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Chapter 2 Books Blog

By 7016508153 19 Aug, 2017
A well-written thriller. Some of the early parts of the novel seem to move rather slowly as we get a lot of the domestic lives of the characters. However, this really serves to establish the characters and set up the contrast to what happens to them later on. Some of the domestic stuff hit a little too close to home for me (Zoe is a single mom with adult children who live with her, as does her new boyfriend Simon) that it made me uncomfortable. The book is written in alternating chapters, with Zoe's in first person and present tense, while the other chapters center around policewoman/detective Kelly Swift, and those chapters are written in third person and past tense. Normally, those type of switches would bother me, as they tend to take me out of the story, but here, somehow, it worked (or at least didn't bother me too much). Swift's chapters are essentially a police procedural, while Zoe's are a more intimate look at the crime/mystery situation (all of this emphasized by the difference in viewpoint and tense). Set in London, the book has a strong British feel to it - Zoe and her family take the Tube to work; there's an intense level of surveillance (cameras everywhere); while arresting a suspect, the police use a variation of what we in the U.S. know as Miranda rights. The biggest mystery is who is the mastermind behind a criminal enterprise in the book that affects Zoe and her family. Approaching the end of the novel, there were 4 or 5 different characters who might have been the guilty party, and I didn't really have a clue as to who it was. And it turned out to be someone completely different, but in a way that made sense given what we'd seen and learned earlier. This is good writing.
By 7016508153 08 Aug, 2017
Picked this up (volume 1 in an ongoing series) awhile ago, but just got around to reading it this week. The painted artwork by Dustin Nguyen is beautiful. At first it seems a little "sketchy" for a hard sci-fi concept/story, but it fits very well. Lemire's story is set in the far future, when planet-sized mechanical beings called Harvesters appear and attack the planets of the United Galactic Council. Anti-robot sentiment spreads across the galaxy and most robots, whatever their design and function, are destroyed. The story begins years later when a young "boy robot" named Tim-21, a companion robot for a young boy, awakens to find his "family" gone and his world all but destroyed. Tim-21 seems to have some type of connection to the Harvesters, and the race is on to either protect or destroy him, to find out what that connection might be before the Harvesters return. I got more and more involved and intrigued by this story as it went on. There are a lot of interesting concepts here, and Lemire does a good job of creating and presenting this universe to the reader. As an example, Tim-21 has a strange dream involving many of the destroyed robots in some type of afterlife, apparently. But robots don't dream, right? A lot of questions go unanswered and plotlines are set up for further volumes (I believe three volumes have been released thus far). Definitely a series I'd like to read more of.
By 7016508153 02 Aug, 2017
Last night just before bedtime, I accidentally deleted some updates (mostly on Xcel spreadsheets) from my laptop. Basically, I lost about the last 10 days worth of information - sales info, bookkeeping, plus week-ending and month-ending info/stats. So I spent about three hours today re-entering info -- fortunately, with my POS system, my receipts (for supplies, postage, etc.), my bank's online accounts, and some notes I'd handwritten, I was able to figure out how to re-enter pretty much everything. I still have one major spreadsheet to go through, but I think my notes will help me out there. It just makes me realize how dependent we are on our computers, and how easy it is to lose stuff - especially if you make a simple, stupid mistake like I did. 
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
This is the follow-up to Riggs' first novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. A continuation of the first book in the series. In this one, the peculiar children (who, by this point, the reader should know and understand) are on the run from their former safe home (a time loop), and trying to rescue/save their beloved Miss Peregrine, who is trapped in her bird form. And that's the structure of the book, as the children go from one place to another, one adventure to the next, with not always a lot of continuity between them. Like the first book, the story here revolves around a bunch of old and odd photographs that depict characters and settings that the author incorporates into his story. Sometimes they make sense, but oftentimes I felt as though Riggs was just throwing something into the story to fit with the photos he'd chosen. It's like a creative writing exercise run amok. Occasionally, things are a bit too convenient. (The kids come across, and are kidnapped by, a group of gypsies, who just happen to understand peculiardom and end up helping.) Still, the story can be fun and adventurous, though it does seem a bit darker and more horrific than what I remember from the first novel. And like the first novel, it just kind of ends without any wrap up, leaving the reader in place for the next volume. I mostly liked it; there's just not much depth here.
