Thursday, June 30, 2011


Pages: 353
Date: 30/06/2011
Grade: 5-
Details: No. 3 Dr. Ruth Galloway

When this third book staring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway starts, Ruth is just back from maternity leave and still getting used to being little Kate's mother.
When a team of archaeologists surveying the coast line discover six bodies, Ruth is called to the scene. When it is determined that the bodies are those of young man who were shot at close range sometime in the 1940's, Ruth finds herself involved in another investigation lead by DCI Nelson, something which leaves Ruth with mixed feelings.
When it is also determined that the six man were probably German and two elderly men, who might have been able to tell the police more, suddenly die, the past has crept into the present. Somebody is very determined to keep the secrets from the past just that, secrets and will go to any lenghts to make sure that they do.
Ruth finds herself juggling motherhood with work, feeling guilty over every minute spend away from her daughter yet excited to be out and about again while also trying to figure out her relationship with Nelson. However, it isn't long before all of those concerns fade to the background and the only priority in her life becomes, staying alive.

I'm really enjoying this series and half sorry that I'm now up to date and will just have to wait for the next Ruth Galloway book to be published.
Ruth is a very realistic character. Her thoughts, feelings, strengths and insecurities all ring true and are often recognizable. The archaeology parts of the story are fascinating as is the historical thread. And I like that besides Ruth, a lot of the other characters are regulars in these books too.
The books in this series are also very well written. Griffiths knows how to describe a landscape in such a way that you can actually see it and get a feel for it. Her characters are all individually recognizable and multi-dimensional. And her mysteries are well plotted and keep me guessing until the moment the author decides it is time to reveal all.
A good read, and a well earned 5- for this book.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Pages: 371
Date: 27/06/2011
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 10 Myron Bolitar

When I had just started reading this book, someone on Twitter told me he'd be interested in my thoughts on this title since he had been disappointed when he read the book. I was a bit worried about that. I've enjoyed all of Harlan Coben's books so far and loved all the Myron Bolitar titles, and I had been really looking forward to reading this latest instalment in the series.
I'm not sure why the tweeter was disappointed by this book, but I'm very glad to say that I wasn't.

The book starts with Myron standing at his father's hospital bed, about to lie to his father for the first time in 16 years. The story then goes back 6 days to the moment when one of Myron's clients, a very pregnant former tennis-star, Suzze, asks him to find her rock-star husband, Lex, who has run off after the paternity of the unborn baby is questioned on facebook.
Looking for the husband leads to Myron coming face to face with his sister in law, Kitty. He hasn't seen either Kitty or his brother for 16 years, but before he can talk to her and ask about his brother she disappears.
Myron is now determined to find his brother and his family, especially after his father has a massive heart-atack and is clinging to life.
But it soon transpires that things are far from straight-forward. Everybody appears to be afraid of something that is somehow connected to the time Kitty and Myron's brother Brad disappeared, but it is unclear what they are afraid of.
And to complicate matters further, there is Mickey, Myron's 15 year old nephew who he has never met before but who blames Myron for everything that is wrong in his life.
When somebody dies and everybody else gets even more afraid, Myron slowly discovers exactly what happened 16 years earlier, exactly what led to the split between him and his brother and who is behind all the fear in the present. Discovering the truth will lead to major changes in Myron's life.

Like I said, I enjoyed this book. The mystery is complicated and keeps the reader guessing. I liked the more personal angle to the investigation and as always smiled at Myron's antics, Big Cindy's appearances and Win's outlook on life.
My only, and slight, objection to this book is that it seems to me that Coben had a dual purpose with this title. Yes, he brought his readers a much longed for new instalment in the Myron Bolitar series. But he also created a vehicle to introduce Mickey Bolitar who is to star in his own young adult book(s?).

