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 »

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"The Society of Orion:The Tayos Caves", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

Book 5, in the Society of Orion series

Book 16, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

In a nut shell this historical fiction/ sci-Fi/ mystery furthers the race against time to find the mythical weapons that have preoccupied Banyon and his team since the beginning of the series.

We have a short wrap up of the previous adventures to set us up and slowly but neatly we find the action back to South America, the gang looking for artifacts in the Tayos Caves. Of course nothing is simple when it comes to Banyon. As we tag along in this adventure we experience the weirdest happenings so far found in this series. Totally unreal and rather ridiculous but again we came to anticipate some kind of paranormal experience right from the start, wouldn’t we be missing out in the excitement otherwise. Again the Kubicki’s imagination went wild although I did find this latest saga to be less captivating and lacked the sharpness and energy I enjoyed in the previous installments. We have some returning characters with all their skills but found them rather low keyed this time. Maybe they are running out of steam…..or this series is……or I am….

“The Tayos Caves” disappointed me and definitely was not my top favourite Colton Banyon saga …some you win and some you lose.. It is the way I see it….

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"The Visonary Mayan Queen:Yohl Ik'nal of Palenque" by Leonide Martin

Book 1 in the Mists of Palenque Series

Set in Palenque (ancient Lakam Ha) during the Maya Classic period (250-900 CE), this is the first of four story of Ancient Mayan Queens. Yohl Ik”nal is the first woman who ruled at the height of the Maya civilization.

It is evident the author’s passion with the Mayan civilization, its culture and cosmology. It must have taken Ms. Martin intense research as well as numerous queries with indigenous elders in order to write such a detailed account. The saga also revives the love of archaeologists and adventurers to uncover ancient cities in tropical jungles.

This is a hard book to follow and keep focus. As I was flipping the pages I saw myself in a class room with a passionate professor detailing everything to an extreme: headdress, costume, food, pathways, culture, ritual, agriculture, etc…you name it is all there vividly described in minutiae. This is actually the main reason it took for ever to move along…. This is one story that lack direction and drifts way too much. Names, dates and some passages are also in the Mayan language I guess the author wanted to provide some authenticity but it made it difficult to keep track and understand. I skipped too many of those passages and finally the story lost me.

This book may be excellent for some to gain a tad of knowledge about the extraordinary Mayan people but for those who wish mostly entertainment will find that the writing style overpowers the plot and the experience quite boring. Unfortunately I gave up mid-way….. This is one series that will please some and turn others away.

Not to say this is not a good book it simply was not for me. It is the way I see it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"1000 Yards", by Mark Dawson

In this 118 pages novella we meet John Milton, a ruthless, brilliant, lethal man sent to “clean up” when everything else failed….

This well-done plot sets off John’s career in North Korea as a crafty marksman. Even as a short story all the elements to make this a pager-turner are found: a captivating storyline, action-packed throughout, descriptive scenery at every corner, a cold blooded killer to rack up tension and many nail biting moments to keep us hooked.

Written in short chapters, “1000 Yards” throws a good punch and sets beautifully the mood for what is to come.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Behind You", by Ty Patterson

Book 6, in the Warriors series

Once again Mr. Patterson has imagined and created an exciting adventure for his protagonist Zed Carter and his crew. This latest is action packed, intense and has a very captivating scenario, a hell of a storyline that smoothly pulled me in and kept be hooked from page one. I must note that this series is getting better as it progresses. Nicely done …..

This series is well- written and provides a fresh plot with each installment of course along the way we are into the best action and graphic scenes we can imagine. This time Zed discovers a woman’s body in a remote part of the country while on vacation. He decides to get involved when it was discovered she was a journalist, raped and killed. Zed will soon find out that the people behind the murder are ruthless and well-trained individuals that will stop at nothing. Of course along the way the warriors will thrill us with their out of this world gadgetry and weaponry.

There are a lot of characters to keep track so be ready to slow somewhat you reading pace in order not to confuse them and miss out. If you let your imagination go wild and suspend believability you will enjoy this book to the maximum otherwise be warned this is a testosterone filled thriller with superheroes and terrible villains. The characterization is by far from being static, by integrating new players and giving the usual crew a different spin, Mr. Patterson keeps his series interesting.

Although it is always preferable to read a series in sequence in “Behind You” there is enough backstory to feel at ease to pick up at this point.

"A Dubious Crime", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

Book # 9, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

If you love a plot with silly twists and turns and lots of actions with the Dubious series you will be well entertained. Book 9 is no exception we are plunged once again into a complex and exciting plot that has us flipping pages at a rapid pace in order keep up with the suspense and see what is yet to come. This is another story that packs a lot of bang for its buck.

“A Dubious Crime” propels the team into a mystery of the secret facility known as Unit 731, Area 51, a sinister plot of the Indian mafia and an unimaginable chain of events. The Kubicki’s imagination has no limits. The style is witty, creative, intricate and fun to read. The plot and sub-plot are tightly- written and cover a lot in order to keep us on our toes and entertained till the last page. The original gang is there with all their expertise and once more their antics are out of this world and their dialogue has that wittiness we came to love.

Although part of a series, no fear if you start here this one could easily stand on its own two feet and will thrill you as it did me. Of course you need to be into action, adventure, history and paranormal to enjoy this series.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"The Methuselah Project", by Rick Barry

This is to be the most captivating book I read in a long time. Pulse –pounding action from page one, this fiction is so enthralling I hated to do anything else but flipping pages to see the outcome, it is simply that captivating. The story is quite original and starts during WW11 with Roger Greene, a fighter pilot, who becomes a study subject in the Methuselah Project by Nazi scientists after his plane was shot down behind enemy lines during WW11. It is also the story of Katherine Mueller, a freelance editor, living in Atlanta in 2014. Destiny eventually brings them together……..

The story moves from the time Roger is shut down to the present day and is told by the two players as the narrative switches back and forth between them. This is mixture of mystery and intrigue filled with chase scenes that all started with an experiment for longevity…..What a great thrill ride this story gives. Imagine languishing behind bars for 70 years and not aging at all, being able to escape only to be relentlessly hunted by the Organisation (bad guys) while trying to orient yourself and figure out all the modern gadgetry of the 21st century….The premise may be far-fetched and implausible in many ways but what it does well is to give us pause on some of the war’s atrocities. The characterization is well-done: Katherine is a real Southern belle and plays a good role especially when the chase is on. Our hero Roger is simply an ace, what else can I say.

“The Methuselah Project” is well-crafted to provide a bit of everything and captivated its reader from page one.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Smoke", by Catherine McKenzie

Where there is smoke there is fire and you will definitely smell it before it engulfs you…isn’t an unnerving and dangerous feeling to realize you may be in the wrath of nature and possibly you will lose everything….including your life. This somber topic is a portrait of people in an extreme situation. This mystery also focuses on a marriage in crisis and the people of a small community threaten by wildfire.

