Friday, January 30, 2009

Philippa Gregory - The Other Boleyn Girl

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII.
Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen.
However, she soon realizes just how much she is pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne.
Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.


When I first watched the movie on DVD I was impressed mostly by the historical errors made in the movie and I was eager to read if historical fiction is just that. I had the book and began reading it and quickly fell in love with the whole subject and writing style. Not really minding quite a few historical errors and huge differences between movie and book.


The whole subject of parents telling you whom to go to bed with, getting pregnant to steady the families wealth and future has a way that makes the modern women blink twice as well as the openly flirtations and degradations towards his wife, queen Catherine, by king Henry himself.

Mary and Anne Boleyn have been rivals from early childhood. While Mary is the golden child with the friendly heart, Anne is the more ambitious, reckless one of the two sisters.
The Boleyn girls are sent to court to become maids in waiting for the king's queen when King Henry himself discovers the beauty of freshly married Mary Boleyn. Sniffing the family's opportunity to grow mostly moneywise Mary is expected to become the king's favorite maid visiting him during nights and offer herself. While engulfed in a tender relationship Mary becomes pregnant twice giving birth to a girl and later to a little boy. However, soon she learns that her sister Anne who originally was sent to keep the kings mind on Mary seduces the king and he falls in love with her. Anne's plans are different from Mary's. She wants everything which includes the throne. The king himself desires nothing more then a son and his hopes rise with his unconditional love for the beautiful young Anne.
With making his own laws and separating from the Romes church his marriage to queen Catherine is declared as invalid but as Anne' fails to fulfill the kings desire to receive an heir she quickly finds herself in the same, much more worse and dangerous position than once queen Catherine found herself in.


Reading historical fiction is a new genre to me and I have to admit I liked it quite a bit.

Visit Philippa Gregory.

Mass Market Paperback: 752 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star (September 25, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416556532
ISBN-13: 978-1416556534

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

William Peter Blatty - The Exorcist

Chris MacNeil - adored film star, divorced single mother - has come to Washington, D. C. to finish a movie.
Swept up by the demands of her busy, flourishing career, Chris is blind to the subtle warnings that a dark, malevolent presence has invaded her comfortable townhouse.
Powerful and cunning, it is taking possession of Regan, her 12-year old daughter.
Every avenue of help leads to a dead end.
Now hope lies only in a doubt-ridden priest and his fragile elder... in a terrifying battle with an obscene, unspeakable evil that must end in victory ... or madness and death.


How do you describe a book which movie one has seen for more than 10 times during the past 15 years ? It is difficult to see the book as the inspiration for a great horror movie because they are so different from each other. While the movie focuses mainly on Regan's possession the book rather keeps everything a bit like a mystery. Like for example who killed the director Burke Dennings and the police detective Kinderman's investigations into his mysterious death.

However, I can imagine why a lot of people thought this book is so frightening. In some parts it becomes very clear in how Regan's behavior emerges to the surface and impacts her surroundings. For me however, it wasn't frightening at all. I believe you've got to be religious to become frightened.

The movie clearly has an advantage to let the viewer know how Regan's head turned or how her famous spider crawling looked like. But even if there would not have been a movie the book couldn't keep up with my expectations caused by the hype.


Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTorch (February 1, 1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061007226
ISBN-13: 978-0061007224

Friday, January 23, 2009

Graham Masterton - The Descendant

Californian James Falcon's Romanian mother told him so many folk stories by the time he reaches college in 1943, hes an expert on the strigoi, the vampires who infested the most isolated forest of Wallachia. Mostly as a joke, he writes a term paper on the strigoi. But the joke turns out serious when US counter-intelligence recruit him.

James hunts down strigoi Nazi assassins in warravaged Europe, although the principal one, the terrible Dorin Duca, continues to elude him. In the Cold War, he must fight once more, as Duca goes on a rampage across London, England.

With Jill, a police dog handler of great beauty and resilience, James is assigned to Britain's MI6 to go on the hunt again. But even after the threat is driven away, James will still uncover more secrets - secrets that come ever close to home ... .


