August 14th, 2011

Book 10: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green, David Leviathan
Genre: YA Lit/GLBT
Pages: 310
Progress: 10/50 books, 3569/15000

Synopsis: In two separate Chicago suburbs, two guys share the same name, Will Grayson, but little else. One Will Grayson is heterosexual, gains strong attraction to a female music snob who loves some of the same bands, and whose best friend, Tiny, is a very flamboyantly gay guy whose putting on a musical based on the story of his own life. Other Will Grayson is gay but yet to come out of the closet. The only person who knows this, however, is an online friend named Issac, of whom Will gains romantic interest in. Little do either Will know is how different their lives shall be once they meet in the strangest of places.

My take: In this case, the synopsis is what really roped me in. But just like in my previous entry into this year's challenge, but for different reasons, I will not give much away. What you need to know is that there is a pivotal point in this novel, which I will not give away totally, that partially involves a chance encounter between the two Will Graysons. The other part of this, is revealed, would kind of spoil the better part of the novel. In my opinion, the novel as a whole was great, but isn't the best book ever read. When reading it, I was thoroughly entertained and did feel the pain of certain characters. Still, this was not a book that made me lose sleep because I just HAD to get through it. Took a few notches off of my overall score, though, because one main plot twist after the pivot point was quite predictable. But, the story does recover from this quite nice, and the ending is great.

Grade: B+

Books: 1 - 4

title or description

1. Deeper Than The Dead
by Tami Hoag

genre: FBI thriller/mystery

The concept of this book makes it extremely interesting. It's set in 1985 right at the beginning of the FBI's Behavorial Science Department. Profiling is fairly new and not many people trust it to solve real crimes. This book begins with four ten-year-olds finding a dead body in the woods and how this affects them, their families and their community. The characters had depth and the fact that the reader was able to see it from the kid's POV.

Recommended: Mixed feelings on this book. It's well written and interested but the angst is a little heavy-handed.

title or description title or description

2. Fables: Volume 12 – The Dark Ages
3. Fables: Volume 13: Great Fables Crossover

by Bill Willingham

genre: fantasy literature/graphic novel

Following the defeat of the Adversary, the Fables find themselves picking up the pieces of their lives and community but before they know it trajedgy strikes and a new evil takes over. To stop the world from ending the Fables must join forces with Jack and the Literals before they lose everything they've fought for.

Recommended: I absolutely love these two volumes. The twists and shocks are delicious. There's a wonderful flow to the story now and the art is fantastic.

title or description

4. Point Blank
by Catherine Coulter

genre: FBI thriller

Tenth book in Coulter's Savich and Sherlock's FBI thriller series. One of Savich's own is almost murdered while treasure hunting and falls into the mysterious death of a college student while Dylan and Sherlock fight a new criminal that has ties to one of the past cases.

Recommended: Pretty good. Not one of my favorites in this series but it's worth a quick read.

Book 83: Bible of the Dead by Tom Knox

Book 83: Bible of the Dead.
Author: Tom Knox, 2011.
Genre: Conspiracy Fiction. Historical Mystery. Thriller.
Other Details: Paperback. 419 pages.

The plot of this thriller unfolds simultaneously in two locations with separate protagonists.

Working in the cave networks in a remote area of France, archaeologist Julia Kerrigan unearths an ancient skull, with a hole bored through the forehead. After she reveals her discovery, one of her senior colleague dies in suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile photographer Jake Thurby is working in South East Asia on a travel book when he is offered an assignment by Chemda Tek, a Cambodian lawyer investigating finds at the mysterious 2000-year-old Plain of Jars.

The archaeologist, lawyer and photographer pursue their separate quests to uncover the truth linked to these archaeological sites and an underlying pattern emerges which connects these far-flung events, eventually bringing all parties together. It also soon becomes that clear that there are individuals who will stop at nothing to ensure these matters remain secret.

I'd plucked this novel from the library shelf, intrigued by its cover and title and found it a potent mix of archaeology, politics, ancient and modern history, science and religion. It also raised some interesting questions and themes, including the subject of human evolution and the origins of religion, not something one often experiences with a high-octane thriller. It was my first experience of Tom Knox's writing and I found it impossible to put down.

However, I would caution that there are some fairly strong accounts within of torture and mass murder, especially the activities of the Khmer Rouge and events in Cambodia during the 1970s. Tom Knox is the pseudonym of free-lance journalist Sean Thomas and his experience as a travel journalist is very evident here in how well he portrays the novel's dual settings of France and South East Asia.

Tom Knox's Page on 'The Bible of the Dead' - links to various subjects covered in the novel with photographs.

Book 84: The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry

Book 84: The Emperor's Tomb (Cotton Malone 06) .
Author: Steve Berry, 2010.
Genre: Conspiracy Fiction. Historical Mystery. Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 436 pages.

The tomb of China's First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra cotta warriors, has remained sealed for 2200 years. Though it's regarded as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won't allow anyone to open it. Why not? - teaser for 'The Emperor's Tomb'

I do feel a bit sorry for Cotton Malone as he never seems to get a chance to enjoy being retired from the Justice Department. The subject of his dangerous retirement and ability to attract mayhem and cause destruction to historical sites is almost a running joke by now. I almost expect him to protest 'it wasn't my fault' as the debris settles on the latest battle site. Still, this kind of non-stop over-the-top action is very much what makes these thrillers so much fun.

The novel's Prologue has Cotton and his friend (and 'will-they?/won't they?' love interest) Cassiopeia Vitt dodging bullets and undertaking the perilous crossing of a crumbling bridge high in the Himalayas. Then, after a literal cliff-hanger moment, the action moves back three days when Cotton is contacted by a baddie who informs him that he is holding Cassiopeia captive. This rotter shows Cotton a live image of Cassiopeia being water boarded and demands that Cotton brings to him the artefact that Cassiopeia has left in his care. The only problem is that Cotton has no idea what said baddie is talking about as Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. He quickly realising that this is a ploy on her part to play for more time. So naturally he charges off to play white knight and save her.

Before long he is caught up in a power play between two rival Chinese politicians, an ancient brotherhood and encounters an old adversary. Throughout the story and characters hardly take a breath as the action moves from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China where the main focus is leading to the climax glimpsed in the opening pages.

This was another enjoyable romp that packs a thrill a minute. I do wonder somehow when these people manage to sleep or eat though perhaps like '24''s Jack Bauer they just run on pure adrenalin. I am also very fond of Cassiopeia and it was good to have her playing a central role in this adventure.

In this edition Berry did include a much longer Author's Note than usual and included chapter references to mark various points. I expect this was to back up his statements about Chinese history, politics and culture which might be less familiar to his readers than the locations and ancient and modern historical events in his other adventures.

Steve Berry's page on 'The Emperor's Tomb' - with links to excerpt and background information.