Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

1st November
2011
written by Steph

OK, so I’m a day late when it comes to posting something for Halloween, but I’m going to go ahead and post this anyway. It’s not like it was really all that spooky or holiday appropriate to begin with, but when I started typing this up yesterday, spookiness was in the air. I felt left out as everyone else posted cute pictures of jack-o-lanterns and reviews of spine-chilling reads, and while I have read some pretty scary books in the past few weeks, I’m still dealing with review back-log. So, I decided I would just take the next book on my queue and make it fit with the Halloween theme. But you know what? The Lost City of Z by David Grann was actually not such a bad pick for Halloween! You know why? Because the Amazon is frickin’ terrifying! I am not sure if this book says so explicitly, but the Amazon pretty much has the largest population of weird stuff that can (and will!) kill you. PLUS, all of this stuff really exists, which I think bumps the fear factor up a couple of notches as well. Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain what this book is about for the tiny proportion of people out there who haven’t heard about it. Essentially, The Lost City of Z is the travel memoir of David Grann, who becomes obsessed with British explorer, Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. During his lifetime, Fawcett was a real trailblazer, traveling fearlessly into the blank spaces on the map in order to chart them. Where other explorers quavered and failed, Fawcett prevailed; if reality tv had been around in Fawcett’s time, he would have handily won Survivor, several times over. Especially if it took place in the wilds of South America, since that was Fawcett’s preferred niche, and it became a bit of an fascination for him. In particular, Fawcett embarked on numerous treks into the heart of the Amazon, determined to find the novel’s namesake, the lost city of Z. More commonly known in legend as El Dorado, Fawcett believed that Z had indeed existed and could still be found, if only one were brave and savvy enough. (more…)
19th October
2011
written by Steph

Quick question for you: are you one of those drivers who loves to rubberneck? You know the kind of driver I mean – the one who slows to a crawl whenever a traffic accident occurs, rolling by at 15 mph so that you can get a good look at the crash in all its faded glory. Don’t even bother denying that you don’t do it, because I’ve been stuck in enough traffic due to people needing to gawk at fender benders to know that the human tendency to stop and stare at tragedy is hard to resist. If you’re worried this is about to escalate into a judgmental diatribe about bad drivers, fear not! Rather, all this talk of ogling wrecks is merely a prelude to discussing Lauren Grodstein’s A Friend of the Family, which is kind of like literary ode to the trainwrecks of life. Note, that there aren’t any actual trains or vehicular accidents that occur in this novel, but so much shit goes down in it that it is certainly the metaphorical equivalent! The back cover of A Friend of the Family is rather opaque but alluring in its description of the novel, and I do think this is one of those novels where its best to let Grodstein do the storytelling rather than me sharing it secondhand. All I really knew going into this book was that it involves two families (the Dizinoffs and the Sterns) who used to be quite close but ultimately grew apart when a scandal involving the Stern’s eldest daughter takes place. Flashforward a decade or so and the Dizinoffs are struggling with their own set of problems… problems that come to a head when fallen daughter, Laura Stern, reemerges and reenters the picture, not at all afraid to cause some problems and with her sights set on the Dizinoff’s only son. (more…)
15th September
2011
written by Steph

As book bloggers, we spend a lot of time talking about all the wonderful ways that the blogosphere has broadened our reading horizons. I can’t tell you the number of wonderful books I have discovered courtesy of fellow bloggers and their rave reviews. BUT. What happens when you pick up a book on a blogger’s recommendation only to find that it’s kind of a stinker? What then? It’s bad enough in real life when someone tells you you’ve gotta read a book and then you don’t care for it, but somehow when this happens in the book blogging world, it seems worse, because you’re publicizing how much you didn’t like the book and are thereby accusing the other blogger of bad taste. So it is with trepidation that I write this review (and maybe that is part of why I’ve been holding off on writing it?)… because The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, being the first in the Rizolli & Isles series, was a book I never would have picked up on my own, but did so due to a glowing review by a fellow book blogger. Said blogger talked about how the R&I books had become her favorite series and she was just plowing through them because she couldn’t help herself but to read them as fast as was humanly possible. I don’t tend to read a lot of series, and crime thrillers are few and far between on my reading roster, but this blogger was just so effusive that I became curious and decided to give the first book in the series a shot. (more…)
26th July
2011
written by Steph

Lying in bed sick with horrible chest congestion that has kept me and Tony up half the night, wracking my body with skeleton-shuddering coughs that have done little to help me get a clear, deep breath, the timing is morbidly apt to discuss The Collector. Anyone who has read this book will understand the sinister parallels between my condition and that of Miranda Grey, the female character who captures the obsessive attentions of Frederick, the creepy central figure at the heart of Fowles’s novel. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s backtrack a bit and give a bit of framework for those of you who haven’t experienced this bone-chilling, spine-tingling read. I have long wanted to read Fowles, but I admit to having been defeated during my two attempts to read The French Lieutenant’s Woman… While I dig its Victorian vibe, I never make it very far in before the overblown prose overwhelms me and begins to feel like drudgery and I move on to less impassable novels. I decided to give The Collector a shot after my friend Trisha blogged about having read it over the course of a weekend over at The Book Case many moons ago. Sometimes it helps bolster one’s spirits when heading into battle with an author when someone you know has actually had success with one of his books, no? (more…)
26th May
2011
written by Steph

