Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TESTIMONY


TITLE: TESTIMONY
AUTHOR: ANITA SHREVE
Pages: 305
Date: 31/12/2008
Grade: 5
Details: Ryan Tubridy book club selection for January 2009
Library

In a private school in Vermont a sex scandal breaks when 3 boys are caught on tape with a 14 year old girl. During the time that follows, a lot of lives are changed for ever, while a few are utterly destroyed.
In this book, most of the people involved in the events leading up to that night, a well as those involved in the scandal itself, give their sides of the story.
This was an interesting book. For a while I wasn't sure if I'd end up liking it or not. What makes this book so different is that no verdict is given about the rights or wrongs of the actions taken by any of the characters. The narrator, in a way, is absent from the story, in so far that only the voices of those involved are heard. And while they may or may not say something about their own actions and motivations, or about their own responsibility or lack there off, it's left to the reader to make up their own mind about how to apportion guilt.
In another book, with another story this could be viewed as laziness or cowardice on the part of the author, but I don't think that's the case here. I'd be hard pressed to point the finger at any one person or action in this book and pronounce a guilty verdict. As in real life, the answer isn't that clear cut. And exactly that is what makes his book so good and thought provoking.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

CROSS COUNTRY


TITLE: CROSS COUNTRY
AUTHOR: JAMES PATTERSON
Pages: 406
Date: 28/12/2008
Grade: 3.5
Details: no. 12 Alex Cross Mystery
Library

Okay, so there's no denying that Patterson is a master storyteller. He knows how to grab your attention and hold it. He almost forces the reader to keep on turning the pages, thus racing through the book.
However, he appears to have been caught in a trap of his own making. Whereas this series of Alex Cross books started of as very good police thrillers, be it with horrific murders and inhumane perpetrators, he now seems to write from the believe that however gruesome the last book was, the next one needs to be even more extreme. And in doing so he has, for me at least, lost touch with anything resembling reality. The characters, both good and bad, don't read like they might even resemble somebody real anymore. And while I used to like the character of Alex Cross, with this book I lost a lot of my respect for him.
The story, in short, starts when an old friend of Alex' as well as her whole family is murdered. More murders of whole families follow and Cross and Co discover that the man in charge of the gang committing the murders is a Nigerian called "Tiger". When reports indicate that Tiger has returned to Africa, Cross follows him there, which brings him to a world filled with corruption and violence way beyond anything he could ever have imagined.
Like I said, the plot stretched my credibility too far. Would a man, who loves his family, leave them unprotected while a gang specializing in murdering families is on the loose?
Would that man travel to a part of the world he knows next to nothing about, to start a one man investigation (crusade might be a better word) without and clues, contacts or protection?
Would he survive everything that Cross goes through in the book? The answer for me is "no" to all those questions.
So, while I'll continue to read this series, I won't be buying the books anymore. I don't want to spend my money on cheap thrills and easy shockers when there are so many good books out there.
The mark for this book is based purely on its page turning power, not on the quality of the story.

Friday, December 26, 2008

EAT, PRAY, LOVE


TITLE: EAT, PRAY, LOVE
AUTHOR: ELIZABETH GILBERT
Pages: 346
Date: 26/12/2008
Grade: 5
Details: Non Fiction
Own

After a bitter divorce and a deeply felt but unsustainable relationship Liz Gilbert decides to take a year to reassess herself and her life.
She divides her year up into three parts and spends her first four months in Italy where she concentrates on learning Italian and eating good food. During this process she manages to retrieve some sense of fun and (mainly physical) strength.
The next trimester is spend in an Ashram in India, where meditation, hard work, healthy living and big struggles with her demons bring Liz insight into herself, her past, her motivations and insecurities. Thus enlightened she can at last leave the past behind her and start looking towards the future.
Which brings her to the final leg of her journey on Bali. Here, through a toothless medicine man and a female healer she is lead to love. The emotion that through its breakdown brought her on this journey in the first place.
This is a rather special book. The causes of the author's breakdown are recognizable, and her need to go out and find answers as well as herself is one I believe most people come across at some point in their lives.
Of course, not all of us are able to take a year out and travel in order to find our answers, but then, I don't believe that is necessary. I think answers may be found anywhere by those who truly look.
Gilbert's ideas about God and religion are close enough to mine to strike a cord. Having said that, I couldn't see myself doing what she did.
For me the message of this book is loud and clear; in order to be able to truly love another, you must first truly know and love yourself. And as hard as that may be to achieve, it does make perfect sense. If you're not happy in your own company, you will end up bringing that unhappiness into your relationships with others.
Elizabeth Gilbert has to be complimented on not turning this into a heavy, deep, moralizing and preaching book. She has managed to keep it light and at times fun, while sharing some important live lessons in an honest and accessible way.
In my paper reading journal I have several pages of quotes from this book. I'm not sharing these here, because what I take from this book is not necessarily what somebody else needs to read. And whereas this is a public reading journal, my paper one is still for me alone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

SANTA CRUISE


TITLE: SANTA CRUISE
AUTHOR: MARY & CAROL HIGGINS CLARK
Pages: 306
Date: 24/12/2008
Grade: 4
Details: A Holiday Mystery featuring Alvirah Meehan & Regan Reilly
Large Print
Library

Alivirah Meehan has won 6 tickets on the maiden voyage of the Royal Mermaid and invites Regan and Jack as well as Regan's parents to join her and her husband on the trip.
But, what should have been a few days of relaxing at sea soon turns into an interesting investigation. Starting innocently enough with two stolen Santa suits, things quickly turn more sinister with reported sightings of ghosts and an attempted murder.
These books are really just a bit of fluff and fun. There really isn't much of a mystery since most of the culprits are in clear view and identified almost from page one.
Still, this was an easy read, seasonal and fun, and I'll more than likely be reading another one next year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

THE SUMMER HOUSE


TITLE: THE SUMMER HOUSE
AUTHOR: CHRISTOBEL KENT
Pages: 406
Date: 22/12/2008
Grade: 4-
Details: Large Print
Library

Rose Fell has left England for a tiny village in Italy after her divorce, but even after a year there she's still finding it hard to integrate.
Elvira Vitale, once a famous model and movie star spends her summers in the same village with her English husband who she's starting to distrust.
Ania is Romanian and works as Elvira's cleaner.
When a young girl is found murdered close to the village and Ania subsequently disappears the lives of the women are thrown together by a danger that for at least one of them is much closer than they could imagine.
This was a good mystery with some nice red herrings, but it wasn't a very satisfying read. The story moved too slowly for me with too much switching from one person to another. It wasn't exactly a struggle to finish this book, but the story wasn't calling me to finish it either.

