September 12, 2016

Recent Reads

136. All Things Cease to Appear
I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Kirsten Potter.

The basic premise is that a man comes home one day to find his wife dead, and his three year old daughter alone in the house with said dead Mom. Who dunnit?

I knew within the first several chapters who did it, but was interested to see how the author would spin out the yarn. The writing is solid, the character development interesting, and the setting very atmospheric, but, and it a huge but, the plot itself lacked any drive. There were too many character points of view, many of which did not add to the story in my opinion. The supernatural touch was entirely out of context, and did not work at all. There were two things that kept me reading:

1. The exploration of how marriages can deteriorate over time and circumstance.
2. The manner in which the author addresses mental illness and the unraveling of a mind.

The final chapters of the book were rather predictable and completely unbelievable, and I might be the only person who liked the ending for the killer. This is quick summer read, and while I enjoyed it at the time, it has not stayed with me. Rating: 3 stars.

137. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1)
I listened to the audiobook, which is superbly narrated by Will Patton.

The final book in this trilogy was released recently, so decided to dive in. This is the first King I've read that is a detective story. I don't think he's done it before, and it shows.

The title refers to a person who used said car to plow through a crowd, killing and injuring many. The killer escapes. The protagonist is a retired cop, who is haunted by this unsolved crime, and is not handing retirement too well. The story goes back and forth between the cop and the killer, with a smattering of other characters to help flesh out the story.

In classic King style, this is a fast paced and fun ride. However, there is not much character development, there are so many implausible things that happen, and do not get me started on the ridiculous women characters. Does King really not know any woman who can parallel park a car? Sigh.

If you can ignore the flaws I've outlined above, this would make a good beach/airplane read. I've got the other two books on audio, and in spite of the superb narrator, I'm in no hurry to get to them at this time. Rating: 3 stars.

138. Hamilton: The Revolution
This Broadway musical hit is impossible to get tickets for, so I opted for the next best thing. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Mariska Hargitay. Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates his annotations at the end.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this audiobook, but what I got was a delightful back stage pass to the show's inspiration, creation, and production. Also included was a short biography of all the major players, both in the cast and those behind the scenes.

This is a really wonderful look at how work gets done, and if you are person who enjoys seeing how the art (or sausage) is made, you'll enjoy it too. What I did not expect was to be in tears at various points of the book. I've got the original cast soundtrack on deck to listen to next, and plan to read the biography by Chernow as well. Rating: 4 stars.

139. The Rook (The Checquy Files #1)
"The body you are wearing used to be mine."

That might well be one of my top 10 fave first lines ever. Imagine that you wake up with no memories, and then find letters in your pocket that inform you that you are now inhabiting the body of someone else, who sadly has been separated from it. What do you do?

This is clearly a case of the right book finding the right reader at the right time. I cannot even begin to explain why I enjoyed this one so much, as much of it is ridiculously over the top. It's like a Jason Bourne/ Harry Potter/ Men in Black mashup, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride. The story alternates between letters from the woman who used to inhabit said body, and the current day resident of the body as she tries to figure out what the heck is going on. The humor had me laughing out loud several times.

This is a fun romp of a read, and while it might not be for everyone, I'd suggest giving it a try. Rating: 4 stars.

140. The Geek Feminist Revolution
"There are many ways to silence a woman, and not all of them involve getting her to stop speaking. Sometimes it's enough to simply ensure all she speaks about is you."

If you are looking for a fun, fast read look elsewhere. I found this collection of essays educational and thought provoking. It is always interesting to see how the younger generation deals with feminist issues. The author takes on popular culture, and holds everyone, including herself, accountable. There are so many lines that I highlighted in this collection.

I deducted a star because there was a bit too much repetition in several of the essays, and some of the essays addressed issues faced by writers, particularly women in the science fiction and fantasy genre, and I'm not really the target audience for those, even though they were enlightening.

This is the first book I've read by this author, and I'll be trying some of her fiction next. Rating: 4 stars.

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