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 »

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"The Nightingale", by Kristin Hannah

This epic and breathtaking journey transports us to France during World War 11 and is one of the most powerful stories I have read in a long time. This is one of those unforgettable stories that will leave some a little choked up with its extraordinarily vivid and evocative scenes. The narrative will stay with you for many weeks after turning the last page.

It opens in 1995 with an old woman looking backward at her past and taking us through her life in France during the German occupation and in flashback segments we have a heart-pounding tale of two sisters, Isabella and Vianne, who needed to survive the horrors of war and the devastating choices they learn to make. Which sister is reminiscing, we won’t find out till the very end.

This story is based on a real Belgian woman who did what Isabella (the main player) did. Isabella made a difference by joining the Resistance to shepherd downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain and Vianne journey is less dramatic but no less wrenching, risking her life to save many Jewish children from deportation. This character driven novel showcases the actions of women who are willing to risk their lives for children, friends and strangers. Are we heroes or cowards? Are we loyal to the people we love most or do we betray them? These are the questions explored with probing finesse and great heart in “The Nightingale”. There is a lot to this book and is absolutely riveting. Not only it is an emotionally inspiring it is also informative.

This haunting, action-packed and compelling story is a must read book.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Mata Hari's Last Dance", by Michelle Moran

In this latest tale inspired by Mata Hari, Michelle Moran brings to life the infamous and enigmatic dancer, courtesan and suspected spy. In the narrative we follow Margaretha Zelle MacLeod “M’greet” better known as Mata Hari rise to fame as a dancer and courtesan to the decline of her career and finally her fall from grace as she is accused of espionage.

Michelle Moran is one of my favourite historical fiction writers, this time she brings to the forefront the lives of strong, independent women to WW1 and has giving us a vivid look at how they lived in a stifling era. M’greet had a hard start in life and to escape her fate she created the mystic that became Mata Hari, used her charms to conquer men’s devotion and spent her time dancing and horizontally entertaining them. Although, Ms. Moran’s fast-paced tale is not graphic at all it does leave a vivid impression. M’grett promiscuous, flirtatious and carefree lifestyle captivated not only her audience but a myriad of male admirers from high ranking military officers, politicians and powerful men in influential position in many countries….. In time of war it was a dangerous way of life and in February 1917 spy agent H21 known as Mata Hari was taken into custody, later to be accused and put to death.

This book is not overly taxing and is rather short (less than 300 pages) In fact I think Ms. Moran made a right decision to cut short her narrative. Too many dances, too many conquers to describe would have made this story boring by focusing on the important points and getting the point across we have the base needed to better know who was Mata Hari, her background and who she became. Well-done Ms. Moran

Thank you Simon& Schuster and NetGalley for the ARC “This is the Way I see it” my thoughts are mine and have not been influenced by the offer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"End of Watch", by Stephen King

Book 3, in the Bill Hodges Trilogy

We have reached the last chapter in a trilogy focusing on retired detective Bill Hodges. Since “Mr. Mercedes” and “Finders Keepers”, Bill and his sidekick Holly Gibney have run a private investigation agency and in this latest compelling and chilling drama they are back on the trail of Bill’s Evil nemesis Brady Hartfield. Although it makes the experience richer to have read the earlier novels, this 3rd installment works fine as a stand-alone.

No one combines human vulnerability into a chilling suspense the way Mr. King’s does and the results is often unnerving and heart-pounding supernatural suspense hard to put down. In “The End of Watch” his abilities are in full flow and what has started out as a straight detective mystery has turned out into one of those horror dramas he is better known for. The king of horror has turned inanimate objects into something terrifying. A game on the Zappit console becomes a brainwashing programme taking control of the player’s mind….Brady Hartfield, the twisted killer rendered comatose in “Mr. Mercedes” has found a new way to make people kill themselves…..

Bill has been obsessed with the idea that Brady can somehow pull out of his predicament while pretending to still be in a state of deep unconsciousness and this notion haunts Bill and Holly…..which leads to another intriguing and chilling mystery, a recipe for Internet fueled hysteria and a tick-tock race and nail-biting moments to the roaring satisfying conclusion…..

Good finish to a series I enjoyed

Thursday, August 11, 2016

"The Hesitation Cut", by Giles Blunt

In this psychological thriller, a standalone novel , Mr. Blunt has shifted his attention to New York, stepped away from his compelling police procedure and has given us a unique perspective on the world of obsessed stalker.

From serene atmosphere of a monastery to the frantic pace of the Big Apple the plot is built around two brilliantly developed characters: Brother William, a Benedictine monk and Lauren Wolfe, a novelist doing research. As the story gets under way brother William (30 years old) meets Lauren at the abbey’s library and becomes so smitten that he abandons the monastery and moves to Manhattan where Lauren lives…and as we turned the pages this beautifully written novel builds tension with layer after layer, incident after incident, with more misdirection and plot twists in order to satisfy mystery lovers. The book is a challenging one and provides a suspenseful treatment of a difficult thought-provoking subject. We have some scenes of violence and some of sex although we know that a collision between two obsessed lovers is inevitable and rarely ends well, Mr. Blunt brilliant revelation is withhold until the final pages. The novel is superbly-drawn to portray human frailty…

If you are looking for the usual “Whodunit” mystery you will be highly disappointed and missing out on a most interesting and captivating story…..Put John Cardinal out of your mind and enjoy this psychological thriller…..

