Friday, October 28, 2011

The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas

About the book: Cornelius von Baerle lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip and win a magnificent prize for its creation. But when his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in a deadly political intrigue. Falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival, Cornelius is condemned to life in prison. His only comfort is Rosa, the jailer's beautiful daughter, who helps him concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret. As Robin Buss explains in his informative introduction, Dumas infuses his story with elements from the history of the Dutch Republic (including two brutal murders) and Holland's seventeenth-century "tulipmania" phenomenon.

My thoughts: If you have read "The Three Musketeers," "The Count of Monte Cristo," and/or "The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas you might be expecting and adventurous swash buckling type of story. You would be wrong. It is actually, as the title indicates, about events surrounding a black tulip. The main character to me is somewhat self centered and unaware of things around him that did not have to do with tulips. At first I didn't really like him but he grew on me. His love interest, Rose was a strong character.

I liked learning about the time period, becoming acquainted with "tulipmania."  The killings at the beginning of the book were quite brutal and depicted in gory detail. These, I later read, were actual events. Wow.

Over all I liked this book, I enjoyed the sense of time and place, the romance was sweet, the story woven through actual historical events was interesting. I recommend it.

Rating: A

Read it online

Eve by Iris Johansen

About the book: Could John Gallo, a man from Eve’s past, be the missing piece to the puzzle that has haunted her for years? Why was he in Atlanta just before Bonnie’s disappearance? Find out in this brilliant narrative that goes back to Eve Duncan’s early life, exploring her history and motivations like no other novel before.

Finally the answers surrounding the disappearance of Eve Duncan’s daughter, Bonnie, will be revealed in EVE, the first book in a spellbinding trilogy from Iris Johansen.

My Thoughts: I have been keeping up with Eve Duncan and Joe for years. As usual, Eve tries to cut Joe out because she doesn't want him to be hurt. And as usual he goes along anyway. This is something that has not set well with me over the course of the series. Poor Joe. by the end of this novel I knew a lot more about Eve than had ever been revealed before and a lot more about Bonnie's kidnapping. Of course it is the first in a trilogy within the series so the end was left in a cliff hanger. Of course I'll have to read the other two.

Rating: B-

Cujo by Stephen King

About the Book: Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the beloved family pet of the Joe Cambers of Castle Rock, Maine, and the best friend ten-year-old Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo pursues a rabbit into a bolt-hole--a cave inhabited by some very sick bats. What happens to Cujo, and to those unlucky enough to be near him, makes for the most heart-squeezing novel Stephen King has yet written.

Vic Trenton, New York adman obsessed by the struggle to hand on to his one big account, his restive and not entirely faithful wife, Donna, and their four-year-old son, Tad, moved to Castle Rock seeking the peace of rural Maine. But life in this small town--evoked as vividly as a Winesburg or a Spoon River--is not what it seems. As Tad tries bravely to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage suddenly on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight, and that the fateful currents of their lives will eddy closer and faster to the horrifying vortex that is Cujo.

My Thoughts: Wow, I read this years ago and couldn't remember anything about it. Except for the rabid Cujo, of course. It was quite the page turner, I couldn't put it down. I cried at the end.

There are seemingly endless peeks into the lives of people connected to the main characters. But the threads of these come together forming a horrifying look at a chain of coincidences that ultimately cost several lives. This wasn't the supernatural novel I am used to from King but it was all the more scary for that. 

If you have seen the movie and not read the novel, well, you should. In this story King takes you into Cujo's mind unlike the movie where he is just a mindless monster. You find that Cujo, in his heart, is a good dog. He would never hurt anyone. Through snippets from Cujo's POV you follow his decline as the disease ravages his mind and body.

Rating: B+

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

 About the book: When Andie Miller goes to see her ex-husband, North Archer, to return ten years of uncashed alimony checks, he asks for one final favor: A distant cousin has died and left him guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already; will she take the job? Bribed with money and a need for closure, Andie says yes, packs her bags, and heads for Southern Ohio.

But when she meets the two children she realizes things are much worse than she feared. The children aren’t any run-of-the-mill delinquents, the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers, and something strange is happening at night. Plus, Andie’s fiance thinks it’s a plan by North to get Andie back, and since Andie’s been dreaming about North since she arrived at the house, she’s not sure he isn’t right.

Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie’s tarot card–reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiancé. Just when Andie’s sure things couldn’t get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could be different….

My Thoughts: I'm not much of a reader of romances but I do love a Crusie book. This one was a quick light read that was full of fun along with a little bit of spookiness. I loved the characters, especially Andie with her devotion to the children. If you are up for ghosts and a little light romance get this one!

