Vertigo 42 Book Review

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Fantastic Whodunit with a Literary Twist…

Imagine a mystery, a whodunit, which weaves in details found in classics like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and literature greats like Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”, E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India”, and poetry of T.S. Eliot. Now, add a Scotland Yard Superintendent, distinctively British settings that often involve a “cuppa”, and you get nothing short of what I can only describe as charmingly clever.

Superintendent Richard Jury finds himself doing a favor for a friend by meeting with Tom Williamson. Tom’s wife, Tess died in what was ruled an accident 17 years ago. The investigation at the time found her fall on their estate was due to her bouts of Vertigo. Her husband believes she was murdered. Muddying the waters, is the death of a nine-year-old girl on the couple’s estate five years before Tess died. In order to determine if there’s any connection between the two, Jury must investigate both deaths. If that isn’t enough, Jury is temporarily distracted by another mysterious death near Long Piddleton, where he has stopped to visit his precocious friend, Melrose Plant (love this guy). A woman in a red dress and heels is found dead at the bottom of a tower. Accident or murder? How all this is woven together and tidied up is the tour de force of Grime’s writing.

Be warned – Grimes is not for the casual reader. You will have to engage all your powers of reasoning in order to keep up with Richard Jury and his sidekick, Sergeant Wiggins. Grimes doesn’t waste one ounce of time on anything other than moving the plot along. Yet, the reader is never bored or bogged down in the never-ending search for answers. On the contrary, Grime’s characters are delightful, witty, sometimes quirky, flawed human beings. In other words, quite fascinating.

Being new to Martha Grimes (Yes, I know. How is that possible?), I knew I would need to read some back story on Vertigo 42’s main character, Superintendent Richard Jury. I immediately purchased and read, “The Man with a Load of Mischief”. I highly recommend “new to Grimes” readers to do the same before reading Vertigo 42.

I am officially a new fan of Martha Grimes. I enjoy being able to read a book that is intelligent and not laced with foul language that so many authors seem to employ these days. Grimes just gives you straight up good writing.

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Book Review – Perfume Princess

Perfume PrincessPerfume Princess by Kristina Miranda

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Charming and downright fun!
Lily is just an ordinary fifteen year-old girl living a simple life in Texas with her father. So, spending the summer in New York with her perfume mogul mother, Hya Laroche, and her top model sister, feels an awful lot like Cinderella with no date to the ball. She takes comfort in the fact that she will at least get to go back to Texas to spend her 16th birthday with her dad. But, even that is in jeopardy when Lily is unexpectedly thrown into the spotlight with heartthrob, Chase Donovan, the star of Laroche cosmetics new ad campaign, and her sister Jasmine’s crush. Things quickly spiral out of control for Lily. Especially, her feelings for Chase.

“I tell myself he must be a jerk. Has to be, right? But what an adorable jerk.”

The author does a great job of making you feel like you’re immersed in the glamour of New York and then Paris as the characters become caught up in Laroche cosmetics latest perfume campaign. In the midst of all that, we watch Lily struggle with trying to please her mother and sister and just wanting to be herself without fear of being judged.

It’s the perfect book if you just want to escape for a weekend, or need a great beach read. If you’re a fan of Jennifer E Smith (i.e. The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love), you’re going to love Perfume Princess. I had a hard time putting it down!

*Bonus – This book receives my “Clean Teen Fiction” seal of approval.

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Book Review – The Word Exchange

The Word ExchangeThe Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book takes the reader into a world where a virtually paperless society becomes so dependent on electronic devices that people begin to forget words, and language begins fading into the background. People are constantly connected to their personal device, called a Meme that “senses” what one needs — when you’re hungry, when you might need a cab, etc. Thus, the decline of people’s ability to actually use and recall words, and an increase in dependence on their device for even the most basic tasks. This ultimately leads to dependence on The Word Exchange. Now, instead of committing words to memory, one can simply depend on their Meme to look up the definition on The Word Exchange for a small price. Ultimately, the devices and the humans become biologically merged, and a virus that destroys people’s speech ensues. The word flu.

