Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Husband by Dean Koontz

First sentence:

"A man begins dying at the moment of his birth."

Description:

"With each and every new novel, Dean Koontz raises the stakes—and the pulse rate—higher than any other author. Now, in what may be his most suspenseful and heartfelt novel ever, he brings us the story of an ordinary man whose extraordinary commitment to his wife will take him on a harrowing journey of adventure, sacrifice, and redemption to the mystery of love itself—and to a showdown with the darkness that would destroy it forever.

What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?

We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he’s standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare.

Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitch’s wife and he’s named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He’s confident that Mitch will find a way.

If he loves his wife enough. . . Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He’s got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he’ll pay a lot more. He’ll pay anything.

From its tense opening to its shattering climax, The Husband is a thriller that will hold you in its relentless grip for every twist, every shock, every revelation…until it lets you go, unmistakably changed. This is a Dean Koontz novel, after all. And there’s no other experience quite like it."

My thoughts:

This book was an entertaining thriller which kept me guessing throughout. I liked how the narration switched between Mitch and his wife Holly as they both tried to outwit the kidnappers.

Date read: 8/25/2007
Book #: 78
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0553804790
ISBN-13: 9780553804799
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 416
Binding: Hardcover
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Anything Considered by Peter Mayle

First sentence:

"Something good would turn up, Bennett kept telling himself."

Description:

"A joyous return to Peter Mayle country, a rollicking caper set on the Cote d'Azur and in the luscious landscape of Provence.

Bennett, an English expatriate living in France, has champagne tastes and a vin ordinaire bankroll. He has abandoned a successful career and found an ideal village in which to idle. But when a business scheme fails to work out, he finds himself broke.

Not a man to be downhearted, he places an advertisement in the International Herald Tribune volunteering his services-anything considered. The most attractive response comes from a rich Englishman named Julian Poe, who has developed a means of producing superb truffles and is close to cornering the lucrative truffle market.

Bennett signs on and -- bliss! -- he finds himself in Monaco and able to live in a style to which he has wished to become accustomed. But soon -- sniffing the financial potential of the truffle -- Sicilian and Corsican Mafiosi intrude. Life gets somewhat hectic. Ham-fisted goons, gendarmes working at cross-purposes, French village busybodies, and an order of Monks dedicated to the god Bacchus all play a role in a surprising and satisfying denouement.

A generous, delicious serving of vintage Mayle."

My thoughts:

Maybe it was the setting - southern France, palm trees, Monaco. Or maybe the characters - roguish Bennett, confident Anna, mysterious Poe, etc. Yes, there's lots of adventure and close calls, but it reminded me of the movie It Takes a Thief and I could imagine the 1960s soundtrack as our heroes try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

Date read: 8/23/2007
Book #: 77
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0140259708
ISBN-13: 9780140259704
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Year: 1997
# of Pages: 256
Binding: Paperback
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe by Gregory Gibson

First sentence:

"The jagged tip of an ancient volcano, Easter Island rises like a beacon out of the vast, empty Pacific."

Description:

"In 1985 Greg Gibson was sent a handwritten journal discovered by a small time book dealer in rural Indiana. It turned out to be a young officer's account of the 1825 naval expedition dispatched to the Pacific with orders to apprehend the perpetrators of the Globe mutiny. The mutiny and its aftermath were notorious as the goriest crime in American maritime history; involving hatchet murders, stabbings, shootings and a shipboard lynching. The long-lost journal was the first eyewitness account of the fate of those mutineers, and of the innocent men left at the mercy of the tattooed islanders who adopted and enslaved them.

At the center of the mutiny was a young man raised in a staunch Nantucket Quaker family. As a boy Samuel Comstock's head was filled with the stories of daring naval exploits and sea-faring adventure. As he grew older, these fantasies took a darker turn. One year into a Pacific whaling voyage, Comstock brutally murdered the captain and his officers. He and three accomplices then forced the terrified crew (among them his fifteen year old brother) to sail to the Mulgrave Islands where he planned to kill everyone aboard, destroy the ship, subdue the natives and rule the island as its king. In the confusion that followed, six of the innocent crew stole the Globe and piloted her, in an epic shorthanded voyage, 7500 miles back to South America. There they told the world of the terrible events they had witnessed. The Navy sent out its expeditionary force and seventeen-year-old midshipman Augustus Strong penned the journal that would resurface 175 years later.

The story of the Globe mutiny is one of unending fascination. Dovetailing Gibson's riveting account of the mutiny is the history of the sperm oil industry, its Nantucket Quaker powerbrokers, the growth of American naval influence and how their combined agendas played out in the remote reaches of the Pacific. Above all, Demon of the Waters is, in the tradition of Nordhoff and Hall's Mutiny on the Bounty, a story of men and the sea.

