Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

God of Internet by Lynn Lipinski

We all know how vulnerable we are, as individuals and as a nation, as a result of our dependence on the internet.  G0d_of_Internet is the title of the novel and the chosen epithet of the cyber terrorist who releases a worm that will impact millions of people.  The Islamic Crusade claims responsibility, and the good guys are scrambling to prevent future attacks.

White hat hackers and Homeland Security scramble to unravel the code and create a defense against the worm that has been unleashed into thousands of computers and continues to proliferate, contaminating computers worldwide.  

The first evidence appears in the water supplies of cities like Los Angeles and Dallas.  Then come the problems with power and light.  The first attacks are instigated, then corrected, because the attacks are threats intended to prove what the worm is capable of doing to the nation's infrastructure.  And worse is yet to come if the demands are not met.

The name of the terrorist who wrote the code is not given immediately, but it is not difficult to figure out--the author is not really trying hide the perpetrator from the reader.  

In addition to the cyber attacks, the family life of Juliana and her husband Mahaz is deteriorating.  Juliana suspects her husband's infidelity, a problem she must set aside as she deals with her seventeen-year-old son's too frequent life-threatening complications from hydrocephalus.    

 G0d_of_Internet does a good job of keeping the reader riveted to a fast-moving plot that echoes the fears of those who are doing their best to prevent this kind of attack from happening.  The romance feels false, but the tension of the novel is genuine and thought-provoking.


Suspense.  Aug. 16, 2016.  Print length:  245 pages.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Three Thrillers

Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta is the second in a series, and I have not read the first.  It combines murder, conspiracy, the supernatural, and homegrown terrorism.   In Montana, a woman is kidnapped. In Florida, Markus Novak begins trying to untangle the events that led to his wife's murder two years earlier.  

Markus goes to Cassadega, Florida, the place his wife visited shortly before her death.  A small town whose inhabitants are largely psychics, mediums, and spiritualists, Cassadega has been mentioned in other novels and films about the paranormal and has the weird fascination that such a concentration of individuals who make a living from their "psychic" abilities can produce.  

The plot, however, moves back to the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, where the leader of a bizarre assortment of groups plan to bring down the electric grid.

Strangely, this novel with all of its murders and threats to the electric grid was not nearly as frightening as Ted Koppel's nonfiction Lights Out, which makes clear the catastrophic effects that an attack on the electric grid would produce.   

NetGalley/Little, Brown

Paranormal/Thriller.  Aug. 16, 2016.  Print length:  400 pages.

Wake the Devil by Robert Daniels has Jack Kale and Beth Sturgis trying to protect two doctors from the perfect assassin who leaves no clues and who changes his appearance.

The Sandman is on the "most wanted" list of several countries, but continues to outwit those who want to capture him, and once he accepts a mission, he will carry it through.  He has already killed one of the three doctors who are scheduled to testify in the court case.  Despite all efforts, the second doctor is murdered.

Wake the Devil is a fast-paced thriller with an elaborate plot.  Jack Kale continues to deal with severe panic attacks as he and Beth Sturgis try to protect the remaining doctor.

I  suspected the villain and was correct, but there are a lot of twists.

NetGalley/Crooked Lane Books

Thriller/Suspense.  Sept. 13, 2016.  Print length:  352 pages.

Infamy by Robert K. Tanenbaum featuring Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi is the 28th book in this long series!  I haven't read the previous books, but this one functions as a stand-alone.  

Brief description:  The “rock-solid” (Kirkus Reviews) prosecutor Butch Karp and his wife, Marlene Ciampi, return to solve the suspicious murder of a US Army colonel and battle corruption at the highest levels of the United States government in this novel by New York Timesbestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum.

Relying on plot more than characters, the book reads quickly.   Plenty of courtroom scenes balance the action as Karp lays traps for the defense who tries to keep the accused from revealing the conspiracy.