Friday, June 24, 2011


Pages: 272
Date: 24/06/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: Non-Fiction
            Book Club Read

As the title suggests, this is the story of John (Sean) McGahern's life.
Having said that, it is predominantly the story of his childhood, with a relatively small part of the book dedicated to his years as an adult, up to the time of his father's death.
That he would end the book with his father's passing makes sense,since this is basically the story of McGahern's troubled relationship with his father.
McGahern senior was a Garda sergeant living in Police barracks as was normal at that time (the 1940's and 50's) in Ireland and rarely spend time with his wife and children. When he did he was an unpredictable person to be around. At times charming, "Daddy" was also overbearing, selfish, unreasonable and at times abusive.
Until McGahern was 10 his loving mother formed a buffer between Sean, his siblings and their father, giving her children an almost idyllic start in life. Her death of cancer not only leaves Sean heartbroken but also means that he and his brother and sisters have to move into the barracks with their father and start living a completely different, less sheltered and much harsher life.
Almost despite the 7 years he lived with his father, McGahern does well in school, trains to be a teacher, discovers books and changes his dream from being a priest to becoming a writer.
Even when Sean is grown up his relationship with his father doesn't improve. Although they always remain in contact, write to and visit with each other, Sean never loses the resentment against his father he built up during his childhood and the father never seems to realize that there is anything wrong with his relationship with his children.

The only other book I've read by McGahern is "That They May Face the Rising Sun", which remains one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. McGahern works magic with words. He paints verbal pictures with an amazing clarity. And he does the same in this book.
And in a way that works against the story of his life. The language is almost to beautiful for me to get a real feel for how awful life with his father was, although the beauty of his words was exactly right when McGahern was writing about his mother and his love for her.
One thing I didn't like was the way McGahern would keep on repeating certain sentences. One example clearly springs to mind, a description of a route Sean and his mother would regularly walk: "Going past Brady's pool and Brady's house and the street where the Mahon brothers lived, past the dark deep quarry and across the railway bridge and up the hill past Mahon's shop to the school." This description was repeated, almost every second page in the early part of the book and again later on. And although I'm sure there is a reason why McGahern decided to use this repetition, the meaning of it completely escapes me, and it ended up irritating me a bit.
On the other hand, the book also gave me a few observations that rang very true, like "There are no days more full in childhood than those days that are not lived at all, the days lost in a book" and "In that one life of the mind, the writer could live many lives and all of life".
Overall I'd have to say that I'm glad I read this book. Because of the beauty of the language it was an easy book to read, even when the subject matter was harder. It was also very interesting to read about rural life in Ireland around the middle of the 20th century. McGahern would have been a contemporary of my parents, yet the contrast between the world he grew up in and the one my parents knew in Holland is striking. 
For me this was a good and interesting read but not an exceptional one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Pages: 179
Date: 21/06/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: Young Adult

 Ruben and Cameron Wolfe are teenage brothers. When their father loses his job, the family is in financial trouble. One day Ruben is noticed when he beats another boy up for insulting his sister and soon afterwards both Ruben and Cameron are offered the opportunity to take part in illegal boxing matches for money.
While fighting doesn't come naturally to Cameron, the narrator of the story, Ruben takes to the competition like a fish to water and appears unbeatable. But, as Cameron slowly discovers, the question is who Ruben is fighting. Is he up against his opponents, or is he really fighting himself?

This is a wonderful story about two boys/young men, growing up and coming to terms with who and what they are and discovering their place in the world.
Markus Zusak, as always, does a brilliant job depicting the inner life of teenagers. Writing a moving story, without ever becoming sentimental.
I loved this book especially for the way in which it showed the non-verbal communication between Ruben and Cameron. The way in which they told each other so much without ever using a lot of words, or even saying what they were really feeling. This may be a book filled with boxing and violence, two things I'm not a fan of, but underneath, and in reality this is a book about love and solidarity.
This was a great reading experience for me. Markus Zusak hasn't let me down yet.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Pages: 428
Date: 20/06/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: A James Bond story

