Saturday, August 4, 2007
Forgotten Realms: The Legend of Drizzt: The Legacy - R A Salvatore - 07.21.07 ***
These next two novels in this series continue to follow the adventures of Drizzt and his friends. In The Halfling's Gem, Drizzt and Wulfgar chase after the assassin Entreri to try to save the halfling Regis. Bruenor emerges from the depths of Mithral Hall to find his daughter raising an army to drive out the evil that lives there, and the two of them travel south to join the rest of their companions.
The Legacy begins sometime later, after Mithral Hall has been cleansed of evil and the dwarves have taken up residence once again. Bruenor is preparing for Catti-brie's wedding to Wulfgar, but an unexpected attack from the Underdark puts their plans on hold, as the group must fight against the plans of Drizzt's evil family to kidnap and sacrifice Drizzt to their evil goddess.
This is the seventh novel in the Nick Hoffman Series, which revolves around Nick, a quiet professor at a small university, and his partner Stefan, a writer. Somehow murder and mayhem seem to follow Nick around no matter how much he tries to avoid it, and this time is no different when Nick discovers the dead body of a trainer, who eveyone hated, in the steam room at his gym. It takes no time at all for Nick and his best friend, Juno, to take up the case, but following the trail of clues will lead them to an unexpected ending.
An entertaining novel about four people - two onboard a submarine that has just been hijacked by a highly organized and vicious terrorist group, and two people on-shore who are trying to figure out what's happening and how to stop it. While the two on the submarine try to stop the hijackers and sabotage their apparent mission to destroy New York City, the two investigators on-shore discover a trail of secrets even more dangerous than than the weapons that may soon destroy them all.
The Doctor and Rose arrive in London for a visit just as the military is bringing the wreck of a ship back home to study what destroyed it. When ghosts of the deceased crew beginning appearing to their family and friends, begging them for help, the Doctor and rose can't keep out of it, and the race is on to stop an alien life form from killing thousands on british citizens, and possibly destoying the whole world!
A hilarious futuristic adventure tale that will make you laugh outloud. Scalzi is an excellent writer, as evidenced by his "Old Man's War" series - but while Old Man's War is more serious in nature - exploring themes of life, death, and what it means to be human - The Androids Dream is an exploration of the silly and extreme, and Scalzi does an excellent job of guiding us through the more humorous side of his imagination.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The Doctor and Rose find themselves trapped on the world of Starfall, the last stop before the mining regions, people with prospectors hoping to discover treasure, and space pirates hoping to relieve them of it once they've found it. Modern technology refuses to work - including the TARDIS - leaving the pair in a quandry. How to repair the machine that can't be moved, if they can't move it so it can repair itself? When the Doctor starts looking into a trio of murders, they learn the story of the famous pirate Hamlek Glint, whose fearsome ship and robot crew were the terror of space 50 years before. Everyone wants to find the lost treasure of Glint and his crew, which is said to include the amazing Resurrection Casket - capable of returning the dead to life - and when the Doctor suggests he might be able to find it, a wealthy investor offers the use of a ship that will carry them and the TARDIS beyond the region of space affected by the EMP energy that is crippling the TARDIS. Followed by terrifying enemies, an apologetic monster-assassin named Kevin, oxygen hungry Krarks, the group sets out to find the famous pirate ship - and far more danger than any of them - except the Doctor, of course - could imagine!
Belladonna is the sequel to Sebastian in Bishop's Ephemera series (although I don't know if it will continue past this book), and tells the story of Glorianna Belladonna, a Landscaper with amazing powers to control the world. Many, many years ago, powerful wizards sundered the world into various magical Landscapes, connected only by magical Bridges, in an effort to isolate the Eater of the World - a being of darkness and despair, tainting peoples hearts and souls against the Light. In the first novel, Sebastian, Belladonna and Sebastian managed to win a strategic battle against the newly-awakened Eater of the World, and in Belladonna, she continues her fight to hold her Landscapes to the Light and deny the invasions of the Dark. But when an ancient prophecy is found which suggests that the only way to destroy the Eater is for the Warrior of Light to drink the Cup of Darkness, Belladonna must make a choice - remain with her family and wait for the Eater to slowly destroy all she holds dear, or sacrifice herself to an eternity of unending torment to save the world. At one time the choice would have been easy, but now that love has finally touched her heart, will she make the right choice?
