Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #101: Broken Harbor by Tana French

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Well, I didn’t hit the double cannonball like I’d hoped, but I got close. My last book of the year was Tana French’s Broken Harbor, and like all of her (loosely-connected) thrillers, it rocked.

Broken Harbor features stars Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, who was featured in Faithful Place as well, though to a lesser degree. Scorcher is investigating the stabbing of a family in an unfinished subdivision in Ireland — the two children and their father were killed, the mother was left for dead. And some fairly creepy evidence was left behind.

What I like about French’s novels is that there as much about the detective(s) investigating as they are about the crime committed. Scorcher is a very interesting character, with a troubled family history including a rather loony sister. He’s training a new detective on this case, and his relationship with this man who is not really a partner affects the investigation in several ways.

The crime element is pretty good, too. Lots of twists and turns. And French is a very good writer, especially when it comes to dialogue. The Irish accents are practically audible.

I highly recommend French, especially The Likeness, which is still one of the twistiest things I’ve ever read.

Alli’s #CBR5 Reviews 10,11,12 – Dark Tower Completion

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Here are my final reviews for CBR5. I didn’t quite make my quarter cb goal for the year but I am excited to get started on CBR6! I will be using my twitter name this year @allibaba77 and I look forward to being a part of this wonderful community again.

I decided to compile them into one as I am not sure how much I will have to say about each one as they really do all fit together into a really long story. Of course although it doesn’t really need to be said, there will likely be spoilers so if you have not read the series and do not want to know about it then this is not the best place for you to be. Also my details might get all mixed up but that is the way things go sometimes.

Ok, so “Wolves of the Calla” really got me back interested in the story again. I enjoyed “Wizard and Glass” but it was almost entirely a flashback so I was glad to get back into our main story as that is where the heart of the tale lies. I was a bit concerned that we would never get back into our heros’ quest as this story takes us into another town, Calla Brin Sturgess where they have this unique problem where “wolves” come every generation or so and take some of their children and they are returned “roont” or ruined. Some of the citizens ask our gunslingers for help an although this aid takes up most of the book, I was glad that it really tied in well with the main story.

Read the rest on my blog

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #59: The Cuckoo’s Calling by “Robert Galbraith”

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Well…it’s no Harry Potter.

That said, it’s a pretty good mystery. I loved the relationship between the detective and his secretary. I still wish Rowling would at least write fantasy or science fiction if she doesn’t want to write more Harry Potter, but I’m not mad at this book.

My review is here.

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #58: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

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I really liked this book. It’s creepy and moody. It will seem like nothing is going on, then all of a sudden ALL OF THE STUFF HAPPENS.
It’s about a girl in a small southern town who meets a mysterious stranger with a secret. A dangerous secret, of course. It’s all very Twilight-y, but I liked it anyways.
You can read my review here.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #156: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews – triple Cannonball!

It’s my last book of the year, and I’m feeling a bit worn out after a LOT of blogging, so I’m taking the liberty of letting the authors themselves summarise the book (it’s self published), because Ilona writes way better than I:

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problems should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. 

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night… Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor Sean Evans – an alpha-strain werewolf – and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her Inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she is facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything. 

Full review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #155: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My penultimate book of the year, and the final book in my 2013 Bingo Card. Louisa “Lou” Clark loses her job as a cafe and has to take a job as a care assistant for a rich playboy adventurer who’s ended up paraplegic in a wheelchair after an accident. He’s absolutely vile to her at first, but they gradually develop a friendship and an understanding. Then Lou realises that he plans to travel to Switzerland to commit assisted suicide at the end of her six month contract, and decides she needs to change his mind.

Full review.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #104: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderWell . . . that was certainly an experience. Parts of it I LOVED and parts of it were SO WEIRD I didn’t even know what to do with myself.

It’s clear that Gabaldon pretty much wrote whatever the hell she wanted to, ignoring a lot of steadfast  “rules” in the process. The result of this is a book that could fit into dozens of different genres, and that contains dozens of scenes that make you go “wait, did she just write that?”

For those of you not familiar (and I’m betting there are still some of you out there), Outlander is the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s titular series about a nurse from World War II-era England who travels back in time two hundred years to Scotland, and among other things, is accused of being a witch, becomes a healer, is forced to marry a handsome young Scot, and deal with a psychopathic Englishman, all the while dealing with her reduced freedoms as a woman and navigating both the smaller and larger political and historical issues that she alone knows are coming.

It’s a long book, and it’s hard to describe. Even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what to expect, I guarantee there will be at least once scene you won’t see coming at all, and more than one that will make you need to put the book down, like under your pillow or in a freezer or somewhere else that is safe and away from you while you alternatively cool down/stop being weirded out/insert overextended emotion here. It’s a romance, and an extremely well-researched historical novel. And it’s speculative, and a bunch of other shit as well.

