Saturday, November 27, 2010


Pages: 36
Date: 27/10/2010
Grade: 2.5
Details: First five stories in the book read for book club meeting

I should probably start this review by stating that I'm not a short story reader. I like my stories long, full of detail and character development. Short stories, regardless of who has written them or what they are about, always leave me feeling short changed.

These short stories were worse than most though. I'm not sure if that is because there wasn't any rhyme or reason to them, because I'm not Irish or because they just went way over my head. I do know that I've absolutely no idea what the author was trying to tell me in any of these stories.

I only read the first five stories in this book, the stories taken from "Dance the Dance" and I have to say that by the time I had read the 36 pages they covered, I was relieved I didn't have to read on.
I don't think I'll be returning to Tom Mac Intyre's writing any time soon, if ever.  

For what it's worth, here is what I did manage to make of the stories I read:
Stallions: A young boy watches a stallion mounting mares, fascinated and excited, until his mother puts a stop to it.
The Great Sword: A stranger, Syl Jameson, rides into town on his "autocycle" like "Jesus on a motorcycle", angers the priest and mesmerises the boy before he disappears again.
Willy Wynne, Con Moto: A minor uprising in the local cinema where the classes are strictly separated. When a young man, Willy, in the richer seats starts whistling along with the movie music, the "masses" follow.
Gunning's Word: A word, sentence, spoken in anger (or jest?) may well end up sending a sober man to an early grave.
An Aspect of the Rising: A whore shouts abuse at De Valera's presidential residence before the man gets what he thought he was brought to the location for in the first place.


Pages: 245
Date: 27/11/2010
Grade: 5-

This book was send to me by by BookHugger as part of their RealReaders programme, for me to read and give my personal and honest opinion.

Philip Pullman is known for his stance against organized religion. That opinion was visible in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, for those able to read the meaning underneath the gripping adventure story.
In this book, Pullman's ideas are out in the open, clear for everybody to see and impossible to ignore.
This is the story of a baby boy named Jesus, and his twin brother, named Christ, who were born to a woman named Mary. While Jesus was a healthy and strong baby, Christ was weak and sickly, and his mother's farvourite.
In their younger years, Jesus was the child prone to mischief while Christ was quiet and aimed to please his parents.
When Jesus starts preaching to the people, and performing miracles, Christ is one of the spectators. But, Christ is also the one who can see the potential future of Jesus's work. He looks into the future and can see his brother and his teachings immortalized, an institution erected in his brother's honour, and institution that would ensure that his brother's words would live for ever.
Jesus doesn't like the sound of this future his brother can see and wants no part in it. But Christ decides he knows better and starts writing the words and deeds of Jesus down for prosperity. Because he feels that Jesus's stories are at times ambiguous, Christ writes some things down not quite as they are but as he thinks they should be. And soon Christ is approached by a stranger, a man who never reveals his identity but appears to know all about him and his brother and agrees with him that "the statements need to be edited, the meanings clarified, the complexities unravelled, for the simple-of-understanding". And with that events take a course that can't be reversed. A course that was never planned or wanted by Jesus but forced upon him by others.
The language and the story in this book are deceptively simple. And because the main thread of the story is a very familiar one, there is the temptation to fly over the pages. Doing that would be a shame though, since there is a lot on these pages that deserves contemplation and the readers full attention.
This is a story that will give the reader a lot to think about. For some this story will be confirmation of what they already felt. For others, those who are firm believers in the church and its teachings and authority, this will be a hard book to read, and a book that may well leave them angry. For me this was a beautiful and fascinating fable, and a story that will stay in my mind for a long time.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Pages: 302
Date: 26/11/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 13 Temperance Brennan
            Title in USA: SPIDER BONES

