Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Another Judgement Day by Simon R. Green

Product description : There's a new sheriff in town, and he's got the Nightside's rich and powerful quaking in their boots. He's The Walking Man, and it's his mission to exorcise sinners - with extreme prejudice. Problem is, the Nightside was built on sin and corruption, and The Walking Man makes no distinction between evildoers and those simply indulging themselves. He'll leave the place a wasteland unless someone stops him, and P.I. John Taylor has been handed the job. No known magic or science can affect The Walking Man, and if John can't discover his weakness, he'll be facing the very Wrath of God.
My thoughts: The Walking Man, God's Wrath, has come to the Nightside to take care of sinners and take out The Authorities. John faces him with cunning and help from friends and enemies alike. This story was a lot more gruesome than any of the others, except possibly the one about the Lilith War. The sins detailed, especially at the beginning, a lot more awful. John and Suzie’s relationship develops some as Suzie begins to heal from her abused youth. We find out that Walker, the Nightside’s caretaker, is facing something that will have great implications in series’ future.
It was a quick, enjoyable read. I always look forward to the next Nightside book. This alternate existence and the characters in it are always surprising, inventive, one of a kind,and a bit of a horror.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

JACKET NOTES: When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol-seared into the chest of a murdered physicist-he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati... the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy-the Catholic Church.Langdon's worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the Vatican's holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair... a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.An explosive international thriller, ANGELS & DEMONS careens from enlightening epiphanies to dark truths as the battle between science and religion turns to war.
My Thoughts:This was a fast paced book, lots of action, some of it unbelievable. Jumping out of a helicopter 3 miles in the air and living to talk about it (and basically walking away from it) was pretty hard to ignore. However, I read to be entertained and I was. Many people have read this book and left reviews of it and seemed to either love or hate it. I was searching for what other Christians had to say but couldn't find many. I did find this blog with a list of errors in the book.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews

From the front flap:Font size EXtreme croquet is the current rage in Caerphilly, where Meg and her fiance have bought a house. While this society game can get quite warm, it hasn't reached the stage of actual homicide, at least not until Meg finds the body of a dead woman down a small cliff. Her head has been bashed in, perhaps by a croquet mallet. Meg is drawn into the mystery.

In the meantime, the old house needs many improvements and and swarms with an entire family of working men. Meg's father is the overseer but is easily distracted since he has a tendency to become wrapped up in his current animal charges. This time it's ducks.

My Thoughts: As you may have noticed, I enjoy Cozy mysteries and funny stories. Donna Andrew's Meg Langslow series is one of my favorites in this genre. I didn't find this one as funny as some of the others but still got some good chuckles. I enjoyed the premise of this, murder during an eXtreme croquet match. This was a fun read, so go for it. The first book I read in this series, Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon, will stand out in my memory as the funniest.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

Product Description:In the latest installment of the universally beloved, bestselling series, Mma Ramotswe discovers the biggest miracles in life are often the smallest.Under the endless skies of Botswana, there is always something Mma Ramotswe can do to help someone and here she finds herself assisting a woman looking for her family. The problem is the woman doesn't know her real name or whether any of her family members are still alive. Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is the recipient of a beautiful new bed that causes more than a few sleepless nights. And, at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has come under the influence of a doctor promising a miracle cure for his daughter's medical condition, which Mma Ramotswe finds hard to accept. Nonetheless, Precious Ramotswe handles these things in her usual compassionate and good-natured way, while always finding time for a cup of red bush tea.
My Thoughts: I read this last year and now I have listened to it. I have found that I enjoy reading then listening to the stories in this series. The reader, Lisette Lecat is the ideal reader for this series. According to what I have read she is a native of South Africa which borders Botswana and shares Setswana language roots. I love hearing her give a voice to one of my favorite literary characters, Mma Ramotswe. This is a sweet, gentle series, calming and easy to read. I'm always sorry when the story is over.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

From the back: Welcome to Gil’s All Night Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you never know what might be lurking in the freezer. . . .Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up truck when they stop at the diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around--until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them one hundred dollars to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this looks right up their alley.But the shambling dead are just the tip of a particularly spiky iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the diner, and more than willing to raise a little hell on earth if that’s what it takes. Before Duke and Earl get to the bottom of the diner’s troubles, they’ll run into such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jail bait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig Latin.And maybe--just maybe--the End of the World, too.

My Thoughts: The cover first induced me to pick this book up. The campy '50 horror movie poster look was too good to be ignored. I read above the title: Now Serving Armageddon with a side of fries..... It made me laugh so I went to the back and was persuaded to buy it. It was silly and gruesome in turn and fun to read. Duke and Earl, the werewolf and vampire heroes, rednecks that they were, seemed like regular people. Or regular redneck people. For example, Earl the vampire had a bad comb over. He didn't know it was bad because being a vampire he couldn't see it in a mirror. Duke the werewolf kindly didn't say anything about it. These unlikely heroes are determined to do the right thing. The right thing is to prevent Tammy ( Mistress Lilith, Queen of the Night) and her loyal but dumb boyfriend, Chad, from ending the world. I just loved brave little ghost dog. It has been said by Publishers Weekly that Douglas Adams fans will love it. As a Douglas Adams fan I can't really compare the comedic elements. Martinez humor is a lot more heavy handed and direct but no less funny. I greatly enjoyed it and will read more of his books.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

From the back: A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who involuntarily travels through time, and claire Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Claire's passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

My thoughts: This was different than I expected. I thought it would be more sci-fi but I found a deeper story of love, devotion, and friendship. I have mixed feelings on this book. On one hand I loved it, the romance, love and dedication Henry and Claire share is wonderful to read about. I enjoyed not only getting to know them but getting to know their friends and family. I think the author handled Henry's trips back and forth in time well.
However SPOILER ALERT I couldn't bear to think of Claire waiting and waiting all those years to see Henry one more time after his death. The end, so sad, brought the whole book down for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I read it, but I was left....sad.

Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch by Barbara Park

Something very wonderful is happening to Junie B. Jones. And it’s called—hurray, hurray!—she’s getting to be a professional lunch lady! And that means hanging out with Mrs. Gutzman in the cafeteria. And standing behind the counter. And even wearing a real actual hair net! Who knows? Pretty soon she could be the boss of the whole entire lunch operation!
My thoughts: I love Junie B. Jones, I love reading these books to my class of second graders and they love to hear them. Junie B. (never just Junie) is charming, funny and irrepressible. She is also a hand full at school and at home. I suggest you read some of these books to your kids. If your kids are grown up, read them to yourself, you won't be sorry. Boss of Lunch will probably rank up there with my favorites in the Junie B. series.
children's literature, childrens book

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Plot Summary: By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Emigres to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.
My thoughts: I've read some widely varied reviews of this book from those who LOVED it to those who DID NOT love it. I was interested in reading it because I have heard of it for years and because it was the basis for the movie Blade Runner. While the movie was a lot more suspenseful (it did not follow the book very closely) I truly enjoyed reading this. It was originally published in 1968 so at times seemed a little out of date but it is classic Sci-Fi and will endure. It was thought provoking, a deep book with timeless themes but still easy and interesting to read.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris

From the back: Part-time librarian Aurora “Roe” Teagarden never liked Detective Sergeant Jack Burns, but she also never wanted to see him dead— especially not dropped from a plane right into her own backyard. But when other strange things happen around her, ranging from peculiar (her irascible cat turns up wearing a pink ribbon) to violent (her assistant at the library is attacked) to potentially deadly (her former lover is stabbed), she must decipher the personal message in the madness before it’s too late.
My thoughts: I've read MANY Charlaine Harris books and enjoyed them all. I haven't up to this point, though, read any of her Aurora Teagarden books. How sad. I really enjoyed this light read and liked Roe. The Southern setting and sensibilities are also fun to read. I just wish I had started from the beginning! So the next Aurora, for me, will be the first one.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Swan Peak by James Lee Burke

From the Back of the Book: James Lee Burke's new novel, Swan Peak, finds Detective Robicheaux far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcell have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina.But the serenity is soon shattered when two college students are found brutally murdered in the hills behind where the Robicheauxs and Purcell are staying. They quickly find themselves involved in a twisted and dangerous mystery involving a wealthy, vicious oil tycoon, his deformed brother and beautiful wife, a sexually deviant minister, an escaped con and former country music star, and a vigilante Texas gunbull out for blood. At the center of the storm is Clete, who cannot shake the feeling that he is being haunted by the ghosts from his past -- namely Sally Dio, the mob boss he'd sabotaged and killed years before.In this expertly drawn, gripping story, Burke deftly weaves intricate, engaging plot lines and original, compelling characters with his uniquely graceful prose. He transcends genre yet again in the latest thrilling addition to his New York Times bestselling series.

My Thoughts: I have long been a James Lee Burke/Dave Robicheaux fan. This book was a great read, keeping me on the edge of my seat as the characters and their stories collided. As usual, Burke can turn a phrase that sparks the imignation, makes you sigh for the beauty of it, or makes you think of things in a whole new light. Learning more about Clete was interesting.He is always there, Dave's steady friend, but this story gives you come more info on thier connections and why they depend on each other so mech. All that and a great murder mystery too. What's not to love!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dragonheart by Todd McCaffrey

Product Description; Todd McCaffrey’s first solo novel in the classic Dragonriders of Pern series, Dragonsblood, was hailed by critics and embraced by the countless devoted readers of the landmark science fiction saga created by his mother, Anne McCaffrey. Now the chronicles of Pern take another captivating turn as the embattled planet, the brave pioneers who call it home, and the magnificent flame-breathing creatures who fly high to protect it confront a dire new challenge.The grim specter of sickness looms over the Weyrs of Pern, felling fire-lizards and posing a potentially devastating threat to their dragon cousins, Pern’s sole defense against the deadly phenomenon that is Thread. Fiona, the youngest and only surviving daughter of Lord Bemin, is just coming of age, and about to assume the duties of a Weyrwoman, when word spreads that dragons have indeed begun succumbing to the new contagion. With the next season of Threadfall quickly approaching, and the already diminished ranks of the dragons once more under siege, every Weyr across Pern is in crisis mode. It is hardly the time for disturbing distractions–such as the strange voice Fiona suddenly hears in her mind at the darkest and most urgent moments. Circumstances and the mood of the weyrfolk worsen when advance patrols relay the dreaded news that black dust–the unmistakable herald of falling Thread–has been sighted. As more dragons sicken and die, leaving only a new generation of weyrlings too young to succeed them, Weyrleader B’Nik and queen rider Lorana arrive from Benden Weyr to comb Fort Weyr’s archives in a desperate search for clues from the past that may hold the solution to the plague. But could the actual past itself prove the pathway to salvation for Pern’s stricken dragons and the entire imperiled planet? Guided by a mysterious ally from a wholly unexpected place, and trusting in the unique dragon gift for transcending time, Fiona will join a risky expedition with far-reaching consequences for both Pern’s future and her personal destiny.
My thoughts: I loved all of Anne McCaffrey's Pern books and I read one of Todd's books that I liked. I went into this book fully expecting to love it as well. However I was somewhat disappointed and found myself skimming. This was a 538 page book that seemed to be just a bridge to the next book. I enjoyed revisiting Pern, Todd has a full grasp of the story and world of Pern from his mother. I guess as a Dragonriders of Pern fan, I'm glad I read it, but if you haven't read these books before, start with Anne's!