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Title - The Hard Way
Author - Lee Child
Genre - Modern Mystery & Suspense
Rating - 7/10

I usually read what's classified as high fantasy. You know, Jordan, Carey, Goodkind, Tolkien, etc. Every so often, though, you'll catch me with my nose in a good mystery. Originally I got hooked on Grisham, who wrote a menagerie of books. I started with The Client. Lee Child writes sort of like Grisham does, only all of his books rotate around a single main character, Jack Reacher. Jack is an ex-military investigator, and he seems to get himself pulled into all sorts of interesting scenarios, based on who he is/was.

In The Hard Way, Jack is hired by a man named Edward Lane, to help locate his missing wife and child. It starts in NYC, but through some terrific tale-spinning, ends up all the way across the ocean. It's a good book if you like mysteries that include money, guns, and girls. I enjoyed it! And it's the fourth book by Lee Child I've read. All the others were good as well.
Current Location:
Jitters
state of mind:
tired tired
groovy tunes:
Whatever it is they're playing in the background...
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Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 9.9


My sister recommended this book to me and when she described the gist of it, I was intrigued. The story follows the lives of two main characters, Henry and Claire. Henry has a genetic disorder that allows him to move through time, usually not at will. Stress, flashing strobing lights and things such as that can trigger the response and he can go either forward or backward in time. Claire is Henry's wife in the future, who met him when he time traveled back to her when she was 6 years old and over the next 14 years of her life saw him for hours or days at a time before he'd disappear back to his time. He wasn't always the same age, sometimes he'd be younger, sometimes older.

The story itself is interesting and well told. Claire is, both for Henry and us, the "grounding" point. We follow her life chronologically, while we see Henry anywhere from age 5 to 43 at any time. When you read it, you begin to feel the inevitable end of it and yet are drawn to continue reading. You follow Henry and Claire's trials in trying to conceive a child, and Henry's battles with Claire as a young girl and woman in trying not to reveal too much to her so that she can continue on with her life in a semi-normal fashion. As you read it, you begin to suspect the end. You see things from the beginning of the book that marks Henry's later life coming back at the end of the book and it all ties together in some Moebius Strip of reality that both he and Claire persevere through.



This book comes with what I consider my highest recommendation to go out and read it. Donna, if you still do your book club, this is an excellent book and actually has those silly quiz questions at the end of it for book club members. I'd really love for any of you to read this because I'd love to discuss the intricasies of the plot with you, it's that compelling of a novel. =)
state of mind:
contemplative contemplative
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Three books:

The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
Finished: December 3, 2005
9.2.

Yep, this was a cool book. I’d been meaning to read it for ages. Basically this is a book that combines fiction and history, though the history part is debatable. You’ve got this centuries old secret sect that hides the revealing truth about Christianity. DaVinci was supposedly part of this sect and hid all sorts of clues and whatnot in his paintings. In this lovely tale, all the top dogs of the sect are wiped out and the Grandmasters estranged granddaughter must follow the clues to find the location of the Holy Grail and learn the truth…

Good book. I suppose you could call it a page turner. After reading this I watched all this stuff on the history channel about some of the facts behind this book and another show on DaVinci’s life. Interesting shit.

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At the same time I was listening to:

Paranoia, by Joseph Finder.
Finished: December 8, 2005
Rating: 9

I have a new author! This book rocked, and I was surprised—it was just one of those random books I grabbed from the audio section of the library. Great reader, interesting story.

Adam Cassidy is the sort of guy who has sort of coasted and bullshat his way through life, until his corporation nabs him for embezzling funds to throw a retirement party for a buddy of his. The CEO of the corporation, Nick Wyatt, is so impressed with Adam’s ability to bullshit when he is caught that he blackmails him: either go to prison, or go to work for his competitor as a ‘mole’ and find out their secrets.

So Mr. Cassidy is trained and polished up, and pretending to be this hot-shot engineer marketer type guy, he works his way up the ladder at Trion Corp, sneaking around and whatnot, until he is the executive assistant to the CEO himself. Of course, the CEO, Jock Goddard, turns out to be a real nice guy and Adam Cassidy is wracked with guilt.

The ending had a great twist, but since the CD was so fucking scratched, I couldn’t hear it. I had to take the actual book from the library to read the end.