I guess I should start this review with a few confessions.
First of all, I think it's about 30 years since I last read a James Bond novel. And secondly, it has been years since I watched a James Bond movie too.
I am however a great fan of Jeffrey Deaver's books and haven't missed a new release in years. Therefore, when this book came into my library branch I picked it up before it could even be shelved and brought it home with me.
Because of the reasons state above, I may not be able to judge how well this book works as a James Bond story I do however feel qualified to say that this was a good thriller, and a real page-turner.
James Bond is working for a division of the British Secret Service known euphemistically as the Overseas Development Group. Innocent as this name sounds, this organisation actually gives Bond Carte Blanche to use any force required outside of England.
When a mysteries message, indicating an attack in less than a week with casualties estimated in the thousands and endangering British interests, is intercepted James is send out to discover what the threat is, who is behind it and where and when exactly the attack will happen.
In a race against time Bond finds himself working both in England and in South Africa and engaged in a game of cat and mouse with very dangerous people.
I really enjoyed this book, although maybe not as much as I do Deaver's two series about Rhymes and Dance. I liked that James Bond was flashed out by Deaver, giving the reader a background to the spy as well as a personal mystery for Bond to ponder.
The book does have the ingredients that I remember as being essential to Bond; beautiful women, ruthless adversaries and impossible situations to get out of.
However, whereas in the Bond movies we usually know from the start who exactly James Bond is up against, this story has several of the typical Deaver twists before the story ends.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Pages: 133
Date: 17/06/2011
Grade: 5
Details: Non-fiction
            Reviewed for NewBooks

This is a book about books, written by a man in the middle of a life-long love affair with books, who has accumulated approximately 40.000 copies in his house.
This is a book about having such a personal library, acquiring the books and the need to keep them, the intricacies involved in organising the shelves and the frustrations associated with not being able to find a certain copy of a certain title. This is a book for those who love books. For people, like me, who can’t walk past a bookshop without going in and leaving, a good while later, with at least a few new acquisitions.
I found so many statements and quotes that spoke to me, sentiments I recognized and feelings I shared that my copy is now littered with little notes so that I may find and experience them again.
However, I feel I should also mention that I was unfamiliar with most of the books and authors mentioned by Bonnet, and although this didn't in any way interfere with my enjoyment it may well alienate other readers to some extend.
For me this book is a little treasure that I will proudly add to my personal library (in the non-fiction section, alphabetically under author’s name to be precise).
Because this is a book about personal libraries, I couldn't resist including a picture of (part of) my personal library here. Phantoms on shelves, custom made for me by Dermot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Pages: 329
Date: 16/06/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 1 Jo Birmingham Mystery

 Jo Birmingham is a police detective in Dublin. She's also a mother and separated from her husband who also happens to be her superior in work.
When Jo finds the body of a horrifically murdered prostitute it doesn't take her long to link it to other recent murders. What she discovers is not pretty. It appears they're looking for someone with a religious obsession, someone acting out an eye for or an eye, a tooth for a tooth.....
With the body count rising the investigation appears to be moving forward once Jo and her colleagues discover what the link between the victims is. But with things less straight forward than they appear Jo will find herself in real danger before this case can be concluded.

I am a big fan of good mysteries and as such was not disappointed in this book. It is a bonus that the story is set in Dublin, a place I know well.
Jo Birmingham makes a good main character. She is a tough and intuitive detective who knows her own mind and doesn't allow anybody to mess with her. She is also a devoted mother and still in turmoil over the separation from her husband. This makes her a real and well-rounded character, especially since she may be good at what she does but is far from perfect.
The mystery was very well plotted with enough red herrings to keep me guessing until the very end. I thought I had the solution very early on in the book, and when Jo came to the same conclusion a good bit later on, I felt a bit let down. But, we were both wrong, and that's all I say about that.
My one qualm about this book is that the murderer was virtually impossible to guess for the reader because the clues just weren't there. It made for a surprise ending though.
This book also strikes the right balance between the mystery and the personal story line. One never got in the way of the other and both were portrait realistically.
Another thing I really appreciated is the case O'Connor makes for Separate Legal Representation, a system which, if adopted, would allow victims of violent crime to have their own representation in court. Someone to give them a more personal voice, rather than just the voice of the prosecutor who, after all, speaks for the state, and not for the victims. O'Connor makes this case both in the story, and in a note at the end of the book and I fully agree with her.
All in all this was a great read, and a one day book for me. I'm very glad that my library has the second book, Taken, on order and that I will be able to get my hands on it soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Pages: 555
Date: 14/06/2011
Grade: 4+
Details: The Dagger and the Coin: Book One
            Received from and reviewed for Bookgeeks

