Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rebecca Tree

Author Michael Abramson sent me an e-copy of Rebecca Tree for review.

Rebecca Tree is your not so basic political thriller. I say not so, basic because author Michael Abramson has not stayed with the normal conventions of the genre, at least as I understand them.

Although I am going to point out problems I had with Rebecca Tree, I did enjoy the book.

The political aspects of the story are secondary to the actual main theme of the book. Rebecca Tree is actually a family dysfunction story set in the political world. As an a-political (anti-politician) reader I can not credibly comment on the political machinations detailed in this book. I do expect they are not far removed from reality, if the are indeed removed at all.

Our main character (I personally can't call her a heroine), is Rebecca Tree, a high powered business woman coerced into running for president. Yes, she wins, no spoiler there. If she didn't win there would be no book.

Rebecca is portrayed as the "good" person in the story. She is two shades shy of an ass-kicking super-heroine. But for me she came across more as an uncooperative, semi-self indulged, petulant mini-tyrant. She, at times does not work and play well with others. But in true super-heroine fashion she is effective.

We are constantly told of the ecological catastrophe the country is experiencing. The loss of two billion bird species during Rebecca's life time, flooded states and the rich and powerful taking advantage of the situation. This story line is hit a bit hard for me since little is offered to remedy the situation.

Along with the not so subtle preaching on the environment, we do get a good story of a politically and morally corrupt family. Rebecca is the person tasked with somehow saving her family and along the way, the country.

The ending was rather abrupt. We witness the beginning of the resolution of the family story line and the story stops there. Resolution of the political  story is kind of hinted at but not really. I don't know if Rebecca Tree is the start of a series, it could be continued from here.

Looking back at this review it reads a bit on the negative side. I really don't mean it to be so. Rebecca Tree is actually pretty entertaining,  it did hold my interest,  There is plenty of action (read graphic violence), intrigue, love, romance, sex, heartbreak, political maneuvering, loyalty, honor and duty.

Boiled down, the real negative for me is that Rebecca is just not that sympathetic a character. At times I rooted for her, but at others not so much.

Readers who like stories where there are not necessarily clear cut good guys and bad guys, but there is good action, political twists and turns and strong emotional scenes, will find Rebecca Tree by Michael Abramson an entertaining read worth their time. Enjoy!


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Dark Hills Divide

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman was the last audio book I listened to on my recent road trip. It was read by Aasne Vigesaa.

More in my comfort zone, The Dark Hills Divide is a fantasy story set in the Land of Elyon, a land separated from the surrounding forests by high walls.

Our heroine Alexa is a twelve year old who, of course, is not content to accept the admonition to avoid knowledge of the outside (if she did accept it we wouldn't have a story now would we).

At the heart of the story  The Dark Hills Divide is a mystery. Alexa does not know whom she can trust, and she has a lot to learn along the way.

As a fantasy, there are magical and mythical components to the story. I would expect it is categorized as a middle grade story. The violence is not graphic, there is no sex, and no bad language. There is still evil, people get injured, and all is not as it seems.

If forced to identify a shortcoming (negative is too strong in this instance) I think the character of Alexa is a little too advanced/mature for the age she is presented as. She is able to converse on an adult level with too much ease for a twelve year old in my humble opinion, but that is minor to the overall story.

Of course as a middle grade fantasy/adventure, The Dark Hills Divide does carry a message or two, but I'll leave that discovery to you.

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman and read by Aasne Vigessa, is a good light middle grade read(or in my case listen).  A great story for younger readers. Enjoy!


Map of Bones

On my recent road trip I listened to Map of Bones by James Rollins on audio cd.

This unabridged audio book was performed by L.J. Ganser.

At 15.75 hours this book took two days of driving to complete.

The story is somewhat reminiscent of Angels & Demons or Da Vinci Code. It is a somewhat grisly adventure pitting fanatic religious orders and government agencies against each other. Built around the Catholic Church history of dispersing the body parts of saints and religious icons to consecrated churches, the story becomes a worldwide hunt for what amounts to a terrorist organization.

There was enough intrigue to hold my interest while racking up the miles on my odometer. This was my introduction to James Rollins' work (my wife is a fan and chose the book) and interested me enough to check out more of his work.

Map of Bones is apparently somewhat of a departure from Mr. Rollins usual work. I found it entertaining and enjoyable enough for my road trip, although it is a little on the long side. There was of course the romantic interest, but it felt a bit like an add-on. A good read for fans of espionage type stories, some secret technologies but not overly reliant on them.

Over all an entertaining accompaniment on a long, long drive. Enjoy!


Unlucky 13

I recently took a long road trip and Unlucky 13 by James Patterson was one of the audiobooks my wife and I listened to while driving.

I have not read or listened to any other of James Patterson's books so I can't compare the quality of this versus other of his works.

Unlucky 13 is apparently part of the Women's Murder Club series.

There were three story-lines to resolve here, but in my mind only two were truly resolved. The argument could be made that the third was, but so obliquely as to be missed. Perhaps I am being somewhat unfair, as listening to such a detail oriented story while driving may not have been the best way to encounter this work. The beginning and middle of this story held my interest, but the conclusion was, for me, less than satisfying. The epilogue just didn't leave me feeling complete.

Bottom line, I'll just leave it at; I was less than impressed.


Island of the Dolls (World's Scariest Places #4)

Author Jeremy Bates gave me an e-copy of Island of the Dolls for review.

Island of the Dolls is #4 in the World's Scariest Places series.

Set on the real world Isla de las Muencas, Island of the Dolls is a good scary read. A mixed group of characters travel to the island to film a documentary. They of course immediately get caught up in the local legend of evil goings on.

Jeremy Bates does a good job of painting a mental picture of an exceedingly creepy setting. The story is told through the viewpoint of alternating characters.

We have a little bit of everything in this story; murder, mystery, madness, romance, sex, violence (besides the murder), and of course most of all, horror. Some of the scenes are absolutely terrifying (dolls--shudder).

Island of the Dolls alternates between historic and present day settings full of cruelty and abuse. The Nuns are particularly nasty. Interpersonal conflicts among the main characters keeps the reader from ever feeling comfortable. Mismatched couples and macho b.s. only add to the atmosphere of the story.

Since I don't do spoilers it is difficult to give too much detail, but suffice to say there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. Some developments were predictable, but not enough of them to label the story as such.

Island of the Dolls lives up to the designation of  one of the "World's Scariest Places" (maybe higher that #4 for me), and Jeremy Bates has woven a scary tale around the legend of the place. Enjoy!


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

I won an ARC of The Girl Who Drank The Moon  by Kelly Barnhill in a Goodreads firstreads giveaway.

Although The Girl Who Drank The Moon  is actually aimed at a much younger audience than me, I enjoyed this book a lot. It is an easy read with wonderful imagery. The scary parts are not too scary and love rules the day.

All the characters (except the mean ones of course) are lovable and comical. I would love to hang out with Fyrian and Glerk. Then characters are well developed for younger to middle grade readers. The main story is simple enough for younger readers (or listeners) yet had enough depth to keep this old coot interested.

At 386 pages it might be a bit long for some younger readers, but would be a great story to be read to a child or grandchild. I think it would pique their interest and the word pictures author Kelly Barnhill paints would  definitely spark imaginations. Eating starlight was for me, one such word picture.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon has a few lessons scattered throughout, but I liked that they were not so dominating of the story that they got in the way. The lessons are subtly woven into the narration and advance, rather than interrupt, the story.

So, although The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kally Barnhill is aimed at a younger audience, I do believe that adults will find this a fun book to read with or to their younger story lovers. Enjoy!