Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter (5 out of 5)

•July 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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This one is out on September 29, 2015, brought to us by the folks at William Morrow & Co (Harper Collins). The nice people at Harper sent me a copy, for which I am incredibly grateful. Because come September, I will have a book that I can recommend and can guarantee will scare the crap out of anyone who reads it. I am VERY glad that I read this book during the afternoon and early evening hours yesterday. Had I done my usual and read it later, well, I would not have slept well. Warning to those who seek a Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steel type book, this is not the droids you’re looking for. This is a dark look at the human psyche, the twisted morass of love and devotion, and it has a fair amount of violence, which should be no surprise given the subject matter of the book. There were parts when I was open-mouthed with shock, and that doesn’t happen often. But what comes from this is a deeply troubling tale psychological mystery that doesn’t let up one bit, from the beginning to the end. It’s one of those books where you go back and ask yourself multiple times, “Did I just read that? How in the world?”. Another thing I liked besides the cast of many possible suspects were the many turns that I didn’t see coming from any direction throughout the book. It just kept coming, and it didn’t let up. I love books like that. The last one I read this year that was in the same vein was Girl On A Train. I would definitely put Slaughter’s book in that category with my top picks for the year so far.

Claire has a pretty cushy life, but it all comes to a crashing halt when she and her husband Paul are on the receiving end of a robbery and violent assault in an alleyway. Claire has injuries, but the worst possible one is that Paul doesn’t make it, he dies in the alley. Claire is devastated. After the funeral, she goes to spend time at his gravesite, only to find her other sister Lydia pissing on his grave. Literally. After a brief exchange, we find out the two are sisters, who haven’t seen or been in each other’s lives for years- thanks to Paul, as well as the disappearance of their younger sister Julia, tearing them apart. Twenty years apart are the crimes, yet it appears that they are connected somehow. Claire’s house is upended when it’s robbed and things ransacked on the day of Paul’s funeral. Due to the somewhat suspicious activities and questions of the authorities in charge of the case, PLUS an FBI agent who appears demanding things of Paul’s from a grieving Claire, and Lydia jumps to her sister’s defense, immediately suspecting trouble. All, as you can guess, is not what it seems. A cursory examination of Paul’s computer turns up horrifying things that raise all sorts of questions about the sort of man that Claire loved and was married to. Claire tries to get Lydia to go back to Rick, her boyfriend, and Dee, her daughter, and leave her to deal with her dead husband’s litany of secrets, but Lydia stays- and gets caught up in the black widow’s web of lies, violence, and horror that the two sisters uncover. Things spiral downhill quickly, and the two sisters must find a way to figure out who’s good, who’s evil, and who’s going to help them uncover the truth. As things of a horrific nature often drive us apart, so often they also bring us together. That’s the case with the sisters, but when the truth begins to emerge, a HUGE shock comes out of nowhere, and tilts the book upside down. I could not put it down for the last 200 pages, no joke. I guarantee you’ll be hooked as well. Slaughter has woven a web that is not easily navigated, and those characters- wow. I have no idea where she stacked those human characteristics against the inhuman side of some of them, but they play off each other well, in course of the stomach-churning, chilling reality of what lies behind the novel. Wow. Just wow. I can’t tell you enough how much I loved it, and how creeped out I was by a lot of the graphic nature involved with the unravelling of the plot narrative. But you know what that means, right? It means the book is beguiling to the nth degree, and there’s no way in hell it’s getting out of your head that easily. And it will stay with you, because it’s that kind of book. Slaughter has outdone herself with this one.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny (4 out of 5)

•July 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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How do I love David Duchovny? Let me count the ways. No, never mind. We’ll be here another decade. In that time, the man will probably have discovered another galaxy and had a planet named after him. This year alone? He’s got a new TV show Aquarius, he’s recorded an album, he’s currently filming the X-Files reboot (Jan 24, 2016, if you’re wondering), and he managed to write and go on a book tour for this very tour. This book came out months ago, but it’s buried in a pile of what I call “Real Feel Good Reads”. I’ve explained recently about piles of books throughout the house and their purpose- the next blog, I’ll explain why I always have 2 or 3 books in my purse AND book bag at one time. The “Real Feel Good Reads” are a pile in my bedroom that are for those days when I’m very down. Usually, that’s after my dad has an appointment at the VA hospital. Sometimes, reality just blows, and those books are for those days- for I believe they will bring my mood up simply by my opening them up and giving them a chance. This book- Holy Cow– has been in that pile since it came out and I bought it. What else is in the “Real Feel Good Reads?” pile..hmmm..dare I tell? It’s likely going to be discussed in a blog post coming soon…. Last week, well, not a good week, so I finally hauled the book out and gave it a shot. It’s not a 5 star, only because it’s so whimsical and feel good, that you almost aren’t sure whether to take it seriously or to wonder if Duchovny started out writing a children’s book and switching it to fiction instead. Apparently, it was supposed to be a movie or television project, but Duchovny’s people talked him into writing it out as a story instead. I would like to thank them, because it’s a slim volume, and an endearing, fun read. If you’re a fan, you’ve heard the man talk in interviews; he’s highly intelligent but he also has a dry sense of humor and a tongue-in-cheek delivery (much of it made it’s way into his portrayal of Mulder on the X-Files. Again, I digress). All of this? Is obvious in the writing of the book. I swear, as I read it, I could hear that voice in my head reading it as Elsie (which is weird, given Elsie is a female cow, and David Duchovny, nothing like it). It’s a lot of fun, this little book. And remember, it’s not a book designed to change the world, but it may, just may, change your thoughts on several other matters of importance in the world we live in.

