Home – Harlan Coben

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I’ve been waiting 5 years for this book, granted for most of that time it didn’t exist but i had hoped for another book in the Myron bolitar series. Then new years day this year Harlan posted on his twitter a picture of page one of this novel being typed into his word program. After 5 long years book 11 was on its way, while not the longest wait between books in this series that belongs to to book 8 being 6 years after book 7, it was the hardest.

Book 10 Live wire, really wrapped a lot of story lines up. Myron shut down his Sports Rep company, so his employees  Esperanza and Big Cindy go there own way, and his best friend Win goes into hiding. It really felt like the story was over.

Set only 1 year after the previous book in the series, we find Win still in hiding but on the trail of a kid who went missing 10 years ago and after a disastrous encounter with the kid, Win decides  to call his friend Myron in to help as this case is personal. The kid is one of two who went missing 10 years ago, once of which is Win’s cousins kid, which i guess makes it his second cousin.

After the reunion between these best friends,  Win explains very little to Myron about his time away, however in a change of pace there are a few chapters that are from Wins POV and has him explaining stuff to the reader, something quite different for Harlan. It was through these POV expositions that we find Win was a lot closer to home than we realized. In the intervening year when with the help of his nephew Mickey, Myron final finds his brother long thought dead and in a touching tribute to the strength of their bromance we find Win was close by just in case.

This story was one of Harlan’s best, i loved it! I’m sure part of that love is being reunited with these characters after all this time. So one must wonder if another book was released in this series would i still feel so positive about this book?

While this book does in a sense have closure with the gang back together again, i still feel like there is the potential for another story dealing with Win’s absence and what occurred while he was in hiding and in true Harlan style it could easily be something from his past coming back to grab him, a recurring theme in his books.

A careful reader will also notice the shock revelation about Em’s long elusive father at the wedding.

 

Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

20160823_163723After the last 2 disappointments i had read, it was a risk to grab an author i hadn’t read before. I needed a good mystery and i had read everything by Harlan Coben and then this showed up on my Goodreads feed.

What i liked about this story was the way it was structured, we begin with the plane crash and then as the story moves on and deals with the investigation interspersed with flashback chapters dealing with the events leading up to the crash from one character point of view. Naturally we have one of these chapters for each of the victims.

I thought it was a little bit different to do it this way, rather than several chapters in a row dealing with the past or perhaps leaving it out completely, we have these brief pauses to current events and a brief flashback. I think it does a good job of not hurting the forward momentum of the story by doing it this way.

As the investigation continues we see the stark reality of nature come to a front, we see the vicious parasites that most people just refer to as the media, Go from labeling the  survivor a hero, to stalking him to try and get a interview, to down right blaming him for the crash.

As personal biases and agendas come to a front (just like our own media)  and the harassment of the survivor continues we the reader get drawn into it and start to wonder could the survivor really be responsible? The ending is rather shocking and i did not see it coming.

Really makes us think on our own judgements and how often we make them before all the facts are in. A fantastic read!

 

 

The Summer Before The War – Helen Simonson

The Summer Before The War – Helen Simonson

This book was a challenge, a challenge i set myself to be honest because awhile ago a friend posted a picture of a parcel on her doorstep saying her books had arrived and yet when i asked her what did she buy i was told you wouldn’t like it. No title, author or genre just boom you wouldn’t like it, We used to speak many a time about books and offer suggestions but this time i could draw out no further information.

Had my reading preferences become so constrained that she felt it a waste to elaborate on her purchases. Had a comment i may of made previously about a book or genre perhaps offended her? Either way i felt the situation called for me to take a stab at broadening my literary horizons. So i thought, what is the genre that would cause me to throw the book into a fire under normal circumstances. The first genre to mind was Romance, i would rather have a kidney extracted by hand and with no anesthetic than read that rubbish. The second was anything remotely like Downton Abbey – The whole post Edwardian period piece. So perhaps i could find a book that would combine these two.

The End result was this book, in fact it didn’t take long to find since there is such a demand for this style of Downton Abbey style rubbish. Needless to say my negativity of the genre is already showing and i’ll try to reign it in.