NetGalley/Gallery Books

Legal Thriller.  Sept. 20, 2016.  Print length:  368 pages.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lament for Bonnie by Anne Emery

Lament for Bonnie by Anne Emery is set in Cape Breton, an island in Nova Scotia Province.  Early settlers were part of the Highland Clearances, and these forced Scottish immigrants brought their highland music and traditions with them.

The island is still famous for its Celtic music, and twelve-year-old Bonnie MacDonald is part of the famous Clan Donnie band.  When Bonnie disappears from a family party, the entire clan is determined to find her, but Monte Collins' daughter Normie has insights that the adults do not--partly because of her place among the younger generation and partly because Normie has a gift inherited from her grandmother.

I read one other Monte Collins novel in 2009 (Cecilian Vespers) and found it interesting for entirely different reasons.  Monte Collins was the main character, the setting was Halifax, and the complications were all involved with Vatican II.   Lament for Bonnie is set in beautiful Cape Breton, Normie is an intriguing young protagonist, and the emphasis is on the highland music.

Read in May; blog rev. scheduled for Aug. 26, 2016.

Mystery.  Sept. 13, 2016.  Print length:   300 pages.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson

The Mitford sisters are a strange phenomenon.  Diana married Sir Oswald Mosely, the infamous leader of the British Union of Fascists; Unity was friends with Hitler; Jessica became a dedicated communist; Nancy was a best-selling author; Pamela was more retiring, but married a millionaire scientist; and Deborah became the Duchess of Devonshire.

Laura Thompson's The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters  is well-researched with a lengthy list of sources and gives engrossing details of the collected lives of the "mad, mad Mitfords."  

Daughters of the second Baron Redesdale, the sisters had an unusual upbringing and controversial lives.  Not rich, but aristocratic, sophisticated, bright, and witty--the sisters have retained their fascination through the years.  

There are scandals aplenty, alliances and rivalries, connections with the richest and most aristocratic of England's elite.  Thompson seems both fascinated and repulsed by the behavior of some of the sisters...and perhaps that is what keeps them, after all this time, of such obsessive interest to the public.  With the exceptions of Pamela and Deborah, the sisters have flaws that override their good qualities.  Their behaviors can be dissected and explained, but not forgotten.

I found the prologue discouraging (it will only appeal to someone who already has a good background of the Mitfords), but once the prologue is out of the way, Thompson does a fine job with this collective biography--and it can't be an easy task to try to cover the lives of six individuals, especially with such complex and antithetical beliefs.

A compelling book about the lives of six young women and the turbulent times in which they lived.  It is rather like watching the proverbial train wreck, you simply can't look away.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Biography.  Sept. 6, 2016.  Print length:  400 pages.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson

  Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson catches me up on this series.  An intense thriller that is quite different from the other books in this series, Hostage takes advantage of the author's experience as a  "political scientist who has previously worked for the Swedish Security Service and as a Counter-Terrorism Officer at OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)."

After The Disappeared, the previous book in the series, Fredrika Bergman left the police and joined the Justice Department.  When a series of bomb threats disrupt Stockholm, Fredrika ends up as a liaison between the police, the Justice Dept., and Sapo   In the midst of this investigation comes another complication--a bomb threat to a Boeing 747 heading for New York.

Hostage also introduces Eden Lundell of the Security Service's counter-terrorism unit.  Eden plays a part in the next book as well.  (I read The Chosen, Ohlsson's latest book first, and then went back and picked up the earlier books in the series.)  

A riveting plot that addresses some of the fears of terrorism that exist  for countries world-wide, Hostage has a twist at the end that is a bit unsettling, but realistic.  Ohlsson avoids a definite sense of closure in most of her books.  Life rarely allows endings wrapped tight with a bow, and while Ohlsson prefers to close a specific case, she tends to include a twist implying that sometimes solving a case does not solve the problem.

