Book lovers never go to bed alone

April 7, 2010

March books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 12:28 pm

The Cat Who Turned On and Off (Cat Who..., #3)20. The Cat Who Turned On and Off by Lilian Jackson BraunMy rating: 3 of 5 stars
A solid 3 stars. This is a good, solid plot for a cozy mystery. Qwill is smart and funny. The antique/junk plot is interesting and the villain is not telegraph as much. The fauna of characters is fun and not paper thin. We meet Iris Cobbs for the first time. Love her. So yeah, 3 solid stars.

Everything Is Illuminated21. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Probably the most amazing book about memory and family, I’ve read yet. It wasn’t an easy read for me, Alex’s letters and narrative were like reading “joual” for me. To read it I have to hear it. It’s good that I watched the movie, (the story is different in both movie and book, both good but different) a few years ago. I was able to hear and read Alex’s tales.

Some of the descriptions are violently graphic. There’s an underlining violence all through the book, some you expect it’s a story about WW2 but the violence in the present (Alex’s family) and in the past (Jonathan’s family) were as difficult to read about as the acts of German soldiers.

Happy I read it but I don’t think I’ll read it again. I don’t need to, the images it created will stay in my memory for a long time.

Odyssée, Tome 1 : La malédiction des Pierres Noires22. Odyssée, Tome 1 : La malédiction des Pierres Noires by Michel Honaker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First book of 4 of the retelling of Odysseus’ tale from the fall of Troy to his return home. Michel Honaker’s style makes the story accessible in a modern language and keeps the essence of the tale. I’m going to keep on reading. Book 1 focuses on Odysseus’ brilliant Trojan Horse, the fall of Troy, Cassandra’s bad omen, how young men want to replace Odysseus as King of Ithaca and in Penelope’s bed and Telemaque going on his quest to find his father. Good stuff.

L'étoile rouge et le poète23. L’étoile rouge et le poète by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A very soft 3 stars. This is the tale of Africa de las Heras aka Maria Luisa aka war hero, spy extraordinaire of the USSR. This extraordinary woman really existed. From the Spanish Civil War all through WW2, the Cold War she stood tall and did her duty.

Alicia Dujovne Ortiz wrote a fictional account of this amazing woman life and it’s using fiction that didn’t sit well with me, it kinda cheapens the life of Africa. You don’t believe she’s actually real. I had to check to be sure. That kinda tells me the writer didn’t do a really good job of making me believe she was. I’m hoping to one day read a biography of Africa de las Heras, woman, revolutionary, assassin, actress, colonel, all around master spy.

The Cat Who Saw Red (Cat Who..., #4)24. The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
That novel restarted the series. Published in 1986, it’s rekindled the interest in the “éponyme” series “The Cat Who…”

Not as good as number 3 in the series. The set up is predictable, the villain is made of cart board. Some really hicky body image values there that made me cringe. Qwill is now a food critic and needs to lose weight. Yeah, that bad. We meet Hixie for the first time, she will come back along with her zaniness. She’s much better in later books.

So barely 2 stars.

Le chanteur de Tango25. Le chanteur de Tango by Tomás Eloy Martínez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Quite enjoyable. Really interesting, literary (Borges), mysterious (the narrator is on a quest to find and listen to a mysterious, legendary tango singer as great as Carlos Gardel) and with (bonus for me) an emphasis on Buenos Aires’ architecture. The young man, writing his thesis on tango and Borges travels to Argentina to find inspiration, write in the all night numerous cafés and dream of the many, many faces of the city.

March 17, 2010

February Books 2010

Filed under: february books — Chantal @ 5:15 pm

Sari rouge (Le)12. Sari rouge by V.V. Ganeshananthan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The story of a family of the Tamoul diaspora through the eyes of a daughter trying to make sense of her life, her parents and her origins. This is a classic for a first novel, the quest for where we came from and trying to figure out where we are and where we are going. I didn’t know much about Sri Lanka history, the Tamoul, the social upheavals, etc.

