mystery

IQ by Joe Ide

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Thank you SO much to Mulholland Books for giving me the chance to read and review this! I promise all thoughts expressed here came from my own head.

Man, this cover though, right? I love it. I’ve been looking forward to IQ since I first heard about it a few months ago. Here’s the publisher’s description:

A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.

So my brain really focused on the “genius kid solves cases that the police ignore” bit and forgot the part about this being about him working on a rapper’s case, so I was a tad disappointed that the focus wasn’t more on IQ using his Sherlock-like intellect to solve cases for the city’s downtrodden, but that was my own fault. Outside of that, I really enjoyed this.

The book bounces back and forth between IQ’s teenage years when he used his intelligence in less honest ways, and the current day where he’s trying to figure out who set a crazy hitman out to kill a failing rap star. A lot of the book, especially in the flashbacks, is dedicated to explaining how IQ grew up and what motivates him to solve cases for people today. There’s a wide range of emotions here too – my heart hurt for some of the things IQ went through, but then I literally had to pause reading to laugh out loud at some other parts, like the summary of ridiculous fights between the rapper and his ex-wife.

Honestly, I kind of had a good idea early on who was going to be the bad guy and I was right, but this was still a fun read. I hope there are more to come, because I want to see more of IQ’s smartypants self and I’d love to see future books delve more into the social justice side of his cases. I have a feeling that IQ has the potential to evolve into a hero-for-hire kind of mystery series and I would be all over that.

~Sarah

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)

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I am a ridiculous person. I’ve owned The Cuckoo’s Calling for a long time now, because I found it in hardcover for like $2. But then I requested it on Overdrive one night (no real reason why), and then it became available, so THEN I finally read it. Very silly, Sarah. Anyways, I finally started J.K. Rowling’s new series! Which I guess isn’t so new anymore, since the second book is already out (The Silkworm) and the books are going to be made into a BBC show. But still.

Cormoran Strike is a P.I., whose life seems to be crumbling around him. His debt collectors are after him. He’s broken up with his gorgeous girlfriend, this time for good, so he’s living in his office. He has a new temp, Robin, starting that he can’t afford to really pay. And then in walks John Bristow – brother of the famous supermodel Lula Landry, who was found dead outside her apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide, but John doesn’t believe that she jumped off of her balcony, and he’s willing to pay Strike handsomely to find the murderer. Strike doesn’t believe that Lula’s death was a murder, but he agrees to take the case.

In the end, I really liked the book. Cormoran really grew on me, and Robin as well, though not as much. (The introduction to Robin was her walking around being constantly distracted by her awesome new engagement ring, so it’ll take a bit more to completely recover from that.) Cormoran has some of those typical down-on-his-luck P.I. tropes going for him, but he has his own quirks that make him more “him”. He lost half of a leg in Afghanistan, and has some trouble with that still. His unique parentage is common gossip. He tends to have real compassion for other people. He just forms into this lovable, kind of grumpy old-ish man that I ended up really liking.

One other thing that kind of made me like this book – there were black characters. At first I was concerned, since the first three introduced were either suspected murderers or car thieves. But as the story progressed, more black characters were introduced, one even pretty fully fleshed out. It was refreshing to see more diversity in a book by a white person, in which their ethnicity isn’t exactly the whole point of their existence. In fact, the black characters seemed more real and genuine than some of the white characters – there were a lot of stereotypical mean, rich, white people. I’m not sure if Rowling had any real intentions built around this or not, but it was something that stood out to me. She also had a couple passages that remarked on feminist issues – that awareness and caution that women feel working in close proximity with a man, and how deceased women with any sort of trouble in their lives are written off as just a tragic result of the life they lived, and not afforded the same amount of grief and attention as deceased women who lived “safe” lives. Rowling, man… she just brings SO much to the table when you’re not expecting it.

As a mystery novel, I’m not a good judge. I never see it coming, I never guess correctly who the bad guy is, and this was no different. It was a fun though, and I enjoyed seeing Robin get really excited at the intrigue surrounding working in a P.I.’s office on a high-profile case. I think her and Cormoran will make a great detective team.

And now I’ll leave off with just a couple of the highlight-worthy pieces:

“How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.”

“Seven and a half million hearts were beating in close proximity in this heaving old city, and many, after all, would be aching far worse than his.”

