Book Review: Jurassic Park

I know it’s an oldie but I never read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton back in the day.  Even when you google it, you get the movies first and then a bunch of questions about the movies. I had to scroll halfway down the page to get to the first listing for the book.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Until something goes wrong. . . .

In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.

 

My thoughts:

Okay so everyone knows this story. I didn’t even need the summary I am sure. Although it is interesting from a marketing point of view. That dangler…it once worked so well. LOL

The kiddo found the audio version on the shelf at one of our local libraries and begged me to get it. I warned him it wouldn’t be like the movies, although having never read it myself I could only guess on that. He wanted it anyway. Sure.

12 discs is a lot of dino attacks but the book is far more in depth than the movies. There is much more about people’s motivation and back story. The kiddo loved to point out all the things in the book that didn’t happen in movie one. And then argue about which of the other movies something like that happened in.

I was much more intrigued by the way Hollywood softened some aspects of the book and bloodied up others. For example,  in the movies, Hammond is the kind, benevolent old man who adores his grand children, really all children, and just wants an amazing experience for them, and if that makes him lots of money, well what’s wrong with that. In the book, he is a nasty lunatic. Flat out.

They flip the ages and genders of the children.

The dino attacks in the movies are way more gruesome. In the book, the images are painted in broad strokes with just a few, ickaroo moments and a lot of tension. I liked the balance. Liked it well enough I might start reading more Crichton.

Book Review: The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place

A few years back a friend introduced me to the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place is the latest installment, I think we’re up to ten now.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Flavia is enjoying the summer, spending her days punting along the river with her reluctant family. Languishing in boredom, she drags a slack hand in the water, and catches her fingers in the open mouth of a drowned corpse.

Brought to shore, the dead man is found to be dressed in blue silk with ribbons at the knee, and wearing a single red ballet slipper.

Flavia needs to put her super-sleuthing skills to the test to investigate the murder of three gossips in the local church, and to keep her sisters out of danger. But what could possibly connect the son of an executed killer, a far too canny police constable, a traveling circus, and the publican’s mysteriously talented wife?

My thoughts:

I love this series. The writing is crisp. The characters varied and always amusing. The amateur defeats the professional investigating murders that happen across her path in the strangest of ways. I never much thought about it but I suppose Flavia is technically a cozy series.

And yet, it never reads that way. Flavia is as professional as any cop or adult detective I’ve read. She’s careful with the evidence, performing her own analysis and chemical experiments on them. She interviews suspects with aplomb, she seeks out specialists when needed, and researches everything. Of course, she’s 12 …

Book Review: Not Quite Not White

I love reading books from a point of view that is not my own. Not Quite Not White by Sharmila Sen is about her experience emigrating from India when she was 12.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

At the age of 12, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to the U.S. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race – on INS forms, at the doctor’s office, in middle school. Never identifying with a race in the India of her childhood, she rejects her new “not quite” designation – not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian — and spends much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years trying to assimilate–watching shows like General Hospital and The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran and Prince, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts–she is forced to reckon with the hard questions: What does it mean to be white, why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility while other colors are made hypervisible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness?

Part memoir, part manifesto, Not Quite Not White is a searing appraisal of race and a path forward for the next not quite not white generation –a witty and sharply honest story of discovering that not-whiteness can be the very thing that makes us American.

 

My thoughts:

I very much enjoyed reading about her experiences. I’ve never been a 12 year old leaving my country for a new life my parents think will be a positive move for our family.

In the end though, our opinions on how to address the issues of race in America are polar opposites. And that is to be expected. We have two different back grounds to draw our opinions from. I believe the way forward to is to stop naming race and color and religion as though they describe what matters about humans at all.

Perhaps that’s because I am perceived as “white”. I’ve “enjoyed'” a life being perceived as white.  But that label tells nothing about who I really am.

Am I kind person who donates money to charity or a money hoarder who cares only for her own immediate family?

Do I work at a job I love or am I miserable but chasing the almighty dollar?

Am I a lady who lunches or do I clean my own home because I think it’s weird to have another human pick up after me?

Did I vote for Trump or Hillary?

Am I brilliant or average?

Can I make you laugh or do I tell knock knock jokes?

Do I go to church?

Do I pray?

The word white doesn’t answer any of these things for you. Neither would the label black, brown, purple, or pink with polka dots. Why bother to use a label that gives no meaningful information at all?

 

Book Review: You

It’s so weird why I picked this up. On the front cover is a line about not everyone wants to be followed…I immediately thought of previous social media books I loved and grabbed You by Caroline Kepnes. So not what I thought.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

My thoughts:

Dark, this book is madly dark.

