Moment of Truth – Lisa Scottoline

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I suck at Clue, or any of those murder mystery movies, novels, plays…I am always shocked at the end when it was really the butler with rope in the conservatory. So, it was with some disappointment that I was right the whole time while I was reading this book. It definitely wasn’t Ms. Scottoline’s best. I loved some of her other books, Look Again, Keep Quiet, Accused  – to name a few…this one just fell off its mark somehow.

The main character, Mary Di Nunzio, is a rookie lawyer who gets thrown her first murder case where the alleged murderer has already confessed to the police. Jack Newlin, another attorney, confesses to killing his wife, but Mary and one of the detectives on the case don’t buy his story.

The whole book revolves around Mary uncovering layer after layer of lies only to finally uncover the truth that the reader knew  from the beginning of the book. Which in a way, I guess is kind of nice. As I said, I usually have a hard time guessing who done it so the whole time I am thinking it was the person who did, but convincing myself that it couldn’t be them. So I maintained a little mystery after all.

This is a good book for anyone who wants a quick mystery or court room drama read. A good rebound book after a series one. It requires no thought and it won’t keep you up at night.

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The Gunslinger -The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King

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So first I must tell you, in case you didn’t know, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I have a few whose books I will devour whenever new ones come out, and I am always searching for older ones I may have missed. My first journey with Stephen King was Pet Sematary – to this day I look under my bed before sleeping. Kidding, but you get the idea. I have read everything I can by Mr. King, and have thoroughly enjoyed most of work. My favorite will always be The Stand; however, each book is like finding a long-lost friend.

It is because of my love for him and his works that I write this with unwilling fingers. The Dark Tower series, for me, just isn’t interesting. I tried and failed to read this book many times over the years, and just couldn’t get into it. I finally finished it, and to be honest, don’t think I missed much. However, I am told it all makes sense and it all comes together when you read the rest of the series. Since I know Mr. King, and have had a hard time with some of his earlier work (Salem’s Lot comes to mind), I will continue to try this series out.

To the review though:

It starts with Roland chasing the Man in Black. Anyone who has read any novels by King will instantly recognize the Man in Black as Randell Flagg or the Dark Man. Roland is the last of his kind, a Gunslinger and from what I gather, his home has been destroyed. The world they live in is like our world, but it is either a parallel world, or many years in our future. They know things like Bible and the Beatles, but don’t have any knowledge of skyscrapers for example. King never comes out and says parallel or future, but I am sure the next books divulge deeper into that.

Along the journey to meet the Man in Black and in his search for the Dark Tower, he meets some colorful characters that sometimes confuse more than help the plot line. It spans a massive dessert and goes into pitch black caves. The descriptions were great, as was the character development. I personally just didn’t care if Roland ever met the Man in Black. HOWEVER, I feel this is all me and not Mr. King’s writing or the story itself. I must emphasize that because as I said, I love his writing and most of his stories, so when I come across one I don’t like I know it must be me.

Anyway – this got off tangent – I would recommend this book (and series) to anyone who likes adventure, science fiction, alternate universes, maybe even westerns. I think it could be a very enjoyable book to anyone familiar with his work.

 

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

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It is no surprise that I enjoy reading dystopian fiction. I like it for many reasons, but mostly I enjoy reading what other people think of humanity. You can tell how positive or negative they feel by the world they create when the world as we know it ends.

This novel reminds me a lot of The Stand by Stephen King. The Georgia Flu has taken out 99% of the population. (Capt. Tripps or Project Blue – a man-made super flu – killed off 99% of the population) Society must put itself back together. Instead of having a good/evil that puts the society that is left in two camps. It follows the more likely Glenn Bateman theory of a bunch of little societies popping up and being led by different forms of government. From Socialism to Dictators and everything in between. The way we can experience this, is by following the Traveling Symphony. The members of the group preform Shakespeare plays and play music while traveling around the mostly deserted landscape that used to be America. For 20 years they have done this, but of course, the good people aren’t the only ones that survived and as such, they run into problems trying to find some friends of theirs.

