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    Posted by Christine L, 3 years ago

    65. THE BALLAD OF BALLARD AND SANDRINE by Peter Straub. Sandrine and Ballard make an unusual couple. He is many years her senior and over the course of this short novella they enjoy a passionate, if unsettling, relationship that spans 25 years. Their story takes place on the Amazon River as they cruise on several different yachts. Although on the surface everything seems normal and quite idyllic, the reader soon discovers there is a dark side to relationship - in more ways than one.

    Peter Straub had always been a “take him or leave him” kind of author for me personally, despite the fact that I do gravitate towards his books from time to time. Although this little e-book sounded intriguing in its description it was a little too disjointed for my taste. Neither of the principal characters really appealed to me in any way, so the madness and horror that ensued lost its power. The ongoing poetic descriptions of floating down the Amazon just were not enough to carry the book. Sorry Mr. Straub but for me this one was a miss.

    66. WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon. Alice Buckle is a forty-something mother of two who feels her children do not need her as much, her husband is a little boring, her job is frustrating and not what she envisioned herself doing and all her friend’s lives seem so much more exciting than her own. At a cocktail party at her husband’s work she overhears his colleagues discussing a little competition they have going on … who has the most hits when they Google their own names. She goes home that evening and tries it – nothing! Feeling depressed about her own impact on the world she moves to check her email and finds an interesting email in her “spam” folder, an invitation to join an on-line survey about marriage. She checks out the credentials of the organization doing the survey and agrees to participate. Through this survey the reader learns about her life and how she got to this point. Alice herself finds she is discovering some long lost emotions and some new ones. Unfortunately, the new emotions mostly have to do with her communications with the researcher analysing her answers.

    Despite the fact that at times throughout the book I found Alice a little bit on the annoying side, it was a fun read. Definitely chick-lit for the over 40 crowd.

    67. THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling. When Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly a seat on the town council of Pagford is is left vacant. Quickly the town realizes that his death left more than that vacany it left a void in the fabric that holds the town together. As various residents vie for his council seat, personal lives in Pagford are exposed (thanks to a prank allowing “the ghost of Barry Fairbrother” to reveal town secrets) and those same lives begin to unravel in sometimes humorous and more often devastating ways.

    Ms. Rowling’s first entry into “grown up” reading was a pleasant surprise. When I first started this book I was not sure I was going to enjoy it (I even rolled my eyes at the name of the lead character … Barry … Harry??) but I soon found myself drawn into life in Pagford. If you have ever enjoyed an a stroll around the neighbourhood on a pleasant night … you know the time in the evening, when the lights are on in people’s homes but the curtains have not yet been drawn …and you glance in the windows and imagine lives for the people who live there. That’s what reading this book was like for me. I got the stories behind the glass.

    68. THE STRAIN by Guillerma Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. A plane arrives in New York and as it is taxing toward the terminal it goes dark. Completely dark! No power, no communication and no signs of life are apparent. Not knowing what to expect on board investigators call in the CDC. When Dr. Goodweather steps on board the plane he witnesses the unexplainable, all but four passengers are dead. A plague of some sort? Further investigation leads them nowhere and compounding the mystery is the disappearance of a large cabinet listed on the plane’s manifest. It is most definitely a plague. A virus that reanimates the dead into vampires and it is spreading throughout New York city and if not controlled … the world.

    I have often stated in my reviews that I am a bit of a purist when it comes to vampires. I like the myths and legends surrounding Dracula. I am also forever drawn to vampire stories. Del Toro and Hogan take the classic vampire lore and give it a 21st century twist, staying true to the bloodthirsty traditions. There are no young, handsome heart-throb vampires in this book, so I can forgive them the lack of fangs. This is the first of a trilogy so I will definitely be reading the following two books,

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