Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Funny Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
(Classic Mystery)

This book is a bit different from other Christie's that I have read in that the detective, Poirot, doesn't appear until several chapters in and almost seems to be a secondary character.  It's a point of view that I found intriguing, and hilarious!

The narrator absolutely cracked me up!  He is so dismissive of that 'funny little' Poirot, sure that the man is either crazy or absurd and equally sure that he himself will solve the crime.

The mystery takes place at a country manor home that is complete with servants and where no one seems to have to work for a living--so very British!  The murder suspect seems to be ironclad guilty but leave it to Poirot to find that sliver of doubt.  There were so many red herrings in the book that I totally gave up on trying to solve the mystery.  Poirot certainly does nothing to help, agreeing with every ridiculous notion that the narrator has and leaving the readers to wonder what solution is untangling in his genius brain or if he is indeed the nitwit the narrator makes him out to be.

Still, I was shocked by the ending.  Truly never even saw it coming and that is what makes Christie, still, the Grandest Dame of them all!  Jolly good show.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hard To Pin Down

Illusion by Frank Peretti
(Adult Fantasy)

This book is really hard to classify into just one genre.  Is it romance? Tragedy?  Thriller? Science Fiction? Fantasy?  Usually, a book leans more into one type but this one just didn't.  It just kind of dips its toes into each of the genres.

Clearly, the beginning of the story is a tragedy.  Dane is grieving over the grisly death of his beloved wife and magic partner.  He decides to honor her last wish and move to a small farm in Idaho.  Nothing seems to help him past his grief.

Flash backward forty years to Mandy, a young girl at a county fair, enjoying a magic show.  She blacks out and is suddenly thrust forward in the future.  She doesn't know how or why such a thing would happen and can't answer the authority's questions.  She is sent to a mental hospital but knows that she isn't crazy, even if she is having such weird waking nightmares.  All she does know is that she just doesn't quite fit in this time period and she escapes the hospital to find some answers.

Inexplicably, Mandy is drawn to magician Dane who agrees to train her.  They are both shocked to find that she is extraordinarily good and no one can seem to explain her illusions.  Dane is more than mesmerized by the young girl and can't shake the feeling she looks remarkably like his recently dead wife.  It can't be true, can it?  Is he losing his mind?  How in the world can such a storyline be resolved?

Overall, I liked the book.  The story was sweet and it doesn't take a giant effort to suspend belief for all the unbelievable things that happen.  If you are a true science fiction buff, this one might drive you mad.  The science just doesn't add up but if you like romance with a little fantasy, this one will be sure to please.  A light read, but a hopeful one---one that will make you believe in the magic of long lasting love.  Very sweet!

(I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

British Mystery-Blimey, It Was Boring!

Mrs. Jeffries and The Feast of St. Stephen by Emily Brightwell
(Cozy Mystery)

I do so love a British mystery.  I love it when the pages just eek out tweed and Earl Grey and scones.  British mysteries are so very staid and so very proper and so very un-American.  It's refreshing.  But alas, this one was a dud.

There were so many characters to keep track of that's it's hard to find one to focus on and identify with.  Of all, Mrs. Jeffries (of the title, duh!) seems to be the character the action centers around although we don't really learn much about her or from her.  The mystery itself was a small pleasure--the main characters made for a lot red herrings so that did keep me guessing and there was a surprise at the end.  My favorite part was the on-again/off-again romance of two minor characters in the list of seven or more detectives.

Overall, it was a BOOK and I never forgot that, I never got lost in it.  Mrs. Jeffries, you and I shall part ways here.  I wish I could have said it was a pleasure.....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hilarious Thriller!

One for the Money by Stephani Evanovitch
(Adult Thriller)

This is one hilarious thriller--bet you don't hear those words too often.  But, it's true-absolutely hilarious.  Pee-in-your-pants hilarious.  Snort-your-drink hilarious.  People-move-their-seats-on-the-airplane-you're-laughin-so-loud hilarious.  (Sorry, Vegas flight-I just didn't know I would be chuckling and guffawing all the way through.)

Stephanie Plum in just that-plum out of luck, plum out of a job, plum out of romance and plum out of money.  When she hears of a job opening at her cousin Vinnie's bail bonds operation, she goes for it.  Only problem is....she's a cream puff and a real screw-up.  A girl after my own heart.

On the way to messing up her first case, she gets tangled in the life of Joe Morelli, her first love (for want of a more inappropriate word).  Morelli and Plum have a love-hate relationship hearkening back to their childhood.  Stands to reason this is the guy she would be assigned to bring in. 

