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J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States)

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The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder: 1
The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder: 1
by Marissa Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, inventive, readable, enjoyable.......I could go on and on., 25 Jan 2012
What a very clever idea it was for this author to take a story which is so instantly familiar and transport it into an entirely different realm. Cinder and the Prince? She certainly didn't go wrong with that. Add in some slight variations on the story with the characters (not all step sisters have to be horrible) and maybe change up your main character just the teeniest bit. Actually that's a bit of irony because Cinder is totally different from any variation of Cinderella I've ever read. I absolutely loved this book.

So Cinder is a cyborg. The cover of this book is absolute genius in letting the reader know instantly that this is not going to be the usual take on any body's fairy tale. The prosthetic foot and hand are dealt with immediately, but other differences in the re-made Cinder are revealed more slowly. Adding in the element of the inhabitants of the moon and making their queen be someone so thrillingly menacing simply adds to the excitement of the entire concept.

I appreciated the fact that this novel is aimed at young adult readers from age twelve and up, in grades seven and up and this author never talks down to her reader, never sounds condescending, her dialog doesn't sound fake. She has her characters speak in the modern language of the day, yet with moderation so the book will still be fresh and readable ten years from now. Those things are all quite an accomplishment for a writer who is older than her target audience. I was impressed and plan to recommend this book to two young ladies of my acquaintance who will enjoy it as much as I did. Now I'm looking forward to the next exciting adventure of Cinder the cyborg.

I received this book as a complimentary copy from the publisher.

Locked On
Locked On
by Tom Clancy
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action, adventure, world's all here. 4.5 stars, 25 Jan 2012
This review is from: Locked On (Hardcover)
I have never read a word of a Tom Clancy book. For that reason I cannot say I am a fan of Mr Clancy's, but I am most definitely a fan of author Mark Greaney's series featuring Court Gentry. I first read The Gray Man in 2009, On Target (Gray Man Novel) in 2010, then Ballistic (Gray Man) earlier this year. When I saw Greaney's announcement on his website that he would be collaborating with Tom Clancy on a novel I must admit to having mixed feelings. I keep track of lots of forum discussions here on Amazon and I had seen comments from readers of how unhappy they were with some of the latest co-authored books published by Clancy. I waited for this novel not knowing quite what to expect.

The book began a little slowly for me because there were so many plot threads and characters which are introduced without any of them seeming to have much relationship to one another. After a short time the lives and story lines become connected and individual segments are filled in with more detail. There are a lot of characters in this novel and most of them seem to be returning from previous books. There is a young woman Jack Junior is showing some interest in and she is a new addition to the character roster. The novel is very action driven which is one of the things I like so much about the books Mark Greaney writes. That aspect did not disappoint me here at all. These characters are scattered on missions in all sorts of different parts of the world so one or two characters might be in Pakistan while someone else is in Germany. The book felt like it had been very well researched, which, once again, I expect from something Greaney has worked on. Obviously the team of Clancy/Greaney utilized the best portions of each authors talents because for me the novel worked very well. By the time I had reached the midway point, I really didn't want to stop reading. There were good guys in trouble and I needed to help them solve their problem and get back to safety.

I honestly do think that readers who are new to this series will be able to start here, with this book, and feel they have been completely caught up on what is going on in the lives of all the major players in this continuing drama. This is a very political novel, with characters coming down firmly on the side of pro-America patriotism and the conservative viewpoint. This is one of those situations where I would dearly love to be able to assign a rating based on more than just a 4 or 5 star rating. Because of the slow start to the book (for me as a reader new to the series) and a few difficult times I had figuring out who was involved with The Campus and what it was exactly and my confusion of having Jack Ryan Senior referred to as Mr. President and then be told he was running for President (it took a long time to explain how that situation happened), I didn't want to automatically give the book five stars. But I absolutely did enjoy reading it, it ticked off all the things I'm looking for when I pick up a political action thriller novel and I would definitely read another book if the team of Clancy/Greaney happens again in the future.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
by Alan Bradley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely and utterly charming., 2 Dec 2011
After devouring this fourth novel to feature Flavia de Luce I've come to the conclusion that I don't actually read these books for the mystery. As a dedicated reader of mystery novels it is a bonus to have an old fashioned mystery to solve, but that's not what ultimately keeps me coming back for each book. No, what I want, and what I got in spades with this addition to the series, is the chance to spend more time with this eleven year old precious child and all the people surrounding her. This time Gladys (the bicycle) was stored in the greenhouse for the winter so Flavia couldn't ride throughout the villages and hamlets of rural 1950's England observing life among the locals. Instead, author Alan Bradley had the villagers come to Buckshaw for a Christmas Eve performance in aid of the roof restoration fund for St. Tancred church. Whatever will we readers do if they ever collect enough money to repair that roof?

