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 »

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Pirate", by Ted Bell

Book 3 in the Alexander Hawke series

I love this series, it is brilliantly written it contains more action and suspense then one can dream of. Not a dull moment in this thriller.... Step aside James Bond....

The characters are very well presented. The main character Hawke is smart, wealthy and talented. A super hero that executes every task flawlessly and often single-handedly, he carries off impossible escapes, he is cool and collected under the most extreme circumstances and of course there is often an exotic fair maiden to rescue from the hands of evil...Oh! the perks of a super hero.....Recurring characters are Stokely Jones, Hawes right hand man also the smart and lovely Inspector from Scotland Yard Ambrose Congreve. Hawes latest villains are: Hu-Xu, a creepy cross-dressing assassin and Luca Bonaparte, a ruthless man whose ambition is to restore France to its super power status even if it means making an alliance with General Sun-Yat of China and a German shipbuilder. The three have something big up their sleeves, it will have a devastating effect on another sovereign country. Of course there are many other ruthless characters adding suspense and intrigue.

The multi-plot story starts with a bang when the Chinese seize an American spy. Alex's mission is to rescue him before the Chinese can obtain vital information through brutal methods of interrogation. Another exciting plot brings Stokely Jones to save Jet from her evil boyfriend (the shipbuilder). Naturally two plots are never enough for Mr Bell to juggle. Simultaneously he has Ambrose Congreve in New York interviewing witnesses of a high profile murder committed in France decades ago. Are you starting to see the links?...it is quite a ride.....In the end everything is tied up neatly.

This multi-faceted mystery is exciting, captivating and so far fetched it is totally unbelievable....but what a great read for thrill seekers.

Each novel in this series can be enjoyed individually

"The Thirteenth Tale", by Diane Setterfield

The novel attracted me by its synopsis and the strong reviews posted by many readers who referred to it as interesting, imaginative and an exciting blend of classics and contemporary fiction.... reminiscent of a classic British novel...I have to admit I am not a fan of classics but a change can sometimes be refreshing.

The premise has its merits: a high profile novelist Vida Winter wants her autobiography written before she dies and summons Margaret Lea, an unknown writer who is presently working in her father's book store to record her words. Margaret readily accepted the invitation, she sees similarities to her own deep secrets.....The story sounds simple enough ...

Once started, Vida tells multilayered tales, stories within stories, tragedy upon tragedy some mixed with romance. The characters become lost in a ever lasting story and return for an encore..... to top it, some even manage to do whatever again in other characters' stories.... Have I lost you along the way ... not surprising... It was hard to keep my mind open and stop it from wandering, I got lost(bored) many times while trying to comprehend this convoluted tale.

What a novel, melodrama on top of melodrama, a bouillabaisse of mysteries one hard to follow where place is important (on a Yorkshire Estate) and time irrelevant (19th, 20th, 21st century, today, tomorrow???) I simply had to skip through some paragraphs and speed read others. It was such a tedious read that I am still wondering why I lost so much time ....To finish my ranting, I also hated the characterization seems the only thing on their minds was a cup of cocoa , they were not very memorable.....

Ok don't take my word, I am in the minority disliking this novel most enjoyed it immensely, so give it a try, see if you agree or disagree, we will see which side of the fence you fall on when you fall asleep.....

"The Fat Mexican", by Alex Caine

The Bloody Rise of the Bandidos

"The Fat Mexican" refers to the club logo -- a chubby cartoon character who wears a sombrero and is armed with both a knife and a gun.

In his first book "Befriend and Betray", Mr Caine relates how in the early 80's working undercover he infiltrated the Bandidos MC and gained their trust. The author has a first hand knowledge on how gangs are organized and maintain their power.

In this, his second book, he analyses the events that led to and triggered the massacre that took place April 2006 on a farm in the town of Shedden, Ont. Evidences eventually led to a conviction of six members and associates for the slaughter of eight bikers, four have since launched appeals.

The war started when a junior member of the Bandidos hijacked a truck that caught his eye. Things quickly turned ugly when senior members of his gang realized the truck and its valuable contains belong to one of their arch competitors. This fractured a delicate truce between rival motorcycle gangs. Mr Caine narrates a complex story backed with facts and describes the complicated and cruel world of bikers.

In addition to talking about the Shedden killings the book provides a detailed history of the 43 year old club which has grown to global proportions since 1966. They have chapters in the U.S.A., Europe, Asia and Australia, in Canada the remaining Bandidos have since "patched over" (switched allegiances) to rival motorcycle clubs. They may have changed colours but they are still around.....

The book unearths the politics, the rivalries and the violent history of the Bandidos and their battle with the Hells Angels, their arch rivals. It is a chilling, gritty and remarkable story. Canadians will appreciate and can relate to this book it was gruesome headline news, others who are drawn into the motorcycle club phenomena will also find it an exciting read.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"The Faithful Spy", by Alex Berenson

Book 1 in the John Wells series

Mr Berenson's first novel paints a believable, frightening and chilling scenario of how Al-Qaeda might launch a major attack inside America.

The story is about John Wells, an undercover CIA agent, who has been in Afghanistan for many years, his mission was to infiltrate al-Qaeda and gain their trust. He eventually converted to Islam and took the name Jalal and became one of them, so convincingly that his CIA handlers feared he may have crossed the line and become a double agent, a nightmare in the making.

The suspense builds when al-Qaeda mastermind Omar Khadri orders John to return to the USA and await further orders.The story chronicles a chilling and frightening return. His handler and other CIA agents are faced with the task of demystifying John's true intentions and they need to make a decision on whether to pull the plug or let him run.

The author has written a novel that is very unsettling and engrossing. The theme is multilayered, chocked full of possibilities and probabilities, peppered with graphic and daring scenarios. Excellent characterization has created a fast moving thriller giving a sophisticated view into an unusual kind of warfare.

Alex Berenson first novel is remarkably well done and addictive, I am looking forward to reading the other novels in this series.

"The Warlord's Son", by Dan Fesperman

The "Warlord's Son" is a riveting and compelling fiction about the experiences of a war correspondent on his last mission in Afghanistan.

The first part of the novel has its slow moments. It opens with Skelly in Peshawar, Pakistan, a world far apart from the West he is accustom to. His aim is to enter Afghanistan and report from the center of the action. But in order to succeed he requires the help of a well connected, resourceful fixer and translator to bridge the language and culture gap while navigating the harsh terrain.

He finds the perfect couple, Najeed and Daliya who want desperately to immigrate to the US and will do anything to help Skelly. The circumstances surrounding Najeed, son of a wealthy warlord and Daliya have left them estranged from their families. A good part of the novel revolves around the struggle in the two families. Intertwined into this strenuous situation is Najeed and Daliya's romance and Skelly's quest to obtain the story of his career.

After crossing the border, Skelly and Najeed face one challenge after another as they bribe and con their way through one warlords' territory after another. Eventually their deceptive practices catch up with them and all hell breaks loose...intrigue after intrigue has the reader riveted to the edge of his seat till the very last page....

As the novel progresses we feel tension building and we gradually sense this can only end in a climatic and shocking way....

This fiction gives an amazing outlook on the dedication and hardship western reporters face under hostile conditions in a culture very different from what we as Westerners are used to. The characters are particularly well drawn to bring out the differences in religious beliefs and how they are applied amongst different groups in their quest for honour and power. The author appears to have shown great sensitivity and respect.

I like Dan Fesperman's novels, he excels at capturing the atmosphere and portraying the different cultures through the eyes of his characters. He is also a master at building tension and spinning multiple storylines.