But good book. Now I’m going to read some other books from this guy.

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Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Finished: December 9, 2005
Rating: 9.5

Damn, what a great book. I last read this in 10th grade for English class. Totally didn’t appreciate it at the time, partly because I HAD to read it and was spoon-fed all the symbolism and whatnot, and partly because I was 15 and had a different brain back then. *lol* Sort of.

Anyway, this time around I was blown away—what a great book. Great writing. Much more disturbing than I had remembered it.

You know the story. Bunch of kids stranded on an island. At first it’s fun and games but next thing you know they’re running around naked and painted and killing one another and shouting about pigs and blood and whatnot.

I started reading it last night and got sucked into finishing it in the wee hours of morn. Quality. Go read it again for the first time. ;o)
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Ahem.

Books.

Okay, these two are um…just a little bit random. Both entertaining in completely opposite ways.

The 13 ½ lives of Captain Bluebear by George T Dodds
Finished Saturday, November 26, 2005
Rating: 7.5

This was a crazy-ass book. I understand it is huge in Germany. I picked it up because—well, first, how can you resist a book called the Thirteen and a half lives of Captain Bluebear? Plus, it has illustrations on nearly every page, and very cool illustrations at that.

Anyway, it is based on the premise that blue bears live 27 lives, and this is the summation of half of his lives. Bluebear is a blue bear who was first found floating in a walnut shell in the middle of the ocean. Then he is found by a troupe of Minpirates—two inch high pirates born with eye patches and peglegs who are always trying to attack ships but fail because they’re too damn small. Once he grows too large for the walnut shell, they drop him off on some deserted island where he is accosted by Hobgoblins.

The book is pulled entirely from the author’s ass, just a stream of made-up fantastical shit that is told in a voice that makes it all seem somehow sensible. Bluebear finds himself on an island that is filled with treats that he gorges on, becoming so fat that when the island suddenly rears up and reveals it’s cannibalistic nature, he is unable to defend himself. He spends a life hanging out with a Roving Reptilian Rescuer, a type of bird that is known to swoop in and rescue people at the very last moment (that’s how he escaped from the island). He spends a few years with Professor Abdullah Nightingale, a genius with seven brains who manages to implant an encyclopedia in Bluebear’s head (from which he references the rest of the book at opportune times.)

Bluebear spends a year inside an enormous Eternal Tornado. He only escapes when he discovers that the tornado stops spinning exactly once a year, so he bands together with friends to count down the number of seconds in a year so they are prepared when it stops again. He lives inside the brain of a fallen Boggart brain. He travels to the famed city of Atlantis just before it takes off into space powered by the Invisibles.

The language and events are entertaining—I think this would be a great book to read out loud in a class of fifth graders or something, it’s so episodic and cracked out—but it does get tedious. It only has the barest semblance of actual plot, so I felt sort of like I was slugging through one crazy event after another—but it was entertaining. And different.

At the same time, I was listening to:

Heartbreaker, by Karen Robar, audio version.
Finished: Saturday, November 26, 2005
Rating: Actually, an 8.5. It was damn entertaining to listen to.

I told you I listen to random shit. I guess this woman is a romance novelist, but I’d never heard of her. I just followed my usual method of selecting audio books from the library. Grab a title and see what it is.

Lynn Nelson hopes that the adventure wilderness retreat will help her bond with her troubled 14 year old, boy crazy daughter Rory. She doesn’t count on falling off a mountain and running around chased by murderous cult members intent on blowing up the world. Lucky for her, she falls off the mountain with hunky Jess Feldman, feaux cowboy who just *happens* to be an ex-Fed with a bounty of knowledge on murderous cult members intent on blowing up the world.

Needless to say there is some pretty far-fetched shit in here. There are more than a few plot sequences that are just a bit too convenient. Example:

Murderous cult people chase Lynn, boy-crazy Rory, and hunky feaux cowboy Jess into an abandoned mine shaft. Trapped, with no where to go, Lynn throws a rock at bad guy #3, who shoots his gun and whoops, the ceiling caves in and kills all the bad guys. Lynn and Jess immediately have passionate abandoned-mine-sex. Suddenly bad guy #3 floats to the surface, and hey, maybe he isn’t so sure about being a bad guy after all, so he’ll join them and help them escape! I more than once said, out loud in my car, “Dude, come on. I don’t fuckign think so.”