I’m excited to read The Silkworm, hopefully sooner rather than later.

~Sarah

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX – Yeah, I’m doing RIP again.

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Reading Laura’s post reminded me – It’s RIP time! Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings give us all an excuse to read those horror/mystery/thriller/dark fantasy books that we’ve been meaning to get to. It runs from now until October 31st. My lack of reading time is a concern, so I’m going to aim for Peril the Second, which means I’m going to aim to read two books. If I read more than that, then hooray for me.

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My possible reads (some pictured here, some not):

  • Misery by Stephen King – I was planning to read this in September anyways.
  • Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer – It’s a detective story that takes place on Mars. Win.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Because I STILL have not read this, and hey wouldn’t it be nice to finally make some progress on that Classics Club list? Yes it would be.
  • Bag of Bones by Stephen King – Another King novel I’ve heard great things about and should really finally get to. I believe it was on my pile last year, but I never started it.
  • Locke & Key comics by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • random Joe Hill novellas / short stories I have on my Kindle (are we seeing a pattern here?)
  • The Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
  • Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey (part of the Sandman Slim series, I really need to catch up on it)

Well, I’m going to try! We’ll see what I can fit in. This along with some pumpkin lattes should get me in the mood for autumn 🙂 Are you signed up?

Any other creepy books or comics I should try out?

~Sarah

Giving in to the peer pressure & signing up for R.I.P. VIII

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VIII is an annual challenge kind-of thingy that happens in the fall – it’s hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, and literally EVERYBODY and their mothers have signed up for it. At least it seems that way. I mean I’ve kind of seen bloggers participating in past years, but this week I’m pretty sure sign-up posts have gone up for about 75% of the blogs that I follow. And everyone’s so excited about it, which got me all excited about it, which led to this.

The point of R.I.P. is to read horror, mystery, thriller, paranormal, spooky, gothic, and other various darker genres of books between September 1st and October 31st. It’s a way to get in the mood for autumn! Which I’m kind of digging right now – tall boots, sweaters, cider, and spooky books all sound pretty nice right now. There are different levels (“perils”) that you can sign up for, and of course I’m going for Peril the First (read 4 books) because go big or go home, right? Right.

So here’s my stack.

Readers Imbibing Peril VIII

 

  • Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett – I’ve been meaning to try this cozy mystery series for ages. The author is local to my area, and this copy is signed! Need to read.
  • Bag of Bones by Stephen King – Because I hear that this is a good King novel? And I’m trying to dip my toe into the King waters this year, I suppose.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison – No lie, I started this book about 5 or 6 years ago and stopped because it was freaking me out. Like put-it-in-the-freezer kind of freaking me out. Time to put on my big girl panties and try again.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – WILKIE! And I missed the epic readalong for this 1.5 years ago because my grandma passed away, and I think that’s kind of why I haven’t tried reading it since. But it seems like a perfect fall read, so I’m gonna do it!
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach – This is actually non-fiction, but I’ve been wanting to try out Roach for a long time, and it’s about DEAD BODIES. So that should totally count.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I just bought this at the library for $2, and it seems appropriately dark and creepy.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – I STILL haven’t read this or seen the movie. If I do both, then I’d technically be participating in “Peril on the Screen” as well, so yay there.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – The hype for this one had better be worth it. I actually have no idea if it’s dark or creepy, but I saw it on some other R.I.P. lists, so I’m adding it.

Is it wise to add MORE reading to my already overflowing stacks for the upcoming months? Probably not, but I’m doing it anyways! And I’m psyched to start, just as soon as I finish Empire Falls, which admittedly is KILLING me right now.

Ummm so I don’t know how this works exactly – I’m going to aim to read some of these books, and if I do I’ll tag them with “R.I.P. VIII”. I’ll maybe do a wrap-up post in the beginning of November? How do you guys usually keep track of this sort of thing? Is there a Twitter hashtag or anything that we use? Tell me stuff, I’m new at this.

So, does reading some spooky stuff to get in the spirit of autumn sound cool to you? Of course it does! Join in the peer pressure. Do it.

~Sarah

 

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

BEE RIDGWAY

 

Sadly, I didn’t love The River of No Return the way I was hoping to.

