The Collector by John Fowles

February 10, 2019

the collectorAnother Kevin pick! I would describe The Collector by John Fowles as the grandfather of the popular book (now Netflix series) YouThe Collector was published all the way back in 1963.  I can definitely see a lot of influences from The Collector on You, and while I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, it’s definitely there.

The Collector is about a woman named Miranda who is kidnapped and forced to live in a prison-cellar by the narrator, Clegg, who is a socially awkward and [obviously] disturbed person.  We witness the kidnapping and then from there the captivity of Miranda, who is imprisoned in the cellar of a countryside home that Clegg purchased solely to keep her prisoner in a remote area.  He’s convinced that she will come to love him and they can live happily together. I won’t go into any further of what happens from there; you’ll have to read it! The Collector is mostly from the perspective of Clegg, but we do get to read some journal entries from Miranda.

The Collector is pretty straightforward and I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I would say read it!  It’s very well written, a quick read, and will keep you intrigued for what will happen next.  Definitely read if you like creepy, weird things like I do. *Fingers crossed for Miranda*


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

January 8, 2019

incoldbloodI’m aware this book is a classic, so I’ll go easy: It was not good.

I tried to read In Cold Blood twice, but could NOT get into it.  I had a hard time following what was happening and I honestly barely remember the plot.  After the first failed attempt, I thought, “OK, I’ll sit down and try and really focus to read this.”  Didn’t help.  I got about 80 pages in and decided to not waste my time any longer.

Skip In Cold Blood and read one of the other eight billion crime novels out there.  Or watch the Capote movie and that will give you some insight into the book.  I enjoyed the movie!

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

November 12, 2018

the president is missingCool fun fact  – I read The President is Missing in Vietnam!  Anyway, I have no idea where I found out about this book, but it seemed interesting to me.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a James Patterson book before, and this one was co-written by former President Bill Clinton.  Pretty interesting combination.

I don’t have too much to say about The President is Missing, other than it was a quick, entertaining read.  It was uncomplicated, but was still entertaining enough to keep me reading. Was it thrilling? Not really, but I did want to finish it.  I wouldn’t necessarily scream from the rooftops for everyone to read this book, but I did enjoy it. It’s a pretty typical political mystery; the president goes missing to try to stop a potentially nuclear (figuratively, not literally) cyber terror attack.  It’s kind of like an episode of Scandal. It is from the President’s point of view, which I found interesting considering Bill Clinton co-wrote it. I almost feel like he was playing pretend a little bit and doing something in the book a real president would never do/be able to do.  

One particular small part in the book stood out to me, which led me to believe Bill Clinton was living a bit vicariously through this book.  In the 9/11 Commission Report which I read 1,000 years ago, it’s reported that Bill Clinton had the opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden, but chose not to because many women and children were too close by and there would be child/civilian casualties.  (I believe this was also reported in a bunch of news outlets when he said it.)  In the book, the President has the same opportunity – to make the decision to kill a terrorist, but there may be child/civilian casualties. The President in the book makes the decision to attack and kill the terrorist, which was very telling to me that if Clinton could do it over again, he might have picked a different route in real life.

Anyway, The President is Missing is worth a read because of the former President factor and it has a fairly good plot line.  I’m not sure if my lack of total enthusiasm is because Bill Clinton isn’t a good writer/influence on James Patterson or if all Patterson’s books read like this.  Thoughts are welcome for those who have read other books by James Patterson. I would like to read a few more of his books of his though since he is so famous.  

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

November 3, 2018

ibgitdSerial killer books, yaaaa!! If you didn’t know, the serial killer this book is about has had many names over the years – the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and most recently, the Golden State Killer.  The name that’s stuck recently and been fairly ubiquitous is Golden State Killer (GSK), so I’ll refer to him as that from now on. The GSK committed at least 13 murders, over 50 rapes, and more than 100 burglaries during the 70’s, mostly in Sacramento and Contra Costa county in CA. Then, during the 80’s he struck in SoCal, near Orange and Santa Barbara counties.  Seriously, I’m surprised if you were alive during those decades and made it out alive. Serial killers were everywhere.

The identity of the GSK was pretty much unknown until April of this year (2018).  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was published in February.  Unfortunately the book was published posthumously, after Michelle McNamara died of cancer about two years prior to the publication.  The capture of the GSK was pretty fascinating. Apparently a relative of his submitted her DNA to an ancestry website, and the police matched her DNA with the GSK’s.  They were able to confirm the DNA was a match by following the suspect and obtaining his DNA. McNamara actually addresses the possibility of using these widely used DNA companies to find the GSK, but I think she had the same thoughts I did.  I was under the impression that those DNA companies are not able to use the DNA in that regard, but I guess they are (#thisiswhyancestrytestscantbetrusted – seriously, read the fine print about what they can do with your data).

