NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Sunday, August 28, 2011

End of Days by Robert Gleason

2.0 out of 5 stars Finally done! I could barely make it to THE END of this book.

I'm a person who always feels compelled to see a book through to the end, regardless of how I'm feeling once I hit page 50; by that benchmark I usually know if I'm going to like it -- or not. I laboriously read my way to that page and knew I was doomed. I forced myself to finish this wordy tome, and words fail me as I try to convey my message to unsuspecting readers who might be tempted to snap this up because of a completely ludicrous set of blurbs proclaiming that this apocalyptic novel is the next great epic of nuclear annihilation. Really? I want to read whatever book those people read -- honestly, the excessive praise by "bestselling authors" and award winners stuns me and makes me question forever if they actually really ever read the books or if they just trade bon mots and write rave reviews for each other on some sort of exchange program?

Here's my review in a nutshell. Do not waste your time on this book unless you enjoy torturing yourself with visions of talking rats, cogent machines, thinking warheads, trash-talking characters who have no redeeming qualities, a heroine who requires you to suspend disbelief as she survives unbelievable peril (not to mention nuclear detonation, radiation fallout, and multiple surefire death scenarios) and an old woman reminiscent of a similar character in Stephen King's The Stand (a far superior novel). I didn't like any one in this novel and really didn't care if they survived or not.

Frankly, there's nothing redeeming this book from the dumpster -- I can't think of a single person I'd pass this one to. I love a good apocalyptic novel - but this wasn't one of those. Skip it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crashers by Dana Haynes

4.0 out of 5 stars The job of a Crasher is not to save lives, but to "find out why an aircraft crashed.",
I enjoyed this suspense thriller about a passenger plane crash in Portland, Oregon, and the investigation into the cause of it. When the NTSB's "Go-Team" comprised of a pathologist, voice recorder specialist, bomb and engineering experts assembles at the site of the downed plane and finds only a few survivors, they begin their painstaking and meticulous assessments and are quickly forced by obvious clues found in parts and data to accept an unpalatable conclusion: pilot error. As the team continues picking up the pieces and reassembling them at a nearby hangar, another subplot unfolds further south in California. Could there possibly be a terrorist connection to this doomed flight, and if so, since there seems to have been no bomb, how was the plane brought down? For it soon becomes apparent to the Crashers that this plane was indeed brought down deliberately.

The narrative moves at a very fast pace and comes to a quite satisfying conclusion. This is an action novel and the characters are interesting and though a bit stereotypical, I thought they were well described and believable. I admit I know NOTHING about airliners, aviation, or aeronautics, but I can see where professionals who work in this field might have some issues if the details about the plane's operation and such are incorrect. I, however, had no such distractions and just enjoyed the ride.

Recommended for all but the most white-knuckle flyers! I can't wait to read this author's new book, a sequel: Breaking Point due out in November 2011 when the Crashers find themselves with another situation to investigate.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

3.0 out of 5 stars "Don't ourselves in the positions in which we find ourselves?"

Not long after I had read and reviewed the debut novel in this new series, Think of a Number (Dave Gurney, No.1) (A Dave Gurney Novel), I had the opportunity to obtain this one as an ARC through the amazon vine program. The premise of the new book was really compelling: a bride, newly wed to a famous psychiatrist, is beheaded shortly after the ceremony! Ostensibly retired NYPB detective Dave Gurney is once again drug into a case that proves to be a complex mystery needing his special deductive skills.

The police originally believe that the murder of the beautiful but reportedly sociopathic bride, Jillian, was committed by a missing Mexican gardener who had apparently lived in the cottage where the body was discovered on the property where the wedding was celebrated. Dave is hired by the bride's super rich mother to find out the truth when the police haven't found a trace of the absent gardener after 4 months of investigation.

The narrative focuses on the techniques and thought processes used by Dave Gurney to discover and solve the mystery of who killed Jillian and why. I found some of the book quite slow and plodding and had to suspend disbelief a few times with some of the more unbelievable approaches or "ah ha" moments Dave manages to use to his advantage. The revelations about the complexities of the case are indeed like peeling an onion...layer upon layer. The denouement was not wholly unexpected, just took about 500 pages to get there. By that time, however, I was sick to death of Madeleine. I didn't want to read any more about her and Dave's marriage and I didn't care what she thought about anything nor did I want to hear any of her brilliant "insights" into the investigation. Dave seems to be an introverted intellect and I'd much rather see him tackle future cases alone without all his angst over his home and hearth. The book covers many different criminal elements (don't want to reveal any spoilers) with lots of super bad guys thrown in for good measure. I was ready for the end long before it finally came.

The story is definitely a multi-layered mystery, but really not a suspense thriller. I can't decide if I want to read another in this series or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

4.0 out of 5 stars Predictable but entertaining...

Alice Haywood is found dead by strangulation in the family home the night after her baptism. Her husband -- a brute who beat and abused her regularly -- is also there, but he died of a what appears to be a gunshot wound. Was it self-inflicted or is there someone else who entered the house that night and murdered George Haywood after he had passed out in a drunken stupor?

I enjoyed this mystery about an apparent murder-suicide of a married couple though, probably since I read so many, I was able to solve the whodunit after the second chapter. Even though it was predictable to me, I did like the way the author told the story in 4 parts through four of the main characters so that the reader could see the different points of view. I could have done without all the "angel" stuff as I really didn't find it germane or very interesting as I don't think it added anything to the story line. In fact, I thought it detracted from the thriller.

Part of this novel examines the day to day life of an abused woman and how that violence affects her daughter. In addition, it reminds the reader that we rarely know what goes on behind the closed doors of our neighbors, relatives, and friends. "None of us ever knows as much as we think we do" regardless of how many confidences are shared and how much time is spent around other people. Even what is said in secret might be suspect as many tend to hide, to prevaricate, or to lie -- perhaps minimizing or maximizing an event or situation.

I have read most all of this author's books and look forward eagerly to see what topic or issue he tackles next! Recommend to all current fans and encourage those who haven't read him to try one. They're all different so be sure to read the synopses first. My favorites: Skeletons at the Feast, Midwives: A Novel, Trans-Sister Radio: A Novel and Before You Know Kindness.