Friday, May 27, 2011

Books 29, 30 & 31 - The Hunger Games Trilogy

These books were some of Danielle's early reads and she made them sound very appealing, so when two more people recommended them to me, I couldn't wait to read them. I wasn't disappointed. Danielle already has great descriptions of all three books (Hunger Games, Catching Fire and MockingJay), so I'll just concentrate on what I thought.

I was immediately transported into the world of the Hunger Games and found the tale of Katniss and the other characters totally compelling. The same held true for Catching Fire, where, unbelievably, Katniss and Peeta find themselves at the games again. Even though these books are intended for young adults, they are good reads for any age group.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Word Is My Bond - Roger Moore - Book 28

Roger Moore's self-deprecating humour permeates this autobiography. It's a quick and enjoyable read, which all Bond/Moore fans are sure to enjoy. For me, it was particularly interesting to read it after reading Michael Caine's autobiography a few weeks ago, as their stories occasionally intersect. I give this one 4 stars.

Amazon's description:
One of the most recognizable big-screen stars of the past half century, Sir Roger Moore played the role of James Bond longer than any other actor. Still, Bond was only one in a lifetime of roles stretching back to Hollywood’s studio era. Moore has seen and heard it all. He has hobnobbed with the glamorous and powerful, counting Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Seymour, and Cary Grant among his contemporaries and friends. He has outrageous stories about foulmouthed Milton Berle, surly Richard Burton, and kindhearted Richard Kiel, infamous as Bond enemy Jaws. The stories in My Word Is My Bond are priceless, a treasure trove of Hollywood history. Sir Roger Moore has left nothing out—especially the naughty bits.

From Dust and Ashes - Tricia Goyer - Book 27

This book dealt with the immediate postwar period in Austria. Here's Amazon's description:<

It is 1945 and a group of American soldiers liberate a Nazi concentration camp. Helene is the abandoned wife of an SS guard who has fled to avoid arrest. Overcome by guilt, she begins to help meet the needs of survivors. Throughout the process, she finds her own liberation - from spiritual bondage, sin, and guilt. Readers will be intrigued and touched by this fascinating story of love, faithfulness, and courage amidst one of the darkest chapters of mankind's history.

I found Helene's story compelling and the book served to remind me of a perspective that's often ignored - that of the people terrified into supporting the Nazi regime, even though their real sympathies lay elsewhere. I'd give this book 3.5 stars - while I enjoyed it, I'm not in the least tempted to read the others in the series.

1222 - Anne Holt - Book 26

It's always a pleasure to read a book that's different. This mystery is set in Norway in the aftermath of a train derailment, with the main characters including an ex-police detective in a wheelchair, a little person and a sulky teenaged boy. Somehow they manage to solve the mystery of the people hidden in the upstairs room as well as the series of murders that take place in the hotel where they are marooned. Perhaps it could be pacier, but it's a good read.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Painless - Derek Ciccone - Book 25

Painless is the story of a little girl with CIPA and the secret government plot to kidnap her where she can join others of her kind - and their parents - in a top secret breeding facility. CIPA is a genetic mutation which prevents people from feeling pain. This means that they miss the warning signals that keep them from danger - but it also makes them into great soldiers for dangerous missions - exactly what the breeding program is all about. This is a fast paced thriller, with lots of twists, turns and shady characters, and is a great read.

Amazon's description:
A fast-paced thriller mixed with a heartwarming story of redemption. A series of ominous incidents make Billy Harper realize there is something very different about Carolyn Whitcomb. But when a rogue organization called Operation Anesthesia learns of Carolyn’s 'gifts', Billy must risk everything to save the life of the little girl who taught him to live again.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Freedom Writers' Diary - Book 24

It's hard to know exactly how to describe the Freedom Writers' Diary. I first saw the excellent film (Freedom Writers) starring Hilary Swank, which told the story of a new high school teacher who was giving a failing class and went on to inspire them to achieve great things by keeping diaries. That description doesn't do justice to the stories of deprivation, addiction, hopelessness and, ultimately triumph which make the film - and the book so successful.

The book covers four years of high school, with anonymous diary entries from the students who became known as the Freedom Writers. Each year starts with a diary entry from the teacher, Mrs Gruwell. You won't be able to read this book without being moved by the circumstances which these kids had to triumph over - and the kindness of the people who helped them move from no-hopers to people with a bright future and, in many cases, college scholarships.

Whether you like stories about education, writing or triumphing against the odds, this book will appeal.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blood Hunt - Ian Rankin - Book 23

I've never been the biggest fan of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, though I suppose they are ok, but I found Blood Hunt unputdownable. From the minute Gordon Reeve learns of his brother's death to the resolution at the end, this book is a rollicking good read. Reeve is a former member of the SAS who ends up investigating a cast of villains which, rather improbably, includes one of his former squad mates. Every chapter brings a new bit of action and the story zips along nicely. Loved it!

The Gift - James Patterson - Book 22

This is the second book in the Witch and Wizard series. Whit and Wisty are continuing to learn what their magic can do and to save kids and others from the perils of the New Order. The story moves between their perspectives, which can be confusing, but there's plenty of action to keep readers going. Will this ever be my favorite series? No, but I might pick up book three when it arrives just to see how the story turns out.

Witch and Wizard - James Patterson - Book 21

Witch and Wizard is a departure from the James Patterson novels I usually read. Instead of being a crime novel, this is in the science fiction and fantasy genre, set in an alternate world where there are witches and wizards but magic is outlawed. Aimed at younger readers (maybe pre-teens and older?), the book follows the story or Whit and Wisty Allgood who find out about their powers and learn to use them while escaping from The One Who is the One and trying to find their missing parents. There are lots of characters and scenarios to keep track of in this book - it's just as well the chapters are short. That said, it was entertaining enough for me to read part two in the series - The Gift.