Anyway, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is an interesting book.  Some of it is pieced together by authors after McNamara’s death.  I didn’t think that detracted from the quality of the book though.  Unlike most crime books I’ve read, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is heavily focused on the experience of the victims.  It goes into lots of detail about what the GSK did to them, but I found it to not be as gruesomely described as it could have been.  She describes what happened in a way that makes you feel for the victims, but are not overwhelmed by the severity and harshness of the crimes.  It is a fine line to cross.

While I felt I’ll Be Gone in the Dark didn’t really make any shocking developments in the case, it was an interesting read.  It’s almost uncanny how police were unable to catch this guy for so long and there were so many pieces of evidence. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was a short, fairly easy read and goes into McNamara’s experience when writing the book as well and researching the GSK.  It was not as fact and evidence based as other crime books I have read, but was still a worthwhile read.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

September 29, 2018

the good daughterI picked up The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter from a friend’s car.  I thought it was a book my boyfriend suggested I read and I mentioned that to my friend, so she told me to take it.  “It’s not the kind of book you read twice,” she said. She was not wrong.

I don’t think my friend meant that comment because The Good Daughter was not good.  I actually very much so enjoyed reading this book, and I don’t think I’ve read a book this fast in a while.  The previous book I was this enthralled with was 11.22.63. She meant in the way that it’s very dark, intense, and a bit disturbing, so proceed with caution.  It addresses school shootings, murder, death, and sexual assault. I’m hearing myself saying these terrible things happen in the book, but that it was excellent and I realize that is crazy.  It’s a very good read and written in a way that makes you want to keep going to find out what is going to happen next. I felt like I wanted to find out what happens next to the characters, even if that was something sad.  It is similar to a Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train type scenarios, but darker. Although I’m saying I enjoyed it, about ¾ of the way through something that happened to one of the characters was revealed and it really made me sad.  It was disturbing and made me slow down a bit. I’m almost a bit disappointed it was added, to be honest. However, I kept going because I wanted to learn about the ending for the characters I had come to know.

While not the most uplifting read, I found The Good Daughter interesting and captivating.  I would recommend, but proceed with caution if any of the above situations I mentioned will upset you.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

September 2, 2018

murder on the orient expressTL;DR – The movie version of Murder on the Orient Express came out in late 2017, so I wanted to read the book!  I don’t think I’ve ever read an Agatha Christie novel, either, and I know this is one of her most famous ones.  I don’t have much to say about Murder on the Orient Express.   To be honest, I didn’t really find it that thrilling and thought it was quite repetitive.  I didn’t feel any suspense in trying to find out the killer and Christie didn’t do a good job instilling in me why I should care. I guess I’d read this book if you want to read a “classic” and don’t like more hardcore crime/mystery novels.  It really didn’t take very long to read and is short, so it’s not a huge investment.  I’m sure people love this book, so maybe I need to stop reading Gone Girls and Yous or watching so much 48 Hours Mystery…desensitizing myself.  I dunno.  Personally, I’d skip Murder on the Orient Express.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

September 1, 2018

white trashAnother long-timer on my to-read list right here.  I also came across White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America in a bookstore at some point and added it to my list of books to read.  I was still in my non-fiction love affair and although I’ve been trying to read more fiction, I didn’t want to discount this book.

White Trash was, in short, a very academic read.  I expected this though because we start the book in pre-colonial times.  If you are a US history buff, you will enjoy this. I typically enjoy US history, so I didn’t mind.  However, it might be a bit much if you’re not into US history because it reads like a history book. I learned some interesting things about how North Carolina was the poorer state (vs South Carolina) because it did not participate as heavily in slavery as well as some interesting, but not surprising, things about Andrew Jackson.  (This actually made me feel better about our current political climate, TBH. Do some research about Andrew Jackson and you’ll understand.).

Anyway, while I thought this part of the book was very interesting, I was more excited to get into modern times (think 1920’s and beyond).  Unfortunately, that part of the book was outrageously short! It glossed over the 60’s, Reagonomics, the Clinton administration, which left me a bit disappointed.  These are the time periods I felt I would have really been able to absorb and relate to because they are closer to the present day.  For sure pre-colonial, revolutionary, civil war, etc times shaped who we are today, but the more recent time periods have also been an important part of our history, too.

Either way, I thought White Trash was an interesting read and would recommend if you like US history.  I was a little disappointed, but overall it was a very factual, but still enjoyable, book.  I think you’ll learn a lot about how our country was structured and how different classes have come about and evolved throughout US history.