James Falcon has been raised by a Romanian mother telling him about all he old stories about vampires and the strigoi, a different but certainly not less horrible kind of the undead. He becomes the only comprehensive person with knowledge of the strigoi. Not really certain about the strigoi existing but with reasonable evidence that they might, he is asked by the counter-intelligence during WW2 to help out with his expertise because eveything described in a term paper by him seems to be happening all over resistance camps against the Germans.
Soon James developes a sense for the strigoi and their way of draining and killing people and he becomes the weapon against the strigoi, hunting them down and destroying them.

His nemesis Dorin Duca seems to be the centerpoint of all strigoi movement, always a step before James he doesn't seem to be catchable. When James arrives in Antwerp in 1944 he destroys the strigoi but Duca seems to have vanished. He returns home to begin a normal life that is disrupted almost 15 years later by the counter-intelligence approaching him again.
Terrible murders have happened in London/England and evidence points to the one and only Dorin Duca. After hearing that Duca was once detained and now could escape, James becomes even more eager to find and destroy him.

But how to kill something that is old enough to withstand all the holy utensils given to him for his hunt ? James has to come up with a plan to finally make an end to the strigoi and time is short because Duca has already booked a cruise to the United States.

Descendant is the most interesting and exciting novel about the strigoi I have read in a long, long time. Armed with a load of new inspirations to this genre the author took me on a ride, willingly surrendering my night sleep.
There are so many new and clever twists around the strigoi existence and such fine explanations about the differences between strigoi vii and strigoi mortii that the reading fun doesn't stop. Details craft a tale unlike others and most shockingly it is almost believable, sticking to historical background. Well done.

Visit Graham Masterton.

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (June 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0727891715
ISBN-13: 978-0727891716

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Paul Johnston - The Death List

Revenge is sweet - unless you are the target

Writer's block is nothing compared to the sinister assignment London-based novelist Matt Wells has just received. A chain of seemingly innocent e-mails from a devoted fan turns deadly when Matt discovers the correspondent is a cold-blooded killer with an agenda for murder - and his family and friends are among the scheduled victims.

Under close surveillance, Matt is plunged into a plot more twisted than any he has used in his novels. The is the real thing, and with each killing, the man known as the White Devil tightens his grip by incriminating Matt at the murder scenes. Cast only as the ghostwriter of his persecutor's terrifying story, but as the victim, Matt needs to risk everything to protect his loved ones. But with the police closing in and his friends being picked off, he is running out of time. The White devil is out there... and he's watching.


London based, writer's constipation suffering, crime novelist Matt Wells doesn't consider himself important enough to protect his privacy and begins corresponding with a devoted fan who contacted him using his webpage.
He soon learns that the person who's writing him is a lunatic, who seems to stalk him and even knows his real last name which Matt always kept private.
When the villain threatens to spill the innocent blood of Matt's family and friends he makes pretty clear that he wants Matt's cooperation to put into detailed words how the murders happened. He's clear enough about the conditions, leaving the gutted body of Matt's daughter Lucy's neighbors dog on the girls bed.

Matt doesn't see a way out of this situation and cooperates but soon stands up against the so called White Devil when he begins killing people who've wronged Matt's writing skills.

Detective Chief Inspector Karen Oates learns of crime novelist Matt Stone who's fictional killings have been used for real killings in the latest, most gruesome murders in London. She has doubts in Matt even when he begins hiding from the police, but her gut tells her, this man isn't capable of killing people.

Hiding his family and friends Matt seeks out a few to help him out to find the White Devil and put an end to this situation.


I was surprised to learn that Paul Johnston isn't new to writing because I thought The Death List has to be the first book of a new writer: average writing, not a very complex plot, no deepness in characters etc. . However, the authors webpage reveals he's written quite a few books so far and is about the publish his second Matt Wells novel, The Soul Catcher, basically a continuation of the first novel The Death List.

