May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson is a fictional book targeted at young adults and young at heart. This is the first of a series st...moreMay Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson is a fictional book targeted at young adults and young at heart. This is the first of a series starring the young lady May Bird.
May Bird is a skinny loner who aren’t too comfortable ins school, but very comfortable in the woods near her home of Briery Swamp with her cat / guardian, Somber Kitty.
One day May Bird ventures further than she’s ever been and falls into the lake. As she crawls out she finds herself in the after world with ghouls, ghosts and monsters. Only the Book of the Dead can get her back to her own universe, but first she has to go through the evil Bo Cleevil.
I had to read May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson!
My daughter (age 9) brought the book home, her teacher lent it to her. I read the first 2 pages and commented how much I liked it – honestly, I did like it as the first page or two reminded me of the writing of Neil Gaiman.
Next thing I know, my daughter happily brings me another copy of the book to read. So you see… I had to read this book!
Not to mention that I make it a habit to read every book my kids read so we could talk about it and also to pay attention to what they like, dislike or interested in.
Regardless of the targeted age group, I enjoyed much of the book. It’s an easy, fast read telling an imaginative story. I enjoyed the dark humor and characterization and even though I though the book might be a bit too dark and morbid, I still enjoyed the majority of the tale.
Somewhere around the middle the book lost me, the parade of Burtonesque (yes, I made that up) parade of crazy, morbid character seemed endless and the adventures move at a breakneck speed. However, the story soon picked up again to a very creative ending.
While dark, I think the book will find fans amongst the targeted age group and above. Overall, this was an enjoyable book, a quick read and great fun.
The Hurlyburly’s Husband by Jean Teulé is a historical fiction book about the Marquis de Montespan and his new wife, Athénaïs who becomes the...moreThe Hurlyburly’s Husband by Jean Teulé is a historical fiction book about the Marquis de Montespan and his new wife, Athénaïs who becomes the preferred mistress of King Louis XIV. The novel was spent many weeks topping the French charts and was translated by Alison Anderson.
The Marquis de Montespan his new wife, Athénaïs are in love – a minority among the nobility in 17th Century France. However the couple faces huge debts due to their lifestyle, but their problems and status seem to be almost over when Athénaïs becomes lady-in-waiting to the Queen at Versailles.
The beautiful, intelligent and vivacious Athénaïs becomes the lover to King Louis XIV, the Sun King, but unlike other husbands who sees this as an opportunity, the Marquis is heartbroken and sacrifices life and fortune to make his stand.
The Hurlyburly’s Husband by Jean Teulé is a funny and touching book, it tells the story of the Louis Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, marquis de Montespan instead of the one most people familiar with, that of his famous wife. Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan, better known as Madame de Montespan, was the most celebrated lover of King Louis XIV, had seven children from his seed and, for a while, was the de-facto queen.
Mr. Teulé stays away from the most common pitfall in historical fiction stories – judging the characters by today’s standards. He goes to great length to explain that by Athénaïs agreeing to become the king’s lover was not an act uncommon at the time. If the king wished to bed one’s wife, it would be prudent to accept and even worthwhile as it would elevate the family’s status and ensure riches. Not agreeing would have the opposite consequences, some which would be severe.
However, the story is about the Marquis de Montespan and his love for his wife. A love so great he would dare defy the king, turn away money and prestige. The character of Athénaïs is not depicted as a woman of loose morals, just one who does what is expected of her and who loves the rich lifestyle. She is not a cardboard character and the king is not only attracted to her looks, but also her personality and intelligence.
The author does an excellent job bringing to life the court of King Louis XIV, he does not paint it in rose colored glasses. Beyond the riches and glamour, the court was a filthy, dirty place where nobles would urinate where they’re standing, defecate on the side and the king himself has been known to only bath once during his life.
It took a while for the book and characters to grow on me, at first Marquis de Montespan annoyed me, but I soon learned to appreciate the character and the author’s effort. I learned much from this book about French history and culture, which made the reading pleasurable and worthwhile.
The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet is a non...moreThe Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet is a non-fiction book detailing the trials and tribulations of Nazi hunters following an elusive criminal. While the book does not reveal anything new about the era, it does make a fascinating read.
The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet is a tale of police procedural, in an era before computers and databases, of those hunting the worst humans this world had to offer.
I first heard of Aribert Heim several years ago, I read an article about him in the weekend newspaper. What struck me most about the murders was the Heim took time to mentally torment his victims before killing them with is preferred method – a shot of gasoline to the heart.
