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Toni Osborne "The Way I See It" (Montreal, Canada)

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The Last Runaway
The Last Runaway
Price: 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Saga, 22 July 2014
This review is from: The Last Runaway (Kindle Edition)
The story weaves a captivating saga of the Underground Railroad and draws us into its clandestine activities. The tale centers on Honor Bright, an English Quaker who immigrates to Ohio in 1850. Strange enough, this page turner that includes millinery, quilting and the Quaker life is a powerful and thought provoking journey that brims with color and drama. For some it may take a while to get into but it is well worth it.

I felt soon transported into the past with remarkable realism, into the rugged and lack- lustre world of Ohio and into the delicate realities of a woman's life at that time. While trying to set roots with the Quakers, Honor's new home is directly in the path of the Underground Railroad. At the time, Laws in America still upheld slavery. For Honor slavery was wrong and despite warnings she never stopped helping runaway slaves onto their next destination. The story is told through the hopeful eyes of Honor as she is challenged daily and how she exhibits bravery, independence and shows a defiant spirit.

The author expertly weaves vivid historical details into this gripping storyline. Her characters are very interesting and will remind you of those characters from the old western shows we loved years ago: beautifully depicted as rough and wholesome. The women are the strong characters in contrast to the men who are a bit low keyed, except for Donovan, the slave hunter, he is quite a mix of hot and cold....(I let you figure that one out). If you love quilting the authors offers plenty of opportunity to learn....this bit is rather repetitive throughout. Mr. Chevalier has added a nice touch and an insight into her protagonist soul through a series of letters she writes to her friends and family. I found this quite touching and emotional. It has been too long since I read an author who shines by turning scenes of ordinary life into exquisite and colourful portraits......Ms. Chevalier is a captivating storyteller.

This was an absorbing, easy and quick read I enjoyed immensely.


The Night Ranger (Ebook)
The Night Ranger (Ebook)
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 17 July 2014
Book 7, in the John Wells series

This series is wonderful and has stayed strong with idea and action stemming right from the news. This time, John our action hero after tackling bad guys across the world’s conflict zone may seem to be a bit weary but is no less as complex and satisfying protagonist. In “The Night Ranger” he enters new territory and goes underground in East Africa to track four kidnapped aid workers for WorldCares, deal with the thugs and rescue them.

What makes this series exciting is the author’s deep understanding of geopolitics and what makes it tick. In this one he deftly portrays how the aid industry is prone to waste and corruption. His fictional aid agency is well- drawn to show how an egotistic director could possible profit from being at the head. This story is a fast read with plenty of action that weaves both the complexities of politics and the everyday life in Africa. The prose is taut, the dialogue first class, so smooth. I love the characterization even the bad guys had strong personalities and they are supplied with all the modern gadgetry to entertain us.

This series is not boring or has become stale. The plots are exciting and fun to read there are no dull moments, a sure way to keep us interesting from start to finish. This novel is hard to put down it is so grabbing. Loved it.


The Scottish Finch (Marking Time Shorts Book 1)
The Scottish Finch (Marking Time Shorts Book 1)
Price: 0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet, 17 July 2014
Marking Time Short

This novel is short indeed, 81 pages eBook version but just enough to introduce Charlotte Finch, the key player in the “Marking Time” series.

A blurb:

The prisons have be emptied by the Supreme Court and it is up to counselor like Charlotte to help those condemned to life imprisonment to turn their life around….not an easy task when most hunger for revenge against the world that incarcerated them…..This novel recounts Charlotte first cases in the new “Relearners System”.

I not usually a fan of short stories but here I make exception. 81 pages are enough to introduce your main characters and plunged them in a concise plot. No frills no extra words right to the point C.J. West has mastered this and said enough to pique interest to follow up with the series. Pick this one up and enjoy.


Bridge Of Sighs
Bridge Of Sighs
by Olen Steinhauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.34

2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into, 12 July 2014
This review is from: Bridge Of Sighs (Paperback)
Book 1, in the Emil Brod series

This unique portrayal begins in 1948 and captures the life and crime of a small Eastern Country (Unnamed) after the Russians liberated it from the German Occupation. The people continue to struggle with rebuilding and coming to terms with their destiny. There are suspicious of their liberators and their Communist ideology. We are into a volatile terrain throughout this auspicious crime novel.

I am a huge fan of the Milo Weaver series so it is of no surprise my curiosity brought me to his debut novel written in 2003 which introduced 22 year old Emil Brod as homicide inspector of the People‘s Militia as the protagonist. Emil spent the war working on a fishing boat in Finland and finally gets his chance to serve his country investigating murders. This is his first outing in a series of 5 installments so far.

