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 »

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Alex Cross's Trial", by James Patterson

Alex Cross book #15 in the series

This novel is not what you would expect in the Alex Cross series. In this addition Alex Cross himself explains that it is now the perfect time to share his favourite stories that Nana Mama frequently recounted about their family history.

The story brings us back to the early 20th century, a time when Ben Corbett is assigned to defend some of Washington’s most difficult cases. He is a man overworked and poorly paid ,a great disappointment to his wife.

One day, President Theodore Roosevelt summons him to the White House and assigns him a mission that will bring him back to his home town of Eudora, Mississippi. His task is to investigate rumours of numerous lynchings and the possible resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan….Once there he meets Abraham Cross and his beautiful daughter Moody, they introduce him to the dark side of what seems to be an idyllic Southern town.

The story is told from the perspective of Ben Corbett. He vividly describes the reign of terror suffered by the black community during the turn of the century. A time when murder, torture and abuse was prolific, some details are very graphic.

The plot keeps a steady pace and the characters are very well presented. In itself, the novel is well worth reading, a trip back in history most would want to forget…….

On the down side, Alex Cross’s name in the title is misleading, an apparent marketing ploy. This is not like the other novels in this series where Alex Cross plays a predominant role

"Once Around the Track", by Sharyn McCrumb

“Once Around the Track“ is an interesting fiction based around the NASCAR auto racing circuit and the people that bring each race to life.

This is a sweet story, somewhat funny at times and quite appealing. It begins with a group of female investors financed by “Vagenya” ( v i agra for women) who put together an all female Nascar team. The only male is the “wheel man”, a charming and unassuming man with the ability to compete at a high level, his good looks are a definite asset to the sponsor. The women’s job is to keep both the car and the driver competitive and in one piece. The reader spends one year in their life while they are racing around the country in a quest for the all mighty chequered flag…..

I loved this story for its originality and its collection of colourful characters, a group that teamed up for various reasons. The plot moves at a slow but steady pace and is peppered with a detailed description of the politics and the inner workings of how management and the pit crew function. All seems very realistic, thanks to the author’s extensive research and the help of NASCAR driver, Ward Burton. Whether you are a fan or not of NASCAR, its an interesting look into a close knit world. I found this novel very entertaining and a change of pace

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Waiting for Columbus", by Thomas Trofimuk

This novel sends its readers on a mesmerizing journey, a tale that hovers between the 1400s and the present.

This captivating story chronicles the life of a man in residence at the Seville Institute for the Mentally Ill. He insists he is the famous explorer Christopher Columbus and it is imperative that he reach by phone the King and Queen to obtain funding for ships and supplies needed for his upcoming adventure across the Atlantic. .

Rich in details of the 15th century Columbus tells his caregiver Consuela how he cherishes dreams of sailing across the Western Sea , how he falls in love with every women he meets and how he came to wager everything on a single game of billiards with the king of Spain and many other tales of fantasy. While entertained by this evidently educated man's fantastical tales of adventure and love, Consuela tries to find clues as to why this man is so detached from reality and who he really is.

The story is told from three perspectives: the delusional man who is convinced he is Columbus, Consuela who finds herself romantically attracted to this unusual personality and Emile Germain, a French Interpol Officer who is scouring Spain for a mysterious person of interest. Their paths eventually cross in an intriguing mystery.

At first I found it hard to stay focussed, the story is multi-layered and unconventional, a big puzzle. The various details are taken from a mish-mash of 15th and 21st century events mixed with Columbus's strange ramblings. Slowly, I was hooked by the emotional intensity of this imaginative mystery. Mr Trofimuk is a storyteller that plants little details that are seemingly irrelevant but blossom when you least expect them to. His style grows on you, I enjoyed this novel.

"206 Bones", by Kathy Reichs

Book 12 in the Temperance Brennan series

"206 Bones' is the story of a highly qualified scientist with dreams of becoming a bench mark in her profession. Her drive and ego take her outside of the box disregarding protocol and boundaries of established scientific disciplines. Putting her credibility and those of other professionals on the line for the sake of personal advancement.

The story opens with Tempe Brennan regaining consciousness in complete darkness, her feet and hands are bound and she has no recollection of what happened. As she struggles to free herself she digs deep to try and regain her memory.

In flashbacks, Tempe gradually recalls the disastrous events of precious weeks. The trip to Chicago with Andrew Ryan to defend herself on charges of professional negligence and on her return, to face two other seemingly botched investigations, one of an elderly woman found in a wooded area and the other a body found burned in a remote cabin.

The focus is on Tempe and the story is told from her point of view both in the present while trapped and from memory as she tries to piece together what happened. The puzzle is exciting and the story brings out many twists and turns while we try to anticipate her next move and guess who is out to get her.

The forensic evidence seems more farfetched and baffling than usual but it is quite entertaining. True to the writer's style, the tale includes an abundance of gruesome details, portrayed with a fair amount of scientific and medical terminology and an interesting vu on police procedural.

Although I enjoyed the novel, I was nevertheless let down with the conclusion. The climax was little far-fetched and the end came to a screeching halt.