So, Nick is an English dude from the 1800’s who is about to die in a nasty battle when suddenly he transports roughly 200 years into the future to 2003. Cool. An organization called the Guild picks him up, makes him spend a year learning about the modern day along with some other accidental time travellers, and then sends him off with a buttload of money to quiety live the rest of his years in the northeast of America. A decade goes by and Nick is quite accustomed to the fun things of our age – easy women, jeans, cars, watches and all that – but then he suddenly gets a summons from the Guild. They’re sending him on a mission back to his past.

Julia is a young lady in the 1800’s mourning the death of her grandfather. Her giant douche of a cousin shows up to inherit the estate, and he constantly quizzes and berates Julia while he searches for some special object that he thinks gave her grandfather his ability to manipulate time. And then Julia finds out that SHE can manipulate time as well, and must struggle to hide this from her cousin and try to escape his clutches.

So obviously when Nick goes back, he and Julia cross paths (easy enough, since they lived next door) and fall in love, yada yada yada.

Let’s start with the things I really liked about the book, kay? I liked the whole idea of time travel via feelings. Apparently you use emotions to travel along the river of time. Interesting concept. I liked the idea of a secret society (the Guild) and the idea of time travelling, being taught about the time you’re in, and then being sent on your way to just chill. I liked Nick well enough, as well as Julia. They both had spunk, which I enjoyed. I also liked Arkady, who was a grumbly Russian guy who said things like this:

“You are a man. We will save her. Why? Because it’s beautiful and romantic to do so. We will fight this maniac like the men we are – with fists. Why? Because it’s beautiful and romantic to do so.”

How can you not love that?

But now on to the things that made me not love this book…

The thing between Nick and Julia had a hint of insta-love about it. I mean really, it’s very love-at-first-sight.

My biggest complaint: It was so slooooowww. By page 160 (out of 450), the main characters hadn’t even really met yet. By page 300 I was glad that the romance factor was finally picking up but I STILL felt like I was waiting for the story to start. There was so much build-up and mystery to the secret society conspiracies that it seemed to take forever to get anywhere, and I felt just as confused and frustrated as Nick did. And I felt like the end is where things really finally started to happen, which means it ended with some unresolved issues. I’m assuming there might be a sequel, but it’s not confirmed on the Bee Ridgway’s website as far as I can tell.

Sooo yeah. The writing was enjoyable, but the storyline was just way too drawn-out for me. Even if I knew a sequel was coming, I’m not sure I’ll want to read it because it took SO LONG to be set up in this book. I’ll have to wait and see.

I am pretty sure I’m in the minority here – plenty of fellow bloggers read and loved this book, so don’t be discouraged. Give it a try. Maybe The River of No Return just wasn’t my jam.

 

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

 

 

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

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Good morning, book lovers! So it’s time for my review of the fourth Thursday Next book. I’m not quite sure my brain it up to the task, but I’ll try.

 

BUT REMEMBER THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS, MMMKAY? KAY.

Somehow, it’s been over a year since I read the third book, The Well of Lost Plots! Honestly, don’t know how I went that long in between books. So let’s just say that I remembered that Thursday was still in Bookworld, and her hubby Landen was still non-existent because he had been eradicated, and she was chasing some book characters who apparently ended up escaping into the real world.

Something Rotten starts off with Thursday getting a bit frustrated with Bookworld and realizing that she needs to go home, try to un-eradicate her husband, and catch Yorrick Kaine – the escaped book characters that’s been making waves in the real world as a politician. So she takes a long leave-of-absence from Jurisfiction, grabs her two-year old son Friday, and heads back to reality.

There was a LOT to like about this book, and I read it pretty quickly. I liked seeing Thursday struggle with fictional character baddies, a husband that doesn’t exist, a hitwoman out to get her, Shakespeare clones, and more – and all while now being a mom. I like that being a mom doesn’t diminish Thursday’s awesomeness or adventures any – Friday is just one more thing she has to take care of in her hectic, weird life.

Once again, after finishing this book I had a weird dream – something about me being trapped with other people in a big store of some kind and black, shiny, hard-looking spiders and lizards that were WAY over-sized were crawling around trying to attack us, and none of my long-range weapons or machetes were around. It was weird, I didn’t sleep well that night.

Also, there were a few quotes I liked and wrote down, but I think this one (spoken by Hamlet himself who’s experiencing the real world for the first time) is my favorite:

“If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction – and ultimately, without a major resolution.”