THE PAGAN STONE


TITLE: THE PAGAN STONE
AUTHOR: NORA ROBERTS
Pages: 305
Date: 18/12/2008
Grade: 5
Details: no. 3 The Sign of Seven Trilogy
Library

It was wonderful reading Nora Roberts as I like her best; writing a trilogy, and it was sad that this was the third book in this trilogy because now I have a wait in front of me before she (hopefully) comes with the next series of three.
In this third books things are about to come to a head. The Seventh of July is ever getting closer and with it the time of the final showdown. Either the six friends will destroy the demon once and for all, or it will win, destroying them and the world they know and love.
As Gage and Sybil grow ever closer despite both their independent streaks, it becomes clear that killing the demon will demand the ultimate sacrifice. But will love, only just discovered, really end so soon and so brutally?
I'm not sure why Robert's trilogies work so much better for me than her stand-alone books, but they do. And this one definitely didn't disappoint.

A GATHERING LIGHT


TITLE: A GATHERING LIGHT
AUTHOR: JENNIFER DONNELLY
Pages: 375
Date: 16/12/2008
Grade: 5
Details: Large Print
Library

Set in 1906 in the Adirondack Mountains (USA) the story in this book is part fiction and part (based on) fact.
Mattie Gokey (fictional) is the eldest daughter in a poor family and expected to take over when her mother dies. But Mattie has a talent for writing which she wants to take to college in New York. But with her father set against her ambitions and a local boy courting her, it seems that Mattie's dreams will remain just that.
During the summer, Mattie takes on a job in a local hotel. Grace Brown (fact), one of the guests there gives Mattie a bundle of letters and asks to have them burned. When Grace subsequently drowns under suspicious circumstances, Mattie ends up reading the letters rather then burning them, finding that even through the heartbreak of a stranger, her own future and decisions become clear.
This was a wonderful book. Mattie's fictional life, though hard and unforgiving is realistically described and quite inspirational.
Grace's (real) murder is heartbreaking. I would love to think that it served a purpose in real life, as it did in this novel.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

MY LADY JUDGE


TITLE: ;MY LADY JUDGE
AUTHOR: CORA HARRISON
Pages: 385
Date: 14/12/2008
Grade: 5
Details: no. 1 Burren Mystery
Large Print
Library

The year is 1509. In England young Henry VIII has just become king, but the Burren on the west coast of Ireland is not yet under English law. Here the old laws still govern, and justice is maintained and enforced by Brehons, local judges.
Mara is such a Brehon and has to investigate the murder of her assistant. On May day he joined other locals on top of Mullaghmore Mountain for the lighting of the traditional bonfire, but he was the only one not coming back from the mountain. And, although lots of people must have passed his slain body on the way down, nobody said a thing.
It soon appears that the young man was a scrupulous blackmailer and that lots of people had reasons for wanting him dead. It's down to Mara to find the murderer and restore justice to her community. However, this murder is not the only crime in need of solving, and king Turlough Don O'Brien provides Mara with another dilemma to ponder.
This was a wonderful book; very well written by a very knowledgeable author, with characters that really come alive. The setting, time and customs are described in such a way that they feel real and natural. I love the idea of Brehon law, as it is based on the principles of confession, forgiveness and compensation.
Even if the mystery itself had been disappointing I would have loved this book, but fortunately the mystery was as good as the rest of the book.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR


TITLE: THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
AUTHOR: ROISIN MEANEY
Pages: 439
Date: 12/12/2008
Grade: 4
Library

On Millar's Avenue are only three houses numbered 7, 8 and 9.
In number 7 lives Yvonne O'Mahony with her daughter Clara. After nearly twenty years of widowhood, Yvonne is turning to Internet dating with less than great results. Her daughter Clara appears to be a normal and happy twenty three year old woman but she's been holding a dreadful secret for over 10 years.
Number 8 used to be home to Dan and his wife Ali, until Ali left him after two years of marriage for Dan's much older uncle, Declan. This leaves Dan angry, confused and hurt. A surprising bit of news will further complicate his life, but his new tenant, Kieran, a man with a secret of his own, provides him with a new found interest in cooking.
Number 9 is occupied by Kathryn, her husband Justin and her mother in law Grainne. Kathryn is struggling to keep her marriage together despite Grainne's constant efforts to cause it to break down.
Over the next 13 months all these people will go through ups and downs and life changing events, discovering that what they need can be found closer to home than they ever thought possible.
This is another author clearly writing in the vein of Meave Binchy, yet with her own voice. It must be the legendary Irish talent for story telling that makes these authors so good at describing ordinary people with fairly uneventful lives in such a compelling way.

Friday, December 12, 2008

THE DAY OF THE DEAD


TITLE: THE DAY OF THE DEAD
AUTHOR: JOHN CREED
Pages: 246
Date: 11/12/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Jack Valentine Mystery
Library

After the events in book one, Jack Valentine is no longer working covert operations. And when an old friend asks him for help because his daughter has fallen in with a powerful heroin dealer in New York, it seems a straight forward enough request.
However, before they can even leave for New York Jack's friend, Paulo, is nearly killed in an attack, and Jack has some idea of what he's up against.
In New York Jack is reunited with Deirdre and Liam, and recruits some more help for his rescue mission. However, almost from the start it's clear that they are fighting someone far more powerful then they were lead to believe.
As the operation moves from New York to Mexico, Jack slowly realizes that once again he's been given at best half truths and incomplete information. And with the body count rising a happy ending seems unlikely.
These books keep on reminding me of the Jack Reacher stories, not least because of all the violence, but like Reacher, Valentine too has redeeming qualities. Right now I've only got one more title to look forward to in this series, but I can always hope for more.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SKIPPING CHRISTMAS


TITLE: SKIPPING CHRISTMAS
AUTHOR: JOHN GRISHAM
Pages: 177
Date: 09/12/2008
Grade: 4-
Library

The best way to describe this book is probably "A Christmas Carol" for modern times.
Luther and Nora Krank (no, I don't think their surname is a coincidence) have seen their daughter off to Peru, not expecting her back for at least a year. Now that it's just the two of them they are not looking forward to Christmas. And when Luther has a close look at the costs connected to the festive season, he decides that it is just not worth it. He comes up with a plan that involves skipping Christmas and instead taking his wife on a cruise.
As Christmas day approaches. the couple is faced with colleagues, friends and neighbours among others who just can't understand or accept their decision, going to all sorts of lengths to make them change their minds.
But when an unexpected event throws a spanner in their cruise plans, it's those same neighbours who safe the (Christmas) day.
My main complaint with the book is that if I was put under that amount of pressure to celebrate Christmas in a certain way, I'd probably not only cancel Christmas but move house as well. Other then that it was an easy and seasonal read.