I love this series by Reichs and have done so from the very first book. The fact that a lot of the science in the books goes completely over my head doesn't interfere with my enjoyment at all. However, this one disappointed me a bit. 
There were too many unidentified remains in this book for me. I wasn't far into the book before I lost track of who was who and how they were or weren't connected. I wasn't completely convinced by the way the two story lines were pulled together either.
Having said that, I loved the insight this book gave me into all the work the US military puts into finding and identifying the remains of service men lost in combat. I also enjoyed the fact that Ryan was really involved in the story and that both his and Tempe's daughters were in the story.
This book starts with Tempe being called to a lake where a drowning victim has been recovered. The drowning itself is a bit macabre, but things get really confusing when the man is identified as "Spider" Lowery, who is supposed to have died 40 years earlier in Vietnam.
Tempe is asked to travel to Hawaii to a centre where the US military works on identifying the remains of unknown service men who have died. She's only there a few days when she finds herself facing three sets of remains, who could all be Lowery.
While in Hawaii with her daughter Kathy, Tempe is also asked to assist a local medical examiner who is trying to identify body parts which have been recovered from the sea.
Ryan and his troubled daughter Lily also travel to Hawaii adding extra tension to the situation.
When the Lowery case appears to be connected to the Hawaiian case, things get really confusing. And not just for Tempe.
If you've never read a book in this series, I would not start with this one. If, like me, you are a fan of this series though, you'd be a fool to miss this one, even if it has a few minor "faults".

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Pages: 282
Date: 21/11/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: No. 1 Viola
            Junior Fiction, age 12 - 14

I love everything by Trigiani. She could write about potatoes growing, and I would marvel at her way with words, This book didn't let me down.
This story is about 14 year old Viola. When her parents have to go to Afghanistan for a year for a movie project, she's send to the Perfect Academy boarding school, much to her displeasure.
She's convinced that she will be miserable, having to spend a year amidst strangers in South Bend, Indiana, away from everything she knows and loves in New York City. Her only real connections with her past life are provided by her computer and her video camera which she uses for a video diary.
But, the Perfect Academy has a few surprises in store for Viola. Over the course of the school year she learns about friendship, love, making movies and ghosts.
This was a fun read. Viola is a very likable character. A true teenager and therefore rather self-absorbed but also quick to recognize her own shortcomings and willing to see the best in others.

You know you're reading a good story when you find yourself smiling at certain passages while with others you suddenly discovers your eyes are tearing up. If you discover that you actually care about the characters in a story the author has done a great job. And all of these things happened to me today, while I was reading this book.
I really enjoyed spending time with Viola and am delighted to discover that there is a second Viola book scheduled for release next April. I'm looking forward to reading "Viola in the Spotlight" when it comes out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Pages: 398
Date: 20/11/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 9 Nic Costa
            ARC send to me to review by EASON Book Club

This title is to be published February 4, 2011.

This is the ninth book in the Nic Costa series and before I begin my review I have to admit that I didn't read any of the previous titles.
The story starts with Rome detective Nic Costa being the first person on the scene when British academic Malise Gabriel falls to his death from an apartment. He finds the death man being cradled by his young daughter Mina. From that first moment onwards Costa is intrigued by the teenager and the impression she gives of having something she needs to say but can't.
Although it's not immediately clear that this was more than a tragic accident a tentative investigation is started by the police. An investigation that gains speed when the apartment is emptied of its contents within a day of the death and the disappearance of Mina's brother.
When another death occurs in the same building and the family of the academic proves not only very uncooperative but also uninterested in discovering what happened, everybody's suspicions are roused.
The death shows shocking similarities to the 16th century legend of Beatrice Cenci, a young noble woman who was tortured and executed by the Vatican after she and her family killed her father, who was abusing her.
Is this really a case of history repeating itself, or is there a darker, more hidden explanation. And with none of the people involved prepared to give honest answers to questions, will Costa and his colleagues ever get to the bottom of this case.
This is a very well written book. It is as much about the characters involved, the relationships between them and their emotions as it is about solving the mystery. I would call this a mystery rather than a thriller, and there are a lot of psychological undercurrents. Rome in the height of summer, is a wonderful setting and almost a character in the story in itself.
The mystery is well plotted. Every time the reader thinks she knows what's going on another twist is introduced. And when I finally thought I had it all worked out, the author had one more surprise in store for me.
Yes, I think I might have gotten more out of this book if I had read the previous titles in the series, but I don't think I missed out on much. This book can very well be read and enjoyed on its own, although it might entice you to go back and read the first 8 books. I know I will be looking for those now. I found myself another author to add to my list of "must reads".