1. The Crystal Shard, R A Salvatore - 07.02.07 ****
2. Streams of Silver, R A Salvatore - 07.05.07 ****
Awhile back I decided that it might be fun to read some of the Forgotten Realms fantasy novels that I had sampled back in the 1990's. The Crystal Shard and Streams of Silver were original the first two novels in the Icewind Dale trilogy, but are now considered part of the much longer series, the Legend Drizzt Do'Urden. In The Crystal Shard, Drizzt - a Drow Elf, considered an outcast by humans - and his companions help defeat an evil wizard under the spell of an ancient crystal artifact, who is intent on defeating the humans of Icewind Dale and becoming the ruler of the land. The free humans manage to defeat the hordes of evil creatures the wizard summons to his army, and Drizzt manages to defeat the wizard himself, in the process burying the Crystal Shard beneath half a mountain, where it will hopefully remain hidden. At the end, Bruenor, his dwarven friend, tricks Drizzt into accompanying him on a quest to discover the legendary Mithral Hall - the ancient home of Bruenor and the dwarven nation.
In Streams of Silver, Bruenor, Drizzt, Wulfgar (a barbarian raised by Bruenor) and Regis (a halfling thief) set out on their quest to find Mithral Hall. Hundreds of years have passed since the dwarves were driven out of the mountain hall by dark and evil beings from the depths of the earth, and all the Realms consider Mithral Hall to be a legend. Nevertheless, the heroes begin the search, confidant that the can discover its' secret location. As they travel, others carefully track their progess - an assassin who is under contract to capture Regis for a long ago theft, and a powerful wizard who believes that Drizzt still posessess the Crystal Shard and who wants it for his own. When the heroes and their followers finally arrive at Mithral Hall, they find it still occupied by foul and evil creatures, and must use all their cunning and strentgh to survive each other and the escape the dragon of Mithral Hall.
A modern fantasy about a father and daughter (who share paranormal abilities) who may be the descendants of Einstein, and are relentlessly stalked by two shadowy groups intent on finding the key to what might have been one of Einstein's greatest discoveries - a machine that allows one to travel back in time. As the two groups fight for possession of the machine itself, the father and daughter must find a way to save themselves from the two black-ops groups, a demon named Matt, and a mysterious man from the future who is determined to see one of them dead.
Confusing at times, but often amusing, this was good enough for me to give the author another chance in the future - unlike the previously mentioned Joel C Rosenberg, who I will probably never read again.
The Copper Scroll is a religious thriller about a couple of newly-married ex-spies, who become involved in the search for a fabulous mythical treasure of gold, silver and jewels that was once a part of the second temple in Jerusalem. But when an unusual scroll made of copper is found and decoded, it seems to be an inventory list of the treasures, along with a key that points to the hiding place, scholars and archaeologists begin to believe that the treasure may be real after all. And when those same scholars and archaeologists begin dying is violent manners all over the world Jon Bennett and his new wife Erin McCoy find themselves in a race to reach the treasure before the vicious band of terrorists find it.
Robert J sawyer is one of my favorite scifi authors and in his newest book, Rollback, he has once again taken a unique idea and explored its' moral and ethical boundaries.
Thirty-eight years ago, Dr Sarah Halifax decoded and translated the first radio message from an alien civilization light-years away. A reply was sent, and now, 38 years later, a second message has arrived! Sarah, now in her mid-80's, is thought by many to be the key to unlocking this second message as well, but with her deteriorating health, she may not live long enough to so. When an extremely rich businessman offers her a rollback - a medical procedure, costing billions, that could return her physical age to her mid-20's - she accepts with the condition that her husband of 60 years receive the same treatment. Unfortunately, the rollback doesn't work for Sarah at all, but magically transforms her husband into a young man again, leaving them both with interesting dilemmas and struggling to deal with his new found youth and the seeming age difference between the two, while Sarah must find a way to deal with the message from stars before it's too late.
As always, Sawyer writes a stunning novel about what it means to be human in an ever-progressing world of technology.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Amuse Bouche - 03.09.06 ****
Flight of Aquavit - 03.11.07 ****
Tapas on the Ramblas - 03.13.06 ****
Stain of the Berry - 06.28.07 ****
This series follows the adventures of Russel Quant, a gay private investigator in Canada. to be perfectly honest, I don't remember the details of the first 3 novels (except that I thoroughly enjoyed them). Stain of the Berry, though, takes Russell on an odd journey through his past, for while he's been trying to find his missing friend Sereena, who disappeared a year ago (in Tapas on the Ramblas) he also discovers tantalizing clues about some of the mysteries in his family's past. Interwoven with the search for Sereena is the case he's currently working - trying to discover is a young woman to jomped from balcony of her high rise apartment was a suicide or murder. Some had been harassing her - sending threatening letters, whispering "the boogeyman is going to get you" during late night calls, etc - for months. Did the strain become to much for her to bear, or did the "boogeyman" finally "help" her off the balcony? No one seems to know, but when Russell discovers that other have been receiving the same treatment, he gets sucked into a nightmarish world of threats, harassment, and attempts on his own life, as the Boogeyman comes ever closer.