It’s also about someone not fitting into the country where she is born and not really connected to the place people assume she is from. The best part is the disconnection and the sorrow of the narrator who is very much aware of her not fitting in. Not American but raised the American way and removed from her family traditions, even beliefs.

It’s interesting, compelling, it has a voice, a flow for the reader to grab on to and be let through the lives of people, in my case, that I wanted to learn more about. As far as first novels go, it’s a good one. It has problems : the structure of the narration doesn’t always work, I got annoyed at the flashback but not really flashback trick really fast. But overall I enjoyed it.

Night Soldiers13. Night Soldiers by Alan Furst

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Interesting view of the “spy business” circa 1930. How Russia then the USSR recruited young men and a few women from the Eastern European countries to built up their Secret Service.

The plot is a bit all over the place, the characters are a bit also all over the place. The main character Khristo is strong, smart and a bit heroic in an Atlantis John Sheppard way (no men left behind, etc). The historical background is amazing in the descriptions, the set-up, the reader is inside the secret services (British, OSS, NKVD and a few others splinter branches.

I liked it. It took me more time to read than I would have liked because the plot was not as “thrilling” and this one is not a page turner type of narrative but worth reading at a slower pace.

Ready (Mercenary/Goddard Project, #3) (Mercenary Trilogy, #1)14. Ready by Lucy Monroe

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
More like 2 1/2 stars. Average action/romance, light on the action novel. Both lead characters are a bit under developed for my taste. Nothing extraordinary or even special.

Storm Watch (Harlequin Blaze)15. Storm Watch by Jill Shalvis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Barely 2 stars. Wooden characters, paper thin character development, too many secondary characters (even if it’s only two). One redeeming thing, Jason is likable.

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (Cat Who..., #1)16. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Quick reread. I vaguely remembered this opening book of Lilian Jackson Braun. There is a break in this series. The first three were written in the mid 1960’s, Braun stopped and twenty years after publishing The Cat Who Could Read Backwards she wrote The Cat Who Saw Red and it relaunched the series.

This is KoKo’s bow, where Siamese Cat and newspaper reporter Jim Qwilleran meet. Qwilleran returns to journalism after years battling drinking abuse. The Art beat is strange but Qwilleran soon finds himself in the middle of a trio of murders where KoKo seems to know all about.

Short and so much better than maybe the last 10 titles published in the series.

Turkish Gambit17. Turkish Gambit by Boris Akunin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Second title in Akunin’s Erast Fandorin series. We find Fandorin again after the tragic ending of his first real case. He’s become more detached, older despite his very young age. Less vain, less social. Which is the perfect backdrop for this tail of life, intrigue and heroism in the War between Russian and Turkey in the 1887. Fandorin is not much there, except for the high points of the mystery. We see life with the army, on the edge of the battlefield through the eyes of Varya. A young Russian woman who followed her fiancé to the army camp and the Press. This is something Akunin does really really well, using the press of the time, the journalists and making them the every day man or woman to whom the reader can identify.

The historical background is interesting. I had almost no knowledge of that war at the edge of Bulgaria, Roumania and Turkey. The spy/mystery plot is more obvious and I guessed who was the villain early on but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story.

Le Lièvre de Vatanen18. Le Lièvre de Vatanen by Arto Paasilinna

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Short, amusing, quirky tale of a man who finds an hare, hurt on the side of the road and leaves his life behind and become somewhat of a marginal. We follow Vatanen and his hare in his quest for life throughout Finland. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes absurd, sometimes deep and sometimes completely off the wall. You can even imagine that all of his adventures are a fiction of his mind while he wanders in the forest pursuing the hurt hare on that faithful afternoon of June.
I liked it a lot.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (Cat Who..., #2)19. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reread. This is where Yum Yum is introduced and where KoKo really becomes a sleuthing cat. This is fluff mystery. Not brain surgery but entertaining fluff.

February 4, 2010

January 2010 books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 6:55 pm

Voyage en Germanie1. Voyage en Germanie by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Almost 4 stars. This is a reread and it’s as good as it was the first time. It shows the strength of the characters that even when you know how things turn up you still care and enjoy the way the characters grow. Especially Helena’s younger brother, Q. Camillus Justinus which is charming, strong and the perfect side kick to Marcus Falco.

