Monday, September 27, 2010


Pages: 385
Date: 27/09/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 4 D.D. Warren

Three women, all very different yet tied into the same nightmare.
Police Detective D.D. Warren is called out one night to a horrific murder scene. Four members of a family have been murdered in their house. The father, and possible suspect, is clinging to life in hospital. The case appears straight forward enough, yet D.D. Warren can't escape the feeling that things are anything but simple.
Danielle Burton was the only survivor when her drunken father shot the rest of her family and himself when she was only 9. Now, 25 years later she's clinging to her anger and facing a meltdown every year on the anniversary of the disaster, which is only a few days away.
The only thing in her life that gives her satisfaction is her work as a nurse with severely disturbed children in a locked down ward in a hospital.
Victoria Oliver is the mother of one such disturbed child. Her eight year old son Evan goes from adorable and funny to violent and dangerous without any obvious reason or warning. Victoria's need to look after her son herself has cost her her marriage and regular contact with her daughter, and with her son threatening to kill her, she's not sure she'll be able to keep this up much longer.
When a second family is slaughtered and kids in both families are linked to Danielle's ward the investigation at last has something to focus on. 
Yet, events have to come to a violent climax before the killer and their reasons become clear.
A good thriller and a fascinating story. Only two things stopped me from marking this book a 5:
I had the murderer figured out the moment (s)he was introduced into the story;
I found it hard to read about children with the problems the kids in this book were having. The fact that I know these issues are very real didn't make it any easier. 
However,I do have to compliment Mrs. Gardner on her research and on the sensitive yet realistic way in which she dealt with these kids, their problems and their families. It opened my eyes to a problem I had never really given any thought to.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Pages: 178
Date: 20/09/2010
Grade: 3.5
Details: an Eclipse Novella

I suppose we all have our guilty secrets, and Stephenie Meyer's vampire series would appear to be one of mine. I enjoyed reading the four books in the original series. Not so much because of the vampires and other super natural beings, but for the love story. And for that reason, I hadn't planned to read this particular book; I just wasn't that interested in the vampires.
But, the book arrived in the library and I kept on looking at it. And since it is only a small book I decided to give in to my curiosity, brought it home with me and read it, with mixed results.
I find Stephenie Meyer's writing very easy to read. She's quite capable of starting a story and pulling me in. At no point while I was reading this book was I tempted not to finish it, although I did of course already know how it was going to end.
On the other hand, I rediscovered how disinterested I really was in these vampires. While I did enjoy the parts of the story about Bree, Diego and Fred and seeing how Bree slowly figures out what is going on around her, the descriptions of the other vampires and their antics left me cold.
I suppose I'm glad I read the book because now I can stop wondering about it. On the other hand, I can't honestly say I would have missed a lot if I had decided not to read it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Pages: 309
Date: 20/09/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: Psychological thriller

Kate has fled London and gone to the Isle of White, a place she has happy childhood memories of, a place she associates with happiness and fresh starts.
Left behind in London is her relationship with Richard. A relationship that started of exciting and exhilarating and slowly turned sinister and frightening. But by the time Richard's scary sides became visible, Kate was hooked and it took an act of extreme violence to make her flee, unable to tell even her best friend what exactly had happened.
Having told only three persons where's she going she should be safe from Richard on the island, but he won't leave her alone, stalking her with phone calls and emails, always letting her know that she is his, and unable to get away from him. 
When she's only a few days on the island a local woman disappears while on a sailing trip. The boat is found and returned to harbour, but of the woman there is no sign. Kate is intrigued by the woman and by what might have led to her death. But even while she's concentrating on somebody else's life and mystery, her own past seems to be closing in on her, making her realise that she might never be safe, anywhere.
This is a psychological thriller and as such builds it's tension slowly. It is a while before the reader is completely aware of what has happened in the past and why Kate is so scared. A very big part, too big a part for me, was concerned with Kate's thoughts, feelings and fears. It is a long time before anything actually starts happening and that, for me made, this a book that was easy to put aside. 
It's only in the last few pages of the book that action suddenly overtakes introspection, and although that section was thrilling and exciting it was also to short and a bit rushed.
Not a great thriller so, but not a bad description of what it must be like for someone to be stalked by a psychopath.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Pages: 309
Date: 15/09/2010
Grade: 3.5
Details: no. 16 Stephanie Plum