In the prologue of The Dragon’s Path a young apostate runs away from a remote religious community in the sure knowledge that if those following catch him, he will be killed. Through sheer determination and some luck he manages to make it to the safety of a town, uncertain of what he will find there or how he’ll cope with it, while carrying his secrets very close to his heart. And that is the last we hear about the apostate until the last chapter of the book, or is it?
The main story revolves primarily around three characters, Marcus the famous warrior now tired of the fighting, Cithrin, a young orphan raised by a bank and Geder, the only son from a minor noble house more interested in philosophy then fighting but forced by his position in to the latter.
When it appears Vanai, the city where Cithrin has grown up, is under threat from an invasion force, the banker who raised her decides to send her and most of his bank’s possessions away with the last trade caravan leaving. With Cithrin disguised as a boy and the goods as produce of little value, the hope is that the girl will be able to bring the bank’s valuables to its head-office.
Marcus is recognised as a hero. But after a devastating loss his fighting days are behind him and he prefers to guard the last caravan leaving Vanai over staying behind to join the forces facing the invading army. He hires a troupe of actors, led by Master Kit, to pretend to be guards.
Geder is part of the forces invading Vanai. He is not a natural soldier and looked upon as strange and not too bright by those around him. But, he will end up playing a major role, not only in Vanai’s ultimate fate, but also in the events that follow.
All three of them are pawns in a game that will lead the lands towards The Dragon’s Path – the path of war.

I really enjoyed this book. I think this is probably fantasy at its best. It has all the fantastical elements a reader would expect; strange countries populated by human-like, but not quite human as we know it, creatures, the threat of conflict and supernatural powers. However, this book is much more. The emphasis in this story is very much on political intrigue, the power of money and those who wield it, corruption and the dangers of religion. And those elements made this a fascinating read.
The main characters in this story came alive for me as the story progressed. There are no purely good and purely bad caricatures in this story, but rather realistic, fleshed out individuals with their good points and their bad, with the best intentions but not always the right way of going about it.
In many ways this book appears to be setting the stage for more to come, but that doesn’t take away from the satisfaction the reader gets from the story. It does make this reader rather eager to read further instalments though.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Pages: 232
Date: 08/06/2011
Grade: 4

This was my third book by Bill Bryson in just over two weeks, and I think that, for the time being, it will be my last. Not that I didn't enjoy this book, I did, but I think it is possible to overdo it with any author and I fear that if I read another Bryson book anytime soon I won't find it funny anymore because I'd be too used to his sense of humour. I didn't have that problem while reading Neither Here Nor There though. I had quite a few laugh out loud moments.

In this book Bryson describes his solitary travels through Europe in 1990. And he does see a lot of Europe, travelling through Norway, Sweden and Denmark (but not Finland), the low countries, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and ending his travels in Istanbul.
He has made this trip before, in the early 1970's with Stephen Katz, the same person he paired up with for his Walk in the Woods. It's a bit of a mystery though why he would want to journey with Katz again in that later book, Considering the memories he describes in this one I would have had no problem believing that he and Katz had never spoken to each other again.
His observations of the places he visits and the people he observes and meets is, as expected, sharp and funny and his descriptions do make me wish for a windfall large enough to extensively travel through Europe myself.
Overall this was an informative, interesting, fun and funny read written by a man who has a unique way with words.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Pages: 80
Date: 06/06/2011
Grade: 4
Details: A Peak District Novella

Claws is another of Stephen Booth's Peak District mysteries, but it is not part of the series as such. This is a shorter story (only 80 pages) featuring only Ben Cooper and fitting in the series either just before or just after "Dying to Sin", judging by the publishing date.
Like I said Claws is much shorter then the books in the series and is more of a novella then a novel.
In this story Ben Cooper is investigating wildlife crime with the Rural Crime Squad. The investigation focuses mainly on a man known to collect Goshawk chicks and eggs. The goshawk is a protected birth so those collecting activities alone would warrant an arrest, but the man is also suspected of involvement with the trade in illegal drugs.
Before too long though, Ben and his colleagues are not just dealing with threatened and dead birds but also with a human murder victim, and Ben finds himself facing a choice between law and humanity.