This adventurous trip into the wild of Germany is an entertaining romp and the web of intrigues is well done. No surprises but a good time is guarantied.

Le carré de la vengeance (Van In, #1)2. Le carré de la vengeance by Pieter Aspe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First one in the series of this very popular Belgium author. The characters are interesting. The politics, the class differences are well done. The female character, Hannelore, who works for the justice department, in not just there to be “the girl”, one of the policeman is gay but it’s no big deal, the lead character is a bit more cliché but I put that on the first novel syndrome Mary Sue.

The plot, one of the most important and rich family of Bruges is really having a bad week, a bad month. First a robbery that isn’t really a robbery, a kidnapping, a demand for ransom that is a bit strange.

A quick and interesting read.

Detective Inspector Huss
3. Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First novel introducing the Violent Crime unit of Goteborg and Detective Inspector Irene Huss. Almost four stars. The plot is a little confusing and takes the long, long, long way to resolve itself but Tursten introduces all of the member of the unit in due time and it’s integrated into the plot. The pace is a little clunky, a little “brouillon” but she sets the bases for an intriguing case and quite a few more to come.

Un torse dans les rochers4. Un torse dans les rochers by Helene Tursten

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The second novel featuring Detective Inspector Irene Huss. DI Huss is hunting down a cunning killer with a passion for butchering his victims. When a torso in a garbage bag is found on a beach near Goteborg, Huss finds herself both hunter and prey. The plot is fast pace, the characters are interesting, well defined and growing. It’s two years later after the double murder of the first novel. Again almost 4 stars.

Des myrtilles dans la yourte5. Des myrtilles dans la yourte by Sarah Dars

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The strength of this novel resides in the setting. The author knows Mongolia, loves Mongolia, makes the reader care about the Mongolian people, the land, the beliefs. The mystery is secondary. We follow Yesügei, a veteran police inspector who is on the way out, push to retire. Alcohol, insubordination, womanizing but above all being of the old school is making him a nuisance. But, he is a master at what he does, reading people, reading the land, understanding his people. When an American tourist goes missing then shows up dead, he is sent to solve the mystery.

You can see, hear and smell the land in this. Yesügei and the newbie detective a city boy assigned to him lead us and guide us through this voyage of discovery of a land that intrigues and charms.

I liked it because of the setting.

SEALed and Delivered (Harlequin Blaze)6. SEALed and Delivered by Jill Monroe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A solid 3 stars because it’s rare to get two smarts, self aware, charming and interesting leads. Both Hailey and Nate are wonderful to watch, how they move closer while pretending that it’s not a relationship, but it so totally is. The setting is well done. I like the leitmotiv “Have I thanked the Navy lately?” it makes both characters fun and definitely not the tragic drama kind.

The only problem is the B plot involving a friend and her fiancé and their cliché problem sex lives. Totally boring, totally not interesting and soooo cliché I just skipped the parts where Amy and Jack, Jake whatever showed up. Waste of pages that would have been best used on Hailey and Nate.

Le festin de Babette : Et autres contes7. Le festin de Babette : Et autres contes by Isak Dinesen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I hadn’t read any Blixen in a long, long time. Every phrases, every words and in Babette’s Feast, in particular, every dishes are chosen for a purpose. Reading Blixen compares for me to watching a master lace maker creating a piece right before your eyes. What I liked best about Babette is her ‘inébranlable’ confidence in herself, in her art, in her talent.

L'Insoutenable légèreté de l'être8. L’Insoutenable légèreté de l’être by Milan Kundera

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A solid 3 stars. Not so much a love story, although there is a lot of talk about love and sex. I didn’t like any of the characters, nor Tomas, nor Tereza or Sabina or Franz. It’s a cold, intellectual, philosophical essay on love, sex, the human condition, the human psyche : that I liked. The plot, the characters felt plastered on the essay and were ultimately boring. But the ideas, the philosophy was interesting.

