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, February 17, 2011

"The Scarlet Lion", by Elizabeth Chadwick

Book 2 in the life of William Marshal

The first novel "The Greatest Knight" followed William Marshal through his early career and his rise to fortune and noble status. In this novel, we are drawn further into his amazing and inspiring life it also includes some details of his family and those who crossed his path.

Ms. Chadwick describes William Marshal as a dashing knight and a champion of tournaments, an easy-going and courteous man, and one who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life but also presented himself as a great magnate when it suited his purposes. He was a man of many talents, an accomplished soldier and a natural commander on battlefields, also a skilled diplomat with a dextrous ability to negotiate. He cared about his men and was very generous towards them. He was fiscally astute and he managed to keep the country from bankruptcy during his period of regency. In a nut shell, he was a respected hero who left behind a legacy hard to follow.

Isabelle de Clare, Countess of Pembroke, was not only William`s wife but also his partner and equal. She always maintained her present during council meetings and stayed closed to her husband. She was a woman of strong character and very present in the day to day decisions. In William's absence, she governed the estate with the same dexterity as he would have. 10 pregnancies did not deter her willpower; she was his "Belle amie" throughout their married life, up till his dying breath. She survived him by one year despite their twenty year age difference.

The author also covers a mix of individuals that influenced them during their life whether by choice or obligation. The list of people that crossed their path includes: Kings and Queens, Chaplains, members of the aristocracy, as well as some loyal and not so loyal followers.

Once again Ms. Chadwick has given me hours of pleasure with this engaging historical fiction. The writing is colourful and lively and the author has stayed as close to history as possible but openly admits to have embellished parts of the facts to make William's life more memorable. This novel can stand on its own but to truly appreciate this time period; I would recommend reading "The Greatest Knight" first.

Ms. Chadwick has thrilled me once more with this stunning and captivating story

"Gretchen Greene", by CJ West

3rd book in the Randy Black series

The author is not one to take a formula and run with it, he is one who thrives on incorporating unpredictability; you never know what to expect. This latest is a prime example; fans will notice that the protagonist and the series have evolved tremendously.

Randy has undergone a major transformation, at first it was hard not to hate him, he was cunning and crafty in "Sin & Vengeance", but later in "Demon Awaits", he showed us another side that explained his tragic past, still not the side of a cuddly or loveable guy. In this latest adventure Randy plays the part of a hero when he encounters a young woman, Gretchen Greene, a researcher who is morally ambiguous and eco- obsessed.

Gretchen and her team are on the edge of developing a solar technology that could make fossil fuel obsolete but instead of developing the invention she decides to take the data and run. Unfortunately, a team of assassins with other ideas is also aware of the discovery and is determined to destroy everyone and everything connected to the research. With the aid of a fellow student, Gretchen manages to escape the attack. But in their haste to flee they are involved in a chaotic accident and find themselves trying to keep one step ahead of the assassins.

At this point, Randy becomes part of the action and finds himself in a dilemma, how can he save Gretchen and not attract the attention of the authorities; any attention could derail his long awaited pardon from the Governor.

I like this series, the topics are as varied as you can imagine. "Gretchen Greene" is very captivating, its starts with a bang and grabs your attention immediately and never lets go. The story is character driven, their depiction strong and unpredictable. The plot is well structured and the events dictate the next move in a most thrilling way. On the down side, it may be difficult to pick up this series mid-point, the author provides little background in his flashback of past events and it can be a bit confusing and challenging at times. In order to get maximum enjoyment from this series, I suggest starting at the beginning and read subsequent novels promptly.

So far I can truthfully say I have enjoyed this series and I am looking forward to Randy's next adventures

"Bangkok Haunts", by John Burdett

Book 3 in the Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep series

This series brings a totally different perspective into the art of writing murder mysteries. It not only combines wit and humour, it also exposes us to a world choreographed by deviant players. The tale is told from Detective Sonchai Jitpleechhep's point of view as he guides us through Bangkok's dark side.

This fast-paced and captivating story has Sonchai and FBI agent Kimberley Jones reviewing a DVD that has surfaced from an anonymous source. It is a snuff movie featuring Damrong, Sonchai's ex-lover and high-class prostitute at "The Old Men's Club". Damrong was a crafty and cunning beauty who skilfully used her assets to obtain money and favours from her high profile clientele, leaving in her wake a string of men, some heartbroken and bitter.

Deep into the investigation, Sonchai, his (transsexual) assistant Lek and the FBI realize there is big money in this type of movie and this undoubtedly attracts corrupt and sometimes influential people. When Colonel Vokorn, the opportunistic and shrewd superior of Sonchai, learns of the details he sees his chance to supplement his personal wealth leaving Sonchai caught between his conscience and his boss's wishes.....

The intensity of the story is magnified with an erotic ghost story. Sonchai not only works the case by day but he is haunted by the ghost of Damrong who visits him in so real erotic dreams by night. Ghosts, reincarnation and superstition is a wide spread belief, part of the Thai culture and an important facet of the story and Sonchai's psyche. The supernatural vibe that emanates from Bangkok is witness through Sonchai's exploits in a narration that is entertaining, straightforward and streamlined.

The storyline has an abundance of humour and it particularly shines when Sonchai possessed by the ghost of Damrong needs help to erase her hold on him. The final act brings him to Isaan and Cambodia where he will learn unnerving details about her life and learn to deal with her death..... This novel has great characterization, heavy on passion, lust and sex that are treated in an exciting but tasteful manner.

"Bangkok Haunts" is on many levels a far more mesmerizing and tantalizing novel than the previous. I enjoyed this one much more than the last and I am looking forward to the sequel.