And I enjoyed it. And I was weirded out by it. And it made me need to go take a cold shower.

The most notable thing about it, of course, is the central romance between our time-traveling heroine Claire and young Scottish virgin, Jamie Fraser, which was extremely swoonworthy, excepting one notable scene involving corporal punishment. I realize Gabaldon needed to have Jamie conform to time-specific ideas about male/female relationships, but I really think I needed to see Claire be more vocal about refusing to be subjected to anything like that in the future, and I needed to see Jamie agree. The scene at the end with Jamie and Randall was . . . interesting. And I’m still not entirely sure what the point of all of it was.

Also, there was probably more sex in this book than in any other book I’ve ever read. Just . . . there’s so much of it. So, so much of it. I kind of wish she’d been a little more spare with it, because after the first three or four times so close together, the scenes sort of began to lose their spark.

Anyway, I’ll definitely be continuing with this series, but probably not until after the first season of the TV show airs on Starz next year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Ron Moore can do with this story (and with it being on Starz, I’m sure the sex scenes will get their due as well).

And with that, I have finished my Double Cannonball goal for the year, and so now I shall go collapse into my bed and not wake up until Thursday.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #103: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

house of hadesPlot has taken over where character development used to be in Riordan’s writing. I suppose it was inevitable when he started writing two books a year (at least he’s back down to one, now that the disappointing Kane Chronicles series is over with). And actually, the action and the mythology are still really, really fun, I just prefer the old version of this story. The original Percy Jackson series felt intimate and original.

In fact, I kind of hope after he’s done with this series that he moves on to writing about other things besides mythology-is-real books. I think he’s pretty much milked the concept for all its worth at this point. (I say this knowing full well he’s got a Norse mythology series in the works.)

That’s not to say I don’t like this book or this series, because I do. I especially liked this one, which I think is my favorite in the series so far.

It’s been almost two months since I finished it, so details are a little hazy. The action is basically split in two: half of it lies with Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus, and the other half with the remaining demigods as they fight their way to the Doors of Hades from the other side, encountering gods, monsters, and mythological creatures along the way. Frank in particular got some great stuff in this book, after basically being a doormat in the last two. And the mythological tricksters The Kerkopes made me laugh out loud.

But really, my heart belonged to Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus for this one. That whole arc, as they make their way to the heart of Tartarus, is genuinely terrifying, and frankly, kind of ballsy for a middle grade author. The themes they were dealing with down there were super intense. Also, Riordan introduces the Titan Bob, who gets some good stuff out of Percy, and is completely delightful (and surprisingly heartbreaking) in his own right. He almost entirely makes up for the fact that the Titans have been sort of neutered by this series. They were horrifying in the original series, and here they’re barely a concern.

Anyway, very much looking forward to the next book in the series, and I have faith that Riordan can pull it off.

Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #52: Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan MD and Luke Shanahan

DeepNutritionA dear friend gave me this book and for quite a few months I found it hard to get into. It demanded more focus than most other books because it talks scientifically about food and our bodies and I think there was a part of me that didn’t wholly want to understand the bad shit I’d been doing to myself by ingesting various types of food that weren’t good for me. But for so long, I’d resisted the “good” and “bad” foods, because that type language seemed to reinforce getting down on yourself for your eating habits. “Oh, I’m gonna be bad just this once…” someone says as they have dessert. Or, “I know it’s bad for me but it’s only a little and it tastes so good.” Plus, there’s so much changing and conflicting information about what’s bad, what’s good, and why. A few years ago, eggs were evil, and I’m not talking deviled eggs. Bad cholesterol! Heart attack for breakfast! Run for your lives! Then it was just the yolks that were supposed to be bad. Nowadays, we’re being told that eggs are okay in moderation. There was a War on Butter for a while. Margarine was our savior. Then it comes out that margarine’s not all that better and could have unhealthy transfats. It’s difficult to know what’s right.

In this book, I found a good explanation of why certain foods are better for you. How they’re good for you, how to eat and a little bit about how to prepare them, how they affect your body and your children’s bodies. Brain growth, skin health, the vitality of your organs and cells…it was all in this book and while it was fairly scientific and sometimes I found myself rereading sections over to fully get what the author was saying, it actually took a pretty complex subjects like nutrition and biology and ultimately made them accessible.

From this book, I finally understand the negative affect sugar has on the body. I also learned why vegetable oils aren’t nearly as good as everyone makes them out to be. Apparently, certain vegetable oils, like the ubiquitous canola and soybean oils, change chemical composition when they’re heated. This chemical change take a healthy oil and makes it into a mutant which then mutates and deep fries your cells.

The author is a doctor and with her co-author husband talks competently about food, nutrition, and the science of both. There were a few times it seemed a little repetitious, and honestly the illustrations aren’t always helpful since most aren’t high quality, but on a whole, this book has educated me about what food really does for and to my body and has also given me some concrete ways to make healthier changes and choices.