Friday, December 31, 2010
This review is from: The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway) (Hardcover)
I knew when I opened the first page of this book that I should have read the first one in the Ruth Galloway mystery series -- The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway) -- so if you haven't read it, stop and remedy that now. This second book immediately made me wish I had "met" the characters previously so I could understand what led to Ruth's pregnancy and to know the relationship she had with her baby's father. That said, and even though her pregnancy takes up a lot of the novel, the book is really a mystery about the murder of a child, and how that child's headless skeleton comes to lie underneath the doorway of an old mansion. Who is the girl and how did she end up there?
Ruth Galloway is 40ish, unmarried, and a slightly overweight forensic archeologist. She is called in as a consultant when bones are found during the demolition of a large, old house (once an orphanage) that is being converted into apartments. Joined by other colleages -- Max and Cathbad -- Ruth begins to assist Detective Police Inspector Harry Nelson in the investigation. The more she delves into the case, the more trouble she has. Who is afraid of what she might find out and how far is that person willing to go to stop her!?
Although the story is not what I would call fast paced, it's the characters and their interactions and dialog that make the book interesting. I really like that the protagonist is a strong, intelligent, and independent middle aged woman. Her friends are interesting and the archelogocial details are fascinating.
I think most who enjoy forensic mystery stories will like this novel -- but be sure to read them in order as I didn't think this one worked well as a stand alone!
A solid 3 1/2 stars.
*Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit = Everything changes but nothing is destroyed.
Monday, December 20, 2010
In this novel, Cotton Malone and Casssiopeia Vitt (these characters most recently appeared in the previous novel The Paris Vendetta: A Novel) are reunited in a mission that focuses on China and a conspiracy that may prove deadly as there are those who want to keep an incredible discovery a secret. Malone and Vitt are brought into the inner workings of the post Mao government where there is a showdown between the two leading contenders (Tang and Ni) for that country's leadership role. Add in traitorous eunuchs, Russian spies, and trigger happy soldiers and you have a somewhat confusing story of cross and double cross. At stake is China's leadership yes, but also a race to verify that oil -- not fossil fuel as long believed was scarce -- but abiotic oil that is self replenishing and would never run out. What a find for China if true -- China that needs massive quantities of imported oil to run its industry and shelter its people. A Russian geologist has what he believes is proof that abiotic oil exists and was actually discovered in Gansu over 2200 years ago!! He is wanted by both the Russians and the Chinese and they will stop at nothing to get the verification they need. For if China doesn't need to import oil, it will no longer have to follow the dictates of the other nations and won't be held in check by threats of embargo. How powerful the leader of the nation that possesses unlimited oil would be. But no other country will find out! Is the verification they need hidden in the Emperor Qin Shi's tomb? The only problem is that the tomb has been off limits and sealed for over 2000 years!
Although the historical parts of the book were quite interesting (dynastic succession, eunuchs, important discoveries made centuries ago in China but kept from the western world) the narrative was somewhat disconnected. The point of view and the scene would switch back and forth quite frequently. I found the dialog more like an anthropology lecture sometimes and something that irritated me was the way the author wrote the way the Russians talked. The Chinese spoke English smoothly, but the Russians said things like "I not know" and "She gives to Tang who returns boy" i.e., skipped words, etc. Annoying -- I'm certain that any Russian secret agent would speak English quite fluently.
In short -- this book was OK but seemed more like a lecture in between unbelievable scenes of escapes and near death experiences. The fight scenes seemed to go on far too long and some of the transitions dragged on between bursts of action. Read it if you like to read about Chinese history and if you like spy stories and adventures. The conclusion was quite predictable.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Travis, Paige and Bethany used the cylinder to time travel to Yuma, Arizona, where they figure out that a controlled catastrophe is about to happen in the current month of December and that it will have the effect of virtually destroying the known world. What that incipient disaster is has them running all over the continents, back and forth in time, and facing their nemesis -- a former humanitarian in cahoots with the sitting President and a host of other corrupt scientists and government officials.
