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 »

Saturday, April 21, 2018

"The Good Liar", by Catherine McKenzie

This is a thought-provoking psychological thriller that will stay with you long after it is finished. Told in a mix of first person, third person and interview transcripts this is one engaging novel filled with complexity and depth. Unpredictability is one of this book’s qualities, hard to see some of the twists and turns coming.

The story alternates between the perspectives of three women: Cecily, Kate and Franny whose lives were impacted by tragedy. In downtown Chicago a building exploded killing 513 people and injuring many more. In the aftermath, Cecily became an iconic symbol when someone took a picture of her on the scene. Fast forward a year, Cecily’s story intertwines with those of Kate and Franny and they find themselves confronting their sins of the past as the memorial approaches. The fast moving plot reveals more dramatic secrets and more lies you can imagine. With a handful of well-crafted secondary characters, these three women, who could not be more different, are the driving force that propels the story forward.

This engaging story is definitely an amalgamation of lies, deceit and regret. Once into its gripping pages it is one book hard to put aside. Ms. McKenzie can always be counted on to spin a good tale, this latest is no exception.

I received this ARC for review from the Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalleys

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"A Tiding of Magpies", by Steve Burrows

Book #5, in the Birder Murder Mystery

No doubts, reading this book you will soon see how the author’s passion for birds is the driving force throughout the mystery. Mr. Burrows knows how to spin a very intricate web of intrigue and weave the threads in a very particular way. It may take some time to get familiar with his style. I admit to have had a bit of trouble staying focused with “A Tiding of Magpies” and by the end this story never truly gelled.

To enjoy this book (and series) at its maximum I highly suggest reading the previous installments in order first. I have yet to read book 2 and 3 and I must say I missed out and was a bit lost at time not to have done so. This is the main reason I did not enjoy the story to the max. The author barely goes back in time so you are left out.

This latest continues the saga in Detective Chief Inspector Jejeune when his most celebrated case is suddenly reopened and his long-buried secrets threaten to come to light. Skillfully written, neatly constructed police procedural and a mystery centered on an inexplicably confounding murder of a young man. At the same time, his girlfriend, Lindy faces threat of her own and Jejeune needs to go all out to protect her.

This is one convoluted mystery that unfolds through the eyes of a bird loving Canadian detective extraordinaire. He is still unenthusiastic about his work but solving puzzles is his forte and Jejeune this smart detective will get his man at any cost…..or will he.

I have mixed feelings about this book, my fault I should have read the installments I missed, no excuses I have them in hands and I should definitely have read them sooner. I felt lost at times and often questioned where things came from, although I finally understood where all of this was going. Slow in pacing, this story trots along like a tired but stubborn old mule and like the mule needs a good push and less fuss. The characterization is good but trying to remember where they fit in is a challenge, some are recurring players. The plot is interesting, suspenseful in its own way and has some surprises to twist things around. Creating a captivating story around birds is an enterprise not all can master and weaving it into an entertaining mystery is a feat in itself, Mr. Burrows does hold up as an expert in both. This book may not have been my preferred by this author but I am not giving up on him…oh yes I will catch up before the next installment comes out.

I received this ARC for review by the publisher Dundurn.com via NetGalleys

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Jackson Hole:Uneasy Eden", by Warren Adler

This is a collection of fictional short stories based on Mr. Adler’s experience as a long-time resident of little town nestled in the heart of the most beautiful mountain in Northwest Wyoming, the Grand Tetons.

In each of the stories we find insights in what has happened by the modern invasion of folks to the area. Resorts have sprung rapidly and a new way of life came with it. Their presence brought clashed with the long cherished western customs. We can feel through the stories how the modern life has disrupted and turned their quiet world upside down. Wealth and the modern life changed things for ever.

You can find many editions of this book published over years, the first in 1997. I can only presume the stories are all the same. I am reviewing the version that has been sent to me by the author this past month.

Each chapter is about a family that was born or moved to Jackson. Their stories are well-crafted and interesting albeit maybe a bit disturbing. A full range of emotions is brought to life to showcase how the valley’s culture was transformed by the constant pressure imposed by the new arrivals. Each of Mr. Adler’s fiction dissects Jackson Hole spectacular patina, its people and its tradition. Although considered short stories, everyone is long enough to have moved me to the core. I do feel sorry for the loss of life style but things changes. For the better or worst depends where you stand.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Dark Waters", by J.B. Turner

Book #2, in the Deborah Jones Crime Thriller

Loved this one, “Dark Water” is a gripping read that has kept me on the edge of my seat from page one. The plot is captivating and is weaved with dynamic characters.

This fast paced story covers many aspects at times somewhat predictable but is so entertaining that I had a hard time putting it aside in fact it took me only two settings to finish it. Deborah, the main character is an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald and is in a relationship with her managing editor. They get involved in the apparent suicide of a young man, who obtained top secrets government documents by hacking into a cell phone of a high ranking employee. The victim contacted the reporter for a meeting…..Deborah had agreed to meet and soon finds herself caught in a drama she never could have imagined…..and reading the ramifications is a hell of a story.

The story is filled with geeky stuff and high tech gadgetry and is fun to read. The narration is smooth and plenty of good dialogue to move things along. We find a lot of intrigue to go with the suspense and a trail of murders and damage left behind as this hard headed journalist gets closer to the truth.

Did I say I loved this one……

Friday, April 6, 2018

"The Chessmen", by Peter May

Book # 3, in the Lewis trilogy

This final plot in the trilogy set on the island of Lewis featuring former policeman Fin MacLeod works perfectly well as a standalone novel. Although, newcomers will have plenty of backstory to assimilate but be assured it is neatly woven in the narrative that you will not feel lost at all. This is a story of love, friendship, loyalty and betrayal.

In a nut shell, Fin’s new job is head of security and is handed the job to putting a stop to poachers on a private estate. The main suspect is Whistler, his oldest friend. Their friendship is tested when the pair stumbles onto a light aircraft at the bottom of a dry drain with its pilot dead at the helm. The police is called to investigate the crash, Fin’s finds himself at the centre of it all. Rivalries, secrets and wrong-doing begin to surface…..and makes for quite an interesting read.

Mr. May shifts action back and forth and uses flashbacks as the story unfolds in both past and present. The story is good but what set it aside from others is how talented the author is in creating the sense of place for his readers in order to be absorbed into the life of his characters and into the landscape of the Hebrides. “The Chessmen” is good mystery novel with several obvious holes in the plot. Although Fin does find some resolution for the past tragedy, enough is left unsaid letting you wonder if really this is the end. This contrived ending has left me somewhat unsatisfied.