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review 2017-12-11 22:13
Crap on Repeat: "Two Kinds of Truth" by Michael Connelly
Two Kinds of Truth - Michael Connelly

I used to feel that I shouldn't like reading Crime Fiction so much, but then sensibly decided that a well written Crime Fiction book has as much "value" as any other book, however much the literary snobs may turn their noses up. Good writing is good writing, whether it's a spy novel or a romance, a whodunit or a family saga. When I had finished all of the wonderful Wallander books, I started looking elsewhere for Nordic detection. Helene Tursten's Inspector Irene Huss (Swedish) is wonderful as is Ake Edwardson's young, hip Inspector Winter, while Liza Marklund's newspaper reporter, Annika Bengtzon gets herself into some rivetting, nail-biting situations. Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer (Norwegian) is great, as is Arnaldur Indridason's Inspector Erlunder (Icelandic)! These are all excellent translations (unlike the earlier Swedish thrillers by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, whose translations leave something to be desired). When I had got through all the Wallander books I was devastated, which is how I found these other wonderful Scandinavian mystery writers and a few others, namely their American counterparts. There is apparently something about the Nordic climate and temperament that makes for unbeatable crime stories! Unfortunately, it is looking like there won't be any more Wallanders since Mr. Mankell has gone to another plane of existence - though one can always hope.

 

 

If you're into Crime Fiction, read on.

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review 2017-12-08 15:14
Harry Bosch procedural detective story – very good stuff
Two Kinds of Truth - Michael Connelly

 

 

I hadn't read any Michael Connelly novels for a long time and received this one to review and it certainly puts me in mind to rediscover and continue with them soon. This one finds Harry Bosch working for the San Fernando police force and getting involved in a double murder at a pharmacy as well as trying to exonerate himself when a case from the past comes back to trouble him.

 

Characterisation of the main character is a major factor and the plot swings along very nicely and fluently, engaging the reader (I finished the book at 5 in the morning!). Straight-forward and interesting, it should be recommended to all lovers of detective fiction. My only gripe (a pet gripe of mine) is the need for thriller writers to give us readers street directions! Apart from locals who may read the book, this is meaningless to any other reader.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2017-11-29 11:53
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
The Truth About Alice - Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody. Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice-and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

* Read for the 2017 Anti-Bully Readathon week: November 13th-19th

 

 

 

High schooler Alice Franklin is being targeted & blamed for the death of fellow student and star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons. Through the technique of alternating POVs, author Jennifer Mathieu gives the reader multiple perspectives of that one fateful night when Fitzsimmons was killed in a car crash after leaving a party at the house of popular girl Elaine O'Shea.

 

Four important characters step forward and tell their version of events: Elaine O'Shea, party host; Josh Waverly, in the car with Brandon when it crashed; Kurt Morelli, Brandon's next door neighbor who's just a little bit infatuated with Alice; Kelsie Sanders, former best friend of Alice who has recently ditched her (basically) to try to win a place in the clique of popular peoples. Then there's Alice herself who has some choice words for her rebuttal. 

 

  • >> Elaine: Still ticked at Alice over guy drama from forever ago, enraged all over again when Elaine's on / off guy Brandon starts paying attention to Alice. Immediately after Brandon's death, has no problem feeding into the slut-shaming of Alice, spreading it around. Also, Elaine claims "Alice sounds like a total grandma name" anyway... Okay, I see you, ELAINE
  • >> Kelsie: Admits to generally being a follower rather than an original kind of person, so she pretty much throws her friend under the bus to gain points with the cool kids, also fueled by old beef with Alice! Uses drama of Alice to hide her own secrets she doesn't want surfacing. 
  • >> Josh: Claims that Alice was blowing up Brandon's phone while Brandon & Josh were in the car and that's what ended up causing the crash... also, Josh may have some confusing homoerotic feelings about Brandon he doesn't want others to pick up on?
  • >> Kurt: genius level nerd, orphaned, living with grandmother next door to Brandon's house... just a bit in love with Alice but too shy to admit it... being one who understands what it feels like to be socially ostracized, Kurt turns out to be the ONE person who gives Alice the benefit of a doubt and still treats her like a human. Brains and Heart in this guy! 