Flavia has been told by her sisters Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) that Father Christmas is simply a folk myth created by adults so they can give their children gifts one day of the year without having to touch the little beasts while doing so. Feely and Daffy are quite cruel to Flavia at times but in this instance she is going to be able to prove her sisters wrong and do it in a completely scientific way. Flavia will manufacture her own preparation of birdlime, spread it on the chimneys of Buckshaw and Father Christmas will be stuck to the chimney until she sets him free. Proof at long last! Naturally, the plan doesn't go off without many hitches along the way. Colonel Haviland de Luce has given in to the inevitable with his heavy debt problems and allowed Ilium Films to use Buckshaw as the location for their newest film. The cast, crew, and principal actors arrive a few days before Christmas. The family is told to remain in one section of the house. Well, what curious eleven year old girl could ever follow that rule? When a murder occurred, Flavia was the one to find the body. It is as natural as breathing for her to begin collecting clues to help Inspector Hewitt solve the case.

I laughed outright or smiled during large portions of this utterly charming book. I have two granddaughters, one is 10 and one is 11 so I'm sitting perfectly placed to recognize the curiosity and complete lack of fear a girl this age exhibits. Flavia spends more of her time in this novel actually looking for clues, doing research if you will, than I have noticed in the other books. She also takes many more chances and is bold in her actions, regardless of their possible danger. She acts, in short, like a child of this age would act, just a little more exaggerated due to the fiction of the story. I enjoyed having all the regular characters from previous novels appear again even though the circumstance was a little forced and almost claustrophobic. That many people stranded in one house during a blizzard? My mind raced with all the basic problems there would have been. However, even with a slightly weak mystery, too many characters plopped down in one location, and Flavia taking physical danger to a rather high level, I would still recommend this novel to anybody who wants a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. This time slight glimpses are given into the past lives of major characters, especially interesting were some hints of Dogger's past, and I actually began to see some acts of kindness on the part of Feely and Daffy. Colonel de Luce stayed as elusive as ever, but I still have high hopes for him in novels to come.

The Cleaner
The Cleaner
by Brett Battles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm going to hold off before I try another book by this author., 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Cleaner (Paperback)
I'm always on the lookout for a new author in the thriller genre so when Amazon kept putting the novels of Brett Battles before my eyes I finally decided to take the plunge. I went for the first in the Jonathan Quinn series to make sure I have the background and character firmly in my mind. I liked the book well enough, but it really didn't interest me enough to make me determined to seek out the remainder of the books in the series. Perhaps the writing style was just a little too simple and there were too many instances when I looked up from what I was reading and wondered why the character would have reacted quite in that way. For someone who made his living by strict adherence to a formula of actions this character flew by the seat of his pants more often than not.

Quinn's character had the potential to be very interesting for me since he specializes in going into a scene after an episode and cleaning it so that no clues remain to point toward the boss he happens to be working for on that case. Lately Quinn has found himself working exclusively for The Office, a group located in Washington, D. C. which Quinn supposes is connected with a government agency. In this book a cleanup operation leads Quinn to find himself a target for elimination and he doesn't have a clue as to why. He and his apprentice Nate leave for the other side of the world only to find themselves bumping up against the previous case time after time. Just a question here: how does a person carry around passports for twenty different identities with the credit cards to match those identities and yet go through Customs multiple times and never have these documents spotted?

Filled with all kinds of action including kidnapping, killings, arson, and false identities this novel should have suited me perfectly. Instead I found myself mildly interested and reading quickly, but quickly because it was such an easy read. I usually like a little more of a challenge to hold my attention. I had been looking forward to some insights into *how* the cleaner would have gone about his work, but that very basic premise was pretty much overshadowed by all the other crimes and danger Quinn and Nate found themselves in. I will give the author credit for putting a twist in the story which took me completely by surprise. That worked very well.