Brilliantly conceived, gripping, horrific, and insightful, Demon of the Waters is destined to become a classic of sea adventure."

My thoughts:

This is a well-researched book on not only the mutiny Samuel Comstock led on the whaleship Globe, but also the broader history of the whaling industry and its effect on trade and the culture in Nantucket and surrounding areas during the early 19th century.

Date read: 8/19/2007
Book #: 76
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0316299235
ISBN-13: 9780316299237
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 308
Binding: Trade Paperback
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

First sentence:

"Embraced by stone, steeped in silence, I sat at the high window as the third day of the week surrendered to the fourth."

Description:

"Loop me in, odd one. The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favorite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love, and Stormy is dead, gone forever from this world. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature.

Through two New York Times bestselling novels Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself.

St. Bartholomew’s Abbey sits in majestic solitude amid the wild peaks of California’s high Sierra, a haven for children otherwise abandoned, and a sanctuary for those seeking insight. Odd Thomas has come here to learn to live fully again, and among the eccentric monks, their other guests, and the nuns and young students of the attached convent school, he has begun to find his way. The silent spirits of the dead who visited him in his earlier life are mercifully absent, save for the bell-ringing Brother Constantine and Odd’s steady companion, the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

But trouble has a way of finding Odd Thomas, and it slinks back onto his path in the form of the sinister bodachs he has met previously, the black shades who herald death and disaster, and who come late one December night to hover above the abbey’s most precious charges. For Odd is about to face an enemy who eclipses any he has yet encountered, as he embarks on a journey of mystery, wonder, and sheer suspense that surpasses all that has come before."

My thoughts:

I liked the change of setting (Sierra monastery in the wintertime), and the people Odd meets. It was a good mix of horror and thriller with a touch of humor.

Date read: 8/18/2007
Book #: 75
Rating: 3* = good
Series: Odd Thomas, #3
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0553804804
ISBN-13: 9780553804805
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 364
Binding: Hardcover
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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cheating Death by Edwin Chen

First sentence:

"From the instant that he first saw the disheveled doctor in his shabby, unkempt office, Mike Jones had little doubt that the doctor was guilty."

Description:

"It looked like a typical tragic heart attack. Tycoon Melvin Hanson, visiting Los Angeles, died in his doctor's office. Dr. Richard Boggs signed the death certificate. And insurance companies began to pay out well over a million dollars. That was that.

Except it wasn't. The corpse was not Melvin Hanson. And the death was the result of brilliant planning by a doctor on the brink of ruin, a business gambler on a dizzying roll, and a ruthless young man who exploited men and women alike. This electrifying true crime chronicle reveals a horrifying tale of sex, drugs, theft, betrayal, and a string of shockingly successful insurance scams amid the high-life and low-lifes of New York and L.A. ... and it vividly reconstructs the chilling events surrounding a crime that went one greedy step too far. Murder."

My thoughts:

Unlike a mystery, a true crime account gives the reader everything up front - who committed the crime, why they did it, how they did it, and how the police, lawyers and detectives figured everything out and eventually captured the crooks. Chen writes a compelling account of insurance scams and dogged police work that kept my attention throughout.

Date read: 8/17/2007
Book #: 74
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0451403150
ISBN-13: 978-0451403155
Publisher: Onyx
Year: 1992
# of Pages: 320
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz

First sentence:

"At two-thirty Saturday morning, in Los Angeles, Joe Carpenter woke, clutching a pillow to his chest, calling his lost wife's name in the darkness."

Description:

"A catastrophic, unexplainable plane crash leaves three hundred and thirty dead -- no survivors. Among the victims are the wife and two daughters of Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter.

A year after the crash, still gripped by an almost paralyzing grief, Joe encounters a woman named Rose, who claims to have survived the crash. She holds out the possibility of a secret that will bring Joe peace of mind. But before he can ask any questions, she slips away.

Driven now by rage (have the authorities withheld information?) and a hope almost as unbearable as his grief (if there is one survivor, are there others?), Joe sets out to find the mysterious woman. His search immediately leads him into the path of a powerful and shadowy organization hell-bent on stopping Rose before she can reveal what she knows about the crash.

Sole Survivor unfolds at a heart-stopping pace, as a desperate chase and a shattering emotional odyssey lead Joe to a truth that will force him to reassess everything he thought he knew about life and death -- a truth that, given the chance, will rock the world and redefine the destiny of humanity."

My thoughts:

Like other Koontz books, I found the characters likable and well-developed and liked the suspense. The one drawback was an ending that felt a bit rushed, jumping from an edge-of-your-seat chase to a peaceful epilogue.