Some readers were not happy with the switch from purely police investigation to a plot that involves terrorism, but by doing so  Ohlsson opens up the opportunity to introduce new characters and examine contemporary problems.  This is especially true because Sweden has long had a reputation for its humanitarian acceptance of refugees, but in the last few years has begun to face huge problems as cultures and ideologies clash.

Library copy.

Suspense/Thriller.  2012.  trans. 2015.  400 pages. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

From the English Fens to Stockholm...

Killer on the Fens by Joy Ellis.  I've been speeding through this series as fast as NetGalley has offered them.  

A WWII abandoned air field with plenty of superstition attached, a dying father's request, the hope of reconciliation between another father and daughter, and the discovery of a crypt that will keep the medical examiner busy.  

Another entertaining installment from Joy Ellis!

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Police Procedural.  Aug. 5, 2016.  print length:  264 pages.

The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson continues another series I've recently discovered.  

Two years before, Alex Recht failed to solve the case of a young woman who went missing, and the case has not let im go.  When a hiker and his dog stumble on a body, Alex is certain that it is that of Rebecca Trolle.  As the site is investigated,  the body of a man buried decades earlier is discovered.  What else might the area reveal?

And what does all of this have to do with a famous author who has refused to speak a single word for 30 years?

Intertwined with the murder plot are events in the lives of Alex, Fredrika, and Peder that have connections to the case.

Perhaps a few too many coincidences, the film club bit didn't quite make sense to me, and the conclusion has an ambiguous feel, but another entertaining police procedural from Kristina Ohlsson.

Library copy.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2014.  344 pages.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

The White Mirror by Elsa Hart

In April, I read Jade Mountain Dragon by Hart and was impressed with Hart's ability to place the reader in the world of Li Du, former royal librarian and current exile traveling the border of China and Tibet.   

When I started The White Mirror, the introductory prologue threw me a little, and I still don't feel that it served a genuine purpose.  However, when the story moved to Li Du and his adventure, I immediately fell right into the story.  

After Li Du's service to the Kangxi Emperor, he is no longer a forced exile, but he has chosen to remain a wandering scholar rather than return to the Imperial library.  And he has his reasons.

He is traveling with the trade caravan he met in the last book.  The caravan heads to Lhasa, but has taken a different route than usual with the intention of stopping at a certain manor.  As they approach the bridge that leads to the manor, it appears that a monk is sitting on the bridge meditating in the snow.  However, as the caravan moves to the bridge, it becomes evident that the monk is dead, prayer beads dangling from his fingers.  His open robes reveal a symbol painted on his stomach, and he clutches a knife that pierces his belly.

The group (including Hamza, my favorite character) is welcomed at the manor, where the snow forces them to delay their journey.  Did the monk commit suicide or was he murdered? Who are some of the other travelers forced to take sanctuary at the manor to wait out the storm?  What intrigues connect Tibet and China?  A lot of secrets remain to be uncovered, and Li Du begins a thoughtful investigation into the monk's death.

As in Jade Mountain Dragon, Elsa Hart creates a rich and beautiful landscape.  Her ability to create images made this mystery feel almost as if I were viewing the various figures in the mountainous region as each moved about his or her own purpose.

This is an excellent series with wonderful atmosphere, intelligent content, and beautiful writing.  Highly recommended.

Read in July.  Blog post scheduled for Aug.  8, 2016

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historic Mystery.  Sept. 6, 2016.  Print length:  320 pages.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Human Rites by J.J. Marsh

I wasn't sure what to expect from Human Rites by J.J. Marsh when I first started the book.  For some reason, I was afraid it was going to be a cozy mystery.

 As I continued to read, I became more involved with the characters and the plot(s). The book is the fifth installment in a series featuring Scotland Yard D.I. Beatrice Stubbs.

There are two intertwining plot lines.  One is the harassment (that becomes more and more sinister) of Beatrice's gay friend Adrian Harvey.  The other is the case Beatrice is working on involving brutal art thefts of Expressionist paintings. 

