30 September 2012

Rizzoli & Isles: Last to Die

We called him Icarus.
It was not his real name, of course. My childhood on the farm taught me that you must never give a name to an animal marked for slaughter. Instead you refer to it as Pig Number One or Pig Number Two, and you always avoided looking it in the eye, to sheild yourself from any glimpse of self awareness or personality or affection. When a beast trusts you, it takes far more resolve to slit its throat.

So begins Tess Gerritsen's latest novel Rizzoli & Isles: Last to Die. I couldn't tell you how I found Gerritsen's work or how old I was when I fell in love with her writing. It might have been a public library find or one of those $1 hardcover sales that the library does every year. However it happened, bottom line is that it happend. I ended up bringing my dad along for the ride too, so now Tess is on our common list of authors, joining Clive Cussler, Michael Perry, and Robert Ludlum, that we talk about.

Tess Gerritsen is a retired medical doctor who started writing while on maternity leave, according to her bio. As you saw in the title, she is also the creator of that dynamic duo Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles. Yes, that Rizzoli & Isles TNT hit TV show Rizzolie & Isles. I've only seen clips from the show so don't leave comments like "Wasn't that scene where Jane and Frost caught the bad guy who was really the neighborhood pizza delivery guy who baked his murder victims' organs into the pizza epic?!?" because I won't have an answer for you. But thanks for ruining that episode, mate.

Just like when I read Ted DekKer, I find the most recent book from Gerritsen better than her last novel. Not that her books need improvement--not at all! Maybe she is just crafting her words in different ways that seem new and wonderful. Maybe it is just that her books are more artfully crafted than other books on the market right now and it just seems they get better. They are a breath of fresh air to the writer in me, no matter how many dead bodies Tess writes about!

The story is about a boy (well, two boys and a girl) who has been orphaned twice the the span of two years: his parents and siblings were killed on the family yacht during vacation and his foster family was gunned down one night in their home. An odd case on its own, but when two other similar stories crop up, Detective Jane Rizzoli of the Boston PD starts seeing a pattern. She teams up with long-time friend Maura Isles, even though their relationship has been a bit difficult. The saftey of three orphans depends on Rizzoli and Isles patching up their friendship and working together to stop a killer.

(Guys. Guess what? Tess Gerritsen is coming to town October 15th and I get to hear her speak about creativity and why the writing process is so hard. I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to meet her!!! Look for pictures later next month!!)

26 September 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea

I finally FINALLY finished A Wizard of Earthsea today! I've only been working on it like all summer! It was totally worth it, too. 
As I think I explained earlier, as soon as I started this book I knew it was different. It wasn't like any of the "modern" fantasy books I've read recently. There was something in the language and the sentence structure that said,"Whoa. Hold on. You can't just read this fast like you do every other new book. This is epic, like Tolkien epic. Take time to actually read the words, digest the sentence." The book was only 183 pages, but it was so so dense and rich in subject. 
It is the story of Ged who is, according to the back of the book, is the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea. This is the story of his beginning, his youth, and how he came to that power. However, as it often happens, Ged is proud, reckless and power-hungry in his quest for knowledge. As I was reading and Ged kept asking questions about the fundamentals of magic, spells and the true nature of things, I kept seeing Tom Riddle asking his professors at Hogwarts about the Dark Arts and information about a horcrux. Because of that, I felt things were destined to go down hill...and I wasn't disappointed. 
But unlike Tom, once Ged reaches the point of no return, he is remorseful and strove to right the wrong he created. He goes to great lengths to fix the problem he created. That is what makes a good wizard (or sorcerer) a great one. 
There is magic, spells, and dragons (so hi, I'm in!) and a wonderfully woven story. 
Sometimes I like books, but would never read anything else by the author or another book in the series. (Like how I said I won't read any more of the 13th reality books.) I haven't decided where that leaves Ursula Le Guin. Love the style, love the story. Can't decide if I want to dedicate to another series. Silly? Maybe. I am just starting to get to the point in my life (har har. I feel old. Sue me.) where I don't want to just read books to read books and say I've read them. I want to like them, to enjoy them and want to read them because they are good, not just because I have to finish the series. 
I do recommend this book, though. Whole-heartedly. 
Did I mention there are dragons in it? Dragons that talk?! 

