catalogs of knowledge. All of these children and their father live in the Library, a kind of metaphysical limbo. Each child is in charge of their own catalog and cannot share or will face extreme punishment. The catalogs are wide and varied from mathematics to resurrection.

The story itself starts off with a bang. You’re introduced to Carolyn who is walking the street covered in blood. So many, seemingly unconnected things, happen in the beginning. It’s not until you get closer to the end that you see what the novel is about.

Carolyn is the central figure. She’s the key to unlocking this mystery. But it’s a kind of slow burn to figure out how everything ties together and how these gruesome events all serve a greater purpose.

By the end of the novel, I was devouring the pages. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded and see how much Carolyn grew throughout. Even as smart as she is, Carolyn has important things to learn if she is to control her destiny in a positive way.

This novel reminded me very much of the Golden Compass trilogy. Not so much the story line but in the dealing of large and weighted topics. In the destruction of the world and the building of new beliefs.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment in the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

Luckiest Girl Alive

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Ani FaNelli is leading what she thinks is the perfect life. She has a blue blood fiance, a high powered job in NYC working at a magazine, and a killer figure. But underneath all of the facade lies something not so pretty from her past that continually gnaws at Ani. But nothing can stay buried for long, no matter how hard we try to repress them.

I have to say, this novel kind of disappointed me. I was expecting something different than what I ended up with. I found it hard to like the main character. Ani is like a high functioning sociopath. She seems to revel in the fact that she’s “damaged” and feels the need to damage those around her. I imagine the characters as grown up versions of the cast of Pretty Little Liars. They’ve grown up in the same area, the Main Line in Pennsylvania, and all care about wealth and status.

Ain does have redeeming qualities and some very horrible things happen to her that she manages to survive and even, in some instances, to thrive. She refuses to let anyone see her for who she truly is, most of all herself. She keeps a lot of things pressed down tightly. In a way this is a coming of age story. Ani does find herself at the end and finds out what she truly wants and what she doesn’t. But it’s a bit of a slog to get to that realization.

Final Rating: 3/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

NY Bestseller

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First up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a New York Times Bestseller. I’ve seen this book everywhere lately and have been dying to read it. And, according to the cover the book was an instant NY Bestseller. That novel is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

From the description, it’s supposed to be very much like Gone Girl but with it’s own twist. The teasers on the flap definitely drew me in. I can’t wait to find out what’s hidden in Ani’s past and how that past might jeopardize her future. I’ve been trying to avoid reading any reviews online so as to avoid spoilers. This seems like one of those books where the twist ending pulls the whole plot together.

Stay tuned for the full review of Luckiest Girl Alive. Happy reading!

The Moonstone

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This is it. The last novel of 2015. In a way I can’t believe it’s over. I have to say that this book challenge was so much fun to do. It got me reading so many novels that I felt were way too far outside my comfort zone to try. This Book Battle has not only made me a more adventurous reader but also a more open minded one. Instead of just turning down a book because I think that I don’t like the genre, I’ll give it a try and see if I actually do or don’t. And thank you all for coming on this journey with me.

Now for the review.

I have to say that I didn’t enjoy The Moonstone nearly as much as I enjoyed The Woman in White. Both novels have very similar set ups. They’re epistolary novels and told in many different perspectives and in many different voices. I did enjoy the butler’s narrative in this novel but there were many that I found rather grating. In The Woman in White, I really enjoyed how many strong female characters Collin’s incorporated into the novel. The Moonstone is almost entirely male dominated and the women are just on the margins or, quite plainly, annoying.

I do love the detective aspect of this novel and seeing detective novels in their infancy and how much they have grown since this time. The detective isn’t in the novel long and isn’t infallible. He doesn’t quite have it right at first. He only solves the case after everyone comes together a second time.

All in all, The Moonstone was an enjoyable novel. However, if you’re looking for a great Wilkie Collins read I’d chose The Woman in White. 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Career of Evil

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Career of Evil is the third installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. The first, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced us to both Strike and Robin and focused much of it’s efforts on how to plot of the novel brought the two characters together. The second Strike novel, The Silkworm, was extraordinarily plot driven. And this newest novel is a mix of the two. Career of Evil lets us get to know more about these characters that we’ve come to love. We learn about both Strike’s and Robin’s past and how their pasts lead them to each other and the life that each has chosen.

Strike and Robin remind me so much of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They have a similar rapport with each other, outside of crime solving. Out of the three, this novel is by far my favorite. I feel like these two characters have been through so much together but know so very little about each other. And as a consequence, we the reader, don’t know much about either’s past.