Dancing in the Moonlight (Cowboys of Cold Creek, #2) (Silhoutte Special Edition #1757)9. Dancing in the Moonlight by Raeanne Thayne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Strong lead characters. Both woman and man. Army nurse comes home after losing part of a leg in an bombing in Kabul. This does have a HEA ending but it’s a strong love story. Lena and Jake grew up together, families are estranged because of an old business deal. Both conquer their fears and ultimately find strength and love in each other.

I liked it. Some parts probably needed to be expanded but this is a 250 pages Harlequin, the author had to conform to the format. But even with the boundaries of the Harlequin format this tale of recovery, finding your inner strength stands out.

The Foreign Correspondent: A Novel10. The Foreign Correspondent: A Novel by Alan Furst

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A very strong 3 stars. Furst love this period. It shows. In the details of the places he sets his characters in, in the way the reader almost effortlessly walks along side Weisz. From the terrain of the ending Spanish war to the émigré scene of Paris with its spies, secret police to Berlin for the signing of the Pact of Steel to the fall of the Czech.

It’s all really well done. One tiny thing, the plot isn’t as fantastic as the set up. But it’s really a tiny thing.

206 Bones (Temperance Brennan #12)11. 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A soft 3 stars. This latest Temperance Brennan novel has all the ingredients to make something good but somehow the ingredients don’t gel together. The three plot lines : A (the bad guy at work), B (the grannies serial killer) and C (Temperance’s relationship with Ryan) mix like water and oil not vinegar and oil.

Reichs still amaze me with her sense of the places her characters are in. I can totally buy and feel Temperance’s visit to Chicago and know that it’s accurate, get a feel of the place. Why? Because I live in the other place Temperance works and Reichs nails Montreal, the Laurentians, Oka. Tiny, little thing Laval University is not in Laval but Québec City but really I’m nitpicking.

So, good ingredients, bad mix because it’s not a sign of a good Brennan novel when the reader less than half way through knows who the bad guys are and starts yelling at Tempy to get a clue.

View all my reviews >>

January 3, 2010

December books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 8:12 pm

Sharpe's Gold (Sharpe, #9)118. Sharpe’s Gold by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I did indeed found the way to read the Sharpe series. In order in which they were published. This is the second novel I had no problem getting into after Sharpe’s Eagle. The story picks up a few months after the celebrated catching of the Eagle. Sharpe is invested by Wellington of a mission that can only turn bad. Sharpe faces ethical dilemma, who lives, who dies, shall he stick to his duty and mission despite the high cost of human lives. Cornwell writes action really well, the French patrol attacking, the German mercenary saving the day and he takes you, the reader, part of it, part of the historical battles (in this case Almeida) like you are there standing next to Sharpe and Harper. Sharpe meets a beautiful dark haired beauty again but he wouldn’t be Sharpe if he didn’t.

The Shadow of the Wind119. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the mysterious almost gothic adventures of Daniel in post WWII Barcelona. The power of the written word is infinite and history somehow repeats itself but with multiple endings.

Easy to fall in love with the universe Zafon created and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes to be able to visit the Cemetery of the lost books.

Le Roman Des Jardin120. Le Roman Des Jardin by Alexandre Jardin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the second novel where Alexandre Jardin tries to deal with his somewhat unorthodox, zany, free loving, polygamist, insane, unstable and prone to suicide family. Are the fictional memoirs real or legend? A bit of both. A lie that speaks the truth.

Jardin’s family and all the people that gravitated around them were artists, poets, politicians. Jardin’s father, grand-father, uncles were known womanizers with multiple mistresses. Both their wives had multiples stay in lovers. This novel, this lie that speaks the truth is Alexandre’s way to make peace with this very marginal upbringing, to make sense of his own life.

The tone is up beat, light but it’s a lie because beneath the laughter and the outrageous you can hear the anguish about being different, the pain of losing his father very young, the hurt of not having something stable ever, the despair of a young man to live up to the family legend. Even at 40, when he wrote this fictional memoirs Alexandre still struggled with the weight of being a Jardin.

