Archive for August 2012
The horrors of the war in Afghanistan are elevated when a large earthquake strikes the area. In the immediate aftermath, US Lt. Col. Michael Parson is called in to assist with the recovery efforts. Assisted by a cast of interesting characters, especially translator Sophia Gold, the team attempts to save the lives of innocent locals, caught in the crossfire of war and natural disaster.
Young presents the people of Afghanistan as torn between being thankful or completely against American assistance. Some locals, like pilot Rashid, even join forces with the US military. Unfortunately, the Taliban witnesses the American's response to the earthquake and, in turn, enter the village, killing many and kidnapping the young boys to train as future soldiers.
The bare, mostly quick prose used by Young helps to portray the intensity of the war. The book never lags, always driving forward with suspense and action. Either because of the military jargon or the sheer number of people contributing to a conversation, there were some moments when the dialogue became a bit confusing. I imagine, however, that this confusion may be another form of accurately depicting the intense situations of war. In the end, this novel had no major revelations, but was an entertaining look into the horrors of war and mother nature.
For more information, visit the author's website http://tomyoungbooks.com/,
(week 35, book 39)
For a short time in the summer of 1973, Paul Tracey was obsessed with baseball. In part, he wanted to relate to his father Warren, a pitcher for the Mets who was more interested in playing ball and partying than spending time with his family. Beyond even the family issues, Paul, and the rest of America, was drawn to the sport by the Cub's phenomenal rookie, Joe Castle.
Joe Castle arrived to the majors after the Cubs lost both of their first base men to injuries. A 21-year-old rookie from the small town of Calico Rock, Arkansas, Joe entered the major league scene with a bang. The rookie hit the most home runs for any first time player, shattering records becoming baseball's overnight sensation, and earning the nickname Calico Joe.
Young Paul Tracey was excited when the Cubs and his idol, Calico Joe, finally came to town to play his father's Mets. Seemingly the perfect baseball game, Paul enthusiastically rooted for his two favorite players, Joe and his father. That day was suddenly changed forever as Joe came to bat and Warren Tracey threw a pitch that would change the lives of everyone involved.
Taking a break from his usual legal fare, John Grisham brings his accessible storytelling to the world of baseball. The combination works perfectly. Grisham's love for the game shines through with accurate descriptions that both pay homage to the history of the sport while advancing the narrative. As he does so well in his best novels, Grisham fills his world with genuine characters that readers will have no trouble relating to. At less than 200 pages, this novel is paced with the perfect amount of suspense, never feeling rushed of unfinished. By combining a nostalgic look back at America's favorite pastime with riveting characters, John Grisham has knocked this one out of the park.
For more information visit the author's website http://www.jgrisham.com/,
(week 34, book 38)
Of course, the quiet off-season is soon interrupted. It all begins when an arsonist sets fire to a dumpster. As more fires begin to pot up around the city, Coffin attempts to catch the arsonist before he escalates to burning down the small town and killing anyone who stands in his way.
Even more troubling is the mental state of Coffins cousin Tom, who is also one of his police officers. For years, Provincetown has fostered rumblings of UFO's in the surrounding area. Locals remain divided on the issue, but Frank becomes directly involved in the matter as Tom begins to speak of his own sightings. As he rambles about being abducted by the invaders, Frank must find a way to ease his cousin's fears and stop the arsonist before the entire town goes mad.
I was very impressed with this novel. While it is certainly not the biggest or most ambitious mystery that I've read, I really appreciated Loomis's subtle way of crafting this delightful story. Frank Coffin immediately comes off as a kind of every man who is easy to root for. Provincetown has the perfect combination of small town setting and quirky characters, allowing a sense of reality to permeate the story. Loomis writes with a refreshingly frank style that makes this novel a quick, suspense driven read.
For more information, visit the author's website http://jonloomis.blogspot.com/,
(week 33, book 37)
Michael Bennett, a single father of 10, is used to being busy. Ever since he lost his wife to cancer, he has struggled to maintain both his family life and his job of solving high profile crimes for the New York City Police Department. Thankfully, Bennett has the faithful assistance of his priest grandfather, Seamus, and irish nanny, Mary Catherine.
As the Bennett clan prepares for a lengthy summer vacation, Michael is called in to assist his friend in taking down a Mexican drug runner who has entered NYC. The bust has mixed results. While Bennett manages to capture the leader, two officers, including his friend, are killed in the process. Even worse, the drug leader continues to wreak havoc from inside the jail. During an interrogation, Bennett refuses to assist the drug leader, despite a proposed $2.5 million bribe. The leader takes this personally and vows to do everything in his power to destroy Bennett and those close to him.
This novel left me with mixed feelings, mainly due to the complete lack of resolution. Patterson makes no attempt at bringing the story to a close, causing the novel to feel very unfinished. I'm sure the next novel in the series will pick up where this one leaves off, but the lack of even the smallest amount of closure leaves the entire novel completely disjointed. Michael Bennett is easy to care for and is arguably Patterson's strongest character to date. This story focusses less on character development than the previous installments, but having read all of the other novels, I already understood the emotions stakes that the situations held. As far as action is concerned, Patterson expertly walks the line between reality and unbelievable, providing genuine suspense. Overall, I would recommend reading some of the others in this series before picking up this one. Fans of the early Alex Cross novels and vintage Patterson thrillers should enjoy this one as well.
For more information, visit the author's website www.jamespatterson.com,
(week 32, book 36)
In this sophomore novel, Wilson imagines a future in which humans have used technology to enhance their physical and mental abilities, creating a multitude of amplified humans (amps). Owen Gray, a high school teacher, is a medical amp. He was implanted with a device at a young age to help control his seizures. While Owen is a pretty straightforward amp, other humans have been amped to such a high level that normal humans fear them. Fueled by the zealous persuasion of Senator Joseph Vaughn, the Supreme Court passes laws that differentiate the rights of Amps from those of regular people (Reggies).
We abruptly learn that Owen's father, who was a lead scientist in the development of Amps, added another element to Owen's implant, one that gives him superhuman characteristics of the highest degree. Set on learning more about himself and on helping gain equal rights for all humans, Owen heads to an Amp refuge in Oklahoma, where he is forced to decide which side of the battle to fight on, and to dig deep inside of himself for the sake of humanity.
I was extremely disappointed by this novel. At only 288 pages, the whole narrative felt extremely rushed, and the characters were not given enough time for development. I was reminded of a similar novel, "Toys" by James Patterson, in which a man finds out that he is not what he thinks and is thrust into a battle between enhanced and regular humans. I can't believe that I actually enjoyed the Patterson novel more that this one. Overall, "Amped" lacks the technical reality, emotionally drawn characters, and unique concept that made "Robopocalypse" a success. Without these components, we are left with a subpar story that moves to an inevitable ending.
For more information, visit the author's website http://www.danielhwilson.com/,
(week 31, book 35)
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