 One of the stolen paintings is Salon II by Otto Dix.  I  was unable to find any images of Salon II which went missing during WWII, but the description sounds very similar to Salon I.

1921 The Salon
The Online Otto Dix Project

Expressionist art was considered degenerate by the Nazis, and  "A total of about 16,000 works (mostly confiscated from the best art museums and galleries in Germany, such as the National Gallery in Berlin and the Kunsthalle in Hamburg) were officially deemed degenerate, involving several hundred artists, mainly from Germany."  ( Degenerate Art)
Chagall, Dali, Dix, Ernst, Kandinsky, Miro, Picasso, Egon Schiel, and Kurt Schwitters were among the hundreds of artists considered degenerate at the time.  I ended up looking at the works of a number of German Expressionists whose names were unfamiliar, but who were also mentioned in the novel.
I get so side-tracked!

Anyway, J.J. Marsh's book turned out to be more than satisfactory in a number of ways, and I've already ordered the first in the series.

NetGalley/Cameron Publicity & Mkt.

Mystery/Police Procedural.  July 25, 2016.  Print length:  250 pages.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

July Library Books

Redemption Road by John Hart has lots of good reviews, a high body count, a whole bunch of story lines (that unite, of course), hard to fathom motivations for most of the behavior, torture, dysfunctional families, AND MORE!   

I read the whole thing, sad to say, and only liked one character, a very minor one, and mostly because of his name:  Crybaby Faircloth Jones.

Library copy.

Crime.  2016.  433 pages.

Unwanted is the first in the Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht series by Kristina Ohlsson.  I started this series with The Chosen, a NetGalley offering and the fifth in the series.  I liked it enough to want to read more.  

Unwanted, the first book, introduces the three main characters on the detective squad-- Fredrika, Alex, and Peder-- and provides a good sense of who they are and how each one contributes to the investigation.  If one of the three dominates, it is Fredrika, the lone female member of the team, but the roles of all three are important.  Unwanted is well-written and suspenseful, but just to warn you, the plot involves a character who abducts and murders children.  There are no graphic details and the author handles this well.

If you enjoy Scandinavian Crime, you might enjoy this series.

Library copy.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2009.  363 pages.

Silenced is the second in the Fedrika Bergman and Alex Recht series by Ohlsson.  The new case involves what appears to be a murder/suicide.  The investigation into the deaths of the couple lead to a much more involved situation than initially suspected.  I liked most of the book even better than Unwanted because the character development continued in interesting ways.  I was a little disappointed by the conclusion, however.

I will be getting the third in the series next time I go to the library.  :)

Library copy.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2010.  342 pages.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Tense and twisty, The Couple Next Door will have you riveted and uncertain from beginning to end.  

  Marco and Anne's six-month-old infant is abducted and their lives begin to crumble.  The parents are distraught, but they are also wallowing in guilt--"shoulda, coulda done some things differently" kind of thing.

Suspicion and deception.  Since parents are always suspect in abductions like this, there are reasons the detective must consider whether the parents are responsible, but as secret after secret is revealed, more possibilities exist than are initially  apparent.

This is the kind of book you speed through, discovering a number of surprises along the way.  A compelling novel with excellent pacing, The Couple Next Door reveals information a little at a time to keep the reader off- balance and guessing--never quite sure of who may be guilty.  

I had trouble putting this one down.  Some things I suspected early, other things were a gradual accumulation of information.  It may hold up less well in retrospect, but as I was reading, I was completely engrossed.

Read in July.  Blog review scheduled for Aug. 8, 2016.


Mystery/Suspense.  Aug. 23, 2016.  Print length:  313 pages.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is the best book I've read this year.  Loved it!  Bounced back and forth from delight to fearful nervous tension and a sinking feeling in my stomach throughout the entire thing.  With the exception of Titus Andronicus, I've read all of Shakespeare's plays, and although I've always appreciated the wonderful language and multiple quotable lines in The Tempest, the plot has never been my favorite.   Atwood's version has given me much to think about and a completely new appreciation of the play.   

