Sunday, September 26, 2010

67. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I'm sorry to see this trilogy end.  Collins has written a creative and suspenseful set of books that I found very appealing.  While I didn't like this one quite as much as The Hunger Games, I still thought it was fantastic.  I found Gale to be a bit annoying with his overzealousness and missed Peeta in the first part of the book.  Katniss continued to be as conflicted and determined as ever.  It was a weird setting as all the survivors of District 12 find refuge in District 11, and underground city that offers protection but a loss of self-determination.  Katniss finds she is still playing the Game just on a much larger scale, with so much more at stake, and against the most devious competitor of all, the President of the Federation.  This was the first book I read on my new Kindle, so I will always have it with me; but it is kind of hard not having a book cover to set a feeling for the book.  Even so, I found it very satisfying to know how the story ends even though the ending seemed rushed to me and tied up a bit too neatly.  But a great book which I recommend.
Rating:  4.5

66. Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer

The first Heyer book I read, Why Shoot a Butler, was so much fun to read.  It was set in the twenties in England amid an upperclass group with a good-looking, sarcastic leading man who solves the mystery and falls in love.  I really enjoyed it.  So Envious Casca was quite a disapppointment to me.  It likewise takes place in Enland 1920's with uppclass characters.  The problem is the characters are snobby and unlikeable.  They mystery was too easy to figure out.  After the murder, the local police come with a detective who is not sympathetic or incredibly smart, but competent.  Eventually, Scotland Yard is called in and the Chief Inspector finally solves the case.  The problem is that the reader doesn't even connect with the sleuth because the solution is divided up between the two detectives.  There is a slight romance at the end which was satisfying but entirely predictable.  I don't know if I will read any more Heyer books if this is a true example of her work.  Any recommendations??
Rating:  2.75

Saturday, September 25, 2010

65. Fantasy in Death by J D Robb

I listened to this book while traveling to Salt Lake several times in the last two months.  Admittedly, that's not the best way to listen to a book if you forget as easily as I do, but I was able to follow along pretty well.  The "In Death" mystery series features Lt. Eve Dallas of the New York Police Homocide Dept.  The series takes place well into the future and I enjoy the author's creativity in the plots involving her odd characters and advanced technology.  This particular book deals with the murder of a game creater who is beheaded while playing his creation in a locked room.  As always, I find Eve Dallas to be a strong, intelligent woman who manages to solve the crime with the help of her hunky husband, Roarke, and her partner, Delia,  and Delia's boyfriend who is also part of the homocide squad.  Listening to the story changed it up and I found the reader did a good job portraying each character.  All in all, though, it was just okay.  There is obligatory sex scene between Roarke and Eve that is ever so tiresome and too much profanity as always.  The mystery itself was okay but farfetched even for being placed in a sci fi setting.  It was just hard to get into.  I would probably have liked it even less if I had read it instead of listening.
Rating:  3

Sunday, September 12, 2010

64. Dragon by Michael Connelly

I'm not sure what dragons have to do with this book, except that it involves the Chinese community of LA and a visit to Hong Kong.  Harry Bosch, the star of many of Connelly's books, is called to investigate the murder of a Chinese owner of a liquor store.  Small pieces of information leads him to a Hong Kong triad where he focuses the investigation.  An arrest is made when Harry receives a text from Hong Kong showing his thirteen-year-old daughter has been taken captive.  He travels immediately to rescue her and creates a swath of violence as he narrows down her location and finally is able to retrieve her and bring her back to the United States.  By the time he gets back to LA, the suspect has been released because of lack of evidence, but Harry continues to work the case.  There is a big twist at this point, which I'm not going to go into because I don't want to spoil the story.  While there was some interesting elements to this story, I found it a bit disappointing.  Maybe it just took me so long to read it because of other things going on in my life, that I just lost interest.  Come to think of it, I believe the triad had Dragon as part of its title.  At least I cleared that part up for myself.  Anyway, it was just okay for me.  Rating:  3.75

63. Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

I would proably have read this book just because the cove is so pretty, but I have also liked other books written by this author.  Spindle's End is a twist of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty but it does follow the original story quite closely.  Princess baby is born, naming ceremony is held and gifts given by all the fairies until the evil, unvited fairy shows up to curse the baby with death by finger prick on spindle at the age of twenty-one.  During the resulting chaos, the baby is given to Katriona, a fairy from a faroff corner of the kingdom.  She takes the baby home and raises her until her twenty-first birthday.  The twist is that Rosie, the princess in disguise is not at all like a princess and doesn't know her royal heritage at all.  She has the gift of animal-speak and uses that gift to work with the local black smith and to cure the local animals.  The story ends with a confrontation at the 21st birthday party and then taking on the evil fairy to wake all those asleep in the castle.  It was a fun story and well-written.  I enjoyed the departures from the original and the surprise ending.  Rating:  4.5