On top of all this hilarity and romantic tension, there is also quite an engaging mystery and plenty of danger and intrigue.

Plum, I have taken the bait and am well way on my to #2.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Twisted Love

Ten Tales of Tilted Love by Alex Carrick
(Adult Short Stories)

These off beat stories are perfect for a romantic mood--if Flannery O'Conner is your style of romance!  This collection of stories are both tender and sweet and hopeful, then weird, then funny and then just plain silly.  It is a very fast and easy ready--a great book to pick up and put down or to read in snippets.

My favorite--"Real Estate Purgatory", a Halloween ghost story with a funny, macabre twist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gives Illegal Immigration A Whole Other Meaning!

Tankborn by Karen  Sandler
(Young Adult/Adult Dystopian Fantasy)

These are my very favorite kinds of books--peering into a dark and scary future, imaging how our current society might warp life for the next generation.  And this book took my imagination in a direction I've never been!

This novel is set in a futuristic world not even on Earth.  This future society is divided up into kind of a caste system, the have's and the really havenot's.  There is a new -ism in this book, not racism, or ageism but real genetic-ism.  Kayla is a genetic manipulation, not a natural born child, who has freakishly strong upper body strength and splotchy arms.  Devak is a 'trueborn' who starts to question the entire fabric of his world when he starts having feelings for Kayla.  These two star-crossed lovers,  plus Kaya's best friend, Mishalla, are thrown into a conspiracy and revolution that could topple their entire civilization.

My only real complaint is with the lingo in the beginning of the novel.  I understand that language would be different in a futuristic alien world but I live in the here and now and the change was very difficult o understand and adapt to.  Eventually, I got used to it but it drove me a bit bonkers for awhile.  After that, it was really hard to stop reading--I desperately wanted to follow all the twists and turns to see how everything would turn out.  The ending is like a race to the finish, full of action.  The most interesting part was the ideology of religion as presented in the book--a myth perpetrated for the masses.  Interesting premise and interesting delivery.

Just one of those books that make you go, hmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Literary Triple Play

Nevermore by William Hjortsberg
(Adult Mystery/Fantasy)

What other book has a line-up like this?  On first base, Harry Houdini; rounding third, Arthur Conan Doyle and batting on deck the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe.  While my baseball lingo leaves a bit to be desired, this book is has a line-up most teams would bankrupt themselves for.

The main character is Harry Houdini.  Yep, that Harry Houdini.  Houdini, along with his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yep, that Conan Doyle), are on the case of a series of murders that mimic the mystery and horror stories of Edgar Allen Poe.  While Houdini makes one mean detective, Doyle has a bit of an inside track when the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe mysteriously visits him and gives him some elusive hints about solving the murders. 

Much of this story is based on actual historic fact (such as the magic of Houdini and his tricks; Houdini's debunking of mysticism; the popularity of Doyle and Mrs. Doyle conducting seances) and it was these facts that made the book so very appealing to me.  I loved delving into the part of the book and that period is just plain fascinating.  To read a book told through Houdini's, Doyle's and Poe's eyes was the most creative idea I've seen come along in a long time--pure brilliance!

If only the author would have stayed on that track instead of veering off into a fantasy that I didn't enjoy and didn't think the story needed.  Part way through, Houdini becomes romantically linked with a woman who stalks him into submission and doesn't really add to the mystery at all.  If the book would just totally leave out that whole character, it would be amazing.  The plot idea and writing was so strong, so captivating.....

As it was, still an enjoyable read but falls short of a home run.

This book is available at Amazon as an ebook or by visiting the publisher weblink below:


Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Love To Find a New Series to Love

Mercy Thompson Series:  Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
(Adult Fantasy)

I love to find a new series to devour and this one fits all my requirements:  fantasy, mystery and characters intriguing enough to keep me wanting more at the end.

Mercy Thompson is a fae, a magical creature that can shape shift into different animals.  When a newly turned werewolf shows up at her door, Mercy tries to help him but unwittingly finds herself caught in a battle of control between two warring werewolf packs.  The Alpha werewolf, Adam, just happens to be her neighbor...and protector.  The war follows Mercy home and Adam is left injured and dying.  In order to help him and rescue his daughter, Mercy must return to her roots and confront her demons (not literal ones but in a series like this, you never know).

In addition to the action and adventure, the paranormal romantic triangle at the end was just the perfect way to keep me drooling for the next read.  I came to the end of the book and was astonished it stopped--I forgot it was a story!