There are times when I wonder why I'm still reading this series. The stories are very predictable and I can't help feeling that Evanovich is writing these books on automatic pilot, a bit like paint by numbers really.
As far as I can tell, Stephanie will never learn how to be an even moderately successful bounty hunter, she'll never really choose between Ranger and Morelli, and will never stop destroying cars. And those are just a few examples.
In this story Stephanie, Lula and Connie are trying to rescue Vinnie, the sleazy owner of the Bail Bond agency, who is being held by a local mobster whom he owes tons of money. They're also trying to raise the money owed in order to keep Vinnie and their jobs safe. 
Of course none of this goes smoothly and a lot of madness, mayhem and destruction follow the girls wherever they turn.
On the side lines, trying to keep Stephanie from killing herself, are, as always, Morelli and Ranger, the two hot men Stephanie just can't make herself choose between.
All of this is business as usual. 
However, what usually makes this series enjoyable, and what has kept me reading this series for so long are the laugh out loud moments. This book had less of those though than previous books. In fact, I didn't find myself laughing until I came to the end of the book; the part of the story where the Hobbits come to the rescue. And without the laughs, these stories really don't amount to a whole lot.
Having said that, I'll probably end up reading number seventeen as well, because I can't help hoping that Evanovich will hit her stride again and make me laugh until I have tears running down my face. I have to say though that with every book I read in this series I'm getting more and more doubtful about the likelyhood of that ever happening again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Pages: 257
Date: 14/09/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: Young Adult

Why is it that dark young adult books hit me harder than dark adult books. 
With the amount of thrillers I read you'd think I'm well used to dark and grim stories. But reading this book was a very unsettling experience for me. And that makes me wonder. Is it because the book is darker, or is it because we're talking about a teenager having to come to terms with and overcome the darkness in question? 
Another thing I'm wondering about is, if this book leaves me feeling this disconcerted, how does it affect the teenagers who read it? Does it leave them with questions, like it does me, or do they take it in their stride, like I do when I'm reading my adult thrillers?
I really hope nobody is waiting for me to answer these questions right now, because as it is, I just don't know the answers.
This book tells the story of Will, a fifteen year old boy with a troubled life. His mother died through drowning when he was eight and his father is an angry man involved in nationalistic and fascist politics. He suffers from lapses in his memories and horrible nightmares and is being followed around by people he feels he should know but somehow doesn't.
All of that however, is only the start of it. Once he figures out what his nightmares, which aren't really nightmares, really mean and who the people following him are his life gets a lot more complicated, violent and scary again. It is up to Will to decide how he's going to deal with this new knowledge, provided of course that he really is free to make that decision.
This is a book about dealing with the past, facing the present, and deciding whether or not you're going to create your own future or allow other forces to do that for you. It is a story with a very powerful message, but it does use very dark images to get that message across. Messages so dark, in fact, that at times I was tempted to put the book aside, even though this is a very well written book.
I think this would have been an easier book to read if it had been set in a fictional world. But because it's set in the near future in a world that's all to real and recognizable the darkness got a bit too realistic for this reader.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Pages: 311
Date: 13/09/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 10 Sookie Stackhouse