Date read: 8/12/2007
Book #: 73
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 0345384377
ISBN-13: 9780345384379
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2000
# of Pages: 416
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Woven Path by Robin Jarvis

First sentence:

"Death and horror flooded the night."

Description:

"What kind of place is this? When Neil's father accepts a caretaker's job at the Wyrd Museum, Neil and his brother have to go live there with him.

The museum is owned by three old sisters who talk in circles, mumbling about fate and destiny. And then there are the exhibits, with everything from shrunken heads and mummies to stuffed ravens.

The sisters have warned Neil never to enter the room that holds The Separate Collection. Of course, that's just where Neil wants to go. Inside the secret room, he discovers something magical and dangerous -- and his life will never be the same. "

My thoughts:


This was an engaging fantasy mixing mythology (Norse and Greek) with time travel. The story started a bit slowly, but then picked up when Neal and "Ted" end up in London during the Blitz in 1941. There are spies, demons, and ghosts as well as a spooky museum, home to the Webster sisters (aka, the Fates). I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Raven's Knot.

Date read: 8/9/2007
Book #: 72
Rating: 3* = Good
Series: Wyrd Museum, #1
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

ISBN-10: 0816770050
ISBN-13: 9780816770052
Publisher: Troll Communications
Year: 1999
# of Pages: 409
Binding: Trade Paperback
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Friday, August 10, 2007

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

First sentence:

"From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good set of lungs and the air to fill them with--given circumstances, you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth century."

Description:

"Leif Enger's best-selling debut is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, and a love story, in which 'what could be unbelievable becomes extraordinary' (Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald. Enger brings us eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy in the Midwest who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey unfolds like a revelation, and its conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates."

My thoughts:

This was a beautifully written book about family, storytelling, miracles and the importance of the journey.

Date read: 8/8/2007
Book #: 71
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0802139256
ISBN-13: 9780802139252
Publisher: Grove Press
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 320
Binding: Trade Paperback
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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

First sentence:

"'We have Beth from Tampa on the line. Hello.'"


Description:


"Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen. So when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, and her face gets plastered on national TV, she inherits a new set of friends, and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an ├╝ber-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight."

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this second book in the Kitty Norville series. I especially liked how Kitty learned about the other were-creatures in Washington, DC and how she learned that she could count on Alette, the vampire queen. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Kitty Takes a Holiday.

Date read: 8/3/2007
Book #: 70
Rating: 3* = good
Series: Kitty Norville, #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0446616427
ISBN-13: 9780446616423
Publisher: Warner Books
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 360
Binding: Paperback
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Friday, August 3, 2007

Blood Memory by Greg Iles

First sentence:

"When does murder begin?"

Description:

"Some memories live deep in the soul, indelible and dangerous, waiting to be resurrected....Forensic expert "Cat" Ferry is suspended from an FBI task force when the world-class odontologist is inexplicably stricken with panic attacks and blackouts while investigating a chain of brutal murders. Returning to her Mississippi hometown, Cat finds herself battling with alcohol, plagued by nightmares, and entangled with a married detective. Then, in her childhood bedroom, some spilled chemicals reveal two bloody footprints...and the trauma of her father's murder years earlier comes flooding back. Facing the secrets of her past, Cat races to connect them to a killer's present-day violence. But what emerges is the frightening possibility that Cat herself has blood on her hands...."

My thoughts:

Buried in this massive book are two compelling mysteries - a serial murder case set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a more personal family drama set in Natchez, Mississippi. While both stories interested me and were well written, I found myself wondering whether a third of the book could have been cut without compromising the plot. That said, the story illustrates well the issues of repressed memory, child abuse, family secrets and revenge.

Date read: 8/1/2007
Book #: 69
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0743454154
ISBN-13: 9780743454155
Publisher: Pocket Star
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 800
Binding: Paperback
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Thursday, August 2, 2007

March by Geraldine Brooks

First sentence:

"October 21, 1861

This is what I write to her: The clouds tonight embossed the sky."

Description:

"As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war, leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father—a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In her telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

Spanning the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale to portray the moral complexity of war, and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism—and by a dangerous and illicit attraction. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as an internationally renowned author of historical fiction."

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this historical fiction set in the early 19th century and in the early years of the U.S. Civil War. I liked reading about the Underground Railroad, John Brown, and the transcendentalist movement (Thoreau, Emerson). I think it helps to have read Little Women first so March's descriptions of his wife and daughters become more familiar.

Date read: 7/30/2007
Book #: 68
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 0670033359
ISBN-13: 9780670033355
Publisher: Viking
Year: 2004
# of Pages: 288
Binding: Hardcover
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