We find in “Smoke” a domestic drama that flows with ease and captivates us with vivid imagery. The narrative alternates from the perspective of two women: Elizabeth, an arson investigator and Mindy, whose son is suspected of setting the fire. The plot showcases the attraction of playing with fire and is the backdrop that runs throughout the pages. The characters are ordinary people thrust into extra-ordinary situations and Ms. Mckenzie knows how to makes every one of their move captivating in order to lure us till the very end. A good part of the book is setting the stage and introducing the main players but once into the beat the pacing picks up and the experience becomes a page-turner. This story is also a mystery with suspense and some unforeseen events to keep our attention on track.

Good story and an enjoyable read.

"Open Season", by Peter Kirby

Book 3, in Inspector Luc Vanier Mystery

I simply love this series and I am always eager to see what the author has in store for Inspector Vanier next case. In “Open Season”, Mr. Kirby has drawn his inspiration from current events and has explored troubling social themes in a gritty narrative of the plight of the vulnerable people he writes about.

This latest brings forward the sad case of human trafficking with Katya Babyak on a long journey into the sex trade and where she ends up in the hands of thugs who keep her prisoner. We have a converging plotline bringing a Guatemalan journalist fighting extradition while working on a story of illegal trafficking of sex workers in Montreal. Both women were trying to carve out a better life for themselves but ended up being exploited by criminals. The high level investigating team of Luc Vanier and Sergeant Sylvie Saint-Jacques brings the routine police procedural into a fast-paced and very engaging hunt with several intrigues. Mr Kirby touches the flawed Canadian refugee policy with a solid and suspenseful tale. Of course the author also added another layer of suspense with details of Vanier’s personal and romantic relationship.

“Open Season” , an edge of the seat thriller is definitely a deftly crafted and well told tale I enjoyed from start to finish and I agree with reviewers saying this is one of the best Canadian crime novels this year. Of course being a Canadian I may be slightly bias when it comes to Canadian authors and to any story set in my hometown of Montreal…:)

Friday, November 27, 2015

"The Phone Company", by David Jacob Knight

This is one weird book I never was able to get into, oh yes I tried many times after putting it down telling myself that I wasn’t in the correct mood for a bizarre, kind of nightmarish read. In effect, from my perspective this turned fast into a slow and far too dragging horror to pick my interest from the start and hold it all through….I never reached the end…..

The premise is original: a cellphone service company bestows cellphones on the citizen in a small town but the phones are evil…. What follows is creepy. All through we have lunacy and strangeness happening with phones taking over the lives of the residents….

Although this book was no meant for me it may be yours. I am not saying the plot is not a well-written one and the characters not interesting. It simply this kind of story that never gelled and I simply abandoned it half through… My take on this book may not give a fair assessment but it is the way I see it……

"The Martian", by Andy Weir

This story is pure science fiction, both funny and thrilling at the same time and one of those sharp story heavily laced with geeky details. This story will probably please most fans that are into hard sci-fi genre but may leave some readers questioning themselves whether this book was worth the time spent reading it…..The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars and must improvise in order to survive.

There is too much techno sci-fi, mumble-jumble for my taste and long passages where Watney calculates how far he can get, how much water and food he needs but what makes these passages digestible is how the author has lighten the mood by letting his protagonist muse about his situation as a space pirate using unconventional methods to survive (hilarious at times). Of course there is tension found, the pages are filled with catastrophic failures and risks managing decisions. The plot keeps on moving with one random disaster after another and Watney faces each problem as it arises with admirable savvy and technical know-how. The protagonist is an engaging character although I found his development to be rather static throughout his ordeal. No signs of emotional and psychological impact from the experience at all. The story is set in the present and is narrated in alternate voices by the astronaut, mission control desk managers, mission crew and by a third person’s point of view. All account is vivid and very visual….not surprising it is now on the big scene.

I have mixed feelings about this gritty survivalist tale, sometime captivated and at other simply bored to death…..Although ”The Martian” may have an amazing story reading it was a tedious task at times.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Desecration", by J.F. Penn

Book 1, in The London Psychic trilogy

Set in London England this mystery/thriller features detective Jamie Brooke and psychic researcher Blake Daniel. In tome 1 Jamie investigates the murder of an heiress whose mutilated body was found at the Royal College of Surgeons. 

Morbid to no end, this story has a most original topic of life and death. As the two protagonists delve into the macabre world of grave robbery, body modification and genetic engineering we explore the dark side of human behavior and depravity. The story is harrowing, shocking and very graphic. Although highly fictionalized, the drama deals with unique themes of dissection and teratology. The author not only tried but did capture the feeling of horror and one’s reaction to tortures, body parts and the use of plastinated cadaver for art. It is also evident the author’s obsession with the supernatural and the macabre: flesh dissected on a person laying on a table….creepy. Exploration into vivisection and Mengele’s interests in genetic are also themes well covered. Intensive research was put in the making of this story.

Putting this aside, Ms. Penn has taken great liberties with Jamie as an investigator and her side kick the psychic. Their joint effort was captivating and offered an eerie journey I rarely take. I loved this book simply engrossing and totally fascinating. “Desecration “is richly written, has strong characterization and has a hell of a story to tell.

Although I received a copy from the author “This is the way I see it” and in no way was I influenced by the offer.

"A Dubious Mission: The Aryan Tablet", by gearld J. Kubicki

Book 1, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

This is a remake and an extended version of the original book in the series. Although I have read more than 13 novels already I never had the chance to read the first book. I am happy to have received the new version from Mr. Kubicki and thanks to this nice touch I finally know how all these wonderful characters met and how Colton and the illusive Wolf came together.

It is rather strange to go back in time to where it all started and find a less confident and a more careful Colton. Colton is middle-age man who seems to have a target on his back and is offered help from the most unexpected sources… thus all through the series we are lead to exotic places and into some pretty exciting adventures….The plots have a bit of history, mysterious encounters and wild chases in search of artifact…of course lots of dubious characters to entertain us.

This version is great and captivating, fast moving plot, clean style and interesting characters. For those who have met the Patel sisters and the sexy Loni Chen in later books will recognize their personalities…and antics and will notice how they have grown not only in skills but also in relationship. The plot brings together all the characters that made this a series a success.

This is so far the best book I read in this series. Of course this is the way I see it and my thoughts have not be influence in any ways by the offer.

Friday, November 13, 2015

"The Girl in the Spider's Web", by David Lagercrants

Book # 4 in the Millennium (trilogy) series

With this 4th edition David Lagercrantz continues Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. Bringing back the two wonderful characters who were the driving force behind the spectacular success it brought to its creator: journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander , the tough and punkish girl with the dragon tattoo. The author seemed to have stayed true to the Larsson’s original complex stories. Although part of a series, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is fresh and unique. Mr. Lagercrantz touch is definitely his own.

I like fast paced intrigues, none here, what we have is a slow developing plot with some bursts of action here and there. What slowed everything down are the wider and complex issues introduced and hard to understand: such as artificial intelligences and state surveillance. Although this may be well-researched the details descriptions of maths and computing brings everything to a halt making the story knotty and boring in most parts. The dialogue is also tin and the narration too broad with every little detail spelled. The numerous characters to keep track of are a challenge especially for those not comfortable with foreign names.

Having said this, the story is nevertheless intriguing and this from the start. Mr. Lagercrantz does an excellent job creating the spirit of this series with a Lisbeth even more kamikaze than we ever seen her although her role has been somewhat toned down and does not appear until far on into the story. But it was nice to discover more of her fascinating background. Bloomkvist has the center stage and is out crusading for justice.

