Saturday, November 29, 2008

'Compulsion' - Jonathan Kellerman

I am done with my first title from FROM THE STACK CHALLENGE '08. I had read other books by Kellerman before so I thought that this one was going to be ok but it really wasn't that great. I was actually disappointed because if I remember correctly I did like the other ones.
This one was a little boring and also confusing at the same time: too many plots going on, too many characters, hard to keep track and the ending wasn't very shocking or anything that would justify sticking with reading the book to the end.

Christian Ficiton - unjustly categorized?

I was just wondering why christian ficiton is labeled this way and if it is right to do that. I do read an awful lot. It is my addiciton of sorts. I also try not to limit myself to just one genre because I would be missing a whole variety of good writing if I did. Among the genres that I do enjoy is christian fiction. Sadly, had not worked in a major bookstore, I never would have known that such books even existed. Why? Because they are placed at the very corner of the store, together with all other religious and metaphysical books, including bibles, Jewish writings, buddhism, hinduism, Western philosophy, etc.Let me tell you, a lot of books under christian fiction are great thrillers, amazing historical novels and good mysteries. I think that they should be placed accordingly. I mean when you go shopping for thrillers you will notice that there are many genres in there: mysteries, suspense, detective, action thrillers, medical thrillers, psychological thrillers, all in one. The same with literary fiction; historical, chick lit, classics, contemporary, etc. Why shouldn't christian fiction be among them?

2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge List

Here's a list. Some of the titles cross-over with the 100+ Reading Challenge, but mostly I tried to keep them separate just to add the extra kick.
I will post reviews or thoughts only on the ones I really. really enjoyed.

1.'A Suitable vengeance' - Elizabeth George
2.'Deadly Decisions' - Kathy Reichs
3.'Slip & Fall' - Nick Santora
4.'Mr. Clarinet' - Nick Stone
5.'Friend of the Devil' - Peter Robinson
6.'Cain His Brother' - Anne Perry
7.'The Reincarnationist' - M.J. Rose
8.'The Case Has Altered' - Martha Grimes
9.'Firestorm' - Iris Johansen
10.'Moonstone' - Wilkie Collins
11.'Vital Signs' - Robin Cook
12.'Not in the Flesh' - Ruth Rendell

Thursday, November 27, 2008

'The Religion' by Tim Willocks - full review

I bought The Religion by Tim Willocks a little over a year ago. Since then it was staying on my bookshelf with hundreds of other books that I just somehow didn’t have time to read. The reasons for it were many but one of them was that I knew the premise of the book which is the time in history when there is a jihad raging against the Western world. I thought I had had enough books about how horrible the Catholic Church was and all the atrocities it committed in the name of God. Boy, was I wrong!
As I already mentioned, the background of the novel is Sultan Suleiman’s jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist who called themselves The Religion. It is obviously a historical novel that takes place in the mid 1500’s. I would list all the main characters besides Mattias Tannhauser but that would be revealing more than I wish. There are a few things however that I will say about this book.
From the very first pages I was amazed at the richness of language the author used. It was a big surprise for me after reading countless other books written in the 21st century. I lost my hope that there will be another writer like Alexandre Dumas completely. Yet, Willocks just might be the one. There is everything in this book a reader would wish for: adventure, love, passion, hatred, intrigue, you think of it and it is there. It is not however a book to be taken lightly and categorized as one genre and not another. The author eloquently weaves love and war together. The ravages of the heart love causes and the damage done to the mind and soul by war make a reader wonder which one is worse and if in fact they might be one and the same. To some war is their hearts’ deepest desire and fighting for the right cause (even if it’s the lost cause) their greatest reward. For others, mercy, passion and love for another human being give the same fulfillment. But for the main characters it is a constant struggle between the two.
One of my favorite parts is music. How beautifully it is described! What piercing impact it has on all listening to it in the midst of terror and horrors beyond our imaginings! Truly, the novel turned out to be much more complex with its paradoxes, idiosyncrasies and similarities between the phenomena of love and war than I was prepared for when I started reading it. The Religion is one of those few novels that a reader finds him/herself reading not for the plot and what will happen next but for the sheer pleasure of reading, the intricacies of language and complexities of character.
I could write much, much more about The Religion and Tim Willocks’s writing talent. Suffice it to say that I was absolutely taken in and while reading the book could not think about anything else. I still think about it now even thought the book is finished. If you pick up The Religion, get ready for quite a ride!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still reading

Yes, I am still reading 'The Religion'. I thought I would breeze through it however, somewhere in the middle the author let his battle description skills run wild! Too many of them. Especially that they all are pretty much the same with minor detail changes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Stack Challenge '08

Here's the list:

1. 'Compulsion' - Jonathan Kellerman - DONE
2. 'The Road to Cana' - Anne Rice - DONE
3. 'A Feast for Crows' - George R.R. Martin - DONE (finally)
4. 'Outlander' - Diana Gabaldon
5. 'Lord John & the Private Matter' - Diana Gabaldon

100+ Books Reading Challenge

Here's my list for the challenge. Some are by authors I had read before and others are completely new to me. I own these books so I am glad for the challenge as it will give me a kick to go through my personal library a little faster.
I hope to post reviews of my favorite ones and simple comments on all the others. I do not want to post mean words however I believe that if a book is really not worth the time I should let other readers know. After all not every writer was supposed to be one or a good one for that matter.