The books Blurb is as follows

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking — and attractive — than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war”

I first see the year 1914, and get excited knowing this is set right at the outbreak of WWI but then I read the whole blurb, in fact i read it twice to try and figure out what the plot was, and even after finishing the book i am still left struggling to understand the plot, was there even a plot? If it wasn’t for the brief mention of war i might of passed over this book for another.

For me i just can’t fathom why people love the whole Downton Abbey theme. People seem to imagine this a rich and wonderful time to pursue ones interests, with slaves, oh i mean servants to cater to your whims and numerous balls and galas held to entertain your social needs. Where young beautiful ladies are swooned by handsome men with fancy titles.  Is everyone who reads this stuff Daft? That’s how the rich and powerful 1% of society lives, a quick look over to the rest of us shows we drag out our meager existence chasing trains to pick up dropped pieces of coal to warm us in winter. This is an area where women have very little choice. They must do as their fathers bid, marry who their fathers bid. Can’t aspire to greatness or to have any job they desire, doors are closed to them for most vocations. Religion holds a powerful influence over people, to highlight this sickening hold, there is a woman in this story who gets raped and falls pregnant, SPOILER ALERT, instead of feeling for this poor woman and trying to help her because of what she went through, they feel they need to remove her from their town and not be seen with her so as to not ruin ones social standing and people call this the time of romance? Everything about this time is focused on social standing as opposed to happiness or chasing ones dreams but enough of a rant about the theme back to this book.

This book was such a struggle to go through, it felt like each chapter dragged on longer than the wait between book releases from George R.R. Martin. Don’t get me wrong the Author writes well and somehow manged to do it for 500 pages but for 400 pages nothing happens, we have balls and galas, numerous teas and dinners but nothing of purpose or meaning. We have stuck up Matrons and ladies of the house and the usual town gossipers. Even the outbreak of WWI barely makes a dent into the social goings of this town, they swarm over refuges hoping to get English speaking ones and to help raise their social standings by this act. It is these very people who should be shot for war crimes, only helping their fellow man for their own personal gain.

The brief highlight of this book was when we finally venture out of some quaint English town to the battlefields of Europe, oh how my hopes were dashed by its mere briefest of appearances. Yet its mere presence renewed in me a desire to finish this book and be done with it. With numerous mentions of the war in those last 100 pages and chapters taking place there, i was able to zip through to the ending which was not surprising and rather long foreseen considering how predicable these 2 dimensional and plain characters are.

If you love stories with no plot that feature words like Matriarch, Lord, Servant, and have themes like Female oppression, Social Elitism, and revolve around the PoV of a woman trying to break the social confinements placed on a young single woman than yes this book is for you.

If you prefer entertainment, excitement, suspense or even just a basic plot then move along friend this is not the book your looking for

 

The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
There is something immensely bittersweet about the final book in a series, the fast approaching conclusion and reality of it being the last time we visit this world always makes the final book in a series a sad thing. More so this time considering the author died before this book was released
Many months back on hearing the news of his death i selfishly was concerned that the book would be unfinished or someone else would finish it and thus the writing style be different but it turns out Terry and his co author pretty much wrote all 5 books years ago. So my worries were unwarranted.
The final book in the series is set several years after the previous ones. Our main man Joshua has lost his wife and is estranged from his son. So in keeping with his character he says screw the world i’m going for a sabbatical and by sabbatical he means a journey into the many parallel worlds that make up the long Earth. I just love the concept of parallel worlds (the long earth) in the book. Such a unique spin on this scientific concept.
At the same time he leaves a startling event occurs, a message is received from space and while the message is analysed and deciphered,  Joshua runs into trouble out in the wilderness when he breaks his leg when an animal runs him over. Trapped in the middle of no where with no one around he contemplates his life right when the world at large needs him the most. The message has been deciphered and it says JOIN US.
Final books in a series always run the risk of not living up to expectations and while i loved the story, the ending left me wanting more. I should of seen it coming, each of the previous books rarely answered questions and this is the same. The book drew many parallels with the book/movie contact and just like that, this ones ending is left unresolved.
I loved this series so much, it tapped not only into the human desire to explorer but also notions that family isnt always blood and that the pursuit of knowledge for knowledges sake is a worthy adventure.
I really will miss these so very well crafted characters and with one the authors passing it really is the end. So many tv shows get canceled before they finish properly and the same can be said for book series much like the bourne series, yes someone else may pick up the reigns and continue but its just not the same. Here we were lucky to have a series of books from start to finish and such a wonderful series it was