It must have been a challenge for the author to follow Larsson’s footsteps and keep the franchise going, enthrall the readers the same way he did and have your talent shine in every aspect.

This story is good but not the Larsson’s stander.

"Saving Kali", by Phyllis Smallman

This is a short fiction about a homeless woman, a sexual predator, and a child in danger. Although only 51 pages, the story provides a good punch and the expected thrills found in mysteries. 

When an author manages to write a touching and captivating story, populates it with a warm and divers cast and wraps up everything beautifully in a few pages, the author definitely merits good marks. Ms. Smallman’s writing may be sparse here but is rich in tension and suspense.

Can anyone witnessing a wrong play possum? Find out how far the protagonist goes in this story …..Touching.

Although I am a huge fan of this author I maintain a short story even excellent will always leave me unsatisfied, I need more.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"The Society of Orion: The Orion Codex", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

Book 4: The Orion Codex

Book 18, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

This is another exciting and captivating short story filled with suspense and over the top action. In this one, Colton and his sidekicks are sent to South America, on a wild goose chase deep into the heart of Ecuador. As in all books in this series Banyon is hunting for artifacts and treasures and looking for them strange and mystical things happen…
I admit this series is beyond a fantasy and a bit ridiculous but knowing this is half the battle to enjoying it. The plot in “The Orion Codex”, is fun to follow and very fast paced, flipping the page is no problem one started its 110 pages or so is easy to read in one setting. Of course the merry band of misfits offers entertainment throughout the pages. The writing is simple, the dialogue catchy and narration blends in all the latest gadgets. We do have some twists and turns of events and the appearance of bad guys is enough to grip the reader’s attention…

Being a long-time fan of this series I appreciated the tone down the authors brought to their sex scenes actually very little are mentioned and more attention was directed towards entertaining us with never ending action. After a few months away from this series picking it up was an enjoyment.

"Hecate's Moon", by Carol Anne Dobson

Set in North Devon at the end of the 18th century “Hecate’s Moon” is a colourful story of love and treachery based on legends and the goddess Hecate. It is also the sequel to “Storks in a Blue Sky” another wonderful read I enjoyed immensely.

As in the first book, the literary style reflects the period and is the old fashion romance type with all the frou-frou we can imagine. I noticed from the start that this latest follows the same pattern and beat as its predecessor although with new players and a fresh plot. I admit at one point wondering if I 

was rereading “Storks in a Blue Sky”.

Don’t expect sex scenes we have none but what we have is a strong plot written with passion, a steady flow all through, a mystery to intrigue us and characters to love and hate. The obligatory witchcraft, poisonous plants, moon and magic are not forgotten and the mention of the French revolution is also a topic that runs throughout. The author doesn’t stay there she has injected a bit of Jewish folklore and some pretty powerful images of smugglers, pirates and kidnappers….This story covers quite a range of activities.

“Hecate’s Moon” has a less mushy approach than its prequel but nevertheless has a romantic side to soften the hearts…..aw …..

My thanks to Ms. Dobson for providing a copy of her book.

This is the way I see it, my thoughts have not been influence in anyways.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"A Wanted Man", by Lee Child

Book #17, in the Jack Reacher series

Our vagabond is on the road again trying to get to Nebraska. Of course not all goes well after hitching a ride with three people it seems that the car’s occupants are nervous and acting very strangely. After observing every detail and watching their moves he soon realizes they are all lying about where they come from and where they are going….this car trip takes a good third of the novel before the story expands into some scheme involving federal agencies and the obligatory terrorists operating in the USA.

Set in third person point of view and with a fluid narrative, the story returns to the present timeline and picks up where “Worth Dying For” ended. Quick action, over the top moment baffling plot twists and lots of acts of vengeance cover the pages although no memorable scenes of extreme violence to talk about. The novel offers something different we find neither sex scenes nor romantic encounters but in place we have sharp depictions of the rural Midwest. But, yes there is a but : the novel is too long and the endlessly long car ride and numerical mumble jumble gets to you. This is definitely the most low-key book in the series where we have a protagonist who takes a very long time to throw his first punch. Maybe I need to realize Reacher is getting old and should expect him to slow down a bit…..no way….give me something exciting….

No bang here but not a terrible read in whole.

"The Track of Sand", by Andrea Camilleri

Book #12 in the Inspector Montalbano series

“The Track of Sand” is my first experience reading Camilleri and his well-known series. Having done so at this point was so smooth it felt I knew the protagonist for a long time and I easily picked the essence of who he was right from the start. Although this novel stands on its own two feet I am sure having read the previous installments would have been an asset.

The story opens with the brutal killing of a horse just off Inspector Montalbano’s veranda. The horse belongs to a stunning equestrian and thus starts the complicated relationship between Rachelle and the Inspector.

This is a complex whodunit plot set in a fictional Sicilian town where the protagonist, an Inspector of police is the character study in this story. We find a lot of local colours and many interesting players especially the seductive temptress and wealthy jockey. The narrative keeps the rapid pace of the investigative path with a few entertaining side trips and meals here and there.

Although the story is relatively short and is quite enjoyable read with a flavour of a Godfather movie peppered with intriguing passages and all the essential dialogue. There are also humorous moments, references to local issues, politics and culture. The plot may be convoluted but the creative chicanery and tweaking of the law provided a dramatic and satisfying development.

This may be my first book but will not be my last.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Take the Monkey and Run", by Karen Cantwell

Book 1, in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery

This is a bit of a funny book. At times I had a good laugh at this charming housewife doubling as an inept sleuth. This is a story of a nosy neighbour poking her nose into the goings-on at the house next door and getting involved way over her head at things she knows nothing about.

This is an easy read, written with humour and definitely can’t be taken seriously. Lots of laugh out loud or shaking head moments, this is truly an over the top adventure. There are so many improbable scenes throughout that reading this story is a hilarious experience. The heroine is a 45 year old woman who has not enough sense to stay out of trouble and manages to bring her friends along with her. Of course this plot is thin and completely ludicrous, is populated with a stupid heroine, gorgeous men and ridiculous bad guys. The narration and dialogue are mostly clean but we do find a few hot words here and there that may offend some.

I really don’t know what to make out of this book: did I like it or not…. Since I am not a big fan of irrational comedy or in this case mystery where two people are in love (Barbara and her Husband), lie to one another, assume indifferent personas and battle their differences out to finally fall into each other’s arms. This could have turned into a painful read if it was not for the style of delivery with lines tossed off in rapid fire. I guess in whole not bad…..

"Made in Acapulco", by Carmen Amato

This is a collection of 5 short stories that chronicle Emilia Cruz first experiences as the first and only female detective on the police force. In the 108 pages or so, these snippets of stories take place before the full length novels came our way. “Made in Acapulco” is wonderful introduction to an amazing series.

The stories are well-written and even if short quite captivating. This book not only introduces us to Emilia, it also gives us a bit of her background, her workplace and how she manages to place herself among her colleagues and how she faces the challenges of her job as an investigator.