Although some suspension of disbelief at the last minute saves and some of the science and politics is required, it is after all science/adventure FICTION, and should be read just for the pure escapist pleasure of it.
Seems that there is plenty of room for another book in this series and I will look forward to reading it as well.
Recommend -- enjoy!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The story begins with a lone man trying to find answers in the Alaskan wilderness. Travis Chase has just recently been released from prison after serving time for a crime that we never quite get the details of but that will probably be significant later. He discovers a crash site of a 747 -- everyone on board is dead. There are cryptic messages and a strange series of instructions about a sphere that was taken from the plane. This sets in motion a very fast paced and suspenseful adventure that involves alien technology and lots of blood and guts. Travis rescues one of the two hostages taken from the plane and the two of them embark upon a mission to stop and prevent an apocalypse beyond his imagination.
The futuristic sci-fi and the technical information provide the reader with lots of interesting things to imagine and the narrative moves quickly as Travis and his rescued hostage Paige try to second guess and outwit the entity that is trying to control all the events that transpire. The problem is that The Whisper knows and can predict everything...from years in advance.
This is a quick read that you'll devour if you like futuristic "end of the world" science fiction adventures!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This book, the third in the Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest takes up immediately where The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage) ended -- Lisbeth is mortally wounded and about to undergo surgery for the gunshot into her brain. Her eventual recovery and days spent in hospital are not wasted -- she is always planning her revenge and will accept no compromises in her quest for justice, finally, after years of being a persecuted victim. The reader is drawn into the story quickly and roots for Lisbeth's triumph over her oppressors and wishes her to overcome all the obstacles that have been placed in front of her. No capitulation. She's one of the most interesting heroines in suspense fiction, or perhaps such a finely developed idiosyncratic character has not previously been found in any genre lately! I was at times annoyed by her stoic and total refusal to engage with those who tried to help her as well as to be moved with pity or admiration for the way she dealt with the injustice served her.
I highly recommend this series and wish I could have the pleasure of reading yet another story involving Lisbeth Salander. This final novel in the trilogy brought some closure to her story, but there were still some unanswered questions that I believe I will ponder for some time.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
4 stars -- great intelligent thriller with lots of interesting details and suspense. I love the characters, especially Lisbeth, and have already started the third and final book in the series. I had hesitated to even start this trilogy because of all the hype, but I'm glad I did and recommend it to anyone who likes this genre.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Told in first person alternating voices, this novel tells the tale of Lulu and Merry - the murderer's two daughters who witnessed his crime against them and who try to escape being known and defined by his act. Taunted at school, in the home of relatives and later in an orphanage, the girls can't seem to get away from the horror of their childhood abuse and the stain that violence left upon them. The sisters are as different as night from day as they deal with the trauma and suffer various types of post-traumatic reactions. The two behave quite stereotypically with the older sister taking on the reliable, responsible maternal role and the younger Merry becoming a bit off balance, promiscuous, and developing an addictive type personality. They remain close although constantly trying to hide their past, shielding Lulu's children from the knowledge that they have a grandfather in prison, and fighting about Merry's continued relationship with their father whom she visits at the penitentiary.
The narrative continues through the course of their young adult lives as each sister struggles to find her place in the world and to leave her past behind. Their bond is threatened when their father announces that he's about to be released from prison. Will the sisters be able to forgive him and accept him back into their lives? What, after all, is the nature of family and how strong is a pull toward a biological parent no matter how "bad" they have behaved? Can anyone remain unaffected after a shocking act of domestic violence and become whole again? These are all questions that the reader might ponder while reading. I personally didn't like the way the book ended, but perhaps others might have found more profound meaning in the conclusion. No new revelations here!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
This 12th in series is OK (3.5/5 stars) although there seems to be too much going on to really flesh out both story lines – the one with the victims of the ship going aground and the other involving the disappearance of the congressman’s mistress. I do like the interplay between the characters but sometimes the narrative and dialog seems more like a lecture than actual conversation. I usually learn something new with every book, especially the historical background – in this case with the mansions and Federalists from Revolutionary times. I’ll read the next as I am a fan.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Jack Morgan runs a private investigative firm with several associates; they operate a bit outside of the law and have unlimited resources and contacts to help the team achieve the necessary results by whatever means necessary.
