Monthly Archives: April 2016

Where I’ve been…

You would think that an illness would give you time to catch up on your TBR pile.  Unfortunately not for me.  My body decided that the chicken pox virus wasn’t done with me yet and I now have shingles.  Friends and family tease because I’m not yet in the typical age group of people who usually develop shingles, yet here I am!

Due to the absolute misery I’m current in along with getting ready for graduation and then a visit from my in-laws, I’m behind.  It doesn’t help that I’m currently reading two long books!

Hopefully I will have a new review up next week.  Until then…send me lots of healing thoughts!

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Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

5 Stars

It’s not often that I will give a book 5 stars.  It takes a lot for me to hand out that extra star that takes a book from being really good to one that I not only liked but wanted to read again almost immediately.  I would heartily recommend this book to everyone, especially those of us who have been touched by Alzheimer’s Disease, whether a friend, family member or other loved one.  A glimpse for those of us who don’t have the disease to see into the mind of someone who does.

Dr. Alice Howland is a renowned psychologist, an expert in linguistics and teaches at Harvard.  She has written a book with her scientist husband and has three children.  She has the ideal life.  Alice is getting ready celebrate her fiftieth birthday when her world starts to unravel.  She begins to forget small things here and there, but doesn’t worry.  She chalks it up to menopause.  But then she gets disorientated in an area that she’s walked daily for over twenty-five years.  She doesn’t know where she is and nothing clicks, nothing looks familiar.  Alice knows that it’s time to talk to a doctor.

Alice is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  A devastating diagnosis at any age, but one that is even more difficult for a woman who is in the prime of her life and the top of her profession.  Knowing that not only is she going to decline, but she’s faced with losing everything that made her the woman that she is, her very sense of self.  What will she do when she can no longer remember the names of her children?  The name of her husband?  What happens when she forgets who the woman in the mirror is?  When she loses the ability to speak or communicate with her loved ones.  What is her disease going to do to those that she loves?

This book was engaging and also terrifying.  How many of us have had moments where we’ve forgotten what we came into the room to do?  Forgot where we put our keys?  Forgot what we had for dinner the night before?  And how many of us have lain awake at night wondering if those lapses in memory are the start of something more sinister than simply getting older?  This book was an unflinching look at the life of a woman with a terrifying disease that is eating away at her memories and watching the devastating effect that it has on her and those around her.

The book is told from Alice’s point of view.  You’re in her mind as she declines.  You ache for her as she goes from an active participant in life to living vicariously through the eyes of those around her as she nods and laughs in the appropriate places though she has no idea why.  But she is still there.  She is still alive.  She is Still Alice.

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Review: The Devil’s Game by Sean Chercover

4 Stars

The Devil’s Game is the follow up to The Trinity Game.  I would recommend reading the first book in this series first to get a better understanding of the overall story and to help identify the characters and their motives.  The Devil’s Game will also spoil any surprises that were in The Trinity Game.  You have been warned.

Daniel Byrne spent ten years as a Vatican investigator, debunking miracle claims until his last investigation shook the very foundation of his faith and beliefs.  He is now determined to find the truth and makes the decision to join a powerful group, one that has the ability to influence events worldwide.  They are chasing down another powerful group who have the same ability and are the antithesis of the group Daniel has joined.

Daniel infiltrates a secret government facility and finds a bizarre strain of the Plague that seems to have the ability to flood a patient’s mind with visions of the future and the ability to do things they had never done before, like speak a different language.  Things that were very similar to what happened with Tim Trinity and what he and others call the Trinity Phenomenon.  Daniel begins a search to trace the roots of the pathogen and teams up with a disgraced physician named Kara who is plagued by visions of her own.  The truth is far scarier than they could have imagined and the stakes of the game these two powerful entities are playing for have never been higher.

The story is very quick paced and it was hard to put the book down, wanting to see what was going to happen next.  I wasn’t as impressed with the relationship between Kara and Daniel.  To me, it seemed forced and unnecessary.  I think their interaction could have been done without the romantic angle.  I think it took away from both of them.  I think she could have been a stronger character without the romance.  And I really don’t like what happened to her in the end.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good thriller with just a little faith, belief, science and science fiction thrown in.  It’s just enough to make it believable and enough to make you think…what if?