Although each story maybe brief everything meshes beautifully and flows smoothly. The characterization is believable and Emilia shines in a place ruled by machos…..

I am a fan of this author and I can recommend all of her books.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Firewall", by Andy McNab

Book 3, in the Nick Stone series

By now we know our protagonist has a rich backstory and that he will moonlight taking tasks that seems easy at first in order to pay for his adoptive daughter’s S4, 000 weekly hospital treatments. An easy task or so it seems: snatch a Russian mafia kingpin in Helsinki and bring him to St. Petersburg is his latest mission.

As always the snatch goes bad in fact very bad and we find ourselves in throat clutching action, over the top scenarios described with spectacular precision, in fact too detailed for my taste. Said in the first person of Stone, in the present tense and as he sees it, Nick is constantly moving from point to point and believe me when I say it is tiresome….The story rarely slows down always two guns and a knife with him he takes part in combat, blows up buildings and faces numerous challenges….and the body count mounts. Enough said I am sure you get my drift. At some point the story does stray towards the unbelievable but we really want Nick to succeed and get the funds needed to help Kelly is 7 year old daughter.
Reading “Firewall” is a bit tedious at times but if you like good proficiency in tactic operations you will be well served here. If you plan to visit Estonia you will soon be deterred by the description of the bitter landscape.

Good story but not my preferred

"A Paris Affair", by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is a short story collection of forbidden loves where infidelity is a given. Ms. De Rosnay demonstrates 11 ways to deceive and/or leave your partner/lover.

The book is not big 128 pages or so and if full of intensity, love and much more. In each story we had a different perspective of how women see their marriage and how they find out that their husband cheated on them and how they took their revenge.

Told with humour but also with sadness the author works her magic and takes us to Paris where love hardly plays a role but the more complex nature of relationships. The pinpoint is an affair and the emotional ride that makes us uncomfortable and mad but it will not stop the reader flipping page after page for more.

This is delightfully wicked….simply fantastic and so real….

Saturday, October 10, 2015

"Flay", by Ty Patterson

Book 5, in the Warriors series

Mr. Patterson in this latest stepped slightly out of hard core thrillers genre to give us in “Flay” a more crime action mystery with a hefty dose of action and a lot of entertainment. This latest has a terrific but gruesome storyline to chill our veins and is another winner for Mr. Patterson.

We follow two plots: one involves a serial killer who likes to skin off his female victims and the other concerns Middle Eastern terrorists. The threads weaves nicely together although the drama may be stretched a bit far in both stories, I still kept turner pages at a rapid pace to keep up with the suspense. Heart pounding twists and turns all through giving us a downright thrilling experience. The writing is spot on and moves right along bringing everything to life…although scary at times. The characterization is good, the Warriors are smart and likable and the bad guys are very very nasty, just the way I like my characters in this type of books. The foxy twins Meghan and Beth’s clever retorts added a touch of smarts, humour and chic to the novel and their contribution is an added thrill. Of course we have a grandstanding finale to close up everything neat and tidy.

For those planning to read this series I would highly recommend to read the books in orders for maximum enjoyment.

"Blood and Roses", by Mark Dawson

Book 3, in the Beatrix Rose trilogy

The final part in this amazing trilogy is heartbreaking and sad that we have reached the final moments. Once more along with Beatrix we are on a roller-coaster ride from start to finish.

Two are left on her kill list and once more Mr. Dawson action packed thriller will have our protagonist on a chase of a life time. The action are super exciting and suspenseful and as kept me on the edge of my seat the entire 224 pages. This is a great trilogy all books were brilliantly written to provide intense action from page one. This time Beatrix travels from North Africa to New York to finally reach her goal in the swamps of North Carolina. Although our protagonist finds her final moments in “Blood and Roses” this conclusion may also open doors to a spin off with the making of a new assassin….who knows what is in store for us next.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the books for the riveting storyline, the strong characterization, the sharp narration and dialogue and mostly for having kept me captivated for many hours.

I highly recommend this trilogy. To buy all three books at once would be your best bet.

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Blood Moon Rising", by Mark Dawson

Book 2, in the Beatrix Rose trilogy

Beatrix is on the hunt for her third target and she really doesn’t mess around to get to her end game. Her next move brings her to Iraq, her eyes are on a man surrounded by mercenaries and getting to him and staying alive will be a very challenging endeavor.

Great setting, vivid description of life and a heck of a protagonist: a superwoman out for revenge. This story is gruesome also gripping. Action from start to finish, everything is fast-moving all the way through and very tense. The narration is perfect, no frills, no fuss just the right pitch: great dialogue. Some twists and turns and lots of suspense. This is a great novel the best so far in the trilogy. I routed for Beatrix and wanted her to succeed: get him and stay safe. Although not very long (224 pages or so) this story gives nevertheless quite an adrenaline rush. It is one story very hard to put aside, so heart-stopping.

I simply love Beatrix’s adventures. They are so well imagined and delivered that I hate seeing the ending coming soon. I would recommend to buy all three books mainly once started you will want to see how things progresses….addictive from the start.

Great story

"In Cold Blood", by Mark Dawson

Book 1, in the Beatrix Rose trilogy

Be warned, once you start with the first book you will flip pages till you have reached the final chapter in book 3. This is a great series where the author takes the time to set up the stage in order to hook you up in his world then bang he pushes you into gritty action and one of those thrilling moment you will not want to let go. Yes that good.

Beatrix Rose, the protagonist, is an assassin with six names on her hit list. She has pay back on her mind and in “In Cold Blood” she goes after her first target, a mercenary held hostage by Somali terrorists. Although this is the first installment there is a whole back story I seemed to have missed out on. Mr. Dawson does allude to the past from time to time but not enough to fill the void. I guess those who have read other books may know more about Beatrix and conclude this series is a spin-off of another series. Time will tell for the novice.

This is a quick read, not taxing at all and packed with explosive action from start to finish. This propulsive thriller has an interesting lead character in Beatrix, she is direct and all business she plain does her move without a second thought and as the most dangerous assassin in a government kill squad she is not a kind of person you want to play with. Following her on her deadly quest is exciting and very captivating.

Very good quite entertaining

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Mr. Mercedes", by Stephen King

Book 1, in the Bill Hodges Trilogy

A hard-boiled detective book is definitely not what I had expected Mr. King would have come up with next. This new genre received positive reviews and won him the Edgar Award in 2015 for Best Novel.

This story is so different from is standard “horror stories” it is hard to imagine that this cat and mouse game about a psychopathic killer (Brady) and a renegade cop (Hodge) could have met my expectation. It did and much more. This is a fascinating story that takes the old detective genre to the next level. Let’s not think Mr. King left scary parts aside, after all he will always have a scary side. Adding a sociopath on a rampage can be characterized as “horrific” for anyone and is predictable King-isms at its best. The story is tense, ultra-fast and has a collection of expressions handled with a machine-gun prose. It has a bit of mishmash of jargon and the tone may be infuriating at times although I surpassed this very quickly. The set is staged by alternating between Hodges’ and Brady points of view and this richly layered savvy story, a showdown between good and evil is an excellent addition to my library

“Mr. Mercedes” is an entertaining and engaging ride.

