Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan - Book 148

The Lost Hero takes us back to the world Rick Riordan made famous in the Percy Jackson series. This time Percy is nowhere to be seen but some of our old friends search for him while we are introduced a a new set of demigods, including Jason, whose memory has been mysteriously wiped. He (along with 6 other demi-gods - we don't meet them all now) is at the centre of a new prophecy about the usual sort of death, destruction and general mayhem as gods try to rise and conquer. I found the book readable but not compelling, though I'll probably read the rest of them since I like all that Greek and Roman god stuff. Recommended (if you like that sort of thing).

World Made by Hand - James Howard Kunstler - Book 149

World Made By Hand is another alternate future book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Set in a future where the fight for oil resulted in a war that pretty much wiped out all of our technological advances, it's the story of how people survive in the aftermath. They go back to doing things by hand, non-mechanized inventions (electricity supply is unreliable) and bartering services. As always there are opportunists, profiteers and those who retain their values. This is an enjoyable read. Recommended.

The Future of the Past - Adam Williams - Book 147

Danny Isham is a detective whose mother is dying. A couple of children's bodies are found on a building site. Could these be the world of child killer Matthew? And what do the local crime bosses have to do with it? As you can tell, The Future of the Past weaves a number of threads together, and the conclusion is surprising and a bit distracting. There's not much new in the style of writing and the villains are pale imitations of those made popular by the likes of Lynda LaPlante and Martina Cole, but nevertheless, the story maintains pace and interest and overall it's a good read. The ending is surprising (well, at least, I didn't see it coming). Recommended.

The Voice - Michael Whetzel - Book 146

The Voice contains linked stories that tell of the future after a mysterious voice speaks to humanity, leaving many people dead or injured. It's intended as a prequel to a series of novels set in this world - and it's a pretty good taster. Think of novels like The Stand or any other novel where perspectives shift to help you to build up an overall picture and you will get the idea. I found some stories interesting, others less so, but most of them readable. Whether that will carry through to a full novel from a single perspective remains to be seen. However, I am tempted to delve more into the scary future this author presents. Recommended for sci-fi/alternate future lovers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult - Book 145

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult is a strange tale including paranormal happenings, an Indian burial ground and a hidden secret (yes, all at the same time, believe it or not). Here's Amazon's description:
In a small Vermont town, an old man puts a piece of land up for sale, igniting a firestorm of protest from the local Abenaki Indians, who insist it is an ancient burial ground. To appease them the developer looking to buy the property hires a ghost hunter, Ross Wakeman. Ross is a suicidal drifter desperate to cross paths again with his fiancee, who died in a car crash eight years earlier. But after several late nights all Ross can lay claim to discovering is Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death.
While the characters are interesting, I never felt like there were any real surprises as the story developed so I worked out the identity of the mysterious old man pretty early as well as what had happened to the stillborn infant. This was readable but not enthralling. As a Jodi Picoult fan I had to read it, but I don't think my life would have been poorer if I hadn't.

Rescue by Anita Shreve - Book 144

I generally like Anita Shreve's books, and while Rescue was no exception, I wasn't transported to another world in quite the same way as usual. I could almost feel the grinding of the writing process. Paramedic Peter Webster rescues and later marries Sheila, a troubled woman with a drinking problem. When she nearly kills their daughter Rowan, the marriage ends and Peter raises his daughter alone. As she is about to go to college, their relationship seems to be deteriorating, so Peter tracks down Sheila to help sort things out. I liked the main character, disliked Sheila and could almost see the ending coming. I'd rate it as readable, but average.

The Postcard Killers - James Patterson - Book 143

James Patterson and Liza Marklund collaborate for the tale of a hunt to catch a pair of killers who are rampaging through Europe killing couples and sending postcards to the local newspapers to announce their victims. Detective Jacob Kanon has a personal interest in this one, as his daughter and her husband were among the killers' victims. Swedish reporter Dessie Larsson helps him when the killers are tracked to Stockholm, and they try to stop the killers from striking again. Though most Amazon reviewers pan it, this is a decent read, though not Patterson's greatest (maybe because he's no longer writing them on his own?).

The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner - Book 142

I'm a big fan of Lisa Gardner's work so I was prepared to enjoy this story of what detective D D Warren does while she is 7 months pregnant and on desk duty. In the 7th Month, a gig as a film consultant leads to the chance to solve a murder, which DD does in less than a day. Short and sweet, and a recommended read.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist - Book 141

When I read The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, I couldn't help being reminded of another book set in a similar sort of world. In the world of main character Dorrit Wegner, childless people over a certain age, unless they are in protected occupations, are deemed 'dispensable' and leave the outside world behind to live out their days in a unit where all their needs are provided for. The catch is that they must take part in medical experiments and donate organs to help those who are 'needed' on the outside. Sooner or later, the idyll comes to an end with a final donation. At first, Dorrit finds a world that is infinitely more accepting of her than the world she left behind (after all, they are all in the same boat). She falls in love and finds happiness, but her will is often tested as those close to her reach the end of the donation cycle. This was an intriguing and slightly worrying book, but well worth reading. Recommended. I'd love to read some more of her books, but unfortunately this is the only one in English so far. (Oh, and the book it reminded me of?  Never Let Me Go  by Kazuo Ishiguro.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Turning Point - Melissa Garrett - Book 140

I could not stop reading Turning Point, the story of a girl, Jenna, who leaves on vacation and wanders into a decade old unsolved mystery when her car breaks down. Her rescuer, Phil, may not be what he seems - and neither might his wife Myra and son Dominic. When Jenna finds out what's really happening, the story is even more horrific and the only question is whether she will get away before someone is seriously hurt. Absolutely gripping and highly recommended.

The Lost Ark - Book 139

Yep, it's the hunt for the Ark on Mount Ararat, joined with a missing persons search following in the footsteps of an Ararat scholar and enthusiast. Readable though not riveting. Here's Amazon's description:

In a lonely bar in eastern Turkey, ex-National Geographic photojournalist Sam Ward is hired to find an eccentric professor who disappeared high atop Mount Ararat, fabled resting spot of Noah's Ark. Accompanied by the professor's beautiful daughter, archaeologist Faye Roberts, Sam soon stumbles upon a secret stronghold — a base of operation for unleashing hell of earth. Now running for their lives, Sam and company are about to come face-to-face with the greatest archaeological discovery of all time....

The Witness - Dee Henderson - Book 138

The Witness is a complex novel and it's best to highlight Amazon's own description of it.

Police Chief Luke Granger's witness to a murder, Amy Griffin, has been on the run for years. Her family thinks she was murdered eight years ago, but Amy chose to accept a life in the shadows in order to protect her sisters' lives. Now unveiled secrets about their father have thrust the sisters into the public spotlight. The man who wants Amy dead now sees her sisters as the way to locate her. 
I found the characters likeable, and the premise interesting, but overall the book wasn't as compelling as I'd hoped. If you're able to pick it up second hand or as a Kindle freebie, you won't be disappointed, but don't pay full price.

Tuesdays with Morrie - Book 137

One of my favorite books from my first book club was The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so I couldn't wait to read Tuesdays with Morrie, which I'd heard so much about. Until I opened the book I had no idea that it was non-fiction, but the tale of Albom's past and present relationship with his dying college professor and the life lessons that he learns from him is as riveting as any novel. It's written in a simple and accessible style and is an easy read. Highly recommended.