The Woods – Harlan Coben

The Woods – Harlan Coben
An oldie yet still a goodie from Harlan. Well only 9 years old but when an author releases a book or 2 a year 9 years is a long time and many books ago. Fortunately Harlan really hit his stride many years ago so this book really holds its own.
Paul’s sister was murdered along with 3 others years ago at a summer camp and his mother ran off not long after. For years his father would go into the woods and dig looking for his daughter, When Paul’s father dies he feels its time to let it all go and move on that. That is until he gets called in to ID a body that body turns out to be that of one of the kids murdered at that camp years ago, but how can that be,  could his sister also be alive. Paul’s attempts to get to the bottom of this really show just how far a family will go to protect its own.
This is another of Harlan’s stand alone novels but it has a recurring character loren muse who appears in several stand alones. A great character that i love reading and i love the fact that it implies all this stories occur in the same literary world. This book has the usual roller coaster of twists and turns before the shocking end.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

Who needs to describe the plot when the massively long title does it for you. But for those of you who hadn’t already figured it out, the story is about a 100 year old man who yes climbed out a window but its a bit more complicated that. Alan (the 100 year old man) is in an old folks home, not really by choice, he was sent there for blowing up his home, but that is a long story. He has a nasty nurse who keeps taking his hidden booze off him, so when he finds out that the old folks home intend to throw a surprise 100th party for him he has had enough and wants out. Being limited in his options and mobility, he decides to climb out the window and run away albeit very slowly since he is 100.

First stop after a sloth like crawl out the window is the nearby bus station, a short walk away for most but for him it was tiring, he approaches the sales person and asks how far he can get for 500 crowns, well its set in Sweden so all the currency is theirs too. Google converter tells me its about 20 bucks. Which seems a far more reasonable amount for a senior to have on them.The money wont get him too far, guess bus travel is expensive over there. So while he waits a few minutes for the bus arrive he sits down. Then a stranger approaches him and asks if he could hold his suitcase while he goes to the bathroom, before Alan can respond the man is off running for the toilet, just as Alan’s bus arrives.

Here is where the story takes an interesting turn, Alan looks at the bus, then looks at the suitcase and pretty much thinks ahh screw it, and takes the suitcase. At the end of the bus journey Alan with the help of a new friend opens the suitcase and discovers it is filled with millions of crowns, not actual crowns of course but the currency used in Sweden, what follows is an hilarious adventure and accidental heroism that would put the Pink Panther or Mr Bean to shame.

A hilarious adventure of Alan avoiding the police looking for him (our of concern) and of the gangsters looking for their money, Along the way Alan gathers new friends including an Elephant. We find out all about Alan’s past including meeting Presidents, Dictators, Secret police. We learn of his albeit almost unbelievable good luck and Alan finds out once again what it means to feel truly alive.

A fantastic read full of laughs

 

 

 

Paddle Your Own Canoe – Nick Offerman

Paddle Your Own Canoe – Nick Offerman
Funny man Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec wrote a bio on himself, which is strange because i didn’t realise he had been a celeb for that long. Either way he is funny as hell so i grabbed it.
Damn this is one hilarious read, starting from childhood(naturally) to struggling actor and on to Parks n Rec. Nick leads us on a no holds bar, none of this PC crap journey through his life. With plenty of laughs, life advice, romance ideas and carpentry tips, along the way.
Its refreshing to see the other side of comedians especially those that dont require a script to be funny.
Fantastically funny read.