This 10th instalment in the Sookie Stackhouse series was a less satisfying read then the previous ones have been. It was a bit of a mish-mash of a book and read more like a collection of stories then a novel.
Don't get me wrong, there was lots happening, as we've come to expect from this series, but somehow the various story-lines seem to have little in common with each other beside Sookie being central to all of them.
As the title suggests families, in one form or another, are the central theme in this book. 
Sookie finds the one fairy relation she has remaining in the human world moving in with her, apparently because he misses contact with other's of fairy decent although sookie doesn't really trust him or his motives. And worryingly there are traces of other fairies moving across her property. She also finds herself dealing with her young cousin Hunter, a five year old with the same ability she has who desperately needs training.
Erik, Sookie's vampire lover has to deal with the sudden appearance of the man who turned him as well as an unstable "blood brother".
Bill, her vampire ex-lover is not healing after the events in the previous book and Sookie sets herself the task of finding a distant relative of his who might be able to help, while she is also part of his reunion with his living descendants.
To top it all of Sookie also finds herself, once again, in the middle problems within the Werewolf pack. And after a relatively easy coming out on the part of the shifters, it now appears that humanity is less accepting of the two-natured then it appeared at first.
In short, life in Bon Temps is, as always, anything but peaceful or easy.
Like I said, I enjoyed this book less than the previous ones, but I'm willing to accept that maybe this novel is a transition between past story-lines and new ones to come and am hopeful that the next book will be up to the old standards again.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Yesterday evening, September 11, 2010 was the official launch of Celine Kiernan's "THE REBEL PRINCE", the third and final book in The Moorhawke Trilogy. As on previous occassions the launch was very successfully hosted by Crannog Bookshop in Cavan Town.
Tara and me had been present for the launches of the two previous instalments, but for Dermot and Tara's friends, Allison and Steven, this was the first time. I'm very happy to say that the three newbies seemed to enjoy the evening as much as us "professionals" did, but that was hardly surprising given the great venue and the wonderful person that is Celine Kiernan.

The evening started of on a slightly sad note. This was the first of the launches that Celine's dad couldn't be present at due to his health problems. But hopefully the video recording of the evening and the enthusiastic wave from the audience will mean that he will be able to feel that he was part of the proceedings.
Next Celine made a very special presentation to two of her Irish fans who are possibly the youngest readers of her trilogy. As Celine pointed out, these are not children's books. They are meant for a (young) adult audience. Yet Hayden and Laura both started reading these books at the age of nine and not only did they enjoy them, they also contacted the author with questions and remarks, much to her delight. To show her appreciation of them she gifted them both with an limited edition work of art; a picture of Wynter, the main character in these books, as drawn by Celine herself. 
Mrs. Kiernan trained and worked as a classical feature animator and for more or her wonderful artwork related to The Moorhawke Trilogy you can click here. I don't think there was a single person in the audience who wasn't at least a little bit jealous of these two, very fortunate kids, but it was hard to deny that they deserved the honour. (If you are interested in learning more about the creation process for this picture or a chance of winning one of the 8 remaining pictures you should have a look at this.)

The next person to address the audience in the once again packed bookshop, was Mr. Michael O'Brien, of O'Brien Press who told us about Celine Kiernan's amazingly fertile mind, and how extraordinary it is that her first published work consists of three books. Just how special Celine's achievement is, is also clear from the fact that the publishers who have published these titles in the rest of the world are the best in their respective countries. 
All of us worried about the fact that this was the last book in the trilogy had our minds put at ease. The Moorhawke saga may be over but another book, a stand-alone ghost story, has been contracted, although there was unfortunately no mention of a publishing date. Mr. O'Brien's last words were to congratulate the owner and employees of Crannog on the great bookshop they're running. Praise that was very well deserved.
Next one of those Crannog employees introduced Celine to her audience. He told us that great stories and great myths are hard to categorize. Publishers and booksellers are always trying to squeeze a book into a certain category but some books defy such treatment. The Moorhawke Trilogy is an adventure story, a political drama, almost historical fiction, a coming of age story, a story about friendship and loyalty as well as a social commentary dealing with current issues, even if not every reader is going to realize that while reading the book. In short though, he stated, this is a really good story.

Then it was time for Celine to do a reading from "The Rebel Prince", and she picked an exciting section of the story, involving Christopher, one of the main characters, going through a very difficult time. I already read this book a few days ago, but I'm sure that anyone who had yet to start would be itching to do so after hearing that part of the story.

When it was time for the book signing, the author, as always, took her time with everybody coming up to her table, regardless of whether they brought one or multiple copies of her books. She had a smile, a joke and a friendly word for everyone.

With that the event in the bookshop was over. It was not the end of a festive evening though since everybody had been invited to a launch party in a local pub/restaurant. Here we were treated to champagne and a buffet of delicious food as well as a good time.
It was also here that Celine received a very special present from one her fans. This obviously very talented girl had taken the time to make miniature copies of both the English and the Australian editions of the trilogy. In this picture the six books are in the palm of Celine's hand, and I have to say I was stunned by the time and effort that must have gone into creating these little wonders.

