Review – The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver.

18453226I don’t read many series, but the Lincoln Rhyme novels by Jeffery Deaver, is one series that I do enjoy. In Deaver’s latest novel featuring ex-NYPD Captain Lincoln Rhyme, we are introduced to a killer that abducts his victims and takes them to tunnels or underground rooms where he precedes to tattoo a message onto their skin. However, the tattoo machine is not just filled with ink, but indeed a fatal and extremely painful poison.

Sounds like a real gent, doesn’t he?

As I’ve been reading this series since the very first book, The Bone Collector: The First Lincoln Rhyme Novel , There were no real surprises in terms of content, characterization, or the style of writing. Deaver delivers many twists and turns, even if admittedly, some of them do appear very far-fetched. That’s why we read our “cozy books” though; we don’t have to think too much, we can totally escape in the comfort that some of these events are far too grandiose to ever occur in our lives, and we know that our “hero” will always save the day.

If you’re a fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series, then you can’t miss this latest installment. If you’ve never read any books of the series, then why not start with The Bone Collector, and see if it would be something to invest in? You have nothing to lose!

Ok friends, stay warm and safe!

Pegasus.

The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme)

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Review – A Good School by Richard Yates.

48340It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book. As most of you may know, I’ve set myself a “challenge” of reading the Century Trilogy back to back. Well, I think that may have been a mistake. I am currently on the second book, and whilst I do really like it, I find myself only being able to read small chunks at a time. Now, this may have more to do with me starting substitute teaching and being exhausted every day, but I also believe there may be a psychological aspect due to the “challenge” aspect that I set myself. I decided to try and remedy this by reading something completely different.
To make my lunch breaks in the day a little more interesting, I took a short (about 250 pages) book to read. This book is by one of my favourite authors, so I knew I’d enjoy it. Richard Yates’ ‘A Good School’ is often described as the 70’s version of The Catcher in the Rye. I tend to disagree with this statement; Catcher in the Rye focuses on teenage rebellion in a society that is blatantly against the main character. A Good School focuses more on a society that is providing everything for the main characters, at least on a surface level.
The plot revolves around a group of adolescent school boys in a private prep school somewhere in Connecticut (most of Yates’ novels are set here and it is funny as I live here also, I can both what he is saying, and the complete opposite end of the spectrum!) that endeavors to churn out the best of the best in terms of future success stories. However, the plot spends an equal amount of time looking at the lives of the teaching faculty of the school – for they too are both entrenched and disenfranchised by the idea of this “good school”.
What I love about Yates is that he isn’t afraid of showing a broad emotional spectrum; pride, greed, vulnerability, anger, passion, and many other emotional states are portrayed in this short novel. With Yates, it may seem that he is all about doom and gloom, but really, he is about realism. These things happen every day, these emotions get felt every day, these consequences happen every day. There is no writing for the sake of shock value with Yates – everything is genuine and realistic.
Yates wrote this book in the 1970’s, but set it in the early 1940’s. This ability to set a story in a time in which it applies perfectly, and yet have it also apply to the time in which it is published, is ingenious. For a short novel, it really does pack quite the punch. If you find yourself wanting a short read, but also a read with substance, I really cannot recommend this enough.
~ Pegasus.
A Good School: A Novel

Review/Musing – Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

Today’s review is on a book that you’ve all by now heard about. In fact, one of my colleagues already reviewed the book for the blog, but here at Random Book Muses, we don’t follow a strict set of rules, and if we want to review/talk about something, we can – even if it has been reviewed already on the blog.
I won’t re-hash the plot too much as you all know the basic premise. What we basically have is a role reversal of kind. This is actually what initially drew me to the book (as well as Thalia’s recommendation). With this role reversal, we are presented with a moral conundrum – can we ever forget the past? Should we? Is an eye for an eye the best way to solve things? I personally don’t believe in the whole mantra of ‘an eye for an eye’, but I do love a good sociological experiment where traditional roles are switched.
Smith does present an interesting sociological scenario in his novel, and his characters and their reasoning behind their behavior is almost credible. However, it is the very fact that Smith’s characters have these such strong convictions that actually lead me to an almost disappointment or emptiness once I finished the book. Let me explain:

The following paragraph(s) WILL contain MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!

