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book reviews in 200 words

Book Review Rating System

When I am asked to rate a book, I always feel like 5 stars or even 10 half-stars are such limiting options.  Let’s say, I love the unfolding of the story but the ending was terrible (Girl on the Train).  I’d still give it 5 stars.  Or, what if I love, Love, LOVE the book and will tell all my friends that they should read it but it’s not for everyone because it is extremely sad (A Little Life) – yep, 5 stars.  How about Grady Hendrix’s really scary and inventive, My Best Friend’s Exorcism?  Really good scary story, but is it really on par with Toni Morrison’s Beloved?  You see what I mean?

So, I’m going to try something different and see how it goes.  I’m going to use a 100 point scale.  Just like grading papers.  Here’s the rundown:

1-20:  I will probably try to forget that I read this book.

20-40: Passable effort, but overall did not care for this book.

40-60: Either the story, the idea or the writing is good, but there are major flaws.

60-80: Now we’re getting somewhere; liked it; may recommend to friends.

80-90: Loved this book and will recommend it to friends.

90-99: I probably will not be able to shut up about this book.

100: (Not sure this is an achievable score – we’ll see.)

 

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Verses for the Dead – a book review in 200 words

Verses for the Dead

(Pendergast #18)

by

Douglas Preston  and Lincoln Child

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(Contains some slight spoilers.)

I realize that everyone has different tastes and just because I hate a book, it doesn’t mean that you will. Also, I appreciate authors for their hard work and the guts they have to put their work out there. But sometimes, a book makes me very angry.

Unfortunately, this book lacks any sort of cohesive mystery. My favorite serial characters are again absent. I am also severely disappointed in the fact that they chose to WRITE A LAST CHAPTER EXPLAINING THE ENTIRE CRIME instead of writing the actual clues into the book.

Preston and Child seem to understand that we will buy their Pendergast books regardless. Obviously, we all love Pendergast and hope that the next book in the series will be as good as the one that got us hooked. So, let me say this:

Authors, if you are bored with your characters, just stop writing them. Give us a book with a nice, going-away, this-is-the-last-you’ll-see-of-me story arc and we will grieve for a while and then thank you for it.

My god, I hope I can resist the temptation to buy the next in the series so I don’t have to experience this deep sense of disappointment again.

(Let me say though, the narrator of this audio book, Rene Auberjonois, is FANTASTIC as always, so I will need to listen to some of his others to now get my fix.)

Rating: 20/100

Buy this book (if you must) at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Daisy Jones & The Six – a book review in 200 words

Daisy Jones & The Six

by

Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Daisy Jones is young, wild and naturally talented.

The Six have worked steadily to get the success that is heading their way.

By chance, Daisy and The Six’s frontman, Billy, end up singing a hit song together and their respective managers decide that touring together is the best option for both.

What follows is rock-and-roll magic, except when it’s not.

Written as the transcript of a documentary film, the author’s newest book contains all of the usual plot points for a story about up-and-coming rock stars. Drugs, sex and partying. Riding the high of becoming famous. The dark places fame can take a group of people so closely intertwined. (And be warned, the probability that you will sob for two entire chapters is high.)

But the author so deftly writes about these characters that you forget the entire thing’s fiction. I often went to Google people and places only to remember this was entirely made up. I really wish that I could hear the songs of Daisy Jones & The Six. They must have been amazing!

A Taylor Jenkins Reid book is now an absolute must-read book for me going forward. You should probably try this book to find out why.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 95/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones – a review in 200 words

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones

by

Micah Dean Hicks

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What a deeply strange and compelling book about a dying town haunted by its inhabitants, both living and dead. Jane is possessed, her brother is possessed, her mother is possessed. Her father is so damaged that he cannot be possessed. The town, from its buildings to its machinery, is overrun with ghosts. The only place that can still be considered operating in any capacity is the pig-slaughtering factory on the edge of town.

There is so much to this book. It’s about family and regret and relationships and change and resistance to change and prejudice and longing and love. I feel like I need to re-read it just to get the meaning of everything contained within. BUT it’s also just a really good ghost story, unlike any I’ve read before. You can either enjoy it as an allegorical tale or as a straight-up horror book.