At first the assignment seems simple - wealthy recluse Nord Lafferty hires Kinsey to "babysit" his daughter, Reba Lafferty, who is about to be paroled. Nord wants to make sure his daughter stays away from booze, gambling, and in general abide by the terms of her parole. But when Reba's old boyfriend, Beck, shows up, things begin to get complicated. It turns out that Reba went to jail to protect her lover from the embezzling charges, but it seems that he's more interested in using her to further his money laundering schemes, than in rekindling their relationship. When the Feds show up to try to convince Reba to help them gather information, at first Reba will have none of it - but when Becks starts trying to eliminate all evidence against him, Reba finally realizes that she's a liability, and leads Kinsey on a hilarious and suspenseful journey to out-trick the trickster.
S is for Silence, Sue Grafton - 06.27.07 ****
Violet Sullivan was the town bad girl - she cheated on her husband with half the men in town, drank outrageously, and was, in general, a wild woman. When she disappeared on the 4th of July, many assumed she'd finally made good on her many threats to runaway with a lover, many guessed she'd been murdered by her husband, and everyone sighed with relief that she was gone. Everyone except her husband and daughter, that is. Now, 34 years later, Daisy asks Kinsey to try and track down the missing mother and prove once and for all if Violet is dead or living elsewhere, so that Daisy can finally achieve closure. Of course, after so many years, memories are distorted, and many people have secrets to hide, but when Kinsey manages to discover Violet's missing car, all the clues point to murder - and the killer is still desperate to protect his identity!
An ex-wife of a missing doctor hires Kinsey to try to locate the man. While many believe the doctor disappeared to avoid the scandal of an upcoming investigation into a Medicare fraud case, the current wife is convinced that her husband is the victim of foul play, and soon Kinsey begins to believe her. As she digs deeper into the mystery, uncomfortable truths come to light, and when she finds the doctor himself in his car at the bottom of a nearby lake, it is left to her to find the murderer. Meanwhile her personal life tries to fall apart when she meets a handsome and charming young man who may or may not have murdered his parents.
Q is for Quarry, Sue Grafton - 06.24.07 ****
Kinsey's estranged family enters the picture again when she dives into a nearly 20 year old murder mystery of a Jane Doe. The woman, whose identity has never been discovered, was murdered and dumped into a ravine near the old family quarry. Kinsey learns more about her extended family - both past and present - as she attempts to ID the victim. When her questions seem to make the murderer uncomfortable, more bodies start appearing, and her investigation takes a desperate turn as she races to uncover the killer, before the killer buries her in the desert!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Very interesting, quirky - short on story, long on special FX, but dazzling nonetheless. The scene on the roof where she kills all the bad guys by simply running around them all so they end up shooting each other was great. I understand that the movie was based on a comic, which might be why I felt it was a little lacking in plot content, but overall it was a fun watch.
N is for Noose, Sue Grafton - 06.19.07 ***
O is for Outlaw, Sue Grafton - 06.20.07 ****
In my haste to get to the next book in the series, I keep forgetting to stop and talk about each book as I finish it! So today I shall update y'all on the last three that I've read.
In M is for Malice, Kinsey reluctantly accepts a job from one of her newfound cousins, a lawyer from San Francisco, who is representing the Malek family. Papa Malek has died recently, leaving approximately $20 million to his four children, one of whom has been missing for 18 years since Papa Malek kicked him out of the house. Kinsey begins the search for the missing brother and finds Guy Malek easily, informs him of his father's death, and incorrectly assumes that her part in the family drama is done. But when Guy returns to claim his share of the inheritance, old memories bubble to the surface and threaten to tear the family even further apart, and when Guy is found murdered, his head bashed in while he slept, the three remaining brothers all seem to share means, motive and opportunity. Did one of Guy's siblings murder him for his share of the money, or is there more going on than meets the eye? Kinsey swears to find out.
N is for Noose finds Kinsey in Nevada, where she has been caring for her friend Deitz after a knee surgery. When an old client of his calls and asks for his help, Deitz sends Kinsey down to Nota Lake to see if she can help the recently widowed Selma Newquist, whose husband Tom, a deputy with the local police, has recently died of a heart attack. Selma believes that something was bothering Tom before he died, but he didn't seem to confide in anyone, his recent case notes are missing, and when Kinsey starts asking questions the town folk close ranks and either refuse to talk to her or misdirect her anyway they can. When Kinsey gets attacked late one night she nearly gives up on the case, but after returning home to Santa Teresa the few nagging clues she has won't let her go. After speaking with a mystery woman in Santa Teresa who knew Tom, Kinsey discovers that Tom was following some leads on what may be a double homicide, but with his notes missing, and no clues to speak of, Kinsey is stumped. She returns to Nota Lake, and suddenly the pieces start falling into place. Tom knew a secret - but whether it's corruption in the police force or corruption in Tom's own home, Kinsey won't find out for sure until it's nearly too late...
