Book Review: Plain Truth

Plain TruthImage
Jodie Picoult
Fiction, Crime
Published: November 1st, 2004
4/5

                The small town of Paradise, Pennsylvania, is a jewel in Lancaster country – known for its picture-postcard landscapes and bucolic lifestyle, but that peace is shattered by the discovery of a dead infant in the barn of a Amish farmer.
                A police investigation quickly leads to two startling disclosures: The newborn’s mother is an unmarried Amish woman, eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher and the infant did not die of natural causes. Although Katie denies the medical proof that she gave birth to the child, circumstantial evidence leads to her arrest for the murder of her own baby.
                One hundred miles away, Philadelphia defense attorney Ellie Hathaway has achieved an enviable, high-profile career, but her latest court victory has set the sands shifting beneath her. Single at thirty-nine and unsatisfied in her relationship, Ellie doesn’t look back when she turns down her chance to make partner and takes off for an open ended stay at her great-aunts home in Paradise.
                Fate brings her to Katie Fisher, Suddenly, Ellie sees the chance to defend a client that truly needs her, not just one who can afford her. But taking on this case challenges Ellie in more ways than one. She finds herself not only in a clash of wills with a client who does not want to be defended but also in a clash of cultures with a people whose channels of justice are markedly different from her own.
                Immersing herself in Katie Fisher’s life – and in a world founded on faith, humility, duty, and honesty – Ellie begins to understand the pressures and sacrifices of those who live plain. As she peels away the layers of fact and fantasy, Ellie calls on an old friend for guidance. Now, just as this man from Ellie’s past renters her life, she must uncover the truth about a complex case, a tragic loss, the bonds of love – and her own deepest fears and desires.
                Moving seamlessly from psychological drama to courtroom suspense, Plain truth is a triumph of contemporary storytelling.
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                Plain Truth is a thought provoking and intriguing read. Vastly original the ending will surprise you and you’ll either enjoy the deceptive plot twist or you’ll hate it. Fast paced and filled with colorful characters, Plain truth will grab your attention until the very last page and the very last sentence. The amount that Jodi Picoult must have put into studying the Amish culture had to have been enormous because everything fit together so seamlessly and seemed extremely believable. However, as she isn’t Amish I can only imagine that it was not completely correct.
                I really enjoy how Jodi Picoult takes cliché’s and twits them, giving them a new spin. You can almost guarantee that what you think is happening isn’t the truth. I really, really, love that about her writing, and Plain Truth doesn’t fail to deliver on my favorite aspect of Jodi Picoult’s writing.
                You can’t help but feeling for poor Katie Fisher, and the very real, and very ‘English’ problem that’s she has found herself faced with. You spend most of the book wondering what the heck is going on with her. She seems dazed and confused most of the book, spending time talking to a dead sibling and wondering alone in the night time often. She has her heart smashed open and is betrayed brutally by the last person you’d expect.
                Often times I found Ellie a little annoying, I did not enjoy her side romance at all and found it was a needless addition to the plot. However, like with most movies, most books need to have a romantic sub-plot line. It gives us something to root for.
                Thought the storyline shifted easily between the court-room and the dramatic events taking place outside in the main progressive part of the story line. Blended great and didn’t feel like an abrupt change.
                Really looking forward to reading my way through all of her books, and discovering different ways to look at things.

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Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I go to SleepImage
S.J. Watson
Adult, Crime thriller
published: June 14th, 2011
3/4

 

                Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man.
                She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
                But it’s a phone call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities – tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life – and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
                Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past and the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
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                I’m not going to lie, I was one of those people who went into this book fearful it was going to be some strange re-write of fifty first dates because in all honestly it sounds a lot like fifty first dates. Before I go to Sleep however, is most assuredly NOT anything like fifty first dates and I kind of wish it was.
                “Before I Go to Sleep” was crazy, a whole big train of crazy. It was tantalizing and deliciously creepy. I honestly sat down on a beautiful sunny afternoon and devoured it. It’s a very easy read for the most part. The chapters mainly consist of her waking up and starting fresh again, which did drag on a big and did become quite daunting.
                There were a few aspects of the book that I didn’t enjoy and I think that it was mostly because this story was drawn out and in the end that made things rather predictable. In my opinion this would have made an awesome short story.
                I can give S.J. Watson big props for writing an original story however, at least it was to me. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The effort that was put into Christine’s life story was pretty intense. The Lies, the deception, the twists and turns were all fantastic and great, however there were a few moments that gave away the ending.
                Despite not having enjoyed this book a lot, it was a good read and I mostly enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s a book I’d ever read again, but if you like Crime Thrillers with an original story like I believe “Before I Go to Sleep.” Would make a great addition to your collection.Image