"Her Royal Spyness", by Rhys Bowen

Book 1 in the series

Set in London in 1930, this new series is an entertaining satire, a good combination of history mixed with fictitious fun and mystery. It features a delightful heroine Lady Victoria Georgiana, Great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and 34th in line to the English throne.

The novel is a fun read, a bit slow at first but the reader will soon be drawn into a story that brings up multiple situations that happen to a penniless royal during a time of hardship in troubled Europe. It is comical in many ways, Ms Bowen has a great sense of humour in describing the upper class and her heroine Georgie vividly portrays what the daily life may have been for a young woman bucking tradition.

The novel is populated with many loveable characters some easily recognisable such as Mrs Simpson and the Queen. To add fun, Ms Bowen included an incorrigible sexy Irishman , an eccentric mother and an adorable grandfather. Georgie is a wonderful mix of intelligence and innocent naivety

The story opens when Georgiana's brother cuts off her allowance and she leaves the family home in Scotland for London determined to make it on her own, leaving the amenities of royalty behind. Unable to make it as a saleswoman at Harrods (fired within hours), Georgie desperate to succeed and make ends meet starts a house cleaning service. A lack of experience leads to one misadventure after another, so Georgie eventually turns to her friend Belinda. Tension builds as the incidents keep occurring, some are simply hilarious.

When a blackmailing Frenchman winds up dead in her bathtub and her brother is the prime suspect, she puts on a new hat, that of an amateur investigator with the hope of exposing the real killer. Has she found her calling?......

This novel is a light and enjoyable read that provides some fascinating glimpses into the royal society of the 1930, with a humorous and entertaining spin to it. I am looking forward to its sequel.

"The Prisoner of Guantanamo", by Dan Fesperman

The story brings FBI special agent Revere Falk to the infamous US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As principal interrogator his job is to extract vital information from a jihadist detainee Adnan al-Handi, a young Yemeni captured during a fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. He is strongly suspected of holding vital intelligence about the inner workings of al-Qaeda.

The novel focuses mainly on three events: Falks interrogation of Adnan , the investigation of the mysterious murder of a reservist whose body washes up on the shore of the base and the feared link to Falks youthful indiscretions which he has worked hard to hide.

The story brings out paranoia, rivalries and distrust. The plot is layered with intrigue and suspense, it provides enough detail to add credibility. The characters are portrayed nicely and it is easy to get into them, they feel real. It is an interesting novel that is cleverly written highlighting life at "Gitmo", a life dominated by the military

Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Complaints", by Ian Rankin

After retiring his famous protagonist John Rebus in "The Exit", Mr. Rankin is back in full force by audaciously unveiling a new detective Malcolm Fox, a man with integrity and dogged determination but at times hated and feared by his colleagues.

Malcolm Fox works at the Complaints and Conduct Department in Edinburgh, a section dedicated to sniffing out racism and corruption and other serious internal offenses. He also is a man with his own personal problems: a frail father in a care home and a sister living in an abusive relationship.

The story is paced chronologically chapter by chapter. After Fox and his team compile enough evidence to expose CID Glen Heaton for bending the rules to his own advantage they move on to Jamie Breck suspected of being a member of a pedophile ring. Fox is assigned to covertly forge a relationship with Breck but in doing so an atmosphere of respect and friendship develops...Others wonder if Fox has crossed the line and will he be professionally destroyed along with his prey... Simultaneously, his sister's boyfriend is found murdered and Fox is ordered to stay away from the investigation...but can he?

This is an interesting novel, a fantasized version of how police work and how they police themselves, a story based on morality, ethics, friendship, trust and respect. The characters are totally believable; Fox and Rebus have similar traits, they are committed to their jobs and thrive on complex cases. The plot is brilliant, it is a labyrinth of twists and turns providing endless intrigue, a roller coaster ride till the end. Fox is a refreshing change but I suspect Rebus with all his attributes will reappear at some point in the future

In my view, this novel is the lunch of a new series and I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Nine Dragons", by Michael Connelly

Book 14 in the Harry Bosch series

This is once again Michael Connelly at his best, a master at writing fictional police stories in a highly entertaining and captivating way. His protagonist one of the smartest detectives in the fictional world is Harry Bosch. In this novel, Harry will face numerous difficulties investigating the death of a struggling Chinese shop owner and will be plunged deep into the deadly world of Triads, a criminal mentality that presents many new challenges.

The second part of the story gets quite gripping when Harry's daughter is kidnapped in Hong Kong by the Triads, a last ditch attempt to derail Harry from his LA investigation. He must reunite and team up with his ex-wife in order to find their child. In a true Hollywood style script, Harry and his wife face the Triads on their home ground, where dead bodies keep piling up in the cities of Kowloon and Hong Kong. Harry risks everything to outmatch the Triads' ferocity. In the never ending action, Mr Connelly colourfully describes the people, the surroundings and the underground culture, a definite stimulation to the reader's imagination.

This novel is plot driven with plenty of action and numerous twists and turns some may be predictable but all are suspenseful. The dialogue is sharp and the narrative is concise and witty. Harry's character has been given a fresh look, a look of a super detective with the gens of a pit bull and the necessary attributes required to deal with the extreme situations encountered in this novel. This is a page turner, hard to put aside...