"Two Days in June", by Andrew Cohen

John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History

This story is a riveting and beautifully written narrative of two consecutive days in the presidency of John F. Kennedy. The days were June 10 and 11, 1963.

There have been many books written about JFK some say more than 40,000 so why another one? There will always be someone digging deeper who will find new tidbits to bring to light in the life of one of the most iconic American president of modern time. In “Two Days in June” Mr. Cohen brings an original perspective by adding a compelling detailed analysis in an eventful chapter in Kennedy’s tenure: his most important speeches that would change the outcome on two important issues: nuclear arms control and American society’s racism. Later to be referred as the iconic Peace Speech and the Civil Rights Act.

Meticulously researched, this book is heavy in information and details on those two days. It tracks the President’s every move and explores mainly the context of the speeches and how it came to be. The tension leading to the public addresses is deftly captured and in proper historical context. We also have a glimpse into many personalities surrounding the president: most importantly, his brother Robert and his speechwriter Ted Sorensen. The President had a myriad of other issues such as: conflict in Vietnam, equal pay for all, his physical condition, his gossipy social life, daily swimming lesson and afternoon nap just to mention a few. All this information comes from rare sources such as documentary, interviews, diaries and official White House logbooks etc. The book doesn’t miss a beat and goes on and on.

It must have taken the author exhausting time to put all this together but also rewarding to see the end result.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

"The Cleaner", by Mark Dawson

Book 1, in the John Milton series

Although this is numbered as the first in the series it is actually the second book, ” 1000 Yards”, a novella is the prequel, a short story that introduces us to the protagonist. There is no need to get to it first “The Cleaner” stand on its own but I have been told reading the prequel does help to get an idea what John is made of before the main story kicks in. I admit not having read it but it is on my TBR list and I should get to it pronto.

At first I had mixed feeling about this mystery. It started pretty slowly but eventually moved along at a better pace and I eventually got hooked and stayed with it till the end. The story is of an assassin working for a shady government organisation run by a man known simply as Control. In “The Cleaner” John is struck by a fit of conscience, quits the Firm and starts a new life by helping a woman and her son Elijah. The story is a bit dated: set during the London riots we see all through the saga our protagonist facing street gangs, drug lords and the most exciting part in this adventure is the cinematic confrontation between John and a former colleague but it does come with predictability you see this coming from the start. The experience is a bit cliched and has a déjà vu feeling about it but this is easily overcome. The dialogue sounded authentic but may be hard to follow at times for those who are not familiar with English slang and street lingo. Overall, the language is clean, the plotting is good and since we have very few players this is one mystery/thriller easy to follow.

In all a good read

"Playing with Fire", by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Book 2, in the Claire Abbott Mystery

I received an advance copy from Orca Book Publishers for my thoughts. Being a “Rapid Reads” I knew the story would have been short (120 pages or so), simple (no dictionary needed) and easy to read (huge font). According to the publisher this one is at level 2.8 and targets an audience mostly of young readers and those still young at heart. I enjoyed having them in my collection to zip through them when press for time or when my mind is preoccupied.

“Playing with Fire” continues Claire’s dramas as a small-town reporter with a sixth sense. Her first outing was in “Search and Rescue” published in 2014. Now in her latest Claire seeks an arsonist before he ends up killing someone.

This story has some intrigue although it was quite easy to figure who is the real culprit. For obvious reasons we find little character or plot development. Having said this, I did find the story to be cute and captivating. Her next outing will be in 2017 so stay tuned.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Dead Man's Footsteps", by Peter James

Book 4, in the Roy Grace series

It has been a long time between books and I had forgotten how a master Mr. James is at juggling plot threads, this time he treats us with four different events.

This blend of fiction and myth skilfully uses the chaos and tragedy of 9/11 is its early set up and recounts how Ronnie Wilson took the opportunity to fake his own death and leave all his trouble behind to rebuild a new life. On the other side of the pond, the body of a young woman is found in a storm drain in Brighton and Roy is called to investigate. The third tale is of Abby, a very careful young lady scared of making any sort of move…and last we cross to the other side of the world to Australia where a grim discovery if found in the boot of a car.

These four events crisscross each other in alternate chapters while we have a protagonist dealing with the politic of his day to day life. These brilliantly complex plots tend to pussyfoot here and there but eventually everything meshes beautifully into a more tightly woven police procedural. Seasoned buffs can easily see how things develop but will be a treat for the novice. Keeping everything respectful while providing a realistic and exciting storyline is definitely not a problem with Mr. James, he does that in a skillful and expert manner. We have good dialogue, great characterization, climatic scenes and enough suspense to keep going and very well entertained.

"Storks in the Sky", by Carol Ann Dobson

What an interesting and captivating historical romance story this turned out to be. I am not usually attracted to this kind of novels preferring mysteries and thrillers above all. This was a wonderful step out of my routine.

Set in North Devon during the 18th century the writing has a literary style to reflect the period and shows the author’s wide range of knowledge. The plot is strong and the writing is passionate particularly when detailing Sarah and Jean Luc, the protagonists’ feelings. Once the flow take its wings there is so much intrigue following the saga Sarah faces after taking her mistress identity at her death that it is hard not to keep flipping pages from then on. Even after the slow beginning and the few confusing chapters at the start I am glad not to have been influenced by this. In introspective I could also say this is a story that slowly turns out into a feisty historical romance……ah!!!!!

All through the novel Sarah is portrayed to be a tenacious but very scared woman and her state of mind is well delivered. The second important player is Jean Luc, a dashing French cavalier from the Alsace region who happens to be rich. The characterization is great even the multiple secondary players we need to keep track of.

No sex scenes just plain old fashion romance, boy runs after girl. Girl plays hard to get but succumb to his charms at the end……wow great…and they live happily ever after……

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"Direct Hit", by Mike Hollow

Book 1, in the Blitz Detective series

This new arrival and the debut novel is a perfect combination of history and mystery. This police procedural set during the London Blitz provides an adrenaline rush from start to finish and has kept me engrossed in the characters as well as the ways of life of a city under attack.

This is a page turner written by a talented author that knows how to turn a storyline in one that will grab you from page one. The protagonist Detective Inspector John Jago shares his work with us as we follow him through the different steps of his investigation and through war torn scenes during the first night of the Blitz. Blackouts after all are a good cover for all sorts of criminal activity. It is fascinating to see how Jago tackles the case of a man found dead in a van whose body gets obliterated by an enemy bomb before he could get the investigation going. This story also incorporates a mixture of real-life and fictional locations and East London finest hours is brought to life with searchlights, sirens wail, air raids and people ducking into bomb shelters with the hope of coming out in one piece. This is a well- written crime story that also includes for good measure a twist by inserting a feisty American journalist into the folds. The characterization is warm and engaging. There are no dull moments even if at times the pacing is rather on the slow side (slow and steady). The narration and dialogue are nostalgic and reflect the time and circumstance, we have some emotional details throughout.

I certainly stayed involved from the start and enjoyed immensely this new addition to the crime world

"The Winter Crown", by Elizabeth Chadwick

Book 2, in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy

This engrossing story opens in 1154 with Eleanor’s coronation and soon plunges us into a rollicking drama where a Queen struggles to achieve some element of equality with Henry, a man with trust issues and completely unable to delegate, in fact a very dangerous ruler she has as husband. “The Winter Crown” follows “The Summer Queen” and magnificently explores another tumultuous period in her life. The story focuses mainly when Eleanor was in her prime years and gave Henry child after child.