Elsie Bovary is a cow who spends her days eating, sleeping, and chewing the cud (I’m sorry, I had to!) with her best cow friend, Mallory. But a bored cow leads to curiosities that lead Elsie and Mallory to sneak out of the gate and their pasture one night. While Mallory is mooning over Steve, a neighbor bull (yes, you read that right!), Elsie draws over to the nearby farmhouse. She goes in, and what she sees inside- the farmer and his family crowded around a “Box God” (television), and what she hears and sees about an “industrial meat farm”, change her viewpoint of a world that she previously viewed as ideal. The only solution Elsie can come up with is to escape to a “safer” world…Elsie gets together with a few other memorable animals to head off to a different world (minus the Lisa Bonet); there’s also Shalom, a Torah reading pig who recently converted to Judaism, and Tom, a jive turkey who doesn’t fly, but somehow manages to work and I-Phone with his beak. Yes, you read that right. (PS- There are many little digs at modern technology and people’s obsessions with social media and instruments of social media, things that Duchovny has also alluded to in interviews). How did these animals get away with this, being, well, animals? They have fake passports and human disguises. Animals dressing as humans. Absorb that, friends. Do this trio live happily ever after? Can life on the farm also somehow manage to unite Palestinians and Israelis? In a world of David Duchovny’s dream state, the impossible becomes wholly possible. In your hands, the reader’s, you can jump out of modern day life into a world of whimsy, aligned with the rights and wrongs of society, social media etiquette, and how modern technology and greed is slowly killing human beings decency. Duchovny obviously feels strongly about these injustices, because he finds a sly, fun way to bring those messages to the world, in written form. This is a highly endearing book, and a lot of fun to read. You will find yourself chuckling quite a bit, and despite the harder truths that are contained within, where there’s a will to have a happy ending, there’s a way. Elsie and her misbegotten motley animal crew make you believe that.

Throw The Motherfucker in the Trash! Today’s selection: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

•July 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Today begins a new feature at generationgbooks: Throw That Motherfucker in the Trash! I’ve run into some books that were so bad I just could not finish them, or worse yet, I read to the end and was kicking myself for doing so. I’ve had a few of those. I read a lot, but the books overwhelm me at times, so I’ve gotten more selective. So if I’m reading it and not digging it at all, it’ll be one of my picks for “Throw that Motherfucker”.

Lisa Scottoline is an author whose work I greatly respect. I’ve read all of them and enjoyed all of them. So when I got my hands on this book about a week ago, it went onto the living room pile (I have piles of books in different rooms of the house, different bags, etc. When I’m in that room, I’ll pick up whatever and read it. If you wonder how I’m often reading 5 or 6 books at once, this process helps that along). I got to it on Tuesday night. Took it to work Wed. Wed was slow in Bookville, so I had time to read a bit before shipment got there. I was ready to rip my hair out, my face off, and write an email to her beseeching her for releasing this book to her publisher. This is not the same author that I know and love. This book is so full of clich├ęs and insipid title characters that you want the SOCIOPATH to win. You want the sociopath to win. Absorb that. The lead psychiatrist, Eric, who’s divorcing his wife and battling for custody, is a bowl of limp Shredded Wheat. I was rooting for the bitch wife! The sociopath is not what you think, as they usually aren’t, and the women in the book are truly something else. You write unsympathetic characters, but you also have a smattering of sympathetic characters, but something is really wrong in Dizneeland when you are rooting for the bad guy(s). When an entire half of a chapter is spent ruminating what shade of pink Eric should paint his daughter’s room (page 83), I carried on to page 101, but NOTHING had happened at all to move the plot along. This is a book supposedly centering around the psychiatrist being aware that his patient, the aforementioned sociopath, has dangerous obsessive designs on a young lady, and should he tell the police? Page 101 out of almost 480 and the psychiatrist is pondering the peculiarities of one shade of pink vs the other. No thanks, Ms. Scottoline, I have to throw this motherfucker in the trash.
Avoid at all costs, dear reader. Check out her back catalog. This one blows.