The book focuses on two men, Heim and Wehrmach veteran, Alfred Aedtner. Heim is trying to avoid capture while Aedtner works with other Nazi hunters to try and bring him to justice.
One of the disconcerting things to read about in this book was the attitude towards war criminals after the war, not only by the German people (many who refused to help, and those who did were ostracized), but also by the world governments who chose to turn a blind eye to mass murderers in order to achieve some small cold-war victory.
The book accounts for mistakes, oversights and just plain bad luck in trying to capture Heim. The pursuers were close on his heels for a while, and Heim was sweating till his last day.
Ironically, Heim’s 30 year exile, being away from family, friends and country, was probably a much harsher punishment than he would have received if he would have simply surrendered to authorities. Heim was careful to cover his tracks and his crimes, after the war years were full with confusion and doubt and he has been already cleared once by US authorities.
This is a fascinating book, written in clear style with short, easy to comprehend chapters. The book did provide an insight on how war criminals were able to avoid persecution.
Three Souls by Janie Chang is a novel taking place in China before World War II. This is Ms. Chang’s debut novel.
In China, 1935, Leiyin watches her o...moreThree Souls by Janie Chang is a novel taking place in China before World War II. This is Ms. Chang’s debut novel.
In China, 1935, Leiyin watches her own funeral and wanders why she has not been permitted to the afterlife. Leiyin discovers that she is not alone; three souls are there to guide her along the way until she make amends. But first she has to find out what she has to make amends for.
During her life, Leiyin fell in love with a radical communist named Hanchin, but at the cost of disappointing her family and punished for disobedience and ultimately he death. Slowly Leiyin discovers what she must do to exit limbo and go on to the afterlife.
Three Souls by Janie Chang is a very lyrical, poignant and interesting novel which give the uniformed reader, such as myself, an interesting background about recent Chinese history and culture. While the book does not delve into much philosophy, it does give a certain reference about the looming Japanese invasion, people’s fears and the struggle between the Nationalists and the Communists.
The novel is told through the eyes of the protagonist, Leiyin, who is spending the time in the afterlife, reflecting back on her life and trying to atone for something she has done wrong. The reader doesn’t know what she is trying to atone for until the end.
I liked the way the author captures the afterlife, with the three spirits who guide us through life, are also our guide in the afterlife, each with their own unique personality and advice. The author builds her characters well, while I didn’t connect with any of them (usually the sign that I won’t like a book), I did feel as if I know them and cared about them. Leiyin struggles to get her message from a state of limbo to the living were poignant and the solution was unique and interesting.
The book lagged at some points, interestingly at the second quarter, but I did enjoy reading the novel and learning about Chinese culture, history and belief system. I am looking forward to read more books by the author.(less)
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a fictional book set in America 1940s. This is the first Philip Roth book I have read, and I am looking...moreThe Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a fictional book set in America 1940s. This is the first Philip Roth book I have read, and I am looking forward to read much more.
Philip Roth, a Jewish child in Newark NJ, observes the world around him as Charles Lindbergh, known anti-Semite, aviation superstar and supporter of a certain Austrian madman, is elected President of the United States. Lindbergh is popular in the American south and Midwest, as well as endorsed by popular conservative Rabbi Bengelsdorf and wins easily over Roosevelt who is running for an unprecedented third term.
The Roth family starts to feel like outsiders, anti-Semities no longer feel they need to hide, Lindbergh signs a treaty with Hitler to stay out of the war and relocates whole Jewish families to the Midwest. Meanwhile, famed reporter and radio personality, Walter Winchell, runs against Lindbergh for the highest office in the country.
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is an alternative history novel which asks an question: what if America had elected a fascist government before World War II?
The novel is told from the point of view of a young Philip Roth from Newark, NJ and his Jewish family who refuse to believe that such a thing could happen in America and see their lives fall apart. The questions raised by this novel are excellent, and I would highly recommend it to any book club in need of an interesting book to discuss.
What makes this book great is that the perspective is told from that of a little kid. Mr. Roth examines a world gone mad through the eyes of a young boy and… he nails it! I don’t know if part of the book is a memoir or not, it certainly seems like it, but the author does look back at 1940s Newark with nostalgia and love.
