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, January 30, 2017

"Booker:Streets of Mayhem", by John W. Mefford

Book #1, In the Booker series

This story features a private detective with attitude who shows a rebellious streak and is determined to solve cases handled to him. Dallas is where all the action takes place and where Booker will do anything in his power to protect the people living in this city. But even with the best of intention, Booker is dragged from one situation to another and faces seedy situations that seem insurmountable. He is tested to his limits when a white supremacist group claims responsibility for an explosion on a bus killing fifteen people mostly children, fracturing the community and setting panic in the city….and this is just the beginning….

This novel is simply a roller-coaster ride filled with crackling action and suspense. Mr. Mefford slowly introduces his protagonist and letting us know him before plunging us into unexpected twists and turns so captivating it is hard not to stay riveted to the pages. I was hooked from the start and I simply couldn’t help but to zip through wanting to see who was responsible for these terrible acts of terrorism. To better know the players the story is told alternately from the point of view of Booker and the person responsible for the bombings. Although the story flows fast, it is smooth and well-written with all the great elements a thriller needs in order to capture and hold its reader till the very last page: “Booker” has it, no doubts…

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Waiting for First Light:My Ongoing battle with PTSD", by Roméo Dallaire

A piercing memoir

Most of us are well acquainted with Roméo Dallaire (especially Canadians) and how he devoted his heart and soul to his work. This former Canadian senator, humanitarian and lieutenant-general who was the military commander of the UN during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 reminds us in his account how he will seek to explore what the events have done to him since he came back. The genocide is fully described in an early book “Shake Hands with the Devil” and a subsequent book “They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children” are a must to read.

In “Waiting for First Light”, Mr. Dallaire takes us from the point he was relieved from his command through his released from the Forces on medical ground (PTSD) in 2000 till today as a civilian. He also served from 2005-2015 as a Liberal senator and how he tried desperately to influence the ways Veteran Affairs operates….and impossible task he later confirmed….

Traumatized by witnessing genocide his nights are invaded by despair and nightmare he simply couldn’t sleep. In 1994 no one saw PTSD for what it was. At any moment he was pitched into a living memory back in Rwanda. He struggled day and night with visons. His mental and emotional anguish lead him on a path to alcohol abuse, overeating and many suicide attempts. Although his PTSD left untreated for too long became permanent but with medication and therapy he managed to push forward the many causes he had at heart and helped to comfort the others walking a similar path. He has risen from the depths and returned as an inspiration.

This book is quite an emotional journey: sad, heartbreaking and soul-wrenching. It is terrible to know that the Canadian government and military authorities do not recognize the negative impact PTSD has on its service personal and are slow they are to provide all the help needed. Well maybe there is hope things will change…..

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Jet (Jet, #1), by Russell Blake

Book # 1, in the Jet series

This story is Hot Hot, action packed from start to finish mayhem around 50% of the book with a bit of romance thrown into a very captivating drama. What is not to like for a thrill junky as myself. “Jet” provides everything I like in this type of books: expertize in clandestine enterprises, minutia details in action, equipment and scenery, in your face action, a hot assassin and it goes on and on. Of course you need to enjoy a fast-paced story with lots of shooting, stabbing, blowing up people….the bang-bang definitely is at the driver seat….If you love spy/assassin adventure this series if for you. Prepare to start running at the opening page and not stop till the very end…

The scenes play out like an action movie: very visual and exciting. The prose is clear and straightforward” in all an easy read. Although the protagonist is a female the author does not go sexist or ridicule his character, her sex happens to be incidental. She is definitely a woman you don’t want to mess around with: she is lethal if you cross her and very intimidating most of the time. Jet is an ex-Mossad operative, who kicks ass in one of the best action sequences I have read in a long time.

Of course this is a heart-pounding thriller with unique twists only Mr. Blake can deliver. The scenes also combined opulence and glamour and hard hitting black ops tradecraft we will ever see.

