Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mo Hayder - Skin

When the decomposing body of a young woman is found near railway tracks just outside Bristol one hot May morning, all indications are that she's committed suicide. That's how the police want it too: all neatly squared and tidied away.

But DI jack Caffery is not so sure. He is on the trail of someone predatory, someone who hides in the shadows and can slip into houses unseen. And for the first time in a very long while, he feels scared.

Police diver Flea Marley is working alongside Caffery. Having come to terms with the loss of her parents, and with the traumas of her past safely behind her, she's beginning to wonder whether their relationship could go beyond the professional.

And then she finds something that changes everything. Not only is it far too close to home for comfort - but it's so horrifying that she knows nothing will ever be the same again.

And that this time, no one - not even Caffery - can help her...


Skin basically has two plots.
While the whole police force is on the search of a footballers vanished wife Detective Inspector Jack Caffery's thoughts are with his last case and the so called "Tokoloshe" who hasn't been caught (quod vide Ritual, March 2008) but he's soon distracted by an alleged suicide whom he believes was staged. His investigations lead him into a house of horror filled with glass jars of human skin.

Meanwhile Sergeant Flea Marley, head of the diver unit, has some very different problems. She's been followed by a decaying smell for days until she discovers a very dead body in the trunk of her car which was just lend by her brother Thom. Thom admits it was an accident and that her freaks but soon together with his girlfriend turns against Flea, threatening her to go to the police and blame it on her.


In the beginning I wasn't at all enthusiastic to discover the Muti killings from Hayder's last novel. I wasn't especially excited than and Wasn't now. But as soon as Caffrey turn away from the whole Tokoloshe topic the story took a turn to the better and got interesting. Hayder has an excellent talent to merge two completely different stories with each other without leaving open ends that don't make sense for a continuation.

Now that Jack and Flea both have their dark secrets one might be curious how the series unfolds in the future. One thing is for certain, I want the Tokoloshe to go away.

Visit Mo Hayder.

Export UK ed edition
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press; Export UK ed edition (26 Mar 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0593048229
ISBN-13: 978-0593048221

US edition
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802119301
ISBN-13: 978-0802119308

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alex Bledsoe - Blood Groove

When centuries-old vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginski was staked in Wales 1915, the last thing he expected was to reawaken in Memphis, Tennessee, sixty years later. Reborn into a new world of simmering racial tensions, the cunning Nosferatu realizes he must adapt quickly if he is to survive.
Finding willing victims is easy, as Zginski possesses all the powers of the undead, including the ability to sexually enslave anyone he chooses. Hoping to learn how his kind copes with this bizarre new era, Zginski tracks down a nest of teenage vampires. But these young vampires have little knowledge of their true nature, having learned most of what they know from movies like Blacula.
Forming an uneasy alliance with the young vampires, Zginski begins to teach them the truth about their powers. They must learn quickly, for there's a new drug on the street - a drug to its source, they may be unwittingly stepping into a fifty-year-old trap that can destroy them all...


Actually the books description matches pretty well so there isn't much that can be added without going further into details.
I didn't like the book for several reasons. Besides the vampires being the real bad boys, which actually is delightful after the vampire romance flood that came over us, the story lacks the excitement the description promised.

I was highly irritated because the author constantly reminded the reader about racial issues between Caucasian and African-American. Now I understand the book plays in a different time, where things might have been different in Memphis, Tennessee but as a reader I don't want to be badgered by it.
There is nothing unique in this story except that it feels unripe.

Visit Alex Bledsoe.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765321963
ISBN-13: 978-0765321961

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Barbara Delinsky - Family Tree

Dana Clarke has just given birth to her first child. The little girl is lovely, but no one can help noticing how little she resembles her parents.
Dana's husband, among others, suspects that she may have had an affair.
In order to put the rumors and speculation to rest, Dana has to delve deep into her past and her husband's heritage to unearth some uncomfortable secrets. Can her marriage survive what she discovers ?


