Review: The Charming Predator

The Charming PredatorThe Charming Predator
Author: Lee Mackenzie
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre/Themes: Memoir, Non-fiction, True Crime
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Format: Ebook

 

Synopsis

She was a capable and confident young woman, studying broadcast journalism and honing her skills of observation and objectivity. She was also a little unworldly, the product of a small, rural Western Canadian community where doors were never locked and life was simple and direct. On a backpacking trip in the UK, she met the man who would become her husband. A man who everyone agreed was one of the most intelligent, charming people they had ever met. Easy to like, easy to believe. Easy to love. A man without mercy who shattered her emotionally, psychologically and financially.
Decades later, Kenner Jones is at large today, having committed crimes around the world under a series of fake names and personas. He has been described by a seasoned US immigration officer as “the best conman I have ever encountered.”
No one got closer to Kenner Jones than Lee Mackenzie. In The Charming Predator, he is unmasked for the first time.

Review

Unfortunately, this was a book I was unable to finish. I really hated giving up on this book, but it was really hard for me to connect with the main character, even though we’re both from the same place.

The premise of this novel was intriguing, and I wanted to know how a smart woman could have been duped by such a terrible conman. The problem was that after the prologue and the first chapter, I just found myself not connecting to either the main character, Lee, or her writing style. For a book such as this, the writing needs to be really engaging, and I felt that it was lacking. I got about halfway through the second chapter before I stopped. I mean, it was really obvious that Kenner was a liar and there were just so many warning signs that went ignored.

There isn’t a lot else for me to say about this novel. I just didn’t feel like reading it any longer.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Mini Reviews 9

Oracle Night – Paul Auster

Oracle Night: A Novel

This was such an unexpected novel. Even though it was quite short, it was so strange and unique. It’s a multilayered book about a writer who is writing a novel that contains a novel within it. It’s disjointed and confusing and somehow nothing makes sense, but at the same time, it’s so rewarding to read and keeps you guessing at how it’s going to end. I was really impressed by the writing style and even though I was a little underwhelmed by how it wrapped up, it was still a very good book. I recommend it to anyone interested in surreal novels.

 As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride The Princess Bride is one of my Top 5 movies. I’ve seen it more times than I can count and I love everything about it. When I read that Cary Elwes (Westley) was writing a memoir about the making of The Princess Bride, I knew I was going to love reading it, and I did. This is my second 5 star book of the year, and I feel it was well deserved. I listened to the audiobook and listening to the cast recount their stories, as well as listening to Cary Elwes’s lovely English accent talk about all the mishaps and stories was so wonderful. I even cried at the end of the book, which I never do, all because I was sad to hear it end. Of course, I had to re-watch the Princess Bride and look for all the things that Cary Elwes had pointed out. An amazing book, I’m so glad I read it. Recommended for all fans of The Princess Bride.

Find Me – Laura Van Den Berg

Find Me

This was such a beautifully written novel. I’m not sure why the ratings and reviews for it are so negative because I really enjoyed it. This is a book about a society that recovers after a mass sickness wipes out a chunk of the population. I thought the character of Joy was so bleak and heartbreaking, and while the book was surreal, I never had a problem following the plot or understanding what was going on. This is a quiet, reflective novel with some really interesting characters. The plot meanders at times and none of the characters are especially unique, but it’s still a lovely book to read. Recommended for people who are fans of dystopian or surreal novels.

Harvesting the Heart – Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the Heart

I’ve only ever read one other book by Jodi Picoult called 19 Minutes, which is a novel about a school shooting. I really enjoyed reading that, so I thought I’d try some of her earlier work. This was her second novel and it revolves around two characters, Paige and Nicholas, two people that come from very different places and end up getting married. Jodi Picoult has a remarkable ability to write very vivid characters, but I completely despised them both and the plot of this book. It was whiny and preachy. I was listening to this on audio and it was so long and so boring that I gave up about halfway through. Not interested in this book at all and do not recommend.