In O is for Outlaw, we are introduced to Kinsey's first ex-husband. We met her second ex-husband Daniel several books ago, and while he's alive and well, the Mickey may not be so lucky. Fourteen years ago Mickey was implicated in a fatal beating, and when he asked Kinsey to lie about where he was the night of the death, she leaves him and files for a divorce. Having not spoken to him or rarely even thought about him since then, two strange things happen in quick succession - a fourteen year old letter suddenly arrives that may prove Mickey really was innocent of the crime, and almost immediately after the letter arrives, two cops from LA do the same with some bad news. Mickey has been shot twice - with a gun that once belonged to Kinsey, and is currently in a coma at UCLA, where the doctors don't expect him to survive. Feeling vaguely guilty about her treatment of Mickey so long ago, the begins to search for the shooter with a vengence. As she tries to find out what Mickey's been up to since she last saw him, she begins to reunite with the old police gang, people who were once a part of Mickey's life - and her own. Some have done well for themselves, some not so much, and she begins to realize that Mickey knew secrets about each of these people - secrets that some of them would be willing to kill to protect.
I've been liking these books so much because I can usually figure out who the bad guy is right about the same time that Kinsey does - but I have to admit that this one blind-sided me!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
In this installment of Kinsey Millhone's case files, Kinsey finds herself accidentally involved in trying to solve the mysteries surrounding a 40 year old bank robbery. When neighbors ask her help in obtaining funds from the government for a military funeral for their grandfather, Kinsey discovers that he wasn't in the army at all, but was actually a bank robber hiding from the law! For four decades the massive pile of loot that was stolen has remained hidden, until a series of murders, assualts, and kidnappings lead Kinsey on a chase across the country. When she and her associates land in Kentucky, they are left with the choice of finding the loot or dying, and Kinsey must bend all her training and talents to discovering the hiding place of the treasure.
This one was a little more comical than some of the others I've read so far, what with her skulking around hotels and pretending to be a maid. Great story.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
H is for Homicide, Sue Grafton - 06.11.07 ***
I is for Innocent, Sue Grafton - 06.13.07 ***
J is for Judgment, Sue Grafton - 06.14.07 ***
K is for Killer, Sue Grafton - 06.15.07 ***
As you can see, I've been speeding through these rather quickly, without even stopping to comment on each individual book. I might need to upgrade the series to 4 stars since I can't seem to stop reading them long enough to write a review.
Since the events of F is for Fugitive, life has moved quickly for Kinsey - her apartment has been blown up by a bad guy trying to kill her and rebuilt by her landlord, & she's been fired from her association with CF Insurance and set up offices on her own, which seems to suit her much better. She's travelled to Mexico looking for someonewho faked his own death, accidentally proved a man innocent of murder, and in K is for Killer when she couldn't provide evidence to have a murderer arrested, she arranged for him to be "disappeared" by a mysterious man in a limosine.
Sometimes dark, sometimes hysterically funny, this series is a must read - I'm amazed that no one insisted that I read it before now! So now that we're all caught up I'm going to go finish L is for Lawless. Be back soon!
In Fool's Fate, the conclusion to the Tawny Man series, Prince Dutiful travels to the Out Islands to complete the quest that the Narcheska has charged him with to prove that he is worthy to marry her. He must lay the heads of the black dragon, Icefyre, on the hearth of the motherlodge before she will become his queen. Included in his party are many nobles and merchants, eager for trade with the Out Island tribes, and of course Fitz (still in disguise as Tom Badgerlock), and Lord Chade accompany him. The Fool, in his persona of Lord Golden, also intends to travel with them, but the Fool confides to Fitz that one of his prophecies says that in order for Icefyre to live, the Fool must die - and the Fool has every intention of making sure that Icefyre lives! Fitz manages to arrange for "Lord Golden" to be left behind.
Many adventures ensue and some mysteries are solved, only to reveal deeper mysteries. Who is the Pale Lady? Why does the Narcheska, who seems to like the Prince and welcome the marriage personally, demand a quest from him that, if he succeeds, cause the rest of her people to hate him for depriving the Out Islands of their "good luck" charm? These and other questions weigh on Fitz's mind as they journey to the glacial island where the dragon is supposedly frozen in ice. And to his great surprise, when they arrive, who should be sitting on the landing beach in a large and colorful silk tent, but the Fool. When asked how he got their ahead of them, all he will say is that he flew.