Dana and Hugh Clarke are happily married although their upbringing couldn't be more different. Dana, lost her mother early and grew up with her grandma, Hugh was raised in a elitist family that prided themselves to know their whole family heritage of Anglo-Saxons.
But their world turns upside down with the birth of their first child, Lizzie, who's unremarkable features point to an African-America heritage.
While Dana's fairly certain her daughter got her features from her mostly unknown family Hugh struggles with his families' resentment towards the child and his doubts in his wife's fidelity. His tool to quiet his families' voices and his own lingering doubts about his wife and best friend and Neighbor, David who looks so much like little Lizzie, is a paternity test.
But Hugh is the father and little Lizzie's blood has more to reveal than that.


Although an interesting topic, I think the author didn't quite deliver or I didn't get it. I can't put my finger on it but a lot of the protagonists actions didn't make sense to me and were plain old stereotype.
The wife loves knitting, her life is nursing and knitting. The family has to deal with the discovery that there is African-American blood in their veins. Please, spare me. I know there are certainly families that wouldn't want to hear about this but it is hardly imaginable that in today's times a family is a Delinsky-called purebreed.
Also largely missing is the emotion a topic like this should cause in a family.
Probably not the best book by Delinsky.

Visit Barbara Delisnky.

Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307388468
ISBN-13: 978-0307388469

Thursday, July 23, 2009

S. D. McKee - Defeated (Darkness Among The Stars, Book 1)

The years is 2271.
Jonathon Quinn, decorated war hero and captain of the flagship Intimidator, has been ordered to oversee Operation Giant Leap, mankind's latest attempt to shatter technological barriers of interstellar travel.
Scientists at the lunar research facility manage to create a cosmic wormhole into the Polaris System, only to make a shocking discovery.

But in a universe where all is not as is seems, discovery often proves deadly. A catastrophic accident triggers a ripple effect that reaches far beyond the Solar System, provoking an ancient darkness that stalks among the stars. Mankind is plunged into chaos. Jonathon, plagued by rising casualties, begins having induced nightmares that foreshadow the enemy's fierce appetite for destruction.

Did the scientists' grave mistake trigger the war or would the darkness have been set in motion anyway ? The answer brings Jonathon face-to-face with his own extraordinary destiny, which he must accept if he is to have any hope of altering the dire fate of all humanity.


War hero Jonathon Quinn, captain of the Interstellar Coalition Starship "Intimidator" is to oversee the scientific experiment Giant Leap/ where an artificially created quantum wormhole is enlarged to finally bring answers to interstellar travel. The probe that is send through the hole shockingly discovers another species in the Polaris system. A species that notices the intruder and destroying it.
If it weren't for the scientists guarantee that everything is fine, Jonathon would have stopped the experiment when inconsistency in the scientist calculations cause a huge explosion that possible destroyed the better part of the Polaris system.

The provoked alien species goes to war, pursuing everything human in space and finally turning towards Earth. One by one Jonathon witnesses warships and space stations, even whole planets wiped out without his own weapons doing much damage to the fleshy hull of the alien warships.

It is only when the Intimidator crew is rescued by the Kush'humani that explanations about the evil species are given, telling Jonathon about his own and humanity's heritage and his destiny to lead the Kush'humani in a war against the dark alien species.


Defeated is probably written for the hardcore sci-fi fan who doesn't shy back from scientific terminology embedded into the plot. McKee gives the reader a full description of an alien spaceship that won't be forgotten and is memorable. The authors background in Physics and Mathematics clearly show in this dark story that is difficult to comprehend but understandably and very believable written.

The only hope left is, that there truly will be a continuation. You can't begin a war and only tell about the first fight.

Visit S. D. McKee.

Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Behler Publications (October 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193301623X
ISBN-13: 978-1933016238

Monday, July 20, 2009

Robert Curran - The Haunted - The True Story of one Family's Nightmare

WARNING:The book you now hold in your hands may be the most frightful tale you'll ever try to forget. It's the story of an average American family assaulted by forces too awesome, too powerful, too dark, to be stopped. It's a true story, supported by dozens of eyewitnesses - neighbors, priests, police, journalists, researchers.
It will disturb you as no horror fiction can. The grim slaughterhouse odors. The deafening pounding. The hoofed half-man charging down the hall. The physical attacks, failed exorcisms, the succubus... and the final terror which torments the Smurl family to this day.