Monday, December 8, 2008

DEAD COLD


TITLE: DEAD COLD
AUTHOR: LOUISE PENNY
Pages: 444
Date: 08/12/2008
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 2 Armand Gamache mystery
Large Print
Library

This is an amazing series of books. Louise Penny is an astonishing author. Not only does she deliver a well plotted, well worked out and thrilling mystery, she is also a master at describing people, places, moods and atmosphere. The way in which she describes the village of Three Pines and the people living there makes me want to go there, visit there or even move there.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is sent to Three Pines to investigate a murder. A woman has been electrocuted while watching a curling match. Despite the fact that a lot of people were watching the match, nobody, apparently, saw anything or knows anything. And although the murdered woman was universally disliked, no clear motive stands out.
Gamache and his team have a difficult investigation ahead of them. And things are further complicated by the fact that past actions have made Gamache an unofficial outsider in the Surete Du Quebec, while forces are plotting to cause his downfall. Is there anyone he can trust?
Very, very good. And this was a well timed read with the story taking place over the Christmas period.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER


TITLE: FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER
AUTHOR: DENISE DIETZ
Pages: 407
Date: 06/12/2008
Grade: 4
Details: Large Print edition/ Stand-alone
Library

This was a bit of a strange reading experience. On the one hand it was a fun mystery with moments that made me smile. On the other hand, there were a few occasions where I thought things weren't explained enough or the story and/or main character made jumps that just weren't explained enough.
Ingrid Beaumont is a songwriter who shares her house with Hitchcock, her big dog.
The day after a high school reunion, Wylie Jamestone is found murdered. He had angered many people during his life and during the reunion, so there's no shortage of suspects. He leaves Ingrid both a painting and a challenge to find his murderer. A challenge Ingrid accepts although she doesn't actually like mysteries.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD


TITLE: REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
AUTHOR: RICHARD YATES
Pages: 337
Date: 02/12/2008
Grade: 5
Library

This book tells the story of a suburban tragedy. First published in 1961 and set in 1955, it's very much a portrait of that time. Yet, I can't help feeling it's also a timeless tale of loneliness within a marriage, alienation within the suburbs.
Frank and April Wheeler are a married couple with two children, living in the suburbs from where Frank commutes into New York City to an unsatisfactory job while April stays at home for an unfulfilling existence of her own.
Hope alights into their dreary life and relationship when April comes up with a plan for them to leave all behind for a fresh start in Paris.
However, the combination of Frank cowardly back tracking from this plan and an unplanned pregnancy mean that instead of a positive new beginning, the story ends in tragedy.
This is not a happy or optimistic story. Although there are no out and out bad characters, none of them have any redeeming qualities either. It describes small and uneventful lives in a small and uninteresting environment.
However, somehow the book avoids being depressing, even while the story is sad and thought provoking.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

THE BOOK OF AIR AND SHADOWS


TITLE: THE BOOK OF AIR AND SHADOWS
AUTHOR: MICHAEL GRUBER
Pages: 561
Date: 29/11/2008
Grade: 4
Own

The story in this book revolves around the possibility that somewhere in England is hidden an unknown play be William Shakespeare.
Jake Mishkin gets involved in this mystery when he, as an intellectual property lawyer, is asked to keep safe some old documents by a British scholar.
Albert Crosetti is the person who first finds the old documents, parts of which he sells to the British scholar, only vaguely aware of what he might be dealing with.
When the British scholar is found murdered and tortured, both Mishkin and Crosetti get some idea that they're dealing with something that is potentially huge. Individually at first, but together eventually they start looking for the clues needed to find the play. But all the time, others are looking as well; others who already committed murder and will do anything to get their hands on the play.
This was not a bad book or a bad story, but I can't help feeling that it could have been better.
Jake Mishkin was a bit too much of a sleaze; Albert Crosetti's obsession with movies was a bit infantile for a grown man; and the final action scenes where a bit too violent and explosive compared to the rest of the book.
It took the book close to 300 pages to get into it's stride. And although I was never tempted to disregard the book, I was also never anxious to get back to it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

THE SIRIUS CROSSING


TITLE: THE SIRIUS CROSSING
AUTHOR: JOHN CREED
Pages: 251
Date: 24/11/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 1 Jack Valentine Thriller
Library

Jack Valentine has been working for an obscure and shady British intelligence service for years and probably for too long when he accepts an easy sounding mission. He's to go to Ireland, find a package left there by some Americans 25 years ago and bring it back to his boss.
Of course things aren't that simple and Valentine finds himself up against opposition and in danger from the start, while having no idea what the Americans were doing in Ireland 25 years ago or why it matters now.
At the same time Liam, a friend of Valentine who is high up in the IRA, has been accused of being a traitor and is being hunted.
It will take a complicated and violent conclusion to give Jack and Liam a chance to survive.
This was a good thriller. Especially the scenes describing a sea voyage during a violent storm are fascinating. My one objection is that a few things weren't explained sufficiently; the reader just had to accept them. But this really only bothered me in retrospect.
The story did remind me a bit of the series by Lee Child featuring Jack Reacher, which is a good thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO


TITLE: THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO
AUTHOR: PAULO COELHO
Pages: 323
Date: 23/11/2008
Grade: 5
Library

As much as Coelho's books delight and inspire me, I always find it hard to summarize them.
This is the story of Athena (a chosen rather than given name), who was born in Romania, raised in Beirut, and ending up living in London.
From an early age, Athena has a special relationship with the spiritual world. A relationship that eventually leads to her having such a following that she becomes a threat to the establishment. A position that brings with it several dangers.
Her story is told by some of the people who knew her, or thought they did; people who loved her, people who admired her, and people who hated her, or thought they did.
All the different perspectives made this into a fascinating story, leaving me with pages of quotes to return to in the future.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

VENDETTA


TITLE: VENDETTA
AUTHOR: FERN MICHAELS
Pages: 188
Date: 22/11/2008
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 3 Revenge of the Sisterhood
Library

In this instalment it it Myra Rutledge who gets her revenge. Nine years ago her daughter Barbara and her unborn baby were killed in a hit-and-run accident. The driver of the car was subsequently whisked out of the country by his father and the diplomatic immunity he enjoyed.
Now Charles and three of the sisterhood travel to China in order to kidnap the killer and bring him back to the USA for whatever revenge Myra has in mind.
This is a dangerous mission, further complicated by Jack, Nikki's former fiance, and his friend Mark, who are now dedicating most of their time and resources to finding out what the women are up to.
These stories stretch the bounds of what might be possible a bit further than my imagination is able to go. But they're light and fun reads. I don't think I'll be looking very hard for the books in this series that are not available through the library. But as long as I can get them there, I'll keep on reading.

Friday, November 21, 2008

THE BRASS VERDICT




TITLE: THE BRASS VERDICT
AUTHOR: MICHAEL CONNELLY
Pages: 422
Date: 21/11/2008
Grade: 5
Details: no. 14 Harry Bosch, no. 2 Mickey Haller
Library




Mickey Haller has just started thinking about going back to work as a defence lawyer when a colleague of his is murdered, naming Mickey as his professional successor. The detective investigating the murder is Harry Bosch.
One of the cases Mickey inherits is a huge one. A Hollywood mogul has been accused of murdering his wife and her lover, and a successful defense would mean good money and good publicity for Haller. And it soon appears that the case is very winnable, for several reasons.
But the fact remains that Haller's predecessor was murdered while preparing for this case, and taking on the defence may well put Haller in mortal danger.
This was a good thriller, even though I'm not usually a fan of legal thrillers, and I would have liked to see more of Harry Bosch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A PAINTED DOOM


TITLE: A PAINTED DOOM
AUTHOR: KATE ELLIS
Pages: 322
Date: 18/112008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 6 Wesley Peterson Mystery
Own

A lot of apparently unrelated events are taking place in Devon. A 15-year old boy finds a medieval depiction of hell in an old barn; a retired rock star is murdered; the owner of an angel shop is attacked and nearly killed; and the teenage boy goes missing.
While Wesley's friend Neil tries to uncover the secrets of the picture (called a doom) and the past, Wesley and his colleagues have their hands full trying to make sense of all the crimes and the possible connections between them.
In the end it's the medieval painting that provides the answers to the mysteries both past and present.
As always a well written and well plotted mystery. However, you'd think that by now the local police would know to look at the past when dealing with the present (LOL).