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (5 out of 5)

•July 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I’ve read some pretty crappy books in the young adult arena lately. I mean, really. About 10 different ones in the past month that didn’t warrant the time spent on them. Happily, this one exceeded my impossible expectations. I mean, look at that ominous cover! You knew this sucker was going to be a sweet read. And it was. I think the closest I can compare this to is William Gibson, who wrote many sci-fi classics in years past (and a favorite of mine). But for teens. Winner, winner, Charlotte is going to make you dinner.

Charlotte? Who’s Charlotte? She- it- is an artificial human created by scientists in our future times. As things of this nature often develop, Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the public at large, and begins attacking the American public at will. Blame the machines? This is what happens. Except is she a machine? Is she AI? What or whom is Charlotte? Whatever Charlotte is, she’s wrecking holy hell everywhere she goes, and America is terrified- except for Lee, the son of our current POTUS. Lee’s got his own bag of worries to be anxious over- namely, whether it will get out that he has a crush on a fellow young man at school named Nico and that he’s in the closet, pawing relentlessly at the door to get out. Lee’s recently tried to kill himself, and those sort of revelations are the type of things that a Secret Service detail will go to great lengths to conceal. However, Lee’s own brand of ignorance comes back to bite him big time when things start going haywire at his school and around him in general, and he quickly realizes that not only is Charlotte after HIM, but that his infatuation with Nico may not only result in letting that cat out of the bag, but that Nico could also be used as a pawn in Charlotte’s big game play to crush Lee underfoot. Can Lee figure out what her next move is, save himself and Nico from harm, as well as the world,a and can he be honest about his life and who he really is, and learn to be happy? First, he must save the world. Can he do it?

This book- Wow. Just wow. Really not more that I can say than that. I haven’t been this excited about a young adult book in a long, while. This is an ever encompassing tilt-a-whirl that Floreen takes us on, but you can’t help but be drawn into this world and turn those pages. I seriously couldn’t put this book down, and couldn’t wait to see how it ends. Lee is a great character, and although Nico took awhile to warm up to, once I got into those characters, I couldn’t wait to see how it played out. That ending? Well, I can safely say that I didn’t see it coming, and I really hope there is a sequel. I really hope there is. An excellent book for the young adult sci-fi fans to dig into once it’s released. Willful Machines will be out on October 20, 2015, courtesy of Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster’s teen imprint. READ IT once it comes out. You won’t be sorry!

Ghostman (Jack White #1) by Roger Hobbs (3 out of 5)

•July 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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I saw Roger Hobbs’ new book before I saw this one. That book? Unbelievable sales and press in the first few weeks it was out. We’ve had to reorder it a few times. This one? I had high hopes for, since it’s the first book where Jack White appears. (Of course, it didn’t help that I kept picturing the lead singer of The White Stripes while I was reading it). The reviews for this book were highly favorable, so I went with it. It’s a fast moving book and easy to finish in a couple of hours- if so inclined. I kept putting it down, picking it up, reading a few chapters, and putting it back down. While well written and fast paced, it just didn’t completely have my attention, and that was part of the reason I could only give it three stars. By the end of this? Well, I can’t wait to read his new one. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down the last 75 pages, and that’s what saved it for me.

Two robbers try to net millions of dollars from an Atlantic City casino. Something goes horribly, horribly awry, and only one makes it out alive. That living robber is on the run, he’s got the money packed into a suitcase, and he’s panicked and on the run. What else could possibly go wrong? How about the suitcase full of money being rigged full of explosives and the robber isn’t aware? Yeah, there’s that. Contacted by the head of the operation, whom he is five years overdue on a favor to, Jack (aka The Ghostman), the fixer extraordinaire, finds himself in hot pursuit across the country, trying to get to the suitcase and the robber before its too late. Add to it the problem of only having 48 hours to get that money and clean up the mess that’s resulted from this going haywire. Can it be done without losing the money? Blowing up the lone wolf robber? Blowing up Jack? Because if it does indeed go to hell in a handbasket, Jack’s days are numbered. Like I said, friends, those last 75 pages are the reason I gave this one 3 stars.

My problems with this are pretty much noted in the beginning paragraph of the review. I really, really like Jack’s character, which is why I will give the new book a chance as soon as possible. There were all sorts of loose ends for his character to tie up, and I felt like that took away from immediate action that could have been taking place in the novel. Also, as I said, somewhat disjointed plots coinciding where there should have been action packed suspense, given the lack of time that Jack has to get this mess fixed up, really made no sense to me. There should have been more bang for the 1.2 million bucks that’s tied up in a bomb-filled suitcase. And less of trying to fix little plot points that could have been ‘fixed’ by the author. I just didn’t think it was as suspenseful as I had hoped. However, I really enjoyed the character and I will be returning to the next book to see what he gets himself into.