It’s also 80-90% stream of consciousness so be prepared for a heavy lack of interaction. I loved the style but at several points it dragged for me and I found myself skimming pages looking for something to actually happen.

I found all the behavior totally believable. People do indeed act this way. Humans are flawed.

This is totally the opposite of the way I write. I am all action, either in movement or dialogue. This is all one man’s head but it was compelling. Possibly because it’s one of my own short comings. That stream of consciousness style.

Book Review: Died in the Wool

Died in the Wool is the second Knit and Nibble series by Peggy Ehrhart I have read. I liked the first one enough to grab the second.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Pamela is ready to kick back and relax after a busy day selling stuffed aardvarks to benefit Arborville High School’s sports program at the annual town festival. But just as she’s packing up, she makes a terrible discovery—someone’s stashed a body under the Knit and Nibble’s table. The victim is Randall Jefferson, a decidedly unpopular history teacher after his recent op-ed criticizing the school’s sports program. But the primary suspect has an alibi, and the only clue is a stuffed aardvark found on the victim’s chest.  Now the Knit and Nibblers must unravel the case quickly—before a crafty killer repeats a deadly pattern.

My thoughts:

Despite this being a knit book there was very little yarn talk but I can tell you what the main character ate for EVERY meal for the duration of the book in nauseating detail. It felt like filler. And it made the book feel super slow moving.

On the plus side:

-all the clues to solve the mystery are laid out for you.

-The clues are put together by the main character in an inventive way.

-The little town this takes place in sounds adorbs and I think I’d like to live there but I won’t join their knitting club. The author is way too fond of the new person in town being both the killer and the victim.

I’ll read the next one to see if this laborious heavy food will continue because I do like the characters and I like the plots.

Book Review: Surprise Me

New Sophie Kinsella books, Surprise Me, on the new arrivals shelf. I love Sophie, I do. So I had to read it.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

My Thoughts:

um, yeah. Good description. That’s the book.

The big “shock” is fairly obvious. I’ll give Sophie partial marks for trying to make the reader think one thing, while hinting it’s really something else, and then coming up with a third thing for it to actually be that is rather nasty on several levels.

It’s funny, Sophie’s books always are. And it’s believable. People do act the way she portrays them. But I knew what was coming. I knew how it would go, every time. Perhaps I read too much.

There was one thing that got me by surprise, but it made me sad. LOL.

Overall, very enjoyable read. Definite vanilla pudding for the brain category.

Book Review: Goodbye Cruller World

I was so excited to see Goodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton on the shelf at the library. I remembered liking her first one and mentally noting to get the second when it came out.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Normally, Emily’s eyes tend to glaze over when prospective brides go on about their wedding plans. But when the owner of the clothing shop, Dressed to Kill, asks Emily to design a donut wall for her reception, she’s immediately sweet on the idea. With the help of her father-in-law and business partner—the former police chief of Fallingbrook—she hangs the treats from dowels on the wall so guests can help themselves.

But that night, when the groom ends up on the floor with signs of poisoning, Emily suspects someone has tampered with her treats. When the groom dies, there’s no way to sugarcoat it: she’s got a murder on her hands. Despite a list of suspects as long as the guest list, Emily vows to find out who created the killer confection to save her shop’s reputation and keep the bride out of handcuffs. She’ll have to move fast . . . before the poisoner takes a powder.

My thoughts:

I finished this book more than a week ago. I’ve been debating whether to review it ever since. I have a rule about this. My first year reviewing I was still figuring out the process and I posted a review of every book I read. But by the end I hated putting too much unpleasantness into the world. So this year, if I can’t find three nice things to say about the book, I just won’t review it. Hence my struggle.

I just looked at my review for the first book, the donut thing bothered me again. I get that it’s a donut shop mystery but the sixteen word long description of every donut anyone ever eats in the book is too much for me. And a lot of donut happen in this book. A lot.

It was an enjoyable read, like the first one, up til a point. I was reading along,  smile on my face, ignoring the donuts, enjoying the building budding relationship, the funny ways people lie. And then, wham, the “solution” arrived (totally predictable – I actually thought early in the book I hope it’s not going to be one of those where x did it, it was) without wrapping up any of the loose ends.

I was heinously dissatisfied. Like when I order a Dead Elvis donut and there isn’t enough custard in the middle so the peanut butter frosting overwhelms the whole thing and sticks to the roof of my mouth. Like that.