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, May 31, 2015

"The Warrior Code", by Ty Patterson

Book 3, in the Warriors series

This third installment is one true action thriller from start to finish. Mr. Patterson has once more given a good infusion of vitality to his story and provided enough hard core excitement to make our adrenaline raise more than a notch. Be ready this book is all action and could be a good standalone since there is no need to know the backstory to understand the plot.

This series continues to evolve, the scenes are creative and some even funny, lots of good twists and turns to keep us entertained throughout. The action sequences are vivid, well-played out, fresh and exciting. The story is tight and flows smoothly. All this narrated in a dry and witty voice. What’s not to like. Zeb and his team are not only a melange of every action heroes we read in other thrillers their characters bring back the passion and all the testosterone needed to provide us with a captivating and very suspenseful journey.

At the heart of this 3rd story are Beth and Meghan, twin sisters who are pursued by ruthless gangsters and are facing capture and probably death. Till Zeb steps in and saves the day.

If you like over the top action, give this series a go.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"A Dubious Device", by Gerald J. Kubicki & Kristopher Kubicki

Book 10, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

It took a bit of time before I was sucked into this suspense. A bit redundant the first quarter of the mystery recounting the backstories of each characters at length, this may be a good strategy for those picking up this series at this point but after 10 books I knew all this already and wanted to get to the meat of the story. I almost gave up, thank fully it turned mid-way and provided a very exciting story about a conspiracy to take over the US Government and install a dictator using nanobots.

I must give The Kubickis A+ for their fertile imagination and the knack for providing just enough futuristic views to make their stories a fun read. Their style is indeed cool and young at heart. Their stories are action packed, have over the board characterization, some have a tad of humour and some may also have crazy sex scenes (not this one and I was glad for the break). In “A Dubious Device”, the story is not overly complicated but is vividly describe for effects. Once the scenario of this sci-fi robotic thriller kicked in there were no dull moments, it became fast paced, exciting and captivating till the end.

Colton is still at war with “The Effort” the group behind the nanobots attack but as always he is well prepared to deal with those evil people and of course the good guys will win at the end.

Fun read if you into this type of story.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"All the Light We Cannot See", by Anthony Doerr

This absorbing story set in Germany and France before and during the German occupation of France is a page-turner at its best. Beautifully written, this emotional story is of two ordinary children swallowed in the horror of World War 11.

The two main players are: Marie-Laure a shy and resourceful blind girl who has learned to navigate the streets of her quartier in Paris, has mastered Braille and is very fond of Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand leagues Under the Sea”. Her and her father fled the city for Saint-Malo when the Nazis invaded France in 1940, at the time unknown to Marie-Laure, her father was entrusted by his boss, the museum’s curator with a treasure, the “Sea of Flames”, a priceless 133 carat diamond with a legend of immortality. A treasure that will be highly sought by the Nazis……


Werner Pfennig who is a German orphan with a natural affinity for circuitry one who can repair any broken short-wave radio that comes his way. Listening to the voice he soon becomes entranced by the lessons he mysteriously hears turning the dial. His passion for the ins and outs of the mechanics brings him to Nazi military elite training school. There he will breathe nation, live discipline and eventually sacrifice his life to the Wehrmacht.

The narrative is disciplined and flips between the two stories, it jumps forward and back in time, eventually weaves together and wraps up all the threads beautifully. The chapters are short and the prose is polished, very close to poetry, each sentence is finely crafted and very elegant….maybe a bit too much and the beauty of this may be slightly distracting. Once I got used to this vigorous style I was propelled onward and enjoyed every moment. The characters are multifaceted, very few to dislike and most are the heart of an engrossing journey where they are the center point. This novel is definitely narrative driven and does so expertly.

On a final note, “ All the Light We Cannot See” orbits around the nature of sacrifice and spotlights history with all the barbarism of war, its sights and sounds, in a vivid imaginary manner only a master story teller can express.

"Strange Shores", by Arnaldur Indridason

Book 9, in the Inspector Erlendur series

This is a powerful and very emotional novel. The story digs deep into how people cope with traumatic events and how it affects and shapes their lives for many years afterwards. Although I do agree with those saying this book works well as a standalone I would highly recommend you give the previous installments priority.

After a few editions without the presence of the main character it is nice to see the focus back on the morose Icelandic policeman Erlendur Sveinsson. In “Strange Shores” we find out what he has been up to while away from his job dealing with family business. This impressive story sets Erlendur to face his past. Camping at his childhood farm in the East Fjords where his brother disappeared in a snowstorm Erlendur makes a last-ditch effort to find out what happened to him. Of course the story intertwines with another disappearance of a young woman in the same area during WW11. Mr. Indridason mixes some fact with his fiction with a true story of British soldiers stationed nearby caught up in an appalling storm which cost them their lives.