"The Two Sisters of Borneo", by Ian Hamilton

Book # 6, in the Ava Lee Mystery

In “The Two Sisters of Borneo” the relationship between Ava and her mentor plays a good part and offers us one of the most emotional installment to date.

Uncle, a former Triad boss is dying and Ava is looking after him….when other problems surfaces… After investing into a Bornean furniture company Ava falls victims to a suspected fraud and needs to go all out in her usual manner to follow the money trail that will lead her to Amsterdam and to Kota Kinabalu…and of course we are for a treat following her exploits.

As in the predecessors we find a plot that is complex and fast-paced, the writing style is strong, clever and involving. Ava is still the kick-ass protagonist we came to love since her first appearance. Of course Mr. Hamilton adds strong travel elements and doesn’t not disappoint with rich details and descriptions of Hong Kong delicacies and locales.

As far as I am concerned this is a highly addictive series and I could only blame the author for that. The plots have the perfect balance and are fun to read. The story ends with a twist and opens to door for a new player to take the mentoring role….will see.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Gates of Hell", by J.F. Penn

Book 6, in the Arkane series

J. F. Penn takes on a scary journey none of us would like to experience and to a place where few would like to visit…… to the Gates of Hell.

Miss Penn delves into religion of all sects and spins exceptional stories filled with knowledge into a thrilling action packed adventure and seamlessly weave archaeology, geography and culture into her lively and dynamic plot. If you haven’t read the previous books have no fear to pick up at this point, each book stands on its own and blends perfectly within the series. We do have a small wrap up to set the stage and to remind us of happened previously in each installment.

Morgan the main protagonist is joined once again with Jake and as they overcome one obstacle after the other we are for one of those thrilling, scary, mythical ride. The setting is magical and Ms. Penn knows how to phrase her ideas with haunting effects and other interesting components to imprint in our mind pictures in ways only a passionate author can do. There are a lot of paranormal elements wrap up around historical ones and numerology plays a good part here. All this is written in a fluid and dramatic style, vividly describing supernatural elements, myths, and symbology…. For those into mystical dramas this is definitely a treat.

I have a moderate taste regarding spooky adventures but after reading a few books I developed an affinity regarding Ms. Penn’s excellent style and captivating topics…

"Stealing the Future", by Max Hertzberg

An East German Spy Story

Book 1, in East Berlin Trilogy

“Stealing the Future” is an ambitious counterfactual thriller that depicts what would happen if the East German had refused unification with West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This fiction is definitely an exciting and richly imagine story narrated by Martin Globe, who works for a counter-espionage service and has been tasked to look into the murder of a prominent politician in West Silesia. The story is set over 10 days.

This book is not your standard spy novel and is quite stimulating. The author certainly knows the area and has vividly captured a period where a population was struggling to keep their dreams of freedom alive. The characters are superbly drawn and I could easily visualize how they got caught into a crisis that involves the Stati, the KGB and British Intelligent among other colourful players they encountered.

This gritty and mostly hopeful story may have a slow start but once the stage is set, the characters introduced and the perfect atmosphere created I couldn’t help but to be intrigued and pulled into one of those gripping portrayal of a young country and its people trying to rebuilt their society.

I am looking forward to book 2

"Tokyo Girl", by Brian Harvey

Book 2, in the Frank Ryan Mystery

“Tokyo Girl” is the follow-up to “Beethoven’s Tenth”, featuring reluctant sleuth Frank Ryan.

This is an entertaining and quick read which I received an advance copy for review from “Orca Book Publishers” through the Early Reviewer Program. This book is a paperback of less than 150 pages in a huge font that can be easily read and enjoyed by anyone over the age of 16. “This is the Way I see it”, the offer does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In a few words:

At the end the first book “Beethoven’s Tenth “, Frank had to flee British Columbia after things got out of hand to only end up the target of the Yaskuza family ……not a good thing if you are a pianist. “Tokyo Girl” tells in short terms what Frank is up against.

This “Rapid Reads” is short, well-written with no fuss and no extra words to bog down the flow. The plot has all the good elements wrapped in a few words with a few twists to keep us on our toes. Being a short story everything is a bare minimum, not much character and plot development but having said this, the story is nevertheless captivating and one I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Monday, August 1, 2016

"Stranger in Town", by Cheryl Bradshaw

Book 4, in the Sloane Monroe mysteries

Although this book is the 4th in a series it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone. So no worry if you start here you will warm up to the lead character from the get-go and you will want to know what makes her tick.

When I first read the synopsis, the fiction premise based on real events picked my curiosity and at first glance the story of abducted children intrigued me so much I needed to see how the author would spin her tale and deliver it to her audience. Being my first experience with the author I didn’t know what to expect and I can now say I enjoyed this well-turned out mystery and I will keep an eye on Ms. Bradshaw from now on.

The premise in a nutshell:

Private eye (Sloane Monroe) with basic grammar skills looks for two kidnapped girls in small town, and gets cozy with the Sheriff’s son.

This is a smooth and gripping storyline that keeps a steady tempo from the opening phrases and gradually pulls one in with its vivid characters and its gut wrenching plot. The first person narrative makes the experience lively and realistic. There are no twists to talk about and one can easily see how the drama will develop and that our protagonist will save the day…..Mrs. Bradshaw made a light story out of a terrible topic so we can digest the touching subject of kidnapping, human trafficking, illegal adoption, selling of children and body parts for profit.