Thursday, September 29, 2011

BOOK: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, 221 pages

RIP IV; Graphic Novel Challenge

Anya is a Russian immigrant trying in vain to just be a normal American teen. When she acquires a ghost after falling in a well, she feels that things are going to turn around. However, not all things are quite who they seem to be. Not the cute boy she crushes, not the nerdy other Russian immigrant, and not even the ghost.
I really liked the drawings and Anya's regular teenage angst, compounded by her differentness. Anya's Ghost is an example of how graphic novels work well -  the combination of story and images together make the great read.

The Adventuress by Audrey Niffeneggar,

Gothic Reading Challenge; RIP IV

Hmm. As a little story, it feels like a fairy tale - there is kidnapping, betrayal, castles, true love, a nunnery, and redemption. The artwork is definitely unique, and dramatic. The note explaining the art at the back gave me an appreciation for it. Niffeneggar made the art in the 1980s when she was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. So it's not a graphic novel, it's an illustrated novel like you'd get for a child, but it is for adults. Perhaps there should be more book like this written for adults, but this one flew over my head. Waaay over my head. Perhaps if I'd read Kafka, I would have understood why she turned into a moth. Or never wore a top. Oh well, it only took about 10 minutes to read, so it's practically gone from my head already.

Monday, September 12, 2011

BOOK: Trackers by Deon Meyer

Trackers by Deon Meyer, 478 pages

RIP 6; Global Reading Challenge; 2nds Author

I was blown away by Deon Meyer's Thirteen Hours last year, and I was not let down with his latest release. Trackers involves several different trackers in South Africa, and is almost three overlapping stories in one giant thriller.

One story is Milla Strachan, recently separated from a terrible husband, discovering herself in a new job, as a writer for the intelligence gathering division of the South African government. A second story is bodyguard Lemmer accompanying the smuggling of two rhinos from Zimbabwe into South Africa. The third story is recently retired cop Mat Joubert working on a missing husband for a private investigative firm. Through it all, the organized crime network in South Africa play havoc with their fingers in everything.

Each story was exciting and thrilling in its own right, but the subtle way they overlapped, providing the reader with a bit of information that the characters don't have was very well done. Watching the intelligence gatherers compile information and make conclusions did not inspire much confidence in me, but they did manage to get the job done, mostly through dumb luck. Although it wasn't meant to be, I found that section quite humourous, knowing what I did from the previous section. I haven't read about Mat Joubert before, but librarything tells me he is the main character in several other books, and my cop buddy from Thirteen Hours, Bennie Griessel, makes a small cameo. Joubert and Lemmer are tough, strong characters, those outlaw type guys who operate mostly within the law, the kind that are fun to read about.

Without wasting a lot of words on description, the plot flies along. Yet Meyer manages to set the South African location as if you were there, and the characters come to life with depth and backstory. Mention must be made as well to the translator from Afrikaans, KL Seegers, for the wonderful job.

Now that I am up to date on some of my other favorite mystery series (Inspector Montalbano, Inspector Erlunder, Inspector Gamauche) it's time to read more Deon Meyer. Bennie and Mat each have a few books they've been in already - Dead at Daybreak, Devil's Peak, Dead Before Dying, and Proteus.

thanks to randomhouse for the review copy

Friday, September 9, 2011

BOOK: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, 300 pages

Some books just hit your funny bone and this is one of them. The premise is that Lisa Lutz, author of the Spellman Files, wanted to team-write a murder mystery. She asked her former boyfriend, poet David Hayward, to write the alternating chapters, with some pre-agreed upon guidelines. The actual story (not the best part, I'll get to that in a moment) is that a dead body appears on the grow-op farm of an orphaned brother and sister, two aimless twenty-somethings. They can't call the police to their farm, so they get rid of the body. Which then reappears on their farm.

Lisa writes the first chapter and then sends it off to David, with an email note, which he responds to. Then he writes the second chapter, introducing new characters and taking the story in different directions. Rather quickly, the team approach failed. Although they decide that they won't focus their own narratives on the sister-by-Lisa and brother-by-David, it happened pretty quickly. Each author developed the characters differently, and as more murders piled up, one characters killed by the other author, and then brought back to life by the originating author, and then definitely killed by the first, the snarking and sniping back and forth in the emails became the fun part. The story existed only for Lisa and David to disagree about what they are going to do. (Who gets to write the last chapter? Flip a coin - hence the title, which also works on another level as the first murder is a  beheading.)

How contrived you find the emails back and forth will determine your enjoyment of the story. I couldn't wait to see what the Lisa would say to David about what she wrote to 'fix' his part of the story, or how he would respond to the killing of his favorite character - he invents an cousin who looks the same.  I don't think you can take the actual murder as a story in itself. It was only there to demonstrate the animosity of the authors, which I also imagine was the plan in the first place. It comes together a little too perfectly to imagine that they didn't plan the whole thing. Didn't lessen my enjoyment of the whole thing at all. However, I read reviews at librarything where the reviewer didn't like the email part at all. I don't know how you could read this book without recognizing that the story goes the way it does only because of the notes between the authors.

Fun, fun read with a unique approach. 

also reviewed:  raych at books i done read; suziqoregon at whimpulsive;  jenn at devourer of books;

Thursday, September 8, 2011


What are you reading now?
Would you recommend it?
And what’s next?

Reading now: Trackers by Deon Meyer. It's a mystery thriller set in South Africa. I loved Meyer's Thirteen Hours last year, and couldn't wait to read another. It's going slow for me, only because it is also the first week of school which is exhausting.

Would you recommend it? yes, for fans of exciting thrilling stories. South Africa provides a unique setting, and the intrigue of potentially stopping a terrorist act, and the organized crime, rhino poaching, leave the reader a bit dizzy, but turning the page. I'm really liking this bodyguard character, Lemmer.

And what's next? maybe the library book The Miracle at Speedy Motors before it comes due, or maybe Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, or something from my RIP list.