So, the group talks about “Black Rage” and claim that they must inflict as much pain on their white slaves in order to relieve some of that pent up rage, however, no one actually dies. Not even Alice, who was allowed to live even after Carver wanted to hurt Martin. We are given horrid descriptions of what slaves were made to endure at the hands of their white captors, and yet, whilst horrible, the punishments and treatment of the contemporary slaves seemed quite mild in comparison. I just think that if I had that “rage” inside me for my whole live and that it influenced all my decisions and motives, that I’d want to try and inflict that pain on others. I’m not into the torture stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but really, if you have your characters feeling such intense feelings, maybe you should have that reflect in their actions.
The happy ever after ending really didn’t sit right with me either. I mean really, a lawyer manages to coordinate the DA’ s office, who then coordinates with the FBI, who then calls two police officers on their phones to tell them to protect a witness? All within an hour? OK… The fact that everyone came out of it alive and well, without any repercussions, didn’t really resonate with me as we all know that many African slaves and indeed free African-Americans did not get this happy ending.
Although I had some issues with this book, all in all, it was a good read, and it was interesting to witness this sociological reversal. I would have no trouble recommending this to anyone, but would warn them to take it with a pinch of salt. It was a fun read, and I’m glad that I got a chance to experience this book. Thanks, Thalia!

Until next week (next week being the 28th, as I am going to back to the Motherland for a few weeks)
~ Pegasus.

Review – The Hit by David Baldacci.

15791154Hi guys and girls! I’ve been AWOL for a while due to an online course that I was taking, but I have now finished it, so normal business shall resume! So, after my exhausting 2 months, I wanted to read something that did not require too much thinking or attention.
This meant fluff. Fluff for me is political thriller type book. So, who better to read than David Baldacci? I decided to read ‘The Hit’ as it was one that I haven’t read, and the premise sounded interesting. ‘The Hit’ follows Jessica Reel, an apparent rouge sharp shooter/CIA superhero/Black Op agent who goes on a killing spree of some of the highest players in Washington. Tasked to stop Jessica, is Will Robie, an equally ruthless and competent killer.
As with most other books by Baldacci, The Hit doesn’t miss a beat in terms of pace (as should all good political thrillers). The characters are believable in terms of their emotions, actions and interactions and the dialogue isn’t too convoluted or trite. You know, there really isn’t that much more to say. You know with Baldacci that you are going to get an exciting, easy and reliable read, and he doesn’t disappoint here. I believe this may be part of a new series as it is technically the second book featuring Will Robie. You can start with the first one – The Innocent (Will Robie Series) but I think these are good as stand- alone books.
Until next time,

Pegasus.
The Hit (Will Robie)

Review – Shatter, by Michael Robotham.

2314605This week’s read was from an author that a friend of mine recommended. Shatter explores what happens when a seemingly deranged person sets out to torture his victims, not through physical pain, but through the power of suggestion. Through this power of suggestion, he gets his victims to commit suicide. Along with the investigating officers, Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin, sets out to try and catch the “killer”.
Now, I’ve read hundreds of these procedural cop-looks-for-killer type books before, so I wasn’t expecting anything too original. However, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised! To begin with, the characters were fleshed out a lot more than they usually are in thrillers; O’loughlin is academically very smart, but he severely lacks in the street savvy department. He also has Parkinsons Disease which makes his self doubt and paranoia, ever more present. The secondary characters are also quite well written and you actually believe that they exist and have a purpose.
The tone in the writing is quick and sharp, like any good thriller should be, however, you also get a sense of it being slow and that actually matches up to the agonizingly slow hunt for the killer and indeed, his slow method of killing. My only complaint, and a small complaint at that, would be that in some places the dialogue seemed a little… umm… stretched? I don’t know. Some of it didn’t flow very well for me, but that’s a personal thing I suppose.
This read was a welcome relief for me due to my last book being a load of rubbish that I couldn’t even muster up a review for. If you want a quick, intelligent, thriller that will surprise you, then I definitely recommend giving Shatter a try.

Have a wonderful Independence Day *Plots to get my country back…* (-:

Pegasus.

Shatter (Joseph O’Loughlin)

Review, Discussion, GIVEAWAY: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

20140601-190211-68531752.jpg Want to win a copy of this book? Comment on this post on Facebook or twitter or on this blog (below). We will randomly choose a winner and mail you off a copy of this compelling read!

[The giveaway timeframe has ended. Thanks for the great comments!]

Calliope: This book definitely intrigued me. My eyes were gaping wide at every turn. I was astounded by everyone and everything. Would a doctor really DO that? Do doctors really THINK like that? Do wives actually turn such a blind eye to their husbands’ criminal behaviors? Is the human body truly so disgusting?
Pegasus: Whilst the rather extreme views that some characters possessed did interest me, I did feel as though some were completely unrealistic. I would give some examples, but wouldn’t want to spoil anything.

Calliope: I kinda couldn’t get over how graphic Marc was about the human body. Yes he’s a doctor, and I understand he would see things objectively, but he seemed so negative about it. The people I know in the healthcare field have an APPRECIATION for the human body, not contempt. So WHY? Why was he a doctor and why was he so grossed out by stuff?