Monday, November 17, 2008

ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING


TITLE: ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING
AUTHOR: LAWRENCE BLOCK
Date: 17/11/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: Audio: 8 Cd's / 9 hours & 55 minutes
Narrator: Alan Sklar
No. 19 Matt Scudder Mystery
Library

A prisoner on death row, about to be executed, receives visits from a psychologist who says he believes the man's claims of innocence and agrees to be present at the time of the lethal injection. But who exactly is this psychologist?
Meanwhile in New York, Matt Scudder is about to give up on private investigations but agrees to one more case as a favour to a friend. Louise is dating a man she really likes but who appears to be hiding something. She needs Matt to finds out what, before she decides whether or not to commit herself.
Little does Matt know that this simple looking investigation will both himself and his wife Elaine in grave danger.
This was a good mystery with a great twist in the middle. The fact that the murderer is given his own voice only adds to the suspense. Especially since his thoughts and descriptions are at the same time horrific and devoid of emotion while logical sounding. Creepy stuff.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

FINDING THE DREAM


TITLE: FINDING THE DREAM
AUTHOR: NORA ROBERTS
Pages: 336
Date: 16/11/2008
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 3 The Dream Trilogy
Own

Laura Templeton's dream has always been to find the man she loves and loves her, marry him and build a solid and loving life, home and family with him.
When she marries Peter when she's 18 she is sure she has found her dream, only for it all to shatter into pieces 10 years later.
Now Laura is making a life for herself and her two daughters and has all but given up on her dream when she reacquaints herself with Michael; a man with a bad boy reputation and the looks to match.
He doesn't appear to fit into Laura's dreams at all, but the attraction is strong, and sometimes dreams come true, even if it seems common sense would indicate otherwise.
As always, Roberts provided me with a comfort read, which was exactly what I needed after my previous, much more challenging book.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

THE GIVEN DAY


TITLE: THE GIVEN DAY
AUTHOR: DENNIS LEHANE
Pages: 704
Date: 15/11/2008
Grade: 4.5
Own

This is a very big book in more ways then one. Obviously, there's the number of pages, but that is the least of it. The story in this book deals with several major issues. Issues that are still big now, but where huge at the time of the stories setting. There is the race issue, and the issue of the working classes, their repression and their fight for a fair deal, versus the vested interests determination to keep their world unchanged. And there are more personal issues like love and following your heart; like facing the truth about your birth family and growing up to deal with it; like corruption, pride and paying the price for your decisions.
The story is set in Boston in 1918 where Danny Coughlin is a police officer working a demanding job under near impossible circumstances.
Luther Lawrence is a black man who has fled to Boston from Oklahoma, leaving behind his pregnant wife.
While Danny gets involved with the labour movement, one of the decisions that will cause a split with his family, Luther soon finds that his problems have followed him to Boston.
Both men face huge decisions that will affect their future happiness and their abilities to live with themselves.
What impressed me about this book was it's balance. It gave room to all points of view as they must have been at the time and most of the characters felt real, not either good or bad but bits of both, as you find them in real life.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about the sections about Babe Ruth. They've been written so as to make his real life intersect with the fictional ones in the story. I'm just not convinced that the story would have suffered if he'd been left out. But I'm willing to accept that I might have felt differently about that if I had been American and into the sport of baseball.
Still, as interesting and well written as this book was, I had a bit of a struggle reading it. While actually in the process of reading I was fine, but whenever I put the book down, picking it up again took a bit of convincing myself. And I'm not convinced that was only down to me having very few stretches where I could read for a longer time. For some reason it felt a bit like hard work, hence the mark of 4.5 for a book I had expected to be a solid 5.

Monday, November 10, 2008

FAKING IT


TITLE: FAKING IT
AUTHOR: MARIANNE MACDONALD
Pages: 214
Date: 08/11/2008
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 8 Dido Hoare Mystery
Library

I should of course know better than to read mysteries out of order. What's more, it really doesn't make sense when the first book you read is the (so far) last one published in a series. In my defense I could say that although I knew this wasn't the first title in this series, I didn't realize it was number eight and the last one. And I don't mind reading one title in a series out of order to allow myself to see if I like it enough to start hunting for the other/earlier titles.
and as far as that last point is concerned the answer is yes, I would like to go back and read the previous instalments. Also, fortunately for me, this book didn't appear to give away anything about the earlier plots.
Dido Hoare owns and runs an antiquarian bookshop in London and is surprised when she receives a visit from Gabriel Steen, a book scout she knows but hasn't seen for years. While he's in her shop, Gabriel receives a phone call which upsets him, and subsequently persuades Dido to buy a share in what appears to be a medieval manuscript, which he leaves with her.
The next time Dido hears about Gabriel he has died under suspicious circumstances, leaving her with the mysterious manuscript and dealing with a host of strangers interested in it, not to mention several police forces.
Investigating the manuscript and Gabriel's death only leads to more question and possibly danger and it would seem that losing money on her deal with Gabriel is the least of Dido's problems.
I enjoyed this mystery. It was well plotted and well researched and featured likable, realistic and well rounded characters.
It makes a nice change to read a mystery where the police and the amateur actually get on and cooperate rather than undermine each other.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I REMEMBER; LIBRARY READING & REVIEW



NOELLE HARRISON VISITS BALIEBOROUGH LIBRARY


On Tuesday November 4, Bailieborough Library, Co. Cavan was delighted to welcome author Noelle Harrison for a reading from her new novel, I REMEMBER.
The turnout on the evening was as good as we had been hoping and the audience turned out to be very interested in and appreciative of every Noelle had to say.
After Noelle was introduced by the library's manager, Fiona Burke, she proceeded to read sections from her novel, alternating them with explanations about the story and the writing process. The sections she read to us were picked in such a way that only a non reader would not be enticed to pick up a copy of the book. And the information provided in between the readings only made the book and the story in it more interesting. One bit of information that really stuck with me was that she wrote this book in three months, while taking a break from the book she was, and still is working on. I'm amazed that a story as beautiful as the one in I REMEMBER could be put together in only three months time, and delighted to hear that a fourth book can't be too far away.
Noelle is an "old" friend of the library; In the past she has given two creative writing workshops in Bailieborough library. And on this night her willingness to share her knowledge was once again called upon since a large part of the audience consisted of participants of the creative writing course that's currently being held, who of course had several questions about the writing process and why she'd made certain decisions with regards to the story. All these questions were answered in enough detail to be of interest to the aspiring authors, but in such a way that those of us who have no ambitions in that direction had no problem staying interested.
After the reading and question and answer session Noelle took time to sign copies of all three of her novels, which were available for sale, and took her time chatting with all who wanted to. It was a very successful evening, and Noelle once again proved a gracious and interesting guest.
The titles of her three novels are: BEATRICE, A SMALL PART OF ME, and I REMEMBER. And all three are well worth reading.