But like I said, it was entertaining. A good time. *nods*
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Yo, book lovin’ homies.

I have fallen behind in doing this, and so I will update the last few books I’ve read and listened to!

My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Finished: September 27, 2005
Rating: 8.3

We read this in our “Smart Women’s Book Club” as our first book, and yeah, it’s sort of an Oprah Club type book, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

It’s Anna’s story, but it’s told from the perspectives of nearly every character in the book—each chapter is a different character, and keeps switching back and forth, and what I thought was unique was that each character’s chapter had it’s own unique font that suited their personality.

Anna’s older sister Kate has leukemia, a very rare sort of leukemia. When the family first learned that, they were told she would need a donor who matched her. The parents didn’t match, and Kate’s older brother Jessie didn’t match, so they decided to have a third child—Anna—who would be genetically selected so as to be the perfect donor.

So for all of Anna’s life, she exists to be the donor child—every time Kate is sick, Anna gets taken to the hospital with her.

The book’s real plot begins when Kate needs one of Anna’s kidneys, and Anna refuses. She sues for medical emancipation so she no longer has to be the donor child.

A very good book, with an interesting twist at the end. Easy to read.

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Then I read the entire WoT series, leading up to Knife of Dreams. Do I really need to review it? It was good.

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Dreamcatcher, Audio Version, by Stephen King
Finished: roughly November 10, 2005
Rating: 7.2

I had already read this once before, several years ago at the beach on a fam vacation. I liked the audio version better, because the reader did such an excellent job with the characterization. He just really nailed such poignant phrases as “Fuck me Freddy” or “Jesus, Jonsey!”

I’ve always been a fan of King, moreso after reading the Dark Tower series last year—gotta read those again soon, I think—(‘ake! ‘Ake! Oy!!)

This book was…pretty good. Really gory in parts, kind of slow in parts, but overall good.

The basic premise is a familiar King theme—four boys were brought together in their youth by extraordinary circumstances, and came away with semi-telepathic powers. Beav, Jonesy, Henry, and Pauly—and then, of course, Duddits. Then they grow up, lead semi-miserable lives, and those lives are changed (and in some cases, ended) during a hunting trip to their old cabin, “Hole in the Wall.” It is during this trip that they meet up with an alien invasion, the invasion of Mr. Grey and the Shit Weasels. It is the Shit Weasels that are just really gross in my opinion. *shudder*

A good listen, to and from work. :o)

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares
Finished: Um…sometime in November 2005
Rating: 7.4

I read this after seeing the movie, and enjoying the movie more than I thought I would. A quick read—it’s actually a ‘young adult’ book, but still, I found it entertaining.

This is the story of four friends, Tibby, Carmen, Lena and Bridget. Best friends forever kind of thing, never been apart, and this summer will be the first time they lead separate lives. Carmen goes off to spend the summer with her estranged father, Lena heads off to Greece, Bridget goes to soccer camp in Baja, and Tibby stays home and works at Wallman’s.

Just before their departure from one another, they find a pair of magic pants, a pair of jeans that somehow magically fits their disparately shaped butts, so they form a Sisterhood. They vow to pass the pants around that summer and follow certain pants rules.

None of their summers turn out quite like they had expected, and somehow, the pants do bring them together.

A fuzzy touchy feely kind of book, but still, not half-bad.

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1000 White Women, the journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus
Finished November 15, 2005
Rating: 8.5

Another book for book club, though I ended up missing the meeting thanks to a 12 hour migraine-worthy day this week.

This is a ‘fictional historical fiction’ that takes place in the West in the 1800’s. It was based on an actual event found in history—the Cheyenne Indians had tried to make a deal with “The Great White Father”—they asked for 1000 white women to be traded for horses, and these women would bear Indian children and hopefully unite the two peoples so their can be peace.

In real life, Uncle Sam shot the Indian’s suggestion down, and we all know what happens.

In this book, it actually does happen—sort of.

May Dodd is a hip woman ahead of her time, so much so that her family puts her in an insane asylum for her promiscuous behavior. When she is offered freedom for the asylum to be one of these women to bear an Indian’s child and live with “the savages”, she heartily agrees.