If you're looking for a mindless thriller, this might just fit your requirements and if you're a Patterson fan, you won't want to miss this one and you won't have any lingering effects or nightmares after you've turned the last page.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Told in the second person, Eve takes "you" on a journey into her world. She plies you with tidbits about being a witch in the modern world and explains how she travels and what she eats. In short, she shows you what witches are and aren't. Eve is about her business when she meets a young man, Justin, who reminds her of her long lost love -- a man she met and fell in love with during World War II, in Europe, where they worked together in the French Resistance to defeat the Nazi regime. Typically, witch-mortal romances are disastrous -- after all, he ages normally while she retains her youth and lives a very long life. She can't say no to this chance to reconnect with the spirit of her dead lover, Jonah. She must have Justin.
A fun novel dealing with World War II history, magic and love. What more could a reader want on a cool autumn night -- read it for a warm feeling!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Glad I read it and think that most readers who like a good mystery will enjoy it too! I definitely plan to read the other two in the series.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Mildly amusing, got old fast...,
This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)This latest novel read like an issue of one of the more lurid entertainment magazines -- however in this case, fiction is a bit stranger than truth although some of the current stars do manage to create a lot of mayhem and mischief. Hiaasen has taken a page or two from the tabloids and churned out another trademark romp -- this time focusing on Cherry Pye, a young singer who is poised between rehab and a comeback tour. Unfortunately, she's so out of control that even her handlers can't seem to slow the skid.
The other characters in this sometimes funny story include a familiar face -- Skink, formerly known as Clinton Tyree, who had a short-lived term as governor of Florida before he went "green" and bonkers. He's been in several previous novels and hasn't changed a bit. In addition, Hiaasen has given somewhat clever names to the players in this novel including the giant bodyguard Chemo (and his weed-whacker arm), Bang Abbott (one of the paparazzi) who hatches a scheme that goes horribly wrong, the slimy promoter Maury Lykes, and the rest of the cast fill out a bizarre tale that amuses at times but ultimately the joke goes on too long. I really had no empathy for any of the characters, not even the stand in Ann who is supposed to be the one we root for, rose much beyond a stereotype. I think there was just too much going on -- definitely this was tongue in cheek, over-the-top satire of the world of celebrities and the folks who feed off them. Basically the novel was a cliche of all that and although I found it mildly amusing, I wasn't unhappy when I turned the last page and closed the book.
I've read all of Carl Hiaasen's novels and probably will read the next one, so I expect other fans of this author and this genre will do so as well.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The story continues right where it left off; led by an ancient Master who controls them, the new breed of vampires (virus and parasite) have a long sucker that springs out of the mouth to acquire sustenance, and once drained of blood, the humans are turned. These zombie-like creatures roam the streets and subterranean tunnels of New York, the changed ones tending to return home to their loved ones to infect them as well. Fighting this epidemic is an unlikely vampire hunting and killing team, intent on saving the human race, composed of a CDC doctor named Eph and his associate, Nora, a Holocaust survivor and professor turned pawnshop owner -- Setrakian is the one who has the most knowledge about these creatures and a plan for how to stop them, and a city rat exterminator, Fet, who has key knowledge of the underground sewers. These folks are intent on saving New York, and the world, from extinction. Now the Ancients have joined the hunt to seek out and destroy the Master -- because he is evil and is not following the rules and plan that have been laid out since their origination or becoming.