REVIEW:
TITLE: I REMEMBER
AUTHOR: NOELLE HARRISON
Pages: 259
Date: 03/11/2008
Grade: 5
Own

I love the way Noelle Harrison writes. It's so descriptive that I feel like I've been picked up and dropped right in the centre of the setting of the story. Right now it's almost as if I've recently returned from a trip to Sligo and the Camargue in France.
This is the story of Barbara who travels from Sligo to London to start work as an au pair, leaving behind the place where her little brother died, and her mother still talks to him.
In London she soon discovers that the family she's working for is troubled, and Mathilda, the six year old daughter very ill.
Within days of Barbara's arrival the family and Barbara leave for the a Camargue in France.
In this beautiful setting things soon become complicated and ugly. And while Barbara experiences love for the first time, her feelings and the trip are doomed when she feels compelled to take drastic action.
Sometimes it takes a long time for situations to become clear, feelings understandable and life to find its proper course.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

THE SUM OF OUR DAYS



TITLE: THE SUM OF OUR DAYS
AUTHOR: ISABEL ALLENDE
Pages: 301
Date: 02/11/2008
Grade: 5
Details: a memoir
Library





This book is more or less a long letter to Paula, Isabel Allende's daughter who died so very young. In it, the author tells of all the ups and downs in her own life and marriage and the lives of the members of her extended family, or should I say tribe.
As is the case for all of us, it's a life filled with ups and downs, with good and bad decisions, with happy endings and hard adjustments to endings that refuse to be happy.
I love the way Allende is able to look at herself and those around her, the way the love she feels for those around her flows of the pages, even while she's not blind to and very honest about shortcomings, including her own.
In the end this was a very uplifting book, even though it was written on the back of that unimaginable loss.


As always, Isabel Allende left me with several quotes I want to keep:


- Every life can be told as a novel; each of us is the protagonist of his own legend.


- Never do harm, and whenever possible do good.


- It isn't the truth exposed that makes us vulnerable, it's what we try to keep secret.


- The worst thing about old age isn't loneliness but being dependent.


- After turning fifty, vanity becomes equivalent to suffering.


- Child, we come into this world to lose everything. It costs nothing to let go of material things. What's difficult is to give your loved ones their freedom.


- You have only what you give.


- At the end of our days, it turns out that we have lived only what we can evoke. What I don't write I forget; it is as if it never happened.


- Life goes along without a map, and there's no way to turn back.


- But in real-life stories there are no perfect endings. Each person just has to do the best he or she can, that's all.


- I learned that we're responsible for our own sadness.
Sometimes we can't avoid sadness, but we can control our reaction to it.

- People get the government they deserve. That's the downside of a democracy.


- The sum of our days, our shared pains and joys, was now our destiny.

Friday, October 31, 2008

KENNEDY'S BRAIN


TITLE: KENNEDY'S BRAIN
AUTHOR: HENNING MANKELL
Date: 31/10/2008
Grade: 4-
Details: Audio: 11 Cd's / 11 hours and 10 minutes
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Library

When archaeologist Louise Cantor returns to Sweden from Greece, it is to find her son, Henrik, dead in his bed. The official verdict is that Henrik committed suicide, but Louise, knowing her son, refuses to belief this.
As Louise starts looking into her son's life, she soon finds that there is a lot she didn't know about him; like his interest in the conspiracy theory concerning President Kennedy's brain which went missing after his autopsy, and the fact that Henrik had been HIV positive.
As she follows in her son's footsteps she finds herself travelling first to Spain and then to Africa. She also finds herself dealing with people disappearing and dying.
But even when she finds out what is behind the fear and the deaths, it remains unclear what she can do to stop it or prove it.
This was not a bad story, even if it was more a political thriller than a mystery. But to me it was frustrating that the issues involved are so great that the story realistically couldn't provide a solution or resolution. Which made for a more or less realistic ending, even if it wasn't a very satisfying one.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH


TITLE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH
AUTHOR: PHILLIP PULLMAN
Pages: 94
Date: 31/10/2008
Grade: 4+
Details: A Story from the world of "The Golden Compass)
Library

This book is more a novella than a novel, but no less enjoyable for it. It is the story of the first meeting between Lee Scoresby, the Texan balloonist, and Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear. When they join forces to oppose injustice on the island of Novy Odense, it is the start of a life long friendship.
This is a beautifully made book; a small sized hardcover with a dark blue cloth cover, and comes with a ballooning board game. I haven't played the game yet, but it looks like it will be fun when we do. I think this book will make a perfect stocking filler for anyone who enjoyed "His Dark Materials".

THE LINCOLN LAWYER


TITLE: THE LINCOLN LAWYER
AUTHOR: MICHAEL CONNELLY
Pages: 448
Date: 30/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: Stand-alone
Own

Michael Haller is a criminal defence lawyer working from the backseat of his Lincoln (hence the title). When Louis Roulet is arrested for brutally beating up a woman in an attempt to rape and kill her, he hires Haller for his defence. At first Haller thinks that he might have found something very rare, an innocent client. However, it soon turns out that things are far more complicated then that and soon Haller finds himself playing a very dangerous game of cat and mouse with the lay, a dangerous murderer and the lives of himself and those he loves.
This was not a bad mystery at all, just not up to Harry Bosch standard. (Which makes my wonder what the next book in that series, The Brass Verdict, will be like, since that book will bring the two characters together).
I'm still not a fan of court room mysteries though. I can't quite say why not, but they never seem to do it for me. Could have something to do with the fact that they appear to have little to do with justice, and more with technicalities. The same reason I never wanted to pursue a career in law.

Monday, October 27, 2008

BOOK LAUNCH "THE POISON THRONE"


On Saturday October 25th 2008 The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan was launched in Crannog Bookshop in Cavan Town, co. Cavan, Ireland.
The Poison Throne is the first book by Celine Kiernan to be published and is also the first instalment in the Moorhawke trilogy. Since I reviewed this book in this blog on the 11th of September, I won't get into that again, except to say that it is a wonderful book, aimed at young adults but very much to be enjoyed by adults too.
The launch itself was a huge success. Crannog isn't a very big bookshop but it was filled to capacity and then some. For those who did not arrive early it was a case of standing room only.
After a welcome and introduction by the owner of the bookshop, the floor was given to Michael O'Brien, of O'Brien publishing who praised the author for an exceptional book. He told the audience that after he had bought the rights to the book he took the first three chapters to the Bologna Book Fair only a few weeks later. On the basis of those three chapters he managed to sell the rights to several different countries (if I remember correctly 13) which is a terrific achievement and says a lot about the quality of the writing and the power of the story.
The second speaker was author Catherine Dunne. Years ago, she was Celine's teacher in secondary school, and she told us how even then Celine showed huge talent and imagination.
Finally it was time for Celine herself to address her. She told us how overwhelmed she is by the positive reactions she has been getting to her book. She also said that there had been several times when she was ready to just forget about the whole project, but had been encouraged by her husband and children to keep on going. And how right they were.
She read pages from the story and picked a point in the narrative that was sure to entice those who had not read the book yet to pick it up immediately and get the full story.
When it was time for the book signing I had my opportunity to have a quick word with Celine. Much to my surprise she told me that she had read my review in this blog, and thanked me for it. Apparently, mine was the very first review of this book to be published anywhere. And since I loved the book, that was not a bad thing. She was kind enough to allow me to keep the ARC copy I had read and signed it for me, with a thank you for that review. The copy of the book I bought while in Crannog she signed for Tara, at which point I took the photo you see above.
This was my very first book launch and I enjoyed it thoroughly. From now on I'll be making a point of going to as many launches as is feasible.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

