Saturday, 28 April 2007

The Tower by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz

Hurwitz is the author of The Kill Clause & The Program, two books which feature U.S. Marshall Tim Rackly. I really enjoyed these two books and when I went to the library last weekend I found this book, which is Mr. Hurwitz's first book.

The title of the book refers to a prison facility off the coast of San Fransisco which houses only the most deranged and dangerous criminals. Once you are admitted to The Tower, you will never again see the light of day because it is designed to be 100% escape proof and you are placed there without hope of parole. Well I suppose that's true only if you are not Allander Atlasia. Atlasia, a victim of a horrible sexual attack and a psychokiller, escapes from The Tower is a most excellent fashion and makes his way to the mainland where he begins another killing spree. His creep factor is way high, and he reminds me of Michael Myers from the Halloween series.

Jade Marlow, or should I say the biggest badass in all the land, is an ex FBI agent called in find Atlasia. Marlow has no patience or care for the victims and each one is only stacking up to prove that he's not adequate to find the deranged killer. He's brilliant and fearless and dealing with his own inner demons as the story progesses.

I love serial killer type books and this one stacks up as a great one. Hurwitz might be a little rough around the edges given that this is his first book, but if you like a page turner and don't mind a little blood and guts, this is a good one. 4 stars from me.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

The Company of Strangers by Robert Wilson

This book is the first espionage book that I have read. Sure we could talk about the John LeCarre novel that I "read" for a class in college. And if by "read" you mean "forced yourself through at 3am at the Waffle House on College Avenue". So maybe I'm just not one for spy novels, but I didn't love this book. That being said there were part that I really enjoyed.

The main characters of the book, 20 year old Andrea Aspinall who is an English mathematician and Karl Voss, a double agent, meet in Lison in 1944. A lot of the this part of the book revolves around the atomic bomb and who has what information and who is selling what to who to get that information. The two meet and instantly fall in at first site....perhaps...slightly unbelievable...perhaps. After a night of violence the two are separated from each other. Andrea stays in the Lisbon area and Karl is sent back to Germany having been discovered as a double agent. We follow Andrea through her time in Lisbon back to England onto Cold War Berlin and back again. Her friends and family are all keepers of secrets that she finds out along the way.

I thought that some parts of the book were very exciting as if I was watching it in a movie, including a fantastic chase scene through the streets of Lisbon and a meeting with 'The Snow Leopard' in Berlin. I think if you are fan of espionage thrillers than this would be a good book for for me, I didn't like it as much as the first two books I read and I have to have some kind of scale and not be a total book I give it three stars.

Monday, 9 April 2007

A Blistered Kind of Love by Angela & Duffy Ballard

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
This book was written by a couple who took on the daunting (even for a yearly marathon runner who knows a challenge when she sees one) task of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This trail takes you from Canada to Mexico and in the summer of 2000, Angela and Duffy took one hell of a long walk. Approximately 6.3million steps worth.

Angela had been working as a writer for an ad agency in Philadelphia when she met Duffy who was currently in medical school. On a trip to Duffy's parent's lake house in Oregon they came across a book by William R. Gray called The Pacific Crest Trail which sparked their interest in tackling the 2,655 mile trail which traverses 3 states and has your feet in three countries. And doing it in one summer hoping to become "thru-hikers".

They had been dating about a year when they decided to take on the project. Angela taking time off from her job and Duffy getting the hike in between classes during the summer. Along the trail they found bee attacks, dehydration, hypothermia
("But not today -my magical buttocks were useless against Washinton's wet fury" --Duffy)
sunburn .... and absolute love of the trail and of each other.

The book is formatted with Angela writing one chapter and Duffy the next. So Angela will say something to effect of, "I couldn't believe that Duffy was doing x y & z" followed by a Duffy chapter with, "Maybe I should have read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus before we left on this trip"

I absolutely loved this book as although I don't think I want to do a hike as this energetic and brave couple did, I did see parallels between my husband and I as we train for marathons or get ready to graduate from graduate school. I love camping and so there was the added interest of that for me although if you don't like hiking or camping that wouldn't be a distraction. Both Angela and Duffy are talented writers and have put together a wonderful adventuring book.

Life is short.....sometimes we should slow down, take a look around and see what this country has to offer.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

This book chronicles the ordeals of one Adeline Yen Mah. She was born in the 1930s in China as the youngest of 5 children. Female daughters were already not given many opportunities, and being the youngest didn't help little Adeline out. After she was born her mother went through complications and died 2 weeks later. So add on that "she killed her mother" and her childhood as unwanted was sealed.

We follow Adeline through her childhood in China. We watch as she is put up against road blocks every single step of her way. She is tortured by her stepmother Niang (a Chinese word for mother) who also turns Adeline's father against her. The things that happened to this poor child are unimaginable for someone like me who had a pretty happy childhood.

There is a scene where her father takes a little duckling that she was given as a pet to use as a test for their German Shepard's obedience training. Of course nothing good could happen with that.

There is another, of the consequences she must endure after winning class president and her friends coming to her house to surprise her.....not good.

We continue to follow Adeline as she grows into an adult and makes a fine life for herself. Her desire for her parents to love her and show her some kind of admiration never diminishes. Do they ever return her love? Read to find out!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Can I Do It?

As I started taking the train in April of 2007, and reading like a madwoman I wondered if I could get through 52 books in 52 weeks. Some books might take longer than a week and some might take less.....but on average I wonder if it could be done....we'll see.