The idea is very creative. This, I love. However, the book is not easy to read. First, there’s the use of big words that I often had to look up. Of course, the irony of this also was not lost on me — it solidified one of the main points of the book – that we are losing valuable language skills. That’s why I found it odd that the author chose to have most of her characters use the F-word, one of the most absurd and offensive words of the English language.

The other issue I had with this book was the overabundance of research facts; i.e. references to German philosopher Hegel, the history of pneumatic tubes. There was just too much of it throughout the book, and did nothing to move the plot along.

And finally, it was the lack of page-turning conflict and too many unlikable characters that left this book flat for me. The sense of danger was hung before the reader like a dangling carrot, but it never materialized. The main character, Anana often felt she was being followed, but nothing much ever came of it except for once when she fell down some steps. My favorite part of the book, was the mysterious Creatorium that Anana discovers in the basement of her workplace. It was creepy, strange, ominous. But, even here, she gets by a large guard by saying she has to go meet her boyfriend.

So, this is what my three-star rating means. I liked the book, because the story was creative, and I could tell a lot of work went into it. Alena Graedon is no doubt a talented writer. There just wasn’t enough there for me to become emotionally involved with the characters or their lives.

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Classic Book Review – Rebecca

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rebecca is the story of a young, naïve girl who marries a handsome, widowed older man, Maxim. He takes her to live at Manderley, the estate he shared with his late wife, Rebecca. She struggles to live in the shadow of Rebecca’s past which slowly reveals her as someone who was vibrant and beautiful. She finds her new role as the new Mrs. De Winter daunting, not understanding why Maxim would choose her — someone so plain and ordinary.

“It seemed remote to me, and far too distant, the time when I too should smile and be at ease, and I wished it could come quickly; that I could be old even, with grey hair and slow of step, having lived here many years – anything but the timid, foolish creature I felt myself to be.”

Then there’s the dreadful housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, always there with her skull like face to remind her that she’s not Rebecca. She decides that her husband is not truly in love with her and secretly longs for Rebecca. But as time passes, things unfold from the past that have been long buried. Truth becomes lie and lie becomes truth. The book has an Alfred Hitchcock mystery element to it, a darkness like Wuthering Heights, and a storyline reminiscent of Jane Eyre. If you’re a fan of classics, this is a must-read. If not, you’re rather likely to find it tedious.

Rebecca was first published in 1938, making it more than 70 years since it was written. The fact that it captured me so completely speaks volumes of the talent of Daphne Du Maurier. I only wish there was a rating beyond five stars.

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Ecksdot Book Review

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my, prepare to take a wild ride…

Ecksdot, pronounced X-dot, is one creative adventure. The main character is a six-grader named Nate, who loves to spend time in his imagination. He dreams about being a superhero and is bored by the mundane routine of school and his new neighbor, Danny, who is uncool and trying to be his friend. “I wanted to be a hero. That’s all I wanted in the whole world. But I was surrounded by stupid every-day sort of stuff. Like school. And friggin Danny.” I was blown away with how Washburn nailed the mind of a six-grader. It was simply fantastic. You will be a kid again, reading this book. I know I was. Continue reading

Book Review – The Eye of Minds

The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, #1)The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eye of Minds is a techno-thriller. Think Tron or Matrix. Life inside a computer.

The story is based on three teens who spend their free time in a coffin like structure where they’re hooked up to tiny wires that allow them to enter into a virtual gaming world called VirtNet. In the VirtNet you feel everything like its real life, including pain. The main characters are teenagers — Michael, Bryson, and Sarah. They’ve never meet in real life, but spend all their time together in the Virtnet. They are great at hacking code and use it to advance and earn experience points so they can make it to the ultimate level called Lifeblood Deep. Continue reading