For me as an avid reader this book couldn't keep my standard in many ways so I will pass on the second novel.

Visit Paul Johnston.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Mira (July 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0778324818
ISBN-13: 978-0778324812

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kenneth Johnson - A. C. Crispin - V: The Original Miniseries

The alien visitors arrive without warning, their enormous spaceships hovering over fifty of the worlds major cities. Their tale of an imperiled home world beguiles us.
Their human appearance and soothing voices reassure us.
Their calm promises of friendship and mutual aid lull us.
The aliens fool everyone - until a suspicious journalist and a Holocaust survivor point out the chilling signs that the Visitors aren't nearly as friendly as they seem.

As with many oppressive regimens of Earth's past and present, an ill informed, propagandized populace becomes complicit in its subjugation, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by their tyrannical overlords. Now a small band of resistance fighters who knew the aliens' true nature must stand up for all humanity.


The Visitors' arrive with the promise to share their great knowledge in exchange for a chemical compound that is missing on their planet which slowly dies. But soon humans begin to notice things are off. Only selected people are invited to the mother ship, children are invited into Visitor friendly groups and one particular group of humans called scientist are suspected of being traitors of the worlds peace conspiring against the visitors. While the Visitors' presence becomes more and more with each passing day, them taking over government institutions, media coverage and police actions, the science community splits into those who suddenly vanish, hide in the underground or close their eyes.
Mike Donavan, daring news camera man was one of the first persons to be invited to the mother ship, meeting the two in command persons John and Diana. His curious nature brings him back to the mother ship incognito to unravel the Visitors' secrets. It is not the chemical compound they need. Instead he finds gazillions of water tanks filled with fresh water. To make it worse he witnesses the real lizard-like nature of the Visitors' and their preservation of human flesh and torture methods. But there aren't only enemies on board of the mother ships. Few of the aliens don't believe in their great leaders plans and form their own resistance working against Diana & John. One of them is Martin who helps Mike out of dangerous situations on the mother ship and also helps him to take some humans back to earth.
Mike gets to know Juliet Parrish, a 4th year medical student and biochemist who made the move into the underground slowly building a resistance to the aliens. In her secret camp the first human/alien baby is born.


If it weren't for the series which I loved on TV and in the old books as well, I'd say I didn't like this book at all. Message overload or whatever one might call it, pointed out the resemblance to Nazi Germany, in a way that left an unsavory, boring aftertaste. Now I know it has been a while since the series aired on TV in 1985 but even than I believe the Holocaust comparison was just playing with human superficial stupidity at that time.
However, there is more to criticize, although it is tried to keep the book as near to the series as possible, which it really is, there are a few major characters simply left out. F. e. the capture of visitor William into the resistance camp and the way humans' learn that not all visitors' agree to their main leaders great plan to take over earth and the resistance that is forming on board of the ships itself. This part just drowned the same way as the part how Robin got pregnant by a visitor and her twins (yes, in the TV series she gave birth to twins, one completely alien and one human with partly lizard like features).

For me as a fan those things are important.
In the end I don't think a new reader to the series is going to like the overload or short chapters involving characters.
It made me sad but who cares, I've got the old books on my shelf. :-)

The book also sort of prepares the reader for the follow-up book V: The Second Generation. A bit early because between the miniseries and the second generation are over ten books, and well 20 years that have passed.

Visit Kenneth Johnson.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765321580
ISBN-13: 978-0765321589

Saturday, January 10, 2009

John Connolly - The Reapers

As a small boy, Louis witnesses an unspeakable crime that takes the life of a member of his small, southern community. He grows up and moves on, but he is forever changed by the cruel and brutal nature of the act. It lights a fire deep within him that burns white and cold, a quiet flame just waiting to ignite.
Now, years later, the sins of his life are reaching into his present, bringing with them the buried secrets and half-forgotten acts of his past.