20 September 2012

Why We Broke Up

No, this isn't a personal break-up post.

I just finished a brilliant book called Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. Most people know him from his fame as Lemony Snicket, the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The moment I made that connection, I knew this book was the next thing I NEEDED to read. 

It is a young adult read, but (as I said in my Goodreads review) if you have ever been, almost been, or wanted to be in a relationship, you will understand this book. All of the emotions of relationships (any relationships really) --heartache, love, comfort and confusion -- are represented in this story. 

Min Green is a high school student (sorry, I can't remember how old she is meant to be) in love with movies. From the very first pages she talks in scenes from old movies ("Lately, I've been like Aimee Rondele in The Sky Cries Too, a movie, French, you haven't seen it. She plays an assassin and dress designer, and she only smiles twice in the whole film.") She is sending her ex-boyfriend, Ed, the co-captain of the basketball team, a box of treasures from their relationship along with a letter that lists every single item, why it was important to her and why they are breaking up. 

This story feels so unique. There is artwork littered throughout the book. Not unusual, exactly, but the way the art is used feels so easy, effortless maybe, and so right. Sometimes its a drawing of whatever item she is describing to Ed. Sometimes it is a simple pale blue page to punctuate the end of the story. It's subtle and I like it. 

The writing style is interesting as well. In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Snicket was always hilariously morbid to me. I loved laughing as his melancholy turn of phrase for something so incredibly simple. That style is missing from this book. You have the same melancholy feel (in fact, if there is one word I would use to sum up the beauty in this book, I think that word would be "melancholy") in the style, but the sentences are run-ons, but not in the annoying, ungrammatically correct way. The sentences, they are a girl talking, trying to explain exactly what she is feeling without giving too much of herself away, trying to be strong and show Ed he doesn't matter, but man, how do you hide how much you really loved someone? (Actually they are rather like that last sentence I wrote.) And I loved it. I love that Min writes in a way that makes sense to me.  It is hard to understand at first. I wasn't really expecting it. But once I saw what Handler was doing, I relished every long sentence, even the ones that I needed to go back and read twice. 

I could really go on and on about this book. I finished it in what, just a few days? That ought to tell you something about how much I loved this book. 

And, like with Kill Order, I am still mulling it all over. What does it mean to love someone? Can you love someone and never want to see them again? Can two people so different ever make a relationship work? What makes people stop loving each other? 
Before you start saying, "Come on, they were in high school! It wasn't going to be forever!" I know. I know that. But still. Saying they were "just in high school" says to me "Their relationship didn't count." And I don't believe that it didn't count. It was real and it happened.
Yes, I know. They are fictional. 
Stop raining on my book. 

Why We Broke Up. Go read it. Seriously. This book is for everyone. 

18 September 2012


I finished Kill Order last night over dinner. Whoa. 

Ok, some thing I feel still aren't clear. Maybe I'm expecting too much from the series. Maybe it's been too long since I read the first three for everything to make sense. Maybe he has more in the works. I don't know. 

Final word? I wasn't disappointed. 

Before the Maze, before Thomas, before the elevator from nowhere, the world was plunged into a chaos when solar flares sent scorching heat around the world, melted the ice caps and released radiation that killed millions. Settlements were set up in an attempt to live -- or at least simply survive -- in this new world. Those barely-surving settlements along with what little peace they are able to find are destroyed when Bergs come into the area and begin shooting people with no warning and no explanation. There is something odd about their method though. The darts sometimes kill instantly. And that is a mercy. But sometimes it takes days...

I couldn't have predicted the ending. Well, maybe if I had tried I could have done. But I wanted to see where Dashner would take me and not try to figure out on my own. His trilogy was really great at surprising me as a I read and I wanted to give Kill Order the same respect. 