Be forewarned if you fear your dreams. Once you begin reading, you will be unable to stop - or forget. The Haunted will make you rethink what is real - and what real evil means.


What a nice, catching blurb. Nevertheless after half of the book I put it down no longer eager to read it, asking myself why I wanted to read it in the first place.
As most supposedly real haunted stories begin, it always begins with a pounding, failing electric appliances and plumbing problems.
That the family put up with all that from 1977 to 1983, later followed by assaults and sightings seems to be a little odd.

I found it very irritating that the author constantly reminded the reader on how faithful the family ( Jack and Janet Smurl, their 4 children and father and mother-in law) was and how good each and every person in this household was.

Finally I had to put the book down when Ed Warren began to tell about his provoking the demons. His way of describing the whole situation is just too much for the normal thinking brain, even if open minded to the whole topic.

I found it utterly unbelievable and prefer to watch the 1991 TV movie version for entertainment.


Paperback: 275 pages
Publisher: St Martins Mass Market Paper (January 1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312928009
ISBN-13: 978-0312928001

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stephenie Meyer - Twilight (Twilight series, Book 1)

When Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix to Forks, Washington, a damp and dreary town known for the most rainfall in the United States, to live with her dad, she isn't expecting to like it. But the level of hostility displayed by her standoffish high school biology lab partner, Edward Cullen, surprises her. After several strange interactions, his preternatural beauty, strength, and speed have her intrigued. Edward is just as fascinated with Bella, and their attraction to one another grows. As Bella discovers more about Edwards nature and his family, she is thrown headlong into a dangerous adventure that has her making a desperate sacrifice to save her one true love.


The small town of Forks has a new resident who just moved into her father's house: Isabella (Bella) Swan despises small town living and therefore doesn't expect much from her new school either. To her surprise she finds herself to be the main attraction especially for the boys.
It is there that she meets the strange but charismatic Edward Cullen.
With crossing ways the two teenagers fall in love with the difficulties just beginning.
Edward is a vampire, he lives together with his vampire family who don't feed on human blood but rather hunt animals. To establish a relationship the Cullen family, who is mostly glad that Edward found someone even if it is a human, invite Bella to a family vampire baseball game where the group meets three other "non-civilized" vampires.
One of them is James, a tracker, who picks up on Bella's scent immediately. She is in danger and has to flee town - fast.


I finally gave in to begin reading the Twilight series and I'm surprised that I flew through the 500+ pages and really enjoyed them.
Twilight is a book for teenagers mostly so the plot seems to be justifiable dull for the experienced reader.
Of course at some point or another I had my thoughts about bell's main attributes are being naive and just clumsy with her feet and Edward being a little prick who gets a bit creepy in how to handle his first love and feelings.
I wouldn't wish my daughter a boyfriend like this or my son a girlfriend like Bella. The development of the relationship and the addiction of the main character Bella do have something irritating whilst Edward is knight in shiny armor never fails.

Sort of a modern fairy tale with some disturbing points.

Nevertheless I found myself reading page after page which must mean that overthinking, which I didn't while reading and won't continue after finishing this review, can be just too much.
Instead lets just enjoy a not too overexciting novel, aimed at teenagers and not think about the messages hidden in it. Were there any ?

Visit Stephenie Meyer.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; Standard edition (October 5, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316160172
ISBN-13: 978-0316160179

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Linwood Barclay - Fear The Worst

The worst day of Tim Blake's life started out with him making breakfast for his seventeen-year-old daughter Sydney. Syd was staying with him while she worked a summer job at the Just INN Time hotel, and Tim hoped this quality father-daughter time would help her deal with the after-effects of his divorce.