The whole novel sweeps back and forth through landscapes and over time, from before the flu to the present, going from one character to another and bringing the reader into a world where everything is gone. The internet, modern medicine, TV, cold food from the fridge, cooking on a stove, going to drive through for food, flying across great distances, getting in your car and traveling hundreds of miles in only few hours. Families, friends, jobs, useless degrees all gone in the blink of an eye and what remains is only what we are. Musicians, doctors, mothers, fathers, electricians, trying to find ways to find meaning in the new normal.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the other reason I like dystopian novels. I feel like most of humanity (not all) is stuck in rut. We live each day going about our business with very little thought to our futures, or even our present. We work, we sleep, we eat, we repeat and for what? Is that living? Or just existing. Two parts of the book stick out for me that make me feel like the author feels the same way. There was a monolog in the middle where a woman is describing her boss and she describes him as: “High-Functioning Sleepwalker” Deep. Because I look around and see a whole lot of “high-functioning sleepwalkers” every day. The second reason is a recurring phrase: “Because survival is insufficient” which is apparently originally from Star Trek. Again – isn’t it true? Just because you are alive doesn’t mean you are living.

Another thing that stuck with me is the way she would make you think about morality – one minute here, the next gone. There was one reflection where one of the characters was remembering making snow ice cream with his mother and brother. “Frank standing on a stool on his wondrously functional pre-Libya legs, the bullet that would sever his spinal cord still twenty-five years away but already approaching” again – deep. Thinking about it makes you think about your life, what events have shaped where you are and what events are still to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if it took me a long time to read it. I would highly recommend this to anyway one wants to read as good dystopian novel.

 

The Chemist – Stephenie Meyer

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I had a hard time writing this review. I liked this book; and subsequently read through it in just a few short days. However, I can’t seem to tell you why I like it. I would definitely describe it as a fluff book, and similar writing style to her book The Host. (Which I also liked)It is a very quick read, with likable enough characters, and decent plot line. I guess the problem for me, is when reading a mystery, I never trust anyone, so I spend the whole time thinking, “It was her! She is behind it all.” Then I will switch once someone does something shady like go to the bathroom, “Oh my gosh! He is a double agent!” That kind of thing… So, I have hard time warming up to the characters when I think they are all evil. That may just be a personal issue. But, I did feel like I wouldn’t have cared so much had anyone turned out evil. It wasn’t like I would have been devastated. So that in of itself might be telling of the character development.

The story is about a girl who used to work for a special secret part of the government. She handles…getting information out of people, using a variety of interesting chemical compounds. And of course, she is very good at her job. When the government decides they no longer need her they set out to kill her, forcing her to go on the run and keep running and hiding for the rest of her life. She is contacted by a former colleague and offered a way to stop running. Do one more job.

The job isn’t so clear cut as she is lead to believe and now she is in even more danger than before.

The book is half romance/half mystery, I guess and although I am doing a poor job reviewing it, it is a decent book.  Unfortunately, no lines stood out to me on this one. I think this would be a good book to read when you are between intense books, or on vacation. Definitely not something I would bring up to your book club.

Doing Harm – Kelly Parsons

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Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons was a  very quick read. It was a wonderful told medical/murder mystery. The main character, Dr. Steve Mitchell is on set to be one of the greatest surgeons at the hospital he works for. He went to all the right schools, he works hard, is smart and cool under pressure.. He also has a little family that he loves more than anything. It all changes when someone murders one of his patients and warns him that if he doesn’t play in their sick game, more will die.

In a story that could play out like any other story, Mr. Parsons manages to weave an engaging and unique tale that keeps you reading way past your bedtime. I think what I liked most about it was the medical terminology. In his bio, it says that he is a board certified urologist – so the detail involved, from the medical rooms to the instruments, from the femoral artery to the effects of potassium overload…every detail is thought out and feels authentic. That is a good if not critical part to a good medical drama.

As always, lines stick out to me and one at the very beginning almost had me discard the book all together: “No more than your typical locker room talk.” In reference to a new hot medical student that had just started with team. After our current…president…decided to defend rape culture by saying that locker room talk is innocent, well it just hit a little close to our current issues. However, I have never shied away from a book just because the subject matter, choice of language, or context has made me uncomfortable. So I continued reading and I am glad I did.

I think people who enjoy murder mysteries, fiction, mystery or medical dramas will enjoy this book.

You don’t have to take my word for it though! From that master himseslf: “Best damn medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years. Terrifying OR scenes, characters with real texture.” ―Stephen King

You can’t get a higher honor than that!