Rating: B

Jennifer Crusie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cold Vengence by

About the book: Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife's betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen's past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he's believed, everything he's trusted, everything he's understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

My Thoughts: This is another series that I've been following for quite some time, years really. Agent Pendergast, of the FBI,  and his friends have kept me entertained the whole time. This is the middle of a trio of books about his quest to learn what truly happened to his wife, Helen so this one was left with quite a cliff hanger. Can't wait for the next one to come out. While this series is mostly consists of murder mysteries it touches on the supernatural. I guess that is one reason it appeals to me.

Rating: B+

Ghost Story, Jim Butcher - 9780451463791

About the book: When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...

My Thoughts:  This is the 13th book in this series: The Dresden files. While this won't be among my fovorites of this series it was very readable and enjoyable. I must that I waited anxiously for this one because I feared it might be the last. So, not only did I enjoy this story I was relieved at the end! If you haven't read any of this series start at the beginning. Fans will like it.

Rating: B

Crimes by Moonlight ed. by Charlene Harris

About the book: A winning mystery collection edited by and featuring an original story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris.
Nighttime is the perfect time for the perfect crime-especially in the realm of the paranormal. #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris edits and contributes an original story-set in her Sookie Stackhouse universe-to this anthology of mysteries from the dark side. Other featured Mystery Writers of America include Carolyn Hart, Barbara D'Amato, Margart Maron, Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane, and Elaine Viets.

My thoughts: I liked this book of short stories. Most of the stories held my attentiom and caused me to want to learn more about several of the authors. Urban fantasy from a variety of authors, what could be better? Readers of crime fiction should like this. If you haven't read Urban Fantasy this might be the place to start. If you like it already then by all means get this!

Rating: B+

Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler

About the book: Thousands of years ago, two superpowers of the ancient world went to war, and a treasure of immeasurable value was lost to the shadows of history.
In 1800, while crossing the Pennine Alps with his Grand Reserve Army, Napoleon Bonaparte stumbles across a startling discovery. Unable to transport it, Napoleon creates an enigmatic map on the labels of twelve bottles of rare wine. When Napoleon dies, the bottles disappear—and the treasure is lost again.
Present day. Treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo are exploring the Great Pocomoke Swamp in Delaware when they are shocked to discover a WWII German U-boat. Inside, they find a bottle from Napoleon’s “Lost Cellar.” Fascinated, the Fargos set out to find the rest of the collection. But another connoisseur of sorts is hunting his own prize, and the Lost Cellar is his key to finding it. That man is Hadeon Bondaruk—a half-Russian, half-Persian millionaire—and the treasure will be his, no matter what....

My Thoughts: Like most of this author's books, this one was jame packed full of travel, treasure hunting, action, adventure, close calls and mysteries. I enjoyed getting to know Sam and Remi and will seek out more of Cussler's books that are about them. The dialog between them is  fun to read. If you like action adventure books get this one.

Rating: B

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead & Jon Tyson

About the book: Where is the life God promised us? Life is busy. We live like slaves to our fast-paced, suffocating schedules. We spend our energy and time in triviality, relegating God to the background. he seems distant to us, and we resist the idea that God wants to give, say, and show us more; we dismiss it as rumor. But Jesus calls us to a better way. another drean - an unimagined future. Close the gap between what you hear about and what you see.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595553630

First line: The first couple of rows at church that morning held a unique assortment of women.

My thoughts: I got this book from BookSneeze and wasn't sure what to expect. Wow, what an inspiration it has been. It has challenged me to reevaluate my life and the things I consider important.

There are  ten chapters in this book including: Ch 3 The Great Reversal (Rumors of Generosity,) Ch. 5 Getting the Gospel in Order (Rumors of Grace,) and Ch. 9 The Greenroom (Rumors of Justice.) Each one comments on Western Culture and how we have lost our passion for God and are more concerned with self. Through the chapters stories of events in peoples lives are told that highlight the theme of the chapter. I wish there had been more about the women in the first story, I would have liked to learned the rest of the story.

This book does not suggest a forumla to follow to make your life right, rather it points out areas of concern that we can look into, it helps us see the obstacles we face and how to overcome them. I think this would make a great group study book at church.

Rating: A

What others are saying
Amazon (read the forward, authors note and excerpts)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Postmistress by Sara Blake

About the book: In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.
Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...
The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds-one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve-and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.

First line: It began, as it often does, with a woman putting her ducks in a row.

My thoughts: This historical novel left me wanting more. Like the people who listened to Frankie's radio reports and wondered what happened next I want to know what happened next to the three women in this story.

This story takes place from the points of view of three different women: the postmistress Iris James who believes in her job and takes pride in the order she brings to it, Frankie Bard who broadcasts the news from Europe and Emma Trask whose husband, a doctor, has gone to London to help in the hospitals.  As the story goes along it becomes emotional, more interesting, more compelling. The author did a wonderful job winding the three stories together and bringing a great sense of time and place to her novel. I recommend this to you but bring some tissues.

Rating: A