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Friday, May 28, 2010

Jericho's Fall

Carter, Stephen.  Jericho's Fall.

I loved Carter's The Emperor of Ocean Park, but can't say the same for this novel.

Beck DeForde was the "young thing" that Jericho Ainsley gave up his marriage and career for, but their affair was short-lived.  And perhaps Ainsley didn't really give up his career for Beck; there may have been other reasons behind the former CIA Director's original fall from grace.

His paranoia has become even more advanced in the 15 years following the affair, and when Jericho is dying, he wants to talk to Beck.  Is his paranoia justified?

At any rate, Beck goes to his isolated mountain home and joins Jericho's 2 daughters in caring for the "former Everything."  Finding herself an object of interest to a number of people is disconcerting for Beck...what do they think Jericho summoned her to his bed side to reveal? Does it endanger her?

I found characters and plot lacking in believability.

Fiction.  Mystery/Political Thriller.  2009.  351 pages.

The Red Door

Todd, Charles.  The Red Door.

I find this series uneven; I will really enjoy one novel, then be less impressed with the next. The effects of shell-shock and guilt that have burdened Ian Rutledge since the war (WWI) are lessening a bit, and Hamish has been quieter in the last couple of novels.

There are a lot of characters and plot twists, but I found it difficult to care deeply about any of the characters, even the who truly deserved deep sympathy.  Todd did his best to give the victim a human touch, but for me, she still seemed a nebulous personality.

The case begins when Walter Teller disappears from an exclusive clinic.  Rutledge has difficulty getting information from the family (his brothers and sisters have gone in search of Walter); eventually, Walter Tellers appears again, with no memory of where he's been.

A Mrs. Peter Teller in Lancashire is murdered.  Rutledge goes to her small village to try to discover if she has any relation to his current case.  Guess what?  She does.  More people die.  I didn't really care.

Fiction.  Mystery.  2010. 344 pages.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nothing to Lose

Child, Lee.  Nothing to Lose.

Jack Reacher again.  Between the literal and metaphorical towns of Hope and Despair, Reacher does his usual thing of defeating the bad guys regardless of the odds.

Also as usual, a fast read, pulling the reader head first (and sometimes kicking and screaming in this one) as Reacher in his usual super-heroic fashion,  performs deed of derring-do and foolishness by taking on anyone who gets in his way.

As usual, his descriptions of place are outstanding.

What was not as usual was that he couldn't quite convince me in this one.  Believe, I'm easy to convince concerning Reacher novels, but the plot in this one was just over-the-top.  Difficult to comprehend (it being a Reacher novel in which all of the plots are over-the-top) but sadly, I couldn't quite scale the heights here.

On the other hand, it moved fast, was suspenseful, and I wouldn't have dreamed of stepping away from it.  'Cause this old lady is committed to Reacher, up or down.

Fiction.  Action/Thriller.  2008.  407 pages.

Catalyst: A Tale of the Baroque Cats

McCaffrey, Anne, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.  Catalyst: A Tale of the Baroque Cats.

Baroque Cats are highly valued by their crews because they keep the vermin down in space ships and  detect hazardous leaks.  Each space ship has a Cat Person in charge of the vessel's cat, and Janina is the Cat Person aboard the Molly Daise, caring for and loving the Baroque Cat Chessie.

Chessie is about to deliver another litter of prized kits when she is catnapped.  Janina is devastated and begins her search for the cat who has become a mainstay in her life.

Chessie, however, has been given as a gift to Jubal by his thieving con-man of a father.  When Chessie's kittens are born, there is an instant bond between Jubal and Chester.  They discover they can communicate telepathically--a unique situation even among the aristocratic Baroque Cats.

My favorite character?  Chester!  His egocentric kitty personality made me smile, time and time again.  The authors did a great job giving him voice and making him charming and silly and completely endearing.

There are iridescent bugs, a manufactured plague, impoundment of animals, a strange alien cat named Pshaw-Ra, adventure, and suspense.

Another one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge--I think it is more fantasy than science fiction even if it is set in space.  Then next in the series is Catacombs, and I'm eager to continue this series about Baroque Cats (especially Chester)!

(I thought I'd scheduled this one to post on the 25th, but somehow saved it as a draft...so here it is)

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2010.  256 pages.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Plague of Secrets

Lescroart, John.  A Plague of Secrets.

I'm definitely a fan of Lescroart's Dismas Hardy series.  I love Dismas, a defense lawyer, and his friends, especially Abe Glitsky and Wes Farrell.

This was not my favorite, but that doesn't mean it isn't good -- Lescroart is always good.  His novels are interesting, informative, suspenseful legal thrillers.

