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Blood of the Lamb: A Novel of Secrets
Sam Cabot
Little Elvises (Junior Bender, #2)
Timothy Hallinan
Moonrise - Cassandra    King I discovered gothic novels as a teenager, in our small public library that was housed in a...well, old house. It was creaky and tiny and smelled musty...but I LOVED it. And spending time in it. I'm not sure if I liked gothics b/c I was hooked on mysteries (thank you, Nancy Drew?) or vice versa but I know I spent hours scouring the shelves, discovering fabulous books and writers. At any rate, I was excited about reading "Moonrise" (even before I found out King was married to Pat Conroy!) b/c I figured it would bring me back to those sweltering summer days counterbalanced by the spooky chill I found in the books.

Initially, I liked Moonrise - the perfect set up of an old spooky house, old friends who are suspicious of the new young bride, and a wife tragically killed under suspicious circumstances. I enjoyed the way King switched narratives, giving the reader a window into each of the characters' thoughts. But then at some point, it started to drag. And the main character, "The Bride," became a caricature - the others would describe her as a ditz, and that's how I began to see her. King throws in some good red herrings, and I was intrigued (and this kept me reading). About 3/4 of the way through, the villain becomes clear, not much of a surprise since he/she is so unlikable anyway. I wanted to give Moonrise 4 stars, but I just can't, and I'm not sure why. It was enjoyable to be sure, fairly well written, emotive, descriptive...it just didn't knock my socks off.

NOTE: I was given an e-galley of this book through Library Thing's Early Reviewer's program.

The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty Chick lit, but excellent chick lit...well written, well developed characters who said and thought things that seemed very real to me...i enjoyed this very much...much to my surprise.
The Shining - Stephen King I've read that Stephen King didn't particularly like this adaptation of his novel, so I tried hard NOT to be influenced by it when reading The Shining. And I tried to appreciate the novel on its own merit, i.e., the writing, the structure, the spookiness vs. the actual story...which unfortunately, I already know how it ends, already knew what "redrum" meant. I think something was lost just due to these two facts. So sadly, I failed. I'm disappointed I never read "Shining" before it was ruined for me!

Maybe the story's just TOO popular. What I found different about this novel vs. his others...normally, at least in my estimation, his lead characters are flawed, but likable. We can identify with them to a certain extent. We see them going down the wrong path, but usually still root for them. Didn't see/find much redeemable about Jack.

ALL that said, and nitpicking aside, I still appreciated King's writing. The atmosphere is beautiful (albeit painful) and you truly get a sense of the isolation, the impending doom and danger, the tension is almost unbearable. I found myself highlighting passage after passage, esp. those dealing with Jack's struggles not to drink, not to explode in anger, not to strike out at his family. But the person he turns into is really there all along...have to wonder how much of Jack was based on King himself, at that time in his life at least. Now that's scary.
Crashed - Timothy Hallinan Junior Bender (get it?) is my kind of man...funny, fallible and faithful to his creed, despite the fact that he is a career burglar. Found myself highlighting passage after passage of Hallinan's commentary. I love it when I find a good anti-hero.
NOS4A2 - Joe Hill oh please, please...don't let this be our only trip to Christmasland...
Playing with Matches: A Novel - Carolyn Wall I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program at Library Thing. Ugh. I found the first chapters to be filled with insipid writing and caricatures. I am so disappointed as I loved Sweeping Up Glass, it was one of those rare books that sweeps (no pun intended) you in and doesn't let you go until you get to the last page. What a bummer.
The Secrets of Mary Bowser - Lois Leveen I received an ARC of "The Secrets of Mary Bowser" through BookBrowse's First Impressions program. I'm definitely in the minority, b/c most reviewers have given it 4+ stars. I found it very slow and boring; the characters just simply never came alive for me. I only made it to page 84 before giving up, so not sure how fair my review is.
Cloudland - Joseph Olshan Cloudy with a chance of murder...I'm torn between giving Cloudland a 3.5 - 4. I was compelled to finish it, because I was invested and curious as to the identity of the murderer. Yet by the time "he" was revealed, I felt a little deflated, and I'm not sure why. I found Olshan's writing to be very good...descriptive, evocative and with great imagery...his dialogue and even storytelling, not so much. I imagine it must be difficult to write from the perspective of the other sex, but I think he succeeds quite nicely. I liked Catherine very much...appreciated her candor and self-awareness. I didn't find the other characters to be as fleshed out, particularly Paul, Breck, Prozzo and Matthew. I did, however, like Henrietta and Hiram. Overall, a good read but not sure I would recommend. And I feel bad about that, if it makes sense! I do feel inspired to find my copy of "The Woman in White!" (I read and reviewed "Cloudland" as part of Book Browse's First Impressions program.)
City of Women - David R. Gillham