This book is a collection of her journals as she goes out west, marries the Cheyenne chief Little Wolf, and has all sorts of interesting adventures.

It’s not the most historically accurate book, but then, the author makes a disclaimer in the beginning that it’s not supposed to be. I thought it really well written and an interesting read.
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Book reviews!

Both of these are audio. The only books I’m actually reading are the WoT series, in anticipation of the new book.

So, the first:

The Testament, by John Grisham.
Finished: sometime in September
Rating: 8.2

I’m not normally a big John Grisham fan, though I did go through a phase about ten years ago where I read a bunch of his books. I remembered this was a pretty good book so I got it again.

Basically, Troy Phelan is this crotchety old man who’s a billionaire on the brink of death. He has a bevy of ungrateful ruffian children and ex-wives who are salivating to get their paws on sweet, sweet cash, and so he devises a clever plan to get them out of his will. He creates a will and testament giving it all to them, then at the last minute, when they’re not in the room, he makes a new will that cancels the old one. The new will cuts out all his ruffian children from the will, leaving ti all to some unknown illegitimate named Rachel. Then he jumps out the window and poof, he dies. He orders his lawyer not to reveal the new will for a month.

The children of course think they are billionaires and go out and spend wads of cash, putting themselves more in debt. When the new will is finally read, they go apeshit and start lawsuits to prove the old man was crazy.

But that’s just the sideline story. The real tale is the search for Rachel. You see, dear readers, Rachel Lane is a devout Christian missionary holed up in the jungles of the Pontanal in the depths of Brazil. No one knows exactly where she and her Indian friends are, so Nate O’Riley is sent after her.

Nate is fresh out of detox and already itching for his next drink. The story follows him as he makes his way through the vast Pontanal, searching for Rachel. When he finally finds her, of course missionary Rachel has no interest in the money.

And it goes on from there, but I sha’ant spoil it. This was actually a pretty good book. Interesting to listen to.

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, by Jeffrey Deaver.
Finished October 6, 2005
Rating: 9.2

This book surprised me in how much I enjoyed it. It was one of those random audio titles I picked up at the library, and it turned out to be riveting. Yes, riveting.

This is the story of Germany during the Berlin Olympics, when Hitler was gaining power but the world didn’t quite yet know what a monster he was.

Paul Schumann is a New York “buttonman”, a hit-man with big fists and pretty blue eyes. He is caught by the US government and told that if he does one last job, they’ll clear his record. He is sent undercover to the Berlin Olympics on a mission to assassinate Colonel Reinhard Ernst, the man in charge of building up Hitler’s army.

It’s the tale of his quest to kill Ernst, while learning more and more about the horrors of Hitler and his National Socialist party. It’s also the tale of Willi Kohl of the Berlin police, the Krippo—which I thought was the most interesting part of the book. Kohl is a brilliant detective, and during his hunt for Paul Schumann he, too, begins to discover the evils of Hitler.

Really good book.

Taryn, I’d recommend this one to you because a) it’s a mystery kind of thing and b) it’s about an assassin
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Title: Thud!
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Comedy
Rating: 9.6

As if Terry Pratchett could write a bad book. I mean, come on. That'd be like saying Robert Jordan could easily finish up the rest of his series in the next book. Pshaw.

Thud! is another book that circles the life of one interesting Commander of the Watch Sam Vimes. Evidently a troll had killed a rather high up dwarf and now there is civil unrest (well, more than usual at least) in Ankh Morpork and poor old Sam has to fix it. It's a good thing that he's totally uncorruptable--not the sharpest knife in the box, you have to understand--but completely dependable.