Which sounds pretty true, but I agree with Thursday’s response – that maybe we like it that way. I have the 5th Thursday Next book (although from what I understand, it’s the start of a separate Thursday Next series or storyline…?) on it’s way to me from Paperbackswap, and this time I’m not going to let a whole year go by before I read it.

Sarah Says: 4 stars

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

 

Blackberry Winter tells the story of two women. Vera is a poor woman living in Seattle in 1933, and she kisses her 3-year old son before leaving for work one night. When she gets out the next morning, there’s a surprise May-time snowstorm and she rushes home, only to discover that her son Daniel is missing. Claire is a modern-day woman, a reporter at a Seattle newspaper. Her boss picks her to cover the freak springtime snowstorm happening outside, she learns about a little boy gone missing in a similar snowstorm 80 years ago. Vowing to find out what happened to that little boy, she discovers that her and Vera have an unexpected connection.

This was a quick, cozy story with a tragic note about it. The chapters alternate between Vera and Claire’s points of view, and each woman has a bit of a sad story to tell. While the mystery of the missing child was enough to keep me reading (well, and all the descriptions of warm coffee shops and pretty snowstorms), I never really connected to either Claire or Vera. It might because I’m not a parent and while the whole missing-child thing is really sad, it didn’t really break my heart. Also, Vera wasn’t really a likable character. She was sweet, but she was one of those frustrating characters who kind of martyr themselves and hence cause their own problems. Because of this, the story seemed a bit forced.

 I prefer Sarah Jio writing about romance and lost loves WAY more, such as in The Bungalow. If you’re going to try one of her novels, start there.

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

 

 

Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green

Simon R Green

I saw Something From the Nightside in the bookstore and kept thinking about trying it, but never got around to it. My friend Doni did decide to try it and has read a couple of them and seemed to be enjoying them, so I finally decided to give it a go. I got this one out of the library, but I went to the bookstore and bought my own copy AND the next one before I even finished reading it.

John Taylor has a special gift for finding things, something he was born with as a child of the Nightside. He left the Nightside 5 years ago and swore never to go back, and is struggling to make his way in the real world as a detective. When the rich and beautiful Joanna Barrett walks in and asks for his help to find her runaway daughter, he agrees… and then finds out that this case will lead him back to the place he’s been avoiding. The Nightside is a hidden inner city of London, where it’s always 3 AM, and creatures and humans come from all planes of existence to mingle, seek out perverse pleasures they can’t find anywhere else, and anything is possible. It’s terrifying and dangerous… and for John Taylor, it’s home.

This book was weird and crazy and SO MUCH fun. I liked the pulp fiction, P.I. feel of it, combined with fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi/horror. There are some truly scary monsters in the Nightside, including The Harrowing – faceless bodies in suits who feel no pain and always leave a gory trail behind them. And I like that there are SO many kinds of beings in the Nightside – humans, demons, aliens, gods, ghosts, damned souls, etc. John Taylor is a good main character – he’s noble and always tries to help someone in need, but he also knows how to get stuff done and not waste time looking back. And his “gift” is crazy powerful – but it also comes with questions, because he has no idea why he’s so powerful, or why people have been trying to kill him since he was a kid. This book set up a lot of back story to be explored about him later in the series, without it completely overpowering the plot. I’m looking forward to finding out more about him.

There were also two other really fun characters – Razor Eddie, who’s a bit heart-breakingly sad but awesome, and…

“… Suzie Shooter. Also known as Shotgun Suzie, also known as Oh God, it’s her, run! The only woman ever thrown out of the SAS for unacceptable brutality. Works as a bounty hunter, in and around the Nightside.”

I love Shotgun Suzie 🙂

Overall, this was fun to read. I read about half of it while I was at the gym, and I would end up walking on the treadmill longer than I meant to because I didn’t want to stop reading. The ending, the mystery of where the girl had gone, was NUTS. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

Normally, this review would have been a lot shorter and I would have said that it’s more fun to discover all this on your own, and you should just read it. But these things made the book so unique that hopefully it hooked your interest, and I’m fairly certain that if you give it a try you’ll end up enjoying it and wanting to read the rest. I’m going to start the second book (Agents of Light and Darkness) this weekend, but I don’t know if I’m going to review any more of the series except this first one. There are 11 more, and that’s a lot of reviews to write without trying to give away major spoilers. Maybe after I read them all I’ll do a mega-review of the whole series.

