Monday, February 17, 2014

The Red Queen Dies


This book was recommended by my local library and it sounded interesting with the "Alice in Wonderland" inspired crime. It is essentially a detective novel that takes place in 2019 where the occurring theme of "Big Brother" is watching runs amuck. Bailey has created a very strong female leading detective that is working very hard to catch a serial killer that may have ties to the last victim, a Broadway star know as "the Red Queen".

Even with all of the intrigue, this book took me several days to really get into it. Especially since it started off with a press conference, which was informative, but dull. I didn't have any immediate excitement about reading the book and was concerned that it would not be eventful. However, I will say that Bailey has done a very good job a weaving a relatively okay crime tale that has some good twists and turns that the average reader may not catch on to right away. Her main characters were fairly fleshed out and they seemed like they could be real people, which for me is one of the things I need to become invested in the plot.

Outside of this though, there were several things that got in the way and made it a slower read for me. First off, there was the abbreviation "ORB", which I am not entirely sure what it stands for. It seems like it is a smart tablet/phone-like device that people are able to order/pay for items at coffee shops along with answering calls or viewing e-mail. It was not fully explained, so I envisioned it as a smarter version of the most recent smart phone...confused? In the "Author's Notes" section of the book, Bailey suggests going to her website for further explanations for the technology, history, etc. Although that was very nice of her to offer, I would much rather have been shown this in the novel then going the distance to research it. Kind of takes the fun out of reading the book and being transported somewhere new.

There were also too many twists to the storyline that made it seem a little ridiculous at the end with respect to tying it in to "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wizard of Oz". I wish perhaps some of that would have been cut out and a little more focus could have been given to the crimes at hand. The idea was sound, but just not well executed which made the overall readability of the book suffer.

Bailey also had a few side stories added in and I am not certain what purpose they were meant to serve. The first had to do with another case that a few detectives were working, but it didn't really tie in to the serial case that was the main story and seemed a little erroneous. Then there were several scenes in which one character was meeting with another or speaking with another on their ORB, but the identity of the other individual was never revealed. If these scenes had had an impact with respect to the story, I would have understood why they were there. But they felt like they were added in only to show that this book would be part of a series and there were still much more to come with regards to the characters in the plot.

The other thing that bothered me was the fact the book had many editing issues. It has become a pet-peeve of mine now that authors do not seem to be proof reading their manuscripts or investing in a good copy editor. There were dialogue sequences that were missing quotations. Many areas had grammatical errors that should have been caught. I was a little disappointed in that.

Overall, the book was okay. It started out slow, but in the end it made for a good story. If you can overlook some of the editing issues and wade through the extra information that was not needed, you would enjoy this book because it does have a good crime story underneath all of that. However, if you are unable to do any of that and need a story that builds from that first sentence on, then you may want to skip this one.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I borrowed this book from my local library; I was not asked to do a review of this book.

The image was taken from Good Reads.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Rosie Project


I am part of a reading challenge on Good Reads and this was the book that was chosen for February. This is not the genre I typically choose to read, so I was apprehensive if I would even enjoy this book let alone be able to finish it. However, I did like this book and finished it within 2 days time.

What was interesting about this book was exploring Asperger's Autism, which is something that I know very little about. It was a great deal of fun to take someone who does not understand emotions like love and place them into a situation where love or falling in love was the end result. The need for precise scheduling seemed to surprise me too, especially with the need to calculate every minute of time done to how long it should take to shop for something as simple as a scarf.

The other thing that I enjoyed was Don's need to create "projects" to accomplish goals. At first it was to find a suitable wife, so he initiated "The Wife Project". Then the goal of helping Rosie find the identity of her father, so "The Father Projected" was created. Lastly, there was "The Rosie Project", which was the main plot of the book. Since I have some science background, I felt that Simsion did a great job at showing this logical part of the scientific brain and how it relates to every day life.

I know that others felt that Simsion made his main character Don a little like Sheldon from the "Big Bang Theory", but even with the similarities there were enough differences that made Don incredibly unique. His inability to meet someone without calculating their BMI was truly humorous to me. I enjoyed the situations that he found himself in with respect to "normal" social decorum like the dispute with a student on evolution that involved a flounder well past its eat by date.

For me, there weren't too many things that I did not like about the book. It had a good flow to it and was a very easy, light read. The fact that it is only told through Don's eyes is why the book was successful for me. If there had been more with respect to the thoughts and feelings of Gene, Claudia, and Rosie I don't think the underlying meaning behind writing the book would have been as strong. However, I really wanted more from the Gene and Claudia storyline. I suppose more for my own curiosity than anything else. There was an unexpressed feeling that Claudia was not as excited about the open marriage the same way that Gene made it sound. Especially after the scene where she put chili peppers in his sandwich without telling him!

Overall, this book was enjoyable and quite different from what I would typically read. If you like romantic comedies then I think that you would enjoy this book. However, if you are not into that type of thing and would not be able to get past the similarities between Sheldon and Don, then you probably should skip this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I borrowed this book from my local library; I was not asked to do a review of this book.

The image was taken from Good Reads.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

Because I love a good caper and have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes for quite some time, I could not resist reading this novel. It is the first Sherlock Holmes book allowed to be written by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate in about 125 years! Even with all the expectation that this novel would indeed disappoint to live up to Doyle's beloved character, I had to give it a try and pleasantly, I found myself unable to put it down.

Horowitz does an incredible job of capturing Holmes the way that Doyle had created him to be. I love how everything is there; the violin, the exasperation that Watson feels over the course of the investigation, and the subtle clues that reveal the killer in a way that only Holmes is privy to. It was if Horowitz had created Sherlock Holmes himself for you can feel the love that he has for this timeless character.

But beyond this, the language of the novel was exactly the way that Doyle would have written. It was as if it had been published 125 years ago with that classic literature feel. Gregarious and dripping with description that I so desperately want in the newer fiction that I have been reading these days. The plot was weaved so that the killer was not completely obvious, but you had your suspicions that could encompass several of the characters being followed by Holmes. Even I was surprised with some of the revelations of what crimes were committed by whom and why. (And that is saying something!).

There isn't much that I would have changed about this novel except a few revision/editing issues that I had. Some of the dialect seemed off and there were a few words used multiple times toward the first half that wore out there use after the second time written. However, these did not deter from the story overall and I found it no less enjoyable to read.

If you are an individual that is expecting this character to be one that mirrors the likes of Robert Downey Jr, then do not pick up this book. Sherlock Holmes in this novel is exactly the same as the one Doyle had written long ago. If you are able to disassociate yourself from the new age romantic view of Holmes then you will enjoy this book. However, if you are not able to detach yourself from the 21st century version of the most famous detective in literature, then you will probably not enjoy this book, but it would be a shame not to read it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I borrowed this book from a local library; I was not asked to do a review of this book.

The image was taken from Good Reads.