Kafka on the Shore121. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I suspect you either love this book or you don’t. If the reader falls for the slightly off centre world Murakami offers and goes along for the ride, he finds a poetic yet precise world where a strong, tough fifteen years old tries to make sense of his life, tries to survive and maybe, maybe finds solace and hope through a strange lucid dream like world. All the characters have a precise, jewel like quality to them. I especially liked the old man, Nakata who talks to cats, his partner in his quest, the young truck driver Hoshino who finds there is more in this world than driving a truck and Oshima, the library clerk who lives his life to the sound of his own drum.

I liked this book, some parts are just wonderful, others you don’t really know where Murakami is going and I suspect he doesn’t really know himself.

But you can easily not be enchanted by this book at all. It’s slow, it’s open ended, it’s non linear, it has things that in the end are not explained at all.

Me I don’t mind, I’d rather Murakami not explain.

The SEAL's Surprise Baby122. The SEAL’s Surprise Baby by Amy J. Fetzer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Barely 2 stars. Very average. One redeeming thing: the male lead is interesting (reason for the second star). The female lead is paper thin and so under developed it hurts.

My first and last Amy J. Fetzer.

La jeune fille à la perle123. La jeune fille à la perle by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Just too smooth, too seamless. Just like the clothing Griet washes and irons. The idea of the story behind one of the most famous painting Vermeer ever painted is interesting the execution less so.

Everything is superficial, two dimensional bathed in this uniform light of dullness. So unlike the painting itself. There are parts that are interesting : the creating part of the novel, Vermeer painting, to a point Griet mixing the colours but it barely off set the one note tone of the narration for me.

The Silver Needle Murder (A Tea Shop Mystery, #9)124. The Silver Needle Murder by Laura Childs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The plot was more decorative than mystery in this one. The gang is all there : Theodosia, Drayton, Hayley, Delaine. Set within a film festival the novel is more a series of tea party full of fun facts about tea, food and wine. The mystery part is an accessory in this one. A nice bauble but not really deep or interesting and the villain is a rabbit out of the hat at the end.

December 28, 2009

2010 reading challenges

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 2:38 pm

One :

Around the world in 80 books challenge at Goodreads. Already in progress since September 15th. Ends September 15 2010.

Google Map of the trek

Two :

1001 books lists : at least 10 titles read in 2010.

Possible titles

January :L’insoutenable légèreté de l’être. Milan Kundera ***read***

February: Everything is Illuminated. Jonathan Safran Foer

March: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Micheal Chabon

April: Wide Sargasso Sea. Jean Rhys

May: La peste. Albert Camus

June: tba

July: tba

August: tba

September: tba

October: tba

November : tba

December:  tba

Three: Finishing series

Sherlock Holmes I’m up to The Hound of the Baskerville (reread)

December 24, 2009

A to Z Reading Challenge

Filed under: challenge,Uncategorized — Chantal @ 11:38 am

I’m doing the A to Z Reading Challenge in 2009 combined with my on going 1001 books you must read before you die list.

To know what I’m currently reading check out my Goodreads profile.

A to Z Challenge

A: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

B: The Battle of the Labyrith by Rick Riordan

C: Changing Tides

D: The Damascened Blade by Barbara Cleverly

E: Énéide by Virgil

F: Frontiers

G : Good Omens

H: Hero

I: Iliad

J: The Janissary Tree

K: Kafka on the Shore

L: Loverboy

M: Michael Tolliver Lives

N: Neuromancer

O : Orlando

P: Pack Animals

Q: Q is for Quarry

R : Rashomon Gate

S: Sweet Death Kind Death

T: Tijuana City Blues

U: Utu

V: The Venetian’s Wife

W: Water for Elephants

X : The Xibalba Murders

Z : Le Zubial

The challenge is done.

