Becky’s Seventy-Fourth Book Review: “Book of the Dead” by Patricia Cornwell

You know how they say never judge a book by its cover? Well I do it all the time, especially when I am out shopping for gifts for my parents. I look around for a book that I know they wouldn’t have picked up on their own because they tend to stick with authors that they know. So a few years ago I was shopping for my Dad’s birthday and I saw a book called “Book of the Dead” which I thought sounded interesting. I got it for him along with some others and told him when he was done to lend it to me. I’ve been slowly working my way though the pile of books that I borrowed from Mom and Dad and finally picked up Patricia Cornwell’s book this week. 

It was interesting…and there were definitely times that I wanted to know what would happen next. The book was full of all sorts of my favorite things, murder, mystery, and a touch of romance. I worked my way through this book desperate to know what would happen next. Some of the characters I found to be interesting, but a lot of them I couldn’t really stand. Just when I began to get bored with the book things picked up. But then the book ended and it was abrupt and not well done at all. I was left wondering what everything meant. I mean, with a murder mystery you want to know how it all comes together at the end. But apparently that was not to be. The book wound together poorly to say the least.

Would I recommend this book. No. I felt like it was a real waste of time. Barely worth a review in the first place. 

Becky’s Seventy-Third Book Review: “The Lifeboat” by Charlotte Rogan

“The Lifeboat: A Novel” by Charlotte Rogan was a fantastic read. I was surprised at how layered and complex the characters were in this novel and I found myself wanting to re-read “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood. Part of this came from the fact that the main character in both books is named Grace and each is on trial for her life. Although the circumstances that surround each trial is different. “The Lifeboat” is full of many interesting characters and takes place in 1914; two years after The Titanic sank. The ship carrying newlyweds Grace and Henry Winter suffers a mysterious explosion and sinks. Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat and that is the last time that she sees her husband.

The book is told through Grace’s perspective and it changes between her telling the story on the lifeboat itself and her telling her story after being rescued and then being put on trial for her life. Through the changes in perspective the audience learns more about Grace’s character and how she met her husband which in my opinion was a little sketchy. Charlotte Rogan explores many different things in her debut novel and she focuses on the experience of surviving a shipwreck and then being forced to fight for your life in a lifeboat waiting and wondering if a rescue is ever going to come.

I was mightily impressed by Rogan’s writing, especially considering that this is her debut novel. I found that the book ended much too quick for my taste, especially because I finished my book on my lunch break which meant that I didn’t have any book left to read on my way home. That made me a little sad. Really the problem was that when I finished the book I didn’t have anything else by Charlotte Rogan to get my hands on. I guess that is the issue with really enjoying a first-time author.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, I believe that “The Lifeboat” would appeal to a wide audience. It combines psychological thrills with survival instincts and Charlotte Rogan dives deep into Grace’s character. I cannot wait to see what Charlotte Rogan comes up with next.

Becky’s Seventy-Second Book Review: “Mortal Memory” by Thomas H. Cook

For me, sometimes I find that I will connect a particular memory to a book and that memory is the reason that I hold onto that book. While I have always been an avid reader, I used to get my books exclusively from the library or as gifts. There was the occasional book fair at school (how I loved those), but for the most part, I didn’t buy books. It wasn’t until later in life when I discovered not only my love for shopping, but my love for buying and owning books. The first book that I ever bought by myself—a shopping trip without my Mom along—was “Mortal Memory” by Thomas H. Cook. I don’t know if I even read the back of the book or if it was just the cover that intrigued me enough to make me buy that book. The cover of “Mortal Memory” says: “What did my father do? He killed my mother, my sister, and my brother, then waited to kill me…” This alone was enough to make me want to read the book. I bought it at the Doylestown Book Store, one of my favorite locations in Doylestown. I bought it and put it on my bookshelf and promptly forgot about it. I’ve picked the book up a few times with the thought of reading it but never really got around to it. I’ve probably had this book in my possession for more than ten years. A few days ago, I decided that it was time and I picked up “Mortal Memory” to finally read it.