1. A Suitable Vengeance – Elizabeth George - DONE
2. Ghostwalk – Rebecca Stott
3. Left Behind - Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins - DONE
4. 'Father Melancholy's Daughter - Gail Godwin - DONE
5. 'House of Sand and Fog' - Andre Dubus III - done
6. 'The Plague' - Albert Camus - DONE
7.'Chocolat' - Joanne Harris - DONE
8. 'Andorra' - Peter Cameron - DONE
9. 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' - Azar Nafisi - DONE
10. 'Blessed Are The Meek' by Zofia Kossak (fiction) - DONE
11. 'Deadly Decisions' by Kathy Reichs - DONE
12. 'Slip & Fall' by Nick Santora - DONE
13. 'Friend of the Devil' by Peter Robinson (DONE)
14. 'The Reincarnationist' by M.J. Rose - DONE
15. 'Firestorm' by Iris Johansen - DONE
16. 'The Kingmaking' by Helen Hollick - DONE
17. 'King's Fool' by Margaret Campbell Barnes - DONE
18. 'Lady Anne and the Howl I the Dark' by Donna Lea Simpson - DONE
19. 'The Testament' by David Morrell - DONE
20. 'Blessings' by Anna Quindlen - DONE
21. 'Mr. X' by Peter Straub - DONE
22. 'Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins - DONE
23. The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber - DONE
24. Conan Doyle's Wallet by Patrick McNamara - DONE
25. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - DONE
26. Medallions by Zofia Nalkowska - DONE
27. A Child's Journey Out Of Autism - DONE
28. Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz - DONE
29. Gauntlet by Richard Aaron - DONE
30. The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub - DONE
31. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy - DONE
32. Wizard by Trade by JIm Butcher - DONE
33. The Day After Tomorrow by Sandee Sgarlata - DONE
34. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo - Done
35. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham - DONE
36. For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn - DONE
37. The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall - DONE
38. Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione - DONE
39. Stakes & Stilletos by Michelle Rowen - DONE
40. For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn - DONE
41. BoneMan's Daughter by Ted Dekker - DONE
42. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant - DONE
43. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman - DONE
44. Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien - DONE
45. Afraid by Jack Kilborn - DONE
46. Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz - DONE
47. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - DONE
48. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere - DONE
49. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal - DONE
50. The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis - DONE
51. Follow Me by Joanna Scott - DONE
52. Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick - DONE
53. Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar - DONE
54. Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers - DONE
55. Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer -DONE
56. The Frenchamn's Creek - by Dapne du Maurier - DONE
57. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer - DONE
58. Why Shoot the butler by Georgette Heyer - DONE
59. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins - DONE
60. Two Brothers by David H. Jones - DONE
61. Nine Ways God Always Speaks - Done

62. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier - Done
63. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer - done
64. One Thousand White Woman by Jim Fergus - DONE
65. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant - DONE
66. Change of heart by Jodi Picoult - DONE
67. The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood - DONE
68. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory - DONE
69. The Return by Bentley Little - DONE
70. Lucky by Alice Sebold - DONE
71. The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein - DONE
72. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse - Done
73. Annette Vallon by James Tipton - Done
74. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts - Done
75. Blood on his hands by Mark P. Sadler - Done
76. The Age of innocence by Edith Wharton - Done
77. Cell by Stephen King - Done
78. From a whisper to a scream by Charles de Lint - Done
79. The Case Has Altered by Martha grimes - Done
80. Threshold by Bonnie Kozek - Done
81. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - done
82. Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris - done
83. God Is an Englishman by R. F. Delderfield - done
84. The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner - done
85. I Do Again by Cheryl & Jeff Scruggs - done
86. To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield - done
87. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - done
88. The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes - done
89. Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd taylor - done
90. Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collins - done
91. A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick - done
92. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart - done
93. Silverstein & Me by Merv Gold - done
94. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi - done
95. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer - done
96. The Fourth Hand by John Irving - done
97. The Mosaic Crimes by Giulio Leoni - done
98. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - done
99. Tattoo Machine by Jeff Johnson - done
100. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin - done
101. Nightwalker by Heather Graham - done

'The Religion' by Tim Willocks

Hello everyone,unfortunately I didn't manage to read a lot of 'The Religion' so far to the urgent assignment I needed to work on. However, the part that I did read is filled with very poetic, beautifully descriptive language which made it a real pleasure and a surprise to read. Rarely do I come upon a book that start which such beautiful prose, especially that I expected it to be a historical thriller.Definitely can't wait to continue immersing myself in this novel.