Thus begins the journey over the ice and snow to find the dragon, and as they near their destination Fitz's choice becomes more desperate - in order to save the Fool, the dragon must die, which seems unthinkable, as it may well start a new war between the Six Duchies and the Out Islands. But if the dragon lives, the Narcheska may not marry the Prince and thus dash the hopes of peace and trade between the two nations anyway. In the final showdown, it doesn't much matter, for once again events are beyond anyone's total control, and all the survivors of the quest can do is pick up the pieces and learn to live their lives again.
This was a completely satisfying ending to the series, and I greatly enjoyed it. Although now that it's over I think I can safely say that the character of Fitz drove me crazy - constantly making wrong or impulsive choices, rarelly thinking things through, and even when he did he rarely comes up with the right answers. Still, he and the rest of the bunch are likeable characters, and since the stories came out all right in the end, I guess much is forgiveable.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Fitz - in his disguise as Tom Badgerlock - has sucessfully rescued Prince Dutiful from the Piebalds and returned to BuckKeep with Lord Golden. Not all who set out on the daring rescue have survived, though. Emotionally bereft after the loss of NightEyes, Tom tries to fit into his new life at the palace. The demands on his time and energy are nearly endless - train the Prince in the magic of the Skill, form a Skill coterie for the Prince, protect the secrets of his daughter Nettle, pursue his sky duties for Lord Chade, and try to guide his foster son, Hap, through the perils of city life and the dangers of young love. The betrothals ceremonies for the Narcheska are continuing, as are the trade agreements with the Out Islands, but it seems that someone is determined that the FarSeer reign should fail. The queen continues to receives threats against the Prince, and the Piebalds would like nothing better to reveal the Prince to the world as Witted. Someone is spying on Lord Golden, and on Tom, and the Piebald leader that Tom maimed in the Prince's rescue seem set on revenge against him.
As the civil unrest grows, Tom's problems continue to multiply. When a delegation of Bingtown Traders arrives to beg the Six Duchies to join the war against Chalced, the Out Islands embassy takes offense and returns homes with the Narcheska. She challenges Dutiful to come to her home and prove himself worthy of being her husband by killing the Black Dragon, Icefyre, a mythical beast rumored to sleep under the ice of a glacier.
Lord Golden, upon hearing this, begins to puzzle out some of the events that have transpired of late and deduces the existance of a second White Prophet - one with her own Catalyst - and who seems to be struggling to defeat Tom & Lord Golden's desire to turn time into a better path. But she can only triumph if Tom doesn't survive. Tom begins to realize the extent of the Fool's efforts to keep him alive all these years, and the friendship between the two continues to grow until the fateful day when Jek arrives with the Bingtown Traders. When Jek reveals the Fool/Lord Golden to also be Amber (see, The Liveship Trader series), Tom is crushed yet again. He suddenly feels that he doesn't know his best friend at all, resulting in an ugly confrontation where both speak things that should never be said. The rift between them seems unbridgeable.
But when the plots and conspiracies against him suddenly come together, Tom finds himself (yet again) badly wounded and nearly dead. Those he trusts and loves must all join together to use each of their Skills to save his life, and once more the biggest challenge is to simply survive.
Friday, June 1, 2007
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the RedShip Raider wars. Fitz & Nighteyes have lived a mostly solitary life in the hills of Buck Duchy, and Fitz has created a new identity to go along with his new life - Tom Badgerlock. He and his adopted son, Hap, live simply and easily until events conspire against them. In the Fifteenth year of his new life, the summer brings three visitors in quick succession. Starling the Minstrel arrives to take Hap to Buckkeep for SpringFest, and while they are gone Chade arrives to try to convince Tom to come back to the palace to train the young Prince Dutiful in the magic of the Skill. Tom refuses, not wanting to return to court life. Next comes the Fool, who has also assumed a new identity, that of Lord Golden a Jamailian lord visiting from the south. The two spend many happy days reminiscing about their old adventures. Tom still refuses to return to the palace, and at last Lord Golden must leave.
Shortly after Hap returns from SpringFest, Tom and Starling have a brief argument when Tom discovers she is married, and he ends their relationship, and Hap determines to acquire enough money to pay for an apprenticeship with a cabinet maker in BuckTown. Almost at once a messenger arrives from Chade, begging Tom to come at once - Prince Dutiful has disappeared.
So finally Tom does what everyone has been conspiring to force him to do, and returns to the palace to help Chade and Lord Golden discover the whereabouts of the Prince. Have the Piebalds, a group of the Old Blood who despise the FarSeer reign, abducted Dutiful? Or has the Prince run away willingly, unaware of the Piebalds plans to use him for their own political gain? Tom and Lord Golden have only two weeks to discover the truth - for a delegation of Outislanders will arrive with the new moon for the Prince's betrothal ceremony to the Narcheska Elliania, as part of a monumental trade agreement to ensure peace between the two kingdoms.
