I'd loved Heart of a Samurai, so I was excited to read The Bamboo Sword. The book opens in Japan in the 1850s. Although Nakahama Manjiro returns to JaI'd loved Heart of a Samurai, so I was excited to read The Bamboo Sword. The book opens in Japan in the 1850s. Although Nakahama Manjiro returns to Japan in The Bamboo Sword, this time, Its hero is thirteen-year-old Yoshi, a peasant who dreams of fighting like a samurai, who is the main protagonist. Yoshi was orphaned and given employment by the local samurai family. He does errands and cares for the son of the house, and as he does so, he watches their lessons in martial arts, bushido and sword play. Though Yoshi knows his position will never change, he loves practicing the sword moves with his own "bamboo sword". Things change drastically when the barbarian sailors come to the port and his young master decides to flee. Yoshi helps him but doesn't expect his own life to be so much worsened in the bargain. Yoshi and his friend Jun run away to the harbor where they observe the "hairy ones" aboard their ship.
Another young hero from America is thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan, who works as a cabin boy and a powder monkey on the Black Ship that's sailed into Japan's harbors. Their captain and crew have gun powder and cannons and are preparing to make their mark and their fortune in the heathen East under the command of Commodore Perry. Though the language and attitudes are historically accurate, I couldn't help but wince when they talk about killing slant-eyes, and the like. Being Asian myself, I couldn't help hoping that they'll get their comeuppance.
I loved The Bamboo Sword, but it is hard to share what I loved about it without revealing plot points. It's helpful to note that much of the story is rooted in research. So, what did I particularly enjoy? The two boys, Yoshi and Jack, both on their own and the story of their friendship. I appreciated how Preus masterfully wove in details about samurai weapons, armor, skills and training as well as the social and political restrictions under the political regime in Japan at the time of the Tokagawa Shogunate. The wood block prints depicting scenes of Japan, its people and the events. The description of the Shogun's castle from the perspective of a young first time visitor. The adventure that she gives to young Yoshi and Jack is both entertaining and plausible. The Bamboo Sword is a keeper!...more
I'd read the short story that Joseph Finder co-authored with Lee Child in the International Thriller Writers' collection, but this is my first time toI'd read the short story that Joseph Finder co-authored with Lee Child in the International Thriller Writers' collection, but this is my first time to read one of Joseph Finder's thrillers. I was fortunate enough to listen to Lee Child and Joseph Finder discuss how they worked on the short story and their differing writing methods during ThrillerFest last year.
Finder's latest novel, The Fixer is a standalone novel. I've spent much of my life in Boston and manage property in the Back Bay and South End, so I appreciated the details that Finder wove into the story. The descriptions of real estate aren't just spot on, but they helped give me a sense of the different characters. It certainly added to my enjoyment of The Fixer.
The protagonist, Rick Hoffman, goes through a great deal and his investigative skills help him solve the mystery of the unexplained cash. He takes quite a journey and I'm not sad to say that he got battered up (literally and figuratively) along the way. To be honest, I didn't much like Rick, but the romantic subplot gives us a good sense of who Rick is. And it made me like him even less. Fortunately, this is a standalone and we won't be seeing much more of Rick Hoffman.
I did grow to care for Rick's father a great deal. The thing that I loved best about The Fixer was the masterful way that Finder introduced us to Lenny Hoffman and the way that he let drop details of Lenny's life. The scene in the Supreme Court and the struggles that he had balancing the person/lawyer that he'd hoped to be and the lawyer that he was resonated with me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fixer and am looking forward to reading Joseph Finder's earlier novels - as well as what comes next! ...more
The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, Falling in Love, reintroduces the famous soprano Flavia Petrelli years after their first meeting at theThe latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery, Falling in Love, reintroduces the famous soprano Flavia Petrelli years after their first meeting at the start of Donna Leon's series. Flavia is terrified by an extravagant secret admirer whose actions quickly escalate to stalking. Not only does she receive lavish gifts but somehow the giver is able to bypass security and leave these offering within Flavia's private spaces.
