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Archive for October 2009

Review of Crossfire

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CrossfireI’m proud to say I finished the Japanese Literature Challenge with this one book! *claps* one challenge down, millions more to go ๐Ÿ˜€ oh well at least I managed to read books that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, so this sort of thing did open my eyes up to other genres out there.

Crossfire by Miyuki Miyabe is a police paranormal mystery which has one side; Chikako Ishizu and her colleagues in the police force and the other side; Junko Aoki and her quest for justice against cold hearted sadistic criminals who prey on innocent people. Junko has a very special gift of pyrokenesis (think of Stephen King’s Firestarter) and uses that against the criminals. It leaves no evidence except for charred bodies. Chikako is part of the arson squad and realizes this sort of case isn’t just normal arson. With the help of other detectives and very skeptical of paranormal theory she’s caught with trying to believe the impossible while chasing Junko who’s leaving a trail of bodies from place to place. However there’s another pair of eyes who are interested in Junko and want to recruit her to their cause.

This book was all right. I liked how they showed both sides of the story and both point of views. It was a nice even exchange between chapters and it went smooth for the most part. I have to admit though, although the beginning of the book really got me it just started to fall short and falls flat midway and I found myself wondering what’s going to happen next and how soon because to be honest, I was starting to get a little bored of the book. Not to mention besides the main characters, there were so many other secondary characters mentioned I was left wondering who this person was again and I had to either read back a few pages or commit to memory who they were. It got a little frustrating as they appeared for one chapter and wouldn’t come back until much much later. However, I found myself a little more intrigued bit by bit on how all these characters had to be connected somehow to each other and I was left guessing until the last moment. It was actually pretty well done despite these little flaws.

I really did try to like Chikako but just couldn’t do it. I was really trying to warm up to her but she was just flat. It just sort of seemed although she put the pieces together and helped solved the crime she really was just there for the ride. There wasn’t much personality to her I thought. Unlike Junko. I think she was the main focus in the book hence why she seemed to be the only real character in the book that developed well throughout the book. Junko went from someone who was angry and out for justice to someone who finally found closure and absolute closure.

The plot moved fairly smoothly although there were a bit of bumps and blips here with background information which was useful in some parts but in some other areas of the book it wasn’t really necessary. Then sometimes I felt the plot was just going in circles and very redundant. It was really starting to get old. At that point, I wished the plot would have moved more quickly instead of lingering and remaining stagnant. It also felt as if these moments were needed as a space filler. It nearly took the heart and the momentum of the plot because of these bumps.

Overall, it wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t so great either. It could have been better but the climactic ending did make up for it and as the story came to a close, it had a nice sense of completion. Would I recommend this? Well, that depends. Stick with Junko. She’s the more exciting arc in the plot than Chikako. Try and read through the unnecessary stuff but the underlying layers of the plot actually also make up for its shortfalls.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

October 30, 2009 at 8:29 am

Booking Through Thursday 10/29

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btt button

Suggested by Jennysbooks:

Something Iโ€™ve been thinking about lately: โ€œWhat words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?โ€

– I don’t really know about the first question. Usually if it’s a quote that stands out I’d keep in mind of where it is and then go back to it and write it down in my book journal. However things that make me put the book down and cast it aside? usually it has something to do with body parts mashed together or getting kissed on, sighs and moans, or body fluids being exchanged. Then I just roll my eyes and the book goes into the donation chute at the library.ย  Usually anything with an animal and “killed brutally” makes me put the book aside too. I like blood and gore, but not to my furry friends. People are ok though we got a billion of those to go around ๐Ÿ˜› unless it’s mass extinction or zombie invasion..then we’re in big trouble. I’m straying from the topic aren’t I?

What’s your answer? ๐Ÿ™‚

Written by Karoline

October 29, 2009 at 8:49 am

Review of The Devil You Know

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The Devil You KnowI can’t really remember how I came across Felix Castor. I think it was because I was looking for books that had the same line as Harry Dresden, and I stumbled with this one. I was in the mood for something dark and gritty anyway so this one was a good choice. Perfect for the spooky season too.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey is the story of Felix Castor, an exorcist who’s dirt poor and lives (practically for free) with his good friend Pen (who’s name is Pamela but somehow she prefers to be called Pen). He gets rid of ghosts for a fee and when he accepts a job of eliminating a ghost in a museum it’s more than he bargained for. He finds himself a target and the only way to find out the real story is to figure out the story of the ghost he has to eliminate first. As he gets deeper into the bottom of this mystery, he faces more dangerous circumstances and instead of getting rid of the ghost, he attempts to help it first.

