Sunday, June 9, 2013
2. The Dinner by Herman Koch (1/5). I can't recommend this one at all. It is a Dutch book about two couples having dinner in a fancy restaurant. They are there to discuss something dark that has happened in their life involving their children. I saw a review comparing it to "Gone Girl', but it was nothing like that. Very slow moving and very little excitement with absolutely loathsome characters. Almost gave up a couple of time, but made it through the whole thing.
4. Suspect by Robert Crais (4/5). This is a thriller about a Marine bomb sniffing dog that is wounded in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD upon his return to the states. He is paired with an equally damaged LA cop and trained to become part of the K9 unit. Both of them have lost partners and are struggling to find their way back. Story is sometimes told through the cop's eyes and sometimes through the dog's eyes.
6. Wise Men by Stuart Nadler (4/5). "Wise Men" is a very good read following a father and son through different stages of their lives. Broken into 3 parts, the first and final sections are much better then the middle. Somewhat reminiscent of John Irving, it starts as a coming of age story but ends up looking at the young man's whole life. And while I know it is being nitpicky, there was a historical error in the first paragraph that really bothered me throughout the book. But otherwise the book featured good writing and quite interesting characters.
7. The Third Gate by Lincoln Child (2/5). Silly thriller about the excavation of a pharaoh's secret tomb in Africa. The expedition suffers numerous setbacks and deaths. Is it the curse of the pharaoh or just sabotage? Just good enough to keep my reading, but even with total suspension of disbelief, it did not pay off.
1952, more than 10 years since the fiasco at Dunkirk forced Britain to sign a peace treaty with Germany. The Nazis now control most of Africa and have plans for the rest of the continent. The book is essentially one long chase across several countries, but the author keeps it moving and fun. It felt like a cross between "Raiders Of the Lost Ark" and a modern thriller. The ending leaves one big plot point unresolved and that ticked me off a little bit, but overall I really enjoyed reading this very much.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
by Lisa O'Donnell
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."
This is the way "The Death of Bees" starts, and Lisa O'Donnell manages to carry on that intensity to the very last page. Marnie and her 11 year old sister Nelly are on their own after hiding their parent's bodies after their mysterious deaths. Set in a dark, dirty, and almost always wet part of Glasgow, this story is told in the alternating voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie, the lonely old gay man who lives next door. The sisters hide the bodies to avoid being taken away and separated by the welfare system. Their parents were drug addicts that did not provide for them and often left them alone for days at a time. Both girls are very bright - Marnie gets straight As and Nelly is a prodigy on the violin, but both are damaged. Marnie drinks vodka, sells drug, and has sex with an older man. Nelly wakes up screaming and has no friends at school. But they work hard to protect each other.
Lennie notices that the parents aren't around anymore and thinks that the sisters have been abandoned. He tries to offer them help and they form a very strange family unit. This book is very dark and sometimes hard to read, but I cared so much for these characters. "The Death of Bees" is definitely my first Best of 2013 book and I can't wait to see what Lisa O'Donnell does next.