This book came to me at a most opportune time, I just finished reading the excellent Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund by Arnie Bernstein which examines the American Nazi movement at the time that Roth’s novel taking place. Those two books which complement one another tremendously (the same characters make appearances in both) have really opened my eyes to the realization of how many people were on the wrong side of history.
While I enjoyed the majority of the book, which I thought was brilliant, the last 50 pages lost me. Somehow it seems that Mr. Roth was rushing to finish this excellent book, when I would have gladly read another 800 pages in the same vain.
The Angel: Ashraf Marwan, the Mossad and the Surprise of the Yom Kippur War by Uri Bar Yosef is a non-fiction book in which Professor Bar Yosef o...moreThe Angel: Ashraf Marwan, the Mossad and the Surprise of the Yom Kippur War by Uri Bar Yosef is a non-fiction book in which Professor Bar Yosef outlines why he believes Marwan was the best spy who worked for Israel, ever. Mr. Bar Yosef is a professor in The Department for International Relations of The School for Political Science at Haifa University, specializing in national security, intelligence studies and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Angel: Ashraf Marwan, the Mossad and the Surprise of the Yom Kippur War by Uri Bar Yosef is a fascinating book, as well as a deep, historical and scholarly work. Despite the several assertions, which can never be proven (such as that Marwan’s warning saved the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War), the book manages to be enjoyable and enthralling.
The story takes on several narratives, Marwan the spy who passes vital information to Israel, the events of the Yom Kippur War (1973) and how Israeli decision makers acted during and after the war. This narrative finds itself appealing not only to espionage fans, but history fans as well making it all the more powerful due to its relevance and factuality.
Professor Bar Yorsef dedicates part of the book to Eli Zeira, head of Military Intelligence during the war. Weighing the evidence and using deductive reasoning, the author concludes that Zeira knowingly exposed Marwan as an Israeli agent, claiming he was a double agent, only to share some of the blame for the intelligence and/or decision making failures. The author goes on to include how much damage Zeira caused to the Mossad, including the death of Marwan.
While dense at times, The Angel is a good book which shines a light on a gray world. The author relies on firsthand documentation, interviews, deductive reasoning and logic to make his arguments on a case which its facts, most likely, will never see the light of day.
Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner is a western novel taking place in 1837 This is Mr. Lautner’s debut novel.
At age 12 Thomas Walker, a shelter...moreRoad to Reckoning by Robert Lautner is a western novel taking place in 1837 This is Mr. Lautner’s debut novel.
At age 12 Thomas Walker, a sheltered boy living in New York City, joins his father, a traveling salesman, to go out west and sell Samuel Colt’s revolutionary "Improved Revolving Gun". Not long after their travels start, Thomas’ father is killed by robbers, and the young orphan tries to make it back home with his few possessions, including a wooden model of the gun, and no money, relying on the kindness of strangers.
Thomas is paired with Henry Stands, a crabby Indiana Ranger who likes to be left alone while he pursues criminals for bounty. Though Thomas is intimidated by the Ranger, who intends to leave him at the first town he finds, he feels secure and does his best to stick around.
Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner is the story of Thomas Walker, a 12 year old boy who is caught between world’s, is not a boy and not a man, and he doesn’t get to decide which one. The boy, still vulnerable, wants to be a macho man but is not match for the shysters and rough men he meets.
The book is dark, violent but also very enjoyable. The characters are complex, interesting and engaging, the story is very good and, due to the dark nature of the book, I didn’t know if it will have a happy end or not.
One of the most interesting aspects of the novel, for me, was the relations of the elder Thomas with his dead father, since the story is told in hindsight by an older Thomas looking at his adventures with a sense of forgiveness and maturity which is surprising. The elder Thomas forgives his father’s shortcoming, and mistakes which, at times, put his young life at risk.
Walker and his protector, Henry Stands, make an interesting due. Walker wants to get home to his aunt after witnessing his father’s murder, Stands couldn’t care less about the boy but as the journey extends, both see that there is something more than just reaching an end point.
This book was my first big surprise of 2014, a western written by an Englishman about a boy written with intelligence and charisma.
No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen is a nonfiction account from one of the man in the Navy...moreNo Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen is a nonfiction account from one of the man in the Navy SEALs unit who were tasked with raiding the compound in which it was thought that Usama Bin Laden is hiding.
A fast, exciting read which gives the reader a small glimpse of these élite units, their culture and attitude. The author, a SEAL for 10 years before going on the mission, makes good use of the page and the narrative and does not question the kill-and-capture he and his fellow soldiers have been sent on.