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Pages: 321
Date: 14/11/2010
Grade: 5

When the book starts it's Jack's fifth birthday and he celebrates it with his Ma in Room, the small space that has been his whole world since the day he was born.
Everything Jack knows, sees, feels and smells exists in this space, about 30m by 30m big. The things and people in the room are the only things that are real. Things on TV are just that, things on TV, and not real. 
The only other real human is "Old Nick" the man who comes to visit Jack's Ma at night. But Jack never sees Old Nick because his mother always puts him safely in Wardrobe to sleep before the guest arrives.
Now that Jack is five though, things are about to change.
Over the course of a few days his mothers starts explaining to him that there is a world outside. That she had a life before Room and before Jack. That a lot of things they see on television are real. Young Jack can't understand any of this; his whole world is turned upside down and he doesn't know what to think or believe. 
And it's get worse when Ma comes up with a plan for Jack to escape and get help to rescue her. It's a huge thing for a five year old to have to do, and a very scary and confusing introduction to the world for Jack.
But leaving the world of Room for the world outside comes with a whole set of problems for both Jack and Ma. It is going to take all their courage and determination to overcome those problems and make sense of the world outside Room.
This was an amazing book. I'm not sure how a book can be this harrowing and this beautiful at the same time. How it is possible to want to smile and cry at the same time. I don't understand how a story with such a depressing core can be this uplifting. I just know that it was all those things.
This story is told by Jack, in his words. He has a very big vocabulary for a five year old, however, it is also all his own since he was raised in isolation. This makes the story heartbreaking at times. He will describe things that are normal or even good to him, while the reader knows that was he is actually describing is wrong and disturbing.
This book will stay with me for a long time. It has thrown up questions that will take some time answering. This was a great read.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Pages: 420
Date: 12/11/2010
Grade: 4+

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is a desperate man, travelling through Europe following a trail of horrific murders.
His quest started after Jacob's daughter, Kimmy and her fiance, were murdered in their hotel room in Rome. After that, young couples have been killed in various European cities. There is no obvious link between the murders except that each murder was preceded by a postcard, send to a local reporter.
In Stockholm, Swedish reporter Dessie receives an anonymous postcard, and soon finds herself, against her better judgment, teamed up with Jacob in an attempt to find the killers, proof their guilt and stop them.
But, the murderers have a few tricks and surprised of their own up their sleeves, and just when it seems that the case is closed they give it a whole new twist.
What can I say about James Patterson? His stories are by this stage so predictable as to seem formulaic. And in many ways the same is true here. Extremely brutal murders, committed by clever, elusive and not entirely sane murderers, all leading to a high voltage conclusion.
But, because this story was set outside the USA and co-authored by a Swedish writer, this book did distinguish itself from other recent Patterson books, be it only in subtle ways.
The contrast of a New York cop having to cope with European police procedures was good and added an extra edge to the story. However, as always Patterson's characters are quite two dimensional and there's never any doubt that these stories are about the action far more than the people.
I recently bought "Red Wolf" by Liza Marklund and haven't read it yet. I think I'll be picking it up fairly soon though because now I'm curious to find out what her writing is like when it's all her own.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Pages: 389
Date: 08/11/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 16 Harry Bosch, no. 3 Mickey Haller

