Wednesday, May 30, 2012

spring reading

So, I've been in the habit of publishing my book list every seasonal quarter and I was wondering if that's just too many at one time. Do y'all out there actually read through the whole list? Would you prefer, perhaps, every two months?

It's a fairly long list this time, being snake bit as I was. Had lots of time to read.

The Athena Project by Brad Thor - super secret super crack all women team of agents for the government sent on important missions and they get the job done.  Oh, yeah, and they are all beautiful as well as trained and deadly.  A fun read.

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo - a community with an Amish presence experiences a series of hate crimes against the Amish people that coincides with the death by misadventure (or is it?) of an Amish husband and wife and brother who die in the manure pit on their farm leaving four children orphans.  The captain of the small police force, born Amish, is frustrated in her attempts to solve the crimes by the refusal of the Amish to cooperate.  A good story with an unexpected little turn at the end.

The Keeper Of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen- this was written by a Danish author and I found the translation to be a little stiff at times but it was a good story about a police detective and his two partners that were ambushed at a crime scene.  One is killed, the other is paralyzed, and the third suffers survivor's guilt and his caustic attitude does nothing to endear him to the other detectives in his department.  He is given a 'promotion' and relegated to his new office in the basement where he is given cold cases to work on.  The first case he and his 'assistant', a civilian hired for janitorial, driving, and go-fer duties, is the disappearance and presumed death of a young beautiful rising politician.  But she's not dead...yet.

The Expats by Chris Pavone – Kate, who has kept her life as a CIA agent secret from her husband, is given an opportunity to re-make herself and stop the lies when her computer nerd husband proposes they move to Luxembourg when he is offered a lucrative job as a security consultant for a secretive banking institution there. She quits her job and they make the move with their two young boys. Things don't go exactly as planned as her husband is always at work or away on business leaving her to try and live the mommy life she thought she wanted. Things get interesting and suspicious when another American couple move to town. Using her contacts in the CIA, Kate starts to learn things about her friends and her husband and the deceptions they are themselves involved in. Her husband is not who she thought he was. A good story with a little twist at the end. I found the writing style to be confusing at first since the story is told in the past, present, and future but always in the 'present' tense. A different type face separates the 'future' from the rest. And also, it takes a while to find out what Kate's deception is as regards her husband.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – post-apocalyptic America has been divided up into districts, each district enclosed by an electrified fence, and ruled by a totalitarian regime from the new Capitol somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The population is kept at starvation levels for the most part, slaves basically, producing the goods that the Capitol wallows in. 75 years previous one of the districts rebelled and was bombed into rubble and as a result the Capitol instituted the Hunger Games as a reminder of that failed rebellion. Once a year, each district sends one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to the Arena to fight to the death on live TV and all citizens are required to watch. The last one standing wins and is showered with riches and prestige and exemption from ever having to participate in the Games again. This year District 12 selects Katniss and Peeta and the game is on.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Every 25 years a special edition of the Hunger Games is presented and unfortunately for Katniss and Peeta the next year is it. The special edition for the 75th anniversary of the Games has all the 'tributes', the children sent to the games, being drawn from previous winners no matter their age or general condition. Since District 12 only has three winners to choose from, Katniss and Peeta end up being sent back to the arena but the rebellion fomenting in the thought-to-be-destroyed District 13 prior to the last year's games catches fire and spreads and their leaders, whose attention was caught by Katniss and her rebellious attitude, have different plans for the game and for her.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – The rebellion has spread to every district and all but District 2 are under their control. When Peeta, who was captured by the Capitol shows up on air doing propaganda for them a rescue mission is planned for him and the other captured Tributes. Now begins the last offensive to take the Capitol but Katniss has plans of her own. She is determined to kill the President herself. I really enjoyed these, want to see the movie but I wanted to read the books first. I was under the impression that these were 'young adult' books and I know they are popular with teens but I found them to be a well written easy read, not that I think books for young adults aren't well written.

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark – a biblical scholar discovers a parchment that he believes was written by Jesus himself. When his daughter becomes alarmed at not being able to get hold of him she rushes over to her parent's house and finds her father dead of a gun shot and her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's, cowering in a closet with the gun. A search finds the parchment is missing. Pretty good whodunit.

City Of Dragons by Robin Hobb – This was the third and what I mistakenly thought was the last of this series that started with Dragon Keeper and was followed with Dragon Haven. Made sense since all her other writings were trilogies. But no, I was disappointed that this was not the third and last book but only because I was expecting that it would all come to a satisfactory conclusion. It's a good story but now I will have to wait til the next one comes out to see how it all ends, if it does then.

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich – the further adventures of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter and her sidekick Lula. This one didn't make me laugh out loud but it did elicit a lot of chuckles. It was good. Better than the last one I think.

The Book Of Mortals: Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee – 400+ years previous, after the last world war went nuclear and devastated the planet a charismatic leader arose uniting the populations of earth under one Sovereign. A new religion, Order, was founded and a virus unleashed that turned off all emotions save fear. A small secret group, the Keepers, was founded to save the last vial of uninfected blood for the day when a special royal boy, who was immune to the virus, would be born to come to power to return emotion to the human race. Now that day has come. I didn't realize this was a series until I was nearly finished. In fact, I looked closely at the cover to make sure this was a one volume story. Alas, it was not. This is the first. It was a good enough story and I'll probably seek out the next volume when it is published.