This IS the first novel in the series. Do the stories get more intense and show the depth I like? I don't know and right now I'm going to wait a while before I decide to try another. I'll read lots of reviews for the other books in the series and see if I think I want to continue on. I hope so.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2013 7:45 PM BST

Price: £2.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really an amazing story., 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: Ramblefoot (Kindle Edition)
This book, crafted as a debut novel by Ken Kaufman, was really an amazing story to read. When I first saw the concept of telling a story completely from the point of view of wolves I wondered in which direction the author would chose to go. He decided to tell it totally from the perspective of the wolves and he never once allowed them to slip into a cartoonish mode. I was captivated and impressed.

The story is divided into three books: the cub and juvenile times for Raspail, his time as a ramblefoot, and his time as leader of a pack. Book One is used by the author to familiarize the reader with what life is like as a wolf, not an animated cartoon creature, but a fur and sinew animal who is never far from needing to satisfy the demands of his master, his stomach. This is definitely not a book for children to read because these wolves spend their time hunting, killing prey, fighting, and learning their places within the wolf pack. Book Two takes place when Raspail has decided he can no longer remain in his Cob Ash pack so he becomes a ramblefoot, a wolf who strikes out on his own. These are terribly dangerous times for any wolf so it is not uncommon for them to form alliances with other lone wolves for the sake of safety and greater hunting results. This is when Raspail begins to have adventures with other wolves and with man and the livestock he has brought to the Wyoming wilderness. Book Three shows how Raspail gathers the wolves of Ramblefoot into a pack and becomes their facet, their leader, in order to return to his original den and claim his mate.

All the aspects of this wonderful story concern love, caring, friendship, and betrayal. The same issues humans grapple with are the issues which propel the wolf from one adventure to another. I enjoyed the uniqueness of the story and the writing ability of this author is a joy to lose yourself in. The novel ended in such a way that Kaufman can very easily continue the saga of Raspail, Kileo his mate, Poitu the raven, and all the wolves in his Ramblefoot pack. I sincerely hope he makes that decision. I want to read more about these magnificent animals.

***This author sent this novel to me as a file for my computer. I was so impressed with it that I purchased the book for my Kindle from the Amazon US site.

Malice in the Cornwall (Erskine Powell Mysteries)
Malice in the Cornwall (Erskine Powell Mysteries)
by Graham Thomas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars I had hoped for better., 1 Nov 2011
I recently found these Erskine Powell mysteries and was glad to see there were several in the series. I read Malice in the Highlands (Erskine Powell Mysteries) which is the first book and enjoyed it quite a bit. This second book didn't suit me quite as well.

Chief Superintendent Powell and Detective Sergeant Black have been sent from New Scotland Yard to the small Cornish village of Penrick. Frequently for the last two weeks people have been reporting seeing something on the beach which is now being referred to as The Riddle. Powell and Black soon discover that The Riddle is actually the torso of a woman wearing a life jacket from a boat. Who is she? How has she been appearing and disappearing? Which of the residents has information about her? These questions have to be answered along with why this death might be connected with a murder which took place thirty years previously.

I didn't enjoy this second book as much as the first. The atmosphere of Cornwall is very well described with the various weather conditions contributing to the feeling of malice and danger. The mystery is probably not very difficult for readers to figure out, but that could have been overlooked if there hadn't been several elements to the writing which kept me irritated. Both Powell and Black spend a lot of time trying to outdo each other with references to passages in literature which they consider appropriate to their situation. After just a few of those I had really had enough. Unfortunately the author continued the dueling quotes pretty much throughout the book.

The second irritation for me is completely personal. Chief Superintendent Powell's wife and two sons had departed days previously on a trip to Canada so it is made very clear that he is married. One of the characters in the story is an author, Jane Goode, who is staying at the same Guesthouse as the policemen. The author has Powell pay an unwarranted amount of personal attention to Goode, even to taking her on evidence gathering trips, sailing and a picnic while leaving his Sergeant out. Powell shows a marked interest in Ms Goode and then seems to appear surprised by what that interest generates. I did not like that aspect of this book because it was a substantial difference in the type of character I believed Powell to be. There didn't really seem to be any good reason for this main character to act like that and it completely turned me off. I don't intend to read more of this series because obviously I don't understand what type personality the main character has. If I don't like him as a person, I don't want to continue to read about him.

