Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Sunday, June 17, 2018

"The Rain Watcher", by Tatiana de Rosnay

Set in Paris during a stunning natural disaster “The Rain Watcher is a drama that slowly unfolds the Malegarde’s family secrets. Paul and Lauren Malegarde are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and Paul 70th birthday with their two adult children but unfortunately the reunion doesn’t go as planned. The streets of Paris are waterlogged and the Seine is still rising at a rapid pace amongst the chaos sickness is at the family door…..

The atmosphere in Paris is dark: electricity is out, it is cold: no one has heat and everything is wet: water is still rising and flooding basements: one catastrophe after the other is at everyone’s door. While everything is going haywire in the city of lights, Linden, the Malegarde youngest son analyses and critics his relationships with each member of his family in a very moving tone. His narration is the heart of this story.

This is a story of love and redemption where everyone has withheld something. Secrets… sounds intriguing but what a letdown, as it moves along in an snail pace, the story soon goes in random directions and becomes repetitive. There are a lot of dots to connect but don’t try to do so, you will be questioning yourself wondering if you missed a point... Most of the book is about the flood but I failed to match this with the family saga. Was this story about the hardship of the flood or the family reunion gone badly?

Finally, this family with a dysfunctional background slowly reveals their secrets: memories trigger a deluge of emotions in its members….and bonds finally tightens but is it too late…..

More thoughts:

Although the writing is fluid and all the descriptions of Paris in the rain are wonderful, unfortunately, despite Ms. De Rosnay great writing skills and beautiful descriptions, I never really got into this book; I found it long and devoid of suspense. The story is bland, the characters without consistency, I was bored and had trouble finishing the book.... in short, a colorless novel, odorless and tasteless….Not Ms. De Rosnay best….

I received this ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalleys for my thoughts

Monday, June 11, 2018

"Look for Me Under the Rainbow", by Bernard Jan

This is a very touching novella about a pup seal name Danny who spends his days playing with his brother and learning life skills from his mother. It also brings out those with big heart and a desire to save animals: the environmentalists. Helen is a young activist and a crew member of the Rainbow Warriors and will lead the way in the last part of this very emotional journey.

This powerful story invokes all sorts of emotions and focuses on the many dangers Danny faces from birth on. The narration and dialogue are elegant and poetic, the presentation extremely graphic although not gruesome in anyways, definitely no need for pictures. No doubt, the author took a lot of care with this story to drive his points across.

Of course to shock us…..this story brings out some of the dangers Danny will encounter, such as: facing humans during the annual seal hunt, being covered in oil spills during the migratory season north, fighting for his life caught in derelict fishnets left behind by trawlers. The author does not mention the sea of plastic that also roam our oceans. Here come Helen, the saviour, she does her best to safe the young colony from the hunters and Danny from drowning but there is so much to do and little time to do it.

In the last chapters, Mr. Jan does his pitch on activism and has a strong voice about his believes although he abstains from being too preachy….. This is well written story for all ages.

I received a copy for review from the author these are my honest thoughts

Saturday, June 9, 2018

"The Shadow Woman", by Ake Edwardson

Book # 2, in Inspector Erik Winter series and book #5 in the English version

The order in which this series is translated in English is quite bizarre but don’t let this concern you this is a decent police procedural, intricately constructed and stuffed with details of crime investigations (way too much in my books). Most of all, this mystery stands on its own, no worries if you start here.

In a prose that is bleak, Mr. Edwardson takes as its backdrop the Biker War in Sweden in the mid-1990 however he only mentions this in the opening pages. As the tradition imposes the story opens with the discovery of a woman’s body and the following pages are taken up with Winter and his colleagues investigation into her identity and solving the murder. Their efforts are slow, excruciating slow, minutia details, pages after pages of boring discussions, interrogations, etc.…. As the story plods along there are talks about illegal immigrants, relations between Swedes and Danes and some personal anecdotes. We need persistence to be rewarded. Mr. Edwardson does come through in his own time but far too late for my enjoyment. With its stilted dialogue, choppy narrative, plot twists that are hard to follow and a story without charismatic characters, I would describe “The Shadow Woman” as a lackluster installment to this series and by far not my preferred.

Having said this, I will nevertheless see what “Sail of Stone” has in store for me….one day…

Monday, June 4, 2018

"The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye", by David Lagercrants

Book # 5, in the Millennium series

In this second contribution in the Millennium series by Mr. Lagercrantz we will find Lisbeth Salanger on a quest into her origins and a lot of talk of stolen babies.

The novel starts with our heroine serving a sentence in a maximum-security women’s prison where she will butt heads with the dagger wielding Benito and manages to put her hacking skills to good use. While the narrative moves on, Mr. Lagercrants succeeds in diving further into Lisbeth’s heartbreaking backstory and fleshing out her father-daughter relationship with her former guardian Holger Palmgren, those passages are very moving.

This very complex story brings topics that are timely: first, we have a lot of disinformation in which lies are used to create chaos. Second, it centers on the Islamic radicalization and how women are treated. Third, it focuses on racism and those attracted to racial biology. All those plot lines eventually connect as the action unfolds. Many political and philosophical issues are brought to the forefront. There is a lot going on, it is easy to lose track of everything.

What we will read in a few words:

Is a mashup plot of evil bureaucracy separating twins at birth for long-term studies. We will have a heroine avenging a Muslim girl and finally a drama surrounding the separation and reunion of musically gifted male twins.

Further thoughts:

I liked the story but I was rather disappointed with the lack of time the plot spends with Blomkvist and Salanger. They really took backseat roles here and I dearly missed how they interact, none of it in this latest. The story also failed to give good twists and you can see things coming way before they arrive, very little tension is felt. The pacing is hard to follow, with a leisurely tone the scenes swiftly shift back and forth to a year and a half earlier and back to the present; the alternating timeline is confusing and frustrating. I am sure, this novel is the tipping point in which Mr. Lagercrantz will be giving his own spin in the future…..time will tell.

Friday, June 1, 2018

"No Safe House", by Linwood Barclay

No Time for Goodbye #2

This novel is a darkly and definitely a creepy thriller that brings rebellious 14 year old Grace Archer agreeing to joyride with her bad boy friend Stuart who happens to be the son of a man who works for underworld figure Vince Fleming. This evening prank turns out into something very dangerous bringing her whole family embroiled in Vince world….

Mr. Barclay’s fast-paced plot revolves around a competing gang of ruthless criminals who seem hell-bent on recovering a mysterious object that was in Fleming’s possession and will stop at nothing to get it. It is evident from the get-go serious crimes are at work, it opens with an elderly couple being killed during a home invasion. The plot continues and plays out with directness and ease from then on and never let go. Each character is slowly introduced with motives but Vince is by far the more complex who vastly outplays the other characters.

This straightforward crime thriller is told from the perspective of Terry, Grace’s father. He is very chatty individual only interrupted by occasion burst of action. We also find some tough-guy dialogue manifesting itself from time to time to give a better effect. Yes the plot is tense and a little far-fetched. Some chapters end in a cliff hanger just so we have to carry on. It is indeed a page-turner.

Some say read “No Time for Goodbyes” first, others say not necessary. I wasn’t lost not having read book 1 but this story piqued my curiosity to get it thought…

Good story