So anyways, READ IT! Something From the Nightside might end up on my “Favorites of 2012” list.

 

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

 

P.S. – For you Dr. Who fans, he makes a reference to the Tardis. So yay for that.

The Moonstone Readalong! The final section.

SPOILERS, FOR REAL PEOPLE. DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED THE DELIGHT THAT IS THE MOONSTONE.

 

Holy crap it’s over! AND IT WAS GODFREY THE WHOLE TIME!! And despite his constant shady ways, I never saw it coming. I suck.

Also, who’s so much better than I thought he would be? Ezra Jennings. Cause I totally thought he was gonna be all creepy and malicious, but Wilkie sure proved me wrong on that one and instead made him so awesome. And way nicer than most people would be, cause people were straight-up assholes towards him. Except for Rachel, she was sweet to him so she gained major points in her favor with that. Also, Franklin Blake is THE MOST BORINGEST NARRATOR EVER. Dude his chapters sucked. The last section of the book was totally saved by Ezra and the reappearance of Cuff & Betteredge. And that little Gooseberry kid.

Betteredge, I love you forever. “You shall be obeyed. The maggots notwithstanding, sir, you shall be obeyed.” Even if you were a total douche to Ezra, you were hilarious while doing so and I can forgive almost anything if it makes me laugh.

Soooo… am I supposed to have deep thoughts? I have none. I’m more like:

1. Betteredge is the man. So if Cuff. And Ezra.

2. I totally thought Lady V died in a weird way. I wish Wilkie had down more with that.

3. YAY Wilkie for not loving only white people, and for returning the Diamond to India in the end. Cause it would have been kind of jerky if Rachel & Franklin had recovered it and got to keep it.

4. I need to work “There’s a tract for that.” into more day-to-day conversations.

5. I need to write down ALL the hilarious Betteredge quotes down somewhere.

6. Holy crap still surprised it was Godfrey. That sly bastard.

7. W. C. loves his opium. For reals.

And I could probably go on for ages, except it would probably get boring. So my first experience with Wilkie = major giant thumbs up. Maybe this fall I’ll finally get to read The Woman in White and join in on all this Marian-lovin. Cause you guys seem to really dig her.

 

Love that way that the fur matches your giant beard, dude. Really minimizes your gigantic forehead.

It’s been fun guys! Can’t wait for the next one 🙂

~Sarah

The Moonstone Readalong! The third section.

 

So! The third installment of Alice’s awesome The Moonstone readalong. Sorry this is late guys, I kind of forgot to read it in time, lol. And then I was all busy and yeah, time escaped me. Well, I JUST finished reading this section and my only thoughts are “Wait… what?”

The person Rachel is protecting is Franklin, but he claims to not remember ever having even been in her room, let alone taking possession of the diamond?

Ok, so let’s back up. Miss Clack’s ridiculousness of a narrative ended, which was by turns exasperating and hilarious. I kind of thought that Godfrey was about to propose to her near the end of that, but nope. And Mr. Bruff’s narrative kind of shows us that Godfrey was a jerk and only after Rachel’s inheritance. Why do I not see these things coming? I mean I thought that he was kind of a weirdo and maybe a womanizer, but I think part of me wanted to like him because Betteredge liked him. Silly me.

Franklin’s dad dies (this is like a Disney movie with all the parental figures being absent or dropping dead) and it turns how he’s mega rich now. So he comes back to England and is all upset cause Rachel STILL won’t see him, so he goes to Betteredge & they FINALLY read Rosanna’s letter and find out that she hid HIS nightgown with the paint stain. WTF? (And I kind of liked Rosanna in her letter, in which she’s all “Psssshhhh, Rachel is not as hot as ya’ll think.”)  And then he figures it’s all a big misunderstanding so he makes Rachel see him and she says SHE SAW HIM TAKE THE DIAMOND WITH HER OWN EYES.

Except that if this were actually the case, then I highly doubt that Franklin would have started all these narratives by wanting everyone to write down their experiences related to these diamond shenanigans. But since Franklin is a guy, and short, and she says she saw his face… how could she possibly be wrong there?

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON. Although I still suspect that Rachel’s mother played a part in this somehow. And I miss Betteredge.

I’m off to read & comment on all the posts I missed yesterday. You guys are probably noticing things and guessing at stuff correctly.

~Sarah