This novel shines a light on the past of each and how it drew them to where they are. As we already know, Strike’s mother was a groupie and his father a famous rock star. The crime in this case directly goes back to Strike’s past and is the perpetrator’s way of getting revenge on Strike. The three main suspects represent each phase of Strike’s life and all of them have a good reason to want revenge. Robin’s past, although not directly related to the case, ultimately leads to her involvement in it.

I loved seeing both Robin and Strike evolve in this novel. The characters have so much depth to them. The closer I got to the end the sadder I became. I didn’t want this novel to have an ending. I would happily continue reading about Strike and Robin.

As with the other two novels, this one has all of the danger and perhaps a bit more romance. I loved the focus on each character as they get to know each other better, faults and all. This novel has a lot of miscommunication, especially between Robin and Strike. They see and hear what they want, and that may not be at all what the other person means. It leads to many tense moments in the novel and to the novel’s conclusion, which isn’t so much about the plot but more about resolving the conflict between characters.

Rating: 5/5 Can’t wait to see what’s next for this crime solving duo.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with a color in the title. Originally I was going to read a different novel for this category but after reading Cinder I just had to continue with the series. So instead of reading the novel I had chosen, I’m reading Scarlett by Marissa Meyer.

I have to say I am absolutely loving the world Meyer has created. There are elements of Star Wars, Grimm’s fairy tales, and heroes journeys. Each of her characters is so fleshed out I can’t wait to find out more about them.

In this particular novel we are going to meet Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. I can’t wait to see Meyer’s take on this classic fairy tale.

Stay tuned for the full review of Scarlett. Happy reading!

The Girl on the Train

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Shall we take a trip on the 4:50 From Paddington?

At first, The Girl on the Train was giving me some serious deja vu. It was so much like Agatha Christie’s 4:50 From Paddington. A woman on a train, in Christie’s version it was Miss Marple and in Hawkins it’s Rachel, sees what she thinks could be a murder and then feels the need to prove that what she saw actually happened. But then the two begin to deviate. Rachel is a very unreliable narrator who sometimes doesn’t even know she’s being unreliable. You can’t take her observations at face value because you never know if she’s seeing something factual or just thinks she’s seeing something. The lines between fantasy and fiction blur for her in her alcoholic stupor. The alcohol leaves giant gaps in her memory that she tries to fill with both facts and fiction.

Overall I did like this one. Nothing is as it seems and everyone has secrets. The people you think have the perfect life don’t actually. They’re hiding secrets that run far deeper than you could ever imagine. Every person has their own agenda and is determined at whatever risk to see things through for their own betterment. Just when you think the novel is heading one way it swerves and begins going down a different road.

You feel for Rachel and all through the novel are encouraging her to get her stuff together. But it just seems that she moves from one obsession to another. She moves from alcohol and obsessing about her ex-husband to obsessing about Megan and trying to find her and prove what happened to her. Little does she know, she’s the key to solving the whole case.

Rachel is so easily lead to believe different things I waited a long time for her to finally come into her own. She has about given up on life and is willing to let people tell her what to believe. It takes Rachel an awful long time to finally put two and two together. But when she does it leads to quite the explosive ending.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

The Bat

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“Then Harry was alone. As we always are.”

Harry Hole is the epitome of the modern day noir detective. He’s a Norwegian Philip Marlowe. His life revolves around his cases. His relationships can never last because he lives for his cases not for his relationships. The only lasting relationship he can ever have is with crime.

In this first installment, we see Harry as a bright eyed, bushy tailed detective on his way to Australia to help the Australian police solve the murder of a young Norwegian girl. He’s almost naive at the outset of this case. He seems so young and innocent in comparison to where I found him in The Leopard. Harry is quickly taken under the wing of a seasoned Australian police detective, Andrew, who begins to show him the ropes of the Australian police force.

As with the last Harry Hole mystery I read, this novel is surrounded in folk tales and fables. Tall tales of creation stories that weave throughout the case Harry is working. In this case, Aboriginal creation stories are told, including the bat, representing death, Bubbur the snake, and Walla the fighter. Each folk character has it’s counterpart in a character involved in the crime. And it’s up to Harry to figure out who is who, what is truth and what is fiction.

It doesn’t take long for the Harry in The Leopard to begin to emerge. The case soon drags Harry down the rabbit hole, kicking up his worst traits. It’s almost as if Harry has to succumb to the depths of his own depravity to see the depravity in others. Harry manages to get his man but each time at a greater cost. It makes me wonder what will be left of Harry Hole at the end of the series.

Rating: 4/5 You can see Nesbo is still working out the kinks of Hole’s character in this one but I love the character study from the later novel to Hole’s creation.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!