Saturday, August 21, 2010

The reading continues as the Summer heads into the dog days!

 Where has this summer gone!?  It has been so hot maybe the sun has melted the days away.  I don't know about you but one of my favorite ways to stay cool is floating in a pool. I don't have a big pool.  I have  a baby pool that I fill up with cold water.  I set up a little table next to me with the radio, cold cocktail, sunscreen and maybe a snack then I grab a book and just soak away the heat and read away my troubles.  I like to call it my backyard Riviera.  Things always look brighter after and nice dip in the pool.  Here are some of the books that   have joined me at the pool:

Caught by Harlan Coben:    "Holy Who Dunnit Batman!"   He is the master of plot twisting.  This story had more false endings than Lady GaGa has costumes.  A man is entrapped by a reality news show crew and is arrested for solicitation of a minor and branded as a sexual predator.  He claims his innocence but the circumstantial evidence is really stacked against him.  A girl goes missing.  There seems to be a connection.  Someone is shot, someone else dies.  Innocents are accused while the guilty seem to escape. Nothing is as it seems and the story goes on and on and on and on.  Just as one plot seems to get wrapped up and done the page turns and so does the story.  Suddenly what just seemed cut and dry looks like a murky mess.  I don't think Harlan's hairdresser would even know for sure.  When I got to the last page I wasn't sure I believed it was really over.  I was exhausted and I was grinning.  I love a good roller coaster!  Interesting side note:  Since many of the Myron Bolitar characters show up in the stand alone novels will they eventually all end up as one Huge series about New Jersey crazies?  Now wouldn't that be an interesting twist.

The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon Novels)The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva:   It has been a long time since I read an espionage novel.  To be honest I have veered away from anything that has to do with terrorism or disasters since 9/11 then Katrina.  I don't want to fill my head with ugly possibilities.  With that said I noticed several people at work were all reading a series by Danial Silva.  It is about a reluctant Israeli assassin named Gabriel Allon.  The Kill Artist is the first book in the series and it was good if not terribly original.  Two great assassins on opposite sides of a cause clash for one more life or death intrigue.  What separates Gabriel Allon from James Bond or even Jason Bourne is his soul.  He really is a reluctant assassin.  He learned to become an art restorer as a cover in his work for the Israeli Secret Service and it turned out he was really good at it.  In fact it is the restoration work that keeps him going in the aftermath of the tragic and violent deaths of his wife and son.  Now his old boss is back and wants Gabriel to come back for one last mission which will pit him against the man who killed his family.  In the classic styles of Ludlum and LeCarre Mr. Silva has created a believable and flawed hero who battles the foes within as much as the enemy without.  I know why everybody is reading this series and I intend to do the same.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning ThiefThe Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan:   Awesome, fun and an exciting adventure.  Percy Jackson has always been different.  His teachers said he was ADD and dyslexic.  Who knew he was the son of a God?  The Gods did and so did the monsters.  From the first page to the last this story is jam packed with action and adventure.  What starts out as a mom and son trip turns into a Grand Quest with Furies, Minotaurs, Nymphs, Nyads, Gods and Demi-Gods. At the last winter solstice someone stole Zeus' property and Poseidon gets accused.  Unbeknown to Percy Poseidon is his dad.  The disastrous and fatal trip to the beach with his mom lands Percy at Half Blood Camp where he not only discovers who is dad is but he is sent on a Quest on dad's behalf.   Percy has to recover Zeus' Lightening Bolt in order to save his mom and prevent the Gods from going to war.  Percy is going to discover through this journey not is all as it seems.  He is going to have to look above and below to discover who is real friends are but more importantly who he really is.  This is an excellent story along the lines of Charlie Bone and Harry Potter.  The kids should love Percy, I know I do!

From Hell With Love: A Secret Histories NovelFrom Hell With Love by Simon R. Green:  Oh Mr. Green!  Where would the world be without the Droods?!  Probably in another dimension and be slaves of an evil crazy mad scientist emperor.  Yuck!  Eddie Drood is back with Molly Metcalf and all the Drood Family to once again protect us unwitting humans from disaster and utter annihilation.   I am amazed this series hasn't been made into a comic or a 1 hour tv show on SyFy.  Mr. Green knows how to verbally draw clean clear characters and then he takes them and twists them all up in the craziest stories!  This time Drood Hall has been invaded by another Secret Super Family called The Immortals.  Don't let the label fool you, they can die it just takes a lot to do.  The thing is the Immortals have mastered shape-shifting and have infiltrated the Droods from within.  Someone has killed the Matriarch and it is a total surprise at the end to find out who did it.  Meanwhile,  Doctor Delirium is back and has teamed up with a rogue Drood by the name of Tiger Tim.   They have come up with a wacky and villainous plan to hold the world hostage. The Apocolypse Door will open the gates to Hell and we will be overrun with the depths of Hades to be eternally tortured.  If the governments don't do as they say they will open the door.  Eddie has to stop them before its too late.  Some people die.  Some people just pretend to be dead while a whole other group have always been dead.  The Armorer has some great new gadgets and weapons for Eddie to use against the bad guys.  Eddie and Molly stick together through thick and thin to bring Dr. Delirium to heel and really kill the Immortals.  All ends well for awhile.  I can't wait to see what the next super villain does and what the Droods do to him!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An Interview with Seth Grahame-Smith

A friend sent me this link to an audio interview with Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter.  It is a great interview.  Mr. Smith is an interesting person and this genre of book mash ups is really cool!  Gotta love NPR!

