NetGalley Professional Reader

NetGalley Professional Reader

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

3.5 out of 5 stars - I don't read a lot of horror, but the description of this one -- a devastating plague kills ALL the children under puberty in the entire world -- grabbed me right away. What can be better than a mystery surrounding what might be a medical condition?? And since it involves the death of kids, there will be a huge amount of pressure to figure out what's going on, stop it, prevent it -- save the future of the human race? With mass burials and devastated families, people cannot function and life breaks down with the grief. When the children start waking up and going home, the real shock begins. The kids need blood to stay alive. A lot of blood. Human blood.

Well this was indeed a very fast-paced and chilling tale. The main point centers on the question -- what would parents DO to keep their children alive? How much sacrifice can be expected from them, and from the entire community, for the sake of the children?

What a horror show, lots of gore! I didn't really connect with any of the characters perhaps because they quickly deteriorated into dangerous monsters who would single-mindedly care only about their own children and families. I didn't like them even as I understood their helplessness and insane grief at what they needed to do in order to keep their children. Those who did not have their own children to feed were fair game and the disenfranchised (homeless, prisoners, etc.) were most vulnerable. Could I do what they had to do? I don't like to think so. I hope not.

Although I didn't like the ending, I did enjoy the book and this foray into the horror genre. The description of Herod (the thing that killed the kids) was interesting and believable to a good degree.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Huntington's Disease. "It has been called the cruelest disease known to man."

HD takes everything -- your ability to move purposefully, to speak, to eat, to swallow and to perform activities of daily living. Although it doesn't rob you of consciousness or your intellect, you cannot communicate and are well aware of those losses. Left to writhe and jerk, secured into a bed or wheelchair, you watch as bit by bit, over 10-20 years, you finally die of pneumonia or some other opportunistic condition. There is no cure and treatment is limited and not very effective. You have likely lost your job, home, money, friends and, worst of all, you may also have to see your children -- who have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation of the HD gene -- start their inexorable decline with onset of symptoms. In this very moving novel, we see the destruction that HD brings to generations of a family.

Joe O'Brien is a Boston cop. He loves his wife, Rosie, and his 4 adult children who all still live at home. They are a close knit Catholic Irish family, and, though they don't have much in the way of material things, they do love each other. When Joe starts experiencing mood swings and begins to have unusual movements he's tested and diagnosed with HD. What follows is a description of how this disease affects each member of the family. The biggest part of the book is not how Joe and family handle his disease and symptoms, though that is a huge part of it, but how one of the daughters, Katie, anguishes over whether or not to be tested for the gene mutation. With a 50% chance of having it -- does she want to know or not. And, if she does find out, how does that affect the rest of her life.

I love this type of storytelling -- a family drama and a medical condition with lots of clinical details and information. It was devastating to read about HD and I became attached to the characters in their individual struggles though I wished the author had focused on all of the children and more about Rosie, rather than just Katie. I did have a little trouble with her constant angst. The way the book ends really irritated me -- all that build up and then...nothing. Some say the ending left things on a hopeful note, but I felt cheated.

This would make a great book club book as readers could explore and learn about the condition and then decide for themselves if they would take the test and want to know the results. Yes or no, definitively, do they have it or not. And what would knowing mean.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Second Life by S.J. Watson

3.0 out of 5 stars -- "a woman's descent into the treacherous world of the Internet."

Julia Wilding, middle-aged wife of Hugh, is enjoying her safe, albeit somewhat boring, life when her world is upended by the death of her estranged sister, Kate. The sisters had been extremely close in childhood but things had become ugly between them lately when Kate wanted Julie and Hugh to return her son, Connor, whom they had adopted when Kate could not take care of him after he was born. Before that issue could be resolved, Kate is murdered in an alleyway in Paris...and that's when the trouble really begins.

Julia, a recovering alcoholic and former heroin addict with a bit of a wild past herself, is completely unhinged by Kate's brutal death, and becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her and why. When the police don't seem to be following up on the case to her satisfaction, Julia decides to take matters into her own hands and begins by contacting Kate's former roommate, Anna, to find out what Kate had been doing in the period before she was murdered. Julia discovers that Kate often used an online web site to chat with or meet up with strange men...and that's when Julia completely goes off the rails.

Deciding to pretend to be her dead sister, Julia uses Kate's ID to sign on to a website and meets a younger man. They begin chatting, and Julia, emotionally fragile and insecure, is immediately drawn in by the excitement and danger of the illicit sexual interaction, and begins a physical affair with Lukas...and that's when the story line veers off the path and becomes a tawdry cycle of unbelievable actions by Julia and convenient co-incidences that are meant to ratchet up the suspense but that only left me shaking my head in amazement that anyone could make those choices! Sure, Julia might have been in need of much more than ho-hum sex with her staid, steady surgeon husband, but it seemed that her decisions were always the ones that anyone with sense just would not make. I was wondering if some of the scenes were influenced by "Shades of Grey" as the affair continues despite the obvious danger Julia has put herself and her family in. Julia becomes mired in a situation out of control when the affair escalates into something that she can't seem to get out of, but things are not exactly what they seem. What has Julia done? And when the excuse that she was just trying to find her sister's killer no longer is the point, what can she do to stop what she has set in motion -- OR is there something else, even more diabolical going on here?