This is definitely a humdinger of a thriller

"The Oracle Philon", by Gerald J. Kubicki & Kristopher Kubicki

Reading the Kubickis books you need to put reality aside and not search for technical issues, redundancy or great literature, none would be found in these books. But what we have is an entertaining original story with out of this world action that never cease.

Although “The Oracle Philon” may be part of the Colton Banyon series it casts a new set of characters into the heart of a story that follows the same patterns: plenty of dimwit oversexed females, strong armed good guys as superheroes, bad guys usually terrorists or white supremacists doing bad things and never succeeding and most of all lots of bang-bangs.

Having said this, the base of the story is good: Something is happening to the weather. Catastrophic events are occurring all over the world. The events are manmade…. The MAD team is called to investigate.

The plot is exciting, fast-paced, intriguing and filled with unique twists to keep us entertained and very weird things. Although this book is a completely work of fiction it is peppered with facts and insights into the “Radical Islamic” terrorism issue, a hot topic. Philon was an ancient scholar with a number of inventions credited to him that others improved. In this story we have magnetic Vortices, mention of the Bermuda Triangle, subject of ESP and many more supernatural phenomena to spook us.

Entertaining as usual.

Being a member of the authors’ launch team a copy of this book was provided for an honest and fair review.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

"Mother Nile", by Warren Adler

This is an enticing tale of Egypt’s politics during the reign of King Farouk. With historical facts as background Mr. Adler as created an amazing story not only how the King was involved in criminal activities but how his lust for power and his desire for sex has affected those he picked and choose for his evening prowess.

The story is told through the eyes of Farrah, the King favorite dancer, her son Si who is consumed by the need to find out what happened to his sister he didn’t know he had after his mother told him of her hidden past and a twisted man named Zakki who was Farrah’s pimp. The story is primarily set in Cairo of today and is told overtime from their viewpoints as we follow Si’s on a treacherous journey for the truth.

This rich and dark often disturbing saga is written in powerful prose, intense descriptions of revenge, greed, lust, murder, torture and love are showcased throughout although they are not overly graphic. The central plot moves forward at a steady and satisfying pace with a myriad of conflicts exposing to seedier sides of Cairo. Mr. Adler’s ability with words brings us an unimaginable world filled with smells, sights and sounds. The characters’ actions are fitting and quite understandable making them real and vulnerable. We have a whirlwind of mix emotions that slowly sneak up on us while reading. This story is so skillfully drawn to pull us in from the start and keep us captive till the very end. It becomes hard not to be invested by what is happening, I know I simply couldn’t put this engrossing and engaging novel down. I wouldn’t be surprise to see this novel be made into a movie one day……

I received an advance copy of this book as a gift from the author.

Monday, January 9, 2017

"A Siege of Bitterns", by Steve Burrows

Book #1, in Birder Murder Mystery

“A Siege of Bitterns” is a dazzling birder murder mystery set in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh at the heart of Britain’s birding country. Whether you are a birder or not this combination of bird-watching and murder is a fun and engaging light read.

This book is a pretty quick read with little blood and no graphic scenes. We tag along with the main character, Detective Chief Inspector Dominic Jejeune, a Canadian, considered an outsider by his colleague of the UK Police Service as he follows a highly publicized case. But our intrepid Dominic would rather be bird-watching than investigating the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. The pace is rather slow with burst of activities through the marshes and forests that leads in circles and off the beaten path. Along the way we do learn interesting tidbits about birds and how ruthlessly competitive the birding community is. The novel also provides quite an education on salt-marshes and their contamination.

The story is original, well-constructed, clever and exciting. The characters are real, quite believable and overall well-rounded. The author has also set beautifully an atmospheric scene including depictions of the ecosystem and its biodiversity. “A Siege of Bitterns” is a smart murder investigation that peels its layers upon layers till it reaches its conclusion. Being the first in a series we know from the outset there is more to come….good start.

My thanks to Dundurn Publishers for sending me a copy of this book

Friday, January 6, 2017

"In Wartime:Stories from Ukraine", by Tim Judah

This is a grim and vivid human portrait of a society drained by years of war and corruption. “In Wartime” is a reminder that war is not only fought in the Middle East. From interviews with civilians, poets, political scientists and a wide range of people who have been caught up in the conflict Mr. Judah, a distinguished journalist, has written a timely account of life in Ukraine since March 2014.