I am currently somewhere in the middle of the book and I get to enjoy it with every page I read. I am genuinely impressed by Mr. Willocks command of the language. I do not want to spoil anything for people that have not read this book yet and would like to. Therefore I am not going to really say much about the plot. However, I can tell you that regardless of genre you are a fan of, you will like reading this historical/mystery/adventure novel simply because the author's writing skills are really, really good. And then you find little gems like this one: 'They [women] accepted slavery that didn't even flatter them with chains.' If you ponder on this for a little while, you'll see how true this is. But I for one could never come up with this myself.So, all and all for now I really like the book and would really recommend it to anyone (apart from children, as there is violence in there).Now let me go back to my reading and I will be posting my final thoughts as soon as I finish the book.

'Broken' by William Cope Moyers

I am a person with a very addictive personality. I am already addicted to cigarettes and I once balanced on the verge of alcohol addiction. Having known that about myself, I have always stayed away from any kind of illegal drugs, even marijuana. I have always realized that if I try any of them just once I would be done for good as I unfortunately am not a strong-willed person. Thus, I sometimes enjoy reading about other people's experiences with life on drugs to remind myself what exactly I am trying to avoid.
One of such books was 'Broken', a story of William Cope Moyers and his addiction to almost everything there is to get addicted to. The book is moving, it is also worth reading if only for the simple fact that this is not some made-up story with fictious characters that never actually had a life beyond the pages of the book. This is as real as it can get, Moyers does not spare himself, does not try 'airbrush' anything about his person. The letters from his dad are especially moving because of the pain of a parent that is not obvious but that you can discover reading between the lines.
There are two things (or maybe it is actually one and the same problem) that I struggled with from the beginning to the end of the story. One: the enormous self-pity that permeates through the whole book, and two: the constant yet not obvious blaming of his parents and his life circumstances for his addiction. Moyers' family really was good (why he uses quotation marks for this word I don't understand), they did do all they could to give him a good life and wondering on his part what could've been or wouldn't have been had his family not been in denial is just simply ridiculous. Even after 12 years of not taking he still is not ready to take the absolute guilt for whatever happened to him. There were no traumatic experiences in his life so he decided to make a scene of the family struck by lightning something that would traumatize him. Seriously, self-pity in its ugliest form was what got him into the addiction and if anything he could blame his 'broken' life on it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Germ" by Robert Liparulo

I have recently read Robert Liparulo’s “Germ” is Lipparulo's second book in the thriller genre. As critically acclaimed as the novel was, I have mixed feelings about that one. Once again America and eventually the world faces destruction, this time from the hands of a mad scientist, Karl Litt who is a vengeful person hurt in the past looking for retribution. The tool is Ebola, a deadly virus that there is no cure for yet. From the technical aspect, the novel has a fast action, is a quick read for those who just want to unwind and relax. However, if you read many thrillers and horrors, “Germ” is pretty ok.. It’s the same idea simply put in different words, with different characters. There is a virus developed to kill people and a person behind it wants power and control.
If you read “The Stand” by Stephen King or Ted Dekker’s “The Circle Trilogy”, you’ll get the idea. We already know that there is a horrible possibility of a biological threat looming above our heads but how many times do you really have to read about it? Personally I think that as old as “The Stand” is, it is still the most original novel written on this topic. The interesting issue about “Germ” is the true facts about the Ebola virus, meaning that we still do not know where it came from, where it disappears after the outbreak, who are the carriers of it ( because it does not ‘hibernate’ in either monkeys or humans ).
It certainly leaves you with something to think about and if this is your first book about the viruses developed to annihilate humans, then by all means do read it. Other than that, it is a good entertainment for a night or two but not much else.

"The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion

When I am getting ready to read a book I always make sure that it is completely different from the one I had read before. The two books must differ in the mood they convey, the subject matter, the genre, sometimes the era each was created in, but most importantly I make sure that the mood is always the opposite. When I read a horror book I know that the next one will be Dickens or Hugo. When I read a sad, heart wrenching novel, the one after that will be light, easy and funny. All this is because every book I read I experience it on many levels (mental, spiritual, sometimes even physical). In this order, it came a turn to read "Year of Magical Thinking". I had wanted to read it for a long time, but having known what it was about I thought I wasn't ready to experience it. But as there is time for everything, there was time for finally reading Ms Didion's book.
In a very raw manner, it is a work of non-fiction describing how Joan Didion dealt with the death of her husband of forty years and a death - threatening illness of her daughter. I write raw since the book is so much more than that. In a very intelligent and at the same time cautious way the author lets us know how much suffering and sorrow the death of her beloved husband has caused her. It is not easy to see it, some who've read it even claim that the language is too technical to convey any feelings at all, yet once you understand the reason behind all the medical terms and all the technicalities, you see all the better how hard, if not really impossible, it is for Didion to come to terms with the death of her life partner. After all it is much easier to write about the pain and suffering if it is not own. Easier even, if it is completely made up. When write about your own, it is a process where you learn about yourself, you discover sometimes unsettling things that were there all the time yet you couldn't see.
I will let you read the book and decide for yourself how you perceive it and whether or not you agree with me. One thing is certain it is not an easy read and should not be read on the beach when you simply have nothing else better to do. For if you do that, you will be disappointed and maybe even not finish it, through no fault of the book or the writer however.