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
Edward Bunker lived a life of crime from a young age through middle age. I reviewed his memoir, Education of a Felon, awhile back. He knows whereof he speaks in this novel of a trio of ex-cons back on the street getting back into the life. Most of the crime fiction I've read (admittedly a fairly small sampling) deals more with those trying to stop or solve the crimes. This book simply follows the criminals on a series of (let's call them) "capers." There's very little grey area here; this is a very dark, authentic look at those on the underside of society. Well-written (although the author's voice and opinions occasionally come through in the voice of his characters), grim, and violent, Bunker's novel never let me down. I particularly liked the ending **Spoiler Alert** where the surviving members of the trio are taken down through mistaken identity on a matter totally unrelated to their previous (rather serious) crimes. I know several of Bunker's books have been the basis of films; this would make a good one.
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
THE PAGE 45 PROJECT. When I first opened the store, several times I had someone ask me, “Have you read all the books in the store?” I haven’t heard that question in awhile; maybe because I have so many more books, maybe because people just aren’t being smart-alecks, I don’t know. Anyway, I haven’t read all the books, of course, but some time ago (I won’t say how long this has been going on), I started The Page 45 Project. Basically, it works like this: every now and then, I’ll pick up a book and read page 45. Since it’s me, I’ve been doing this in a pretty organized way. I started on the shelf along the back wall, though I started on the right hand side, with books by authors whose names began with D, and worked by way back. Yesterday, I finished all the books along the back wall. I’ll now move back to where I started and move forward through the alphabet. I’ve been kind of amazed at how much I can glean from reading just one full page of a book. Especially if there are multiple books by the same writer, I can gain a pretty good sense of that author’s style. Why page 45, you ask? There’s actually a reason behind that, but it’s another whole story…
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
Kang's book deals with the aftermath of a violent student uprising and massacre in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1980. The book is split into six sections (plus an epilogue by "the writer"), each told from the viewpoint of a different character. Some of these are in first person, some in third, and at least one is, distressingly, in second person - an unusual and tricky p.o.v. which seldom, if ever, works effectively. Since the book begins that way, it kind of turned me off to start with. In other sections, told in first person, the narrator/character is directly addressing someone (referred to as "professor," if memory serves), though this is never explained or followed up on. Although the writing for the most part is quite lovely (due at least in part to translator Deborah Smith), I really had trouble making connections between some of the sections - some are quite obvious, others less so. And I admit to getting a bit confused between characters as to who was who and how they related to one another. I've seen some very positive reviews of this novel, but I just couldn't connect with it.
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
I guess this novel would be characterized as a mystery or thriller. Except there's not much mystery - the killer is revealed, at least to the reader if not to the other characters, before the book's halfway over. So, a thriller, then? Except it wasn't very thrilling, either. The story revolves around Kate Priddy, a British woman who is recovering - or trying to - from a recent (?) trauma. She accepts an apartment swap with a second cousin in Boston. When she arrives, she discovers that her cousin's next door neighbor (now her next door neighbor) in his ritzy apartment building has been murdered. The reader is privy to what Kate finds out about the ongoing police investigation, as well as what several other characters know, as the point of view switches several times. Probably the biggest problem I had with this novel is the dialogue - almost none of which rings true. Characters who have just met reveal deep, dark secrets about themselves; the police detectives easily share elements of their investigation with whoever asks. I give this book 3 stars because there is an interesting story to be told here, it's just not told very well. I've had Swanson's previous novel, The Kind Worth Killing, on my want-to-read list for awhile; now I'm not so sure. Can anyone who's read both tell me if that one's better than this?
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
I recently watched the Netflix series Stranger Things. Beyond the sci-fi/fantasy aspects, one of the things I really liked about that series was that many of the main characters were these young adolescent boys who were geeks. The Impossible Fortress reminded me of that aspect of the show. Our narrator and main character, Billy Marvin, is a 14-year-old in 1987, the setting for the novel, and is a computer geek at a time when a home computer means a Commodore 64 and text-heavy video games. That may mean more to some readers than to me; I was 28 in 1987 and wasn't interested in computers or video games. However, Billy and his friends remind me of the character types were used to in films and stories celebrating the '80s. And I'm always a sucker for stories about teenage geeks (I've definitely been there). Billy and his friends hatch a plot to steal copies of Playboy (the one with naked pictures of Vanna White) from a local store and things go awry from there. This was a quick, easy read that was a lot of fun, even if the computer coding and video gaming were things I wasn't ever into. The setting wasn't always clear to me - a small town (?) in New Jersey, just five miles west of Staten Island. The downtown is a two-block stretch of mom-and-pop business, with a Chinese restaurant, a movie theater without enough letters on its marquee, and a typewriter repair/office supply store that play a major role in the plot. But at one point we're told that there's heavy traffic through the area, which didn't strike me as logical given the small town description; the local cop walks a regular beat downtown, for example. I'm sure that this exists in suburban Jersey, but as a Midwesterner, I just couldn't get a good sense of that. There were a couple of stand-out scenes for me, though. In one, Billy is being questioned by a couple of cops about the break-in, and he thinks they're on his side, being friendly, and if he just tells them the truth, everything will turn out all right. His naivety is striking. In another, Billy's at the movies with a girl and he reaches over to hold her hand. She accepts that, and he realizes that his arm is at a weird angle and very uncomfortable, but he doesn't dare move it because he's holding her hand. A great description. Overall, I'd rate this at 4 1/2 stars.
