Friday, June 29, 2012

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This book is far too large (807 pages) and has far too many characters (close to one billion) to give it a proper description. If you don't know anything about A Game of Thrones, all you need to know is there is a land with seven kingdoms where summers last for years, but winter is coming and so is war. The current King overthrew his predecessor and when he dies, there are multiple claims to the throne.

This book has love, war, deception, humour, death (lots of it), birth, magic, dragons, and so much more. Don't be put off by the magic and dragons if you aren't usually in to that, these elements in the book are minimal. The book reads like historical fiction and Martin makes you believe that this time really could have existed. Really, there's no other way to describe the book, and I'm sure the entire series, as epic.

First Line: "'We should start back,' Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them."


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mortal Causes

Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin
It is the end of summer and the Edinburgh Finge festival is on. The tourists are out in full force and the festival is threatened by terrorists and bombs. Under the old city lies another from medieval times and this where a young man is tortured and then shot 6 times.

Inspector Rebus is seconded to a terrorism squad which is very much to his liking because he has the freedom to investigate and wander where he likes. Rebus even ventures into the Gar-B, a housing project even the police have little control over.

Rebus' nemesis, “Big Ger” Cafferty is back. Rebus follows all his leads even to Ireland. A book full of thugs, big-time criminals and really bad man there is also some time for Rebus the man. A female lawyer wants Rebus' attention so badly she is willing to break the law to get it.

This is a dark book with wonderful characters and enough twists and turns to satisfy the reader. On to the next in the series!

First Line: "He could scream all he liked."



A Thread of Grace

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
Historical Fiction
  A Thread of Grace starts with the Italian surrender to the Allies during WWII. Claudette Blum and her father are Jewish refugees intent on crossing the Alps from France in order to find freedom. What they find instead is more Germans.

This is a story of the German occupation of Northern Italy. Roman Catholic priests and nuns saved many Jews from the Germans who were intent on finding them and sending them to the concentration camps. Even though the Germans were fighting and being hit by air attacks daily they were still diligent about rounding up the Jews in the area.

Italians hid and helped the Jews. The Italian resistance fought the Germans. This novel is a historical fiction depicting the actions of the people in Northern Italy.

The characters in this book are wonderful. Renzo is a rogue who seamlessly flits between the Germans, the resistance and the Jews. Claudette is the tragic character caught up in an awful war. Schramm is the uptight scumbag German obeying his orders and fighting his conscience afterwords.

I loved this book and learning about all about this area during the war. So many people helped others at great peril to themselves.

First Line: "This is what everyone would remember about his mother: her home was immaculate."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chosen Prey

Chosen Prey by John Sandford
This time the serial killer is art history professor James Qatar. He is fixated on young blondes.

This is a great Prey book. The reader knows the killer and gets to watch as Lucas Davenport and his team stumble their way through the clues.

Davenport is back with Weather and a marriage is being planned and maybe even a child. Davenport seems to have settled down somewhat and even grown up a bit.

Loved the book and the development of the characters

First Line: "James Qatar dropped his feet over the edge of the bed and rubbed the back of his neck, a momentary veil of depression falling upon him."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

Cotton Malone used to be a US operative before quitting because he disliked getting shot at and opening a bookstore in Copenhagen. His old boss, Stephanie Nelle is visiting town and wants to get together with Malone. On his way to meet her, he notices someone stealing her bag and gives chase. The man kills himself before jumping off a tower which leaves Malone confused. He follows Stephanie to a book auction where more trouble occurs. Malone tells Stephanie he's now involved in her troubles and learns that she has taken on her deceased husband's quest to find the Knights Templar's hidden treasure. The problem is she's not the only one trying to find it.

This quest takes them to France and puts them right in the crosshairs of the Templars that are still around. There are a lot of clues pointing in the direction of the treasure and the "Great Divise" but the code is tough to break.

I've enjoyed Steve Berry books in the past and expected to enjoy this one but found there was one major problem with it. Every 40 pages or so, Berry would go on for 3-4 pages about the Bible which I thought broke the flow of the story. I was mostly reading this book on the train and whenever he did this, I started falling asleep. I much preferred Berry's The Amber Room to this. That aside, the mystery was still interesting.

First Line: "Jacque de Molay sought death, but knew that salvation would never be offered."


Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller is a sleaze-bag lawyer or is he?.  Haller represents clients like prostitutes, drug dealers and motorcycle thugs.  He won't proceed with a case unless he knows he will be paid.  When  Louis Roulet is charged with the brutal beating and rape of a woman, Haller finally has his 'franchise' case.  A case where he will make a ton of money.  Roulet comes from a wealthy Beverly Hills family and his mother will do anything to keep him out of jail.