Pegasus: I’m not easily grossed out by descriptions. Not at all. However, I felt physically sick with some of his musings regarding the human body. I kind of understand why the author chose to portray Marc like this, and to be fair it was very effective if it made me react in such a way.

Calliope: Not only was Marc a little odd, I couldn’t for the life of me understand the family dynamics. Any father I know would choke the life out of any grown man who laid a hand on his daughter. This guy was like Oh hey, it will be fine, let it be, let it be. And the mother went along with it! Maybe this happens when people are traumatized? I don’t know. It made me mad.
Pegasus: that whole scenario made me so mad! Unrealistic, and frustrating!

Calliope: The writing was great and the characters were interesting, but I thought the plot would be more thrilling. Instead it seemed to plod along, with complaints about bodies, complaints about other people, narration of the comings and goings of the children, and the acquiescence of the wives. The best I could come up with is that it’s not supposed to be exciting, rather maybe just social commentary? If so, everything makes a whole lot more sense! I was getting a little annoyed at how disrespectful everyone was. But then again, I’m used to reading Happily Ever After Chick Lit Romantic Comedies that make me laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry happy tears. 🙂

Pegasus: I really have mixed feelings. On one hand, yes, I did think the writing was at least original, but on the other hand, I felt it did not flow properly. Maybe I just wasn’t In the right mood? Who knows. Calliope is right insofar as saying that this is social commentary. Society isn’t perfect I suppose, and there will always be factions of it with wich we don’t agree.

Calliope: By the end of the book I realized Summer House With Swimming Pool is more literary fiction. For one thing, the whole eye infection scene begged to be torn apart and analyzed. The enormity of that eye infection, the perspective of the doctor, the healing of the eye…. But I won’t analyze it here and ruin it for everyone else. For another thing, the tension between Ralph and Marc wasn’t anything I’ve seen in real life. It seemed like a metaphor. Ralph and Marc each represented something much more than themselves. And the treatment of women in Summer House With Swimming Pool was so egregious that, were I still an undergrad, I could write my senior thesis based on it. As a woman, I wanted to shake these guys out of their stupid stupors. *eyeroll* I’m getting fired up thinking about it.

Pegasus: This book was definitely more than what it portrays on the surface. A part of me felt like that it was trying to be too clever in some parts, and, in my opinion, that added to the feeling of it being disjointed. Also, because we’re not reading it in the original Dutch, translation may have been a contributing factor.

Calliope: In any case, this book spilled open some topics that are probably uncomfortable for most people to deal with: the human body, cancer, sexual immorality, the power of patriarchy… Heavy stuff told in a way that turned my stomach, made me question people’s motives, and made me wish that our world was nicer than it is.
Pegasus: I’m glad that I read this book, and it did definitely have it’s merits. Not too sure if I’ll be reading Koch’s next book, but we’ll see. However, opinions are like… Well, you know the phrase, so give this a read and hopefully you will enjoy it!

Remember, comment below for a chance to win a copy of Summer House With Swimming Pool!

-Pegasus and Calliope

buy SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL

Review – The Expats by Chris Pavone.

12617758Can you hear that? Well, that’s a sigh of relief that I am able to write a positive review this week, considering that last week’s book left a lot be desired!
This week we have a book called The Expats by Chris Pavone. Set predominantly in Luxembourg and Paris, The Expats follows a family that move to Luxembourg for a career opportunity, and the trouble that soon begins. Kate and Dexter Moore seem to be your average couple caught up in DC’s rat-race, however, Kate is ex CIA with a lot of history. When they get to Luxembourg and begin to mingle with the expat community, Kate soon becomes suspicious of another American couple, and begins to investigate. What follows, will take Kate and Dexter on an exciting, and at times perilous, journey throughout Europe. Is this new couple dangerous? Are things all that they seem?
Ok, granted, the premise may sound a little familiar within the countless other novels in the espionage thriller genre, but what gives this the edge is the real experience behind the writing. Chris Pavone has himself been an expat in Europe, and this really shows in the writing. Being an expat myself, I could definitely relate to these characters, their sense of apprehension and that feeling of not being grounded.
The pace and tone of this novel was perfect for the genre – not too slow, and not too fast – an intelligent thriller. Thrillers are my go-to for an easy fluff read and this hit the mark. Saying that however, this novel also crossed genre boundaries by examining how people cope in a relationship where secrets rife. In an unknown country, with friends who you can’t necessarily trust, or even a spouse, how do you cope? What runs through your mind? What influences your actions? Well, Pavone attempts to give these questions some answers in the midst of creating an exciting espionage thriller.
If you are looking for a fairly quick, but thrill seeking read, then definitely give this one a go, especially with it being only $1.99 at the moment!

‘Till next time my lovely readers,

Pegasus

The Expats: A Novel