Someone is hunting him, targeting his home, his business, and his partner, Angel. The instrument of revenge is Bliss, a killer of killers, the most feared of assassins. Bliss is a Reaper, a lethal tool to be applied toward the ultimate end, but he is also a man with a personal vendetta.

Both hardened by their pasts, Louis and Angel decide to strike back, and although they form a camaraderie that brings them solace, it offers them no other shelter from the fate that stalks them. When they mysteriously disappear , their friends are forced to band together to find them. They are led by private detective Charlie Parker, a killer himself, a Reaper in waiting.


When word gets around that two of their friends connected to a paid killing years before have been killed, Louis and Angel, two contract killers, feel the pressure to react to an unknown threat. Louis feels the signature of those two killings leads to Bliss, a feared assassin he almost killed a long time ago and who seems to have become the tool of someone whose son Louis and his dead companions assassinated years before.

At the same time Louis home and one of his businesses is targeted by it seems amateur assassins. Among this is Willie Brew's auto shop. A long time ago Louis bought of Willie's dept and offered him to work for him out of his shop or lose the shop for his divorce settlement. Since then Willie is used now and than for what he's best with: repairing cars.

On the night of their attack on Leehagen, the revenging father, they soon discover they were set up to be killed on his huge property, hunted by no one else but Bliss.
When Willie hears about the set-up he connects to private detective Parker and they both begin their journey to rescue their friends.


It is hard to imagine liking the main characters Louis And Angel being killers but besides this the author didn't really put much effort into it. Even with short journeys into Louis' past and learning how he developed to a Reaper it quite didn't work for me.

So it stays with Willie, who is a like able character, deep in debt with Louis but still considering him a friend who once help him to not lose what he loves the most: his auto shop.

I wish I would find more positive about the book to say except there were no open ends in the ending which wasn't at all surprising and very predictable.

It was a time filler for me, with an interesting plot but still if I hadn't spent 18 bucks on it when I bought it, I probably would have put it away half way through.

Visit John Connolly.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Atria; 1 edition (May 27, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416569529
ISBN-13: 978-1416569527

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Linwood Barclay - Too Close To Home

"The night they killed our neighbors we never heard a thing."

In a quiet suburban neighborhood, in a house only one door away, a family is brutally murdered for no apparent reason. And you think to yourself: It could have been us.
And you start to wonder: What if we're next ?

Promise Falls isn't the kind of community where a family is shoot to death in their own home. But that is exactly what happened to the Langleys' one sweltering summer night, and no one in this small upstate New York town is more shocked than their next-door neighbors, Jim and Ellen Cutter. They visited for the occasional barbecue, and their son, Derek, was friends with Langleys' boy Adam: but how well did they really know their neighbors ?
That''s the question Jim Cutter is asking, and the answers he's getting aren't reassuring/ Albert Langley was a successful, well respected criminal lawyer, but was he so good at getting criminals off that he was the victim of revenge - a debt his innocent family also paid in blood ?
From the towns criminally corrupt mayor to the tragic suicide of a talented student a decade before, Promise Falls has more than a share of secrets. And Jim Cutter, failed artist turned landscaper, need look no further than his own home and his wife Ellen's past to know that things aren't always what they seem.

Suddenly the Cutters' must face the unthinkable: that the murderer isn't just stalking too close to home but is inside it already. For the Langleys' weren't the first to die and they won't be last.