Once again, Tom will be called to sacrifice everything he holds dear to save those he loves from the treachery that surrounds them, and his Skill and Wit will be tested, and his divided loyalties stretched to the breaking point as he struggles to decide who to trust and what to believe.
Monday, May 28, 2007
The Amelia Peabody Series is one of my favorite series, and I've waited anxiously for nearly a year for Tomb of the Golden Bird to be published in paperback. The series follows the exploits of the Emerson family who are Egyptologists in the early 1900's. Amelia seems to have a knack for getting involved in mysteries, and as her dear friend Abdullah often laments, "Every year, another dead body!"
In the newest installment of the series, the Emersons have been banned from the eastern end of the Valley of the Kings, and their dream of finding the tomb of king Tut has been crushed. When Howard Carter uncovers the tomb (exactly where Emerson predicted is would be) they watch helplessly as the tomb yields up it secrets to their rivals. But their own work is suddenly disrupted by a string of kidnappings - where no one is ever hurt - and threats, and questions that no one understands.
As the family prepares for the Christmas holidays, Amelia begins making her famous "little lists" to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. Secret codes, a mysterious death, spies and jounalists in disguise, Amelia must conquor them all to protect her family and friends, and uncover a sinister plot that may destroy the fragile peace of the middle east.
When a stranger hires Kinsey to find a young boy and deliver a cashier's check for $25,000, she figures it'll be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, before she can track the teenager down, the check the benevolent stranger paid her with bounces. The search for the elusive client quickly becomes far more difficult than she imagined - and when he suddenly turns up dead, the case suddenly becomes dangerous. The young boy doesn't want the money, her client is dead, and numermous suspects may be trying to get the money. She better solve this one quick before she becomes the next victim!
E is for Evidence, Sue Grafton - 05.23.07 ***
Kinsey's small office is located in an office building that houses an insurance company, and the company gives her free rent in exchange for her doing investigations for them part time. What starts out as a routine fire insurance case quickly degenerates into a multiple muder mystery - not to mention that someone is framing her for insurance fraud! It all seems to tie back to an apparent suicide from several years ago, but all the evidence disappeared from the police evidence room, and the suspicious death case was never closed. When Kinsey starts poking around in the events of the past, the muderer gets scared and starts delivering package bombs to anyone who might know more than they should. Plus her ex-husband has shown up with his new lover, complicating things for her emotionally as well as physically. When all the clues fall into place, it will take all her street-smarts to survive the blast.
F is for Fugitive, Sue Grafton - 05.24.07 ***
Kinsey is living in the main house with her 81 year old landlord / friend while he rebuilds her apartment, and the lack of privacy is getting to her. She's not used to having close friends or family in her life and doesn't always know how to handle the details. So when a father from out of town hires her to help clear his son of a 17 year old murder, she jumps at the chance to get out of town for awhile. Unfortunately for her, Floral Beach is a tiny town, and it seems everyone in town had a motive for killing Jean Timberlake, or a reason to lie about what they might know about that long ago night. When Bailey escapes from the courtroom on the day of his arraignment, everyone in town assumes he is responsible for the deaths that follow. Kinsey knows he's innocent, but can she prove it before the killer comes after her?
B is for Burglar, Sue Grafton - 05.20.07 ***
C is for Corpse, Sue Grafton - 05.21.07 ***
Kinsey Millhone is an ex-cop in southern California who has traded her police badge for a PI License. In A is for Alibi, she takes a case trying to solve an old murder - only all the suspects have an alibi! As she sorts through the clues she meets a nice young man and feels the beginning of an affair coming on. Unfortunately, her love life is interrupted by the killer when she starts getting too close to the truth.
B is for Burglar begins about two weeks after the end of Alibi. Kinsey is still recovering from being shot, and dealing with her feelings regarding the man she killed. What could be better than a nice little missing persons case to take her mind off things? But as the clues pile up, along with the dead bodies, Kinsey begins to wonder if there's a way to solve this case. But when the breakthrough finally arrives, can she solve the case before the murderer strikes again?
Having survived the Burglar case, Kinsey takes some time off for some good ol' physical therapy to rehabilitate her arm and leg in C is for Corpse. But when a young man, badly scarred and injured in a horrible car accident, asks for her help, she is curious. His claim that someone is trying to kill him doesn't seem to add up at first, but when he his corpse shows up several days later, Kinsey refuses to give up until she finds the murderer.
So far, this series is fun, light, quick reading. I like the fact that Grafton tends to have Kinsey actually solve the case, rather than so many other mystery writers who just have the main character stumble around until the killer gets afraid and tries to kill the character, thereby identifying themselves.
