"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Long Way Home by Laura Caldwell

When I picked this up I didn't expect it to be a couple of lawyers doing the rescuing in a courtroom but that is exactly what it is. It took some time for me to get into the story and become invested in the outcome. Initially, I was so horrified by the act of violence committed against the innocent victim I couldn't see past that crime to those committed by the purveyors of the legal system. Finally I did move over to be a champion for Jovan and enjoyed the tale of his legal battle but I would have enjoyed a more personal look into Jovan's life, as well as into that of his legal representatives, lending the tale the personal and emotional note I found it lacking. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9028645-long-way-home.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

This novel is beautifully written and I loved everything about it for the first half. After that it went south for me, morphing into some kind of Howard Hughes sound-alike story. I lost the plot (or Jansma did?) and wasn't ever able to pick it back up. The last 50 pages were a drudgery to slog through and I mourned the absence of the momentum I enjoyed in the first half. Aspiring writers looking for fine examples of word craft will still enjoy Jansma's talent with the written word but beyond that, sadly, I wouldn't recommend it. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

I am baffled by this book! Most of the way through it I felt like it was mostly a missed opportunity. The storyline is fascinating but it's too short to really take advantage of the author's imagination. When I finally felt like I was getting a feel for what was going on and getting to know the characters, the book was nearing the end. The last 100 pages are engaging but then the end just drops off. I dug around to see if I could find out if this is the first of a series but I can't find anything that mentions another book. The Office of Mercy reminds me of the curve of normal distribution. Slow, slow, slow, hits the peak of average and then drops back off into oblivion. I was really let down by the end. I could have easily forgiven the confusing and disengaging beginning for a real ending. If another book presents itself, I will definitely take it up. I would love to know what happens to Natasha and Jeffrey and the settlement of America 5.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18079706-the-office-of-mercy?from_search=true.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz

I was forced to say goodbye to the Spellmans with this final novel in the series and I am not happy about it! I enjoyed each book in this series more than the last and I'm grieving the end of it. The Spellman novels are laugh-out-loud funny but they are not without their sorrows. This final installment ranked in the top two for the series for me but they're all good and I will definitely revisit them. If you're a fan of Janet Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum novels, I'm confident you'll enjoy the Spellmans as much, frankly, maybe more. Throughout the series I laughed, I cried, I mourned the end of each book. Thank you, Lisa Lutz, for allowing me the pleasure of enjoying your work!

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130105-the-last-word?ac=1.

North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

3.5 stars for this one! I really enjoyed all the unique elements that make this mystery work. The main character, a Russian descended heiress apparent to a perfume company, incorporates the sense of smell in her life in a way I've never witnessed. She relies on her nose for information as often as I would rely on my other senses. I found this fascinating! I'm guilty of using my sense of smell trivially, to determine if dinner is done, to purchase the just-right fabric softener, or to enjoy those perfume fliers in magazines but I've clearly not given the sense of smell its due justice. Pirio's nose knows! Add to that her study of Russian novels, her precocious and often abandoned godson, and her determination to solve an environmental crime that will rip at your heart strings and you've got a winner. Novels that tackle difficult subjects often include numerous elements of convenience. The victims just happen to have access to multiple, fully-stocked safe rooms. The crime solver just happens to speak Portuguese street slang. These things are often necessary to make the plot work but end up coming across as too-convenient contrivances that couldn't possibly occur in a true-to-life course of events. I can't put my finger on how she's done it but Elisabeth Elo has crafted a story that utilizes the unique capabilities and resources her characters possess without creating a patchwork of too-easy "lucky breaks". I sobbed and cheered my way through the end of North of Boston and it did not disappoint. I'll keep my eye out for more from Elisabeth Elo.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18079779-north-of-boston?from_search=true.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

3.5 stars! This is an interesting mystery/suspense/thriller novel with a nice twisty ending. I was nearing the end and could not figure out how the novel could be over with so much turmoil remaining but Scottoline pulls it off beautifully, tying up the loose ends and leaving me with a final chill. Look Again is the perfect title for this tale because northing is as it initially seems.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5355136-look-again?from_search=true.