On a personal note, this was a very special evening for me too when Celine told me that she'd been delighted with my blog post about The Rebel Prince, especially since I had gotten what she'd been trying to do and say in the story. Suffice to say that I left the party with a huge grin on my face.
And finally, here's a link to Celine Kiernan's Moorhawke website. Go and have a look, then run to your bookshop or library to pick up the books and lose yourself in a wonderful story.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Pages: 431
Date: 11/09/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: connected to "Oryx and Crake"

This is a futuristic story describing the years leading up to and weeks following the "Waterless Flood" which all but destroyed humanity, as experienced by two women, Toby and Ren.
Following the Waterless Flood, a very fast and deadly pandemic, Toby, a God's Gardener, finds herself alone inside a luxurious spa while Ren, a young trapeze dancer, is locked away in a high-end sexclub. As far as the two women are concerned they may each well be the only human being left alive, and during the weeks following the disaster they each reflect back on their lives.
Through the memories of the two women we learn about the state of the world they live in, where violence and greed are the ruling forces and no one is safe from the corporations that now control the world. Animal cloning is common place and as century old species quickly disappear from the earth, their places are taken be creatures created by man.
Both Ren and Toby end up with a group called "God's Gardeners", a religious sect dedicated to preserving as much of nature as they can through denying modern foods and technologies all the time preparing for the "Waterless Flood" which they know is coming and they hope to survive through seclusion and their natural way of living.
Both women leave the Gardeners some time before the Flood and find themselves alone when disaster strikes. When the two women meet up again they set out from the relative safety of the spa, looking for others who may have survived, into a world that is now forever changed.
This was a scary story because it's all to easy to see how a disaster like this could occur if we keep on experimenting with people, diseases and animals as we do. On the other hand, the stories the two women tell are told in such a detached voice that I found it hard to really connect with either of them or to truly feel the horror of the story. I also felt the story didn't really end; it could still go in a lot of directions after the final full stop on the last page.
However, this book is connected to another Atwood book called "Oryx and Crane" which I haven't read, and it is possible that the ending of this story would be clearer if I had read that book, or that another book on this same subject is still to come. 
I say one thing for this book though; it gives you lots to think about and does make you wonder whether a lot of what we consider progress isn't in fact leading us to our ultimate destruction?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Pages: 409
Date: 07/09/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 3 The Moorehawke Trilogy / YA

Wow, what a powerful finale to a wonderful trilogy. Celine Kiernan has surpassed herself in this final book in the trilogy featuring the adventures of Wynter and her friends Christopher and Razi.
When the three travellers and their Merron companions at last find Prince Alberon's secret camp they soon discover that creating a peace between the rebel prince and his father is not going to be as easy as they hoped.
It seems that Alberon is determined to secure the safety of the kingdom through strength rather then diplomacy, and has allied himself with countries and people which Wynter and her friends can only view with suspicion, while some alliances demand too much sacrifice on the part of our three heroes. And to make matters worse, he has decided to use Lorcan Moorhawke's "Bloody Machine" as a negotiating tool.
With Wynter learning a terrible truth about her beloved father, and Christopher having to face his worst nightmare once again, their patience, love and endurance is stretched to it's limits. But still Wynter, Christopher and Razi do everything in their power to prevent a clash between father and son. Can their efforts achieve the seemingly impossible though?
This is the second young adult book I read in the space of a few weeks that deals with the horrors of war and succeeds brilliantly at showing how in a conflict situation the lines between right and wrong quickly become blurred. It shows the heartbreaking choices and sacrifices that have to be made by all involved and proves that once a genie is out of its box, there's no putting it back in.
I was so impressed with this book and this trilogy. Celine Kiernan's writing is beautifully descriptive, her characters jump of the pages, and are completely human and realistic. And to top it all off, the book comes with the perfect ending, not explaining too much yet giving all the answers the reader might want. I am very impressed and would recommend this book to anyone.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Pages: 268
Date: 05/09/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: Young Adult

