Thursday, June 28, 2012

I, Alex Cross

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

The Alex Cross series of books is really popular but I'm pretty sure this was my first one.  The first book in the series is Along Came a Spider.  This particular book is number 16 and I think he's up to 20 now.  James Patterson is an extremely prolific writer but most of his books are co-written.  The Alex Cross series is one of the few that seems to be coming from him directly.

This was a good police thriller mystery book.  It's clear why Patterson is a bestselling author.  He can definitely write a good thriller.  I have read a fair amount of mystery/thrillers in my time and I'm usually pretty good at guessing about mid-way through the book.  It was pretty late in the book before I had an inkling of who it could be.

If you want a fast thriller for summer vacation, this is a good one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

This is book 12 in the Southern Vampires Series.  I have thoroughly enjoyed these books but I am thinking Harris needs to take a break from them or finish the series once and for all.

There was a lot going on but also not a lot going on. I felt like she spends way too much time reiterating information we got in the past.  I've said it before and it still stands.  If someone picks up a "series" book mid-series rather than starting from book 1, they will miss a few things and they should just deal with it or go get book 1 and start from there.

All in all, it didn't resolve much with Sookie and the vampires.  Her relationship with the werewolves seems about the same.  Her relationships with humans seem to be about the same if suffering slightly from a whirlwind of fairy activity.  The fairy equation was tied up pretty nicely.

I am thinking one more book, maybe two and Sookie can live happily ever after not being in the middle of vampire, werewolf, shifter and fae wars all the time.  Maybe not.

On a side note, I have finally let go of how True Blood is not sticking to the books.  I am looking at the HBO series as an alternate Sookie universe.

Fall on Your Knees

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

This is a multi-generational saga that begins before World War I.  It is the story of the Piper family on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.  This is a dysfunctional family.

The head of the family, James Piper, marries his wife, Materia, when she is only 12.  He is 18.  Six years is not a big difference when both people are adults but when one is only 12, the differences are stark.

A huge lack of communication plagues this family through the generations.  Only at the end of the book when only two Piper family members remain do the stories all get told in one place and time.

This book contains two wars, race relations between blacks, whites and people who are somewhere in between.  It contains physical abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, incest and pedophilia.  It contains straight couples, prostitution of a sort and lesbianism.  It also covers the illegal liquor trade during Prohibition and the Catholic Church.

This book was very frustrating and tedious at times and lovely and fluid to read at other times.  I hated some characters and loved others.  Many of the characters drove me crazy with their stupidity - much like people.

The book only has 512 pages but it took me a while to get through it.  There were times I didn't want to read just because the subject matter was tough to get through.  It was well worth the read though.  I recommend this book if you are looking for a dramatic saga.

Friday, June 8, 2012

This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavor:The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

I just realized that this is the first in a series.  Book 2, Such Wicked Intent, is scheduled to be released 21 August 2012.  My copy of This Dark Endeavor (on the Kindle) included Mary Shelley's Frankenstein immediately following the end of the book.

This book is told in the voice of Victor Frankenstein, age 15.  He, his twin brother Konrad and their distant cousin are constant companions.  Elizabeth's parents died when she was young and Victor's father was loathe to leave her living in a convent rather than with family.  She has been raised as a sister to the twins.  There are also two younger brothers that are rarely seen or heard.

If you've ever wondered how Victor Frankenstein ended up trying to create life from previously dead tissue, this is an excellent supposition.  Oppel plants the seeds of possibility into the impressionable young man.  He gives us a boy who is exactly like his twin but, nothing like him.  Konrad is a very likeable boy who is at ease in a number of social settings.  Victor feels awkward with anyone who is not a close family member and never knows what to say.  School work and intense study comes easily to Konrad but Victor must work harder in order to learn but the skills of study don't come easily or happily either.

We are left with a vision of a young man who is just starting to realize how different he is from his twin and how much he resents the differences when he has always thought of them as the same.  Couple this with a new fascination in alchemy and books filled with the dark arts and you have a wonderful beginning.

I enjoyed this book and now that I know another is coming out, I think I will read it.  I am guessing it ventures into the young adult phase of Victor as well as his formal education and relationships that will form him into the man created by Mary Shelley.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

This is an historical novel set during the Edo-era of Japan.  It begins in the year 1799.  Jacob De Zoet is a clerk for the Dutch East Indies Company.

This book alternated between very interesting and so tediously boring I wanted to scream.  The atmosphere of the era was, no doubt, extremely formal.  The island of Dejima was a man-made creation which allowed the Dutch to live and work there and not on actual Japanese soil.  Only specific Japanese officials were allowed to interact with the Dutch merchants of Dejima.  Japan for the Japanese was a very formal and restrictive place.  People could not freely travel around the country but had to carry papers of identification and have formalized reasons for their travel into different territories.  Leaving Japan was an act punishable by death for the Japanese people.  Only the people who worked as translators could learn the Dutch language.  The Dutch were not permitted to be taught Japanese.

Jacob De Zoet is a young man of promise who can read and write in Dutch and English.  He is a man of principle and honor who is assigned to work in a place where everyone is on the take.  Each person involved in a shipment is skimming some of the shipment for themselves so they may sell it and profit from it when they reach their destination.  Jacob must learn how to exist in this climate.

I haven't been able to put my finger on the specific reason that this book was so awful to get through. When I finally got to 49%, I told myself I had to keep going just to find out what happens to Jacob De Zoet.  The end of the book seemed as though a different writer had written it. One thread of the story ended and then the author rushed through the rest and wound everything up as though he suddenly had a deadline to meet. It was very odd and disorienting and rather unsatisfying as well.

I don't recommend this book unless you are desperate to read everything regarding Japan during this era.  I'm sure there must be other books that can satisfy your curiosity without having to read this one.