The Lost Angel by Javier Sierra – another novel translated into English, this one written in Spanish. A historical novel based on Noah and the flood myth and also on that peculiar passage in Genesis about the sons of god coming to earth and getting it on with the daughters of men. Only in the story, the sons of god are angels. There is a lot of interesting information in the novel about the flood myths which appear in just about every culture worldwide and which are probably the historical remains of an actual catastrophe that occurred at the end of the last ice age when all the water captured in glaciers was released and sea levels rose drowning all the civilizations that lived on or near the coast lines. And there's also a lot of interesting stuff about the Noah story and the Elizabethan mystic John Dee in particular. But the story itself is kind of stupid. It's a convoluted plot to get a physic, magic rocks, and a tablet up to Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat during a gigantic solar storm that they caused so that the descendants of the angels can ascend to heaven. It'd be a little easier to swallow if the human/angels weren't arrogant and condescending. And besides it doesn't make sense because according to the story, it was the angels cavorting with human women and having babies and the offspring getting uppity that pissed god off enough to destroy the world and if Noah was one of these human/angel hybrids (which the story says he was) and he repopulated the world then every person living today would be an angel descendant. But no, apparently it was just a couple of Americans, a couple of English, and an obscure tribe of Armenians.

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje – although this is written like a memoir or autobiography, the notes at the end declare it a work of fiction even though the central character's name is Michael. The story is a series of memories of the 3 week journey he took when he was 11 when his family on the Asian island of Colombo where he grew up put him on a ship for England alone to go live with his mother. He met two other boys about his age who were also traveling alone and having no supervision, they basically ran wild learning about life. As an adult, he reflects how that trip shaped his life. I enjoyed this one a lot.

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig – A historical novel set in India in the early 19th century during the time of the East India Company, the story centers around a young woman who chaffs at proper behavior expected of young ladies and finds herself married off and sent to India to let the scandal of her marriage settle down and a captain in the East India Company army who find themselves drawn to each other as they hunt down a spy named The Marigold.

The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes – I'm not really sure what I think of this one. I think I didn't really like it. It's a narrative by the character about his growing up and his friends and his first girlfriend. His girlfriend moves on to one of his friends and a mean spirited letter written out of anger and hurt gets sent. Once out of school and getting immersed in their lives they start to lose contact. Several years later, one of the four friends, the smartest and most cerebral of them, the one who went with the ex-girlfriend, commits suicide. Fast forward 40 years with an outline of the intervening years and the narrator gets a bequest from his ex-girlfriend's recently deceased mother. The letter resurfaces and therein starts an examination of his culpability in the events that followed. As if. As if one letter would put a chain of events into motion that could not be changed. But then that's just my opinion. So the untangling of the relationships that follows is interesting and surprising but there was also something about it that annoyed me though I don't know what. But his ex-girlfriend? She's a bitch.



  1. I enjoy reading about the books you've read, and you've read a lot recently. I think I'll check out The Cat's Table. It sounds good.

    I was reading a lot also but this new BP med I'm taking makes it hard for me to care what's going on in a book. I kind of hate that.

  2. Oh wow, thanks for a good list. I loved the Hunger Games so much I put off reading the last one just so I could extend the pleasure. Many of these sound good so I'm a happy list reader.
    PS. Chuckled on the snake bit line.

  3. I LOVE when you do this and yes I do read through it all.

    Keep it up, if only for me :wink: I kid, I know a lot of people like the list because it gives them a synopsis to work off of to decide if they want to read. And your honest. And I like your opinions...And....

    How's Big Mama? :D

  4. These may be some books I look for.

  5. I feel the same about Explosive Eighteen, but enjoyed it liked you did. The Hunger Games series was a quick read for me, it made think of certain things and I cried every now and then--I know, I'm a dork.

  6. Yes I always read through it all - I do my monthly because I would forget otherwise!

    I read The Sense of An Ending recently too. I hated the ex-girlfriend ... control freak or what? There were a lot of minor details that I found frustrating and wished he had explained more - I think the point with the letter was he said go and ask her mother ... so Adrian asks her and as a consequence of him meeting the mother a whole chain of events takes place.
    But heck you've read a lot this quarter!

  7. I appreciate that your share your opinions via these little book reviews--doesn't matter how long or short the list. I haven't read one of those books (and I've been focuses on non-fiction for a long while, as I don't find contemporary fiction all that interesting), but I have been wanting to read Michael Ondaatje, so maybe I'll start there.

  8. I've read only two on your list, The Cat's Table, and the Sense of an Ending, both superb reading.

  9. I love these lists - & often put books on my wish list from them.

    I felt the same way about Explosive Eighteen - in fact after #17 I was about to quit reading these because it annoyed me. This one redeemed the series for me (or at least now I'll read #19).

  10. I'm definitely looking for titles to read, always. Bring it on! I'll read a list every day.

    Glad you liked the Hunger Games; check out the film now. I thought they did a good job.

    Thanks for the list.

  11. I read the Hunger Games books and I liked them more than I thought I would.
    My 20 year old niece recommended them to me.
    I'm reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy right now. I'm about a 1/3 of the way through it and I like it a lot so far.

  12. I find your list to be very helpful in trying to choose a book to read. I have a wish list on Amazon and also on and I just keep adding to them when I see something that sounds interesting on your list!

    If you find that it's a bother to post, I'm sure we all will understand. Or you could make a list on the sidebar or somewhere. Just an idea.

  13. I just finished reading "Born Wicked" and am so extremely annoyed to find it is a triology. I'm glad because it means more is coming! But the waiting is just so irritating.

  14. I am in awe of how much you read. Wow!

  15. Ondaatje and Barnes are the only two authors I recognise. Isn't it weird that even writers are confined to their own spheres? I've herd of the Hunger Games, of course, but can't recall why.

    Happy new season reading, my unread pile is ever growing and I think I need to reject a few before I get buried.


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