THE SECRET SCRIPTURE


TITLE: THE SECRET SCRIPTURE
AUTHOR: SEBASTIAN BARRY
Pages: 300
Date: 26/10/2008
Grade: 5
Details: First read for the Bailieborough Library Reading Group
Own.

This was neither a fast nor an easy read, and I can understand why somebody might give up on it and decide not to finish it.
Yet, anybody deciding not to read or finish this book would be doing themselves a great disservice. This was, for me, a very beautiful and moving book. Based on the content of the book, reading the story should have been heartbreaking, but that is not the emotion I was left with. I was left with a feeling of serenity and beauty, which surely must be down to the author's writing; simple and slightly detached, the way we do tend to look at memories from long ago, no matter how painful the events we are remembering.
The story:
In Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital Roseanne McNulty (or should that be Clear) is about 100 years old (nobody knows her exact age) when she decides to write down the story of her early life. A life that was difficult from the start since she was born a protestant in a Catholic country in times of great turmoil. A life filled with tragedy and a life that lead her to spend most of her adult years in mental institutions.
At the same time, her psychiatrist, faced with the imminent closure of the mental hospital starts looking into Roseanne's history, and the reasons for her having been committed, in order to decide about her future.
Both stories are told in the form of journals, and it soon emerges that Roseanne's narrative doesn't always agree with the documents Dr. Grene can get his hands on.
The question is, what is the true account? Or even, is there such a thing as a true account? Or does the truth, like beauty, depend on the eyes of the beholder, and on the tricks the passage of time plays on memories?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

THE BLOOD DETECTIVE

TITLE: THE BLOOD DETECTIVE
AUTHOR: DAN WADDELL
Pages: 398
Date: 23/10/2008
Grade: 5
Details: no.1 Nigel Barnes Mystery
Own

Nigel Barnes is an expert at tracing and compiling family trees. He is asked by the police, represented by DCI Grant Foster, to assist in an inquiry.
A mutilated body has been found in a London grave yard, with a clue carved in his chest. The clue leads the investigators to a string of brutal murders committed in 1879, murders that appear to be in the process of being recommitted in the present.
It soon turns into a race against time as murder follows murder and the bloodline of everyone of the victims needs to be checked if the investigators are to have any hope of stopping the killings before the murderer reaches his ultimate tally of five. And the urgency increases as it turns out that one of those on the investigative team is destined to be the final victim.
This was a very well written and well plotted mystery. Written by the author of "Who Do You Think You Are", the book accompanying the BBC TV series.
I'm delighted this is the first book in a series, with the next one due out next year.

THE SKIN GODS

TITLE: THE SKIN GODS
AUTHOR: RICHARD MONTANARI
Pages: 395
Date: 21/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Kevin Byrne & Jessica Balzano mystery
Library

The case begins when somebody hands in a video of Psycho to the police. The shower scene in the movie has been replaced with real footage of a similar murder. The tape gives no clues as to the who or why, and soon a second tape turns up. A different movie, but again a real murder taped over the fictional one. As more tapes and more murders turn up, clues are few and far between, and with the murderer apparently heading for a big finale, Kevin and Jessica are up against it as the case is about to turn personal.
I'm liking this series, the mysteries are good and original, the characters interesting and multi-dimensional, and the thrills are fascinating.

THE DANGEROUS SPORTS EUTHANASIA SOCIETY

TITLE: THE DANGEROUS SPORT EUTHANASIA SOCIETY
AUTHOR: CHRISTINE COLEMAN
Pages: 308
Date: 19/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Library

Agnes Borrowdale is a week away from her 75th birthday when she climbs out of the window of her room in the old-people's home she hates. Worried about her grandchildren she hasn't seen in ages she's decided to go and find them to see if they're safe.
Her journey is far from straightforward, but along the road she meets some very nice and helpful people.
When she prevents Felix from killing himself, she invents the "Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society" in the hope it will stop him from trying again. But soon the invented society has taken on a life of it's own, and Agnes finds that at 75 life is filled with surprises, adventures and discoveries; like the secret meaning of life: "the beautiful simplicity of letting go of fear".
This was a fun and delightful story, not like anything I can remember reading before. And original and uplifting read.
"If I can't be a shining example, at least I can be a dreadful warning."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

THE MURDER BIRD

TITLE: THE MURDER BIRD
AUTHOR: JOANNA HINES
Pages: 374
Date: 18/10/2008
Grade: 4+
Library

When Kirsten Waller is found dead in a bath tub in a Cornish Cottage, her daughter Sam is the only one not prepared to accept the official verdict of suicide. And her conviction that her mother was murdered is strenghtened by the fact that her mother's notebook as well as a poem have gone missing.
For a long time Sam has to look for prove of her suspicions alone. But even when others start sharing her suspicions and supporting her, it may not be enough to safe her. The Murder Bird is getting ready to strike again.
Interesting story, and a decent read, but nothing spectacular. I never really felt like I was reading a thriller.

HEART AND SOUL

TITLE: HEART AND SOUL
AUTHOR: MAEVE BINCHY
Pages: 452
Date: 16/10/2008
Grade: 4+
Library

Well, in many aspects this was a typical Binchy book, cosy, likable and recognizable characters in an uplifting story.
But... she continues to bring back characters from previous books, and as much as I enjoy finding out how these characters develop after their original story is over, I can't help feeling it's the author taking the easy way out, or suffering a lack of imagination.
With characters popping up that featured in at least 5 previous novels, this was once again (like Whitethorn Wood) more like a collection of short stories than a novel, although the heart centre at the centre of it all does tie all the stories together fairly well.
And as much as this was not Binchy at the height of her powers, it was a pleasure to read.

Monday, October 13, 2008

THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER

TITLE: THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER OR, THE MURDER AT ROAD HILL HOUSE
AUTHOR: KATE SUMMERSCALE
Pages: 302
Date: 13/10/2008
Grade: 4
Details: Non Fiction
Library

One summer's night in 1860 a young boy is taken from his bed, murdered and left in the servant's toilet outside the house, where he is found the following day.
After the murder had been investigated unsatisfactory for two weeks by the local police, Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard is send down to investigate.
Up to that point Whicher was a successful and popular investigator, but traditional class distinctions, opposition from the local police and partial interference from the press mean that he has to leave the case unsolved.
Although years later, after he has resigned his job disillusioned, the person he had accused of the crime does confess, this come too late to resurrect his career.
The murder and it's investigation caused a sensation at the time and captured the public's imagination, especially because it was clear that the murderer had to have been a member of the household.
This murder, and the way it was written about in the press gave rise to the birth of the modern detective novel, and that made this book an intriguing read for a huge fan of that genre, like me.
Although the book didn't and couldn't answer any remaining questions, it did paint a good picture of the times and the circumstances of the investigation.