2009 – 1001 books challenge

#141 : A Suitable Boy

#258 : Neuromancer

#19 : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

#933 : Persuasion

#804 : The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

#675 : Orlando

#909 : The Purloined Letter

#956 : Dangerous Liaisons

#402 : In Cold Blood

#134 : Smilla’s Sense of Snow

#705 : The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

#32 : Kafka On the Shore

A to Z Challenge : K

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 11:33 am

Kafka on the Shore121. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I suspect you either love this book or you don’t. If the reader falls for the slightly off centre world Murakami offers and goes along for the ride, he finds a poetic yet precise world where a strong, tough fifteen years old tries to make sense of his life, tries to survive and maybe, maybe finds solace and hope through a strange lucid dream like world. All the characters have a precise, jewel like quality to them. I especially liked the old man, Nakata who talks to cats, his partner in his quest, the young truck driver Hoshino who finds there is more in this world than driving a truck and Oshima, the library clerk who lives his life to the sound of his own drum.

I liked this book, some parts are just wonderful, others you don’t really know where Murakami is going and I suspect he doesn’t really know himself.

But you can easily not be enchanted by this book at all. It’s slow, it’s open ended, it’s non linear, it has things that in the end are not explained at all.

Me I don’t mind, I’d rather Murakami not explain.

December 6, 2009

1001 Book Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 12:37 pm

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd114. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Of course re-reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd gives you a different view of the novel and how brilliant Agatha Christie was. Not gonna say anything about the plot, why it’s so brilliant because if you haven’t read it, it would be a crime to spoil it. But I highly recommend that you do read it or read it again. Especially if you write yourself even if it’s just for yourself or fun. This is such a great way to see how it can be done.

November books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 12:29 pm

Torchwood: Pack Animals108. Torchwood: Pack Animals by Peter Anghelides

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What do we want from tie-book? Solid characterization, that the characters sound like the original we know and love. Pack Animals does this and is entertaining too. The plot is a little foggy in places but the author doesn’t shy away from what makes Torchwood fun and attractive. Namely, Jack being Jack, competent Gwen, amusing Rhys and putting forward Cardiff and making it real and interesting. A good tie in reads like an episode without the special effects that the production couldn’t have afforded anyway. This one makes the cut.

Un été ardent109. Un été ardent by Andrea Camilleri

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A solid Montalbano. You get the main ingredients that makes this series set in Sicily so delightful : food, an investigation that involves local traditions (mafia, corruption and a twisted individual), Montalbano trying to be good and in this one book in particular being too good for his own good. I did see the ending coming a mile away than again, I’m not an aging detective trying to be loyal to oneself and his values. Just saying. A very solid 3 stars.

Un nom de torero110. Un nom de torero by Luis Sepúlveda

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Totally different from The Old Man Who Read Love Stories. Sepulveda wrote a noir, hard boiled post-Berlin wall treasure hunt with characters that have nothing or very little to lose. Hard, rough but smart characters. Hard men that spent their lives fighting, plotting, surviving. The lead character is as dangerous as the rest of them but still has a tiny part of his soul alive somewhere inside. Sepulveda writes compelling characters, he shows you, doesn’t tell you. You go along for the last ride of Juan Belmonte’s life in hunt for Nazi gold all the way at the end of the world where the sky meets the ocean.

Uniform Justice (Commissario Brunetti #12) 111.Uniform Justice by Donna Leon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A young man is found dead, hanging from the ceiling at a military academy. Suicide. Case closed. Not so much in Brunetti’s mind. This is one of the most depressing and cynical Brunetti novel’s yet.

Even Electra can not bring some light and colour in this very cynical tale of corruption, politics and honour (or the lack of it).

Good but a downer.

Doctored Evidence (Commissario Brunetti #13)112. Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
More like a domestic type of mystery for this mellow yet oppressive plot. Leon succeeded in taking a prosaic, down to earth, petty motive and transforming it into a commentary on the human psyche. Not bad for a mystery series novel. So it’s the height of summer and when Brunetti comes back from vacationing with his family, he finds a case that Scarpa has almost closed but ends up being a bone of contention between them. Scarpa, the villain of the series is more present in this novel than just being the dark cloud over Brunetti. Vianello is becoming Signorina Electra’s apprentice in hacking database. This story is so good because it’s banal, prosaic and so very human. To quote Stephan Eicher : “L’homme est un animal.” So very true, down to its petty, petty crimes.