The narrative is mostly non-stop action and the reader is treated to all manner of violent vampire killing methods with lots of gory details, vivid descriptions of the changed ones young and old, and the hunt continues to find and stop the Master before he can take over the world with his dastardly plan. Meanwhile, Eldritch Palmer, a very wealthy but physically sick human is trying to buy immortality by enticing the rogue vampire to the "New World" and acquiring whatever means will allow that to happen. In addition, Eph's ex-wife and his son Zach's mother (who became a vampire in the fist book) is searching to find her boy.
This second book in the series ends on an ambiguous note, another cliffhanger, and we will have to wait to find out what happens to all the remaining humans in the final thriller in this trilogy.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Many have pointed out the flaws in some of the action sequences, the stilted dialog, the lapses in logic and the strained credulity they experienced while following the story line. My advice -- don't take it all so seriously, quit analyzing and just enjoy the ride! The narrative moves quickly advancing the action and the reader is treated to all manner of vampire killing methods (not the ones you're familiar with from other novels of this nature that have the typical vampire lore), vivid descriptions of the changed ones, and the hunt for the lair of the Master. Meanwhile, a very wealthy human is trying to live forever by enticing the ancient vampire to the "New World" and acquiring whatever means will allow that to happen. Along the way are some side stories involving abusive husbands, divorce, custody issues, nosy neighbors, bad mothers, evil lawyers -- well you get the picture!
The book starts out strong (the dead plane on the tarmac at JFK airport) and will keep you turning the pages until the end...of this volume in the proposed trilogy by this author duo. Although not a cliffhanger ending, it did leave me wanting more. Thank heavens I have The Fall: Book Two of the Strain Trilogy waiting in the wings to start tonight!
All in all -- it's a fun and fast read -- don't take it seriously!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I really didn't have much empathy for Katniss because she seemed to always be either impetuously disregarding what was in her best interests and doing something stupid out of anger or revenge or huddled in a secret place crying and wallowing. Neither is attractive in a character I want to admire and root for in a novel that is supposed to be about strong heroines and causes. I guess I felt that the novel was relentless in its diatribe about the horrors of war - got it the first time in the first chapter. I had hoped that Katniss would lead the rebels to the Capitol in an organized well thought out battle where GOOD would decisively triumph over evil. By the time she made it to the Capitol, her motives seemed shallow and more for personal reasons than for the good of Panem as a whole - it was about her and what Snow had done to her loved ones and her life. More or less it seemed to me that, in the end, she whimpered toward a victory that was hollow and pointless as she slunk back to District 12 to quietly live out the rest of her days. The epilogue was supposed to indicate that she had reached a level of peace or acceptance but merely seemed like an afterthought. She had completely lost her passion. And I lost interest in her.
Despite my overall dissatisfaction and my review indicating that to me the book was only so-so, anyone who was enthralled with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) will certainly feel compelled to read this book to finish out the series. I am also sure that the movie(s) will be wildly popular.
The narrative was, at times, a little slow moving and occasionally got bogged down with endless description and the detail that is typical of a Scarpetta novel dealing with the scientific data that helps solve the case. The novel isn't exactly riveting but it was interesting. The characters are almost like family after having read about them for so long -- we know their good points and their demons and accept them for who and what they are, still loving them despite their idiosyncrasies and foibles.
I'll keep reading Patricia Cornwell because she really is the queen of the 'medical examiner novel' authors, and Kay Scarpetta is the model that all the other female pathologist characters has been built on by other writers. I enjoy novels of this nature and look forward to the next installment.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I do not like the cliffhanger chapter endings that Brown used throughout this book. I never developed any kind of empathy or interest in the characters that populated this novel, and even Langdon became annoying as he "almost got it" many times. The revelation at the end was not unexpected and certainly wasn't so exciting that it was worth plodding through the previous 500+ pages.
