Dust by Patricia Cornwell, A Review

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The byline for this post? “Huge disappointment for a big Scarpetta fan.”

I am really concerned that I read a totally different book than the other reviewers who have posted on Goodreads and elsewhere. Where to start? What Dust needs is an editor and a plot. This book was absolutely everything I can’t stand about what the Kay Scarpetta series has become in one 500 page novel. Implausible timing, totally no character development, and a storyline that takes less than 50 pages to wrap up with a neat, tidy bow. If this was a book by any other author, I would have stopped, but as a Scarpetta series fan I felt I owed it to the good doctor to finish. In fact, I’m so meh about the whole thing I’m not even going to provide a summary of the paper-thin plotline. There’s more meat in the book blurb than the entire novel….

For spoilers, highlight the text below:
– Really? You’re going to have this whole murder/mystery solved in a day over 500 pages?! Really?! This whole novel reads like one run on sentence. I know that Dr. Scarpetta is an amazingly talented woman, but it’s actually tiresome for the reader to have no change of scenery.
– Would it kill you to write about a happy character? Everyone is so lost in their own self-pity/depression spiral that it’s honestly kind of a downer to read. I don’t know if Cornwell is tired of this cast of characters or what, but she seems completely content to make their lives miserable and depressing. 

Also, I found it incredibly distasteful that Cornwell uses a recent tragic event and inserts Scarpetta into it. Not appropriate.

Available for purchase from Amazon.com, though we recommend trying to pick it up from a library instead.

xo The Book Bird 

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohalian- A Review

16099189Having loved “The Night Strangers,” which has decidedly super natural undertones, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the latest piece of historical fiction from Chris Bohjalian, “The Light in the Ruins.” (I was pretty meh about “The Sandcastle Girls.”The good news is, I’m glad I picked this one up from the library! Bohjalian deftly weaves a together characters and plot against a historically fascinating backdrop- in this case, the mid to late WWII and the 1950’s. Set in Italy and told from three distinct points of view, the novel explores how the events of 1943 change the lives of the Rosati family, who own a beautiful estate outside of Florence, and those around them. Bohjalian avoids all of the cliches normally associated with WWII, or when he does venture towards that area brings a fresh perspective voice that doesn’t feel tired or “done already.” I also really like how as a male author, he is able to create and write in the voice of strong female characters (all of the main players in this novel are women).

While it became easy to tease out where the novel was going around the 2/3rds mark, I was so enamored with the characters and the story that I didn’t hesitate when it came to finishing the book off.

SPOILER (highlight the next two lines with your mouse to illuminate!): I swear during one of the killer POV chapters, Bohjalian has that person say that they are a woman… did I misread? Also, Arabella! Poor, poor Arabella!!

Available for purchase from Amazon.com. I also obtained a copy of this novel from the New York Public library (yay eBooks at the library!).

Have you checked out any of Chris Bohjalian’s other novels?

xo The Book Bird 

The Truth is Out There- The X-Files Season 10

Well, would it come as a huge surprise to you if we told you I massively nerd out about anything to do with the X-Files? Seriously, I had the posters, the novelizations, the action figures, the Barbie dolls– I was in DEEP into the cult of Chris Carter. Thus, when cruising the latest reads on NetGalley, my heart literally skipped a beat when I saw that IDW Comics and Chris Carter had combined powers to launch “The X-Files: Season 10” in comic book form.  HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS EARLIER?!

41jrmhuW-kL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Writer Joe Harris and illustrator Michael Walsh are the creative forces behind each episode which nicely tie back into the series’ original mythology. Mulder and Scully, who have disappeared into suburban anonymity, find themselves pulled back into the world of the X-Files they are forced out of retirement to get to the bottom of a new conspiracy. While I would much rather see a live action version of a Season 10, this is the next best thing. From the characterizations to the clever dialogue, it felt like catching up with old friends (AD Skinner! The Lone Gunmen! The CSM!), and we have already pre-ordered the compendium of all of the issues comprising Season 10 which ships in December. Though I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a hardcore comic book fan, I really enjoyed the experience and will definitely be keeping an eye out for future X-Files episode issues!

(Note: For those folks that still can’t figure out what the heck happened in Seasons 8 and 9 mythology wise, don’t worry– you’ll find Season 10 easy to pick up! Shippers will also be pleased… )

The X-Files Season 10: Volume 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon.com, and on shelves in December 2013, but you can also buy the individual issues directly from IDW’s website or Amazon.com.

xo The Book Bird 

Disclaimer: A copy of The X-Files Season 10 Episode 1 was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh- A Review

I have to admit, of late I’ve been in a weird book lull. It happens every few weeks and we always push through, but it takes a special book to get us back into the reading zone. Laura McHugh’s “The Weight of Blood,” was a much needed jolt to the system after several blah books.

18209468Set in the Ozark Mountains, The Weight of Blood follows the teenaged Lucy Dane during one long high-school summer as she seeks answers about the disappearance of her mother and the murder of a classmate. The landscape upon which the story unfolds is beautifully rich and atmospheric, and the characters fit into the backdrop seamlessly. McHugh also treats the reader to chapter-long snippets told from varying perspectives, which nicely contribute to the plot’s crescendo and eventual resolution.

The blurb for this book, which comes out in March 2014, recommends this book for fans of Gillian Flynn, and I have to agree with their suggestion (NB: Publishers, please please please please stop labeling books as the next “Gone Girl”). “The Weight of Blood” is by no means a feel good, Jodi Piccoult-esque novel; it is dark and the content is heavy in places. Violence is an underlying theme, and it subtly finds its way into the lives of almost every character.

A solid read for a cold, snowy weekend, I definitely think it’s better for fall/winter than summer, “The Weight of Blood” is a well-written (yet somewhat bleak) book that does not disappoint.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Availability: Pre-order on Amazon.com, releases March 11th 2014

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review by the publisher.

Reviewed: Bittersweet, a novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

The last few days have been spent on the road, which means ample time for plowing through some advance copies we’ve received from Spring 2014. Where has the time gone?!

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This trip’s read was Bittersweet, an upcoming release from Crown Publishing by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. Billed a suspense novel, the opening line immediately hooks the reader. Unfortunately, that sense of urgency and mystery gets lost around the 45% mark, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here….

Bittersweet is the story of plain, under privileged Mabel Dagmar (what a fantastically drab name!) whose life is turned topsy turvy by her college roommate, the beautiful and petty Genevra Winslow. Vain and from a very wealthy background, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Ev is moody, determined to get her own way, but yet “damaged” in an endearing way. During the course of the school term, Mabel and Ev form an odd sort of friendship which culminates in Mabel’s invitation to spend the summer at her family’s estate in Vermont.

Upon arrival it is very clear that something is not right.

This is where the book goes off the proverbial deep end. What starts as a plausible coming-of-age/suspense novel, quickly turns into a rushed and convoluted tale that ends in a way that is too bizarre to even properly comprehend. Characters quickly turn into predictable stereotypes, and in an effort to avoid the usual cliches, Beverly-Whittemore creates outlandish twists and turns.

That said, I’m not sure if I would totally right off Bittersweet. Is it totally unbelievable? Yes. But at the same time, if you accept it for what it is, I think some readers could still find it enjoyable. It sort of reminded me of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series (remember those teen horror novels?), entertaining yet totally removed from reality. 

Available for pre-order, this book hits shelves in May 2014.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: We received an advance galley of this book via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.