His recurring characters are always well-developed, but Abe and Wes and several others played small roles in this novel.  For me, they are such a huge part of the world Lescroart creates that it is disappointing not to have them play larger parts in A Plague of Secrets.  I do like the way that characters from past novels often show up again, which adds to the reality of the world of Dismas Hardy

Another quibble (remember, I'm quibbling, 'cause I love this series; this is #20, and I have high hopes for many more)-- is that this novel seems less dense

I have not read a Lescroart novel that I didn't like, but he sets a pretty high standard for himself.  :)

Fiction.  Legal Thriller.  2010.  512 pages.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hounding the Moon

Frost, P.R.  Hounding the Moon.

I almost put this aside (along with at least 3 other fantasy novels that didn't appeal), but instead, I continued.

Not sure what to say to explain my feelings.  Initially, it actually grated on my nerves, but somehow, it kept enough of a pull to keep me reading. 

There were quite a few elements that I didn't care for at all and the plot seemed a combination of too much death and too much silliness to be coherent (there is a little bit of EVERYTHING)...and yet, I kept reading.  The novel was Frost's debut effort, and maybe she was eventually be able to find better tempo and feeling of authenticity because there are at least two more of her Tess Noncoire novels.

Another one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Fiction.  Fantasy/Supernatural.  2007.  385 pages.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Niffeneggar, Audrey.  Her Fearful Symmetry.

I enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife, but didn't love it as so many did.  I read it right after it was published in 2004, but my ultimate reaction was disappointment.  Somehow it just didn't pull things together in a way that satisfied me.

Her Fearful Symmetry evoked the same feelings.  I was thoroughly enjoying the novel, and then a turn of events...and I was no longer enjoying it.  What was coming was no longer unpredictable.  Then the odd attempt to present another face on the events at the end...

Another one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Fiction.  Fantasy/Supernatural.  2009.  416 pages.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spellwright

Charlton, Blake.  Spellwright.

A debut novel with more to come in this series about a young, apprentice spellwright who has a disability that causes him to mangle the language of spells.  He is a cacographer, unable to spell correctly.  The fascinating aspect for me is that Charlton is using his own disability, dyslexia, as the basis for this fantasy.

Nicodemus Weal, the young apprentice, is aware that his dream of becoming a fully operational wizard is beyond his ability, but yearns for ability to translate spells effectively.  Then, when murder and mayhem, descend on Starhaven, the possibility that Nico is more than he seems becomes both evident and very dangerous.

The beginning was a bit slow,  but things pick up and Nico's attachment to his mentor and friends force him to attempt the defeat of great evil.

Although I found the novel a bit uneven, it was highly entertaining, and I look forward to discovering more in the next installment.

Again, one of the most interesting aspects involves the author's own disability and his remarkable triumph over it!

Another one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.

I am desperately trying to get caught up on my reviews!

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2010.  352 pages.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Troll Blood

Langrish, Katherine.  Troll Blood.

I thought I had the first two in the series, but actually had the first and third.  At any rate, you may recall that I said Troll Fell was for children and would make a nice read aloud book for elementary students..  The books, however, seem to grow with the characters, and Troll Blood appealed to me in a way that was completely different.  While still entirely suitable for grades 5-8, the characters are so much better developed.  Nice, isn't it, when characters grow?

Peer and Hilde are older and more complicated.  Their adventure has a great deal of historical truth as well as the mixture of myth and legend.  Great fantasy, but also a nice mixture of character development, suspense, and adventure with historical information easily available.

Most young people, from 7-17, love Viking tales, and Peer, Hilde, and the Nis play their part in a very exciting adventure.  There are good people and bad people, and the ever-present mix of people who contain both good and bad.  Each individual character became just that--an individual.

My favorite character?  The Nis!  By the time Peer has calmed the frightened, confused kidnapped Nis by telling him that as the first Nis to go to sea, he deserves the name of "Nithing the Seafarer"--the Nis becomes the most endearing of all the characters for me.  His personality blooms! 

Peer's concern for the Nis's feelings and self-image is also charming and demonstrates Peer's gentle, humorous humanity.

This is a series that can grow with a young person.  I'd enjoy reading Troll Fell aloud to a child at the younger end of the spectrum, but  Troll Blood is a pleasure for any age to read.

Katherine Langrish has also included a glossary, sources (both primary and secondary) for Viking life and customs, for Scandinavian  folklore, for Native American life and customs, folklore and legends. 

Another one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Fiction.  Fantasy/Myth.  2007. 332 pages.
Devi, Nischala Joy.  The Healing Path of Yoga.

 I enjoyed this book and will be reading back over it with a highlighter in hand.  A lot of the information is not new to me, but as usual, sometimes the way the information is disclosed can make a difference, and there were many places where I felt Devi's words had more of an impact on me that the same ideas in other format.  Another benefit was that there were so many places that, as a yoga teacher, I felt that Devi's words would make things clearer to students.  Finally, the reason some of the ideas are so familiar to us today is because of Nischala Devi's work.

