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, September 25, 2010

"When the Light Goes", by Larry McMurtry

Book 4 in the “Last Picture Show” series

This is an epic in the Duane Moore’s saga…now 64 he is set for his last hurrah before the lights go out.. This novel is a funny and erotic tale of a man who has aged but has not lost his taste for life.

The story opens with Duane back from a trip from Egypt and still wondering if he can find happiness and solace in his hometown. His prospects improve when he meets the young, attractive and seductive Annie Cameron who was hired by his son Dickie to work at the Thalia office….. Another boost for his libido happens when his psychiatrist Honor Carmichael, a person he has the hots for, decides to use sex therapy to stimulate his desires….It works wonders on Duane… …and the details are comical and entertaining for the reader…I am not going any further….lol

This story is written to highlight every old man’s fantasy…and reads like an X-rated novel. The only thing driving the characters are their interest in sex and Duane is the lucky man who gets the gorgeous 26 year old virgin and a rump in the sack with a lesbian psychiatrist.. The prose is vivid and the lust is very explicit in its details, not much left to the imagination. Where was the ingenious literary work in this one…. Ok I admit I read every word….but does Duane have a life outside the bedroom.

Although Larry McMurtry is a prolific writer and his reputation precedes him, my first experience reading him left me disappointed, nonetheless I plan reading more of his accomplishments to see how diversified a writer he is

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"The Dark Tide", by Andrew Gross

Book 1 in the Ty Hauck series

This novel is an attention grabber right from the start...beware...It is a never ending fast paced story of deception, lies and conspiracies.

It opens one morning at yoga class, Karen Friedman and her friends learn of a fatal bombing at Grand Central Station. Karen at first, felt terrible but her emotions go into high gear when she realizes that her husband Charlie, a hedge fund manager, has taken the train to work. She later finds out that a part of her husband's briefcase has been found at the point of detonation ... Where's Charlie?....will she ever see him again....

On the anniversary of the event, Karen although still devastated by the loss of her husband wonders if she can watch a documentary of the day on TV. As she is about to switch channels she sees what appears to be Charlie's face in the background....has she seen a ghost or is she loosing it....

At the time of the bombing, Detective Ty Hauck was working on a hit and run incident. Personal information found on the victim brought Ty's investigation to Karen's door and over time she developed an appreciation for his manner and expertise. It is for these reasons that Karen decides to share her discovery with Ty and hopefully find out what really happened.

As you can imagine, the story intensify from this point on. The investigation has many surprises along the way, it starts in the Hamptons goes to Pensacola and ends in the Caribbean with a bang...The storyline while basic and straightforward progresses well, the prose paint an exciting and entertaining picture. I like the realistic way the main players are depicted, they are not shown as super action heroes or a damsel in distress.

I recommend this novel for its simplicity, it is captivating and enjoyable from start to finish

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Beatrice & Virgil", by Yann Martel

Yann Martel takes his reader on a potent journey into the world of evil. His novel is totally unconventional, separated in two parts, one an essay the other a fairy-tale, both trying to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and the effect on its survivors and the perpetrators.

The main character Henry , a novelist, likes to use animals with human characteristics to tell his stories. But when he attempts to write about the Holocaust in that fashion, Henry hits a wall, publishers slam the door on him. About to give up his career in writing, Henry receives a manuscript of a strange play, written by a taxidermist also named Henry. The play is about a pair of suffering animals, a donkey and a monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and it is staged using a giant striped shirt as background. The dialogue between the two animals reflects their feelings and the horrors they have suffered under the Nazi regime.

Luckily this is a short novel, less than 200 pages. It tends to bog down with indefinite details around the two Henrys and the fine art of taxidermy, creating too many rambling, disjointed and boring moments. The author appears to have used his background in philosophy to relate his story through the eyes of two charming and articulate animals. I found it took till the end for the story to jell and for me to piece together what the author wanted to convey.

The last pages consist of moral fables posing as questions about how one would react when faced with life changing decisions….

I found this novel to have been too profound for my taste….

"Sun and Shadow", by Ake Edwardson

3rd book in the Erik Winter series and 1st translated into English

This detective fiction brings us to Gothenburg Sweden at the turn of the millennium. Erik Winter, a soon to be father, is highly talented and the youngest chief inspector in the country.

In its first chapter, a gruesome double homicide has police investigating the shadier side of Sweden. The underground world, black metal music and unconventional sex quickly surfaces in their investigation. The murderer has left a riddle of clues at the crime scene and Erik realises the importance his leadership can play in finding this killer. All this is soon confirmed when another murder occurs and new clues appear to link the killer to the force. This adds more pressure in the race to close the case before the killer strikes again.

This proves to be an extremely stressful and challenging time in Erik Winter‘s life. On his personal side he has been jetting back and forth to the Costa de Sol Spain to be at his father’s death bed.

The author describes in depth the psyche and motivation of his many characters. They are an engaging and entertaining bunch but over characterization tends to distract from the main plot. The story flows at a steady but leisurely pace, just the right amount of suspense to keep the reader’s attention. It is quite captivating, although I found the ending a little abrupt and quite predictable.

All that said and done I am looking forward to reading its sequel

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Three Day Road", by Joseph Boyden

This story is of Xavier Bird and Elijah Weesageechak also known as Whiskeyjack, two James Bay Cree, who signed up together and became famous snipers in the Canadian Army during the First World War. The novel is a poignant tale of brutality and survival.

It opens with Xavier returning home, missing a leg and addicted to morphine, his days are also numbered. His aunt Niska greets him at the train station and together they begin a three day canoe journey home. On their travel, Niska recounts stories of their youth and in return Xavier graphically recounts the horrors he and his friend Elijah faced.

Boyden's detailed and colourful writing immerses his reader into two contrasting worlds. Niska's is rich in native culture and harmony with nature, the other, Xavier plunges the reader into the atrocities of war. Both are driven by the will to survive.

In addition to the central characters the story is stocked with many other memorable and wonderful secondary players. Xavier and Elijah's characters and some of their exploits are modeled after the real life experiences of Francis Pegahmagabow (known as Peggy) an Ojibway Indian, an honoured sniper of WW1.

The pace of the story is steady and holds ones attention firmly, it is highly captivating and a page turner one hard to put down. I highly recommend it.

"Turbulence", by Giles Foden

"Turbulence' is an ambitious and original topic that fictionalises the debates between weather forecasters and strategists that preceded the D-Day Invasion.

The slow moving plot starts in the 1980's on an ice ship destined for the Middle East. The melancholic Henry Meadows reminisces and recounts his time spent during the war effort.

The story is narrated in the first person by Henry, a young Cambridge academic who was entrusted to develop a method that would allow the military commanders to choose the ultimate timing for the invasion. Sent to Scotland to establish an observation station, his first mission was to befriend and extract information from Wallace Ryman the author of a mathematical formula for calculating turbulence and eventually determine the best dates for the D-day landings. Meadow soon learned that instability and unpredictability are not limited to weather events.......

This novel is cleverly written, full of tension, emotions and melancholy throughout. The scientific and mathematical areas are handled with brilliance, it is not an easy feat keeping fiction readers captivated and interested on a subject that is profoundly science based. The degree of accuracy is irrelevant after all it is a fiction. This is also a character driven-plot where friction between intriguing and strong personalities plays an important part and is very well narrated. The story ends with a panorama of the D-Day landings and Henry in the middle of the action....surely an unexpected development for a civilian mathematician...

I enjoyed reading this different perspective of a very important time in history