When You Reach Me by rebecca Stead book review

When you reach me book

When You Reach Me

Rebecca Stead

Mystery/Science Fiction

197 Pages

 

I picked up this book after a recommendation from a friend of mine.  I had never heard of Rebecca Stead or the book itself previously.  I’ll be honest: it took me quite a while to get into.  The timeline of the book was somewhat choppy to follow at times and it seemed like not a whole lot was going on.  For a good portion of the book, I was wondering what the story was and where it was going, and it took me a while to start to care about the characters, which is something that is important to me when reading a book.  However, as I got to probably the halfway point or so, my interest was piqued and I was excited to see what happened.

 

This book is about a girl named Miranda who lives with her mom.  The book takes place in the late 1970’s in New York.  Miranda receives a mysterious note that begins with:

“I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.”

She doesn’t know who the letter is from or what it means.  The letter asks her to write a letter back, explaining everything from the beginning, which is what becomes the book.  She isn’t sure what to do or what the “beginning” even is, but it becomes clearer to her later on.  Miranda kind of loses her best friend at the beginning of the book, for reasons she doesn’t understand.  That leaves her alone for a while, until she starts making new friends, they even find a job to work together.  Plus, her mom is going to have the chance to compete on a game show, the $20,000 Pyramid, so, her life could be looking up.

The notes keep coming to Miranda, and things are getting weirder with their content.  As the book went on, and as I started to see what was happening, there were some good foreshadowing elements in the novel that I picked up on.  Although I didn’t see how everything would play out, I was able to make some accurate guesses about events and the ending.  As I reached the end and was able to look back on everything, it was actually a very good book.  It is set in the past, in normal life, but has elements of science fiction you don’t even notice right away.  It was unique from any book I’ve read, and although it took me a while to get into, I really enjoyed the conclusion.  Miranda is able to figure out where the notes are coming from, and some of the other things that come together in the novel are very thought-provoking and carry good messages as well.  This book is worth a read if you are looking for something different and interesting.

Rules of Prey book review

Rules of Prey

John Sandford

Crime Thriller

353 Pages

 

I have so many books I want to read that I don’t often reread any. However, I didn’t want to exclude this series of books from my review, or start at the end of it for those who are unfamiliar with the work of John Sandford. Rules of Prey was first published in 1989, and Sandford is still writing books in the same series today. It was interesting to go back and read the start of it all, after having recently read the latest ones as well. This series is awesome. If you are into cop/crime thriller books and you haven’t ever read Sandford, then you are missing out. However, a word of forewarning: his books are always filled with strong language, and often with sexual themes and descriptive violence, as they are usually about serial killers. So, if those things are offensive to you, stay away from the Prey series. I would definitely not recommend these books for younger readers.

 

This novel starts out by introducing us to the hero of the Prey series, Lucas Davenport, who is a detective in Minnesota. Lucas is investigating a series of murders by a man who refers to himself as the maddog. In this book, we get to look inside the maddog’s head and understand how he sees himself and the things that he is doing. I think this was one of the first books I read where I got to really see the psyche of the killer and how they justify their actions. The maddog is hunting down the “chosen ones” and slaughtering them brutally. He has the police department stumped so it is up to Davenport to anticipate his moves and catch him before he kills half the women in St. Paul.

 

Sandford uses the knowledge he acquired during years of being a crime journalist to give unique perspectives within the police department as well as aspects of the media that most of us would never think about. Davenport does what he can to control the media and help bring out the desired outcome while he is hunting this killer. Davenport is so fun to read about because he will do whatever it takes to catch the killers he is tracking. His methods aren’t always purely ethical, but he doesn’t let anything stand in his way. If I were a criminal, I would be terrified of a man like Davenport trying to bring me to justice.

 

Things really start to heat up as the maddog focuses on a reporter for the news as his next target. The police watch and covertly guard her, but he wants his next prize. As he plans his attack, will Davenport be able to beat him at his own game?

 

If you are looking for an awesome series to begin in this genre, look no further than Sandford. He has enough books to keep you going for a while, and I have enjoyed them all. I recently finished the 20th book in this series, and I think his writing has improved greatly over the years. So, if you give this one a shot and like it, you’ll love all of his other ones in the Prey series as well. He also has other books that branch off from these ones as well. Sandford is a skilled writer with a lot of books and a lot of experience. Again, if things like violence, language, and sometimes sexual themes are offensive to you, don’t read these. If not, crack one open and check it out!

Miracle Cure book review

Miracle Cure

Harlan Coben

Mysetery/Suspense

511 Pages

 

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors ever.  However, he has a note at the beginning of this book for new readers.  “Okay, if this is the first book of mine you’re going to try, stop now.  Return it.  Grab another.  It’s okay.  I’ll wait.”  When I first saw this, I found it odd, but upon completion of the book, I understood it and agreed with it.  This was his second published novel, and he admits that it is flawed, but that he still loves it.  That being said, it is not my favorite of his novels, but it was not a bad book by any means.  I think that if you are unfamiliar with his work, it might be better to take his advice and read some other works of his first.

 

Anyway, in this book, much like many of his other books, sports play a big role.  One of the main characters, Michael Silverman, is a basketball star, and he is married to a TV journalist, Sara Lowell.  This novel is widely about finding a cure for AIDS, and Coben does well to raise several issues in the novel that I had never before thought about.  He points out that there are those who view finding a cure to AIDS as a secondary problem to other, supposedly bigger medical issues.  There is only a certain amount of funding that medical causes receive from the government, and in this novel, there are those who want to see those funds taken away and used in other areas, such as cancer research, etc.  Coben points out that there are people who are opposed to a cure because it is seen as only a disease prevalent to homosexuals and drug users, and no one should care about people like that.  He raises issues in this book that I found interesting to read about; I never thought people would have had less interest in finding a cure for a deadly disease based on these issues alone.

 

Michael and Sara happen to be very close friends with Dr. Riker, who has dedicated his life to finding a cure for AIDS.  He confides in the couple that he believes he has found a treatment for the disease; unfortunately, someone wants that cure stopped bad enough to kill the patients that have been cured thereby to destroy the evidence.  Riker finds himself in danger and trying to carry on his work while those most important to the work are dying around him.

 

Like all Harlan Coben novels, this book is filled with deceit and twists that all come together perfectly at the end.  The writing is clear and consistent, and only confusing in that it is hard to imagine how it will all end.  It is hard to imagine who is pulling what strings, and you might just find yourself surprised at the end to discover who was on what side.  There are many dangerous players in this game, and Coben is a master of keeping the reader in suspense throughout the whole novel.

 

Again, I will say that this is not my favorite of Coben’s books, but I did still enjoy reading it.  I think that it would be beneficial to take his advice and read some other works of his first, and then come back to this one later.  If, however, you have read others of his, pick it up!  Or if you are interested in medical topics and controversial issues, I think you would find this book appealing.  It talks about some things in the novel that wouldn’t be appropriate for younger readers, and a lot of the medical information might go over a younger reader’s head, but it is an interesting read for adults.  If you do read this and like it, I would highly recommend any other Harlan Coben’s other books, as I think he is a fantastic author and you won’t be disappointed.