Book Review: Salem Falls

Salem FallsImage
Jodi Picoult
Adult Contemporary
Published: 2002
Publisher: Washington Square Press
4/5
A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Dinner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart.
Amid the rustic calm of Salem falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets – and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.
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Salem Falls is a fast-paced page-turner with more plot twists than a rollercoaster. Jodi Picoult is not timid with those taboo topics such as the short comings of the legal system, people’s harsh judgement, rape, incest, etc.; in fact Jodi Picoult often tackles subjects that most people don’t want to think about let alone write about. Her stories don’t always have happy endings and they’re so full of truth that it’s almost painful to be a witness too. It’s true that the good guy doesn’t always win, sometimes evil does, and sometimes what we all believe to be right really isn’t in the end.
Salem Falls really calls into question what we believe and why we’re inclined to believe those things. That’s what I really love about Jodi Picoult’s books: I love that they’re filled with interesting characters and situations. I love that there is always two sides of the story and I really, really love that sometimes the side that you’d believe was wrong isn’t really as bad as you think it would be.
This isn’t one of her stronger books despite how much I love what she calls into question. The characters lack some realism and dimension which is why I’ve only rated this four stars instead of five.  There are definitely aspects to the main characters that have left me wanting more. Jack and Addie’s relationship falls flat in a lot of places and though it’s sweet and romantic they’ve found each other I just find that they don’t fit well together. However, that being said, Addie’s faithfulness and righteousness are very heartwarming. I love it when you have a main female character that hasn’t fallen apart and become a complete mess on the floor, however there are definitely aspects to her story that don’t make much sense and parts were I seriously questioned her mental sanity!
Also, wow! What an ending, I definitely did not see the interaction between two of characters at the end. I also wasn’t expecting to be so creeped out and disgusted by the behaviour of some people more than I already had been at that point. Though part of the ending made me feel slightly uncomfortable in the wake of its truth it was important to the story and to the understanding of intent of one of the main characters. It definitely help explains why what happens happened.
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Book Review: Fear Collector

Fear CollectorImage
Gregg Olsen
Crime Mystery
Published: 2013
Publisher: Robinson Publishing
4/5

                Ted Bundy: America’s most notorious serial killer. For two women, he is the ultimate obsession. One is a cop whose sister may have been one of Bundy’s victims. The other is a deranged groupie who corresponded with Bundy in prison–and raised her son to finish what Bundy started; to charm and seduce innocent girls, to kidnap and brutalize more women than any serial killer in history. And to lure one obsessed cop into a trap as sick and demented as Bundy himself. . .

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                It’s been a long time since I’ve read a crime mystery that’s gotten under my skin the way that ‘Fear Collector’ by Gregg Olsen did. I picked this novel up on a whim, looking for something gritty, dark and edgy.
                The characters involved in this story are very believable (Ted Bundy being a real person) and the story line they are wrapped up in is easy to get into. With so many plot twists and turns, there are times even when you know someone isn’t the serial killer part of you believes they might be.
                I would not suggest reading this at night as I did; it was definitely hard to sleep after I had finished it despite the bad guy having been caught. There were just so many other bad characters that it leaves you with a heavy, unsettled feeling. The truth in knowing that every time one evil person is caught there are two more to take their place.
                There is a heavy emphasis on the obsession that takes place in regards to serial killers, the bizarre groupies they develop over time, those who hate them too much to let their own pain of losing someone or being a victim themselves go.  It’s very realistic in regards to the mental illness of obsession and the dangers obsession can bring.
                The book was well written, engaging and definitely a page turner. It’s one of the first books in a while that I’ve actually been able to finish and enjoy immensely in regards to the twisty plot and engaging dialogue.
                The only issue I really had with the book was that I felt like there were a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of turns that weren’t explored in more detail and finished up and as I thought the book was actually rather short they could have used another hundred pages or so to finish up more of the story line and make it more concrete.
                I’m looking forward to reading more by this author and am currently reading ‘Victim Six’ by Greg Olsen.  Have any of you read anything by Greg Olsen, or do any of you enjoy crime mysteries? If you do I’ve love some recommendations of authors and or novels that you’ve enjoyed.
                Looking forward to posting more in the future, I only have one more trip planned this summer so hopefully after the beginning of September I’ll be blogging more regularly again.
               

Book Review: People who Eat Darkness

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Woman Who Vanished in the Streets of ImageTokyo –  and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up.
Richard Lloyd Parry
True Crime
Page Count: 454
Publisher: Fsg Books
Published: 2011

                Lucie Blackman- tall blond, twenty-one years old – stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo and disappeared forever. For months, the police’s only lead was a suspicious message left with Lucie’s best friend claiming she had joined a religious cult. The truth would prove much darker.
                Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? What exactly did Lucie do at her hostess job in the notorious Rappongi nightclub district? How many others had suffered – and will suffer – her same fate?
                Richard Lloyd Perry, an award winning foreign correspondent, covered Lucie’s case from the beginning. He tracked the story across four continents, earned the trust of her family and friends, won unique access to the Japanese detectives and legal system, and delved deep into the mind of the man accused in Lucie’s disappearance, Joji Obara – described by the judge as “unprecedented and extremely evil.”
                The result is a book at once thrilling and revelatory, “a big, ambitious true crime book in the tradition of Norman Mailers, ‘The Executioner’s Song’ and Truman capote’s in “Cold Blood”

