Mini Reviews for June & July - mysteries galore!
The Finders (#1 Reid) by Jeffrey Burton
ARC from #NetGalley
Publish date 6/30/2020, 288 pages
My first book by this author, and I really liked it. Though the plot wasn't terribly original in terms of a mystery, I really liked Mace Reid and his relationship with his dogs. That's a highlight and the strength of this story. Burton treats the dogs as characters and gives them great personalities. For those with animal sensitivities, dogs do get seriously injured but no dogs die.
The story is carried quickly along with short chapters, plenty of action, smart dialog, and even some humor. I found the characters and their motivations and actions believable, even the secondary ones. I always like books where an average guy gets caught up in circumstances beyond his control or comfort zone. He doesn't have mad military skills or secret abilities.....he's just a guy who trains dogs. Lucky for him, his dogs are the 'special' ones, the ones with mad skills!
All in all, a great start to a new series and I look forward to more installments. I hope he keeps the focus on the dogs - they're delightful!
Reading Challenge: #PopSugar20 #1: published in 2020
Stone Rain (#4 Walker) by Linwood Barclay
Published 2007, 448 pages
An older series, and although this is the fourth, and last, in this series, I haven't read the others and didn't miss it, which leads me to believe they could be read as stand-alones. The main character, Zach, is a reporter and one of Barclay's "average guys in extraordinary circumstances" characters. In this book, a friend (and dominatrix) disappears and he gets pulled into trying to find her, ends up becoming a suspect, has troubles in his marriage, and so much more. Lots of stuff going on, well written as usual, and with interesting characters with a splash of humor here and there. If you enjoy a good mystery, this is for you.
Close to Home (#5 Crosswhite) by Robert Dugoni
Published 2017, 362 pages
This entry in the Crosswhite series takes a new turn as Tracy investigates a hit and run. When she discovers the suspect is military, everything changes and the book becomes interesting as the military lawyer and investigators get involved. There are bits of a courtroom drama (Dugoni, the author, is an attorney); he touches on current social issues and once again creates a couple of excellent supporting characters. There's a secondary storyline where her partner's niece dies of a drug overdose and he tries to help his family deal with the the loss as well as catch the dealer that sold her the drugs. Dugoni juggles the two storylines masterfully and they worked to keep me engaged throughout the story. I highly recommend this author (he's one of my "brain-candy" authors) and this series.
On Writing by Stephen King (previously reviewed here)
Awards: Bram Stoker and Locus awards for Nonfiction
Published 2000, 320 pages
My sister, Donna, read this a while ago and recommended it to me.
”Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy okay? Getting happy.”
I have no designs on becoming an author, so his tips and info about developing a writing process didn't particularly interest me. But the personal anecdotes about his marriage, his life, and particularly about the horrific accident and recovery he experienced were fascinating. And well told. If you're an aspiring author, I think this is a worthwhile addition to your library of "how-to" books. If you're like me, and just interested in a peek into King's life, this is a worthwhile addition. I join Donna in recommending you pick up this book.
Miss Iceland by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
Genre: General Fiction
Published 6/2020, 256 pages
An average book. What caught my attention in the release is that it's about 2 artists in Reykjavik. Set in the 60s, mostly it seems to be about the difficulty of being a woman author and that she's given no respect. Her 2 best friends are a gay man who is constantly discriminated against and bemoaning his fate, and a woman who is married w/ 2 kids at 22 and bemoaning her fate. Lots of bemoaning. The biggest nod to its setting is the names. We were in Reykjavik a few years ago and I actually recognized a couple of the street and area names, so that provided me some mental images. The writing style is almost free verse poetic, kind of random sometimes and difficult to understand the point. Overall, my take is that it's ......okay. (And can I just say that the cover is terrible and somehow implies a much lighter read than it really is - it's actually kind of dark.)
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Genre: General Fiction, Romance
Published 2019, 296 pages
I'm glad this book didn't have more pages. As it was, I had to force myself through it. It reinforced that this type story is just not for me. The premise is a mom wants her grown autistic son to marry so she travels to Korea and invites a young woman to come live in America for 3 months and ultimately marry her son. The woman supports her own child as well as her mother and times are tough, so she accepts. She attempts to fit into the young man's life, to make him like/love her, while to him she's just an annoyance and a problem in his daily routines. As you can imagine, the book follows standard romance tropes of a 'dramatic' event causing distress and separation, unexpected love blooming, a last minute resolution. This story is SO predictable; the one saving grace is the attempt to portray the man on the autism spectrum accurately - his aversion to touch, avoiding eye contact, bad social skills and oblivious to other people's reactions. Other than that, I didn't find any redeeming value. But if you like light, fluffy romance stories, this would likely be a good summer read for you.
Reading Challenge: #ReadHarder20: story about a single parent; #ModernMrsDarcy20: book out of my comfort zone; #BooklistQueen20: genre I don't usually read (this is definitely it!) You can follow my challenge progess at the Challenges tab at the top of the page.
What's your take on any of these books? Have you read any of them?