Devi has plenty of experience in using yoga to help those who are ill, as she helped Dr. Michael Lerner develop yoga-based retreats for the Commoweal Cancer Help Program.  She was also requested by Dr. Dean Ornish to create yoga practices specifically for patients with heart disease.

Scientists and the medical community are aware of the benefits of yoga and tai chi in relieving stress, in physical conditioning, in healing relaxation techniques, and in overall wellness today-- and part of the reason is the work that Nischala Devi has done.

Here are two celebrity opinions of her work:

"Whether you have never practiced yoga and meditation or you practice daily, Nischala Devi will help bring you to the next level. Her extensive knowledge and calming manner come through as beautifully in this book as in person. Nischala offers tools you can use that will benefit you for the rest of your life."      
-- Clint Eastwood

" As the caregiver of a cancer survivor, I know firsthand the healing light of Nischala Devi's teachings. Now they come alive for countless others in a book of her distilled experience, beautifully expressed."
-- Gail Sheehy


I don't usually include this kind of endorsement concerning a book, but have a feeling that neither of these individuals would make the statements unless they were sincere.


Nonfiction.  Yoga.  2000. 230 pages.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hunter, Erin.  Warriors:  Into the Wild.

Another Once Upon a Time Challenge book, Into the Wild is also for young children, but is a great read for adults as well.  And if you are a lover of felines, this is definitely for you.  Recommended for grades 5 and up.

Rusty, a young domestic cat, has strange dreams and longs to move beyond his boundaries into the woods.  When he does, he comes face-to-face with one of the feral cats that the "kittypets" all fear.  Fortunately, his opponent is also young, curious, and good-natured.  When some of the older members of the Thunder Clan join them, Rusty is given the option of joining the clan.

He does and is renamed Firepaw.  While initially facing reluctance to accept him in varying degrees, young Firepaw proves a diligent apprentice and eventually becomes a seasoned warrior as the Thunderclan must defend their territory from the Shadowclan.

Wonderful characters, suspense, adventure!  I'm quite addicted to the characters and will be reading more in this series! 

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2003.  272 pages.
Langrish, Katherine.  Troll Fell.

This one is for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.  Troll Fell is a book for older children and would make a great read-aloud, a chapter a night book.

Set in the time of the Vikings, poor Peer is left an orphan when his father dies.  Sad and grieving, he attends his father's funeral.  If things weren't bad enough, one of his wicked uncles shows up and claims him, frightening the villagers who try to protect Peer into submission.

Friendless and lonely, he must work for his disgusting twin uncles.  Eventually, he finds a friend in Hilde, a young girl about his own age.  However, when he discovers that his uncles plan to sell both Peer and Hilde to the Troll King...

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2004.  317 pages.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Catching Up

Whew!  I've caught up on 3 April reads and only have a couple more to go.  Not much reading going on around here lately...and even fewer reviews!

My library books are dreadfully over due, and I ended up abandoning 3 of the ones I checked out. 

So what have I been doing with my time:  yoga, gardening, learning to hoop, and making dolls.  The end of March and beginning of April, I made crowns.  From mid-April on, it has been dolls. 
Oh, and there are more and more on the way.  I never really enjoyed playing with dolls, but boy, making them is fun!
Alexander, Tasha.  Tears of Pearl.

Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves are on their honeymoon, but their first night in Constantinople finds them attempting to discover who murdered a harem girl.  Colin is a British Diplomat which enable Emily to gain access to the women of the harem.

A Victorian lady interviewing women in a Turkish harem...good thing Lady Emily is much more open-minded than most of the women in Victorian society! 

The murderer is out for vengeance and has the ability to arrange murders both inside and outside of the harem. 

Too many coincidences, the sweetness of the romance without the spark of previous novels, and an overall blandness disappointed me in the latest in the series about Lady Emily and Colin.  I've enjoyed all of the previous novels about the couple, but this one didn't live up to my expectations.

Fiction.  Mystery/Historical.  2009.  306 pages.

French, Nicci.  Until It's Over.

Astrid Bell is a bike messenger and has been living with two of her housemates for years.  There are other, more recent, additions to the group.

When first one murder, then another occurs, the relationships within the group become harder to decipher.  Is one of them a murderer?  All connections appear to point to Astrid, but who is really behind the deaths and why?

Fiction.  Mystery.  2007.  378 pages.

The Coldest Blood

Kelly, Jim.  The Coldest Blood.

Phillip Dryden is a reporter for a small town in the Cambridgeshire Fens.  When Declan McIlroy's body is found, the police rule it suicide, but Dryden finds the verdict curious and does some investigating on his own.

When Declan's best friend also turns up dead, Dryden is determined to discover the reason.  At the same time, Dryden is also investigating allegations of abuse concerning a Catholic orphanage. 

Twist after twist in this novel, including the fact that Dryden's wife appears to be emerging from years in a coma...

Fiction.  Mystery.  2007.  342 pages.