What I Read on my Summer Vacation Part II

Yep, I am reading away my summer and I can't think of a better way to spend these hot humid days.  I don't get to the beach as often as I would like but I have spent some wonderful afternoons under an umbrella in my backyard with a cocktail by my side and a book in my hand.  Here is another batch of books I have covered:

Third Degree: A Novel
1. Third Degree by Greg Iles:  This was an audiobook and boy was it good and boy was it bad.  David Colacci was the narrator and he was awesome.  I felt like I was listening to an old time radio show and anytime I had to put it down I was at a cliff hanger.  The right narator makes all the difference in audiobooks.  Too many voices can be as distracting as a monotone.  Sometimes the voice doesn't match what I imagined the character should sound like and that ruins it.  David had a great balance of drama and tone that kept me listening and made this good thriller an edge of your seat suspenseful roller coaster ride.   Greg Iles ruins the book half way in with some of the most cliched plot choices and implausible twists.  The first half of the book I was in for the whole ride and couldn't wait to find out what happens next.  Then she opens the door to her home to be greeted by her husband with a gun. From that point on I kept wanting Mr. Iles to return to the tight believable story he started with.  It felt like he didn;t know how to save any of the characters so he decided to see how whacked he could make them all.  This is a book about reaching your limit and losing it one fateful day.  What would push you over the edge from sanity to murderous rage?  What would pull you back?  How would you survive terrible rage directed at you?  Does anyone really know the person they are married to?  Is an affair really worth the pain? I don't know if any of those issues were well represented in this crazy ride of a book.

Blood Game: An Eve Duncan Forensics Thriller (Eve Duncan Forensics Thrillers)2.  Blood Game by Iris Johansen:  This is another installment in the Eve Duncan series and I gotta tell you it is getting old.  There is nothing new in the story.  Eve is once again tracking a serial killer who seems to know something about the disappearance and death of her little girl Bonnie.  Joe is once again frustrated and conflicted by all the violence and danger surrounding his lover Eve.  Jane is once again an amazing heroine worried about her foster parents.  Oh wait there is a new twist.  Joe can talk to ghosts.  WHATEVER!  Can we please stop taking a straightforward mystery series that has established fictional boundaries and throwing in paranormal elements in because paranormal is trendy right now.  It is cheating. I know Eve has always talked to her dead daughter but I know a lot of people who talk to loved ones who have passed.  I don't think that is paranormal.  I think that is a way of keeping that feeling of connectedness.  Joe talking to ghosts is a whole other story!  If you don't have anything fresh to add to the series then wait to write something when you do. I have started to not care if Eve ever finds Bonnie or come to terms with her death.  I want the story to come to a conclusion.   I know you are on deadline.  I know we all want another Eve Duncan story but DANG don't put stuff out there that isn't up to the standard that made this character so readable to begin with!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter3.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith:  What an odd historical horror novel.  I can't say I have ever read anything like it before.  It was as dry as a history book and yet I couldn't find myself leaving it alone.  What an interesting literary plot tool.  Take a historical figure during a famous historical era and twist.  Everything that happened to President Lincoln from the  age of nine until after his official death was all because of Vampires.  His grandparents weren't really killed in an indian attack.  His mom didn't really die of milk disease.  John Wilkes Booth was more and less than he really was in the history books.  Mr. Grahame-Smith wrote a very realistic, tight novel that were it not for the history books already written might make one wonder if his history wasn't the truth....honestly.  This was such a fun read I am heading out to pick up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!

The Neighbor: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel4.  The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner: This is an episode in the D.D. Warren series.  It didn't work for me.  The premise is good and well known.  Wife disappears and the husband becomes the prime suspect.  The husband acts suspiciously and the couple has secrets.  Good plot plan.  Then Ms. Gardner brings in a sex offender and he should be made a suspect.  Statutory rape when he was 18 and the girl was 15 does not a murderer make. Stupid? Yes.  Irresponsible? Yes.  Killer?  Not so much. Back to the husband.  He is wiping hard drives and hiding computers.  He is a good suspect.  He is a lot older than his wife who he married when she got pregnant and the baby may not be his.  We get some back story on both of them including the wife's abusive mother who killed herself and a complacent and co-dependent seeming father.  There is suggestion of him being abusive as well.  She severed all connections with him when she married her husband.  There is an affair and extra-marital problems.  There are tons of motives and possibilities with very little connection between any of them with very little reason why abduction or murder would be necessary.  I said at the beginning of this it is a series for D.D. Warren and I didn't feel she was a main character at all.  There is a lot of action and questions in this book just not much thrill or suspense for me.

Holly Blues (China Bayles Mystery)5.  Holly Blues by Susan Wittig Albert::  Ahhh....Susan you are a satisfying read.  I feel like you are one of my girlfriends and you are telling me about the crazy week you just had.  I know China and Ruby.  I want to live in Pecan Springs and if Sheila doesn't want him then I will take Blackie off her hands.  Your stepson Brian and my boys would be great friends.  Just one thing.  You have to stop getting mixed up in all these murders.  Love this book and love this series!

Born of Night (The League, Book 1)6.  Born of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon:  Ms. Kenyon sure has a thing for the greek names.  Nykirian, Kiara, Quiakides are to name just a few.  She carries the greek name theme into her Dark Hunter series.  I don't mind them, however the more complicated ones can take me out of the story while I try to figure out how to pronounce the names, annoying.  Born of the Night seems to actually be a re-release of  an old manuscript from the late 80's that was published with tons of edits and rewrites without her input.  Now that she is a powerhouse writer in the paranormal romance genre she has come back to these old friends and is telling their stories as she originally intended.  I really appreciate that.  I don' t remember ever reading the first incarnation but I enjoyed this book a lot.  It is stuffed with action, not just too much sex.  Plenty of over the top sexy men, reasonable heroines and evil bad guys.  It reads like a freight train hurling toward the end.  There are two more installments to this series and I already have the second one, Born of Night.  I am looking forward to it.

Stay tuned.  I am on a roll.  Reading and blogging!  Woo Hoo!