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Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

4 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book prior to publication.  This is my objective, fair and honest review.  Science fiction is admittedly not one of my top 10 favorites as far as genres go.  But something about this book made me want to take a chance and see if I could lose myself in the story and keep an open mind about what could be possible.  Even if SciFi isn’t your favorite genre, I think this book could have a much broader appeal and will appeal to anyone who ever asks themselves the question, “are we really alone or are there other beings out there…somewhere?”.

The book opens with a young girl named Rose, riding her new bike through her home in Deadwood, South Dakota when she falls through the ground.  When she comes to, she’s in the bottom of a square-shaped hole, lying on some metallic object.  She can’t see it, but the fireman who looks down the hole sees it for what it is…a giant, metal hand.

Seventeen years later, Rose is now a highly trained physicist who has been put in charge of a research team dedicated to discover the mystery of the hand and the cryptic panels that were discovered with the hand at the bottom of the hole.  With the assistance of a nameless interrogator, she brings together a top-secret team to find out what the hand does and where it came from and is there more?  What language are the panels speaking?  How does it work?  Where did it come from and what does it mean to mankind?  Will this bring peace or an all-out war?

I think one of the most interesting aspects of this book is how it was told.  It’s told through a series of interrogations, journals, log files and other footage recorded throughout the research of the mysterious item.  The team comes together and through these files you get to know each player and how they fit into the team.  The only person you never truly figure out is the interrogator, the person behind the scenes pulling all the strings.  Through these files you get a portrait of who they are, what they stand for and what this can mean for all of us in the long run.

The story started a little slowly, but once I got started, I did find it very hard to put down.  I read every chance I had and finished the book in near record time.  I definitely think any fan of Science Fiction will blaze through this book.  I found myself wishing that it didn’t end.  And I think that’s the only real reason I couldn’t give that fifth star.  I didn’t like the ending!  There were a lot of loose strings that never fully came together.  I don’t know if this is setting up a sequel, but I wish that there had been more closure on several things.  I’m not asking for a happy ending, but I would have liked to have had more closure.  But I can’t really fault the author too much, it’s still a fantastic story and one that I’m happy to have read and will be even happier to recommend.

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Review: A Death in Sweden by Kevin Wignall

1 Star

I’ve been behind, this was actually my Kindle First selection from February.  The description sounded promising.  Dan Hendricks is a former CIA operative who is now freelancing to those who pay well.  His specialty is finding people who have otherwise disappeared from the face of the earth.  He locates the untraceable fugitives for the highest bidder.  But it seems that his past is catching up to him and it looks like the CIA is wanting to clean house and get rid of its dirty laundry.  As he finishes his most recent job, he’s hit with the news that many of his friends and former crew members are winding up dead and he now has a huge target on his back.

As he begins to go on the run to protect himself and stay one step ahead of those who are in pursuit, he’s asked to take another job.  A man in Sweden has heroically saved a young girl from a horrific bus accident, giving his own life in the process.  But this man, Jacques Fillon, doesn’t exist.  He’s lived in this Swedish community for the last dozen years, but beyond that, he’s a ghost.  Dan has to find out who this man is and what he was running from while trying to stay one step ahead of the people who are trying to kill him.

The premise was great.  And for the first few chapters, I was on board with it.  I was looking forward to seeing how this was going to play out and see how the characters were going to develop.  It started out great, lots of action and excitement.  Then we go to Sweden and it all falls apart.

The characters were boring, unbelievable and I couldn’t bring myself to be interested in them in any way.  Dan could have been a very exciting character.  He has a checkered and violent past, he lost someone close to him, he was running for his life.  Then he turned into a boring one-dimensional character hell-bent on revenge.  He became a cliché.  I was more incredulous by the introduction of Inger.  She was the most unbelievable character in a novel filled with clichés and boring characters.  At one point this novel went from being a thriller to being a romance novel, and not a very good one at that.

The epilogue was the only redeeming part of the book aside from the first few chapters.  If the rest of the book had gone the way of these parts, it could have been closer to a 5 star read.  I simply can’t recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a well written thriller.  This was definitely not my cup of tea.

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance