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 »

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Love and Fear", by Reed Farrel Coleman

Book 4, in the Gulliver Dowd series

This is a “Rapid Reads”, a paperback of 168 pages written in huge font, a novella that is not taxing and is mainly aimed for the enjoyment of young people 16 years of age and up. It is also the perfect book for readers with a short attention span and for those who like to zipped through the pages in no time and enjoy a fast-paced mystery.

As all the “Rapid Reads” I have read to date the plot is well-written with no fuss and no extra-words to bog down the flow. The story in “Love and Fear” centers on the main character, a gutsy PI with a big heart. Gulliver is asked to help find the daughter of a New York head Mafioso who has gone missing. The plot has all the good elements wrapped in a few words and enough twists to pique our interest. The story is intriguing although I knew being a short story the character or plot development would be at the bare minimum. Having said this, the story is nevertheless captivating and one I enjoyed quite a bit.

I received an advance copy from Orca Book Publishers for an honest review. My thoughts have not been influenced by the offer, “This is the way I see it”.

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Ashley Bell", by Dean Koontz

This is one bizarre story I have read in a long time as we go deeper into one of those strange and baffling adventure only Mr. Koontz knows how to write we see through the main character how lives are shaped by memories.

This is by far an overstuffed novel, this latest follow a similar style that has populated Mr. Koontz novels for a long time. Some will love “Ashley Bell” and some would wish as I did to make a quick exit and read something else. It took 1/3 of the book before the name Ashley Bell came to light. All that time I felt frustrated that this overly verbose was doing very little and delivered much less. In hindsight I lost my time reading what at the most a sequence of bad dreams is. This story has way too much fluff and is strange and gets stranger and stranger till we get blindsided. The idea is good and the writing is occasionally brilliant although infuriatingly boring. Mr. Koontz failed the emotional development of his characters by using cheap tricks and continues on using the same pattern of obstacles to gain our sympathy. This story should have been streamlined by cutting the nonsense.

Nevertheless the author explored a fascinating concept about imagination and transformation and is told from the perspective of, Bibi Blair, a 22 year old woman diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.

Nothing is as it seems, the past, the present mix and as readers we easily could be overwhelmed by the numerous passages and the lengthy diatribes. Not my favourite and by far not a must read thriller…..

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"White Fang", by Jack London

First published in the early 1900, “White Fang” was an immediate success upon its release and throughout the years, generations of young and not so young readers enjoyed passing time getting to know the loveable wild wolfdog. The story is said from the viewpoint of the canine character and takes place in the Yukon Territory during the 1890’s Klondike Gold Rush.

This is a story of survival, trust, mistreatment, love, cruelty and kindness. With a range of emotions the author delved into the animal world and has given White Fang a strong personality with animal instincts. From the time he was born till many years later when he became tamed White Fang experienced domination, terror and love under the hands of three humans who shaped and molded him.

The descriptions are fascinating and very graphic. Some may say it is also quite rough. We are exposed to a lot of cruelty: sharp teeth that bites and bring pain and death, blood pouring out of throats of victims, beatings… etc. All said in the unique narrative of a wolf-dog. I never though this saga dragged, from page one I was captured by White Fang’s struggles through life and rooted for him till the very last page. This story is full of suspense and intrigues and most of all extremely gripping.

I loved this adventure in the wild. Jack London was a master in telling stories I am not surprised that his collection is still cherished and will be for a long time to come.

"Hunting You", by Ty Patterson

Book 7, in the Warriors series

Mr. Patterson has done it again… This latest suspense action thriller has managed to exhaust me with never ending action. In fact “Hunting You” is a bit too intense for my taste. Oh yes, the drama is quite riveting but so far-fetched I wonder if the players will ever run out of steam so I could take a breather….ouf

The plot is a roller coaster ride from page one but the plotting is very confusing and lackluster. Although the players may give us thrilling times, they action jumps all over the place. Maybe the fault is in the presentation, it does not flow smoothly, within the chapters every move is bunched up together: missing is a pause or a better pacing between sub-plots. The narration is simple and clear but the dialogue is rather choppy with burst of words here and there.

Now that I stated with my beef, for the good parts: great characterization Jeb Carter, the protagonist, is a stoic hero and super operative, his crew is as deadly as dynamite and as diversified as one can imagine. The bad guys are badasses and are lethal weapons ready to act at any cost. Of course the action is Mr. Patterson’s forte as in all the books Zeb makes clever moves and of course the action is ongoing from start to finish.

“Hunting You” is not my favourite it is nevertheless a good addition to a wonderful series

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Deviance", by J.F. Penn

Book 3, in the London Psychic trilogy

Tattoo is the theme explored in “Deviance” and with extensive research on the history of body modification Ms. Penn has created another very captivating episode for us to enjoy.

Jami Brooke and Blake Daniel are the two protagonists at the heart of this latest saga.

This is a great story that wraps up this wonderful trilogy. The author colourfully weaves suspense with supernatural/ paranormal and dives into the darkness of humanity. In the shady area of town, Jami and Blake meet sex trade workers, homeless people and folks with little to live for and are drawn into a series of brutal murders and disappearance. All the victims have one thing in common: they have elaborate tattoos and the skin of the murder victims has been carefully removed.