The Voodoo Killings – Kristi Charish

The Voodoo Killings: A Kincaid Strange Novel I’ve read a LOT of urban fantasy novels over the years, and I have to admit that the idea of voodoo in urban fantasy is very new for the genre. I’m impressed with Kristi Charish for coming up with such a new world, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that the main character, Kincaid Strange, is a carbon copy of every other cliche urban fantasy heroine down to the leather and boots. The plot was also convoluted, and the main love interest is a boring, needy guy with about as much personality as a goldfish. There was only one character, Gideon, that I thought had any potential, but he didn’t make up for the fact that this book is just like every other mediocre urban fantasy novel. I’m not going to continue on with this series.

Mini Reviews 6

Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

'Salem's Lot Reading Stephen King’s writing is a delight. He’s a master with words and he creates these really vivid settings and characters. He writes these really creepy scenes that make you shudder and want to take a break from reading, but unfortunately, this book didn’t scare me. I didn’t realize this book was about vampires when I started reading it and since I’ve never found vampires very scary, I was unimpressed. However, the writing was great and the characters were all fully developed and very interesting to read about. I enjoyed the plot and liked the interactions between all of the different characters and I even enjoyed reading about the history of the small town, but I was never scared, so as a horror novel, it isn’t one I would recommend.

I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban I believe there are people who come into this world to do great things, and Malala Yousafzai is a prime example of such a person. I consider her to be a personal hero and an inspiration. Her goals of achieving literacy and education for all young women in Middle Eastern countries is one I firmly stand behind. I truly believe that the reason for most conflict is due to a lack of education.

This book was a harrowing account of what led her to be shot in the head by the Taliban and how she recovered from such a senseless attack. She clearly laid out the events that brought the Taliban into the Swat Valley, and how they misrepresented themselves to the inhabitants to such a degree that they gained popularity almost overnight. It showed how desperately people want to believe that there is someone who will fight for them.

However, I think this was a pretty superficial account of Malala’s life. I felt like there were quite a few things she never discussed and even though she talked about the terrible conditions she and her family lived in, I felt like it was much worse and she didn’t go into the ugly details. Additionally, I wasn’t as interested in the history of the Swat valley, Pakistan, and Afghanistan but I recognized why talking about the history was important.

Overall, I think this is a must-read book for anyone who believes in women’s rights, education, literacy, and wants to know more about the political regime currently in Pakistan.

 Dead Set – Richard Kadrey

Dead Set Oh boy, was I disappointed by this novel. I absolutely love Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, but his venture into writing a young adult novel was extremely unsuccessful. The plot was nonsensical and the characters were soweakly written that it’s almost shocking that the Sandman Slim series is by the same author.

I was bored throughout the entire book, hated the myth and story behind it, and would not recommend it at all.

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings This is the first book by Maya Angelou I’ve read and I thought it was immensely powerful. There are some scenes in this book that are extremely graphic (i.e. there’s a scene of child rape), and I found it stomach churning. Reading other reviews for this book, I noticed there were some (white) parents who wanted to shield their children from reading this book due to the graphic content.

Are you kidding me?

This is Maya Angelou’s memoir. These things actually happened to her and to “shield” your children from reading this book is a disservice to them. Life isn’t pretty, and growing up non-white in a world that reveres it is an ugly thing to read about, but it’s necessary. I felt Maya Angelou’s anger and fury almost like it was mine. I understood exactly what drove her to write this book, and it’s an important reason.

This is a must-read for everyone.

Review: Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State–and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

When I read books about women my age doing things I would never dream to do, I’m filled with envy, but reading about Cheryl Strayed’s decision to repair herself by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was both empowering and sad. After her mother dying, her marriage dissolving, and becoming a heroin user, she was at her lowest point and decided to hike the PCT without having any backpacking or hiking experience.

There are a lot of mixed reviews about this book because people think Cheryl Strayed was shortsighted, idiotic, self-absorbed, and made some bad decisions. While I was listening to this book on audio, I found myself annoyed by some of the decisions she made, but I didn’t judge her for them. Her life had fallen apart, she was distant from her family, and she was being self-destructive. She isn’t the first woman to respond to grief that way, and I doubt she’ll be the last.

I liked Cheryl, and this story was utterly moving. She was extremely honest and brave while writing about all her decisions, good and bad. She didn’t see her trip through rose-colored glasses, she didn’t hide anything or deceive the reader by making herself seem smarter than she was. She was up-front with just how utterly unprepared she was to hike the PCT and the ugly results of her long journey on her, both physically and psychologically.

This was a really well-written, interesting, engaging book and I enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it to others.