Revelation (The Shardlake Series)
Revelation (The Shardlake Series)
by C. J. Sansom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Religious fanaticism taken to serial killer extreme., 1 Nov 2011
I always enjoy the Matthew Shardlake novels written by C. J. Sansom. The only problem I ever can find with them is that once I begin reading I have one heck of a time putting the book down. This one was no exception. I love Mr Sansom's preference for single word titles and always try to guess what the novel will be about just from the title. I wasn't even in the ballpark on this one.

It is 1543 in London, England, and the questions of religious belief are still plaguing the country. Shardlake has gone back to his practice of the law since his last adventure, but now is appointed to plead before the Court of Requests serving the poor of the city, Matthew's gift from Archbishop Cranmer as thanks for his handling of another delicate matter. When Shardlake is present at the discovery of someone killed in a most gruesome way he makes a vow that he will find the killer and see him brought to justice. Little did he know that he would find himself searching for a religious fanatic who was using the 16th Chapter of Revelation in the Bible to fulfill the killer's own idea of the prophecy contained in that chapter.

One of the many things I always enjoy about reading this series of novels is how the author takes the time to completely construct characters and places. I am never left feeling that one character or another did not receive enough attention so I don't understand the part they play in the story. The mental pictures I come away with of that great city of London make the history of this time period come alive for me. Even giving the author the license to invent some of the people and places in this story it still has such a ring of truth to it that I never find myself taking note of something that just doesn't sit right. I enjoyed this novel every bit as much as I have enjoyed the others in this series that I've read and I look forward to many more to come.

Ballistic (Gray Man)
Ballistic (Gray Man)
by Mark Greaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An adrenaline rush from start to finish., 5 Oct 2011
This review is from: Ballistic (Gray Man) (Paperback)
Anyone familiar with the first two novels in The Gray Man series (The Gray Man and On Target (Gray Man Novel)) will know they are filled with action and adventure throughout the book. This third entry is certainly no exception. Author Mark Greaney takes the reader on a thrill ride that would make any amusement park proud. Moving from one challenge to the next Courtland Gentry's exploits kept my attention riveted to the pages of this book. Court has been hiding out from all the many factions who want to see him dead, most recently his ex-boss, Russian mobster Gregor Sidorenko. Hiding in the back-of-beyond jungles of South America worked for seven months but now a manhunter has found Gentry and it's time to move on. With only escape in mind Gentry is waiting in a bus station when he happens to hear a television news story concerning a man he once shared a prison cell with in Laos. Could this Eduardo Gamboa be the same Eddie Gamble he had known back in that prison? Because if so, then Court does not believe the man he had known could be guilty of what these news reports said. Before long Gentry finds himself a very unwilling actor in the bloody business of drugs and other crimes between two feuding Mexican drug lords. Between his former bosses in the CIA, his former boss in the Russian mob, and now these armed and decidedly dangerous Mexican criminals it will take an expert in survival to come out of this mess alive.

I enjoyed this book very much, in fact I have come to expect that from Greaney. It seemed as if there was action taking place almost every minute and the excitement factor was ramped up to heart pounding level for most of the novel. I don't read thrillers or adventure novels to spend my time hearing about how somebody's day went at the office. If I'm looking for adventure, then that's what I want. I'm asking an author to entertain me and take me out of the humdrum. As a reader I gained a little more insight into the background of Court Gentry, but there is still much more left to be revealed - I hope - in future novels.

There was one specific element in the novel where I would have liked to get some additional narrative. The story eventually revolves around a kidnapping with Gentry fighting to rescue that victim. Not just the reader, but Gentry himself lost all contact with that victim for a very long period of time. I began to wonder what it was that made The Gray Man so sure this hostage was even still alive. A few quick peeks into how the person was being treated would have helped the sympathetic and curious sides of my nature.

Court Gentry has more lives than a multitude of cats, but without his specialized ability to find his target, make plans which succeed, and remove the bad guys, there would not be much reason for him to exist as a fictional character. I'll take him just as the talented author writes him and be glad to do so. So, Mr Greaney, when can we expect book number four?