Much of the book tells about the author’s training, SEAL culture and missions he went on (most in Iraq and Afghanistan). The author provides many details, despite a disclaimer that he, for obvious reasons, cannot compromise security or identities.
The narrative is sweeping, fast and personal, the author goes into details of other missions to make the reader realize that despite the significance of the raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan it was treated with the professionalism reserved for other raids of the same nature. One of the missions the author tells about is the one to rescue a US merchant marine ship, the MV Maersk Alabama, from Somali pirates – captained by one Richard Phillips.
The book was fun and captivating, but left a sour taste in my mouth, while I do agree with him that the Washington chicken hawks need a little curbing here and there it is evident that his distaste for President Obama has skewed his perspective and his reasoning for writing the book. After all, any politician these days, regardless of party, would have take credit for this operation (I do believe that Obama has benefited from this successful operation but he had not taken the credit as pompously as the author believes.
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick is a novel following the path of a mentally disabled man dealing with grieving for his mother. Mr. Q...moreThe Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick is a novel following the path of a mentally disabled man dealing with grieving for his mother. Mr. Quick is a prolific novelist, his most famous novel, The Silver Lining Playbook, was turned into an award winning film.
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick is a quick, but thought provoking novel. The premise is that a mentally handicapped man finds a letter his departed mom kept from Richard Gere, the famous actor and activist, and decides to spill his heart out in letters to the celebrity. Only that the letter was a form letter sent to help Tibet, and we’re not sure if his mom really was a fan.
Nevertheless, I liked the format and humor in the book. I thought the author managed to tell an interesting story through the musings and point of view of someone who we would not think twice about.
The narrator, Bartholomew Neil, is constantly challenged whether in his faith in the world or in G-d. His life has turned upside down, those who seem to want to help have a hidden agenda which, as a gullible man, eludes him at every turn. I actually felt bad for the guy who lived in a sheltered, protected world and now discovers that everything he knew, from religion to social services to society in general, are all hypocritical.
This is a quirky book about peculiar people, everyone from the narrator to the priest are simply strange and profane on several levels. I found the novel to be enjoyable and quick but very thought provoking on several levels.
The Free by Willy Vlautin is a fictional book tackling issues facing the modern world. Mr Vlautin is not only a novelist, but a songwriter as w...moreThe Free by Willy Vlautin is a fictional book tackling issues facing the modern world. Mr Vlautin is not only a novelist, but a songwriter as well which comes through in the narrative.
Leroy Kervin is a wounded Iraqi War veteran whose brain has been damaged in an explosion . One day he wakes and discovers the fog has been lifted and he is “free”. However, for Leroy death is a sensible option. While laying in a hospital bed after his suicide attempt Leroy, the sci-fi fan, makes up his own story which centers on him and his girlfriend being hunted down by a group called “The Free” who believe they are unpatriotic.
The man who finds Leroy at the group home after his suicide attempt is Freddie McCall, an honest man, a caring man who works two jobs to be “free” of debt, pay for his daughter’s medical bills and cannot make ends meet even though he used to own his home outright.
Leroy’s nurse, Pauline Hawkins is a nurse who cares for others, but is emotionally scarred. Pauline meets a runaway teenager named Jo who is hanging out with drug attics and will end up dead unless Pauline intervenes.
The Free by Willy Vlautin is difficult to describe, part fiction part science-fiction, the book follows three protagonists throughout a very difficult time in their lives. The protagonists are trapped in bad situations through no fault of their own, they’ve been battered by life, the economy and circumstances.
The book talks about the protagonists’ situation, morality and hopes for a better life even though the odds are tremendously stacked against them. The narrative is honest, open and very realistic.
The three protagonists represent what most people in America go through today. Freedom no longer means freedom from tyrannical governments, but freedom from debt and everyday struggles against American oligarchs whether they are banks or insurance companies.
This book is dark and grim with very little good happening in it, but it is very engaging. The character driven plot makes you care about the three honest folks who happen to find themselves in situations which they cannot escape.
Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund by Arnie Bernstein is a non-ficiton book detailing the rise and fall o...moreSwastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund by Arnie Bernstein is a non-ficiton book detailing the rise and fall of the American Nazi movement before World War II. This is another forgotten chapter in history, and even though we’d like to forget it, it seems wiser not to.
Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund by Arnie Bernstein is a disturbing, scary but very readable history book. The book starts with a 1939 pro-Nazi rally held in Madison Square Garden bringing in tens of thousands of supporters – an even which today is difficult to fathom.
Mr. Bernstein focuses on one man, Fritz Julius Kuhn, a native German who moves to the US, gets a job for a known industrialist anti-Semite (Henry Ford) joins the German Bud and diligently gets to the top, to the position of Bundesführer. Eventually Kuhn is brought down by Fiorello La Guardia, Thomas Dewey, and others when they had had enough of his shenanigans.
The Bund finds many supporters of National Socialism (and the “Jewish Problem) but many high profile opponents as well. My favorite chapter had to do with the Jewish gangsters (Meyer Lansky, Longy Zwillman, Bugsy Siegel among others) who, while not religious and sometimes even a cause of shame for their communities, took it upon themselves to protect “their people” – and even enjoyed it as well.
The author does not hide his disdain from the subject of the book, a bunch of ugly people doing ugly things. The book is a fascinating chapter in American history showing how a fringe group can take the ideals this nation was founded on and manipulate them for their own purposes. Stupid people are dangerous in large groups and Mr. Bernstein proves it on every page.
Batman, Vol. 1: Court of Owls by Scott Snyder is part of the New 52 reboot DC comics has initiated. The New 52 is a 2011 relaunch of DC Comics entire line of monthly superhero books.
After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he's sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?
Batman, Vol. 1: Court of Owls by Scott Snyder tried to do a very difficult job – reboot Batman!
The graphic novel did achieve this goal, but I’m not sure I like it. The story is good, the Court of Owls, a secret society, is certainly a worthy adversary for Batman – but which Batman?
Despite the evidence, Batman doesn’t believe the Court of Owls exist because he investigated them already… when he was a kid! Heck, that was when Pluto was still a planet and we still believed that processed food was actually “food”.
If Batman has one superpower is that he doesn’t believe anything, doesn’t trust anyone and has a plan of every contingency. I also didn’t care for Dick Grayson being Batman’s bitching buddy. This isn’t a play, characters can have inner monologues without bitching to other characters, especially people they consider sons.
However, the story is engrossing and my complaints are negligible at best and only refer to vol. 1. The art by Greg Capullo is very good and shows great talent. I enjoyed The Court of Owls very much and am looking forward to vol. 2.(less)
Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi is a non-fiction book which follows the footsteps of seven Israeli paratroopers who fought together and the different paths their lives took. Mr Halevi, son of a Holocaust survivor and a recovering extremist right ideologue.
The immediate thought I had when seeing Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi was my dad. He was an Israeli paratrooper and fought in the 1967 Six Days War. I would have loved for him to read this book and get his take, but he passed away three years ago.
Mr. Halevi goes back to a time where the Jews, barley two decades after the holocaust, are facing annihilation again, and again the world is not interested in helping. Then, in six days, the state of Israel tripled its size, won a war in a way which seemed miraculous, liberated (depends who you ask) Jerusalem and divided itself for decades to come.
Whatever happened before or after, the Battle of Jerusalem was pivotal point in Israeli and Middle Eastern history. Mr. Halevi tells the story of the battle and its aftermath in both cultural and historical context through the view point of seven paratroopers which make the events more personal and understandable.
The author does an excellent job keeping the story balanced, he presents the views of the kibbutzniks who want a socialist paradise, the religious settlers and their views on the importance of keeping the land, the capitalist and artist.
The lives of the seven paratroopers keep interlacing throughout their lives, whether in war or peace, while they seven maintained different views on what’s good for the state of Israel and society, they mostly managed to keep a friendly and supportive relationship despite their differences. What the author manages to convey, is not only Israel’s reality and its problems, but also the lifelong connections of those who served in the Israeli army.
The book shows Israeli history and ideology through the eyes of élite Ashkenazi soldiers, women are sidekicks, Palestine merely an idea and Sephardic Jews are barely mentioned. Yet, the narrative is fascinating, the stories are personal and the history is rich.(less)
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs is the sequel to the popular YA novel. Much like the first book, most of Hollow City takes place around World War II.
Miss Peregrine children escape the island which was attacked by the evil “wights” under the guise of a military operation. The wights want to capture “ymbrynes” (think: good witch) like Miss Peregrine who can bend time.
Miss Peregrine, however, is trapped in the form of a bird, to restore her to her true self and her humanity the children must fight tremendous odds in war time Europe against supernatural creatures and society alike.
