Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Saturday, 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.