Monday, February 27, 2012

From the Archives: August 2005

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are several from August 2005:


Live Bait by P.J. Tracy (Puntam, 2004; Crime Fiction, 340 pgs)

Mother and daughter team, P.J. Tracy, bring us another hard to put down mystery novel that takes off from the very first page. In Live Bait, the Minneapolis Homicide detectives have had a dry spell in business when suddenly well-respected elderly people are being murdered in cold blood. As if that wasn't enough, an elderly man is tortured and left to die on the train tracks. It’s up to detectives Gino and Magozzi to try and stop the serial killer before he or she kills again, while detectives McLaren and Langer fight off the FBI to solve the murder of Mr. Fischer, the man on the train tracks. Secrets abound in Live Bait as does the humor. I felt that P.J. Tracy found the perfect balance between the serious and the humorous in this novel. Although I would classify Live Bait as a light and fun mystery, the authors did take on some very serious themes. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Dead Run.


The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman (Ballantine, 2003; Fiction, 322 pgs

I had the opportunity to hear Alice Hoffman speak at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April of this year [2005]. I had wanted to hear what she had to say after hearing so many wonderful things about her books. At the time, I had yet to even open one of her books for anything more than perusal. Thanks to Book Crossing and a member who was willing to share this book with others in a bookring, I took the opportunity to read The Probable Future, my first novel by Alice Hoffman. The Probable Future is the story of three generations of Sparrow women, each born with a special gift that emerges on their thirteenth birthdays just as the Sparrow women before them. Grandmother Elinor can sense a lie; mother Jenny dreams the dreams of others; and Stella, having just turned 13, finds she can see how other people will die. Ms. Hoffman weaves the history of the Sparrow women, the small New England town of Unity, the struggles of family relationships and love together to create a sweet, sad and intriguing novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and find myself wishing there was more of it. Ms. Hoffman is a gifted writer, creative, imaginative and able to blend fantasy into reality in such a way as to make it seem real.


Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult (Washington Square Press, 2005; Fiction, 418 pgs

Delia Hopkins discovers that life is not always what it seems in the novel Vanishing Acts. Who we think we are isn’t necessarily who we started out as or who we will become. Jodi Picoult takes the bull by the horns in Vanishing Acts, dealing with controversial issues evolving around the legal system, secrets, race and cultural issues, human nature, and memory. At times, this novel was surprisingly harsh in its portrayal of the events as they unfolded and yet the story was better for it. Vanishing Acts was thought provoking and emotionally charged. The tone of this novel was sad throughout and I often found myself with tears in my eyes as I read. Jodi Picoult has a gift when it comes to creating characters that are very real, multi-dimensional and empathetic, even at their worst. I like how she tells her story from multiple points of view. It makes for a more interesting story and allows readers to get a more full picture of the story being told. My only complaint about the book was that there seemed to be a lack of cohesiveness with the plot and the cultural aspects, with the exception of the jail scenes. There seemed to be a separateness there that I can’t quite put my finger on. Of the two novels I have read by Ms. Picoult so far, I have loved them both. She is a talented writer and I look forward to reading more by her. Her novels are not so easy to forget.


Reliquary by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (Tor, 1997; Horror, 464 pgs)

Reliquary is the sequel to The Relic. This time, readers are taken into the bowels underground Manhattan as the search begins for vicious murders. Could it be that another beast, like the Museum Beast, exists or is there more to it than that? The authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, have written another suspenseful thriller that was hard to put down. One of the comments I did make to my husband as I read this novel was that it seems as if most of those in the highest of authority are stupid, leading to one bungle after another.

In a note from the authors at the end of the novel, they recommend a book called The Mole People by Jennifer Toth, which discusses the population of people living in the tunnels underneath New York City. I plan to add it to my Wish List. Reliquary has wet my palate and I want to learn more about the “mole people.”


Dead Run by P.J. Tracy (Puntnam , 2005; Crime Fiction, 324 pgs)

After Live Bait, the second book by this pair of authors, my anticipation to read Dead Run was high and when I had the opportunity to dive right into the third book in the series, I was not disappointed. Dead Run is completely different from the first two books, this latest book being even more intense, more suspenseful, more thrilling and less of a mystery than the previous two books. All of the favorite characters return in Dead Run, as Grace, Sharon and Annie take a road trip to help Green Bay police find a possible serial killer. However, the women never make it that far. Instead, their car breaks down and they wander into a town where disaster has struck. From then on, they are on run for their lives. Back home, their friends are desperate to find them and they set out in search of them, running into obstacles of their own. This was a tightly put together novel filled with intensity and humor. Almost at every turn I was left at the edge of my seat, wishing I could read straight through (darn work!) and laughing out loud all the same. This mother/daughter team only get better and better with each book they write.


Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?


© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

10 comments:

  1. I have The Probable Future on my shelves, and though I haven't yet read it, it's the book that my daughter constantly seeks out and asks me for over and over again, and now, hearing your thoughts on it has me wanting to reach out for it myself. Great mini-reviews today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like Hoffman's writing style. I confess I thought for sure magical realism was beyond me after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hoffman helped me realize that it had more to do with the author and book than actually with me.

      Delete
  2. Jodi Picoult is very hit-or-miss for me. I don't think I have reading Vanishing Acts, but I can't even remember any more. I used to read Alice Hoffman all the time, but I have gotten slack with her. I haven't read Probable Future, but I own it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As much as I enjoyed the books I've read by Jodi Picoult, I burnt out on them after awhile. At one point, I wanted to read her entire backlist. Since then, I've decided to be more choosy. I ended up giving away a lot of my unread books by her and only have one or two still on my shelf to read.

      Delete
  3. I've had the Hoffman book on my list for forever it seems. I also have the Douglas Preston book on my shelves somewhere in a big chunky paperback form. Thanks for calling my attention to a few that have gotten lost on my shelves that I really need to move up my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad to help. :-) I really like Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's books. I need to get back to the series and read more of it!

      Delete
  4. You read some great books....I have only read Vanishing Acts from your list but have been meaning to add the Preston/Child's books to my reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Preston/Child books can be quite intense. They make a good writing team.

      Delete
  5. I've yet to read Vanishing Acts by Picoult but I do plan on reading it at some point. I also want to read more by Hoffman as the only book that I've read by her was Practical Magic. It is so fun to see what you were reading years ago :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just wish I'd started keeping track earlier!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.