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» Listings for May 2010

  1. Jodi Picoult House RulesMy Rating: 4/5

    Jodi Picoult is an author that I, like many others, are very aware of and the majority of her new books seem to be very popular. However for some reason I have never gone out of my way to ever read any of her work. When this book landed on my lap I was genuinely intrigued.

    Jodi Picoult has been publishing books since her debut novel `Songs of The Humpback Whale' in 1992. Since then she has gone on to write a further 16 novels including her latest `House Rules' which was published in May 2010. Her books are translated into 34 languages in 35 countries and 3 of her books have been made into television movies. More recently her book `My Sister's Keeper' was turned into a big screen release starring Cameron Diaz.

    Like I said previously I was intrigued by the jacket detail of this book as Jodi appeared to be focussing on a subject that I am sure many people have never heard of. Asperger's Syndrome. Jacob Hunt is 18 and looks just like any other 18 year old boy. The difference is that Jacob is not like any other boy in his town. He lives with Asperger's which is a form of autism. Jacob tends to fixate on certain things and his most current fixation is Forensic Science. He avoids eye contact, will only eat certain colour foods on certain days and has an almost photographic memory. His mother Emma not only has to deal with Jacob, but has to raise her other son, 15 year old Theo, on her own as a single mother. Jacob regularly turns up at crime scenes where he offers unwanted advice to the police about the forensic tests they should be running. One day, Jacob returns home from his meeting with his social skills tutor and is behaving oddly. His mother Emma finds that when the police turn up on her doorstep they only have bad news to give. Jacob's tutor Jess was found dead and now they want to question her son about what had happened. All of the innocent traits associated with Asperger's, like not looking somebody in the eye; now all seem like the signs of a person who is guilty. Emma, Jacob and Theo are thrown in at the deep end and have to fight to prove his innocence.

    I admit I had never until reading this book, heard of Asperger's Syndrome. Of course I had heard of autism but not of this individual type. The story is written incredibly well and we are introduced to Jacob with a wide understanding of his individual quirks and traits that come with his syndrome. I couldn't help but grow to like Jacob and his quirky ways. Jodi Picoult introduces each character by chapter and along with that she changes the typeset so that it is very clear which character you are following.

    Each character is written with feeling and compassion, to the point that even as they are making bad choices you can't help but feel for them. Along the way we meet Rich who is the Detective in charge of the murder of Jess as he tries to catch who he thinks is the right killer. We also meet Oliver who is a lawyer who is just starting out. Oliver becomes not only their lawyer but an integral part of their lives. He gets to see the Hunt family day in day out and in all kinds of situations. He witnesses Jacob's `meltdowns', where he cannot cope with a situation and has to be coaxed out of it by reciting movie quotes or singing Bob Marley. The book is incredibly well written due to not only the talent of the author but the compassion she shows in writing about subjects that are open for debate. I found to my surprise that I was over halfway through the book and I still had no real idea of what had happened, I just felt that I knew the characters that bit better. As the book progresses through the second half we are drawn into the court case that the Hunt's have to prepare for.

    Overall I actually enjoyed the book and the story it told but was extremely let down by the ending. I actually visited her website after I finished her book and had a browse at her other books. It seems that she writes about subjects that are extremely sensitive or subjects that are currently being debated in one way or another. I am not saying I didn't enjoy this book, it's just that I question it when an author produces books that only cover sensationalist subjects. I think that Picoult fans will not be disappointed however can't say that I would rush out to pre-order her next book.

  2. Karen Rose Scream For MeMy Rating: 3/5

     Karen Rose is a RITA award winning novelist who has been writing since her debut book `Don't Tell' in 2003. Karen Rose then produced a series of books starting with Die For Me which was released in 2007. The series feature Special Agent Daniel Vartanian. This book is the second in the Series and is entitled `Scream For Me'.

    I have only read one other Karen Rose book which was her debut novel and I was thoroughly captured by her writing style and thoroughly enjoyed every page of that book. When I picked up this one I was totally unaware that it was the second in the series but this had absolutely no effect on the enjoyment as previous events are explained in detail. If you wish to read from the beginning of this series I would suggest you don't read onwards from this point as there may be spoilers relating to the first book.

    In this second instalment we again meet Daniel who has recently buried his parents following their brutal killings at the hands of his own brother. Not only does he have that to deal with, but the fact that his brother Simon died at his own hands too. When a new case lands on his desk he is determined to absorb himself in this new case and catch the killer that seems to be replicating murders from 13 years ago. The problem with that is that the murders seem to be linked to a collection of photographs that belonged to his brother.

    Alex Fallon is an ER nurse and is getting over the breakup of her relationship with a fellow Doctor. Alex has a murky past with her twin sister having been murdered thirteen years ago. When she finds out that her stepsister Bailey has gone missing she fears the worst. However Bailey has a history of drug abuse but would her own stepsister abandon a small child alone in her house just for her next fix. Alex doesn't want to take any chances so takes Baileys daughter Hope into her own care and begins her own search for her stepsister.

    Alex and Daniel inevitably cross paths when Daniel realises there may be a link between the murders from 13 years ago, the murders that are happening now and the disappearance of Bailey Crighton. Between them they try to make sense of what is happening and why.

    The proper description for this type of book genre is romantic suspense. When I reviewed Karen Rose's previous book I totally disagreed with that label but I have to say it is more fitting to this book. The story itself is far from a bed of roses and is largely based around multiple murders of young women. However all of her books do have a romantic element running through them. I have to say though, that in this case it just became part of the story as opposed to taking over from the central focus of the book. It runs along nicely and is integrated well without becoming too over the top.

    You do have to pay attention as there are many characters introduced throughout which all have a part to play somewhere along the line. This author has a knack of switching seamlessly between a horrific murder scene and a scene in which two people are falling for each other despite the circumstances. I loved the element of the story which was written from Bailey Crighton's point of view as the story is then staggered and the reader is drawn further into the reasoning for a lot of things the further in to the book they get.

    Overall I think I preferred her debut novel to this but this was still a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. She has also introduced Daniel Vartanian's sister Susannah along with Daniel's friend Luke Papadopoulos who are to take a much more central role in the follow up to this book. I think Karen Rose is a great author and I look forward to reading the next installment.