HOLDING THE DREAM

TITLE: HOLDING THE DREAM
AUTHOR: NORA ROBERTS
Pages: 345
Date: 11/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 The Dream Trilogy
Own

After her parents died, Kate Powell was taken in by her aunt and uncle who raised her like one of their own children. This hasn't stopped Kate from needing to prove herself to them time and again. Now in her 20's and a successful accountant, she feels she's on the brink of achieving her goals, when her world collapses.
First she discovers that her father was about to be convicted for fraud when he died, and then she's accused of embezzling money herself and suspended from her job.
Confused and lost, the usually independent Kate turns in on herself, refusing to face or fight the charges, she allows herself to become ill.
Help comes from an unexpected corner in the form of Byron De Witt, a man she was sure she couldn't like who turns out to be all she needs to get her life back on track and her priorities straightened out.
Easy to read, fun and sexy, this was vintage Roberts. Reading her books is almost like coming home to a roaring fire on a winter's evening, and this one didn't disappoint.

Friday, October 10, 2008

SUNSET EXPRESS

TITLE: SUNSET EXPRESS
AUTHOR: ROBERT CRAIS
Date: 10/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 6 Elvis Cole Mystery
Audio: 8 Cd's / 9 hours & 25 minutes
Narrator: William Roberts
Library

When the body of the wife of a wealthy Los Angeles restaurateur is found, it's only a little while later that detective Angela Rossi finds the murder weapon, which leads to the husband being arrested.
Elvis Cole is hired by the restaurateur's high profile defence lawyer to find prove that not only did detective Rossi plant the evidence, but also that she has done so before.
But just when it seems that Cole has proven the exact opposite, the defence team announces that Cole did prove the plant, and Rossi gets suspended.
Now very suspicious, Elvis switches sides to prove Rossi's innocence and help get a murderer in court and convicted.
However, sometimes justice can't be got the conventional way.
As always a humorous, fast and thrilling story, read by a great narrator. Elvis' love interest adds a nice extra dimension to the story.

THE ROSARY GIRLS

TITLE: THE ROSARY GIRLS
AUTHOR: RICHARD MONTANARI
Pages: 497
Date: 09/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 1 Kevin Byrne & Jessica Balzano Mystery
Library

Jessica Balzano is new to Philadelphia's murder squat when she's partnered with Kevin Byrne, a veteran and a troubled man.
Almost immediately they catch a horrific case. Somebody is abducting teenage girls and mutilating and killing them in what appears to be religiously motivated murders.
Without any clues, motives or real suspects, it appears the killings might just continue. That is, until they come to a violent and horrific finale, much too close to home to the two detectives for comfort.
Good mystery, with a solid story line, interesting characters and enough red herrings to keep me guessing and turning the pages.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

THE WITNESS AT THE WEDDING

TITLE: THE WITNESS AT THE WEDDING
AUTHOR: SIMON BRETT
Pages: 372
Date: 05/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 6 The Fethering Mysteries
Own

Carole Seddon's son Stephen will be marrying his Gaby in a few months time and Carole is about to meet the bride's parents. Marie and Harold turn out to be very quiet and shy people who appear to be determined to keep the wedding as low key as possible. But then Harold is murdered ad the wedding plans have to take a back seat to another investigation for Carole and her neighbour, Jude.
It soon appears Gaby's family has some secrets it's trying very hard to keep hidden. But the 30 year old secret will have to be examined if Harold's murder is to be solved, Gaby is to be kept safe and the wedding is to proceed.
I had the mystery solved fairly early on in the story, but that didn't diminish my reading pleasure at all.

PROMISE ME

TITLE: PROMISE ME
AUTHOR: HARLAN COBEN
Pages: 370
Date: 03/10/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 8 Myron Bolitar Mystery
Own

For six years, Myron has avoided investigations and has concentrated on his business, but that is about to change.
It all starts very innocently when he makes two teenage girls promise to call him if they ever need help. But then Aimee Briel does call him in the middle of the night. He picks her up from a street corner and drops her at what she says is the house of a friend. He watches her disappear around the corner of a house, and that's the last anyone sees of her.
Because Aimee is 18 the police won't investigate. But driven by guilt, the desperation of Aimee's family and the feeling that something isn't right, Myron breaks his rule of six years and starts an investigation.
After a somewhat slow start, this was a thrilling book with many twists.

ECHO BURNING

TITLE: ECHO BURNING
AUTHOR: LEE CHILD
Pages: 572
Date: 30/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 5 Jack Reacher Mystery
Library

Reacher is in Texas, trying to hitch a ride but not really expecting anyone to stop for him when a Cadillac does. He's offered a ride by Carmen, a beautiful young woman. It soon appears that Carmen has her own reasons for picking Reacher up. She's looking for someone to kill her husband for her. The husband, who has abused her for nearly as long as they have been married, is in prison right now but is due to be released soon. The husband who will abuse her again, unless he kills her first.
Refusing to do the killing, Reacher does stay with Carmen and goes to Echo County where it soon appears that there is a lot more going on then the abuse. And Reacher is the only one who can and/or wants to safe Carmen and her young daughter.
As usual, a thrilling read.

A DILLY OF A DEATH

TITLE: A DILLY OF A DEATH
AUTHOR: SUSAN WITTIG ALBERT
Pages: 314
Date: 29/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 13 China Bayles Mystery
Own

China's husband, McQuaid, is bored with teaching and decides to set up as a private investigator. His first client is Phoebe, the Pickle Queen, who suspects her plant manager of embezzling money. But almost as soon as she hires McQuaid, Phoebe goes missing, leaving China, Ruby and others on the planning commission for the annual Pickle Fest, in a huge pickle.
An extra complication in China's life is Amy, Ruby's daughter who is pregnant and refusing to reveal the father, and asks to move in with China.
When Phoebe turns up as a pickle herself a murder investigation with lots of suspects takes off. And although China is reluctant to investigate the matter herself, it will be down to her to safe the day.
A nice, cozy mystery with likable and realistic characters, always a pleasure to read.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

STRANGERS IN DEATH

TITLE: STRANGERS IN DEATH
AUTHOR: J.D. ROBB
Pages: 360
Date: 28/09/2008
Grade: 5
Details: 28/09/2008
Library

At first it looks like sexual experimentation gone horribly wrong, but a second look reveals that Thomas A. Anders was murdered.
It's not going to be an easy case to solve though as all the likely suspects have rock solid alibi's.
But just as it appears that this might be one of those cases that remain unsolved, Eve catches a break that explains how the murder was committed. Knowing the truth though is not the same as proving guilt, ad Eve will have to do a lot of organizing in order to get her case through court and those guilty locked up.
As usual, a good mystery, a thrilling read and enough of the sexy stuff to keep it riveting.

SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S

TITLE: SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S
AUTHOR: JAMES PATTERSON
Pages: 309
Date: 25/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: Stand-alone
Own

This is a really sweet story, a modern fairy-tale, a touching love story.
Jane Margaux was a sweet, funny but lonely child when her imaginary friend Michael appeared, to make her life enjoyable.
The day after her ninth birthday though, Michael disappears from her life, promising her that she would forget him immediately. However, Jane can't forget him, and 25 years later he's still a very fond memory and an inspiration for Jane.
Then Jane and Michael meet again. It shouldn't be possible for Jane, the adult, to recognize her childhood imaginary friend, but she does, and the two find they are closer then ever.
But can a fairy-tale happen in real life, and if yes, could it possibly have a happy ending?
This story was a balm for the soul, a real comfort read.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BROKEN ANGELS

TITLE: BROKEN ANGELS
AUTHOR: RICHARD MONTANARI
Pages: 515
Date: 24/09/208
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 3 Kevin Byrne & Jessica Balzano Mystery
Own

It starts when the body of a woman is found next to a river in Philadelphia, strangled and mutilated. Initially it seems that Detectives Byrne and Balzano are working a single, horrific murder. But then other bodies start appearing along the river, all strangled and all staged to tell some sort of story - The hunt is on for a killer who is basing his murders and his victims on fairy-tales by Hans Christian Andersen without leaving a single clue.
This, in itself was a solid and fascinating story line, but there are several other story lines going at the same time. And when all the threads come together it really fits and works.
A good thriller, well written with interesting characters. I have to go back now and start this series with book one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

THE MAGICIAN

TITLE: THE MAGICIAN
AUTHOR: MICHAEL SCOTT
Pages: 461
Date: 22/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Youth fiction
Own

While Perenelle tries to find a way to escape from the Sphinx and Alcatraz in San Francisco, Nicholas and the twins Josh and Sophie find themselves in Paris where they immediately face a new opponent in Nicolo Machiavelli. John Dee is on his way to Paris and when he gets there he and Machiavelli will unleash unimaginable forces on the city.
And while Sophie's awakened powers continue to grow as she learns fire magic, Josh gets ever more jealous of his sister's abilities. And he still hasn't made up his mind about whom to trust; Flamel or Dee?
This is a very imaginative series of books, well researched and very well written. I hope the wait for the third and final book won't be too long.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

PAY BACK

TITLE: PAY BACK
AUTHOR: FERN MICHAELS
Pages: 183
Date: 21/09/2008
Grade: 4
Details: no. 2 Revenge of the Sisterhood
Library

All the members of the Sisterhood are the victims of injustice in one way or another, and the Sisterhood is there to make sure that each of them gets not only justice, but also revenge on those who wronged them.
Founded and financed by Myra Rutledge and organized by Charles Martin, former MI6 operative and Myra's partner, the Sisterhood is very strong and very secret.
In this book it is Julia Webster's turn to get her justice. Her "victim" is her husband, a senator with a secret and dodgy past, whose sexual escapades have had devastating consequences for Julia. By the time the Sisterhood is finished with him, the senator could well be history.
But there are complications in the form of Jack Emery, Nikki Quinn's ex-partner and assistant D.A. Convinced that the women are up to no good, he's determined to find out what's going on and to stop them. Jack is a problem that needs to be controlled, or all the careful plans will come to nothing.
This book was nothing very special and not especially well written, but it was great fun to read. Reading about women coming out on top is always enjoyable.

VOODOO RIVER

TITLE: VOODOO RIVER
AUTHOR: ROBERT CRAIS
Pages: 293
Date: 20/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 5 Elvis Cole Mystery
Own

Elvis Cole is hired by television star Jodi Taylor to find her birth parents. In order to do this, he travels to Louisiana where he soon discovers that there's a lot more going on than just a routine "find the parents" investigation; too many people are too eager for him to leave it all alone.
Somebody has already started and maybe finished this investigation before he even left Los Angeles, which means, Jodi lied to him.
But the layers go even deeper and soon Elvis gets Joe Pike to join him on a path that will lead to a lot of violence.
This was a fast-paced and very enjoyable read. On occasion Elvis can be a bit too much of a wise cracker for me, but other then that no complaints, just enjoyment.

Friday, September 19, 2008

THE LIKENESS

TITLE: THE LIKENESS
AUTHOR: TANA FRENCH
Pages: 553
Date: 19/09/2008
Grade: 5+
Details: 2nd mystery featuring Cassie Maddox
Own

When Cassie Maddox is called to the scene of a murder by a distraught sounding Sam O'Neill, she doesn't understand why. Cassie has transferred away from the Murder Squad after the disastrous outcome of her last case there. All becomes clear though when she views the corpse; the murdered girl is her double and goes by the name Lexie Maddison, an identity that was invented for Cassie when she worked as an undercover detective.
This likeness creates an unique opportunity; the girls death is kept secret and Cassie once again becomes Lexie in an attempt to flush out the murderer.
But as Lexie starts living Lexie's life she gets sucked into it, and there's a real danger she'll lose track of her intentions and become too rapped up in Lexie and her friends.
This case has all the potential to turn into another disaster, unless Cassie can get her act together.

Although this book did remind me of both THE SECRET HISTORY and THE HOUSE AT MIDNIGHT, it didn't take away anything from my enjoyment. This was a great mystery, a very well written book and a very hard to put down read.

THE BONE GARDEN

TITLE: THE BONE GARDEN
AUTHOR: KATE ELLIS
Pages: 232
Date: 17/09/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 5 Wesley Peterson Mystery
Own

During an excavation in a lost garden two skeletons are found in quick succession, both having died a violent death a long time ago. Wesley Peterson, though interested, has other things on his mind because a man has been stabbed to death in a caravan, leaving no clues as to his identity. The only interesting thing found with him is an article about the gardens.
A local solicitor is desperate for a discrete talk with Wesley, but before the two can talk, the solicitor is found dead, apparently having been repeatedly hit by a flying cricket ball.
While past and present once again show shocking similarities, someone close to Peterson is in danger of becoming the last victim in the modern mystery.
Well plotted and well written, as usual , and a pleasure to read.

Monday, September 15, 2008

BEFORE I DIE

TITLE: BEFORE I DIE
AUTHOR: JENNY DOWNHAM
Pages: 327
Date: 15/09/2008
Grade: 5
Library

On the back cover of this novel it says: "an extraordinary book", and it truly is.
16 year old Tessa has been fighting leukemia for years, but has now reached the terminal stages. She makes a list of things to do before she dies, starting off with sex.
But she soon finds out that you don't always get something just because you want it, and that when you do get it, it might not be what you imagined or what you need. By the same token though, sometimes you get things you didn't even know you wanted, or didn't think available.
Although this is of course a sad story (no miracle cures), it's not a depressing read. It is honest, and eye-opening and very much worth the time it takes to read and reflect on it.