This not an easy read. The depiction of broken people who survive the Nazi to only find themselves in the clutch of the Russians is a hard story to take and follow. This book has a repressive atmosphere: highlighting corruption, the starvation, the violence, etc. all the while seeing the protagonist (a rookie) trying to find his way through the maze of intrigue, cruelty and ugliness in order to investigate and solve his cases.

I had trouble concentrating and keeping up with this blend of police procedural, political treatise and love story. My mind kept on wandering and I never could grasp the essence of all what was going on. There was something in the style that didn't agree with me, the narrative did not pique my interest and I fast lost interest. The plot was rather weak IMO and I could easily predict the outcome from the get-go. It was a rough read and I am surprise I actually made it to the ending. Maybe it is better to set our mind that this novel is not some frolic in escapism but rather about Soviet repression….

Many have enjoyed this novel immensely seems I may I missed the boat on this one altogether.


The Second Empress
The Second Empress
Price: 2.06

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 11 July 2014
A Novel of Napoleon’s Court

This is the story of Austrian archduchess Marie Louise who at the age of nineteen married Napoleon Bonaparte and became his second wife and mother to the sole heir of the French Empire. At the time the French court was a wild place and this young, shy and politically inexperienced girl had to fill her predecessor shoes, Empress Joséphine (Napoleon`s first wife) and command a small army of servants and courtiers. This may be her story but the Emperor took a great chunk of this novel, it felt more like a character study about the illustrious figure`s carnal appetites and idiosyncrasies than anything else……

According to her notes, the author`s mentioned trying to be as close as possible to the historical record, especially where personalities were concerned and wanted to show her readers how powerful Napoleon really was and how everyone orbited around him, regardless if they were family or servants. This story is told from three points of views: Napoleon`s sister, the sex-crazed and Egypt obsess Pauline, Marie-Louise who loathed her husband and in love with and Austrian count and a young Haitian chamberlain Paul Moreau, whose love for Pauline was indisputable. The author has created quite a remarkable portrayal of characters and they truly shine in this novel.

This shrewd tale show Napoleon`s later life, personal exploits, his character traits. His marriage to Marie-Louise being a cold tactic of force against the Austrian nation and her acceptance was only in fear and loyalty to her country and through this union save her father`s throne. Ms. Moran punctuated the novel with letters between Napoleon and Josephine and historical titbits. The flow is smooth and keeps the steady pace throughout. Not different from any historical fiction we have an enhanced story that deviated from facts to make the experience more entertaining. Although nicely written this one is not my favourite in the author’s library.


Death of a Red Heroine
Death of a Red Heroine
Price: 5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 11 July 2014
Book 1, in the Inspector Chen series

This novel is something more than a suspenseful whodunit crime story it is one that explore in some ways the old-socialist/new capitalist tensions that were central to China’s ideology post-Tiananmen Square. In the early 1990 it was a difficult time of transition, new rules were being written and it was hard to know how to act. This story offers a peek into the often crooked world in which the population had to work in.

Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau’s Special Case Squad is the lead character and we have a huge cast of players with foreign name to grasp (at least for me) but the author has made it easy by making them very human and distinguishable. “Death of a Red Heroine” provides an idea how Chinese life may have been then. The author’s background being in literature he takes advantage of this by inserting snippets of famous Chinese poems as well as his own (through his protagonist) throughout the drama. The story is well-written although I did find it arduous to read at times (I am not of fan of poetry). The suspense is refreshing but I found the investigation to be slow and faltering. There is little build-up intensity to keep us on the edge of our seat. Food, yes food, luscious foods are mentioned so many times that by the end I was tempted to try my hands at some of the recipes…:)

The story follows the intrepid attempts of Chen to discover the person responsible for the murder of Guan Hongying. Recently promoted Chen sets out to prove himself by solving the case. The flow of information seems to come from seniors party members and this political interference not only added pressure on Chen to close the case it also played hardship on his personal life…..

This book written in 2000 is the debut novel in a long series. The style is very deferent to the one found with American and English writers, some adjustment is needed to enjoy it at its fullest. Although, a good novel I am not certain I will continue further with this series…..


Cherry Bomb - A Thriller (Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mysteries Book 6)
Cherry Bomb - A Thriller (Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mysteries Book 6)
Price: 2.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Over the Top, 10 July 2014
Book 6, in the Jack Daniels Mystery

This series has to be read in sequence to understand how ridiculously it evolves throughout its progress. Definitely the stories are not to be taken seriously but rather for they humour and the evil plotting that keep going over the top at every turn.

At the end of "Fuzzy Navel" (book 5) Mr. Konrath left us with one of Jack's loved one dead. Plainly letting us hanging like that, what an amazing way to lure us towards its sequel....

