Friday, August 31, 2012

Plague of Coins by Aiden James

First sentence:

"This looks promising..."


William Barrow carries a dark secret. A very dark secret.

An archivist for the Smithsonian Institute and also a part-time operative for the CIA, no one would ever suspect the handsome ‘thirty-ish’ William is in fact the most reviled human being to ever walk the earth. His infectious warmth and sense of humor make such an assertion especially hard to believe.

But long ago, William Barrow had another name…one that is synonymous with shame and betrayal: Judas Iscariot.

Forced to walk the earth as a cursed immortal, William/Judas is on a quest to reclaim the thirty silver shekels paid to him in exchange for Jesus Christ. Twenty-one coins have now been recovered—thanks in large part to the help from his latest son, the esteemed Georgetown University history professor, Alistair Barrow.

Ever hopeful the complete coin collection will buy him a full pardon from God and end his banishment from heaven, William plans a visit to a remote village deep within Iran’s Alborz Mountains to retrieve ‘silver coin number twenty-two’. But the CIA has a different objective for this trip, one that pits both father and son against an unscrupulous Russian billionaire searching for something else that’s just as precious within the ancient mountains of Iran…something that threatens peace in the modern world if William and Alistair fail to reach it first." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this thriller featuring William Barrow (aka Judas Iscariot) and his quest to reclaim another silver shekel. At first, there was some awkward foreshadowing by Barrow at the beginning, but after a while it ended, and the pace of the story picked up. I look forward to reading the next book, Reign of Coins.

Date read: 8/30/2012
Book #: 32
Challenges: New Author Challenge, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Series: Judas Chronicles #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Thriller

ISBN-10: 1466386916
ISBN-13: 9761466386914
Publisher: Aiden James Fiction
Year: 2011
# of pages: 221
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

First sentence:

"I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary."


"Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits-talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead.  The ghosts of the dead aren't usually dangerous; they just like to talk...a lot.

The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires.  But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she's forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won't help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire-and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay..." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this first book of the Cassandra Palmer series. I like the mix of characters and the way Cassie learned that things were not as she thought. I look forward to reading the next book, Claimed by Shadow.

Date read: 8/29/2012
Book #: 31
Series: Cassandra Palmer, #1
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Dark Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0451460936
ISBN-13: 9780451460936
Publisher: ROC
Year: 2006
# of pages: 307
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

First sentence:

"It was always the same for her when she arrived to meet the body."


"Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly bestselling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of a murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between her and Rook. The one called heat." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

As a fan of the television show Castle, I enjoyed reading the first book of the "Nikki Heat" series. I not only liked the mystery but I also liked remembering scenes from the show and seeing the subtle changes depicted in the book. I look forward to reading the next book, Naked Heat.

Date read: 8/23/2012
Book #: 30
Challenge: New Author Challenge
Series: Nikki Heat, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 1401310400
ISBN-13: 9781401310400
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2010
# of pages: 196
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Monday, August 20, 2012

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

First sentence:

"I bought the rock in Spanish Catalonia, in the rundown hillside mining town of Cardona."


"Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take it for granted; however, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in this world-encompassing book, salt-the only rock we eat-has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars; it was, as well, a strategic element in the American Revolution and the Civil War, among other conflicts. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal and the Great Wall of China. Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky conveys, in his saga and through 40 historic recipes-how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt: A World History is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the ancient salt work in southern San Francisco Bay; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province where the last home-made soya sauce is produced, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a thoroughly informative book on salt and its impact on world history. I learned many new things including the fact that the word stem "-wich" as in Norwich means salt works and that there's a rock salt mine 1,200 feet below Detroit.

Date read: 8/19/2012
Book #: 29
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0802713734
ISBN-13: 9780802713735
Publisher: Walker and Company
Year: 2002
# of pages: 449
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

First sentence:

"'Tonight I want to tell you about that most fascinating of murder mysteries, the Wallace case,' I told my mirror Enthusiastically."


"Every month, Real Murders, a society of crime buffs in Lawrenceton, Georgia, met to discuss a favorite infamous murder. Its members were an eccentric lot: Gifford Doakes, the massacre specialist; Jane Engle, lover of Victorian horrors; Perry Allison, a Ted Bundy fan. . .

The night of the last meeting, town librarian Aurora 'Roe' Teagarden discovered Mamie Wright's mutilated body in the clubhouse kitchen. She felt certain the killer was a fellow murder, for the crime bore a chilling resemblance to the club's 'murder of the month.'

And as other brutal 'copycat' killings followed, the only motive seemed a horrifying bizarre sense of fun. . . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this mystery featuring a librarian trying to discover who was copying well-known murders from the past. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, A Bone to Pick.

Date read: 8/14/2012
Book #: 28
Series: Aurora Teagarden, #1
Challenges: Off the Shelf Challenge 2012, A-Z Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0373261047
ISBN-13: 9780373261048
Publisher: Worldwide
Year: 1990
# of pages: 252
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page