After The Storm (A Kate Burkholder Novel) by Linda Castillo (5 out of 5)

•July 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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This is another Kate Burkholder novel in the series.
So yes, you need to read them in order if you can.
This time around, a tornado rips through Painters Mill, and a set of bones are found in an old barn. Kate ends up investigating the bones, but she turns up more questions than answers when it turns out the bones have been there for many years.
In the meantime, she and Tomasetti have been living together for months and things are going ok, until something comes along that neither expects, and they start to lose solid footing.
The crime- what happened to the owner of those bones- was so violent and out there in Castillo’s description of them, that I would recommend not eating when you are reading this book. I have a strong stomach, but even I had to put down my baked potato for this one.
The personal trauma between Kate and Tomasetti is also startingly real and something that couples have gone through, and will continue to go through. And Castillo handles it well. The ending to that segment of the novel? May break your heart. You’ve been warned.
As for the list of possible perpetrators of the whodunit, well, there’s a laundry list, and I had NO idea who or how until almost the very end. It was such a stunning twist that I had to go back and re-read it again, and I was still gasping in shock. So, well done, Linda Castillo! The books in the series are getting back to where they were. The past two it seemed like Kate’s character was dissected in an emotions lab with no break from the head professor. This time, the character seems to have regained her footing. Violent? Yes, this one is a bit more on the “bound to make you queasy” side, but it’s well worth it if you’re a fan of continuity and the series. I can’t wait for her next one.

I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis (3 out of 5)

•July 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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As part of expanding my ever-myopic little mind, I’m trying to read some more younger children’s books- Year 8 is what Bab’s calls that age group for kids. Holly handed me this one yesterday, after Scholastic had sent her a box of new books coming out. See, here’s the thing: I like natural disasters. By that, I don’t mean that I LIKE the fact that they occur and cause death and destruction. No, I’m fascinated by them, how they form, how they wreck havoc, how they can be shielded using modern technology, etc. I’m a WEATHER NERD. That means everything that has a natural disaster contained within its pages makes its way to me, through my compadres at the store, plus I’m pretty sure Wendy at S&S knows that I like hurricanes and tornadoes by the sheer amount of books on those and other disasters that I have requested over the past two years of our acquaintance. Anyway, it was with obvious excitement that I ripped this out of Holly’s hands and feverishly started reading this. (Heavy on the sarcasm, save the cheese). I had a fun time for the 25 minutes it took me to read (these are small books, and I’m a fast reader).

My first bone of contention- and likely the biggest one- is the cover and the illustrations contained within. I realize these are not going to be Renoirs or even something you would see on the cover of Cracked or Mad magazine, but there should be a little bit of authenticity in these photos so the children who are reading these books realize that there is a very real threat involved, especially with natural disasters involved. This cover? Looks like someone went overboard with the CGI, minus the life jacket. It’s like a still from the film “The Day After Tomorrow”, but the Sesame Street version! The pictures inside? The young man who is the focus of the story finds his dog first after the tornado hits- the picture? The dog looks like a rabid, rabies-infested jackal let loose in the desert after eating Paula Deen and her buttercups, not this adorable, loving fur baby who’s been through a frightening tornado. If I saw that wilderbeast(as illustrated here) in the ruins of a tornado ravaged house? I’d get out my blowgun and kill that mother. No joke. The illustrations need some work.

Second and last complaint…more than half the book is devoted to the young man missing his brother, who’s a Navy SEAL and away on a mission somewhere. Half the book when the book is only 200 something pages? Is a lot to be missing his baby bro. I understand the sentiment given that their lives are all under the gun when the tornado strikes Joplin, but come on. Spend some more time on what causes tornadoes to form. There is a little bit of knowledge, but for that 8 or 9 year old weather fiend who loves the weather? A little bit more on the climate changes and what drives these monsters into overdrive would be nice, too. Global warming and climate change are a huge part of the reason these storms continue to spawn such destructive forces, but there’s not much in here about that. A huge oversight, in my opinion. Otherwise, a pretty solid rendering of the May 22, 2011, that levelled Joplin, Missouri. I liked the afterword with questions and answers. I wish there had been more information on the Fujita scale, as it does have a huge part in most meteorologists determining how bad a tornado was, in the aftermath. Not much in the way of information on that, either. One thing I can say for this book- I hope it does spawn a few weather nerd kids (like I was), and a few less rabid jackals in the debris after the storm.

 
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