Although Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller have crossed paths before and now both know that they are half brothers, this is the first book in which Connelly has his two heroes working together on one case.
Haller is asked by the District Attorney to prosecute a special case. Over twenty years ago a man was convicted of killing a young girl and sentenced to life imprisonment. Now DNA evidence has put that verdict in doubt and Jason Jessup is about to be released. Haller is to be the special prosecutor of a re-trial, and although he suspects he's being set up for a fall, he accepts the job asking for his ex-wife Maggie as his second chair and Harry Bosch as his special investigator.
Both Bosch and Haller are convinced that Jessup was guilty of the crime and are determined to get him convicted again. But Jessup has a very good defense lawyer, who won't stop at anything to get his client pronounced innocent and in the process earn him millions of dollars.
Through Bosch's investigations it seems that the prosecuting team has everything they need in order to get the second conviction. But Jessup is a loose cannon and about to throw a major spanner in the works.
As always, Michael Connelly has written a very good and gripping mystery, made even more interesting by the fact that alternating chapters are told from either Bosch or Haller's point of view. But this book is more than "just" a terrific thriller. We also see the two half brothers getting closer and their daughters meet for the first time.
Connelly has stated that he doesn't like repeating himself in his books, so it's unlikely that we'll see Haller prosecute a case, or work together with Bosch again. However this book does seem to indicate that the budding relationship between the two men will be further developed in future books, and I certainly hope it will be.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Pages: 313
Date: 06/11/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 3 Quirke Mystery

These mysteries, set in Dublin in the 1950's, are dark. Nobody appears to be having fun and Dublin's fair city comes across as gloomy. However, that is probably an accurate portrait of the city at the time. Rationing after WW II was not completely lifted yet and Ireland had only been an independent republic for about 30 years. The economy was struggling, jobs were scarce and progress seemed a distant dream.
It is in this atmosphere that the story is set. Quirke has spend some time in an drying out institute and has just decided to check himself out when his daughter comes looking for is help. Phoebe's friend April has been missing for about two weeks, and Phoebe is worried about her. 
Reluctantly Quirke agrees to help Phoebe, but they soon find themselves facing April's family who are powerful players in the city with government connections and who don't want the girl's disappearance either made public or investigated. This attitude however does not stop Quirke or his daughter and with the help of Garda Inspector Hackett, they continue to investigate.
During the process Phoebe discovers that she didn't know her friend as well as she thought she did, and that the other members of the group she and April were part of are not quite what she thought they were either. Quirke finds himself up against the demon drink again, and not quite winning the battle.
For a long time it looks as if they will never find out why April disappeared, where she went or even if she's still alive. And when they do get to the bottom of the case it shows a very dark side to human nature and leads to a dramatic conclusion.
While this is a rather dark story, it is also a very well written book. The language is beautiful and depicts the gloom of Dublin City in all it's glory to such an extend that the reader can feel the cold and the fog. The mystery is very well plotted and the solution as credible as it is shocking.
I couldn't read several of the books in this series in quick succession. But at the rate of one book every year or so, this series works well for me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Pages: 306
Date: 03/11/2010
Grade: 3.5
Details: JF 9 -11

One night Josh (12 1/2), Michael (10) and Beth (10) Lotts, see strange lights and hear strange noises coming from the forest behind their house. The forest belongs to their Great-aunt who is a horrible person, although Josh can vaguely remember her once being very nice.
The next day the three kids go to the forest to investigate and find themselves entering a world they didn't know existed. The forest is a magical place with in its centre The Tree of Seasons which leads to four different kingdoms which rule the four seasons in the normal world.
But all is wrong is this magical world. An evil ruler is trying to take over all four kingdoms and destroy the four seasons in an attempt to take control of both the magical and the "normal" world. This evil ruler has also replaced their great-aunt in order to get her hands on the forest which she intends to destroy as soon as possible.
With the aid of some magical friends and gifts, Josh, Michael and Beth go on a quest to save the Tree of Seasons, the magical kingdom, the forest and their great-aunt.
This was a wonderful adventure story and fairytale. Stephen Gately obviously had an amazing imagination. However, this book could have done with a major re-write and a better editor. The story just doesn't seem to flow equally smoothly at all times and there were a few occasions on which words were repeated in quick succession where another word could easily have been used.
But, considering that Stephen Gately died (aged only 33, such a shame) while writing the book, it's easy to forgive whatever faults it may have. I also think that the 9 to 11 year old's this book was written for wouldn't be bothered with the points I picked up on, if they even noticed them. I suspect that kids that age would be too caught up in what is a very good story to bother with any technicalities.
The world has lost a potentially very talented story-teller when Stephen Gately died so prematurely.