Haller has 2 ex-wives and a little girl and they all love him as the reader slowly does by the end of the book.  Haller is brilliant as he unravels this case.  And the ending is exactly why they made this book into a movie.  

I have read many of the Harry Bosch books and loved the character but I think I like Haller even better.  Haller does not care one whit about rules and breaks them willy nilly.  But he still cares for right vs wrong and is willing to make things right.  This book also helped me to understand the role of the defense attorney in court proceedings


Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Tale of Two Nazanins by Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Susan McClelland

The Tale of Two Nazanins by Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Susan McClelland

Nazanin won Miss Canada in 2003 and was heading out to China to compete in Miss World with many questions in her head. How could she use the platform of competing in Miss World to do better in the world? How could she convince people that thought she was negatively impacting young kid's body image that she believed in outer and inner beauty? Nazanin walks the reader through her times in China and how she won second place in the Miss World competition. When she comes home, there's an email telling her that a teenager with the same name is being held in Iran, about to be put to death, for murdering a boy who was attempting to rape her and her niece. With Nazanin looking to make a difference in the world, and given that her heritage is Iranian, she takes this cause on.

The story of Iranian Nazanin is heart-breaking. Growing up poor, she was never given many chances in life. All she wanted was to learn to read, be able to tell stories, and become a school teacher. She was continuously pulled out of school to help her mom bring up her siblings or when her father was almost killed. As a teenager, Nazanin is out with her close friend and niece when some boys follow them to a field and attempt to rape them. Holding a knife in her hand, Nazanin stabs one of the attackers and kills him. She is charged with his murder and sentenced to death.

Though I've read many books about Afghanistan and Iraq about the injustices that happen to females there, I'm still continuously surprised by how societies treat their children and women. This book does a good job of showing the atrocities that some of the women have to go through. I really enjoyed the Iranian Nazanin's story and found it captivating to read.

I also quite enjoyed the ending of this book. With fiction novels, everything usually ends up just the way you want it. In this case, it doesn't. Connection between the Nazanin's falls off, though many requests for money are sent. And there are so many other teenagers on death row in counties in the Middle East that follow the same laws as Iran that it's almost insurmountable. Canadian Nazanin seems to be keeping up with the cause, and I applaud her for that.

First Line: "I was sitting at the computer desk, wedged in between the kitchen and the dining room in the downtown Vancouver condominium belonging to my sister and her husband."

Buy from Amazon



Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Tristran Thorn is a young man who lives on a farm in the English countryside. He is besotted with Victoria Forester who promises to marry him if he brings her a falling star. Thorn's village, Wall has a gap where he can enter the world of his mother, a faerie.

Thorn goes on a quest to bring back the falling star. This starts the most amazing adventure involving faeries, pixies and gnomes, unicorns, witches and ships that sail in the nighttime sky.

This is a easy wonderful fantasy read.

First Line: "There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire."


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Young Adult
Katniss survived yet another Hunger Games and is now in District 13 with her family and some of the other survivors. However, Peeta was captured by the Capitol and Katniss feels the guilt. President Snow wants revenge and thinks that Katniss is responsible for the revolution.

Katniss suffers through some very dark times trying to come to grip with her new reality. Gabe is there but he is very 'into' the revolt. District 13 is using Katniss to broadcast their victories and the Capitol is using Peeta against Katniss.. Katniss takes to hiding in cupboards and closets. Katniss is also still deciding between the two guys in her life.

I loved this book the best. The character development is fantastic. The hardship and mental toil Katniss is under is depicted. Prim, Katniss' s sister grew up and Finnick and Boggs really shone. Some of the developments at the end were not to my liking but then again this is not a feel-good part of the series but a dark story.

A Great series!

First Line: "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on worn leather."

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Divided in Death

Divided in Death by J. D. Robb
Reva Ewing was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel, and her best friend. Everything is just too perfect in Lieutenant Eve Dallas' mind. This could be a killing due to jealous rage but then why were all of Bissel's security settings for his studio changed at about the time of his death. Why is his assistant and lover murdered?

Reva Ewing, a former secret service officer now works for Roarke as a security analyst and they are working on a big project for the government involving techno-terrorism. The murder investigation moves to the Roarke mansion for greater security and we get to see all the toys Roarke plays with.

Eve finds out some more about her past and this brings Eve and Roarke's first real marital squabble. Roarke wants revenge and Eve doesn't want more violence. It is heart-breaking to watch this squabble and the reader really sees how much Eve needs Roarke. This doesn't diminish Eve as the strong woman she is but seems to just be a vulnerability that makes her who she is

My fav of the series so far!
First Line: "Killing was too good for him."