There are plenty of times when I laughed out loud, had to share a moment with Donna or even caught the attention of my row-mate on the plane and had to explain a particular passage to her. He also has a great way of weaving story and comedy together so that when you start getting into the meat of the plot, you don't end up feeling gypped at the end of it. Never once have I read a Pratchett book where I thought the plot line weak, the rapport between characters chintzy or anything of that matter. He really is a great story teller and because he can make you laugh at the same time he has you hanging on the edge of your seat, I will continue to purchase his hard back books as they come out--which seems to be twice a year.
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Title: Murder on Mulberry Bend and Murder on Marble Row
Author: Victoria Thompson
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 9.1 and 9.5

I really did read these two books yesterday. It's what happens when you get a good writer and a good story mixed in with nothing to do. Both of these books continue to follow after the intertwined lives of Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy as they are once more thrust together as partners in solving mysteries. Sarah has the connections to get places Frank can't and ask the questions he could be fired for asking while Frank has the clout and strength of the police behind him to intimidate people into behaving. Murder on Mulberry Bend begins with a young woman being found dead and Frank believing it to be Sarah at first because the girl is wearing clothes that Sarah donated to a mission. It also continues to delve into the pseudo-relationahip between Sarah and Frank as they ignore their feelings for one another even as it's apparent there is a great deal of mutual respect, friendship and love between them.

Murder on Marble Row begins with a man being killed by an explosion and Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt assigning Frank to the case at the request of Sarah's poweful father. Obviously as Sarah goes to console old family friends, she and Frank meet up once again and become entangled in trying to discover who killed Mr. Van Dyke. There are some very amusing moments as Sarah's very wealthy mother insists on going down to the Lower East Side and is given a taste of what it's like for those less privledged than she. She even gets her first chop suey meal in a turn of the century Chinese restaurant.

Both of these books were good and of course the rapport between characters continues to grow. I did, of course, have a fair clue of where the story was going and "who dunnit", but it doesn't erase the fact that she's a superb storyteller and you can't help but become emotionally attached to each of her regular characters.

I would definitely recommend going out and starting to buy her books if you enjoy mysteries, because this is definitely a series that only continues to improve with each book.
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Title: Spell of the Highlander
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Romance
Rating: 9.8

This is the sixth or seventh book of Moning's that's been released, and all but two of them follow along the same series of characters as they interact with each other. Spell of the Highlander picks up after the end of fourth book The Immortal Highlander, and deals with another of the MacKelter line, which is followed in books two and three, Kiss of the Highlander and The Dark Highlander. Now, before you wonder what the hell I'm doing writing about romance novels, I have to say that they are outstanding. Moning incorporates a rich detail of the Fae (the Scottish/Irish mythology of fairies) and weaves it into a story about Highlanders ripped from their own times and placed in present day. More so, there are times that I can do nothing but laugh out loud when she writes the characters saying something or another, or even cry or get angry along with the characters as things happen. You literally rip through the pages, pulled into her spell, unwilling to put the book down until it's done.

The following is a short exerpt from Spell of the Highlander to give a small taste of the cute humor she works into the story. This occurs when Gwen opens the door from the library to leave and shuts it again, saying they should wait about half an hour or so. She'd just seen the main two characters--ah--well I'm sure you'll get the meaning. =)

She tried again. “You know, they’re out there.”
Drustan continued to regard her expectantly.
“Oh, Gwen.” Chloe cooed excitedly, “do you mean they’re out there?”
Gwen nodded.
“Ha!” Chole exclaimed. “I knew that woman wasn’t stupid.”
“Wait a minute. They’re out there?” Dageus said disbelievingly. “The two of them are out there in the corridor? I put over a hundred rooms in this castle, and they’re bloody out there in the bloody corridor as if they couldn’t find a door to the chamber…?”


If you're not shy about reading romance novels, I would recommend reading Kiss of the Highlander, The Dark Highlander, The Immortal Highlander, and this most recent one Spell of the Highlander. This one was just released and I'm already eagerly awaiting the next book's release to see where she continues to take this story.
state of mind:
impressed literate
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Title: Alphabet of Thorn
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 9

Excellent, excellent book. If you've never read anything by Patricia McKillip, you really need to. *nods gravely*

So her writing style is very unique - it's lyrical and very visual. I've never read anyone who writes even remotely like she does. Her writing can get a little confusing and... contorted, for lack of a better description, but it's usually excellent because it's so involved.

This book in particular was excellent. Her writing style is excellent, and her plots are usually good - but this plot was great. I was really impressed. It was one of those cliffhangers where you would spend most of the book wondering what was going to happen next and all that. I made a lot of predictions for what was going to happen throughout the book, but they all turned out to be wrong. So it's unpredictable, too.

Anyway, I suggest you guys pick this one up. Very good.

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