December 3rd, 2014

miranda_colour

#77-84

#77 Margaret George: The Autobiography of Henry VIII.
A huge book, like the man himself. I really liked it. Sure, it tells the by now very familiar story, but it is interesting to watch how Henry twists the past to suit his current vision of himself.

#78-82 Maureen Jennings: The Complete Murdoch Mysteries Collection
(I do not know whether to count it as one book or not, but since it is actually 5 novels, I will count it as five.)
I watched the TV series and got interested in the originals. A good bunch of mysteries, although I was hoping for a bit more depth of characterisation. As it is, I would not call it memorable.

#83 Ellen Jones: The Fatal Crown.
A historical novel about the life-long battle between king Stephen and Empress Matilda for the crown of England. I enjoyed it, because it is well written and because this period of history is not very well known to me. However, the second part of the book seemed much less detailed than the first. It felt, like a summary of events, put there simply because it was necessary to cover them, but without any real novelisation or embellishment. I have two more books from the series though, and I plan on reading them too.

#84 Timothy Zahn. Star Wars: Survivor's Quest
I love Timothy Zahn's books. Especially the ones about Thrawn. I was in no hurry to read this one, because I was told it is not about him. Which is arguable, because he is mentioned on every other page and many scenes from the "Outbound Flight"are vividly brought to mind. It is very well written as always, and there is a clever intrigue going on, which actually makes it a kind of sci-fi thriller, I guess. Another aspect which I found really appealing (and I do not know whether it was intentional, in fact) is how little we can know about the past. The rescue mission arrives at the remains of Outbound Flight just some 40 years after the catastrophe and yet nobody knows what actually happened: neither the Jedi, nor the Chiss, nor the survivors themselves. But the readers naturally know and understand that what the protagonists think they know is rather far from the truth. Jorj knows, but will not interfere.
And in the end there all those tantalising hints about Thrawn (or another clone) still being somewhere behind it all. I just wish there was another book with him.
Me

Books #49-50 (Whoo!)

I actually finished book #50 around Nov. 28 or 29 but am just now getting around to writing it up. This is the earliest I've gotten to 50 books in many years, and I expect my total will end up around 52 or 53. (Whoo-hoo!)

Book #49 was "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan, as an audiobook. I loved the Percy Jackson series and when I found out Riordan had written a second series of books about demi gods, I knew I would want to read this. The Percy Jackson series is all told first-person from Percy's viewpoint, and the first book in the new series has three viewpoints, and its in third person. While I liked Percy a lot, I felt like "The Lost Hero" was even stronger, that Riordan's writing prowess has improved. The book opens with a demi-god that has lost his memory being beset by monsters. The first book sets up the premise for the whole series - the demigods in America have yet another ancient foe to hold off, and this time, two warring factions have to work together to save the world. The minor character Coach Hedge, a protective Satyr, provided some great comedy relief in the middle of the nearly non-stop action of the book. I really liked that the cast of demigods is more ethnically diverse in this series as well. I won't say more for fear of giving spoilers away, but I enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to the rest of the series. Additionally, I am really impressed with the audiobook reader, Joshua Swanson. He tackles a really wide variety of character voices and most of them very well.

Book #50 was "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. Apparently, the author originally wanted to just put together a coffee table book of cool and creepy old vintage photos but he was convinced to try to build a narrative around it. And he did a wonderful job of it! I didn't love everything about the book; there were a few passages I found clumsy and a few too many coincidences. But overall, I liked the voice of the main character and themes in the story. The narrator is Jacob, a young man who has heard stories from his grandfather about growing up in an orphanage for "peculiar" children. He thinks his grandfather is loopy until his granddad is killed in a peculiar way, and he goes off to the island where Miss Perergrine's home for children is supposed to be located. This was a quick and easy read, and yet I didn't consider it brain candy. Underneath the silly spooky supernatural elements was a metaphor about how the Holocaust damaged people and their families for many generations after World War II ended. Highly entertaining & highly recommended. I'm looking forward to the sequel, "Hollow City."

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winter trees

Books 210-211: Simple Genius and The Sandman

These two novels are linked in that the female leads each have a stay in a mental hospital though for very different reasons.

Book 210: Simple Genius (King and Maxwell #3).
Author: David Baldacci, 2007.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Serial Killer.
Other Details: ebook. 433 pages. .

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are both haunted by their last case. Realizing that Michelle is teetering on the brink of self-destruction from long-buried demons, Sean arranges therapy for his reluctant partner. But instead of focusing on her recovery, Michelle unearths disturbing secrets in the hospital . . .Sean accepts a much-needed job. A physicist, Monk Turing, has died in mysterious circumstances near Babbage Town – a secretive establishment populated by an eccentric group of scientists and cryptographers, funded by an anonymous but powerful group. ,,,,, Directly across the York River from Babbage Town lies the sinister CIA training ground, Camp Peary, where Monk Turing’s body was found. With both the FBI and CIA breathing down Sean's neck, can he discover the truth? And will he be in time to save Michelle from herself? - synopsis from UK publisher's website,

Another highly engaging and intelligent thriller from Baldacci. I did question a little as to whether Michelle's experiences in Book 2 were traumatic enough to lead to her being admitted to mental hospital. Still, this was explained in the course of the story as an underlying condition that had been stirred up by those events.

The author's notes provide the fascinating background to the novel. Great series that I plan to continue with. It is one to read in order as otherwise the whys of Michelle's situation won't make sense.

Book 211: The Sandman (Joona Linna #4) .
Author: Lars Kepler, 2012. Translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Serial Killer. Police Procedural. Nordic Noir.
Other Details: Hardback. 496 pages.

He's Sweden's most prolific serial killer. Jurek Walter is serving a life sentence. Kept in solitary confinement, he is still considered extremely dangerous by psychiatric staff. He'll lull you into a sense of calm. Mikael knows him as "the sandman". Seven years ago, he was taken from his bed along with his sister. They are both presumed dead. But Jurek Walter has one target left. When Mikael is discovered on a railway line, close to death, the hunt begins for his sister. To get to the truth, Detective Inspector Joona Linna will need to get closer than ever to the man who stripped him of a family; the man who wants Linna dead. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

One of my pet peeves is publishers who get the synopsis wrong. In this case Mikael and his sister disappeared thirteen, not seven, years ago. Of course, this has nothing to do with the novel itself, which was a terrific crime thriller that really pulled out all the stops. Joona is once again joined by Saga Bauer, who takes a dangerous assignment of going undercover at the high security psychiatric unit where Jurek Walter is being held.

Jurek Walter was a baddie that gave Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. Some important questions about Joona's past were answered though what of his future? A thrilling climax and all I can say is that I am so relieved there will be a Book 5 in the series.