 

"Oh Kurt, I love it. But I didn't get you anything. You're helping me. I should have bought you something. You gave me a first edition of The Outsiders and all I gave you was one of my mom's shitty beers." (Alice)

 

"It's okay.. This beer isn't so shitty."     :-)

 

So, in this small town of Healy, Texas you can imagine how it doesn't take long for the rumors -- starting with the one about Alice having a three way at Elaine's party, one of the rumored participants being the Healy's beloved football star, Brandon -- to quickly spiral out of control. The adults themselves, who you'd think ought to know better, get in on the dirt flinging on this poor girl's rep!

 

Now, when I say "poor girl", Alice doesn't have a snowy white record to begin with... she'll tell you herself what all she actually had a hand in... and some of it is solidly poor choices that end up hurting people... but deserving of the mess she's eventually swirled up in herself? Not so sure it's a fair distribution of karma here. Former bestie Kelsie, the one time she decides to be a leader, uses her new found boldness to write defamatory remarks about Alice on bathroom stalls, which encourages other girls to jump in and get competitive with just how viciously they can talk about a girl they barely know. 

 

I was not at all impressed with Kelsie in the beginning, my reader mind pretty quickly deeming her the petty weakling who needed to find her backbone already. While that opinion stayed with me in some form til the story's close, I did end up cutting her a TINY bit of slack after she reveals some of the darker portions of her backstory and her motives for turning on Alice. While her actions are still disappointing, to say the least, she at least finds a point where she has the classic "I'm becoming what I hate" realization. As she puts it, "All this just to sit at the good table in cafeteria." I know, right?! 

 

While the plot itself was not the most riveting for me (I personally prefer The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher), I do applaud Mathieu for at least illustrating the high school experience in a relatively realistic way. So often I come across YA books that sound absolutely nothing like my HS days, leaving me to wonder, "Seriously? Is this what it's like now? I remember a little melodrama but daaaang." At least here I found characters that did remind me of people I grew up with -- I knew girls like Kelsie, and certainly Elaine, and I most definitely recall the jocks talking smack over cans of Natty Light like Josh & Brandon do here! I also liked how the characters, in their own time, little by little, come to the realization that their anger towards Alice, their bullying of her, is likely just a projection of pain elsewhere in their lives. Pretty profound for teens to realize that, as I come across adults daily who aren't on that level of awareness yet, and I'm glad to see it written in this novel so that YA readers everywhere can ponder on that idea themselves. 

 

 

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review 2017-11-22 20:14
The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick

I really liked this book!

The East and West went to war and the population moved underground into living areas called "ant farms" where they have been for 15 years. Unbeknownst to them the war ended after only 2 years and the news they have been receiving all these years is propagandist lies. The surface, though decimated by the war, is perfectly livable but is controlled by a select few.

This premise makes for a great story but it is full of neologisms, many of which are difficult to figure out.

Highly recommended!

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review 2017-11-15 20:29
The Masked Truth - Kelley Armstrong

I was rather impressed by this book. The writing style is pretty good, and the opening prologue is one of the more impactful ones I've seen in a YA novel. Riley is babysitting for these two parents, when suddenly burglars invade the house and kill them. She ends up going to therapy because she's having anxiety over the incident, and the story goes on from there.

 

There's a lot of deaths in this book.

 

The main part of the story involves a hostage situation. Riley is at a therapy sleepover with several other teenagers, and three kidnappers storm the place, armed with guns. At first it seems like it's just a hostage situation and everything will be okay - Riley happens to be the daughter of a (deceased) cop, and feels she knows how all of this works - but not everything goes to plan, and soon we have a lot of dead kids all over the place.