Well written in terms of a sense of time and place, very atmospheric and vivid setting but the characters, particularly Sigrid, are poorly written and ring false. Sigrid reminded me of a robot...and I didn't "get" her love for Egon, never felt any of the characters were well developed. I agree with one of the other reviewers...the movie sex scene felt very out of place.
Fallen: A Novel - Karin Slaughter I enjoyed reading Fallen, Karin Slaughter's latest, although not as much as her previous novels. It is definitely a page turner, and I like the characters of Will and Faith, even Amanda. The plot line was a little confusing sometimes, but Slaughter wraps things up quite nicely. I did not especially appreciate the similarities between Roger Ling and Hannibal Lecter, but even Slaughter makes a joke about it, as Amanda refers to Will as "Clarice." The best thing I took away from Fallen was a Tennessee Williams' quote: "If I got rid of my demons, I'd lose my angels."
The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman eh...this book got tons of press and very decent reviews, but it's not working for me. i can't even bring myself to finish it.
Blood Harvest - S.J. Bolton well, i can't say i enjoyed blood harvest, although i found it well written with really creepy moments, good characterization and an excellent plot. however, i just can't get past children being in danger and explicit descriptions of murder scenes involving them. totally ruined it for me. i'll give bolton another try but if kids are involved, i'm totally out.
The Passage - Justin Cronin wow...a five star read for sure...these don't come along often and i savored every line. this book is a behemoth, i never thought i could/would finish it, but i loved every page. everything about "the passage" is great...the story, the characters, i loved the way cronin made up an entirely new world with its own language...virals and smokes and flyers...littles and the sanctuary...it's about way more than vampires. cronin expertly evokes a sense of dread throughout much of the novel, but hope as well. for me, a novel is successful when i find myself thinking about the characters when i'm not reading, and itching to get back to it. a fine read in the vein of stephen king, who actually contributes a recommendation, this novel reminded me of his earlier works, no small feat. my only quibble, if i must, is how the novel feels like the screenplay for a film. i REALLY hope cronin didn't write it with that in mind...
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton The Forgotten Garden is even better than Morton's first book, The House at Riverton. what a terrific story Morton tells. full of great characters and mystery...love both romantic and familial...i loved this book. i loved eliza's stories and i loved eliza. so many twists and turns to find out what happened to little nell. and in the end, although cassandra finds her way, what happened to little nell broke my heart.
Triptych - Karin Slaughter my goodness. this book made my head spin. i read #2 will trent, fractured, before i picked up this one, and i must say, i preferred it. that's not to say i didn't enjoy triptych, i did. slaughter's one of the best crime novelists out there; the way she weaves multiple story lines is amazing. the novel opens with one character who turns out to be someone completely different by the novel's end. in fact, i may have to go back and read the first few chapters to see what i missed. overall, highly recommend. it was hard to put down.
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: A Novel of Ireland - Frank Delaney i wish i could say i enjoyed Venetia Kelly as much as others seem to have. it was my first delaney although i've seen his works and even have another one, ireland, on my shelf. i found his writing quite disjointed and irritating...too many semi-colons and LONG dashes (perhaps that's his point...his way of authentically trying to tell venetia's, and thus ireland's, story?) i didn't care for any of the characters, either, and the "digressions" drove me nuts. perhaps my distate was more towards the style than the narrative; nevertheless, only a 2-star read for me.