The Woods – Harlan Coben

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As a fan of Harlan Coben I am always excited to start a new book from him.  I have to admit this book took me a while to get into but I think that was more to do with me than the quality of the writing.  The book is trademark Coben and that is what I like about the author you always know what you are getting.  

The book is centred round two central characters who’s life is changed early on.  I liked both the lead characters and like the fact that some familiar faces from other books pop up such as Loren Muse and Hester Crimstein to name a few.  

The action is fast paced and the book has the traditional twists and turns right through to the end.  Some of the twist I had my suspicions about but most were a surprise. 

A really good fast paced beach read that I loved.  

Synopsis
Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six- year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened.

Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.

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Filed under 4 Star, Thriller

The Deliverance of Evil – Roberto Constantini

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I listened to this book in audiobook so some of the comments on the book maybe related to this. The book is slow to begin with and I credited this to the fact that I did not like the lead character. Having read on I realised that this was part of the plot and you are not really supposed to like the lead character at the beginning. In fact I believe he doesn’t like himself. As the book continues more characters are introduced. In my opinion there were too many characters introduced and these were hard to keep up with who was who. Again this may have been due to the fact I was listening rather than reading the book. 

There are some huge leaps in time but these are kept nicely together by the dates at the beginning of the chapters which I thought was an excellent idea. The tale twists and turns well although there is the typical quiet mid section of the book. The book has an exciting dramatic end although I have to admit I had guessed who the murderer was all through the book. I think this may be my main problem with the book at no time was there a wow really moment. I will definitely try something else from this author but maybe not in audiobook again.

Synopsis
The Deliverance of Evil is a masterful psychological thriller about an edgy policeman’s personal evolution—or devolution—as seen through the lens of a devilish case that consumed him early in his career and continues to haunt him twenty-four years later. 

In 1982, all of Italy was joyous, having just won the World Cup after a decades-long championship drought, while in Rome hard-drinking Commissario Michele Balistreri was a brash cop investigating the murder of beautiful young Elisa Sordi. Despite the Commissario’s brash style, or perhaps because of his arrogance, the murderer is never found. As the years pass, the file goes cold and Balistreri grows wiser, if perhaps a little more damaged and a little less fearless, consumed by the guilt of having left Sordi’s murder unsolved. 

In 2006, Italy is once again on the brink of a World Cup victory and Balistreri is losing the battle against his personal demons when Sordi’s mother suddenly commits suicide. Emerging from a haze of antidepressants and self-pity, Balistreri is spurred to action and picks up the case again, sure that Elisa’s killer is still out there, simply awaiting his next opportunity to strike

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Filed under 3 Star, Crime

Caitlin Star and the Guardians of Forever – James J Caterino

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Caitlin Star is a hero of the future a modern day vigilante with a good measure of Lara Croft.  I loved the first book in this series and it is always with trepidation you start the second in a series.  I was not disappointed in anyway.  This book is as good as the first if not better.  The novel consists of an excellent mix of character development and all out action.  

The action scenes are well written but are not so lengthy that they get boring or tedious.  There is a political feel to the book but this does not deter me from reading more.  There are some excellent quotes about how corrupt religion can be and always make me think of one of my favourite quotes “Religion is flawed because man practices it” 

The action is fast flowing and I read this book in a day.  It is enough of a standalone to be read on its own although the first is well worth a read so I urge you to seek the series out.  I have to say I get a feel that this book would also make an excellent graphic novel as well as novel.  If I had to have one negative in the story the constant chanting of the Bull Mongoni matter can get a bit tedious but this is the only negative I can find.

The heartfelt ending and some of the main characters feels round this book of perfectly and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Synopsis
Caitlin Star’s first solo outing shocked readers with its relentless, nihilistic, and graphic take on the YA dystopian genre. Now, this riveting stand-alone sequel launches the unforgettable action figure femme into the realm of mythic superhero. Caitlin Star and the Guardian of Forever is a colorful, exotic, brutal, exhilarating, action-packed adventure novel with shades of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Tarzan of the Apes.

Caitlin is a warrior trained by Gunner Star in the ways of the Bull Mongoni, a mythic species of hominids that lived long ago. The Bull Mongoni philosophy is to strengthen the mind and the flesh, to protect the earth and its creatures, and to fight for those who have no voice. When Yellowstone Park was under siege by the Big Oil Mafia and North America held hostage by right-wing extremist President Tony Perkins and his Moral Authority militias, Caitlin Star led a revolution. She and her warriors protected the National Parks, defeated Perkins and his self righteous goons, and restored free-thinking to America.

