Sunday, November 30, 2008


Pages: 561
Date: 29/11/2008
Grade: 4

The story in this book revolves around the possibility that somewhere in England is hidden an unknown play be William Shakespeare.
Jake Mishkin gets involved in this mystery when he, as an intellectual property lawyer, is asked to keep safe some old documents by a British scholar.
Albert Crosetti is the person who first finds the old documents, parts of which he sells to the British scholar, only vaguely aware of what he might be dealing with.
When the British scholar is found murdered and tortured, both Mishkin and Crosetti get some idea that they're dealing with something that is potentially huge. Individually at first, but together eventually they start looking for the clues needed to find the play. But all the time, others are looking as well; others who already committed murder and will do anything to get their hands on the play.
This was not a bad book or a bad story, but I can't help feeling that it could have been better.
Jake Mishkin was a bit too much of a sleaze; Albert Crosetti's obsession with movies was a bit infantile for a grown man; and the final action scenes where a bit too violent and explosive compared to the rest of the book.
It took the book close to 300 pages to get into it's stride. And although I was never tempted to disregard the book, I was also never anxious to get back to it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Pages: 251
Date: 24/11/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 1 Jack Valentine Thriller

Jack Valentine has been working for an obscure and shady British intelligence service for years and probably for too long when he accepts an easy sounding mission. He's to go to Ireland, find a package left there by some Americans 25 years ago and bring it back to his boss.
Of course things aren't that simple and Valentine finds himself up against opposition and in danger from the start, while having no idea what the Americans were doing in Ireland 25 years ago or why it matters now.
At the same time Liam, a friend of Valentine who is high up in the IRA, has been accused of being a traitor and is being hunted.
It will take a complicated and violent conclusion to give Jack and Liam a chance to survive.
This was a good thriller. Especially the scenes describing a sea voyage during a violent storm are fascinating. My one objection is that a few things weren't explained sufficiently; the reader just had to accept them. But this really only bothered me in retrospect.
The story did remind me a bit of the series by Lee Child featuring Jack Reacher, which is a good thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Pages: 323
Date: 23/11/2008
Grade: 5

As much as Coelho's books delight and inspire me, I always find it hard to summarize them.
This is the story of Athena (a chosen rather than given name), who was born in Romania, raised in Beirut, and ending up living in London.
From an early age, Athena has a special relationship with the spiritual world. A relationship that eventually leads to her having such a following that she becomes a threat to the establishment. A position that brings with it several dangers.
Her story is told by some of the people who knew her, or thought they did; people who loved her, people who admired her, and people who hated her, or thought they did.
All the different perspectives made this into a fascinating story, leaving me with pages of quotes to return to in the future.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Pages: 188
Date: 22/11/2008
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 3 Revenge of the Sisterhood

In this instalment it it Myra Rutledge who gets her revenge. Nine years ago her daughter Barbara and her unborn baby were killed in a hit-and-run accident. The driver of the car was subsequently whisked out of the country by his father and the diplomatic immunity he enjoyed.
Now Charles and three of the sisterhood travel to China in order to kidnap the killer and bring him back to the USA for whatever revenge Myra has in mind.
This is a dangerous mission, further complicated by Jack, Nikki's former fiance, and his friend Mark, who are now dedicating most of their time and resources to finding out what the women are up to.
These stories stretch the bounds of what might be possible a bit further than my imagination is able to go. But they're light and fun reads. I don't think I'll be looking very hard for the books in this series that are not available through the library. But as long as I can get them there, I'll keep on reading.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Pages: 422
Date: 21/11/2008
Grade: 5
Details: no. 14 Harry Bosch, no. 2 Mickey Haller

Mickey Haller has just started thinking about going back to work as a defence lawyer when a colleague of his is murdered, naming Mickey as his professional successor. The detective investigating the murder is Harry Bosch.
One of the cases Mickey inherits is a huge one. A Hollywood mogul has been accused of murdering his wife and her lover, and a successful defense would mean good money and good publicity for Haller. And it soon appears that the case is very winnable, for several reasons.
But the fact remains that Haller's predecessor was murdered while preparing for this case, and taking on the defence may well put Haller in mortal danger.
This was a good thriller, even though I'm not usually a fan of legal thrillers, and I would have liked to see more of Harry Bosch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Pages: 322
Date: 18/112008
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 6 Wesley Peterson Mystery

A lot of apparently unrelated events are taking place in Devon. A 15-year old boy finds a medieval depiction of hell in an old barn; a retired rock star is murdered; the owner of an angel shop is attacked and nearly killed; and the teenage boy goes missing.
While Wesley's friend Neil tries to uncover the secrets of the picture (called a doom) and the past, Wesley and his colleagues have their hands full trying to make sense of all the crimes and the possible connections between them.
In the end it's the medieval painting that provides the answers to the mysteries both past and present.
As always a well written and well plotted mystery. However, you'd think that by now the local police would know to look at the past when dealing with the present (LOL).

