Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sad Cypress [Christie]

Book: Sad Cypress [Hercule Poirot #21]
Author: Agatha Christie

Review: Elinor Carlisle receives an anonymous note stating that someone has been sucking up to her elderly, sick aunt. Elinor and her fiance, Roddy Welman, travel to see her aunt and figure out what is going on, concerned about their future financial state since they expect to inherit a sizable fortune. Elinor notices a special relationship between a local girl, Mary Gerrrad and her aunt, and things become more complicated when Roddy falls in love with Mary. After aunt Laura dies, Elinor and Roddy's engagement is broken off and Elinor sets about settling her aunts affairs. When Mary is poisoned and all evidence points to Elinor, she finds herself on trial for murder. The local doctor engages Hercule Poirot to help get Elinor off.

A very good read, 'Sad Cypress' was arranged in three parts. Part One: Primarily Elinor's account of her aunt's death and Mary's death. Part Two: Poirot's investigation. Part Three: The court case. My favorite part of this story was that I was never sure if Elinor did or did not commit the crimes in question. I was on the edge of my seat and never saw the end coming. Bravo Ms. Christie!

Grade: B

Deadlocked [Harris]

Book: Deadlocked [Sookie Stackhouse #12]
Author: Charlaine Harris

Review: Fans of this series will be sorely disappointed by this latest installment that seems to be written by a ghostwriter. Remember the spunky heroine that readers fell in love with? Gone and replaced with a passive aggressive complainer who runs a lot of errands (that are explained in detail). Remember the sexual tension between Sookie and her various love interests? Gone. Zilch. No romantic scenes in this book at all. Remember Eric Northman, the sexy bad-boy vampire who went after what he wanted? Gone and replaced with a shell of his former self, someone who doesn't even buy Sookie a birthday present. Remember the fae subplot, Niall, Claude, etc.? The entire story line was wrapped up in a few pages (I'll avoid spoilers but will say Claude's final actions made no sense) which leaves me wondering why the fae were included at all. 

I'm not even going to bother talking about the basic plot because there barely was one. It is clear that Harris is not interested these characters nor the series. Fans realize that Sookie has no interest in becoming a vampire and wants a family (the family theme was shoved down our throats in this book, with way too much time spent on secondary characters). All signs point to Sam (who is much more dynamic and interesting on the HBO show then the books, but he is so BORING in the books) but Harris does not have to destroy Eric to break up the characters. It is a shame that Harris spent so many books building up the Sookie/Eric relationship to kill it in such a way. Most of their relationship in 'Deadlocked' consisted of Sookie hanging up on Eric and refusing to talk to him about anything. Very disappointing. Also-I realize Sookie is suffering for post-traumatic stress syndrome from a few books ago which accounts for her more subdued attitude, but there was barely any humor or whit in the entire book. 

Do not waste your money on this (I'm upset I purchased it on kindle, what a waste). It was terrible. 

Grade: F

4:50 from Paddington [Christie]

Book: 4:50 from Paddington [Miss Marple #7]
Author: Agatha Christie

Review: Elspeth McGillicuddy is relaxing on a train when she witnesses a murder. She cannot see his face, but a man has brutally strangled a woman to death on a passing train. Elspeth reports the incident to a porter and continues on her way to visit her dear old friend, Miss Marple. Relaying the incident to Miss Marple, they go to the local police. However, a body is not found. Did Elspeth imagine the incident? Miss Marple believes her friend is telling the truth and is on the case. She is convinced the body is hidden at Rutherford Hall and sends a young professional housekeeper undercover to help her solve the case.

Lucy Eyelesbarrow (the professional housekeeper who went undercover for Miss Marple) was a welcome addition to this book. She was young, fresh and sharp. Christie did a great job creating a suspicious cast of characters at Rutherford Hall and I was thoroughly surprised at the ending. 

Grade: B

Monday, June 11, 2012

At Bertram's Hotel [Christie]

Book: At Bertram's Hotel [Miss Marple #10] 
Author: Agatha Christie

Review: Bertram's is a relic. A London hotel with superior customer service and old fashioned decor with all the modern conveniences. Tucked away off a side street in London, patrons travel around the world to sample the hotel's luxuries. Our favorite sleuth Miss Marple is there for a holiday when she notices some strange happenings. Things seem just too "perfect" at the hotel and when a guest goes missing then reappears with a strange story, Miss Marple helps out local police with the case.

While well-written with several suspicious characters, this book fell flat for me. Instead of a murder mystery, the police are investigating a suspicious disappearance and robberies. The story lines just weren't interesting. And while I love Miss Marple when she stays in the background, she almost too much in the background this time around. 

This one can be skipped.

Grade: C

Bloodlines [Mead]

Book: Bloodlines [Bloodlines book# 1]
Author: Richelle Mead

Review: After helping to prove Rose's innocence in the last Vampire Academy book, Sydney is in trouble with her strict alchemist father and the local alchemist leaders. Intent to prove she does not sympathize with vampires and that she is dedicated to her alchemist duties, she takes on an undercover job to protect Moroi princess Jill Dragomir. Her assignment takes her to a private high school in Palm Springs, where she rooms with Jill and poses as her older sister. Ever the perfectionist, Sydney seeks to excel at school, protect Jill, navigate difficult relations with the local alchemist and work with the local Moroi vampires, including Adrian, who has followed Jill to help her adjust.

A super fun read! Georgina and Rose (two of Mead's other protagonists) have similar personalities (flirty and witty) so it was fabulous reading a completely different character. A perfectionist with limited social skills, Sydney was unintentionally funny. She is a young and fresh protagonist of this new series. She is trying to come to grips with her rigid alchemist beliefs and her growing relationship/friends with vampires, while trying to figure out the strange happenings in Palm Springs. 

Grade: B+

Peeps [Westerfeld]

Book: Peeps
Author: Scott Westerfeld

Review: Cal Thompson got more than he bargained for after a one night stand his freshman year of college. Infected with a parasite with horrifying effects on its host, Cal becomes a carrier and unknowingly infects several girlfriends. When these girls turn into crazy shells of their former selves (or 'peeps' as Cal calls them), Cal hunts them down to ensure they don't make more of their kind, as well as to help them. 

'Peeps' is an absolutely fascinating take on vampires. Unique in every way, Westerfeld masterfully weaves chapters about biology within the story, creating a chilling tale. A great read that still resonates with me. Highly recommended. 

Grade: A-