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs picks up immediately where the first book left off. That means that I highly recommend that you’ll read or re-read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because Riggs assumes you just put it down and jumped into Hollow City. He recaps very little and then, only what’s relevant. This formula is not a bad one, and saved on extra page space, but I thought one should know.
Mr. Riggs certainly is a talented writer with an eye for strange and wonderful characters. Much like the first book, the author uses weird and mesmerizing photographs to compliment the story. However, throughout the book I had the strange feeling that the author might actually be bending the story to compliment the photographs and not the other way around, something I did not notice in the first installment.
Even thought World War II is in the background, there is very little of the war in the book. The kids walk around bombed out London, the war has very little affect on them and since this is a time traveling story since they are in their own world. Mr. Riggs does not make the claim that this is a historical novel, and the time traveling aspect of it, plants enough suspicion in my head to forgive the factual details which did not exist during that time.
This engrossing and enjoyable book ends with another cliffhanger, which is sure to bring back the readers for more. I know I’ll be one of them.(less)
The Kept by James Scott is a novel set in rural America during in the late 1800s. This is Mr. Scott's debut novel, a Boston native who grew up in upstate New York.
Midwife Elspeth Howell returns to her home after spending a few months away working. Elspeth can’t wait to get back; she has gifts for each of her five children and her husband.
What Elspeth finds, however, is a bloodbath. Her husband and children are murdered and one son, 12 year old Caleb, is missing. But Caleb is hiding and is so startled that he shoots his mother.
Caleb tries to nurse his mother back to health, but Elspeth is sure that the violence is divine retribution for her past sins. As the mother and son search for the killers, they unearth family secrets and are torn between hatred and loyalty.
The Kept by James Scott is a difficult book to review. The book takes some serious reading and re-reading. I had to go back to several parts because I missed a key point or to make sure I understood what was going on.
I’m sure the book would make an interesting re-read because now, when I know the end, I can look for clues which, on hindsight, I skipped on the first reading. The author did keep me in suspense, I was not sure what was about to happen and every time I got a bit bored, Mr. Scott hooked me right back in.
The book starts out as a revenge novel, but slowly turns into something more, a deeper story both moving and interesting. The story is not an easy read and the ending is brutal.
The narrative is strange, Gothic, very dark and cold. I don't think it's for everybody but the novel is certainly worth reading and, as I mentioned earlier, certainly worth a second read. Time permitting.(less)
Trans-Siberian Express by Warren Adler is an early novel of this famous author. Mr. Adler recently released his 33rd book and has written multiple scripts as well.
Victor Dimitrov, Russian head of state, is suffering from leukemia. Not trusting the doctors in Russia to keep his secret from his political enemies, he requests an American doctor to treat him. Dr. Alex Cousins is hand picked for the job by the President, however Dr. Cousins discover that Dimitrov is planning to go out with a bang and strike China with nuclear weapons before he dies.
Fearing that Dr. Cousins will thwart his plan (by revealing it to America), Dimitrov sends him on a long trip to Eastern Russia. The good doctor is being watched, but by who and why is the question.
Trans-Siberian Express by Warren Adler is an intriguing novel taking place on a fancy Russian train. I loved the way Adler described the scenery and train travel on the Russian Railway system.
Adler built a whole world, with intriguing characters, all of who have an interesting history behind them, on a Russian train. The author did a great job of capturing the Russian mindset, where everyone (almost) are very proud of what they do to contribute to the whole. For example, one of the train workers is proud of her job, the cleanliness of the cabins, the hallways and takes it as a personal affront if the train runs late.
Adler shows his mastery in storytelling by handling flashbacks in a way which doesn’t slow the story down and actually moves it forward. Each flashback reveals more about the character, their psyche, motivations and train of thought.
The most entertaining part of the book is the descriptions of the Russian amenities, or lack thereof, on the train. From a bit of research I did it seems the author got it right and even if he didn’t, it makes for a great story.
The story also has no villains per say, each individual is totally committed to what he or she is doing, believing 110% that they are right. If anything I’d say that the protagonist, Dr. Cousins, is the “bad” guy even though he also believes that he is right and sticking with his moral convictions.
This is a well written book which drew me into Russia and onto the train. The narrative moves fast, the story is interesting the descriptions of the landscape are fascinating. (less)
The Time in Between by María Dueñas is a novel following the life of a Spanish woman’s journey from her humble beginnings as a poor seamstress, to an English spy during World War II. This novel is an international best seller and is Ms. Dueñas first book.