Les Cochons d'argent113. Les Cochons d’argent by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The opening bow of Marcus Didus Falco is like a Chandler noir novel, with first person point of view, big corrupt city and this disenchanted, cynical PI who’s at the wrong place at the right time.

Davis succeeds in creating a believable Rome set in Vespasian’s time (70 AD) with it’s corrupt politicians, corrupt army, corrupt police and public administration and makes it connect with our modern life. That’s a tour de force.

Of course like any good noir novel, there is a damsel in distress that meets an horrible fate, there’s the traitor, the amazing leading lady and all the fauna you are used to. Davis introduces two strong characters Falco and Helena Justina who’s relationship molds and drives the series. You start reading the series because the plot and the set up is interesting and well done but you keep going back because of Falco’s and Helena’s love for each other, their family and friends.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd114. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Of course re-reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd gives you a different view of the novel and how brilliant Agatha Christie was. Not gonna say anything about the plot, why it’s so brilliant because if you haven’t read it, it would be a crime to spoil it. But I highly recommend that you do read it or read it again. Especially if you write yourself even if it’s just for yourself or fun. This is such a great way to see how it can be done.

A l'ombre des conspirateurs115. A l’ombre des conspirateurs by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This closes the conspiracy case Falco was assigned by Vespasian in the first book. The mystery is obvious and not really the strength of the book. It’s the characters that make you happy. Falco’s and Helena’s dance around each other and their almost modern way of dealing with the problems and tragedy. I especially liked Falco’s nephew in this. His family is as important as the mystery and in this book even more. The case is closed but Falco makes himself a dangerous enemy that will haunt the next few books. Even as a reread it’s pretty good.

Une veuve romaine116. Une veuve romaine by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
More like 3 1/2 stars. This is the first post conspiracy novel and it focuses on what works: the relationships between the characters. Falco and Helena finally decide to kept dancing together to the joy of the reader. The plot is weaved into the characters struggle and emotions. The plot serves the characters development and it works. As in real life the villains do not always get what’s coming to them and it’s okay since the characters live to be happy another day, another week.

Blackwork (A Needlecraft Mystery, #13)117. Blackwork by Monica Ferris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Almost 4 stars. This is vintage Betsy Devonshire. You have to go back more than 5 books to find one as strong and together as this one. Blackwork works. Plot wise, character wise (Betsy is the lead character again finally), Goodwin is there in support and the colourful friends of the needle shop are all there in character and not chewing scenery. Most of all, the needlework is an integral part of the mystery/story. It’s not used as infodump section. It’s fun, it’s interesting and it’s smart. This is a very nice surprise. I had almost given up on this series.

November 2, 2009

October Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chantal @ 7:47 am

Une annee en Provence97. Une annee en Provence by Peter Mayle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Very light read. This is life of the rich and non-famous living the “simple” life in Provence. It has the same appeal as cotton candy. It’s fluffy, it’s pink, it’s sugar. You read it, you go on to the next book, but you enjoy the light pink fluffy candy while you eat it or in this case read it.

 

 

Wilful Behaviour98. Wilful Behaviour by Donna Leon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
More a reflection on rewriting history and atoning for a past that isn’t yours but your elders. Italy was part of the Germany-Japan alliance yet turned around and ended up on the Allied side at the end of the war. This Brunetti’s case deals with the past, with a family that took advantage and stole from people in desperate situation and one young woman who tried to make amends. The duplicity, the denial and in the end the cupidity makes this tale a bit too dark but in a good way.

 

The Moche Warrior (Archaeological Mystery)99. The Moche Warrior by Lyn Hamilton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The author loves the subject that’s obvious. She has a passion for archaeology and it shows. The setting of the plot, the technical information, the historical setting are all fine. But the cake doesn’t rise. Not for me anyway. The characters are so thin and two dimensional. She’s in book 3 and Lara is still this heroine I don’t really believe in. The bad guys are “papier maché” villains, the pace of the action is off. Still there are enough little things I liked to seek out the next book. Barely a two stars.