The tone is quite different than we find in most gritty modern crime thriller, Strange Shores” is sad and poignant. The plot is more a soft flowing story than a fast, scary crime novel. It is simply a well told investigation of cold cases in the frozen fjords of Iceland. This is a classic Indridason, with pared down dialogue, wonderful characters and a beautifully imagined scenario. The impressive way this drama concludes leaves us to believe this may be the last outing for a wonderful character, if so this series finishes with a very light touch.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Eight The Hard Way", by Nick Stephenson and others

This is collection of short stories written by 8 master suspense authors. This mix of mystery and suspense highlights what really each one is made of.

I am not a big fan of short stories, they are IMO totally unsatisfying. Here we have some stories that are better than others, some shorter than others, some full of action and some going nowhere. To write a suspense in a few pages authors have to use economical and carefully selected words and unfold quickly his drama and bring it to a satisfying resolution, a task difficult to accomplish when the need to count words is a priority. Here some hit the target and some left you hanging.

In many ways it is good to sample different styles and to try out several writers that are not necessary household names. We can pick and choose at will who to follow next. This anthology was a free promotion and implementing this approach is an amazing way the affect the bottom line for these authors. At least I hope so….

The presentation is very well done. The edition I received from Mr. Stephenson had a hyperlinked Table of contents letting me select which one to read first. I preferred reading them in sequence but the choice was there.

You can read at an excellent synopsis of each book at

"Still Life with Murder", by P.B. Ryan

Book 1, in the Nell Sweeney Historical Mysteries

This is a murder mystery with an historical flavor to it is set in the post-Civil War era of the 1868, in the affluent society circles of Boston. This novel is wonderful combination of murder mystery, history and romance and one that transports us into the Gilded Age with accuracy and timely details.

From the start I was captured by the main character of Nell Sweeney, a doctor’s apprentice turned high-society governess. Working for a wealthy family Nell soon becomes entangled in family secrets and must find out the truth in order to clear Will, the eldest son, from a murder charge.

Although the outcome is quite predictable, the twists and turns are compelling and the situations the heroine gets herself into certainly adds to the excitement. While Nell investigates clues we travel with her to brothels, opium den and gambling halls and we learn along the way more about the kind of men she has to deal with. This is the first installment so not all is revealed about the strength of her character. We are told just enough to pique our interest. The novel is full of details about the wealthy Bostonians’ life as well as the one of poor people living in the rougher parts of the city. The story also brings graphically details of the Civil War prison camp’s life and the treatment of its prisoners.

This story is smooth in tone and pacing, it sparkles with chemistry and sharp dialogue and provides hours of entertainment.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"A Dubious Terrain", by Gerald J. Kubicki

Book #4 in the Colton Banyon Mystery series

The fun continues in this hard to put down fourth edition. As a fan I knew that the plot would be pure fiction with a mix of historical events slightly manipulated to fit the author’s vision. I was not disappointed in this heart racing story that revolves around the attempted takeover of the American government by the group known as the Effort. It also deals with real issues such as Homeland Security, illegal aliens and extreme sport entertainment.

The mystery brings Colton and his sidekicks to Las Vegas and plunged them deep into one of those fantasy dreams only Mr. Kubicki can come up with. The mystery part is captivating and very exiting especially when everything spirals out of control. The writing flows smoothly and keeps a steady pace all through. The drama unfolds in the colourful city of Las Vegas with all its familiar landmarks and beautiful people, well… what is not to love.

Unfortunately the over-sexed characterization depicted in all the books is rather overworked, really Mr.Kubicki, give your characters some food to curb their libido before Colton and the girls become a laughable and annoying bunch of nitwits.

With this said, “A Dubious Terrain”, is nevertheless an entertaining novel.

"Survival in the Shadows" by Barbara Lovenheim

Seven Jews in Hitler's Berlin

This is an extraordinary account how 7 members of the Arndt, Lewinsky and the Gumpel families managed to survive through the final and most deadly years of the Holocaust by hiding together from the Nazis. It is hard to imagine being able to go underground (becoming “U boats”) right under Hitler’s nose and against all odds, undetected for over two and a half years. This book is deeply moving.

The narrative involves three voices those of Ellen and Erich Arndt and of Ruth Arndt Gumpel and is based on their collective memories and transcripts of their journals. This is their stories and those of non-Jewish Germans who risked their lives to keep them alive during their perilous struggle to escape the Nazis. Exquisitely written with a smooth flowing prose, this fascinating and touching portrayal of the resourcefulness and bravery is not only compelling it also highlights the tremendous courage and stamina needed to survive the darkest days of Hitler’s rule. Not only the “U boats” lived a chilling existence in constant danger of being apprehended by the Gestapo or turned in by their own people, the basics needs of shelter and food was also a priority. Thanks to “The Righteous Gentiles” who opened their hearts and home and gave them food or ration cards at their risk and perils they made it through till the end of the war. To enhance the experience the author has added thirty pages of photographs of various personages before and after the war, some with their children and grandchildren.

From the first page I was immersed in the lives of these survivors. This memorable page turner and incredible story will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommended this book for its presentation, its well documented content and for the subject manner. Thank you for sharing these memories.