If you take this series for what it is you will find it is thrillingly entertaining, funny yet terrifying. It feels like a roller coaster ride from start to finish and I couldn't help being at the edge of my seat while I flipped page after page trying to keep up with the multiple twists and turns that kept coming. In this latest Alex Kork is worse than she ever been and half of the story is dedicated to her as she pushed Jack to her limit. Although Jack is her true prey she piles up more random victims you can imagine. She is completely heartless. Jack is drawn ever further into a twisted cat and mouse game filled with blood and too much crude sex.....All the usual players contribute in some ways but the appearance of Slappy's, a very annoying monkey, did not add any value to the cast and could have been skipped ...More and more as the series runs its way it is becoming so ridiculous that I think this whole thing is spiraling downwards.....

Although I still like J.A. Konrath's humour I admit being gradually weaned from this series and have lost some interest in it. This feeling to withdraw doesn't mean I plan to abandon it but I need to take a long break before picking up the sequel. Too much is really too much I need a breather....:)


Saints of the Shadow Bible (Rebus)
Saints of the Shadow Bible (Rebus)
Price: 3.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 9 July 2014
Book 19, in Inspector Rebus series

This author’s undoubted talent is his ability to set up complex plots and to get us involved without losing our interest. He does this superbly with this latest setting up two parallel investigations filled with suspense. This novel is set against the background of the referendum campaign.

“Saints of the Shadow Bible” explore loyalty of the police force to each other, their duty to the law and the way they fulfill their duty. Malcolm Fox plays a huge part in the mystery. He is tasked lead investigator into whether a fast and loose group of cops in the mid-80’s might have tainted a murder trial when Rebus was a young officer. At the same time the suspense deftly ties the old case into a new one that began with road crash involving a tycoon’s daughter that appears to be more than an accident. We find Rebus and his side kick Clarke called to the scene.

This novel is an immense and intricate canvas of well-drawn characters and two of Rankin’s greatest collide while hunting for the truth. The narrative goes back and forth as the two cases merge and separate then merge again. There is high tension and mounting body count throughout this mystery to keep us glued to every word. This is like a soap opera, the plotting weaved all elements together we have come to love or hate and has been delivered in a tight, quick step prose with a noir flavoured tone. Rebus saved the day and will return soon….stay tune this series is not dead yet.


Dominion
Dominion
Price: 3.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Different, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Dominion (Kindle Edition)
This fiction is a dark and terrifyingly alternative history of what might have happened if Churchill had failed to become Prime Minister in May 1940 and the nightmare scenario where the British people are forced to live under menacing authoritarian rules.

The author weaves a gripping and atmospheric spy story. Our guide through this fantasy is David Firtzgerald, a civil servant, who has hidden is half Jewish identity in order to flourish under the regime. This counter factual concoction opens in 1952 12 years after Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after a brief 2 years conflict. Although the nation is not occupied it is led by Fascists and is under Nazi’s fingers. The underground resistance is fighting back and it is where David comes in and is tasked with rescuing Frank Muncaster, a scientist in possession of vital information, and smuggling him out of the country.

This story keeps our interest by rotating perspective from David’s point of view and jumping to different players and back to David. There is momentum in this cat and mouse chase that is modulated with interludes giving us pause for thought. The book stands a good yarn and is about 1/3 too long for my taste although most will find it to be well-written and well-plotted. The style is at times ponderous and the key points lack the necessary build up to provide intense suspense but are captivating nonetheless. This novel is also crammed with details and clearly shows that the author has done an enormous amount of research and thinking about this alternate history, he has quite an imagination and a scary one to boot. I like the characterization and once my struggles with each of their back-stories forgotten the “What ifs” kept me from being disappointed and overall can say I enjoyed “Dominion”.


The Garden of Burning Sand
The Garden of Burning Sand
Price: 2.98

5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, 21 Jun 2014
I couldn't help being tied in knots reading this novel although a work of fiction it was inspired by real issues and offered an authentic glimpse into the horrifying world of child sexual assault in the sub-Saharan Africa. This is actually of story of good people struggling to do right in this world.

This novel is a page turner and weaves together romance, family and human rights issues. While exploring a wide range of pressing world topics including the treatment of women in Africa Mr. Addison's poignant novel takes us from the red light areas of Lusaka, Zambia, to the luxurious rooms of Washington D.C. high ups and to the splendor of Victoria Falls.

"The Garden of Burning Sand" follows the progress in the rape of a young girl with Down's syndrome and the involvement of human rights lawyer Zoe Fleming who is determined to bring the case to justice. The action is firmly centered on Zoe and is told through her eyes. The plot is well-paced and provides some tension as she teams up with Joseph Zabuta. At every turn the two are thwarted of their investigation and they soon realize the criminals they seek are more corrupt and powerful than they thought. This book is also a riveting mystery.

This story is timely, topical and well- researched and embraces the full sweep of human experience. It deals bluntly with rape, AIDS, superstition and poverty. Zoe is an appealing character. Her interracial romance with Joseph is well handled as is the treatment of his positive HIV status. The story is well- done in setting, dialogues and action.


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