When Derek Cutter's friends family leaves for vacation he looks up to a coming week of having a secret love nest for himself and his girlfriend Penny. He hides in their basement, strolling through the house as soon as they leave. Surprisingly the family returns shortly after and Derek has to hide back in the basement. He hears someone else arrive, listens to a short argument and the first shot, soon followed by two other shots. When the killer leaves the house Derek fleas. But police isn't so stupid: They soon discover the boy was in the house and is arrested for circumstantial evidence.
His parents Jim & Ellen are in shock, trying to understand what is going on. More so father Jim who doesn't believe a single second his boy is a murderer. He begins his own investigations starting with only a clue Derek was able to provide:
A missing PC tower from his friends desk which had a strange but "cool" novel on it.
The boys got it from one of Jim's customers whose son killed himself a decade ago.
For Jim the killing begins to tape shape when he notices that this novel was published two years after the authors death by no other than the college leader and boss of his wife: Conrad Chase. Where ever Jim turns he always comes back to the missing PC tower and the novel.
Very slowly he peels away layer after layer, discovering the women, his wife, whom he slowly began to trust again after a betrayal years ago, has deep dark secrets hidden from him but following his guts, he ultimately figures out the Langleys' were never the intended victim. Instead his past, the towns criminal corrupt mayors and his wife's past come together ultimately facing the murderer of not only the Langleys' but three other victims. But the killer isn't finished yet. He has an agenda of revenge and won't stop until he is stopped.


Too close To Home is the first novel I read by Linwood Barclay and I enjoyed every single page of it. Very suspenseful the author keeps things coming at the reader that aren't what they seem to be. Jim's character is one of uniqueness but also one of much frustration with life and his social standpoint. He his an artist at heart but no one likes his paintings except his family. So he has his personal punching back Lance who's constantly picking at him about his downfall from working for the mayor to landscaping. He even once, with right, punched the mayor's nose.
However, Jim is good at heart. Fair to his child and people surrounding him. For me a like able, human, character all around.
Impressively Barclay brought in a lot of different stories into this book that made sense at the end and also surprised because in the beginning I thought those are only stories to get the background and kind of personalities who are taking part in the plot. Never did I imagine it becomes vital for the whole story.

Overall a very good book that kept me reading non-stop.

Visit Linwood Barclay.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553805568
ISBN-13: 978-0553805567

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Merry Jones - The Borrowed And Blue Murders

In the final days before Zoe's wedding to Detective Nick Stiles, a jogger turns up murdered on Zoe's back patio. Mick's brothers have come to the wedding and are staying at her home, and Zoe, now the mother of two-- six-year-old Molly and baby Luke-- finds evidence that at least one of her future brother-in-laws is not who he pretends to be.
When her babysitter has a breakdown, her wedding planner is attacked, and a psychotic former patient decides to come after Zoe and her family, Zoe is caught in an intricate web of intrigue and spiraling danger that threatens to destroy a lot more then just her wedding.


The books description is very precise and I can't find anything to add to the plot that I find important enough to mention so I'd like to leave it as it is.
Zoe's life has been tumultuous ever since little Molly found a finger in the snow and the two got involved in the "missing nanny case", led my Detective Nick Stiles, her now soon to be husband.
It's not difficult to imagine that her walk to the aisle could run smoothly. Quite the opposite.
First she faces her growing family: Nick's brothers Sam and Tony, her for the time house guests, and the secretive brother Eli who didn't come but is caught by Zoe in the evening, rocking her baby in his arms and vanishing as silently as he entered the house.
Although she feels the brothers bond she has to stand up for herself to let them be a part of their talk about Eli and the investigations about the dead jogger, who turns out was a federal agent. For Zoe's character an impressing move to burst like she did. I really liked this part. Although her best friend Susan still says she lives in a bubble, she finally seems to mature a bit, giving her a new twist. Still her reactions to what's happening around her are slow.

Nick Stiles and his trust issues to open up to the women he loves become a huge bore and the author could definitely brush a little bit color into his character. Although Zoe is the main character of Merry Jones Books, he plays a huge role as well and he deserves more development. So far I found myself not really caring for him.

Molly is still Molly, the adopted child that has seen far too much violence in her short life and the question is how all this will impact this little girl that still plays like a child but carries a lot of wisdom and understanding of what's happening in her life.

The family grows and the reader, me, is sort of excited if Zoe Hayes, it wasn't mentioned if she's going to keep her last name, or Zoe Stiles, is in for a ride with a new, eccentric family full of unknown obstacles she's going to discover, that most certainly carry her into the next dangerous situation.

Visit Merry Jones.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur; 1st edition (September 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312356234
ISBN-13: 978-0312356231