Even if this is a fiction the story has an authentic feel to it. It is a thrilling and breathtakingly credible version of personal tragedy. The portrayal of each character and the events surrounding them brings history to life with insight and emotional intensity and makes reading “The Winter Crown” a page-turning experience. Ms. Chadwick imaginative flair paints a rich, vivid story and brings vigour and life into a well-known Queen. The prose and dialogue are light and natural. The everyday life in the court of Henry is not boring, everyone had their use and everyone had a price. The conflicts are passionate and it is very easy to dislike Henry and his overbearing ways and sympathize with Eleanor. It is especially fascinating to see how she played an important role in the feud between her husband and their sons. We also have the drama surrounding Thomas Becket and Henry’s romantic affairs. The novel ends with a captive Eleanor sailing back to England and her destiny will be unveiled in the 3rd installment “The Autumn Throne”.

I appreciated the author’s note enforcing where the known part of history crosses the imaginary and where she enhanced her storyline in order to make this novel a treat for us.

This is a captivating read delivered by a master.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Secret Place", by Tana French

Book 5, in the Dublin Murder Squad

Miss French took on the world of teenage girls in this latest and has brought her protagonists chasing the whodunit at a plush all girl boarding school near Dublin. A murder was committed on the grounds of school and a group of four friends soon becomes prime suspects. The drama takes place over a single day with a heavy dose of flashbacks to events that occurred the previous year.

Miss French’s books are not a fast read and are pretty much on the long side. She also has a knack for creating layered, multi-dimensional characters and distinctive voices. Some editorial fat trimming could have made this drama a bit less tedious. So, if you are not into long- winded narration coupled with the most intricate and complex plot you may as I did, find this story to drag in many parts. I often felt being string along for over the 450 pages by a story that soon became very boring. The dialogue is strong in teenage vernacular and their obnoxious attitude mildly irritating. I must say the author often writes beautifully capturing the teen appeal and their emerging sexuality but the magic is soon killed by the lack of clarity and the flaws of the minor players.

This is one book to love or hate. My take: this book is definitely a big disappointment.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Stone of Fire", by J.F.Penn

Book 1, in the Arkane series

Also under the title “Pentecost”

This fast-paced and highly imaginative story weaves a mix of Indiana Jones thrilling action into a tale that explores ancient myths and religion à la Dan Brown.

“Stone of Fire” brings Morgan Sierra, a knowledgeable Oxford individual with an Israeli Special forces background to work with Jake Timber, a handsome Arkane operative, their quest is to find the twelve “Pentecost stones” taken from the tomb of Jesus Christ by the apostles. The stones are alleged to have great power and at least two other groups will go to any lengths to get hold of them also….and the chase takes us on a global trip from India to England, from Italy to Tunisia and from Iran to the US.

Not at all what I expected not to say I didn’t like being push along while being informed at the same time. Ms. Penn is a master in religious information and her vivid descriptions of cathedrals, basilicas and the settings are what brought life to this thriller. This book is a highly fictionalized mishmash of unbelievable occurrences. Although the pacing is right and overall well told my mind still wandered through many parts. I simply got lost in the redundancy and the similarity with other books. The characterization is interesting but really clichéd. The dialogue lacked the sharpness expected in heated moments. Although this story does not make it in my best book of the year list it still offered some great entertainment. It is a kind of story preferable not to take too seriously……

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Hungry Ghosts", by Peggy Blair

Book 3, in the Inspector Raminez series

“Hungry Ghost” is my introduction to Canadian author Peggy Blair. Was I lost starting at this point?, yes at first, but it didn’t take too many chapters to place the missing pieces together, go with the flow and enjoy this light mystery, one rich in atmosphere and style.

The storyline has three threads:

It begins in Havana with Inspector Ricardo Raminez investigating vandalism at a local museum. The chapters describing the heist are exciting with lots of actions and suspense but things soon peters out and we find ourselves following Ricardo on other crimes involving dead prostitutes. This switching of theme in the second thread brings a bit of confusion and to boot victims’ ghost appearing at Ricardo’s side out of the blue, advising him of impending deaths becomes fast an irritant. The added ghostly touch can be easily omitted and this would not affect any way, shape or form the development of this story. In alternate chapters the third thread brings us to Canada, on a First nation reserve in Northern Ontario with aboriginal detective Charlie Pike on a case of a murder victim whose death may be linked to a serial killer.

When the heist and the whodunits come together the elements of the mystery hold up pretty well. We have terrific characters in both Raminez and Pike doing what they do best in their isolated locations: one in the non-touristy Cuba and the other in impoverished Canadian wilderness. This book is a good read, carefully constructed, complex in many ways and layered with humour. The narrative is outstanding and the dialogue between players highlights the author’s expertise in the art of interrogation and shows how knowledgeable she is in the Aboriginal culture and ways of life.

“Hungry Ghosts” is a gritty and a chilling read of two detectives against an international serial killer

Monday, August 10, 2015

"Poison Pen", by Sheila Lowe

Book 1, in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery

Mystery novels have always been at the heart of my reading and of course my preferred chose. It is very refreshing when one comes along with a new storyline and definitely having a forensic handwriting analyst teaming up with a detective should do the trick. What makes this novel interesting above all is that the author, an expert in the field has skillfully injected into her plot fascinating information about the intricacies of graphology.

This crisp and gritty novel is a well- written story populated with many intriguing and richly drawn characters. The protagonist, Claudia Rose is an intelligent, resourceful and above all independent person who often assists the police in analyzing and identifying the writer and his/ hers psychological state at the time of writing. The story is slow going at first but once it bursts into life and gets its going beat we are into a plot filled with action admirably paced. For excitement, a few twists throw curves to derail us, some include blackmail, violence and all that good stuff needed to make a mystery a very suspenseful one. This turn out to be quite a page-turner with some graphic scenes, it may be a little salty at time for some but if you are not into murder mystery this whodunit may not be for you.

I surely enjoyed following Claudia and trying to solve the mystery along with her.

"A Dubious Race", by Gerald J. Kubicki

The Phoenician Stones

Book 14 in the Colton Banyon Mystery series

Once in a while I let myself be entertained by sci-fi action novel and no better move than to choose one from the Colton Banyon series. The story is wacky enough to be captivating and yet not too ridiculous to lose interest, well at least most of the time. “A Dubious Race” excels in offering a tad of history along with a thrilling mystery.

Not all the books are equal but this one makes good marks for having kept a steady pace and injecting unpredictable curves throughout. The race to secure the stones is the highlight in this far-fetched story around who may have first discovered America, an adventure filled with action and there is a lot of it. Unfortunately what still bug me after so many novels are the macho and dimwit characterization of Colton and his team of overly sexed women. They are right out of the past century and need to be worked over and brought to date, they are not funny anymore. Having said this, I nevertheless keep reading their escapade. After all, this fantasy works well if you let your imagination travel with the flow, don’t take it too seriously especially with talks of Freud-a-sizing aspects and enjoy it for what it is.