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                People who eat darkness is a well written true crime story about a young woman from England named Lucie Blackman who goes missing working as a Hostess at a club called ‘Casablanca’ in the Rappongi night club district in Japan.  There were many aspects in this story that were frankly bazar and disturbing, including the behaviour of the family members of Lucie Blackman when she went missing.
                Richard Lloyd Perry does a fantastic job describing the world in which Lucie was immersed into when she came to Tokyo, Japan. Japan has one of the most interesting and vibrant cultures that I’ve ever read about and it seems to me that unless you’re born and raised in Japan you’ll never completely understand them. There were a lot of interesting facts about Japan, like the conviction rate and the crime rate of Tokyo. You also learnt a lot about how their law system in particular how their police force’s politics worked. And you learned that ‘Western’ woman (and men probably) whom work in Rappongi (Not clear if it’s the same elsewhere) are not really treated with the correct amount of concern.
                There were some disturbing stories of woman complaining about the man that killed Lucie and no police officer ever looked into them, there was also one instance where they wrote some notes down on a scrap piece of paper, sent the woman away and never wrote a report or followed up with the information they had supplied. If they had looked into the issue more Lucie Blackman would have been saved from death and perhaps other woman from being hurt as well.
                Very well written for what it is, informative, grabs your attention and does not drag on or get boring.  It plays on your fears and shows some pictures of Lucie that leave you with a haunted feeling and a heavy weight in your gut. Everything is placed so strategically so you feel the whole impact of the terrible murder of Lucie Blackman. It was very sad, and despite knowing what was inevitably going to be written within the pages I was hoping that she’d turn out to be alive in the end.
                If you like to read true crime I would recommend People who Ate Darkness.

Book Review: Joyland

JoylandJoyland
Stephen King
Crime Mystery with paranormal elements
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Published: 2013
5/5

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible; the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child and dark truths about life – and what comes after – that would change his world forever.
A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old – and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time- JOYLAND is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, JOYLAND is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.

 

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Joyland with its attention grabbing pulp cover and Stephen King’s name stamped on the cover it’s no wonder that so many people have taken this book home.  I absolutely love the cover, I think it’s fantastically fun, gorgeous and would make a great print, and the woman on the cover almost appears to be a pin up girl, she is exactly as I picture one of the characters in the novel to look.  This is honestly one of my favorite covers, I don’t know if I have ever found one that I find so enjoyable.
Joyland is told from the perspective of an older Devin looking back to his year at an amusement park in North Carolina in the year 1973. Devin’s a likeable character, with a well-developed personality complete with all the right flaws and the right amount of heartbreak.
The Ghost story is not over stated in the novel and actually takes almost a secondary seat to the heartbreak story line. Devin seems to use the mystery of the girl in the blue skirt that died in the house of horror as something to think about other than the recent heartbreak of his first love. I thought Stephen King did a great job blending both plot lines together and wove them with a fluid grace that I do not believe many authors have managed to staple down quite yet.
The Story progresses nicely and although it’s not action packed it moves quickly and you don’t find yourself getting bored. The Secondary characters make up for what could have potentially been a slow storyline. They’re all vastly different and all who you would assume would be ‘lifelong carnies’.
This book demonstrates exactly how diverse Stephen King is in his writing, he is brilliant and deserves all the fame he has gotten over the years. He is legendary and Joyland is a must read, a highly recommend read for your first Stephen King novel.
If you have read Joyland let me know what you think!

Book Review: House Rules

House Rules
Jodi Picoult
(Adult) Fiction
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            When your son can’t look you in the eye…does that mean he’s guilty?Image
  Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject – forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.
             But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
              And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

 

            I love a good mystery that you have to try and figure out along with the characters in the book!
This novel is written from the various character points of view. This story gives you a good idea of each characters development throughout the story, you get to hear each of their own individual voices and how everything that happens in the novel affects them. I thought she did a fantastic job developing the characters and giving them each an independent voice.
The detail to which the author gives to Jacob’s obsession with crime scenes was fantastic. It was very detailed and exact just the way Jacob is. The Court room trails were also extremely realistic and interesting. I thought she did a fantastic job making the whole story fit together, as well as incorporating a vat of information about Asperger’s, Finger print collecting, and blood splatter. If you have an interest in Crime scene analysis then I think you would really enjoy all the little details and mini crime scene details posted throughout the book. I know I enjoyed that greatly, as I am a sucker for stuff like that.
It was very heart-warming at times, I loved ‘Emma’ Jacobs mother; she was a strong woman but was not without flaws. Theo Jacob’s fifteen year old brother made me feel for him so much, just wanting attention and not feeling like he’s getting it, he finds ways to act out; Theo I thought actually showed the most maturity and growth throughout the book and I found myself identifying with him through a lot of his feelings and thoughts.
This was the second novel that I have read by Jodi and I am looking forward to trying out a few more of her books in the future.