Miles (Pudge) Halter goes from Florida to a boarding school in Alabama looking for the "Great Perhaps". And he finds a whole new experience in his new environment as well as friends and the beautiful, funny, controversial and self-destructive Alaska Young. He falls in love with her as soon as he first sees her, but since she has an absent boyfriend, his love is doomed to go unrequited. And just when it seems that he might have a future with the girl of his dreams, she disappears from his life in the most final way, leaving him with questions to which he may never find the answers and feelings he's not quite equipped to deal with. With her final act Alaska forced Miles to face life and death and the mysteries both hold, sending him on a steep learning curve towards adulthood.
This was the second book by John Green for me and once again I was pleasantly surprised. He writes a good story and does get into the minds and hearts of teenagers very well. Having said that, I can also see a theme developing here because once again we're dealing with a boy falling for a girl who should be way out of his league. A girl who is completely self obsessed and has little regard for the feelings of others or the realities of life. The strenght of the story is that in spite of, or maybe because of the girl's disregard for others, the boy in question has to learn to value other's emotions and thought processes in order to make sense of what has happened to him and his world.
"If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless."

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Pages: 360
Date: 04/09/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 10 Ben Cooper & Diane Fry

Years ago, when Diane Cooper was a cop in Birmingham, she was raped while on duty and those guilty were never caught. Now the case is being reopened, and Diane is going back to Birmingham. Not as a cop though, but as the victim who has to be prepared for a possible court case.
During her absence, Ben Cooper is temporarily promoted and almost immediately he finds himself having a hard time distinguishing between his job as his superiors view it, and his own instincts. 
When an eight year old girl drowns in a shallow river, it's Ben who lifts her body from the river. And although everybody seems to agree that the girl's death was a tragic accident, Ben is convinced that her family is hiding things. And because he is never able to ignore his instincts, Ben continues looking into the family and the girl's death, even though his superiors tell him to leave the case alone.
Meanwhile in Birmingham the recently reopened case is closed again almost as soon as Diane arrives. But now that she has been forced to face her demons head on, Diane is not prepared to let it lie and decides to for once in her life break all the rules and try to find answers herself.
Both Diane and Ben in their separate cases have to deal with families and the harm they can do to those that are members of them.
As always, Stephen Booth has delivered a beautifully written and well plotted mystery. I didn't appreciate this instalment as much as I have done previous ones though. It seemed to me that in this book too much emphasis was placed on descriptions of places and thoughts, and not enough on action or explanation. That didn't result in a bad read though, just in a reading experience that was a little bit less enjoyable then previous ones had been. It hasn't put me off these books either and I'm already looking forward to the next book in this series. Especially since I'm not quite sure how it's going to continue given the ending of this story.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Pages: 264
Date: 02/09/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: Dutch language original

It has been ages since I last read a Dutch book. But since "The Twin" won the International Dublin Impac Literary Award this year, I had to read it. After all, how often does a Dutch author win this price? And thankfully my father was generous enough to have a copy send to me. I refuse to read Dutch books in an English translation, just as I used to refuse to read English language books in a Dutch translation.
I'm not quite sure what I expected of this book. In the past I've come to prefer the style of storytelling as employed by English language authors for reasons I understand but can't quite put into words, so I had a few reservations before I started this book. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. 
In many ways it is a very simple story, with only a few characters and very little action. But it is also a story with a great depth of feeling, a story that tells itself almost more between the lines than through its words.
It is the story of Helmer van Wonderen. Helmer used to be one of a set of twins. His brother Henk was supposed to follow in their father's footsteps and take over the farm, while Helmer could pursue his literary interests. However, all that changed when Henk died in an accident before they turned twenty, and for almost four decades now, Helmer has been living and working with his father. During all these years Helmer has almost completely withdrawn from the people around him and from life.
But things change. Helmer's father gets old and unwell, and Helmer moves him upstairs and changes the downstairs of their house to his own requirements. Then a local man emigrates to Denmark and a letter arrives which brings the past into the present and forces Helmer to take a look at his life, at how he ended up where he is and at what he really wants from life. Helmer has to come out of hiding and face the world head on.
The lack of shared emotions, the restraint conversations and reluctance to open up are all very Dutch where we after all say: "just act normal, that's crazy enough."
This book contains a very quiet beauty, and a lot of hidden depth. It was a delight to read.