It was but a temporary victory. Backed by the billionaire Cantor brothers and under the guise of a new charismatic leader, Senator Ben Cross of Texas, the Moral Authority has spent the last two years growing stronger. Now they have teamed up with a para-military gang known as the White Hand, have taken control of Central Africa, and are intent on destroying the only remaining patch of pristine rainforest on Earth—a place known as The Last Eden. 

When a cross river gorilla is sadistically murdered, Caitlin is called into action by Azrael—a.k.a. the Black Knight—a fellow Bull Mongoni warrior with roots in the Congo. Now she must defeat the White Hand, battle the militia of a ruthless Uganda dictator, and face down a mysterious figure who is manipulating everything behind the scenes for a devious purpose that will threaten every living thing on earth.

It is up to Caitlin Star to save a paradise, free a continent, and rescue the entire planet itself. Caitlin Star is our last hope

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Filed under 5 Star Book, Young Adult

Home Sweet Home – Amitis Karami

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The first thing that you notice as you open this book is the beautiful illustrations.  The pictures are clear and simple enough to appeal to the desired reading level and I simply loved the look of the book.  I also have to congratulate the author for tackling a children’s book as there first book.  As a children’s author and forma teacher I can understand what a huge challenge this is.  On the whole the author has set the language at an appropriate level for an early reader although there are a few words and phrases that go into another level of reading.

The book is written in verse and I believe this is an area that lets the book down.  The verse is clumsy in places and the English poor in order to get the rhyme to work.  My experience is that this lack of fluid reading would make it extremely hard for a young reader to engage with the book.  There is good repetition at the end of the book when the animals ask to stay a good technique for teaching early readers.  However, this is only evident on a couple of pages it would be an advantage to continue this throughout.  The use of capital letters with the type is also a concern for me as young children do not recognise capitols until later on in there life.

Overall this is a really good first attempt which needs some alterations to be an excellent read.  I suggest that the author does some research into children’s books and their common techniques and finds a friendly editor for advice and support in order to turn this book into a real commercial success.

Note
The author recently sent me a changed copy of this book and I have to say it is a great improvement.  The story flows wonderfully and with the illustrations this makes a brilliant children’s book.  The repetition used in the story means it could be read by adults to children or be used for young adults to read themselves.  A brilliant new edition.

Synopsis
Delightful and warm illustration of the book narrates a nice and informative friendship story. The context is written in rhyme, making the short story pleasing to the ear. The context and illustration have come together nicely. The tale shows children the effect of kindness in everyone’s life. This book is suitable for bedtime reading for kids under seven.

It is a heart-warming tale about a kind elderly lady living in a cottage alone. Lady’s daily routine used to finish by reading a book every night. It had been a long time that her life was like that. She had everything, but was alone, which had made an upset grandma of her. But it was a cold rainy night that she heard a couple of knocks on the door! Who can be that, she thought?
What do you think? Should she open the door

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Filed under 4 Star, Childrens

The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway

2165I was recommended this book by a friend as a good book to get out of a reading slump with.  Due to the fact I read it in a couple of hours I have to agree with this recommendation.  This is a classic book that I never managed to read whilst at school.  It is definitely on the list of books that I wish I had read earlier in life.  

The writing is beautiful and the prose means you are at sea with the old man throughout.  The characters are engaging and make you love everyone of them including the fish in the story.  The pictures in this book added for me another dimension that I loved.

This is a classic that I urge you to either read for the first time or re-read.  A simply amazing novel.

Synopsis
Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honor to the author.The Old Man & the Sea revived Hemingway’s career, which was foundering under the weight of such postwar stinkers as Across the River & into the Trees. It also led directly to his receipt of the 1954 Nobel Prize–an award he gladly accepted, despite his earlier observation that “no son of a bitch that ever won the Nobel Prize ever wrote anything worth reading afterwards”. A half century later, it’s still easy to see why. This tale of an aged Cuban fisherman going head-to-head with a magnificent marlin encapsulates Hemingway’s favorite motifs of physical & moral challenge. Yet Santiago is too old & infirm to partake of the gun-toting machismo that disfigured much of the author’s later work: “The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face & his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords.” Hemingway’s style, too, reverts to those superb snapshots of perception that won him his initial fame: “Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved & swung in the light sea as tho the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun & bending & flapping wildly in the air.” If a younger Hemingway had written this novella, Santiago most likely would have towed the enormous fish back to port & posed for a triumphal photograph–just as the author delighted in doing, ca. 1935. Instead his prize gets devoured by a school of sharks. Returning with little more than a skeleton, he takes to his bed &, in the last line, cements his identification with his creator: “The old man was dreaming about the lions.” Perhaps there’s some allegory of art & experience floating around in there somewhere–but The Old Man & the Sea was, in any case, the last great catch of Hemingway’s career