Yes, indeed a gruesome topic but also a fascinating look into life, death and sex. No explicit description and not as dark as the previous installment although some may be uncomfortable reading some parts, I simply loved every moment. This fast-paced action thriller is not only well-written and well researched it is filled with intrigue and peppered with spectacular twists and turns. The author is a master in blending unusual historical fact into a modern setting and has an exceptional talent for capturing the essence of good and evil and melting everything together to give us a very entertaining thriller to savour. The characterization is mesmerizing from the main players to the evil politician from street people to the officials all of them have the proper tone to act out their roles to a tee. First rate writing: bold, beautiful and horrific all together in living colours…..( I’m pushing :)).

I received this book from MS Penn 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.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"The Sekhmet Bed", by L.M. Ironside

Book 1, in the She-King series

This historical fiction delves deep into the history of Ancient Egypt and provides a modern twist so as readers we can enjoy the entertainment the story is meant to provide.

The series is a family saga of the Thutmosides, one of ancient Egypt’s most fascinating royal families. This first novel is about Ahmose, a deeply religious girl, chosen of the gods who has the ability to read prophetic dreams. Married at a very young age to General Thutmose, Ahmose has to share her husband with her elder sister Mutnofret who is his second wife. High drama brews in the household as Ahmose must fight to retain her authority as queen and the love of her husband.

The story is beautifully written, everything comes alive in a confident and poetic language. The characterization is nicely done and the players are well-rounded and fascinating. The descriptions are striking and appropriate: from the mosaic floors to the shining Nile waters. The story carries smoothly through the drama- filled lives although some scenes slip into melodrama. Of course there is romance but also discord both provides an exciting read.

The usual disclaimer at the end of the book tells us that many depictions in the story are in fact inspirational and factually incorrect. I am ok with blurring the lines as long as it is said.

“The Sekhmet Bed” is a highly imaginative tale and a good story to pass time with.

"Day of The Vikings", by J.F. Penn

Book 5, in the Arkane series

Although this novella may be the 5th of a series of thrillers it reads perfectly as a stand-alone and the adventure can be enjoyed if the topic interests you.

The story is fast paced and is one to leave us on the edge from page one as we follow the main characters Dr. Morgan Sierra and Blake Daniel on another thrilling ride. This time our heroes become trapped in a terrorist attack on the British Museum of London where they will witness ritualistic murder by Neo- Vikings.

This story is an exciting blend of fiction and facts although where the author’s imagination took over is really up to historian to say. The plot is gruesome, fast moving and exciting. The author’s magic touch brings to life ancient mysteries and turns folklore into an out of this world experience, although a tad of improbability is also chiseled into it to captivate us. The story is vividly described and is very visual a sure sign that Ms. Penn love her subject. We are also whisked across the British Isles with fine details and rich words.

Not being familiar with Neo-Vikings and their rituals did not hinder my enjoyment although I must say that this series as yet to win my heart but is slowly doing a good job in trying to.

The author has graciously provided this book for an honest review. My thoughts have not been influence by the offer. This is the way I see it.

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Nightfall over Shanghai", by Daniel Kalla

Book 3, in the Adler Family Trilogy

“Nightfall Over Shanghai “is the epic final chapter of the remarkable Adler family who fled to Shanghai along with 20,000 Jews and managed to survive there under surreal circumstances during WW11. The third installment opens in April 1944.

Mr. Kalla has written once more an exciting page-turner very hard to put aside. We follow the characters through their ordeals dealing with the Japanese and trying not to fall on their wrong side. Death is at every corner and dodging their wrath is not an easy task. When the end of the war seems near, the Adler’s faces a new challenge: whether to stay or leave Shanghai.

I admit it took some time remembering each recurring character but I fast overcame this challenge. I became so committed to each player and so enthralled in their saga that I kept flipping pages at a rapid pace to see what would happen to them next. The research and work invested in this story in order to be as close as possible to real events must have been extensive. Kudos Mr. Kalla you have captivated me and held my interest for hours. I loved the way you told the story, how you vividly described events and how colourfully you have painted your players: the good and evil ones.

To enjoy this trilogy at its most it is highly recommended to read it in sequence as we follow through the years the Adler family and some of their friends.

"Loyal to a Degree", by Horst Christian

Book 2, in “To a Degree Series”

“Loyal to a Degree” is a true account told from of the point of view of a young boy who experienced life during the Nazi Germany regime. This is a story about survival and loyalty.

Young boys were taken away from their parents and drafted against their wills into Hitler Youth at a very young age. Parents as well as boys had two choices: obey or die. So at 14, Karl Veth became member of Hitler Jugend and assistant leader of a KLV camp in Poland till the Russian army broke through the German lines. Karl then brought the boys under his command back to Berlin where he received new orders. In a chilling voice “Loyal to a Degree” recounts how Karl constantly relied on his wits to stay alive and had to make difficult decisions during the final days of WW11.

This is a very touching and incredible story in the days before and after the fall of Berlin. The level of details is fascinating. The author touches everything from getting food, finding shelter, dodging enemies to making everlasting friendships and looking for lost ones…. Although we are in an unspeakable time, the experiences lived in this book are so vividly told and said in such an entertaining way it was like watching a movie. This is an excellent read were the two main characters bring life to a terrifying landscape injecting some humour and a good measure of sanity in order to get through the trauma of war and escape with their lives.

Excellent book