Day Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko - 05.18.07 ****
This series tells the story of the Others, a magical race of people living side by side with the humans of the world. Divided into to camps, the Light Ones and the Dark Ones, they battle continuously, each trying to gain advantage over the other and end the war for all time. However, the fight must adhere to the rigorous rules of the Treaty, enforced by the Inquisitors, who are Others that are on neither the Light Side or the Dark, but on the side of Balance.
Set in modern-day Moscow, Anton is a member of the Night Watch, formed of Light Ones who guard against the actions of the Dark at night. He's a low-level magician on his first field mission when everything goes wrong. And given two options, either of which may be a trap or a trick, he must find a third choice to save the city - possibly the world - but most importantly to Anton, a way to save a young boy who is an Other, but has not yet chosen between the Light or Dark. Anton must also find a way to deal with the sudden realization that the Light is not always good, and the Dark is not always evil.
Day Watch, the second novel in the series, begins about a year or so after the events of Night Watch, and presents the perspective of several members of the Day Watch - Dark ones who keep watch in the day. Interestingly, they see themselves not as evil, but merely proponents of Freedom. As the leader of the Dark Watch sets in motion events that will take away the advantages gained by the Light Ones, members of both watches must try to balance the playing field to stop an Apocalypse that might destroy them all.
Each book consists of three stories, the first two of which seem unrelated to each other, but the third story skillfully weaves the two together and brings to a conclusion the seemingly random events in the first two.
In the final novel in The Farseer Trilogy we find the Six duchies in shambles. Self-proclaimed King Regal has stripped Buckkeep of all it's valubles and most of the staff, and retreated to Tradeford to establish his palace there, leaving the Coastal Duchies unprotected from the ravages of the RedShip Raiders. Queen Ketricken has fled with her unborn child to her home in the Mountain Kingdom to escape from King Regal's assassin's. The true king, Verity, is still missing on his quest to find the Elderlings and beg their aid against the RedShips. The entire kingdom believes Fitz to be dead, executed for treason.
Except for Chade and Burrich, who have begun the slow and difficult task of separating Fitz's mind from his Wit-bond wolf, Nighteyes. They slowly convince Fitz to take up his humanity again, but in his heart, Fitz has had enough. How much should one man have to sacrice? His wife and child, along with the rest of his loved ones, believe him dead, and can never be told the truth. After driving away his last two friends, Fitz and Nighteyes set of on a final quest - to assassinate the false king, Regal.
But of course, nothing goes as planned. The man & wolf have many adventures before finally reaching Tradeford, and the assassination attempt only draws Regal's attention to the fact that Fitz is still alive. Barely surviving his escape from the palace, he flees to the mountains, under a compulsion to find Verity and help him return with the Elderlings. For only Verity's return can save the kingdom, from both the RedShips and Regal. Along the way Fitz will discover the extents of the wild magic he holds - magic that can either destroy him or transform him beyond his imagination.
In Royal Assassin, Fitz has barely survived his first mission as the kings assassin. He returns to the palace, nearly a cripple, and spends the following winter trying to recover his strength. When he finally recovers, he discovers that the kingdom is in worse shape than before - the Red Ship barbarians have renewed their attacks along the coast, and treason and treachery threaten the throne. Verity, the King-in-Waiting, discovers ancient scrolls describing the Elderlings, a race of people who once came to the defense of the Six Duchies in ancient times, and promised to return again if called. Verity decides to go searching for them and beg their aid against the Red Ships.
Regal, the kings youngest son, immediately begins to use Verity's absence to usurp the throne. When word reaches the palace that Verity has died, he becomes the new King-in-Waiting, and begins the final stages of his plans. Accidents begin to befall those between him and the throne, and King Shrewd's health continues to fail.
Fitz and his allies struggle to keep the kingdom together, & protect the King and Verity's wife and unborn child. But eventually it becomes an effort to merely stay alive. Poison attempts & outright attacks must be survived, and when the King finally dies - murdered at Regal's command - it seems that Fitz has lost the battle. To protect his friends and loved ones, and save the kingdom, may require the greatest sacrifice - his life!
The first novel in The Farseer Trilogy, Assassin's Apprentice introduces us to Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, the King-in-Waiting of the Six Duchies. Brought to the royal palace at the age of six, Fitz is treated as an outcast by nearly everyone, with the exception of his caretaker (his father's stableman) and oddly enough, his grandfather, King Shrewd, who dares not pay too much attention to his own grandson for fear of inviting an attack by Fitz's many enemies. Nonetheless, the King decides that Fitz must be trained in the secret arts of assassination. Fitz's life becomes an unending drudgery of schooling - not just his letters and etiquette, but poison, herbs, & fighting skills.