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Filed under 4 Star, Classic

Elixir – Ted Galdi (released Sept 2014)

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This book starts engaging and then keeps you enthralled for the rest of the read.  Once I started reading I found it extremely hard to put down.  I envisage many a reader being able to read this in one sitting the quality of the writing is so good.  

We start off meeting Sean and his Aunty and the relationship between them is quickly established when we observe them during movie night.  This relationship is pivotal throughout the book.  I have to say personally it was one of my favourite parts of the book.  The relationship is well written and the author has a huge talent of being able to write convincing teenagers.  The action scenes are easy to imagine which is also a credit to the writing.  I had to laugh at the loose reference to the CIA hacking especially with recent events that have occurred in the media.  

The action weaves across the planet my favourite being in Rome as this is one of my favourite cities and I loved revisiting the Pantheon and other landmarks with our lead character.  

This is an extremely well written action thriller for young adults and adults alike which will keep you gripped from start to finish.  An exciting action packed novel with romance and family thrown in for good measure.  I simply cannot wait to read more from this author.  

Synopsis
Meet 14-year-old Sean Malone. He has an IQ above 200, a full-ride scholarship to one of the country’s top universities, and more than one million dollars from his winning streak on Jeopardy. However, Sean wishes he could just be normal.

But his life is anything but normal. The US government manipulates him, using him as a codebreaker in pursuit of a drug lord and killing innocent people along the way. 

For reasons related to his personal security, Sean finds himself in Rome, building a new life under a new name, abandoning academics, and hiding his genius from everyone. When he’s 18 he falls in love. The thrills begin again when he learns that his girlfriend is critically ill and it’s up to him to use his intellect to find a cure, a battle pitting him against a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company and the demons of his past. 

Elixir is a story about identity, secrets, and above all, love.

 
 

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Filed under 5 Star, Young Adult

From Tragedy to Triumph – John Tartaglio & Andrew Chapin

20412561It is always with trepidation that I review a book about this sort of material.  It is obvious that the subject of this book is a remarkable man.  Throughout this book the strength of character is evident as you read this remarkable story.  John Tartaglio is an inspiration to many.  I particularly found this aspect interested as my best friend was a double amputee and had experienced many of the issues portrayed in this account.

The first half of this book is an enthralling read and clearly deals with the early part of coming to terms with being an amputee and getting a life of independence back.  I simply could not put this book down at that point.  However, I have to say when we get into all the individual races that were completed in order to reach the ultimate goal of the New York marathon I began to lose focus.  There was simply too many of them and not being a runner I could not relate to them at all.

This book is an odd cross between a self help book and a biography and with respect it may have been better to have concentrated on just one area.  With this in mind I would have liked to see more details on everyday struggles with living.  I would also have liked more information and in-depth feelings about John Tartaglio family.

In summary though this is a really good read about an extremely inspiration character.  The author has done an extremely good job with this book and has conveyed emotional and feeling well throughout.  I was especially impressed when I researched the book and discovered that the author completed this part time.  Well worth a read for all ages.

Synopsis
In 24 hours, a rare bacterial infection turned healthy 17 year old John Tartaglio to a double-leg amputee, but 15 hours and 59 minutes is all that it took for him to reclaim the life that he had left behind.

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH is his story of perseverance over a heartbreaking circumstance as incomprehensible as it is seemingly insurmountable. Amputated up to his hipbones and told he would never walk again, John did not give up on life. Instead, he rose to do what others said he could not. Walking, running, competing, but most importantly living, he proved to them what he had always known- his disability did not define him; he defined his disability.

Sharing his journey, insight, and perspective will help:
– How you think about yourself
– How you approach problems
– How you manage expectations and achieve your goals

From those with mobility issues who need to be reminded that living an independent life is possible to the athletes who need to push and challenge themselves that much more and everyone in between, FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH can positively impact your life

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Filed under 3 Star, Autobiography