The book opens in a taut and informative first person account as he makes his way across Ukraine, from Lviv in the west, south of Odessa, Bessarabia and Donetsk in the east, and tells the stories of people he meets and delivers a rare glimpse into the reality behind the headlines. This civil war which began in the wake of the Maiden Revolution was secondary to the fact that lives were getting worse in a country that was hardly poor, but it was a country so rife with corruption it was going to the dogs and civilians were suffering. A huge numbers of people have now fled the country, mostly the educated young, leaving in their wake and economic death.

If the author’s aim was to let us know what Ukraine feels like today, he succeeded through personal stories and a historical reality check. The main strength in this book is in its detail work, its pathos and in the violence described. Mr. Judah also explains what happened in the region during WW11 and the important connection to the present day. There is a lot to this book and is a challenge to follow the author criss-crossing the country, although at intervals the author added maps to locate us, I thought it wise to have my Atlas open on Ukraine just the same. What also piqued my interest immensely were numerous photos of people and events that were added that reinforced everything. At the end of the book we have notes of explanation and sources as references.

This book is ambitious in scope, thoughtful, effective, fast-paced and very topical.

Mr. Judah is a war correspondent that covered the Balkans wars for the Economist in the 1990’s. “In Wartime” is drawn from his experience during that conflict.

I received this book for free from “Blogging for Books” via Edelweiss for this honest and unbiased review

"Point of No Return", by Martha Gellhorn

Originally published in 1948, this novel from renowned WW11 correspondent Martha Gellhorn is as absorbing now as it was when it first came out.

This tightly drawn, both tender and tough story follows a U.S Army infantry battalion in Europe through the last months of WW11, especially one of its soldiers, Jacob Levy. A young man of Jewish heritage who will confront the horrors of the Holocaust and tells how he had to come to terms with what he experienced. The often graphic scenes focus on a few other individuals and through their eyes we see action and its consequences as they describe what is happening. Through daydreaming often the men fantasied about better days, their sweetheart and life after the war. Their dreams although clean were explicit and rather repetitive. I presume there wasn’t much to do during down time for the boys but fantasize and in this story they did lots of it.

One part of this story is the typical war romance with a handsome and naïve protagonist and non-English speaking woman and the other part is a serious Holocaust novel with the horrors of Dachau and the realities of war. The novel includes an afterword where Martha Gellhorn tells us her own experiences as a war correspondent that went to Dachau soon after the Americans discovered its existence. The author wrote this novel with a keen eye for details and an awareness of how war affects everyone caught in its path.

Thank you to Open Road Integrated Media and NetGalleys for the opportunity to read and review this book

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days", by Will Bashor

Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

This unique account of an intriguing period of history is meticulously researched to give us the most accurate version of the events and is so cleverly crafted it manages to read like a novel. Drawing from records Mr. Basher has captured what Marie-Antoinette may have endured during the two and half month imprisonment prior to her execution.

The book begins on the 2nd of august 1793 the Marie- Antoinette was escorted from the temple to the Conciergerie, known as the “waiting room for the guillotine”. The depiction of this horrible place is felt throughout the Queen’s ordeal: worm infested straw mattress, acrid and musty smell, filthy environment where rats loved to nibble on you (just to name some discomfort). The perilous situation Marie-Antoinette found herself is brilliantly and vividly captured with images, drawing and supportive footnotes. There were failed plans to rescue her with terrible consequences for those who attempted. Even kindness towards her was a death warrant.

The Reign of Terror is a fascinating period in history. Mr. Bashor relates in details the Queen’s daily life of confinement from her elongated stay in the infamous waiting room of the guillotine, to her trial and the fatal tumbril ride through the streets that ended on the scaffold. She was well surrounded with thousands of people some innocent and some not too much facing the public executioner and the “National Razor”.

Thank you to Rowan & Littlefield and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.