Flavia is already uncomfortable with the public side of her profession. As the admirer grows more and more bold, her fear and distress increase. When victims of violent attacks are somehow linked to Flavia, it's clear that her admirer is building up to a dangerous climax.
Once again, Donna Leon delivers a delightful glimpse into Brunetti's Venice. I particularly enjoyed the return of the old character, the friendship between Flavia and Brunetti adds another layer to the investigation. Brunetti and Paola, their children and the political sparring all make Falling in Love a fun installment in one of my favorite detective series. ...more
When Jeremy Logan arrives at Lux in Newport, Rhode Island, it lead me to imagine an elite think tank based in New Haven with Yale professors and graduWhen Jeremy Logan arrives at Lux in Newport, Rhode Island, it lead me to imagine an elite think tank based in New Haven with Yale professors and graduates. The mansion that Lux occupied could easily be one of the old mansions on an Ivy League campus. Certainly, the politics and backbiting and the perks of Lux were also reminiscent of highly productive professors.
While the "enigmatologist" does sound a little wacky, Lincoln Child presents both the field and the expert in such a logical way that it's easy to suspend disbelief and follow Jeremy Logan's investigations of the mysterious deaths. I was fascinated by the architecture of this mansion and the idea behind The Forgotten Room. The concept and execution were wonderfully done - such a fun, absorbing read!...more
Imagine that our world was deeply damaged by our own failure to care for it, that it was now inhabited by powerful magical creatures that attacked humImagine that our world was deeply damaged by our own failure to care for it, that it was now inhabited by powerful magical creatures that attacked humans for the energy that is released upon death. The living inhabitants are regulated and controlled by a central government that dictates not just where one lives but the professions available (Hunters, Military, Psychi that are able to read people's minds, as well as the standard professions that keep the world running. Only those that perform highly valued functions are granted the right to live in the protected areas. Salaries and benefits are all based on one's usefulness and rank in this new society.
Our heroine Joyeaux Charmand is a young hunter who has been ordered to move to the Apex to work as a hunter. Joy is coming from a remote mountain area where a secret and hidden monastery holds a powerful group of hunters and teachers. Not only must she conceal the monastery's existence, but she has to adapt to the very public and commercial culture in the Apex.
She finds that the hunters are observed, recorded, and their days are transmitted on cable tv. Each hunter has her own channel with daily updates. Their rankings determine their perks as well as help to distract the greater population from analyzing the stresses and dangers that come from the monsters that live around them. Joy is quick to understand the politics and the stakes, but she's entered a deadly arena. She must determine who she can trust and how best to protect her uncle, a high government officer, from subtle political traps.
As Joy makes her way through the hunter culture, she finds friends and allies and we can't help but root for her. She's more than a team player, her focus is on protecting the Cits and her fellow hunters regardless of the risk to herself. Her sense of honor seems almost old fashioned and make her stand out among the more jaded Apex hunters and politicos.
Every hunter commands magical dogs that aid in their hunt. With 7 hounds, Joy doesn't just have one of the largest packs, her hounds are particularly gifted and strong. I loved that though Joy goes through terrifying ordeals, her behavior wins over other hounds and that her pack grows. I enjoyed Hunter so much that I wanted to order the second book in the series halfway through reading the first book. ...more
Looking for a light, action filled white collar/finance thriller? As long as you're willing to suspend disbelief for a fun read with likable characterLooking for a light, action filled white collar/finance thriller? As long as you're willing to suspend disbelief for a fun read with likable characters that you can cheer for, Spin Move is a good summer read. It's short though, so you might end up like me, feeling like you could read another hundred pages about John Rudiger and Katie Dolan. Instead of complaining, I'm looking forward to the next David Lender novel and hoping that it'll provide a few days of escape. ...more