The Time in Between by María Dueñas is an enjoyable and captivating book covering the Spainsh Civil War and its aftermath to the end of World War II. The point of view, that of Spain and some from Morocco, during World War II is also very interesting, one I haven’t read about before.
Some of the chapters seem to be fillers to catch the reader up on some history, in an already long book. I thought they could be done a bit better and shorter, but I did enjoy much of the information presented.
The novel is slow to begin, but quickly the pace becomes faster and more enjoyable. The book weaves historical and fictional characters together to create a good and exciting storyline, as well as a primer on Spanish history. The plot of this novel is fascinating, the story is excellent and the characters are interesting and engaging.
I had this book on my nightstand for a very long time, I guess the length of the book (624 pages) as well as the subject (a Spanish seamstress) put it down at the bottom of the list, but I’m glad I picked it up. This is a story for everyone who likes a good historical novel, or a descent espionage novel.(less)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore is a graphic novel collecting issue from the first run of this popular series. A...moreThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore is a graphic novel collecting issue from the first run of this popular series. A movie by the same title was made in 2003, however don’t let that turn you off from reading this wonderful rendition.
Campion Bond, Director of England’s Intelligence service — MI5, has recruited a team of inventors, scientists, spies and adventurers who are known for being able to get their job done no matter what. This team consists of Mina Murray from Bram Stoker's Dracula, Allan Quatermain protagonist of H. Rider Haggard's series from the late 19th Century, Captain Nemo of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde of the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson’s famed horror novel, as well as HG Well's invisible man, Hawley Griffin.
The team is ordered to recover an anti-gravity compound, Cavorite – invented by physicist Mr. Cavor (from H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon) before the notorious Dr. Fu Manchu (introduced in a series by Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century) can get his hands on it and attack London from the air.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore brings in a bunch of famous fictional characters, written by different authors, to a steampunk adventure which spans literature and imagination. The story revolves around several famous Victorian characters which serve as a wonderful introduction to their stories and authors.
The graphic novel is illustrated with skill and talent, every panel has an aim and is worthy of close examination. Every panel is aimed at the reader who, with some knowledge of the classics, can appreciate the humor and genius behind the lines and words.
The characters which Mr. Moore “borrowed” are full of life and relevant despite their Victorian origins. While the main cast (The League) gets the majority of the panels, there are many more literary characters hidden within the novel, hunting for them was a major part of the fun in reading this work. The story, together with the art, can be read as a very complex novel which is probably the reason it was not done justice being translated to the big screen.
This graphic novel is full of violence, blood, death and sexual situations and innuendos, that is not a bad thing, but let the informed buyer beware. Kevin O’Neill’s magnificent art compliments and enhances Mr. Moore’s storytelling. The imaginative panels of Mr. O’Neill breathe life into old favorites, you will never read those same classics again in the same way.
The Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim is a novel which takes place in Europe (mostly) in the weeks leading to World War II. This is Ms. Zackheim’s fourth book, she is also a visual artist.
Rose Manon is an American journalist, born in Nevada, living in New York trying hard to deal with the attitudes of the 1930s. Rose has been posted to Paris with a looming global war on everyone’s radar.
During her time Rose will deal with a lover, a country which doesn’t know what each day will bring, anti-Semitism, and her hidden identity of a Jew. Before she leaves Europe, Rose will have to make some difficult decisions which will follow her throughout her life.
The Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim was one of those novels I didn’t think I’d care for until the last quarter of the book. I originally wanted to read this book because of my interest in World War II, however I found this book to be different than the ones I usually read.
The book paints a vivid picture of pre-war Paris and the characters were likeable and interesting. In the author’s note, Ms. Zackheim said that she started out researching the murder of a relative and became more interested in the other characters, so she chose to write a historical novel instead of a non-fiction book.
I thought that the protagonist was way too naïve to face the challenges the author offered her in the book, living, working and dealing in a chauvinistic society, lost love, Jewish identity and the Nazis. But maybe that’s why she endured?
I also thought that some of the dialogue could have been written better, not that the book is bad but at some points it seemed the characters weren’t talking as themselves.
Overall this was an enjoyable book and a fast read. The last 30 pages or so made the journey worthwhile and interesting, tiding up the story’s loose ends and giving me a few things to think about.(less)