I would be interested to know what you thought of this book. Did it have any special meaning for you or did you read it as a straightforward book about a haunting? If you’d like to go read it quick, I’ll wait here for you so we can discuss.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 92/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Silent Patient – a book review in 200 words

The Silent Patient

by

Alex Michaelides

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Full disclosure, I knew the huge twist (and bad guy) in the story before I read The Silent Patient.

Therefore, it’s difficult for me to tell you if the ending will surprise or not. I can tell you that I started the book because I was curious about all the hype and didn’t think I’d bother to finish it. And…I ended up reading the entire thriller in one day. I also really enjoy books set in a mental institution of any kind, so this story was in my wheelhouse from the get-go.

If you don’t already know the premise of this book, a well-known artist kills her husband and immediately goes silent. No communication of any kind. Not even to defend herself – because did she really kill the husband that she adored and doted on? Most of the story is told by the new doctor who believes he can cure the artist and make her speak. (Messiah complex, anyone?) Pretty simple premise, really. But the execution is interesting and there were still enough little surprises that I didn’t mind knowing the ending. If you haven’t read it already and you are a thriller fan, than what are you waiting for?

(A preview copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 80/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Way of All Flesh – a book review in 200 words

The Way of All Flesh

by

Ambrose Parry

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The Way of All Flesh is a historical thriller set in Scotland in the mid-1850s. If you know anything of Scotland at that time, you will know that Edinburgh had then become the seat of medical innovation. This story is set when the use of anesthetics were beginning to be formulated, tested and used on patients. There are plenty of fascinating medical tidbits to satisfy those interested in the macabre history of medicine, and it was nice to read them embedded in a work of fiction.

The story also revolves around a young apprentice doctor and a housemaid determined to rise above her station. They both work with a lauded obstetrician who is using new techniques in the hopes of better survival rates for mothers and babies. Unfortunately, there is someone killing working women – housemaids and prostitutes – who find themselves in the “family way” and looking to remedy the situation. This, and the sketchy backgrounds of a couple of the physicians introduced in the book, make for an intense read.

This is an interesting, twisty mystery by two authors, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, writing under a pseudonym. I will definitely be picking up any other books they collaborate on.

(A preview copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 80/100

Purchase this book in October when it is available to the general public or pre-order it at Barnes & Noble | Amazon

 

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This book, THIS book, THIS BOOK. What do you get when you cross Star Trek with Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a splash of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and any three of your favorite #fantasyseries? You get Space Unicorn Blues. #humorous and #fun with a splash of commentary on #humannature. You will LOVE these characters and hate these characters. I cheered and sobbed (literally) while reading about the aftermath of a war between humans and magical creatures (in space!). – This is a first book for author @tjberrywrites that debuts on July 3. Let's please give this book lots of love so it becomes the series it deserves to be. – – (An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher. THANK YOU, @angryrobotbooks ) – – #terrypratchett #discworld #startrek #hitchhikersguidetothegalaxy #douglasadams #fantasybook #fantasyseries #spacebook #unicornbook #magicalbook #humorbook #bookofsatire #lovethisbook

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Noir – Goodreads review and random interactions with Christopher Moore

NoirNoir by Christopher Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I picked up a Christopher Moore book, even though Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is one of my all-time favorite books. I’m so glad I picked up this new Moore book!

Set in San Franscico after WWII, Sammy finds himself serving drinks to Stilton (hereafter referenced to as the Cheese – LOVE IT), a beautiful dame who starts all the trouble. A very diverse cast of characters inhabit this story from all walks of life (obviously and as always with Moore, if you are easily offended, this is not the right book for you – just saying). My favorite character ended up being the Kid, who was terrible and sweet and awesome in his use of the English language.

There were many many giggles and quite a few laugh-out-loud-in-a-room-by-yourself-whilst-reading-a-book moments. Moore is just as fun as I remember him to be!

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

So, I usually tweet quotes from worthy books and while reading Noir, this happened:

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