Friday, 30 November 2012

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Author: Jeff Lindsay

Number of pages: 275

Started: 26 November 2012

Finished: 30 November 2012

Opening words:

Moon.  Glorious moon. Full, fat, reddish moon, the night as light as day, the moonlight flooding down across the land and bringing joy, joy, joy. Bringing too the full-throated call of the tropical night, the soft and wild voice of the wind roaring through the hairs on your arm, the hollow wail of starlight, the teeth-grinding bellow of the moonlight off the water.

All calling to the Need. Oh, the symphonic shriek of the thousand hiding voices, the cry of the Need inside, the entity, the silent watcher, the cold quiet thing, the one that laughs, the Moondancer. The me that was not-me, the thing that mocked and laughed and came calling with its hunger. With the Need. And the Need was very strong now, very careful cold coiled creeping crackly cocked and ready, very strong, very much ready now—and still it waited and watched, and it made me wait and watch.

Plot summary:

Dexter Morgan isn't exactly the kind of man you'd bring home to your mum. At heart, he's the perfect gentleman: he has a shy girlfriend, and seems to lead a quiet, normal life bordering on the mundane. Despite the fact that he can't stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police.

But Dexter also has a secret hobby: he is an accomplished serial killer. So far, he's killed 36 people and has never been caught because he knows exactly how to hide the evidence. And while that may lead some people to assume he's not such a nice guy, he tempers his insatiable hunger for brutality by only killing the bad guys.

However, Dexter's well-organised life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Intrigued that the other killer favours a style similar to his own, Dexter soon realises that the mysterious new arrival is not simply invading his turf but offering him a direct invitation to 'come out and play'...

What I thought:

I am still undecided what I thought of this novel.  It is the tale of a serial killer, who uses an “ethical system” to identify his victims.  I found the book somewhat sinister, which is perhaps unsurprising given the subject matter, but there was a part of me that often wondered whether I really wanted to be inside the mind of a serial killer.  I didn’t find it a very pleasant place to be. 

This was actually a fairly light and easy-going read, despite what I had just said.  But I felt that it came from a place that I did not find entirely comfortable.  By the end I found that I liked the book more, but I am yet to decide whether I will read another in the series.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Silver Linings Play Book

Title: The Silver Linings Play Book

Author: Matthew Quick

Number of pages: 289

Started: 20 November 2012

Finished: 25 November 2012

Opening words:

I don’t have to look up to know Mom is making another surprise visit. Her toenails are always pink during the summer months, and I recognize the flower design imprinted on her leather sandals; it’s what Mom purchased the last time she signed me out of the bad place and took me to the mall.

Once again, Mother has found me in my bathrobe, exercising unattended in the courtyard, and I smile because I know she will yell at Dr. Timbers, asking him why I need to be locked up if I’m only going to be left alone all day.

“Just how many push-ups are you going to do, Pat?” Mom says when I start a second set of one hundred without speaking to her.

Plot summary:

During the years he spends in a neural health facility, Pat Peoples formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God, his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends are saddled with families; the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing, making his father moody; and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy.

When Pat meets the tragically widowed and clinically depressed Tiffany, she offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife, if only he will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their “contract.” All the while, Pat keeps searching for his silver lining.

What I thought:

I liked the idea behind this book – someone who always believed that things would work out with the happy ending, like in a film.  Pat Peoples, the person in question, is resident in a mental health facility, his relationship having ended with his wife.  On the whole, the book worked well and I thought it gave an interesting perspective on mental health (not that the book is a heavy read or meant to be particularly educational).  As a book, it was a decent read.  I felt it could have done with something more to make it a better read, but it was very readable nonetheless.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Confederacy of Dunces

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces

Author: John Kennedy Toole

Number of pages: 352

Started: 13 November 2012

Finished: 19 November 2012

Opening words:

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one's soul.  

Plot summary:

A monument to sloth, rant and contempt, a behemoth of fat, flatulence and furious suspicion of anything modern - this is Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, noble crusader against a world of dunces. The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged. Ignatius ignores them, heaving his vast bulk through the city's fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ignorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him: Ignatius must get a job. Undaunted, he uses his new-found employment to further his mission - and now he has a pirate costume and a hot-dog cart to do it with...

What I thought:

Hmm, what to say about this book?  It had some good parts to it.  It had some funny moments.  But overall, it was hard work and rather a chore to read.  This book came with high praise, but I didn’t feel it lived up to it.  It was just rather hard-going in places and was not the novel I hoped it would be.  Not for me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Two For The Dough

Title: Two For The Dough

Author: Janet Evanovich

Number of pages: 336

Started: 7 November 2012

Finished: 13 November 2012

Opening words:

I knew Ranger was beside me because I could see his earring gleaming in the moonlight. Everything else about him - his T-shirt, his flack vest, his slicked-back hair and 9mm Glock - was as black as the night.  

Plot summary:

Kenny Mancuso shot his childhood buddy Moogey Bues and then jumped bail. Now bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is on the case to track Kenny down.

Then someone finished Moogey off, Kenny can't be found, twenty-four coffins are missing, and there's some ex-army heavy artillery roaming the streets. And Joe Morelli - the cop with more than a professional interest in her every move - is tailing Stephanie.

With a healthy disregard for the law, and an unhealthy dependence on marshmallow hot chocolate, Stephanie's a match for anyone - even Morelli. That is, until her eccentric grandmother goes AWOL and little pieces of corpses start to disappear . . .

What I thought:

This is the second book in the (very extensive) Stephanie Plum series.  It was very readable and had some very funny moments in it.  It wasn’t quite as good as the first book but the Stephanie’s grandma is clearly developing into a character who will make these books an enjoyable light read (although with some slightly harder edged moments).  A good commuter read.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Great Unexpected

Title: The Great Unexpected

Author: Sharon Creech

Number of pages: 224

Started: 3 November 2012

Finished: 7 November 2012

Opening words:

My name is Naomi Deane and I grew up in Blackbird Tree, in the home of my guardians, Joe and Nula.  Among the tales that Joe often told was that of a poor man,  who, while gambling, lost his house but won a donkey.

Plot summary:

In the little town of Blackbird Tree a series of curious events unfold when Naomi and Lizzie, two spirited orphan girls, meet the strangely charming new boy, Finn. Three locked trunks, the mysterious Dingle Dangle man, a pair of rooks, a crooked bridge, and that boy change their lives for ever. As the story alternates between their small town and across-the-ocean Ireland, two worlds are woven together, revealing that hearts can be mended and that there is indeed a gossamer thread that connects us all.

What I thought:

The first thing to mention is that this is a children’s book.  That said, there is many a readable children’s book.  However, I was not really a fan of this book. I didn’t find the story that compelling. It lacked a strong purpose to pull it together, such as some sort of “life lesson”, but this book seemed to somehow hold it all together – although there was perhaps something about connectedness.  It just lacked something to make it a really enjoyable book.