I can see the small similarities between the Harry Dresden series and this one. There are differences though. I found Felix Castor more dark and grittier than Dresden. It definitely more “noir” and having the setting taking place in London is perfect. London is so dark and wet most of the time and cold. I think the setting fits well and is described perfectly for this novel. The world here is much different than present day. The dead and ghosts are actually out and we’re aware that they are. Most of the time though, they actually don’t bother us except for a select few that have risen up to settle some differences. There is plenty of magic but it’s not in the way of Harry Potter it’s more darker and more realistic.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. It started off a little slow and I had to nearly force myself to get into it. Eventually it started picking up and I got more interested. It was especially interesting that although it’s paranormal in regards to ghosts and other creatures (there’s a loup garou but not what you usually think it would be..it’s different). There’s also an underlying realistic element in it as naturally the ghost is there with a reason and has a story to tell (ie; how she became a ghost) so real life comes into play just as much as the paranormal side does in this book. Which is good it’s a nice mixture and it’s done nicely so that the magic parts come naturally and it doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary, it actually feels like everyday life.

I think the other reason why it took me a while to get into it, is because in the beginning, Felix goes through a huge narration on explaining how he got to this point, and how he met certain characters and their background stories. He does this throughout the book and although the explanations are great and provides a nice depth to the novel, some of them are too detailed and rather long winded. Then I’m left wondering where did we leave off and what does this have to do with it? although the background information is nice, it should have been done in small specific paragraphs but not deviate entirely from the main plot. This could be a deterrent to some readers and those reading might feel like putting the book to the side and leave it for another day, but try and get through it. You’ll find it connects the dots in one way or another and it leaves the story more complete and more detailed.

As for characters I like Felix. He’s got wit and a dark sense of humor. I’m not sure if you could call him your typical detective in a noir book as although he does have an eye for the ladies I don’t think he really has much of a charm or is that charismatic. To me he’s more like a good guy friend who you’d have a drink with and just relax. He’s likable, don’t get me wrong and there are certainly parts in the book where I found myself laughing at him because of comments he’s made either towards others or towards himself but he’s lacking in something. He just falls short of standing out. I guess what I am trying to say is, it took me a while to warm up to him and even then although I like him, there’s no strong attachment or anything.

The plot is great and albeit for the slow start, putting the pieces together was a puzzle for me and it was fun trying to guess what it was. You’re left guessing what it is and in the end I was sort of right, but wrong as well. I had the wrong idea. It was well done with how the ends were all tied and no questions asked except in regards to Felix’ past and what will happen next (there are more books to this series). The ending was great and I’m curious as to what will happen. I will be reading the second book definitely however I’m hoping it won’t be as slow starting as this one.

Overall, it’s not a bad book! give it a try if you’re a fan of Harry Dresden but want something more realistic, more dark, and with more grit. You’ll find it’s actually quite good and well worth the wait.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

October 28, 2009 at 7:25 am

Posted in 7, Review

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Teaser Tuesday Featuring Earth Abides

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My teaser for this week features Earth Abides by George R Stewart:

What crisis? With sudden determination he strode back to the car, and picked up the hammer. A moment later he stood with the heavy head poised in front of the door.

What’s your teaser? ๐Ÿ™‚

Written by Karoline

October 27, 2009 at 6:30 am

Monday Combo 10/26

with 7 comments

Todayโ€™s MUSING MONDAYS post is about note takingโ€ฆ

Do you take notes while reading โ€“ either for your reviews or for yourself? How/where do you make these notes (on the page, post-its, scrap paper, notebooks etc)?

– I don’t take notes at all. If I find some really great quote I memorize it and then go back to it when I review it. That’s it. No note taking here ๐Ÿ™‚ it would remind me too much of school and the books I was forced to read and nearly ruined my experiences with books.

