Saturday, July 24, 2010

57. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

Thanks to Jennclair for sending me this book.  I enjoyed the Swedish setting especially since my son served part of his mission close to where this book takes place.  The frozen atmosphere helped me keep cool during this hot July weather.  I think there were some places where the translation didn't quite work for me.  The phrasing seemed wrong, but overall I liked the book.

Ericka is a biography author struggling to complete her next book while dealing with the recent death of her parents.  While out walking, a elderly man drags her up to the home of her childhood friend, Alexandra, where she finds her naked in a tub of ice, her wrists slashed and blood all over.  She becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Alex, uncovering 25-year-old secrets and becoming reacquainted with another childhood friend, Petrik, who happens to be a cop investigating the death.  It was a great mystery, didn't see the end coming at all.  Part of the book deals with Ericka's sister and her personal problems that didn't really have anything to do with the mystery but added to Ericka's overall angst.  The resolution to those problems seemed a bit too neat for me.  There were some other side stories involving the elderly man, an old teacher, etc., that I found distracting and far too much time spent on what the characters had for dinner.  You expect that in a culinary mystery, which this isn't, and I found it a little annoying.  But overall, it was a good book, darker than I usually like but very interesting look into people's mind and actions.
Rating:  4

Since Jennclair was so generous to give this book to me, I'm going to pass it along to someone else.  If you're interested, leave a comment with your email address and I'll draw a name on August 15. 

56. The First Patient by Michael Palmer

The First Patient begins with the presidential helicopter landing on a small ranch in Wyoming.  It's President Andrew Stockton coming to ask his old college roommate, Dr. Gabe Singleton, to be his personal physician in the White House.  The president is less than candid about his reasons, but Gabe soon discovers that the most powerful man in the world seems to suffer from periodic bouts of insanity.  What follows is a fast-paced, action-filled story about government intrigue, medical advances, the 25th  Amendment (policy about presidential succession), with some romance and true evil thrown in for good measure.  Some of the story is predictable.  I saw the resolution about Gabe's past coming a mile away, but the mastermind behind the president's potential demise was a complete surprise to me.  Granted the whole premise was pretty far fetched, but Palmer makes it believable and certainly entertaining.
Rating:  4

Saturday, July 17, 2010

55. The Host by Stephanie Meyer

I enjoyed the Twilight series but put off reading this book because the storyline didn't sound appealing to me.  I'm not a sci-fi fan and this book is definitely science fiction.  The whole idea of a body being taken over by an alien who tries to erase that person's mind was kind of creepy to me.  Then the alien falls in love with the man in the actual person's memories.   It just didn't sound like my kind of book.  But when I was able to mooch the book, I did.  And since it is a large book and takes too much room on the book shelves, I decided to read it quickly so I could mooch it forward.  Well, what can I say.  I really liked this book, much better than the Twilight series.  Wanderer, the alien (called a soul), is a fantastic character as is Melanie, the human striving to remain alive in her taken-over body.  They are strong, interesting and not completely perfect.  When they are able to find a small group of human survivors, the conflict between the humans, especially Jared, Melanie's love interest; and the host body of Melanie is intense and intriguing.  Plus the world they have created for themselves in order to survive and hide from the souls is pure creative delight.  It's not an easy world but  believable.  I found this book to be very imaginative and well written.  Even the romance is interesting, not an easy love, but conflicted, twisting and turning, with all kinds of impediments.  While I may never read the Twilight series again, since I found the first movie disappointing and Edward and Bella so far from what I imagined; I plan on keeping this book around for a future reread.  So much for clearing off the shelves.  Of course, when a movie comes out, the casting may be as awful and make it impossible to read the book again with the same enjoyment.  As for my interest in science fiction, I may have to rethink that as well.  I really liked this book and loved Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead.  What other great sci-fi's am I missing?
Rating:  4.75

Saturday, July 10, 2010

54. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Thanks heavens, I finished it.  It was hard, I really slogged through the first two-thirds; but it did get interesting towards the end.  There is a very real gothic feel to this book with a sense of menace permeating throughout.  That Mrs. Danvers is a very creepy character.  But overall, I was quite out of patience with the second Mrs. de Winters (we never learn her first name) who narrates the story.  She is such a namby-pamby.  The story would have ended at two hundred pages instead of 416 if she had just talked to her husband or if he had talked to her about anything they were feeling.  Honestly!!  I didn't expect the part about finding a boat in the bay but that is where all the excitement comes in.  And then the ending is so abrupt that you feel dropped, even though the first chapter of the book takes place after the ending; so you're not very surprised, just dropped.  This is my second du Maurier book which I liked better than the first but not much.  I still have Jamaica Inn sitting on the shelves.  What is your opinion?  Should I try it or give it up before I waste my time. 
Rating:  3

53, The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

I'm not sure how you would classify this book:  chick lit?  kind of,  fantasy?  maybe,  LDS fiction,  I guess.  The thing is it has elements of all of these but not enough to really meet all the criteria.  I guess I would go with LDS fiction because the main character, Becky is an LDS housewife; and the book does incorporate a lot of her beliefs and lifestyle mostly as a way of showing who Becky is and not as a means of preaching or pushing church doctrine. (The scene of Felix attending a ward dinner is a riot.)

Becky is eight months pregnant and in Hollywood to sell her screenplay.  While talking with the agent, in walks Felix, her screen idol, who is famous for hisromantic comedies.  They clash in an amusing way and end up having dinner together.  Because he can't understand his strange attraction to a not-so-beautiful and hugely pregnant woman, Felix follows up by bringing his wife to Utah to delve into his feelings more.  Becky is happily married to Mike, but the connection with Felix is so strong, that they become best friends.  And for the most part, the spouses are supportive, while friends and family question the advisability of the whole relationship.  I found the whole premise to be completely unbelievable but I love the way Hale writes and this book is no exception.  She almost makes it plausible, but not quite.  If the book wasn't written so well, the characters so interesting and the dialog so funny; I probably would have quit the book mid-stream because the actual plot was so odd.  But I did finish it.  There is a heart-breaking scene which made me cry and another scene near the end of the book that made me uncomfortable.  I did like how the book ended as it was totally in sinc with everything else that takes place throughout, but overall, it was my least favorite Hale book.  Still I'm giving it a good rating, because of the great Hale touch and  her humor.
Rating:  4