The book is divided into five parts and the description above is just the set up. I won't say anymore about who does what to whom or the startling, and very "disturbing conclusion" that left me shaking my head in disbelief. Julia is a very hard character to like and the reader is sucked in -- all the while knowing this is going to be a train wreck. Although I had predicted the twists to some degree, I must admit that I couldn't help but race through the book, unable to put it down as it reached the climax. There have been a lot of books lately that are described as psychological suspense, and to some degree that's true here, but it was hard to buy into some of what Julia did and the reader gets tired of being inside her head with all her issues and past. I kept on reading, despite those misgivings, and am glad I finished the book despite the lack of resolution at the end.

I chose this because I had read this author's previous book, Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel, and enjoyed it well enough, so wanted to read another. I think there is an overabundance of this type of novel out there now, and it's getting harder to shock and surprise readers with twisty tales and unreliable, flawed narrators, but I think many will probably still like this one.
Amazon Vine

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

3.0 out of 5 stars -- This is #17 in a very popular series featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, who works out of Charlotte, North Carolina and from another office in Canada. This is only the 3rd book of Reichs's that I have read, and I think it was a mistake to miss out on the intervening books before picking this one. There was so much back story that I obviously missed which made understanding the roles of each, the relationships and the intensity of this particular case a bit more difficult.

Dr. Brennan is called in to the Cold Case Unit after two young female victims have been found that link to a decades old murder spree involving child murderer Anique Pomerleau. The catch is that this killer had eluded police for years, and had once almost tried to murder Brennan! In a complicated investigation that jumps from North Carolina to the frigid northeast and to Canada and back, Dr. Brennan, her old partner Andrew Ryan, and cop "Skinny" Slidell, try to figure out if Anique is truly active again, and why. The details of the forensics and the laborious process of following leads were extremely interesting, and part of what makes me love this type of book so much. Although I figured out what was going on long before the characters solved the mystery, it was fun to see it slowly revealed, however hard to believe the involvement of Brennan's mother! Oh well, some co-incidence and stretch of credulity did forward the narrative.

I think I need to go back and start at the beginning of the series and grow attached to Tempe in the proper manner. I must say that this is nothing like the television series, BONES, that I really enjoy because of my love of science and forensic investigation.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

The tiny body of a newborn baby girl is found half buried in a wooded area near the Essex Bridge in Ridgedale, New Jersey. The main character, Molly Anderson, who used to be a lawyer, but who is now a reporter for the local "Ridgedale Reader" newspaper, is sent to the scene when the usual crime reporter is out having minor surgery. The problem is -- Molly has barely recovered after a breakdown she experienced when she recently had a stillbirth delivery. So, she's fragile and emotional but feels that writing this story will help her get her small family back on track. Husband Justin - who teaches at the university -- and toddler daughter Ella, are supportive. Absolutely no one has any idea whose baby this might be. There are no clues, and apparently no recently pregnant woman with a missing infant. The local police chief investigates. The medical examiner hasn't released cause of death.

The narrative shifts to include the points of view of other women in the small town. More characters are introduced and the story line becomes quite complicated as the reader tries to figure out who the baby belongs to and who the father is and what happened that fateful night. Flashbacks that use nicknames further confuse. There are red herrings galore but most readers will be able to figure out the big reveal well in advance.

I chose this because I had enjoyed Kimberly McCreight's first novel, RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA. I would have to say that I didn't care for this one as much, and never developed any connection to the many one-dimensional characters. The ending was lifetime movie worthy and I was disappointed by the pat and predictable resolutions of the conflicts and problems. No surprises.

I'd read another by this author and would recommend it to anyone interested in a mystery that doesn't have grisly murders or intense suspense.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

3.0 out of 5 stars -- I was racing along, really into this thriller involving a man whose wife had lied to him. Definitely a 4 star read, I was thinking. Lots of possibilities here with the plot line and I was caught up in wondering what was going on and trying to figure it all out. Until the big reveal and the completely unbelievable ending. Coben used to be near the top of "must read" authors, but after the last few he's written, all I am is disappointed. Again.

Regardless, if you do read it, and I'm sure his many fans will propel it to the top of the lists, perhaps you'll feel differently than I do. I won't be recommending.

Stands alone -- not part of any series.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff by Mr. Carson

3.0 out of 5 stars -- A guide for service at Downton Abbey that gives details about the various positions in the household and highlights their job duties. In addition, a hierarchy of staff and an order of preference among the ladies and gentleman is included.

This is an interesting companion book that gives background to both the television series and a recent Masterpiece theater DVD release (THE MANNERS OF DOWNTON ABBEY) that features Alastair Bruce, the historical adviser to Downton Abbey. One can learn all manner of helpful household hints from the proper way to store wine to how to fold napkins to how to clean everything in the house properly.

I can say, emphatically, that I feel quite happy to have never been "in service" during those years -- it sounds utterly exhausting just reading about it all! I would have liked to know more -- much more -- about the actual daily lives of the servants other than some of their tasks. What did they eat? When did they bathe and where? What was it like to live in the upstairs quarters in the house? What did they do in their free time? Were most of them able to read and write? Just MORE.

It was an enjoyable and short bit of entertainment perfect for any DA fan. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.