62. The Time Thief by Linda Buckley Archer

Book Two of the Gideon Trilogy finds Kate returning to the present with her father and Peter stranded in 1763.  He was shoved out of the way at the last minute by the villaneous Tar Man, who has a hey day in the 21st century, once he figures out how everything works.  He also starts to figure out ways to move back and forth between the past the and the present which creates all kinds of problems.  Kate finally finds a way to return to 1763 to rescue Peter but goes to 1783 instead.  The machine was broken in the travel and they travel about Europe to find a scientist who can fix it.  There is no definite solution at the end of the book, setting the reader up for the third and final book.  Still, I enjoyed the author's attention to the details of the earlier time and the history included in the story as well as the characters and their motives.  The Tar Man is certainly a fun villain to follow, but he is really getting out of hand.  It will be interesting to see how everything comes together in the end.  Rating:  4.25

61. The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen

Gerritsen really does write interesting medical thrillers but this one veers off that path into Satanism and a study of pure evil.  Jane Rizzoli is still the copy who investigates the crimes and Dr. Maura Isles, the medical examiner.  Helping in the investigation is a group called the Mephisto Club who study evil in the hopes of containing the demons who have existed since the time of Adam's son, Seth.  Apparently, there is a Book of Enoch which was left out fo the old Testament telling of fallen angels who impregnate human women, creating this demonic rae.  I found the book to be quite thrilling with some surprising twists along the way, but did not enjoy the Satanic storyline.  Just not my thing.  Rating:  3.75

60. The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantease

14th Century England is the setting for this hirtorical novel which revolves around the illicit translation of the Bible into English, bringing about a change in the entire religious atmosphere of the country.  Several historical personages are part of the story including John Wucliff, the priest who takes on the the Ensligh translation, the Biship of Norwich, a corrupt priest who abuses his power and is willing to almost anything to prevent any change to the status quo, the Sheriff of Norwich, a man trying to enlarge his own estates and wealth, and John of Gaunt, the regent to the young King of England.  The main fictional characters are Lady Kathryn, a middle-aged widow and mother of two sons struggling to make ends meet while holding on to her estates in the face of pressure to marry the sheriff and incresing taxes from the Bishop; and Finn, a talented illuminator hired to create drawings for a local abbey.  The abbey pays kathryn to rpovide lodging for Finn and his daughter while he complete his work.  Not only do they fall in love, but his daughter and one of the sons fall in love as well.

I enjoyed the hsitory involved in this story but found the romance and consequent turmoil too sad and tense.  Even so, I wanted to keep reading to see what was going to heppen next.  That kept me going right up to the end, which I hated.  Rating:  3.75

59. Hold Tight by Harlen Coben

Tia and Mike Baye have a great life in the suburbs.  He is a doctor and she is a lawyer.  They love each other and their family, but lately the son, Adam, has been acting strange.  They decide to spy on his computer usage to see if they can learn how to help him; but the messages they see involve them in something way over everybody's head.  On the other hand, a serial killer is on the loose, torturing and mutilating women in the area.  How these two story lines converge and become resolved is intense and griping.  I haven't been disappointed by a Coben yet.  His stories are thrilling and keep you on the edge of you seat.
Rating:  4.25

58. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Twin brothers are born in a hospital complex in Ethiopia, joined at the head by a thn piece of tissue.  No one was aware of the impending birth as the mother was a beautiful nun and surgical assistant who hid the pregnancy from all around her.  The father, a brilliant British surgeon, freezes at the difficult delivery:  the mother dies and the father disappears.  The twins are raised by the remaining medical personnel, mostly a gynocological surgeon who becomes their adopted mother.  Both grow up with a fascination for medicine but they have completely different personalities.  Marion is conscientious and considerate of those around him.  SHe is deeply in love with the daughter of a nurse at the hospital.  Shiva, while medically brilliant, is self-centered and unthinking, not in a horrible way, but his behavior causes a deep rift between the two brothers.  Because of the rift, Marion flees Ethiopia in the midst of its revolution and complete his surgical training in New York City.  There he meets his surgeon father and develops his own talents, while Shiva ramins in Ethiopia and becomes an expert on treating genital mutilation common amont the young women in that country.

I loved this book which surprises me because of the subject matter.  Still, it is full of wondrful and diverse characters who lend so much flavor to the story.  And Marion, the main character, is a deep, complex person, who makes understandable mistakes, gets hurt by those he trusts; and makes you root for him throughout the book.  It's a beautiful story of love and betrayal and redemption.
Rating:  5