With so much hype built up around the book, I kind of expected to be instantly enamored with the novel to the point of not being able to put it down. While the book was intriguing, I found that it went a little slower than I expected. Also, one of the characters in the book was named “Rebecca” which sort of bothered me. I feel like too many people throw around the name “Rebecca” or “Becky” and the characters are not always deserving. I guess I’m a bit of a snob about my name. Either way, the book was interesting enough to keep me reading but not so interesting that I would curl up on the couch and ignore the TV while Adam watched whatever show he wanted.

A couple of things about the book threw me off. First of all, I didn’t realize that the main character—the narrator—was a guy until I was a few chapters in. I always tend to make the main character a female unless otherwise directed, so I was forced to adjust the character after starting the book. Not a big deal, but I did find it a bit strange.

The main character, Stevie, told his story almost backwards. He began by talking about all the things that he didn’t remember about that day that his family was murdered, until Rebecca. This went on for a few chapters to the point where I was very curious as to who this Rebecca was. Once introduced, Rebecca becomes a very intriguing character. I found that I liked her despite the theft of my name. The more I learned about Rebecca though, the less that I liked Stevie. In a way, he wasn’t a very relatable character and while you feel sympathy for what he has gone through in his life, at the same time you wonder why he let things go the way that they did.

Now I mentioned that the book wasn’t an edge-of-your-seat read. This was true up to a point. Towards the end of the novel, many different things are implied to the audience at the end of each chapter and I found myself needing to know what happened. Stevie’s quest to find answers matched my own curiosity and I eventually did find myself reading whenever I could find a moment. What really got me about this book was the twist. I love a good twist, and I really didn’t see this one coming. I had a couple of theories which I will refrain from naming in case you choose to read this book, but in the end I was blindsided by the abrupt twist.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. It really depends on what kind of reader you are. If you are a big fan of books that immediately drag you into the story then this may not be the book for you. However, if you like a good mystery and an excellent twist as the icing on the cake “Mortal Memory” by Thomas H. Cook would be worth a read. It is probably not going to become one of the books that I read over and over again, but I may pick it up again someday to see if it reads any differently with me knowing the end.

Becky’s Seventy-First Book Review: “Dreamcatcher” by Stephen King

Yesterday I finished reading “Dreamcatcher” by Stephen King. This is one of the few times where I’ve seen the movie before reading the book. I haven’t seen the movie for awhile and it is definitely on my list of movies to watch in the near future.

“Dreamcatcher” is yet another example of Stephen King’s exceptional writing abilities. This novel is about a group of friends who one day stand up against a couple of bullies and change their lives. The group consists of Henry, ‘Jonesy’, Beaver, and Pete. These boys walk in on a boy from the ‘retard academy’ being tortured by three popular boys and they stand up to the bullies even though the other boys are bigger and stronger. In this simple act of compassion, they end up befriending a boy who will change their lives forever—Duddits. The story is told in a combination of past events of the boys’ interactions with Duddits and present events where aliens are invading the town where the boys go hunting together every year. I refer to them as boys, but in the present tense when aliens are attacking they are grown men with families of their own.

When the boys saved Duddits from being tortured by bullies they never realized just how much they would be changed. But it is because of Duddits that Henry, Jonesy, Beaver, and Pete are equipped with the ability to fight the aliens better than anyone else. Throughout the novel the reader learns just how special this group of boys became when they met Duddits and he became part of their lives.

The movie is one of my boyfriend’s favorites and so he was eager to hear my review of the book. He was especially curious as to whether or not there was more detail about the reason behind the title of the book/movie. As mentioned before, it has been a long while since I have seen the movie, so I cannot remember everything that was in it. But “Dreamcatcher” was not the original title for the book. It wasn’t until Stephen King’s wife stepped in and pointed out the downsides to naming the book ‘Cancer’ that he came up with an alternative. While there are physical dreamcatchers in the book/movie, the overall symbolism of a dreamcatcher connecting this group of friends is really why the title is what it is. Furthermore, Duddits is the dreamcatcher in the group—it is through him that all the boys are connected.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I found “Dreamcatcher” to be an exciting read and even though I sort of knew the ending because I had seen the movie before I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. Once again, Stephen King wound together a story full of strange events and special people to put together a real page-turner.