Shadow of the Past
Shadow of the Past
by Judith Cutler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story, but poor editing in 2009 paperback., 3 Oct 2011
This review is from: Shadow of the Past (Paperback)
Judith Cutler's second book in her historical mysteries is every bit as wonderful as the first, The Keeper of Secrets. Tobias Campion has settled in and made his place secure as the rector of Moreton St. Jude. Even though his life had previously been one of wealth and privilege Tobias felt a sincere calling to become a servant of his Maker. The poor are always on his mind and he spends his days trying to make their lives more comfortable. Lady Chase is now widowed and she returns to Moreton Hall to await word of the search she is conducting to find her son, Hugo, Viscount Wombourn, who has been missing since the battle of Talavera in 1808. No word has been heard from him since he went missing from the battlefield, but his mother is sure he is still alive. Into this scene comes a stranger who is found dead in a swollen stream. No identification is possible and there are no clues as to why he was in the area until a newspaper advertisement regarding a reward for information about Viscount Wombourn is found in the man's boot. There are plots and sub-plots aplenty in this very well written mystery taking place in 1811 in this rural English neighborhood.

I really enjoy the way Judith Cutler writes her historical novels. I like seeing how the society is divided and the extremes that each level goes to to keep it that way. It is obvious that the author had done much research so she not only puts the characters in their proper historical positions, but she also gives them life so they become people, not simply characters. This novel has several different mysteries going on at once but by the ending of the book they have all been made to dovetail into one complete story.

The only reason I have not given this novel a full five star rating is because of the editing. I thought at first that some type of regional method of speaking was taking place when I would struggle so much with particular sentences. No, it turned out that it was simply very poor editing. Many, many words are omitted, there are many times when singular words should have been plural, and several times when the wrong character name was used. It made for a distraction which took me away from what was happening in the book and made me focus on something which should never have been a factor. My copy is the paperback edition published in 2009. It really is a shame that something which could have been so easily corrected had to interfere with my enjoyment of this novel.

Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel (Harlan Donnally Novels)
Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel (Harlan Donnally Novels)
by Steven Gore
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.51

5.0 out of 5 stars I've added Steven Gore to my list of must read authors., 6 Sep 2011
Finding an author I'm unfamiliar with is always a treat for me. This novel was a wonderful surprise and I'm hoping it will lead to a long list of future books in the Harlan Donnally series.

Donnally had been on the force of the San Francisco Police Department until a bullet wound made his retirement mandatory. He left the big city to retire to Mount Shasta and run a small café. Harlan's friend, Mauricio Aguilera, asks for a deathbed favor. Harlan will have to begin the search for Mauricio's sister who was left at a commune when Anna was five and Mauricio was fifteen. After all this time the trail is decidedly cold, but using his skills and network of friends still on the force Donnally begins to find traces of Anna. The answers and leads he uncovers leave even more questions.

According to the note to the readers in the back of this book Steven Gore's career was as a private investigator working both stateside and international cases. That has to be why the plot of this novel feels so true to life. As stated by Gore, the idea for this story came from many places, but an actual case he knew about inspired him to write this particular story. I found it to be extremely well written with a natural voice for Donnally and a complete character demonstrated by both his positive and negative qualities as a person. This is not a super hero protagonist in the physical sense necessarily, but he certainly did know how to out-think and out-plan his opponents. The drama of the plot builds slowly and realistically and I never found myself wondering how the characters got from one situation to another. (I tend to argue with a novel if I can't see a coherent, logical progression of the story.) The story moves from Mount Shasta, California, to Cancun, Mexico, while the tension builds to a riveting conclusion.

I highly recommend this novel to those readers who enjoy watching a character figure out what is going on in a situation where they have to start from scratch with very little information. Gore allows the reader access to all the information his character is uncovering so I always felt that I was involved in trying to solve the case. What began with a seemingly simple request from a friend to find his sister turned into the uncovering of crimes and pure evil on a large scale. This was compelling to read from beginning to end and I can hardly wait for the next Harlan Donnally adventure. This author also has two novels which feature a different protagonist (Final Target and Absolute Risk) and I'm planning to check those out in the very near future.

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