 

Q... comme querelle 100. Q… comme querelle by Sue Grafton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was like meeting an old friend by chance on the street that you haven’t seen in 10 years. My last Kinsey Millhone was the letter J or K. Q like Quarry kinda picks up where I left off because we get a glimpse of Kinsey’s family on her mother’s side again. The case in itself is not that hard to guess, based on a true case of an unknown young woman stabbed to death and left in quarry near Santa Barbara. Grafton imitates life but also creates or fleshes out two characters that I grew to like : retired officer Stacey and on sick leave officer Dolan. Both grow on the reader and form with Kinsey a competent trio of investigators. But like the old friend you haven’t seen in 10 years this is a one time chance meeting. I’m not sold in picking up another one of Kinsey adventure in the near future.

 

Voices101. Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bleak and dark. What you expect from Indridason. We join Reykjavik’s detectives trio a few days before Christmas when an employee, who played Santa Claus, of a big hotel is found murdered with his pants down. Not a lot of fuzzy feelings in this dark tale of family, betrayal, stolen childhood and survivor’s guilt. Still, there is a little light there at the end. Tiny but there.

 

 

Utu : Un thriller chez les Maoris102. Utu : Un thriller chez les Maoris by Caryl Férey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was brutal yet immensely satisfying. The author didn’t cheat, didn’t waver. The plot came to the logical, violent conclusion. The hero of the tale is this nihilistic, doped up, violent, erratic, burnt-out cop with a death wish. It’s a dark tale of corrupt civil servants, murders and destruction. Utu is the Maori word for vengeance. Vengeance with no hope, no exit.

I’m really glad I read it. It’s not an easy read but a worthy one.

 

TIJUANA CITY BLUES103. TIJUANA CITY BLUES by Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first part of Gabriel Trujillo Munoz’s Mexicali City Blues series/collection. Amazing. Short but not sweet. Munoz shows does not tell the reader. You are right in the middle of the intrigue without any down time or side steps. The hero is a mix of old noir boiler novel and Sherlock Holmes. It’s well done. So the plot of this story is set around the Beat poet/novelist Burroughs’ time in Mexico and the quest of a man for his lost father. Nothing is simple and it’s a wonderful introduction to the dark world of that region of the border between Mexico and the USA.

 

Loverboy104. Loverboy by Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Second part of Munoz’s Mexicali City Blues series/collection tackles the urban legend of organ traffic. Anything is available on the frontier, for a price. When a child is abducted in broad day light, Miguel Morgado is asked to look into it. Fast paced, showing not telling, a compelling hero, really crazy bad guys and a place where nothing is all black and white more a dark shade of grey.

 

 

 

MEXICALI CITY BLUES105. MEXICALI CITY BLUES by Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Third part of Munoz’s Mexicali City Blues series/collection. All the world is a stage and Miguel Angel Morgado get to start in his own back to the future little drama. His first love asks him to find her husband, an helicopter pilot, lost in the desert or the ocean. No one knows or do they? Again, fast paced, showing not telling, this is more an action tale of cat and mouse of shady characters and ultimately about faith and loyalty.

 

The Celtic Riddle (Archaeological Mystery)106. The Celtic Riddle by Lyn Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the strongest of the series so far. Lara is finally, finally getting some depth and the secondary characters are interesting and engaging. The riddle is amusing, the plot keeps you interested, yes, I knew who did it midway through so the “surprise” reveal wasn’t one but overall I liked this one more than the first three.

 

 

44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1)107. 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Alexander McCall Smith wrote in the foreword of this book that the idea came from a trip to California where he met Armistead Maupin and how he longed for a series like Tales of the City. 44 Scotland Street has some distant likeness to Tales of the City but it’s definitely its own world and “douce folie”. There’s just enough characters to make it big enough but not too many that you can’t follow there lives around. It’s shiny, it’s bubbly, it’s definitely critical with a sharp view of some behaviours. I liked it a lot. More like 3 3/4 stars. Good thing I have the next two novels in my TRP.

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