Thursday, May 13, 2010

Caught by Harlen Coben

I'm always excited when Harlan Coben comes out with a new stand along book! And Caught was no exception. I even pre-ordered it!

In Coben's latest novel, we meet Dan Mercer a social worker who unfortunately gets caught on television camera meeting up with an underage girl whom he had a relationship with through the internet. Wendy Tynes is a mercenary reporter dedicated to bringing criminals to justice. Though Mercer claims innocence his life is ruined. Turns out several of his college buddies have run into trouble as well. His friend Phil lost his job because of embezzlement charges, a doctor friend also finds himself in trouble, and a third friend is locked away in a mental institution for schizophrenia. As Wendy begins to doubt her claim that Mercer is a sexual predator, she investigates further to find the truth. A missing girl also falls into the story here adding more to the mystery.

I'm not sure if I have too high expectations for Coben's novels now having read and enjoyed The Woods, The Innocent and Hold Tight. Or if this was one was just sub-par for him. I was a little disappointed. The characters didn't engage me as much. And I found the story to be a tad bit boring. I had to force myself to read along and frankly, the reveal wasn't that interesting. It wasn't a horrible book, I just didn't think it was as good as some others I've read by him. This is a good one to bring along on vacation, but if you have other books in your queue, Caught could probably wait a bit.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens debut novel Still Missing is quite a ride. Annie O'Sullivan, an up and coming realtor, is abducted one evening after an open house. She is taken by a crazy guy she calls The Freak and locked away in a cabin in the mountains for a year before she is able to escape. She tries to get back into her old life but after living by The Freak's strange rules and enduring his daily abuse, she understandably doesn't quite know how to fit back into civilization.

I kept reading this book thinking to myself, "Why do I keep reading this?" The book is not divided into chapters, but rather Annie's therapy sessions. Each session flashes back to her life before the abduction as well as what happened to her while being held captive. We also see what her life is like after she returns home. It was very difficult to read what happened to her which is what made it so hard to continue reading. Once she makes it back home to her friends and family, it is much easier to read on. And this is where the mystery begins. Why was she chosen? Why did The Freak pick her and not some other realtor? Did he have a partner who was still out there somewhere?

This book had a few twists and turns and was not predictable at all. The ending was quite a surprise actually. I felt the book was well-written and interesting, but it is very difficult for me to say this is a must read. Should I say, "Hey, if you're in the mood for a book about a crazy man and how he abuses a kidnapped woman. This is your book!"? I guess more I'll say if you're interested in a suspenseful story with well-written characters and an interesting twist, check out Chevy Stevens' Still Missing. There is definitely something to said for a book that is so disturbing but continued to hold my interest and get me to make it to the end. This book will hit shelves July 6th! I would highly recommend this to readers who liked Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell series.

Source Disclosure: Sent to me via the publisher after seeing an ad on Shelf Awareness.

Picture Book Thursday: Red Green Blue by Alison Jay

Alison Jay's new book Red Green Blue: A First Book of Colors is a refreshing take on both a color book and nursery rhymes. She combines the two into one book and in a very succinct and fun way.

Each page features a different color and two-sentence paraphrase of popular nursery rhymes. For example, "Little Boy Blue's asleep in the hay. His sheep and his cow have run away." or "This yellow teapot's short and stout. She is the best at pouring out."

The illustrations are the absolute best part of this book. If you look closely, just about each page has a story-within-a story. For example, on the teapot page, there is a framed portrait of Miss Muffet on the wall. The next page of the book features Miss Muffet and the spider. You can also see the Little Boy Blue (on the previous page) in the background outside the window on the teapot page. These continue throughout the book sometimes showing four or five nursery rhyme characters or locations (ie: the pumpkin from Peter, Peter pumpkin eater in the background) in one illustration.

I think a child who is well versed in nursery rhymes would LOVE this book! They would have a great time trying to spot all the different nursery rhymes on the pages. But really anyone can enjoy this one. This book is available on May 13, 2010.

About the Author/Illustrator:
Alison Jay is the celebrated illustrator of many books for children. She studied illustration at the London College of Printing and lives in London, England.

Source disclosure: This book was sent to me unsolicited by the Penguin Group.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

YA Weekend: The Wake Trilogy Series

I don't think you can be a part of the book blogging community and NOT have heard of Lisa McMann's Wake Trilogy. After reading countless reviews of these books, I decided to purchase them last year. And I waited to read them until the last book came out because everyone kept saying that when they finished one book, they wanted to move on to the next one right away.

Because there are so many reviews/synopses of these books out there, I'll just summarize by saying that Janie realizes she's different at a very young age. She can jump into people's dreams. She doesn't seem to have a choice. If someone is sleeping around her, she's pulled into their dream. As she gets older, she starts to figure out how to avoid some dreams, but still finds herself in some interesting situations. When she gets pulled into a dream, she blacks out and usually ends up convulsing. This happens to her while driving and luckily, she only ends up in a ditch. She finds herself attracted to a fellow misfit classmate named Cabel. She soon learns he may not be who she thought he was. She also learns more about her dreaming and her destiny as a Dreamcatcher. She begins to learn how to control which dreams she enters and ends up using her ability to help people including the police.

Fade picks up not long after Wake ends with Cabel and Janie working together to help track down a teacher who may be a sexual predator in their school. Janie also learns even more about her ability and potentially what it holds with regard to her future.

The final book, Gone is a bit different from the first two in that it doesn't involve Janie working on a police case. In fact, she spends the book trying to decide if she should cut herself off from the world and just live a solitary life. Discovering who her father is helps her decide whether living alone or using her dreamcatching ability is her destiny.

Overall, I found this series intriguing and fresh. I was pulled in and couldn't wait to read each book to see how the story arc moved along. I don't know that I can think of any books with a similar concept. I feel like the characters were represented very realistically. My only concern is that these books are quite heavy. Alcoholism, sexual assault, profanity, sex, drugs, etc. abound. I would definitely rate these books as rated R and would hold off on recommending them to anyone younger than fifteen or sixteen or so.