afterparty

When I picked up Ann Redisch Stampler’s afterparty, I didn’t realize that it was a young adult novel. I’m not opposed to reading YA and many times I really enjoy the book, but this book really was meant for a young reader. Emma is the good girl built by her father’s idealism and overprotectiveness. She has an interesting past, having moved around every couple of years following her father as a traveling professor. She changes her name with the moves, but isn’t allowed to grow into the teen that she is. Her skirt length is regulated as are her after school activities and friendships. Her father supposedly is a Psychology professor who can’t see how ridiculous his helicoptering is.

After moving to LA for her father’s job, somehow Emma is enrolled in a super exclusive private school where the uber wealthy children attend. Of course Emma meets the bad-girl Siobhan on her first day and starts breaking all her fathers super restrictive rules. She’s mildly bullied, nothing compared to what I think would’ve happened, and her and Siobhan create a pact to make Emma cool. They create a French boyfriend and excuses to get Emma out of the house to attend crazy high school parties with the goal of checking off a teenage activity to-do list before the big Afterparty.

There are some interesting aspects of this book and I was surprised by the twist at the end, but this was a simple read. I think most teenagers are capable of more complexity that what Stampler gives them. At the end, I didn’t look back favorable on this book. There are many flaws in the storyline that I couldn’t get over, even with the twist at the end.

Read February 2015

Bonk

Mary Roach’s Bonk is about sex. The boring academic studies as well as some very interesting personal experiences involving the author, her husband, and an ultrasound wand. And she does it in as much of a non-clinical way as possible. Well, at least most of it was. From the beginning I was drawn in to her crazy world of sexual physiology and stories of how the scientists risked their academic reputations to get some of the information that we take as common place today.

I was floored that for years it was “common knowledge” that a woman needed to orgasm in order to get pregnant and if a woman was infertile that the man was to blame. Based on the misogynist history of almost every culture, this was very surprising.

There were some more scientific sections where Roach lost my interest, but then she’d often bring it back to some study where people had sex in front of researchers in Alfred Kinsey’s attic, and for the most part my interest returned. The book was a little too long to keep my interest all the way to the end. I think there’s only so much sex I care to read about before wanting to return to the world of fiction. A friend that reads a lot about the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal walls said this was the best book on the subject she’s ever read and said she laughed out loud on many of the scientific topics. I don’t read much on the topic, so many of these sections were dry to me, but very interesting to someone more versed on the topic.

Overall, I enjoyed to book and the discussion that it prompted amongst my friends and husband. The first half of the book flew by and was very enjoyable. It dragged for me by the end, but the I think if a reader has a little more interest in the science of sex, emphasis on the science part, the whole book would probably be enjoyable.

Read February 2015

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy is the second Camilla Lackberg novel that I’ve read. Previously, The Ice Princess focused on Erica Falck who just moved back to Fjallbacka, Sweden and discovered a childhood friend dead.  Years later, Erica has married Detective Patrik Hedstrom and The Lost Boy is told from both their perspectives, as well as many other characters surrounding the death of Mats Sverin, Fjallbacka’s Financial Director.

Mats was brutally attacked months beforehand, and then after moving back to his childhood town, he is gunned down in his own apartment. Are these two events related? That’s what Patrik is trying to uncover. Meanwhile, Erica is home on maternity leave with her twins and is intrigued by the local lore about “Ghost Isle”, where Mats old high school girlfriend, Nathalie, is living.

Lackberg weaves multiple, seemingly unrelated story lines in and out, including an old story about a couple living on “Ghost Isle” in the 1870s. Like many other crime novels, underlying the current crime is a social layer of violence against women and how mothers can and will protect their children. Theres such a general denial about these attacks against women, that even the police are horrified when they read the personal files of women at a Goteborg woman’s shelter.

While some of The Lost Boy is difficult to read, the novel is full of truth. Society turns a blind eye to women in certain situations and Lackberg shines a light so we can view the truth in all its ugliness. I really enjoy Lackberg’s style and her stories. I recommend this to any crime novel lover.

Read January 2015.