“A Dubious Race” is an entertaining novel and I am looking forward to letting myself be transported into another sci-fi fantasy soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"One Mile Under", by Andrew Gross

Book 4, in the Ty Hauck series

This long-awaited who done it mystery takes us on a journey were farmers are pit against an energy company supporting fracking exploration in Colorado. In spite of the story there is a great deal about the process for extracting gas and oil from shale rock by injecting water, sand and chemicals into the rock. Although a fiction, this story surely made me wonder about this type of process. This latest thriller is one that includes a great deal of useful information.

I missed those 5 years between installments, reading this latest was getting back with an old friend although this time in a whole different setting. This is a straightforward mystery that tells what desperate people would do for water and the bargain they are ready to make. In hush-hush fashion the dealings with the instigators are kept out of the limelight.

I wondered in the few opening chapters where was Ty everything was about Dani Whalen , a white-water guide and a friend found dead of an apparent kayaking accident, then another accident involving another of her friend. It took for ever before TY showed up to save the day. Honestly I really didn’t miss him. Dani was an excellent player, a feisty and smart girl that entertained and captivated me throughout, at least for the first part of the novel. Then the superhero showed up but what did we have: a lesson on fracking…..and harping on the process. There is limited action, yes a few thrilling moments but suspense is rarely felt and the whole experience lack the luster of a real mystery. There is way too much turning in circle, coming back to the same old points. It seemed the pages needed to be filled. Frankly by then it was time to reach the end I was losing so much interest. Not my preferred novel and this by a long shot.

Whether we are for or against fracking this story will at least make you think of its consequences.

"The Drowned Man", by David Whellams

Book 2, in the Peter Cammon Mysteries

This second edition although part of a series can well be read on its own have no fear if you pick this one up first you will fall right into a dazzling game of cat and mouse that carries Peter from Canada to England to Washington and be swept away in one of those elaborate plot and a true spy adventure.

The twisting and complex drama effectively captures some aspect of police work and opens with Peter once again lured out of retirement to handle an assignment: accompanying the body of a murdered Scotland Yard officer from Montreal back to England. As expected things is never simple and soon everything spirals out of control and an investigation is launched.

As the game goes on, we are challenged with diverse threads that weave in and out: some incorporating bureaucratic infighting, some murders, others referring to Quebec’s separatist movement, some to the theft of letters from the Civil War Era signed by John Wilkes Booth. Mr. Whellams did not forget to include the wiretapping scandal and inducement to throw cricket matches in England to his heavy but captivating story and to spice the story even more we have Alice Nahri, a ruthless femme fatale, looming over the investigation…..

There is a lot to absorb in this novel and even more a plethora of players to keep track of. The author did not forget to stress the political and language atmosphere in Quebec. For that reason some may find the opening chapters to drag and the first quarter to be ponderous and frustrating. But when the perspective shifts the story develops its momentum and becomes fascinating. This novel is well-written, the narrative rich, the dialogue superb and the characterization outstanding.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"In the Kingdom of Ice", by Hampton Sides

The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

This first rate adventure narrative recreates the astonishing tribulations of a group of 33 seamen who set sail in 1879 from San Francisco on a daring expedition that would bring them to the North Pole via the Bering Strait.

The expedition was financed by the flamboyant James Gordon Bennett Jr, owner of the New York Herald and the USS Jeanette piloted by George Washington De Long, a harsh disciplinarian with a granite disposition. The USS Jeannette was well supplied when headed north on her ill-fated voyage.

After losing valuable time looking for Nordenskiold (another explorer) at the request of Bennett the Jeannette became completely trapped in ice near the Wrangled Island and remained there confined for two years. When the ice opened the pressure on the haul was too much that the ship soon foundered and the harrowing story of their survival begins…….everything kicks in high gear….

The struggle to survive nearly 1000 mile across the Arctic Ocean and into the vastness of Siberia is story-telling at its best. Mr. Sides writes superbly on the geography of Siberia and the Arctic, its birds and animals, the treacherous tundra, seacoast and volcanic islands. He adds a magic spell to his words when he evokes the pathos and especially the suffering of what unfolded. One can only wonder how the crew endured all this hardship. We find grim details and a lot of melodrama in the crew’s odyssey as they try to reach mainland Siberia. This is a real page-turner, a well-written account paced with cliff hanging moments to shock us. We also have poignant moments, quotes from journals and letters from and to love ones and a look into the Gilded Age American and European society of the time. This was quite an expedition that is excellently revived.

“The Kingdom of Ice”, is one of the best and most interesting books I read in a long time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

"The Warriors Series Boxset" by Ty Patterson

Books 1-4

I highly recommend this series, having read and reviewed all 4 thrillers I can honestly say that this offer is a real treat and should not be passed by those who are thrill seekers or by those who enjoy high octane writing, great plotting, well-drawn characterization and a series that is getting better and better with each installment. Each book can be read and enjoyed on its own but I do suggest reading them in sequence.

A boxset is an excellent and economical way to experience Mr. Ty craftsmanship and especially getting to know his main players: a bunch of Special Ops operatives who work for an agency that does not exit and are deployed on lethal and covert missions around the world. If you like this genre of story you will find this series to be most entertaining from the opening page till the closing of the book

"The Privateersman", by Andrew Wareham

Book #1, in the Poor Man at the Gates series

In few words: This is a rag to richest story of commoner Tom Andrews who after fleeing New York on a privateering ship with Joseph Star his partner, a half Carib freed slave, has heavily invested in iron, mines , and cotton and has taken all advantage of the early industrial boom thus making himself and Joseph very fortunate.

The plot is mainly of Tom’s life and slowly introduces a young man who found his way out of criminality to become a well-paid privateer. As he aged, his experience on the high seas made him a ruthless entrepreneur and eventually a respectable English factory owner. Inevitably, his fortune opened the door to the upper crust and all the attention that came with it whether wanted or not.

Written in the style of the era this novel is a bit intimidating at first but the story is so captivating that once into the beat I eventually overcame the challenge. The author’s touch into the period lifestyle of the 18th century is vivid and to the point. The description of England’s aristocracy combined with how businesses were run during the industrial revolution play a huge part. Capitalizing on cheap labor and the bad luck of others, Tom Andrews with Joseph Star became two of the richest men in the country and did so without imposing fear or punishment on their workers but rather giving them incentives. Definitely the characterization reflects the time period.

The story telling is well-done although I found the development to be a bit slow and seemed to drag at times. Having said this, I give this book thumps up for its details and historical background and the interesting manner in which it was delivered.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Tiger", by Tash Aw

This is an exclusive short story less than 30 pages that came free from Kobo. The story is really too short to be fully enjoyed but give you a sense how beautifully his style can be. Mr. Aw is a respected literary figure who has won the Whitbread Award, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Award and his novel “Five Star Billionaire” was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

There is not much to “The Tiger” a rather simplistic tale about a Taiwanese woman visiting India hoping to see Bengal tigers. Nothing really happens, no shocking twists even when the poor lonely soul goes wandering in the jungle.