Briefly, Felix is a creative and innovative artistic director whose self-importance and experimentation in staging Shakespeare productions has not always been appreciated, and he has more wild ideas for his upcoming production of The Tempest.  Immersed in his creative work which helps him deal with the death of his young daughter, Felix has abandoned many of the more boring duties of his position  to his assistant Tony.  

Ah, but traitorous Tony has taken advantage of Felix's neglect and has plotted his ouster.  Not only is Felix abruptly and unceremoniously removed from his directorship, but his Tempest will never be produced.

Felix retires to a shabby, isolated farmhouse where he mourns the loss of his beloved daughter and the loss of a career.  And plots revenge.   

What I loved:  Everything.  From the opening prologue that intimates disaster, to the play within the play within the play, to Felix's character development throughout, to the way he approaches teaching Shakespeare to prison inmates, to way the inmates ways of assimilating the universals of the plays, to Miranda's role, to my new appreciation of the original play--just everything!

I have a strange relationship with Atwood's works, some of which have not appealed as much to me as they have to others, although I always find deep pleasure in the way she wields language.  My favorite work before reading Hag-Seed was The Penelopiad, which I adored.

Hag-Seed charmed and delighted me, and after finishing, I pulled out my Complete Works and will be settling in to reread The Tempest with a new perspective and pleasure.  

This is my favorite work of fiction in years.  You don't need to have read The Tempest to love this novel.  You don't have to like Shakespeare to enjoy the plot and the characters.  Yet you will still come away marveling at the genius of Shakespeare and at Atwood's masterful reinterpretation of the tale.

The Acknowledgements at the end include books and films that Atwood found useful which include Julie Taymor's film of The Tempest with Helen Mirren as Prospera and other films and books that I might be interested in checking out.  There is also a section about prison literature that has another list of books that sound fascinating.  And more.  I have a quite a list of possible further reading and viewing.

rev. sch. for Aug. 4, 2016  

NetGalley/Crown Publishing

Fiction/Shakespeare Retelling.  Oct. 11, 2016.  Print length:  320 pages.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Hunted on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Hunted on the Fens

This the third book in the Fens series; I have only read books 2 and 3, but Ellis is now among my favorites in the police procedural genre.  I read Shadow Over the Fens in June and reviewed it early last month.

When DI Nikki Galena returns to work after the death of her daughter, her team is involved in a locked room murder that is proving difficult.

Then a series of incidents begin targeting Galena and members of her team.  The attacks begin with arson, and are all aimed at dismantling the lives of Galena, Joseph, Cat, and Dave.  The attacks, vicious and personal, are complicated by just how much the anonymous enemy knows about each of their lives--what each team member values will be used to hurt them.

A number of comments are included about the way both crime and policing have changed as a result of technology, and we are all aware of how vulnerable governments, businesses, and individuals are to cyber crime.  As wonderful as the internet is in many ways, it also presents dangers no one anticipated.  Pandora's box is open and there is really no way to close it. 

Once again, Ellis turns out a suspenseful, twisty crime novel with intriguing characters that continue to develop.  

A little about Joy Ellis:  "And now I live in a village in the Lincolnshire Fens with my partner, Jacqueline, and our two second generation Springer spaniels. My partner is a highly decorated retired police officer, and my harshest critic when it comes to police and judicial procedure. I have set my crime thrillers here in the misty fens because I sincerely love the remoteness and airy beauty of the marshlands. This area is steeped in superstitions and lends itself so well to murder!" 

I admire authors who can make the setting almost another character, and Ellis' love of the Fens is evident.

Right now you can get the ebook for 99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited.  If you love mystery/crime/police procedurals, you will enjoy this series.

Read in July; review scheduled for Aug. 3

 NetGalley/Joffe Books

Crime/Police Procedural.  July 22, 2016.  Print length:  302 pages.