This was one of those magical books that I lost myself in.  I forgot all about page numbers, and chapters and time!  I sat down to read and forgot about everything until someone came looking for me.  I cannot wait to start the next one and have already bought the entire series.  Welcome to my Kindle, Mercy Thompson!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Orleans Mystery

Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke
(Adult Mystery)

Books about the Deep South are some of my most favorite to read--the heat and humidity always seem to just seep right through the pages with their passion and longing and this book is no exception.

Dave Robicheaux is a Louisiana police detective trying to sort out a murder, a burglary and a variety of other crimes that are somehow connected.  As Dave is trying to sort through the mess, evil comes into his own home and threatens his best friend, bail bondsman Clete, and adopted daughter.  This book was the 17th in the series but I really didn't feel like I was missing anything. 

The book is set during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  While I have read many books about this disaster as a focus or even setting, none made the horror of the crime spree aftermath so very real. The description of the destruction of New Orleans is what struck me most strongly about this book.  It seemed to read like a tragedy, almost an ode, to a grand, beautiful lady whose prime time had somehow been robbed of her before her time.

 It was a police/procedural mystery that felt as if I were riding right along in Dave's cruiser.  It's so realistic and gritty you can feel the sand and dirt swirling around in your brain.  The mystery is full of sharp twists and turns and while sometimes these books are too technical for me, this one fit just right.
And, just when you think you know who did it, you find out you didn't even know what 'it' is! 

I always love to discover a new author and a new detective to fall for--Dave Robicheaux is now on my "Most Wanted List"--I suppose I've have to go back and read all 16 before and the others since!  A small price to pay for a great read.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Better Than Percy Jackson!

Artemis Fowl:  The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer
(Adolescent Fantasy)

Oh, Artemis, how I have missed you, waiting these long months for another book.  And you, my little evil-genius, did not disappoint!

In this latest installment of the Artemis Fowl series, all of the gang has returned.  Butler, Holly, and Mulch Diggums plus a few new fun characters make this the best one yet.!

If you're not familiar with this series, shame on you!!  The main character, Artemis Fowl, is a young boy who is much too clever for his own good and spends most of his time trying to take over the world in some form or another.  Standing in his way is the entire Fairy Kingdom, led by Holly Short of LEPrecon, short for the Lower Elements Police.  In the 7th book, a new enemy emerges who is both evil and tragic and determined to triumph over both Artemis and all of Fairykind.  While normally the readers aren't supposed to root for the bad guy, this one pushed quite a few of my heart strings and besides, the main character is also an evil genius so sometimes it's hard to figure out just who to root for.

Normally, Artemis would quickly squelch such a dastardly plan but he has developed the Atlantis Complex, a debilitating mental illness that causes paranoia and other strange tics.  Soon, Artemis becomes his own worse enemy and the entire character list is fighting to see who will ultimately triumph.

This book was so much funnier than the others as Artemis continues to develop as a character and is turning into his worst nightmare:  a caring human being who occasionally makes mistakes.  To see the unraveling of such evil genius to what lurks underneath is surprising and gripping.  I have never understood why this series isn't as popular as the Percy Jacksons.  Artemis will always be my first go-to for a fantasy ride of epic proportions.  Fortunately, this book leaves hints there might just be another installment on the way!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Last of the Best

Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
(Bio-Techno Thriller)

I put this one off for so long because it is his last, Crichton's last book.  It's that same sad feeling I get when a series is ending--saying goodbye to good friends before I'm really ready.  This book was his last unfinished one and so I tried to savor it and just read it in bits and parts but is was sooooooooooooo difficult because, in true Crichton fashion, it just races along.

In this bio-techno thriller, seven graduate scientific research students sign up to go on an exploratory trip to Hawaii to determine if they want to switch from academic research to private corporate work.  When their trip goes horribly wrong, they have to figure out how to survive in a world that Alice in Wonderland never imagined.

This book had moments of absolute horror in it concerning things that are around me every day--pure brilliance!  Just when I thought there was nothing that could scare me, seasoned horror reader that I am, I was wriggling, scratching ad shivering throughout most of the story.  It has caused me to look at the minutia of my world in a whole new way. It is a nail-biter and a breath-holder and had moments that left me absolutely stunned.

My only complaint is towards the end of the book when the prose changes.  I imagine this is because of the new author finishing up (which is another author I love!).  The words and sentences became shorter and more concise, not the elegant prose I was used to.

And, just like that, goodbye, my dear friend M. Crichton.  You have given me countless hours of reading pleasure and will always be in my top favorite spots.