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Mailbox Monday

I received the following this week:

Oh My Gods – Tera Childs (contest win)

Through the Triangle – C P Stewart (Bostick)

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Library Finds:

The Concubine’s Daughter – Pai Kit Fai

City of Thieves – David Benioff

The Killing Floor – Lee Child

High Stakes – Erin McCarthy

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So what are your answers? ๐Ÿ™‚

Written by Karoline

October 26, 2009 at 9:15 am

Sunday Salon: Surprising Results

with 3 comments

I’m very surprised I managed to finish two books even with three days of OT at work and the usual distractions. However because of the OT I’ve been more tired and been falling asleep while reading at night. So, today I’m going to focus only on two books because I have plans for later tonight (which I don’t want to go to, but have to)

The two books are:

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

The Devil You Know – Mike Carey

What are you guys reading today?

Written by Karoline

October 25, 2009 at 10:20 am

Review of The Postmistress

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The Postmistress

The Postmistress

Thank you Barnes and Noble for letting me receive a copy of this book for the First Look Book Club! It was very much appreciated!

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, is rather unique. It has two mini plots which then merge into one through the novel. The first arc features the inhabitants of Franklin, Massacheusetts mainly Will Fitch and his wife Emma, and Iris James who works at the post office. The second arc is focused mainly on Frankie Bard, who’s in Europe. She works as a journalist covering the Blitz in England. The Postmistress focuses on one letter Iris decides to not send, which in turn brings the three women together and also brings the realization of war to their doorstep.

I have to admit, I had to force myself to get into it at first. The start of the book was rather slow and hard to get into. It really wasn’t until I hit the chapters that focused on Frankie that I suddenly got myself into the book and was more interested in it. Besides the slow start, I was left wondering what in the world these characters have to do with each other until certain events take place then the pieces fall in, slowly. To be honest, if it weren’t for Frankie and her experiences throughout Europe, I probably would have liked this book less. I found Frankie to be the most central part of this book and which brought all the characters together through her voice on the radio. The descriptions of the quiet town of Franklin and its’ inhabitants is nice and detailed enough to make it real. There is a big distinction between both Franklin and London and it’s written well enough that both places are realistic and well rounded out. I liked how Franklin is so far away from the war and in their own little world, oblivious to what is happening on the other side of the world, knowing there is no way of the war hitting home. Yet Frankie brings it to them through her voice and she does what she can to make sure all sides of the war is shown and that people get the truth of what’s happening. When she comes on the radio, you can almost “hear” her talk and it goes to show how powerful the use of radio was back then in the 40’s because it’s left to the listener’s imagination.

The most eye opening part in the book is when Frankie goes within Europe to interview refugees she finds along the way from Germany to France. This actually changes her outlook of the war and this is where you see a key development in her character. I also thought it was the most interesting part in this novel and felt just as helpless as she was towards these refugees. I also liked how Blake intertwined both plots to eventually make it into one towards the end of the novel by having the three main women featured in the novel to finally come together face to face. It went smoothly and without a bump, definitely a good job done by the author.

Aside from the slow start, I sort of didn’t understand Iris and her character. In the beginning I thought she was strange and not very likable at all. Honestly, I get the idea of why she would be part of the story in the first place, but she’s such a flat character and very uninteresting that I feel the author just placed her there just for placement and for necessity. She’s really just a secondary character, I think. However of all the characters, I really did like Frankie the best. She was such an free spirit and a forward thinking individual, definitely a woman that stood out during the 40’s!

Another thing, Frankie likes to say “Christ” a lot. For some reason I can’t see a woman swearing like that in the 40’s, it just seems unreal and odd. Also, there’s a part in the novel where Emma smokes and she’s pregnant. Now perhaps it wasn’t known that smoking during pregnancy is harmful for an unborn child so it was really strange and odd to read that. Then again, we have to remember, this book takes place in 1940, not in present day. It’s hard to remember that and it’s odd to read. Once you have it set in your mind about the major differences, then it gets easier.

Overall, a book that starts to grow with you, so don’t give up early on it. It does eventually get better.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

October 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Posted in 7, ARC, Review

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