When Syd didn't arrive home at her usual time, Tim thought she'd probably gone to the mall to hang with her friends. When she didn't answer the phone, he began to worry.
Before long, the worry turned to panic. And when the people at the Just Inn Time said they had no Sydney Blake working at the hotel, he began to see his life plunging into the abyss every parent dreads most.

If she hadn't been working at the Just Inn Time every day, what had she been doing ? Something she couldn't -or wouldn't- tell her own father about ? To find his daughter Tim doesn't need to simply track her down - he needs to know who she really was, and what could have made her step out of her own life without leaving a trace.

Only one thing has him convinced the worst hasn't already happened: the fact that some very scary people seem just as eager as he is to find her.

The question is: who's going to find her first ?


Tim Blake sells cars had his ups and downs professionally and now lives divorced from his ex-wife, sharing the custody of teenage daughter Sydney.
When Sydney suddenly vanishes without a trace and the police is unable to help in finding her he seems to be the only person determined enough to visit places she hung around at and interview people who might have seen her besides of his from an accident recovering ex-wife Susanne.
He needs to learn his daughter didn't trust him enough to let him know what was going on in her life, even lied to him about the hotel she was jobbing at and a secret relationship with Susanne's boyfriend Bob's son.

Nobody saw her, nobody even knew her at the hotel she claimed to be working at the desk but soon, it seems, people are trying to get Tim's investigations out of the way. Luring him out of state with faked clues where she might be, carefully placing incriminating evidence against Tim. When Patty, Sydney's best friend vanishes after last seen with Tim and people are found dead Tim has to go hiding from police and those who try to get him and his daughter out of the way.

But things aren't at all how Tim pieces them together and he is in for some surprises.


During the book I began to admire Tim's determination quite a bit. He went from being the slimy salesperson to the man determined to rescue his daughter with a gun in his hand.

Linwood Barclay again created a page turner that kept me reading for hours in anticipation. Not saying a few things weren't sort of obvious but it didn't hurt the book at all. Fine spun and thrilling the plot itself might not be original but the suspense keeps coming at ya.

Visit Linwood Barclay.

Export Trade Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Orion Books (2009)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0-7528-9747-9

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dave Cullen - Columbine

In this book Dave Cullen examines Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the backgrounds of the two teenage shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the victims and survivors.
I was very taken by the book but found it difficult to digest at times so decided to digest it chapterwise.

Thoughtful he painted a more understandable picture of what happened on this day that ended with 13 death and multiple people wounded. The book seems very well researched, focusing a lot on how the massacre was planned a year in advance.
In a very classic way the reader won't find a single picture in the whole book.

But do I believe everything I've read ? No I don't and never will be able to. There are always voices or statements telling the opposite disregarding or even disproving an authors biases but I do believe that's pretty normal. For me who hasn't read a book about the shootings ever and missed the media coverage completely, the book is enough. I don't need to read more about the massacre, don't want to dive into the minds of these particular murderers. Others might think differently.

In the end we'll probably never know what really was going on prior and on this terrible day.

Visit Dave Cullen.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Twelve; First Edition edition (April 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446546933
ISBN-13: 978-0446546935

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kristin Hannah - Firefly Lane

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the "coolest girl in the world" moves in across the street and wants to be her friend.
Tully Hart seems to have it all - beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer's end they've become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship - jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they've survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart ... and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.


Firefly Lane is one of those books you will still carry with you long after it is finished. During the book I kept myself asking how it is possible that night and day have become friends. Kate the co-dependent person whose major goal is to have a family and Tully the reckless, career driven one. Through ups and downs Kate always gives Tully a break even when she crosses lines interfering with Kate family issues and upbringing of her daughter.

I believe that everyone who has experienced friendship over a longer period of time can relate to those two in one way or another. You will find pieces of yourself in Kate and Tully.
I felt sad when the book ended. Not only because of its tear jerking ending but also because I would have like to read more.

Visit Kristin Hannah.

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312537077
ISBN-13: 978-0312537074