Many moons ago, I wrote something that prompted myriads of book bloggers to recommend that I read Notes on a Scandal by Zöe Heller. It may have been when I wrote my review of her most recent novel, The Believers, but I think the recommendations stemmed from even earlier. What’s really important here, however, is that tons of people told me that I should read this book because it was awesome and I would love it, and after I read and enjoyed The Believers, I completely believed that was the truth. If you were one of those people who told me to read this book, then consider this a big thank-you because you were indeed right. I have now read Notes on a Scandal and it was everything I hoped it would be (and more!). From the very beginning, NoaS starts of with a bang. Through the diary of Barbara Covett, an elderly teacher at a local comprehensive school, we learn that her colleague and good friend Sheba has been charged with having a sexual affair with one of her students, a 15-year-old boy named Steven Connolly. Barbara shares with us how her relationship with Sheba evolved as well as how she gained knowledge of the affair and how she and Sheba have been dealing with the fallout following its revelation. The topic of a teacher-student relationship is salacious enough that many readers would probably be drawn to the novel for that reason alone, but for those who find such subject matter distasteful or vulgar, I must assure you that there are plenty of other wonderful reasons to read this book. (more…)
22nd February
2011
written by Steph

Full disclosure: I read this book about three weeks ago, and if absence makes the heart grow fonder, it also makes memory a bit hazy so details on this one might be a bit sparse. In the notes I jotted down on this one, I wrote “In the end, this book probably won’t stay with me forever, but I did really enjoy it in the moment.” Yup, that sounds about right. As someone who legitimately enjoys writing (I feel all of us bloggers must not only enjoy reading the written word, but creating it ourselves as well), I am always interested in books that features writers or that focus on the craft of writing itself. You’ll recall that a while back I read and loved The Writing Class by Jincy Willett, so while the back blurb on The Writing Circle sounded somewhat similar, I was willing to give it a go. Essentially, the story is pitched as following a group of writers who have formed a writing support group that meets to discuss each other’s creative endeavors and provide constructive feedback in the hopes of getting these works published. Unfortunately, not everyone in the group is equally supportive and honest and when certain confidences are breached, each of the individual members face hardships that will throw the entire group into turmoil. (more…)
28th January
2011
written by Steph

When I read and reviewed Room by Emma Donoghue late last year, I really didn’t like it. Part of me was rather surprised that the book had received such acclaim because I found the majority of its narrative rather superficial and lacking in real depth. Many readers who did enjoy Room thoughtfully responded to my crankiness by saying that my expectations had perhaps not been quite correct going into the book, as they had not necessarily approached it as a literary novel, but one that was a fast-paced page-turner. Perhaps if I too had gone into Room expecting something more straightforward I would have liked it more… When I picked up Child 44, I recalled some of the reviews I had read about it when it was first released, and even though it was short-listed for the Booker Award in 2008, I decided to approach it as a standard thriller and put aside expectations of it having to transcend that genre or having an obvious literary quality to its writing. (more…)
19th October
2010
written by Steph

Are you a seasonal reader? When the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to drop from the trees, do you find yourself craving spookier reads? If so, Sharp Objects just might be the book for you. Sharp Objects tells the story of down-on-her-luck reporter, Camille Preaker, whose third-tier newspaper reporting job in Chicago has her returning to her hometown in Missouri, a place full of dark secrets and bad memories that she’d rather leave squarely in her past. Alas, there’s a serial killer on the loose who is targeting young girls, relieving them of their teeth along with their lives… All signs suggest a local is the cause behind the crimes, so Camille has no choice but to start poking around in places that might just reveal that her childhood horrors are far from over… and more deadly than she ever suspected. (more…)
14th July
2010
written by Steph

Even casual readers of this little blog probably know that I have a deep admiration for Tana French. An admiration that perhaps borders on the cusp of obsession. I devour her books when I get my hands on them, and find myself completely absorbed by the world and the characters she so skillfully crafts for her readers. I’ve been to Ireland, and yet reading French’s books, I sometimes feel like her fiction is more vivid and real than my own experiences! It could be that she draws back the veil on a culture and a people the way that only a native Dubliner can, but I also think it’s just a testament to how compelling an author she is. She could probably write about my hometown of Toronto and make me think I’ve never even set foot there! 😉 Last year after reading French’s debut novel, In The Woods, I prowled the apartment restlessly until The Likeness made its way to me from the library. I was so caught up by French’s characters, I pretty much couldn’t read anything else in that time in between. I just wanted more. I tried to pace myself, but I pretty much rampaged through The Likeness, loving every moment of it, only to feel utterly bereft at the end of it. Why? Because I had exhausted all of French’s published works to date. What was an avid fan to do? (more…)
30th June
2010
written by Steph

One of the things I was most excited about when Tony and I embarked into the world of e-readers was discovering the plethora of e-books that were now open to me via our public library. I’ve probably spent at least 3 hours clicking through the catalog of available titles, making a list (and checking it twice), of all the books I can’t wait to get my grubby little jamhands on FOR FREE. So exciting. Finally I’ll get to try stuff like Joshua Ferris’s The Unnamed, and if the desire should ever strike to continue with the Stieg Larsson trilogy, well, I can do that too. Maybe I’ll check out those Sookie Stackhouse books. You just never know. Of course, there’s an awful lot of… well, crap might not be the right word, but let’s just say that for every The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie in the collection, there are at least 15 Harlequin romances, with titles like The Billionaire’s Bride and The Greek Shipping Heir’s Lovechild. I’m sure they have their fans, but they’re not really my speed. All to say that I had to do some digging to find the diamonds. And when I found What The Dead Know, a book I had actually considered reading many times, I snapped and quickly borrowed it. I had heard good things about it, and it seemed like a worthy book to break my e-reader in with (except without any actual breaking). (more…)
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