That thing called life...

That thing called life has got in the way of some serious reading which has meant I have fallen behind in posting up reviews. So this is a catch up post.

The Seed Collectors - Scarlett Thomas

Hardcover, 384 pages, Published July 2nd 2015 by Canongate

Aunt Oleander has died and as the family gathers to remember and mourn, the secrets begin to emerge.

This is a complex story that deals with family and is difficult to review. I was provided a copy by Netgalley.

On one hand I was completely absorbed by the writing, the descriptions are fantastic, all the senses are captured and you are drawn into the novel. Yet at times I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters who are trying to bring their narrative to the fore.
At times I was not sure whose view point I was reading and it would take me some time to determine which character it was. The story jumps all over the place and then there is peppered throughout random pieces on topics like philosophy.

All the characters are flawed, are plagued by self-doubt and undergoing some kind of crisis of sorts. I don’t have to like the characters or empathise with them to like a novel but I need some kind of anchor. There was not any character that anchored the story and gave the reader a focus. Bryony and Fleur come close to performing that role. It was as I read their vignettes that I felt all the strands of this dysfunctional family began to assemble. Some connections did puzzle me as I could not understand how Fleur and Skye all of a sudden became like best friends.
I like Thomas’s writing style as she knows how to engage the reader with wonderful descriptions and interesting characters.
I read this on an e-reader and I have to be honest in that I believe it diminished the reading experience. With a complex novel of characters I find you need to be able to flick back and forth through the pages to pick up the strands. Especially, when you have put the book down for a couple of hours and not having that for me it made things difficult. Make sure you get a paper version of the book and you will really enjoy it.

Full House - Janet Evanovich (audio book)

Audio CD, Unabridged, Published September 21 2002 by Macmillan Audio

So six grade teacher Billie Pearce decides to take horse polo lessons and ends up falling for the millionaire instructor Nick Kaharchek. 
Okay you don't expect much that is why you read or in this case listen, its light, its fluffy, it give a nice feeling and hopefully a few laughs along the way. What I got was an endless banter of I love him/her, I don't love him/her, my life is a mess, my life is wonderful, why do all these bad things happen to me, why do all these good things happen to me and on and on it went. At one stage I wanted to rip the cd out the car and propel it across the highway if I had to listen to any more of Billie's continual self doubt. It was so draining. 
The audio was great quality and the characterizations were spot on. That was the highlight for me with Full House. This book was not for me. 

Virals - Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Paperback, 416 pages, Published January 3 2013 by Arrow

This is the third book in the series and I have to say it does help to have read at least one of the preceding books to provide context. 
The Virals are on the hunt for a geocache, an object hidden somewhere on the island. What is meant to be a harmless game turns into a deadly encounter as the group finds themselves being manipulated by “The Gamemaster”. 
The action is fast paced, the writing is snappy and the story moves along keeping you interested. The telling of the story from Victoria Brennan’s viewpoint can be limiting as there three other characters that have interesting stories to tell. 
It is a fun read and works well for the young adult market. 

Raging Heat - Richard Castle

Published September 16 2014 by Kingswell

Hurricane Sandy is coming, a body falls from the sky, political games are afoot, a promotion is on the cards and Heat needs to resolve just how she feels about Rook. 
Like so many others I am a fan of the television series and have enjoyed the books. Yet this one was a disappointment, let me specific the first two thirds of the book were dull and deserve one star, while the last third (and the saving grace for the novel) was pushing four stars. 
In the first two thirds all the characters are bordering on obnoxious to the extreme. Heat who is usually a strong character is now conflicted with 'do I want my independence' or 'do I really love Rook'? Seriously this was the best internal conflict we could come up with! The real conflict for me and was skated over was the boundaries between police officer and investigative reporter. There are times when Rook crosses the line but is given the get out of jail pass. As Rook is the jokester, has weak excuses (I didn’t know the publisher would release the story) and because Heat loves him. Rook was so cocksure in the first part of the novel I was hoping he and Heat would break up for good. The roguish charm had worn thin, his actions were selfish and to be honest showed no remorse or care for the choices he made on how it would affect his partner. Yet all the issues were portrayed that Heat had imagined them or were her fault. Rook is to often depicted as saint like and above reproach. 
Throughout the book there are references to the Castle series with Beckett’s Neck and a famed mystery author making an appearance but all I can say is thank heavens for the last part of the book when story and characters were redeemed. 
It is here that the action really picks up, the banter picks up and Heat is in her element tracking down leads with the team supporting her. It is better reading, far more engaging. For all that I am done with the series as it has lost it's way.