As Fitz approaches manhood, savage barbarians begin raiding up and down the coast, destroying villages and kidnapping people. Their only demand is to pay them in gold to not return the hostages. Puzzled by this unusual demand, the gold is not paid, and as promised the hostages are returned - as souless savages. Now the kingdom must face the raiders from across the ocean as well as the murderous "Forged" that the raiders leave behind.
When the king finally sends Fitz off on his first dangerous mission, he suddenly faces even more enemies, as his own uncle tries to frame him for an assassination he didn't commit, and his greatest challenge - can he save the kingdom from the enemies hidden within?
Another excellent novel from Mr Folsom, Day of Confession begins with Harry Addison, an entertanment lawyer from Los Angles receiving a voice mail message from his brother, Daniel, who is a priest in Rome at the Vatican. The message is brief, but Harry can tell his brother is terrified, even though the two have been estranged for nearly a decade. Unable to reach Danny, Harry goes on with his life until the following day when he is informed that his brother has been killed in a horrible terrorist attack in the country outside of Rome. And what begins as a simple trip to Europe to retrieve his brothers remains quickly becomes a nightmare. Followed by Italian and Vatican police, framed for the murder of a cardinal of Rome, stalked by a pschotic assassin, beaten, kidnapped, and left for dead in a sewer, the trip to Italy gets worse and worse as Harry desperately tries to solve the mystery of what really happened to his brother and how it all connects to the murders he and Danny are accused of. Despite the web of lies spun by the police, media and the Vatican itself, Harry must find the answers, for the lives of his friends and family and thousands of complete strangers depend on his ability to find the truth.
I could hardly put this book down (witnessed by the dark circles under my eyes from staying up too late last night!). Even though the whole "the Catholic church is evil and manipulative" cliche is becoming...well, cliche, (Thank you, Dan Brown!) I still enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an enjoyable read.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The Exile, Allan Folsom - 05.01.07 ****
The Machiavelli Covenant, Allan Folsom - 04.11.07 ****
I read these two books in the wrong order, but the stories, while involving the same character, are pretty much stand alone novels. In The Exile, John Barron, a police officer in Los Angeles, becomes involved in a horrific manhunt for a brutal serial killer, and at the same time comes to the realization that his unit is a group of lawless vigilantes who threaten his own safety and the safety of his family if he tries to move against them. To protect himself and his sister, he must find the murderer, move his sister to safety, and create a new identity for himself, all while trying to solve a far reaching mystery and unravel a conspiracy that spreads across the globe and to the heights of wealth, prestige and power, and that, if unstopped, can change the face of the political globe.
In The Machiavelli Covenant, he returns from his self-imposed exile in England to the United States at the request of an old lover, whose husband and son have died mysteriously, and who is convinced that she herself has been murdered. Desperate to stay below the radar of the police who may still be searching for him, he tries to solve the murder of his friend. When the clues lead to Europe and an unexpected meeting with the president of the United States, who is also on the run from his Secret Service agents who are trying to kill him, the two compare notes and discover a conspiracy much greater and more evil than either realized.
These are both excellent novels that were difficult to put down - highly recommended!
2. Smoke & Mirrors, Tanya Huff - Finished 04.18.07
3. Smoke & Ashes, Tanya Huff - Finished 04.19.07
This series had been on my To Read list for a long time before I was finally able to get them from the library, and I ended up enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Part supernatural spooky, part scary suspense, extremely humorous, these three books were, plain and simple, a fun read. The series is a follow-up to her "Blood" series, and even though I haven't yet read that series, these three stand alone and were well written and plotted.
(I know, I need to find some actual stars - but you get the point, right?)
Death in Zanzibar, M. M. Kaye - Finished 03.20.07
Death in Kashmir, M. M. Kaye - Finished 04.22.07.
Death in Berlin, M. M. Kaye - Finished 04.25.07
Death in Kenya, M. M. Kaye - Finished 04.26.07
Death in Cypress, M. M. Kaye - Finished 04.27.07
Death in the Andamans, M. M. Kaye - Finished 05.05.07
I recently rediscovered this delightful series and was able to obtain most of them from the local library system, although I've still waiting for someone to return 'Death in the Andamans' so that I can read it. I originally read several of these books when I was in my teens, and liked them quite well, but had completely forgotten about the until I stumbled onto 'Death in Kashmir' at the library.
The books are short and fairly formulaic (young heroine travels to some exotic local, meets horrid chauvinist male whom she hates on site, becomes involved is multiple murders, tries to puzzle her way through the mystery, is attacked by the murderer for getting to close, and is saved by big strong chauvinst male who she now realizes is madly in love with her and that she is madly in love with him), but due to some combination of her writing style & the story settings, the end result is a delightful trip. There's a sense of nostalgia that permeates the stories and settings, as they all take place is locales where the way of life has drastically changed in the years since the author visited and lived in them.
The entire series gets 5 stars from me.