Monday, November 17, 2008


Date: 17/11/2008
Grade: 4.5
Details: Audio: 8 Cd's / 9 hours & 55 minutes
Narrator: Alan Sklar
No. 19 Matt Scudder Mystery

A prisoner on death row, about to be executed, receives visits from a psychologist who says he believes the man's claims of innocence and agrees to be present at the time of the lethal injection. But who exactly is this psychologist?
Meanwhile in New York, Matt Scudder is about to give up on private investigations but agrees to one more case as a favour to a friend. Louise is dating a man she really likes but who appears to be hiding something. She needs Matt to finds out what, before she decides whether or not to commit herself.
Little does Matt know that this simple looking investigation will both himself and his wife Elaine in grave danger.
This was a good mystery with a great twist in the middle. The fact that the murderer is given his own voice only adds to the suspense. Especially since his thoughts and descriptions are at the same time horrific and devoid of emotion while logical sounding. Creepy stuff.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Pages: 336
Date: 16/11/2008
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 3 The Dream Trilogy

Laura Templeton's dream has always been to find the man she loves and loves her, marry him and build a solid and loving life, home and family with him.
When she marries Peter when she's 18 she is sure she has found her dream, only for it all to shatter into pieces 10 years later.
Now Laura is making a life for herself and her two daughters and has all but given up on her dream when she reacquaints herself with Michael; a man with a bad boy reputation and the looks to match.
He doesn't appear to fit into Laura's dreams at all, but the attraction is strong, and sometimes dreams come true, even if it seems common sense would indicate otherwise.
As always, Roberts provided me with a comfort read, which was exactly what I needed after my previous, much more challenging book.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Pages: 704
Date: 15/11/2008
Grade: 4.5

This is a very big book in more ways then one. Obviously, there's the number of pages, but that is the least of it. The story in this book deals with several major issues. Issues that are still big now, but where huge at the time of the stories setting. There is the race issue, and the issue of the working classes, their repression and their fight for a fair deal, versus the vested interests determination to keep their world unchanged. And there are more personal issues like love and following your heart; like facing the truth about your birth family and growing up to deal with it; like corruption, pride and paying the price for your decisions.
The story is set in Boston in 1918 where Danny Coughlin is a police officer working a demanding job under near impossible circumstances.
Luther Lawrence is a black man who has fled to Boston from Oklahoma, leaving behind his pregnant wife.
While Danny gets involved with the labour movement, one of the decisions that will cause a split with his family, Luther soon finds that his problems have followed him to Boston.
Both men face huge decisions that will affect their future happiness and their abilities to live with themselves.
What impressed me about this book was it's balance. It gave room to all points of view as they must have been at the time and most of the characters felt real, not either good or bad but bits of both, as you find them in real life.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about the sections about Babe Ruth. They've been written so as to make his real life intersect with the fictional ones in the story. I'm just not convinced that the story would have suffered if he'd been left out. But I'm willing to accept that I might have felt differently about that if I had been American and into the sport of baseball.
Still, as interesting and well written as this book was, I had a bit of a struggle reading it. While actually in the process of reading I was fine, but whenever I put the book down, picking it up again took a bit of convincing myself. And I'm not convinced that was only down to me having very few stretches where I could read for a longer time. For some reason it felt a bit like hard work, hence the mark of 4.5 for a book I had expected to be a solid 5.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Pages: 214
Date: 08/11/2008
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 8 Dido Hoare Mystery

I should of course know better than to read mysteries out of order. What's more, it really doesn't make sense when the first book you read is the (so far) last one published in a series. In my defense I could say that although I knew this wasn't the first title in this series, I didn't realize it was number eight and the last one. And I don't mind reading one title in a series out of order to allow myself to see if I like it enough to start hunting for the other/earlier titles.
and as far as that last point is concerned the answer is yes, I would like to go back and read the previous instalments. Also, fortunately for me, this book didn't appear to give away anything about the earlier plots.
Dido Hoare owns and runs an antiquarian bookshop in London and is surprised when she receives a visit from Gabriel Steen, a book scout she knows but hasn't seen for years. While he's in her shop, Gabriel receives a phone call which upsets him, and subsequently persuades Dido to buy a share in what appears to be a medieval manuscript, which he leaves with her.
The next time Dido hears about Gabriel he has died under suspicious circumstances, leaving her with the mysterious manuscript and dealing with a host of strangers interested in it, not to mention several police forces.
Investigating the manuscript and Gabriel's death only leads to more question and possibly danger and it would seem that losing money on her deal with Gabriel is the least of Dido's problems.
I enjoyed this mystery. It was well plotted and well researched and featured likable, realistic and well rounded characters.
It makes a nice change to read a mystery where the police and the amateur actually get on and cooperate rather than undermine each other.

