Month: September 2013

Book Review: Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

monkey

Rating: 3 / 5

Andrew Yancy is currently having a rough time.  He has somehow ended up a with a man’s arm in his freezer, and sensing that this could lead to a possible case, decides to dig further into the whereabouts of the man whose arm was found during a honeymoon fishing trip.  Yancy is hoping this will be a big case to get him back on the Miami Police force; after attacking his mistress’s husband in front of hundreds of people, Yancy was demoted from cop to restaurant inspector.   (more…)

Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

language

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Victoria has been in the foster care system her whole life, shuttled from one family to another for a variety of reasons.  On her 18th birthday, she is emancipated from the system, and finds herself homeless in San Francisco’s McKinley Square.  By chance, she begins working off the books for Renata at her flower shop.  Victoria has a keen understanding of flowers, learning how to care for them, tell them apart, and their meanings from Elizabeth, the foster mother who was on the verge of adopting her.  Now on her own, she must figure out not only how to survive, but when she meets up with someone from her past, whether she can let go of her past and live in the present.  (more…)

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark

Rating: 4 / 5

Two and a half decades ago most of Libby Day’s family was brutally murdered.  It happened on a cold winter night, and while only seven year-old Libby survived, her older brother Ben Day was convicted of murdering their mother and two sisters.  The public consensus was that Ben was weird and into Devil worshiping.  In the present day, Libby is barely getting by.  She’s never had a real job, always having relied on the generous donations of the public, who took pity on her as a child.  However, with Libby now over 30, the public pity and fascination has pretty much dried up, and Libby has no steady income.  A true crime group has reached out to her, wanting to meet her and get her take on the events that happened that tragic night.  While Libby testified that Ben killed her mother and sisters, and is not eager to relive that night, she figures that there’s an opportunity with this group to make some money.

The one word that screams out at me when I think of Dark Places is ‘twisted’. From the first chapter, Libby Day is an incredibly interesting character.  She’s not likable, yet I couldn’t get enough of her.  She all but admits that she’s comfortable living the rest of her life making a quick buck off of what happened to her family; she’s never had a real job and is in no rush to have a job or even a career.  At the beginning, I absolutely hated her.  Even knowing what she went through as a child, I couldn’t get past her personality, her lack of initiative or responsibility.  However, as the story progressed, I realized that she isn’t half as bad as I originally thought.  Although the process is slow, it seemed that Libby realized that she couldn’t continue living off the pity of others, but that she needed to become a fully functional and employed adult.

Dark Places is narrated with multiple voices.  It alternates between Libby in the present, and Ben and their mother on that tragic day.  The multiple perspectives gives Dark Places depth, and allows the reader to see how the same events affected people differently.  It also helps advance the story since some of the information into why the events took place were not available or would have been next to impossible for Libby to discover on her own.  All the characters have flaws which impaired their ability to live a better life, and Dark Places showed the devastating effects of those flaws.

Dark Places is the third Gillian Flynn novel I’ve read, and I can honestly say that her niche is dark books with disturbing women.  Her characters are manipulative and deceiving, yet at the same time utterly fascinating.  I highly enjoyed Dark Places and recommend it, though I also recommend reading it on a day with plenty of free time since you’ll be hard pressed to put it down once you start.

Book Review: Tell No Lies by Gregg Hurwitz

tell

Rating: 3 / 5

Daniel Brasher runs a counseling session for recently released ex-cons.  Although he was born into money, he has shunned that lifestyle, preferring a career and life where he can make a meaningful impact in society.  He is surprised when he checks his department mailbox one night after a counseling session, and discovers a death threat mistakenly dropped in his inbox.   (more…)

Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver

noa

Rating: 3 / 5

Noa P. Singleton has six months until her execution date.  She was found guilty a decade ago for the capital murders of Sarah Dixon and her unborn child. Noa did not take the stand during the trial, and never said a word in her own defense during the sentencing hearing.  In short, she has never told anyone what happened on that tragic night.   (more…)

Book Review: Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

salt

Rating: 4.5 / 5

With the global rise of obesity and other correlated health problems, Moss interviews research scientists, head of food divisions, and brand managers to see what goes on behind the scenes with the world’s biggest food manufacturers (specifically Nestle, Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola), and how well known brands were developed.  Salt Sugar Fat delves deep into the research of how foods are (more…)