Like I said, I almost feel that I have more questions now than I did before I read Kill Order. But that's not a bad thing, is it? Because a day later, I am still thinking about it, mulling it over, thinking of "what if's" and trying to make things connect in my head. And isn't that the whole point of stories? Yes to help you escape, introduce you to a new world. But when that new world can keep you past the story, isn't that the mark of a good story teller? 

Do you think about books and characters after you've finished reading a story? What do you think makes -- or breaks -- a story? 

10 September 2012

Check In

Sometime after my last trip to the library I remembered that I had a pretty hefty reading list at the beginning of January. I wanted to check in with that to see how many books off the list I read. 
I checked this morning. 
I read two off that list. 

What in the world? 

Anyway, I finished Everyone Worth Knowing and was not too pleased with the "climax" and resolution of the story. Honestly, it felt far too rushed and cliched. You find out toward the end that Bette actually loves to write (even though there had been no indication of that ANYWHERE up until the last part of the book...) and eventually takes up writing. Of course, she gets the handsome hunk, even though it looks like she won't. In my opinion, it ended with far too many neatly tied bows around half-problems. She's rather selfish too and if my friends ever let me get away with half of that crap, I need new friends. 

Moving on...I am borrowing the NEW JAMES DASHNER BOOK!!!!
But because I went to the library, I feel I need to finish those books first...so Kill Order has been languishing on my desk for the last week while I work on What the Dickens and The Amber Wizard. I better get a move on because according to Goodreads, I am 2 books behind and I seem to be reading slower with every new book I read. 

I am sure my new found obsession with Mad Men hasn't helped my reading. It has been on my list for at least a year and last week on a whim I started season one. Wow! I was totally blown away! The costumes, the sets, the content, the smoking, the drinking, the business end of things...just everything! Look for more thoughts on the show in the future. Right now I am still just loving the look of the show and how everything in the character's lives is connected --even when it doesn't look like it. Fascinating stuff. 

Do you watch Mad Men? What do you love best about it? Or, if you hate it, what is it that makes you not love it? 
If you don't watch Mad Men, what is your show of choice? That one thing that keeps you from reading or doing whatever it is you really want to be doing? 

03 September 2012

I went to the library...again

Ah, September. 

Back to school, leaves starting to get crisp, cool breezes, and afternoons made for curling up with a blanket, a cuppa and a good book. I love fall. 

I was just getting back into the swing of my reading thing and was really getting into A Wizard of Earthsea...when I went to the library. Again. Oops. 
Seriously, I don't mean to sabotage my own reading plan but that seems to be what happens. 

I was talking to a friend of mine who recommend a good fluffy summer read called "Everyone Worth Knowing" by Lauren Weisberger. Lauren also wrote "The Devil Wears Prada" which was hilarious and cringe-worth at the same time, and I think this book is following the same course. Not that it is bad, of course. I can very easily sympathize with the rather average Bette Robinson who is stuck in a horrible bank job with a horrible boss who won't even let his employees leave the building for lunch. But I struggle with the almost too easy transition she makes into her new high profile job at Kelly & Company, a PR and event planning firm for every known person (and even the new faces) in the celebrity world. She goes from bumming around her apartment every night to going to a different club every night of the week. Coming in late to work is ok, because she's been out with her co-workers checking out the latest cool place for the next big party they are throwing. 
I usually like the stories of a nobody turning into a somebody, via a new found confidence in themselves, but I don't quite get that vibe from this story. I'm not halfway through this book, so there is hope for a turn around. Stay tuned...

I also picked up on whim "What the Dickens" by Gregory Maguire. It's a fairy tale about a rouge tooth fairy...and with a tag line like that, how can you refuse?! 

I picked up another fantasy book called "The Amber Wizard" by David Forbes. I know practically nothing about the book or the author except that the back of the book says that he is living about 1.5 hours from where I currently live. That's pretty cool, right? 

I am going to get a bit of reading done today--thank God for days off and Labor Day! But...I'll probably spend most of it hanging with my friends doing nothing. Which, really, is always more important that reaching a reading goal for the year.