Book in a Minute: City of the Lost

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan, #1)City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is really more like a 2.5 star rating. I loved the concept of a city where people can go completely off the grid and disappear (victims of domestic abuse, witnesses to crimes, etc.) The pace was fabulous – even when the story started to come apart, I couldn’t put it down. And I mostly liked the heroine, Casey Duncan. The city has a creepy, insular feel that reminded me of the Village in the old “Prisoner” TV Series. However, all these elements were wasted for me when this whodunnit came apart in the big reveal.

Casey committed a murder in a moment of passion about twenty years earlier (not a spoiler, she reveals this in chapter one) and is basically atoning for it by being a cop. When her youthful crime catches up to her, she’s happy to disappear into this invisible city in the Canadian wilderness, and the town is eager to have her since it turns out there might be a grisly serial killer in their midst.

Unfortunately, a good heroine and a great setting are wasted late in the story when our heroine engages in a painfully ill-conceived romantic interlude and falls into bed with her strong silent stereotype of a boss. Said romance also includes some really uncomfortable “I said no but I didn’t really mean no exactly” chatter that made me like Casey a LOT less and wonder if E.L. James had stepped in to write a couple of chapters. From there, the story degenerates into a batsh*t crazy three-way girlfight, and of course, the reason for all that girl crazy is (you guessed it) those terrible menz and all the hearts they be a-breakin’.

Disappointing.

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Book in a Minute: The Pier Falls

The Pier Falls: And Other StoriesThe Pier Falls: And Other Stories by Mark Haddon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Relentlessly dark and disturbing, but so well-written, I kept reading anyway.

The first story, “The Pier Falls” is almost Hemingway-like in its straightforward, moment-by-moment description of a freakish tragedy at a beach resort.

“The Island” retells the myth of Ariadne with a gritty, heartbreaking realism.

But my personal favorite has to be “The Woodpecker and the Wolf,” which reads like the jaded, cynical flip side of Andy Weir’s The Martian. A female astronaut is part of a team stationed on Mars when things go horribly wrong. And then they get worse. Does she emerge triumphant, a la Mark Watney in Weir’s story? Read the book and find out.

But maybe don’t read it too close to bedtime. These are the kinds of stories that trouble the mind and plague the soul long after you’ve finished reading.

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Did Ya Miss Me?

a long absence semi-explained and a brief tribute to Bowie.

Egad! Five months! I must have really been busy, eh?

Well, kind of. We’re working on getting the house ready to sell – always a nightmare, but more so when a barfy, senile, half-blind cat and Dr. Sheldon Cooper are involved. To be honest, Dr. Cooper has been pretty low-maintenance these days (KNOCK WOOD VERY, VERY LOUDLY). It’s almost like he’s growing up or something…

I promise to get back to blogging more frequently, if only because we’ve put the house selling on hold until the fall, when Dr. Cooper will be (gulp) living in HIS OWN APARTMENT near the campus of the college he’s attending in the fall. Right now, it seems like said college has some meeting or orientation or pep rally every five minutes, so it’s been hard for any of us to focus on anything other than college in the Fall.

There’s also a trip to Toronto/Stratford/Niagara coming up soon. I’d be excited about it if it didn’t involve flying there.

I’ll also be back soon with some things to say about the horrible, horrible¬†Castle conclusion and the sad kluster*ck of bad publicity that surrounded it – and what it says about the value placed (or not placed) on female stars of shows. (Yes, I’m also looking at you¬†Sleepy Hollow.)

Last but not least, I am still trying to find the words to say how incredibly sad and broken up I am about the death of David Bowie. It’s embarrassing how sad it makes me. I never met the man, only saw him live in concert once, but he was truly an idol for me. When I heard the news on the morning of his death, I sat down and burst into tears as if my mom had just died again. I have played so much David Bowie music lately, that even Dr. Cooper (he who would prefer listening to the King’s College Choir) is starting to appreciate the guy’s oeuvre.

In fact, there’s nothing I can say that doesn’t pay tribute to him half as well as this does: