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 »

Friday, January 29, 2016

"After the Crash", by Michel Bussi

Told largely through the eyes of a private investigator “After the Crash” is an absolutely brilliant psychological thriller that open in 1980 with a plane crash in the Jura Mountains on the Franco-Swiss border. Out of the 169 passengers on board one three month old baby girl survived. Two families came to claim the surviving child but only one will win the legal battle for custody.

Crédule Grand-Duc, is the part time narrator and the main player in finding the true identity of the child. The heart of the drama starts 18 years after Grand-Duc was assigned the case. Sitting at home he chronicles his 18 years of efforts, misses and successes in a journal and this diary hurls us deep into the book. Be warned from the opening pages this drama is unputdownable.

The author scripts a taut thriller and shows how much he has invested time developing all his main characters: Lylie, the surviving baby, 18 years later goes down memory lane, Marc Vital, her brother will eventually find the truth, Malvina de Carville will go to any length to see Lylie be her sister. Mr. Bussi is a master at the art of dropping clues into the narrative and leading the reader into a solution which raises more and more questions. The pacing is interesting there are more than enough unknowns to keep us guessing until the very end. The language is quite formal during the investigation and sharp and young when Lylie and Marc’s voices come to play.

The story is brilliantly told, extremely captivating and quite suspenseful.

Excellent read I highly recommend it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This is the Way I see it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"The Taming of the Queen", by Philippa Gregory

Book 4, in The Tudor Court series

“The Taming of the Queen” is set in the 1540's, and takes as its heroine and narrator Katherine Parr, the sixth and surviving wife of Henry VIII. It is an elaborately embellished political novel as well as a compelling historical fiction about a surprisingly unfamiliar period of Tudor history. It also provides an overwhelming sense of the sheer terror that comes with living under a capricious tyrant—especially if you’re married to him. This book is breathtakingly intimate portrait of the first woman to publish work under her own name in English.

Miss Gregory makes history lively, fascinating and real. Of course the story is told with some twists and enhancements to makes history accessible. At the end of the book the author explains what is known and what the fruit of her imagination is. Although a bit repetitive, this is nevertheless a solid book with more steamy and graphic scenes than usual. The characterization is good. The players shine in all their glory even the ridiculousness of the king’s games and the foolishness of Will Somers, the king’s fool. Katherine survived by using her wits and submitting to Henry’s caprices and we are taken through this scene by scene in a pleasant retelling tale. The novel is also rich in the extravagance of the Tudor Court including its exotic feasting, its clothing, its furnishings etc.

“The Taming of a Queen” is a captivating book that works well both as a standalone historical fiction and as a continuation of the Tudor Court series.

"Hitler is Alive", by Steven A. Westlake


After the TV program called “Hunting for Hitler” that theorizes Hitler escaped to South America it is just right to come up with books touching the same subject. While interesting, rehashing this subject isn’t exploring the paranoia about ex-Nazis hiding out in South America and plotting a Fourth Reich…..

“Hitler is Alive” is an exposé taken from files written by investigative journalists of “The National Police Gazette”, a tabloid like publication who enjoyed considerable popularly during its heyday and ceased print publication in the late 1970 to eventually be resuscitated by Steven Westlake in 2006. After WW11 these reporters investigated any rumour of Hitler`s survival after all covering the Führer was a big contributor of sales. Real or fabricated, the book reprints many of these articles from 1951 to 1968, over 400 pages of truth, rumours and lies.

Although somewhat tedious, the book has interesting points nevertheless. Fiction or not, whether believable or not, this anthology contains all sorts of creative theories convincingly written to make us wonder if all that could be possibly true. We find a lot of repetitiveness as each journalist’s article takes its spot in alternate chapter: say the same thing using exactly the same words. The mention of Hitler’s Shangri-La in Antarctica where he planned in restoring his empire…Is this believable ….To be frank, at this point the book lost all credibility and became more of a conspiracy theory and a highly fictionalized account…..

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This is the Way I see it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

"Sanctioned Murder:The Term Limits Conspiracy", by Glenn Trust

Book 2, in The Hunters series

This political conspiracy thriller explores the obsession with power by those in office who are determined to remain there and will go to any lengths and use every trick in the book to retain their power…..

We have lots of gun play and multiple murders scattered across the Georgia landscape, the story is an easy read with good pacing. The string of victims are clearly political opponents who have wildly different views and background and one by one they become target of a hit team…..Once again “The Hunters” unite and work together to get to the bottom of the conspiracy and get justice.

Interesting plot, vivid characters some new and some recurring from book 1. This story is nicely written to give us all thrills needed to keep us on our toes from beginning to end. It also gives us things to ponder on: does power really corrupts? I was drawn immediately by the conspiracy and simply couldn’t put the book down in order to see what mayhem will be thrown in next. With a delicate balance between suspense and humour “Sanctioned Murder” has a solid plot that needs your attention to keep everything straight but is well worth the time to stay with it.

"Hidden", by Catherine McKenzie

This is not the type of story I fancy but since I loved all the books written by Catherine McKenzie so far I had to give this one a go… In a nut shell this is a story of an accidental death that leads to secrets revealed and second thoughts. It is also a story that explores issues of trust, loss and betrayal of two families.

How well do you really know your spouse?

The story moves along and develops via three points of views and said in alternate chapters: by Claire, the dead man’s wife, by Jeff the dead man himself who strangely enough was killed on page 8 and by Trish, who may or may not be Jeff’s mistress. The language is vivid and lyrical and the writing reflects the complexity of the modern marriage. Each player tells about each other, reveals their inner thoughts and especially wants our sympathies. We see their struggle to weigh desire against obligation and what is right versus what is wrong. By the end we wonder: did Jeff and Trish have an emotional affair? By then, it is up to us to decide….

“Hidden” is a complex and emotional story but is short of being fantastic and is not especially unique. I fast became bored and contemplated abandoned it many times, it was simply not a story I enjoyed or even liked the direction it was going to. Although I laboured through many pages to keep up with it I did managed to see the end.

This was not my Catherine McKenzie favourite although it may be yours.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"The Angel", by Mark Dawson

Book 1, in the Isabella Rose Thriller series

This new series is a spin off from the Beatrix Rose Trilogy. “The Angel “is referred as Act 1 in a story involving Isabella Rose, Beatrix Rose‘s fifteen year old daughter. Although not necessary, I would suggest starting with the Beatrix Rose wonderful Trilogy first and to look into the John Milton novels as well.

It opens with a multi-faceted terrorist attack in London and the drama is told from the point of views of the terrorist as they carry out their mission. Creatively based on events that surfaced in the past years Mr. Dawson didn’t spare anything: the suspense is wild, people die and body count mount. As the narrative changes its course, the action brings us throughout the UK, Morocco and Switzerland into an operation that will bring justice any way possible.

Although we have plenty of tense moments, some twists and lots of bang at first unfortunately the experience kind of slowly petered out and became less realistic when Pope head of “The Firm”, is tasked with finding who is behind this atrocity brings in a 15 year old to do undercover work. “The Angel” is her code name.

This may be a cliff-hanger but the drama leaves too many questions unanswered by the end to be a fully satisfying read. Ending a story so abruptly may be a ruse to pique out interest but this gambit may not turn out to be a good one in the long run. Now we need to wait for the unmissable sequel…

I received this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"Becoming Lisette", by Rebecca Glenn

Book 1, in “The Queen’s Painter” series

“Set in Paris during the 18th century, “Becoming Lisette” is a historical fiction novel that revolves around a pretty girl named Elizabeth “Lisette” Vigée who has a passion for oil painting. Her dream was to become a successful painter in a male dominated society.

This is quite an engaging story that showcases how Lisette forges on to become a painter through the years. We grow with her each step of the way and as her character develops over the entire book she becomes a strong and inspiring woman and eventually a prominent French painter.

The story is refreshing and successfully evokes the time period and the lifestyle of people. We see the beauty as well as horror of life through Lisette’s eyes as one door closes and another opens. This book is a rich literary work that captures the beauty of deep emotion and draws you into a world of exotic sights. Each page and every scene has tone and texture and is colourfully written.

The major characters are based on real people although the story has been enhanced for our enjoyment the author has done an extremely wonderful job bringing every aspect alive. The story is a richly written portrayal of a talented artist and is meticulously researched to highlight the key points. Well-done.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Delirium", by J. F. Penn

Book 2, in the London Psychic series

This is an amazing book, a psycho- thriller with an edge of the supernatural and one that leaves us questioning whether we aren’t all a little mad in one way or the other.

The story is handled with aplomb and weaves and engaging tale not meant for the faint of heart. There are so many vivid descriptions of rotted bodies, gruesome scenes of torture, colourful visions of demons and many other shocking sightings. This is definitely one of those stories that plunges you into high voltage suspense as the drama moves in agonizing steps into death scenes and leaves you at the edge of your seat from the opening scene. Yakes gruesome…. step aside Marquis de Sade…..This novel immediately jolts interest and never lets go. Set all the horror aside, the plotting is wonderfully done to tease our mind and captivate us till the very last page.

“Delirium” has also a serious side: the history of mental illness treatment and the abuse of the mentally ill. It is evident that Ms. Penn has done intensive research into the illness and with excellence and with finesse she gave us this wonderful story. Religions, psychology, supernatural, the human mind and our attitudes to it are definitely Ms. Penn’s obsessions and expertise. We find strong characterisation both with the heroes and the villains. Returning are Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke and her reluctant psychic Blake Daniel to help in the case and captivate us throughout the pages.

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.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Finders Keepers", by Stephen King

Book 2, in the Bill Hodges Trilogy

“Finders Keepers” is a straight forward thriller of around 450 pages or so and is a direct sequel to “Mr. Mercedes”. The storyline features some of the characters introduced in the first book although it takes a while for the connections to appear. It revolves around the murder of the reclusive writer John Rothstein, his missing notebooks and the release of his killer from prison after 35 years..

In his unique style, Mr. King’s narrative switches back and forth between two main characters and between two timelines 1978 and 2014. More than half the book is setting up the stage with its main players: Morris Bellamy, Rothstein’s killer and Peter Saubers, who found Bellamy’s hidden treasure years later. By mid-way we finally see Hodges and his associates appear with all their skills to save the day. Although by that time I was wondering where was he? The story was pretty good even without him I assure you.

This is a densely plotted novel with many threads coming out of everywhere although we know that the authors will nicely do so not to leave us floundering but rather to capture our imagination in a powerful way. The tale is sly and often poignant, it is all about Morris. Gripping setup, a group of resourceful heroes, an antagonist capable of terrible violence, intense writing this novel delivers all. Although “Finders Keepers” may be less intense than its prequel it is nevertheless captivating.

"Slow Curve on the Coquihalla", by R.E. Donald

Book 1, in the Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery

This who-done-it is a well-crafted mystery that brings us into the life of a long distance trucker Hunter Rayne, an ex- Mountie officer, who took the open road with his semi “The Blue Knight”. Rayne hauls north and south between Canada and the US and travels most of the time on one of the most scenic and dangerous route in Canada known as the Coquihalla.

As the wheels spin on the highway we have fascinating information about the trucking industry. To set the stage the author has taken quite a bit of time and has provided a lot of picky details about the business and the routine of the drivers. Some may find this tedious I found it interesting. As the story unravels we come to the exciting part: a crash…. was it an accident or perhaps a murder on the mountain…. Of course kicks in is the old detective habit of poking your nose into it and it is exactly what Rayne did. Up a gear and the unofficial investigation is on with the help of friends Rayne will get to the bottom and will get his man…

I enjoyed reading this book. It is quite a different style of mystery, one that is not too complicated to follow, is easy to figure out the denouement and has a cast of colourful characters to entertain us and a steady suspense throughout.

I admit, the experience is a bit of a soap opera but “hey” it’s a good read and quite entertaining.