I've been really bad at publishing these "What I've Read" posts in the first week of the month. My goal for June is to click the "publish" button before the 8th!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Lonely Rachel rides a commuter train into London every morning and grows oddly attached to the people she sees in the trackside neighborhoods. When a woman goes missing, Rachel involves herself in the investigation and discovers she may be more than an innocent bystander.
Each and every character is a train wreck (ba dum dum). None of these people are likable. The ones that begin to approach likable are so periphery that it doesn't matter that they have redeeming qualities. And that is precisely what made this book fun.
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Supermodel Lula Landry flings herself from her balcony on a freezing winter night in an apparent suicide, but her brother thinks there is more to the case and hires Cormoran Strike, a private investigator and Afghanistan veteran, to find Lula's killer.
An amputee protagonist! An amputee protagonist who is the protagonist for reasons other than being an amputee! While the mystery was not particularly unsolvable or shocking at the end, the diverse, believable (sometimes believably unbelievable!) characters and enjoyable writing made this a great first installment. I'll be seeking out the sequel, The Silkworm.
The City & The City by China Mieville
Dystopian Science Fiction
Two cities, Beszel and Ul Qoma, share the same space on the map, but are governed by two different governments. When a young woman was murdered in one city, but found in the other, Inspector Borlu must tiptoe the delicate boundary between the cities.
Very rarely do I really like books that are dominated by their setting, but The City & The City kept me thinking about it long after I finished it. The story and characters kept me moving through the book, but I just love the idea of two cities that share the same geographical location and have citizens that willfully ignore the other city.
Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray
Erotic Romance (also Paranormal Romance)
Half-human, half-elf, and full-time defender and enforcer of Paranorms inhabiting the human city of New York, Nyx must eradicate the demons and save her fellow Trackers -- and her romantic endeavors -- from annihilation.
My thoughts (in order, but summarized) while reading Demons Not Included: "This character is unbelievably skilled in acrobatics and has flawless super-powers, interesting... This book isn't that sexy... oh okay, that's a little raunchy... I get it, her skin is amethyst, not purple... OH. So that's what they mean by 'erotic'... it's over?"
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
New to the neighborhood, dramatic and stuck-up April joins forges a friendship with Melanie. Together, they create an imaginary land of Egypt in an abandoned yard, but odd and sinister things begin happening in Egypt.
I remember reading this in grade school, but I couldn't really remember anything about it. I preferred (and still do to some extent) stories with a strong story element -- things needed to happen and there needed to be a point -- but in The Egypt Game, the story doesn't really build up to anything until suddenly! Here is your exciting ending! I did enjoy watching the children's relationships develop, but the lack of plot-driven chapters made it less memorable for me.
Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block
Bernie Rhodenbarr, an independently employed thief, is caught red-handed during a hired heist and finds himself to be an unsuspecting murder suspect. To clear his name (of murder), Bernie must find the real killer before the police find him.
This was written in the 1970s and is showing its age. Though dated (occasionally painfully so, especially when cutting edge technology like voicemail is discussed), Burglars Can't Be Choosers was still a fun, quick read. Fans of The Cat Who... books by Lillian Jackson Braun will probably like these mysteries featuring criminals (rather than feline detectives) as long as they don't mind their cozy mysteries to be a bit raunchy too.
A Clean Kill in Tokyo by Barry Eisler
Vietnam War Special Forces veteran turned Tokyo hit man, John Rain specializes in making his targets' deaths look natural, but soon becomes embroiled in an international corrupt power play when his clean kill draws too much attention.
Barry Eisler is an ex-CIA covert operations agent and lived in Japan for five years. The Tokyo setting doesn't dominate the story or overwhelm his highly principled assassin, but the sense of place is what really made the book for me. Having never been in war, participated in a secret mission, or visted Japan, this seemed pretty authentic to me. The audiobooks are narrated by Eisler and he does a great job. I'm working on getting a copy of the second book in the series, A Lonely Resurrection, on audio as well.