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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jeffrey Archer's New One Is A Rehash of Many Before It.

Only Time Will TellOnly Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How many books have been written about the bastard son of a bastardly rich man? His mother is a poor woman alone. He faces all kinds of travails but in the end succeeds. Falls in love with his half-sister, unwittingly, of course,and fortuitously, a War is on the horizon so he can go off and leave it all behind. Except for the War and his assumption of a new identity in a new country all of the above facts are known within the first ten pages. Not a badly written book, innocuous, shop worn though its plot. Harmless, easy, if predictable read which, on its last page, throws in the hook that will allow for what I imagine will be a predictable sequel.

I almost didn't finish reading once I realized that I'd figured out the basic premise but several others advised me to continue because there would be interesting revelations and developments. Nope, turned out just as I expected.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Burning -- Riveting, Chilling

The BurningThe Burning by Jane Casey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A riveting procedural with a likeable DC Maeve Kerrigan at its center. A serial killer has bashed four women to death and then set their bodies aflame. The fifth victim is discovered and Maeve doesn't think she IS the killer's fifth--there are some similarities but the differences are jarring. Her boss takes her off the major case and assigns her this one. Casey does an excellent job of revealing the character and personality of the victim as well as members of her intimate circle. In the telling, Maeve is fleshed out as well. The two investigations run parallel but cross paths periodically, too, so that in the end both mysteries are solved. In particular, the summation provided by one of the killers at the end of the book is chilling. And to tie up any loose ends, the author uses press releases to reveal the fate of the bad guys. A well written page turner that chills with its cold-blooded characters.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the equal of men!

To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of AquitaineTo Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christy English

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is as lovely as the cover and is easy to read. Christy's strength is in description of countryside and characters. Eleanor's youth and strength come through very clearly as does the influence of the Church in Europe at the time. It was this corruption and interference on the part of the noble sons who made up the Cardinals and Popes of the time that led, eventually, to the Protestant revolutions in all there forms throughout Europe. Unfortunately, though William's training of Eleanor and her awareness of enemies in high places in France, Rome and the Levant are thoroughly stressed there is little depth or development of what exact machinations took place against her in these areas or her steps to protect herself other than passing out silver coins or bags of gold. This is not to say that this isn't an enjoyable book and one that is a good introduction to one of history's more interesting and strong ruling women. The Lion in Winter is a movie that fleshes her out a bit more and shows her ability to stand on the same level as her husband Henry II of England as well as her former husband, Louis of France more strongly.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can't Get Into Books on MP 3!

Black Monday: A Stan Turner MysteryBlack Monday: A Stan Turner Mystery by William Manchee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a limited edition MP3 version of the sixth in a series of Stan Turner mysteries. It took a long time to get through since my mind tends to wander during recorded books so they get " read " in dribs and drabs. To think I used to listen to the radio for hours as a kid and never missed a word!

Anyway, in addition to my wandering mind, the recording itself has some problems. There are only two narrators, Jeffrey Kafer, whose voice is very droning and lacking in expression, and Arika Escalona, who is very perky and probably a good voice for the attractive law partner, Paula Waters. They take turns reading the various chapters --unfortunately, that means that he takes on the voices of women in his chapters and she takes on the voices of men in hers and neither are very good at it. As a result it was most difficult to keep track of the various characters to say nothing of how irritating and tedious the numerous iterations of " he said " , " I said ", " she replied " became.

The cases the two persued were interesting and I think I'd have enjoyed the hard copy book. As already noted this is the sixth in the series so it is imagined that the attraction between the married Stan and the seductive Paula has been developed along the line. It comes to a head here--she's engaged, the boyfriend is nice but just can't arouse her the way Stan can. So a gratuitous semi-sex scene in the janitor's closet at her night before the wedding party is thrown. Then the next day, Stan, hung over from too many Bourbon and 7's--the man has absolutely no taste and I hope he drinks rot-gut bourbon--isn't really sure what happened. Hate blaming bad behavior on too much to drink--she's getting married tomorrow? and she's seducing a guy in a closet? And he's married and hopes Rebecca doesn't get where the lipstick on his collar--what a cliche--came from. Please, leave out the sex and seduction--it takes away from the story and is the weakest part of the writing. Hopefully, now that they are both married they can either work together professionally or they can break up the partnership and show some maturity in marriage.

This was a goodreads giveaway and I've since won #10 in the series. I'm looking forward to reading it. My review here is more on the quality of the format than the actual literary quality, which is at least average and appealing.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gets the Little Gray Cells Working

All Cry ChaosAll Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off it is important to note that I'm neither a mathematecian nor am I terriby adept in math. I am however a biologist and so this book and its study of patterns, including pictures, totally engrossed me. The mystery is very satisfying and one is immediately drawn to Inspector Poincare of Interpol and his various cohorts, including the young shoot from the hip Paolo Ludovici. The characters are well drawn, the travels to solve a very convoluted case very real and the mystery itself multi-layered. The descriptions of Quebec City and of Amsterdam are spot on. In particular, having just experienced the Doomsday event that didn't happen, the whole descriptive chapter at the end of the book, when all the threads come together in Amsterdam's Dam is particularly well written. A world-wide computer generated enlistment program has culminated in a countdown to the Rapture on August 15--the circus atmosphere is repulsive, amusing, astounding and sad. It is interesting that the date chosen by the author is the Catholic feast day of the Assumption of Mary ( the Blessed Virgin ) into Heaven. Coincidence? Or that the discussion in the high Alps between Poincare and a math prof who taught in the science center at Harvard should sound so much like Stephen Jay Gould's Punctuated Equilibrium theory of evolution. Another coincidence? Don't know but it was a very interesting book and I really liked it and will read it again--it is one of those.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Satisfying Summer's Read

Sea ChangeSea Change by Darlene Marshall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first reads historical romance is a great romp through the Caribbean in 1817. A young orphaned girl is posing as an apprentice surgeon on a Royal Naval ship on her way to Jamaica and life with her godfather, a doctor, who she hopes will allow her to assist him in his practice. During the delivery of the Captain's wife an American privateer boards the ship to take the doctor prisoner so that he will treat the American's injured brother. And so begins a delightful story in which the reader knows that Dr Charley Alcott is Charlotte but the handsome American and his crew do not. The humor of the situation is perfectly written and the change in the two characters is as perfect once the deception is uncovered. A bit of escape reading with lots of humor,action, sarcasm, warmth and finally romance. Terrific for a summer's day in the hammock.

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