By karen.jones 14 Jul, 2017
Here's my experience dealing with a huge corporation this morning. Call #1: When I punched in the four-digit extension of the person I wanted to talk to, a recorded message told me that number was "unavailable" and asked me to enter the four digit extension of who I wanted to talk to. Couldn't back out of that one without hanging up. Call #2: Connected with someone in the sales dept. who couldn't transfer me to customer service, but gave me a different 800-number to call. Call #3: to customer service. They couldn't find any information on my account (or for our entire zip code), and finally realized that I had called customer service for the wrong division of the company, despite calling the number I'd just been given. Call #4: Called back and asked by name for the person I wanted to talk to. The person who answered the phone (receptionist?) didn't know how to transfer a call; I heard her in the background asking someone else how to do it. I was transferred to another person who had the same first name as the person I wanted to talk but was NOT the person I wanted. Finally I was told that that person was in a meeting, but my information was taken down and I was told I would be called back. That hasn't happened yet; it's been five hours. Did I mention that this was a COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY?? Just another reason to shop local
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Chapter 2 Books Blog

By 7016508153 19 Aug, 2017
A well-written thriller. Some of the early parts of the novel seem to move rather slowly as we get a lot of the domestic lives of the characters. However, this really serves to establish the characters and set up the contrast to what happens to them later on. Some of the domestic stuff hit a little too close to home for me (Zoe is a single mom with adult children who live with her, as does her new boyfriend Simon) that it made me uncomfortable. The book is written in alternating chapters, with Zoe's in first person and present tense, while the other chapters center around policewoman/detective Kelly Swift, and those chapters are written in third person and past tense. Normally, those type of switches would bother me, as they tend to take me out of the story, but here, somehow, it worked (or at least didn't bother me too much). Swift's chapters are essentially a police procedural, while Zoe's are a more intimate look at the crime/mystery situation (all of this emphasized by the difference in viewpoint and tense). Set in London, the book has a strong British feel to it - Zoe and her family take the Tube to work; there's an intense level of surveillance (cameras everywhere); while arresting a suspect, the police use a variation of what we in the U.S. know as Miranda rights. The biggest mystery is who is the mastermind behind a criminal enterprise in the book that affects Zoe and her family. Approaching the end of the novel, there were 4 or 5 different characters who might have been the guilty party, and I didn't really have a clue as to who it was. And it turned out to be someone completely different, but in a way that made sense given what we'd seen and learned earlier. This is good writing.
By 7016508153 08 Aug, 2017
Picked this up (volume 1 in an ongoing series) awhile ago, but just got around to reading it this week. The painted artwork by Dustin Nguyen is beautiful. At first it seems a little "sketchy" for a hard sci-fi concept/story, but it fits very well. Lemire's story is set in the far future, when planet-sized mechanical beings called Harvesters appear and attack the planets of the United Galactic Council. Anti-robot sentiment spreads across the galaxy and most robots, whatever their design and function, are destroyed. The story begins years later when a young "boy robot" named Tim-21, a companion robot for a young boy, awakens to find his "family" gone and his world all but destroyed. Tim-21 seems to have some type of connection to the Harvesters, and the race is on to either protect or destroy him, to find out what that connection might be before the Harvesters return. I got more and more involved and intrigued by this story as it went on. There are a lot of interesting concepts here, and Lemire does a good job of creating and presenting this universe to the reader. As an example, Tim-21 has a strange dream involving many of the destroyed robots in some type of afterlife, apparently. But robots don't dream, right? A lot of questions go unanswered and plotlines are set up for further volumes (I believe three volumes have been released thus far). Definitely a series I'd like to read more of.
By 7016508153 02 Aug, 2017
Last night just before bedtime, I accidentally deleted some updates (mostly on Xcel spreadsheets) from my laptop. Basically, I lost about the last 10 days worth of information - sales info, bookkeeping, plus week-ending and month-ending info/stats. So I spent about three hours today re-entering info -- fortunately, with my POS system, my receipts (for supplies, postage, etc.), my bank's online accounts, and some notes I'd handwritten, I was able to figure out how to re-enter pretty much everything. I still have one major spreadsheet to go through, but I think my notes will help me out there. It just makes me realize how dependent we are on our computers, and how easy it is to lose stuff - especially if you make a simple, stupid mistake like I did. 
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