Friday, November 7, 2008



On Tuesday November 4, Bailieborough Library, Co. Cavan was delighted to welcome author Noelle Harrison for a reading from her new novel, I REMEMBER.
The turnout on the evening was as good as we had been hoping and the audience turned out to be very interested in and appreciative of every Noelle had to say.
After Noelle was introduced by the library's manager, Fiona Burke, she proceeded to read sections from her novel, alternating them with explanations about the story and the writing process. The sections she read to us were picked in such a way that only a non reader would not be enticed to pick up a copy of the book. And the information provided in between the readings only made the book and the story in it more interesting. One bit of information that really stuck with me was that she wrote this book in three months, while taking a break from the book she was, and still is working on. I'm amazed that a story as beautiful as the one in I REMEMBER could be put together in only three months time, and delighted to hear that a fourth book can't be too far away.
Noelle is an "old" friend of the library; In the past she has given two creative writing workshops in Bailieborough library. And on this night her willingness to share her knowledge was once again called upon since a large part of the audience consisted of participants of the creative writing course that's currently being held, who of course had several questions about the writing process and why she'd made certain decisions with regards to the story. All these questions were answered in enough detail to be of interest to the aspiring authors, but in such a way that those of us who have no ambitions in that direction had no problem staying interested.
After the reading and question and answer session Noelle took time to sign copies of all three of her novels, which were available for sale, and took her time chatting with all who wanted to. It was a very successful evening, and Noelle once again proved a gracious and interesting guest.
The titles of her three novels are: BEATRICE, A SMALL PART OF ME, and I REMEMBER. And all three are well worth reading.

Pages: 259
Date: 03/11/2008
Grade: 5

I love the way Noelle Harrison writes. It's so descriptive that I feel like I've been picked up and dropped right in the centre of the setting of the story. Right now it's almost as if I've recently returned from a trip to Sligo and the Camargue in France.
This is the story of Barbara who travels from Sligo to London to start work as an au pair, leaving behind the place where her little brother died, and her mother still talks to him.
In London she soon discovers that the family she's working for is troubled, and Mathilda, the six year old daughter very ill.
Within days of Barbara's arrival the family and Barbara leave for the a Camargue in France.
In this beautiful setting things soon become complicated and ugly. And while Barbara experiences love for the first time, her feelings and the trip are doomed when she feels compelled to take drastic action.
Sometimes it takes a long time for situations to become clear, feelings understandable and life to find its proper course.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Pages: 301
Date: 02/11/2008
Grade: 5
Details: a memoir

This book is more or less a long letter to Paula, Isabel Allende's daughter who died so very young. In it, the author tells of all the ups and downs in her own life and marriage and the lives of the members of her extended family, or should I say tribe.
As is the case for all of us, it's a life filled with ups and downs, with good and bad decisions, with happy endings and hard adjustments to endings that refuse to be happy.
I love the way Allende is able to look at herself and those around her, the way the love she feels for those around her flows of the pages, even while she's not blind to and very honest about shortcomings, including her own.
In the end this was a very uplifting book, even though it was written on the back of that unimaginable loss.

As always, Isabel Allende left me with several quotes I want to keep:

- Every life can be told as a novel; each of us is the protagonist of his own legend.

- Never do harm, and whenever possible do good.

- It isn't the truth exposed that makes us vulnerable, it's what we try to keep secret.

- The worst thing about old age isn't loneliness but being dependent.

- After turning fifty, vanity becomes equivalent to suffering.

- Child, we come into this world to lose everything. It costs nothing to let go of material things. What's difficult is to give your loved ones their freedom.

- You have only what you give.

- At the end of our days, it turns out that we have lived only what we can evoke. What I don't write I forget; it is as if it never happened.

- Life goes along without a map, and there's no way to turn back.

- But in real-life stories there are no perfect endings. Each person just has to do the best he or she can, that's all.

- I learned that we're responsible for our own sadness.
Sometimes we can't avoid sadness, but we can control our reaction to it.

- People get the government they deserve. That's the downside of a democracy.

- The sum of our days, our shared pains and joys, was now our destiny.