The trouble with short story I find them terribly unfulfilling but as fillers they do the trick.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"The Society of Orion" book 3, by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

Book 3: Deception a Colton Banyon Myteries

The Kubickis’ imagination is really different. They write the wackiest of stories, most are totally far-fetched, sometime even ridiculous and some obsessed with horny females but most have two things in common: they are entertaining and far from being overly taxing.

In this series we never know from one book to the other if anything will wrap up by the end I guess this is a tactic well used to pique our need to go further in order to see what comes next. So far in “The Society of Orion” series each book has left us hanging at the end and quite abruptly in fact. Since book 1, Colton and his sidekicks, who were chasing weapons before the bad guys get a hold of them have entertained us with their bizarre buffoonery and their hilarious antics. This bunch of Ninja characters have ran more than one occasion into so many complications it is a joy to follow them on their quest. We may have a sort of wrap up this time that the gang left Poland for hopefully a new chapter in their life. But I am sure the next sage will be as thrilling as all their previous endeavors.

Nothing is easy for the team and their involvement make a hell of a fun read

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

" Haitian Graves", by Vicki Delany

Book 2, in the Ray Robertson series

This is a Rapid Reads novel: slim book, huge characters and a lot said in less than 150 of printed pages, the perfect concept for a novella and one that stands on its own two feet.

In “Juda Good” (Book 1) RCMP Sergeant Ray Robertson served with the United Nations in South Sudan. In his next outing “Haitian Graves” he has moved to his next posting: Haiti, the land of colours and Vodou beliefs where he will take the role as an advisor and mentor to the local police. The plot is centered on the case surrounding the death of a woman found in swimming pole of one of Port-au-Prince best neighborhoods. We have Ray taking a whole new role and stepping outside his job description to solve the mystery of what really happened to this unfortunate woman.

Of course the case is easily solved but getting there is what makes this book captivating. Through the drama we have a thought provoking portrait of post- quake Haiti with all the misery it brought to the population. The writing is clear, concise, no time for frills and long sentences after all there are limited pages. All good things are there, exciting drama, good characterization and a style that is not taxing for those pressed for time. This book can also be enjoyed both the young and the young at heart.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Revival", by Stephen King

Stephen King has not lost his sense of the macabre and once again we find in “The Revival” all the infectious glee that is well-known to be his signature trade mark and the reason all his books have been best sellers worldwide. Mr. King returns to the horror genre in a tale that walks a perilous fine line.

The book is narrated by the protagonist, Jamie Morton, a young boy growing up in the early 1960’s and in the creepy shadow of Charles Jacobs, a Methodist minister obsessed with electricity and suffering with loss of faith. The plot development skims across Jamie’s five decade long relationship with the pastor and over adventures in the music trade. This is a real tease, and not much happens for a good part before it becomes an extremely unnerving story. It takes a bit long before getting to the good stuff where we finally find some of the most passionate writing. Towards the last part we have creepy scenes and throughout a strong moral current with draconian effects. This disturbing although rich novel is about addiction, fanaticism and what may be in store on the other side of life…..spooky…..Mr. King has always been good at the buildup to horror and to trick us by mostly dangling a taste of what’s coming next. For music lovers Mr. King does it again and has not forgotten to mention some favourites.

Although horror is not one of my favourite genres I still enjoy Mr. King’s creation. His novels are quite entertaining and have not disappointed me to date.

"The Verdict on Each Man Dead ", by David Whellams

Book 3, in the Peter Cammon Mystery

Nothing like starting summer (or ending spring) with a good mystery but some may have to wait a little longer before being able to put their hands on this latest. Of course I always will have a weakness for Canadian authors and I try to add as many as I can to my library. Mr. Whellams has recently joined my extensive list and when NetGalley and ECW Press added “The Verdict on Each Man Dead” to their list I couldn’t resist asking for it. Thank you for accepting my request and for the wonderful opportunity to read this advance copy.

I haven’t been faithful to the sequence in this series I skipped the 2nd novel to get to this one. Having done so did not leave me at a lost; this novel can be read and enjoyed on its own. The story brings the former Chief inspector in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah on a hunt for a man with terrorist connections.

The story is divided into 4 parts: all have in common the hunt for a murderer and the obsession that drives the protagonist Peter Cammon.

In Part 1: Henry

Peter played a minor role leaving Henry Pastern of the local law enforcement to take the center stage and lead the investigation into a gruesome attack on a tranquil neighbourhood street. This slowly set the stage for the hunt and apprehension of a killer.

In Part 2: Peter

Peter travels to the U.S to help Henry. (Why is a retiree from Scotland Yard on a US case?) We soon have the answer….be ready to be glued to every word.

Peter’s contribution brings to the plot: endless action, many twists and foremost lots of suspense. The inevitable bad guys such as corrupt officials, drug lords, terrorists all of them add the excitement needed to make this novel quite a page-turner. Peter also discovers a link to a case he worked on during the 1990’s. Some of us will remember the reference to the Ubabomber and the Oklahoma City bombing. We revisit in some ways this time in history, how true to the facts I will leave this to the experts.

In part 3: Vyne

Peter’s wife joins him and as she puts her two cents into the fray we once again fall into endless action. Many characters show up and it is a bit of a challenge to keep track of all of them. Gun battles, loud blast and lots of blood and guts are vividly described and exciting. The action focuses mainly on nabbing Kelso Vyne and confronting evil in unusual ways. This is described expertly…….

Finally part 4, The Killer

The shootout wraps up quickly, Peter returns to England and the testimony into the rampage is given by Skype a month later. All ends well.

My last words:

This book is captivating from start to finish and is by far better than book 1 ( I have yet to see what book 2 has in store for me). Dividing this mystery in 4 parts was an excellent idea and worked very well. “The Verdict in Each Man Dead” is a strong and well-plotted story, richly written with sharp dialogue and populated with an exceptional cast of characters. I enjoyed this one immensely and in no way the offer I have received influenced my thoughts.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Broken Harbour", by Tana French

Book 4, in the Dublin Murder Squad series

Each time I read review I learn something new I never paid enough attention to notice that Ms. French uses a nifty trick of extracting a secondary character from her previous book to put him as the narrator and test him by events she had in store for her current endeavor. I admit not to be a faithful fan and having taken a long break before picking up “Broken Harbor”. This hiatus was exactly what I needed to enjoy and be deeply engaged by the story.

Detective Michael Kennedy (Scorcher from the previous novel) and his newbie partner Richie Curran are handed a horrific case out in one of Dublin’s dying estates built during the housing boom: the Spain family has been slaughtered. It is up to our loveable detectives to delve right in and piece everything together …. Or so we think…

The plot is exciting and a well-crafted detective story. The first part of the book is the set up. We follow the police procedures and slowly the buildup comes along and we have some interesting observations about murder and how people behave. The interrogation phase unfolds at a leisurely pace and plays a good part in this mystery. Then we move into a full page-turner mode and everything gets more puzzling with each new twist. Scorcher’s voice is outstanding and the prose is vividly brilliant. This novel is not only a complex mystery it is also an interesting and chilling metaphor for mental illness and depression. The protagonist’s past (a sub-plot) is quite effective. I also would say that Ms. French vision of Ireland in post economic collapse is fascinating.

Enough said