I enjoyed this story, but I thought it was too short. Not only because I prefer longer books with more detail in general, but also because I feel that this story would have benefited from fleshing out. I would have loved to learn more about almost everybody and everything in this story, and did miss everything that wasn't there.
Having said that, Booth always knows to capture me with his writing and his descriptions of the Peak District and Claws was no exception. And with Ben Cooper being my favourite character in Booth's series, this novella was like a nice treat to tie me over until I can get my hands on the latest title in the series.


Pages: 321
Date: 05/06/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Dr. Ruth Galloway
            Large Print edition

This is the second mystery featuring Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic Archaeologist, and I liked it as much as I did the first one.
The story is set about four months after the terrifying ending of the first book and Ruth is back working in the university, living her solitary life and... pregnant. A pregnancy she keeps to herself for as long as she thinks she can, but is soon forced to share with others, including the baby's father.
When bones are found under an archway in an old building being torn down for conversion into apartments, Ruth is called in to examine the bones and the site they were found in. Because the bones turn out to be relatively recent, DCI Harry Nelson is called in and he soon finds himself wondering what he could be dealing with. Is this a case of straight-forward murder or is he looking at a chilling ritual killing? And who could these tiny bones possibly belong to?
As the case develops Ruth finds herself targeted by someone who seems determined to scare her either away from the investigation, or to death. And before the book ends Ruth will have to take actions she wouldn't have considered possible in order to protect herself and, more importantly, her unborn child.

I really enjoy this series. I have a soft spot for archaeological mysteries anyway, but the character of Ruth gives these books an extra charm. Ruth is not you're average beautifully, athletic and overly competent mystery heroine. Quite the opposite really, since she is over-weight and a rather solitary person. For me though, that only adds to her appeal. It seems to make her more real, and therefore the danger she gets into more threatening.
Another thing I like is that the reader is given an insight into the actions and thoughts of every person involved in the investigation, meaning that there are no late surprises when the mystery's solution is revealed. The reader has as good a chance to solve the mystery as the characters have, and that's the way a good mystery should work in my opinion.

I'm really glad that I already have the third book in this series here at home, and know that I will be picking it up very soon.


Pages: 304
Date: 03/06/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: I received this book from, and reviewed it for BookDagger / Real Readers.Own


The Lock Artist tells the story Michael. When Michael was eight something terrible happened to him and his family. Michael is the only survivor of the event that has left him unable to speak and living with his well meaning but not quite up to the task uncle.
When Michael discovers a talent for opening locks it gives him an escape from the trauma as well as a way of avoiding bullying in school. But when a high school prank goes wrong Michael finds himself the subject of interest for organized crime. When Michael falls in love with Amelia it gives his criminal bosses a hold over him and he finds himself training with a professional lock artist, learning how to open safes and involved in dangerous and high stake break-inns.
All the time though Michael is looking for a way to end his masters' hold over him while keeping the girl he loves save. Most of all though, he's looking for the key that will allow him to unlock his secrets and to speak again.
This is a remarkable story. Michael, the main character, can't be pigeonholed as either good or bad. He is proud of his skill with locks, but not happy with what others make him use it for. It clearly excites him when he's able to open a lock or safe, but doesn't want the involvement with high level crime and violence. As such, he makes a realistic, multi-dimensional and very likable main character.
The story is very well plotted. While the break-inns and the dangers involved with them keep the tension high, the real mystery lies in what exactly happened to Michael all those years ago, and in whether or not he'll ever be able to share those events and maybe even talk again.
I really enjoyed this book and only had one minor problem with the plot. I can't help wondering how it is possible that with the FBI being close to Michael and his teacher so early on in the story, it was still possible for Michael to get in as deep as he did. Other than that though, this was a very well written, and very gripping thriller.