Parts of the story were interesting, but it seemed as if Brown tried too hard to blend religion and science and the ancient mysteries. Recommend that if you must read it, borrow it! Or better yet, wait for the movie...
Saturday, August 14, 2010
While his sister is hospitalized and during her recovery from her injuries, Antoine becomes compelled to find out more about his mother and who she was and how she died since both of her children feel as if they never really knew her and the subject has never been talked about within the family. In the course of his inquiries, he discovers and faces the truth about a mother he loved deeply but lost far too soon.
Antoine is a very complex man who is simultaneously dealing with his love and longing for his ex-wife and their three children-- two of whom are surly and distant teenagers -- and with the sudden urge to finally know more about his mother. He suffers loneliness and self doubt, bored with his career as architect, and morose about his lack of close relationships with his children and his father's family. I found him an interesting character with a lot of depth and sentimentality that led to many moments of self examination and introspection. The other supportive characters were not so well drawn, but did provide the means for Antoine to interact with and to push the narrative along.
I read the novel in one sitting. I don't think the story is so much about the revelation of the secret or even the nature of it, but more about the process of discovery and about the importance of exploring the bonds of family relationships and about knowing each other. Do children really ever know their parents -- and should they know everything? It is human nature to question and to want answers to the age-old question -- "why"...
Friday, August 13, 2010
Although the metaphor of stormchasing and bipolar "storms" was apt, the relentless reminder to the reader of how Charles' illness affected his sister, was overdone. I think most readers will be able to predict the outcome of the story once the "secret" is revealed. I did, however, enjoy the technical information about the development and science of storms, particularly tornadoes, since I live in the Midwest where this type of weather is common and often destructive.
Another reviewer has remarked about the fact that the two men in the book rarely use Karena's name. Her brother (and twin) calls her either "K" or "sistah", and her boyfriend refers to her as "Laredo" or some other term. I also found that annoying. I really never felt that I got involved with the characters in this novel -- they were very one dimensional and I found myself becoming irritated at times rather than empathizing with their plight. I was basically just glad to get to the wholly anticlimactic end.
I will wait patiently for Blum's next novel, and see if she can revert to the quality storytelling that made me a fan when I read her first book. Overall, just found The Stormchasers only mildly interesting, a bit disappointing, and would tell those who ask, "It's OK."
Monday, August 9, 2010
The story moves seamlessly and logically, starting in 1911 and ending in 1925, and has a large cast of characters -- all so beautifully developed that the reader comes to care about each one -- the good and the bad. A helpful CAST OF CHARACTERS is provided at the beginning of the book that may be copied and used as reference, but it is really not needed as the reader is introduced to each and they are so memorable that it's easy to keep them straight. The families are American, English, Scottish, French, German and Austrian, Russian, and Welsh. There are Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses, Kings, Queens, Earls, Dukes -- even the servants, miners, and other assorted people populate this work of fiction. The author has also inserted real historical figures into the story, and their interaction with Follett's characters is very well done.
Book one of the CENTURY TRILOGY is set in Europe before, during and after World War I. From a mining town in Aberowen, South Wales, to the drawing rooms of the privileged aristocracy in Russia, Britain, Germany, and to the War Room in the White House of Woodrow Wilson -- the narrative captivates as it tells the tale of the people involved in the conflict and their lives during this period of change in the world.
The story is intriguing and complex, but eminently readable. The violence and gore that were present in Follett's previous works is absent here, and the action is fast and the storytelling fantastic. I have a fondness for historical fiction, and this work does not disappoint as the author has obviously thoroughly researched the era and has rendered it beautifully.
I won't provide a detailed synopsis of this book since the product description on this page does that, but will say that it's a drama about life and love during these fateful years and I promise you that this will go down as being one of the best books you've ever read.
I cannot recommend it highly enough and can't wait for the sequel! This book, however, has a very satisfying conclusion and can stand alone as you are not left with unanswered questions at the end! Historical fiction at its best.