 

In all the confusion, she manages to escape from the kidnappers with one of the other guys in the therapy group - Max, who turns out to suffer from schizophrenia. The doors and windows are all locked, and their kidnappers now seem intent on killing them all. Before long, everyone starts dropping like flies.

 

That's the first part of the book. The SECOND part, strangely enough, is when Riley and Max escape the building and manage to call 911...and the cops suspect Max for being responsible for the deaths of 7 kids and both adult therapists. A bit odd, in my opinion. I would have thought that the author would focus on other aspects, rather than the reasons why Max was framed for mass-murder.

 

Riley is a strong character in her own right. She was alright. Max, too, is a rather interesting person, and the chapters are indispersed with his personal thoughts. He's constantly second-guessing himself, is struggling with his own mental health (he has to cope without his meds for a few hours, which is pretty bad for him), and has this internal voice in his head which seems to be constantly arguing with him. I don't know much about schizophrenia myself, but I thought it was presented rather well. 

 

It did get a bit annoying after a while, though. I just wanted to see how the plot was going to turn out, and instead the author gave me another huge chapter about Max's thoughts on what had already happened.

 

Also, don't ask me why, but he had this really dumb British stereotype surrounding him. He was saying stuff like "Tally ho!" and "Jolly good" as if he was some posh old-fashioned royal out of the middle of the London in the 80s. Yes, he's British, and half the time Max was joking about his mannerisms, but seriously now?

 

I mean, come on. I'm British. No one talks like that anymore. Even the goddamn Queen doesn't talk like that, least of all teenagers! Does the author really not know how to write an English character without resorting to really awkward stereotypes?

 

I wouldn't call it racist or anything - British stereotypes aren't really that insulting (I can't tell you how often someone tries to ask if I drink English tea, and ironically I've never drunk tea). But it looks a bit embarrassing.

 

Here's my other gripe about the book. Loads of teenagers die in the first half of the book, mainly because the gunmen have shot them in some evil or sadistic fashion. It's all very scary and edgy.

 

Or at least it would be, if I actually knew any of these characters for more than a chapter beforehand. Seriously. I was barely introduced to them. The first person dies just a few chapters in, not long after the prologue where a similar thing happened. It was just really jarring and I found it hard to care at times.

 

At one point, one of the other girls gets close to Riley and tells her how brave she is and that she's a hero for keeping everyone together...a character who had said almost nothing up to this point. I was rolling my eyes so hard at her, and, sure enough, she gets shot less than a chapter later.

 

I get what the author is trying to go for here, but could you at least give us a chance to know some of these characters beforehand?? They know each other's names. This is a therapy sleepover, for crying out loud! I wanted to know their backgrounds about their therapy! It was done really well in other books, but here...we just didn't know anything about them! At least, not until the last minute, once it was too late. I had trouble remembering the names of the therapists.

 

Instead, these mentally ill kids are just treated like fodder to be killed off by the gunmen. I guess the author was in a hurry to kill them all off, so she didn't bother to give us much background about them. Oh, and there's a gay kid too. He got sent to therapy by his homophobic dad, and he dies too.

 

Once I got to the end of the book, however, there were quite a few interesting plot twists. Namely about how this wasn't a hostage situation at all, and a lot of things were planned at the start. I expected that all this would tie back to the couple who were murdered in the prologue, and naturally it did. A few nice surprises were in store, and then a few more people die before we really get to know them, and...

 

...oh yeah, and the forced romance. Riley and Max have known each other a day. One. Day. Even Riley herself acknowledges this. I just skimmed over the kisses.

 

Overall, this turned to be very enjoyable, especially towards the end. I probably wouldn't read it again, though. All those plot twists lose their effect after the first time. It was good to see some coverage of mental illness, but the way that loads of characters simply get killed before we've got the chance to know them was a significant flaw in the reading. If you're going to kill seven teenagers, at least make us care about them first.

 

 

 

 

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