“Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give. It is inherent in the spirit of man. It is a divine gift…everyone has this most precious of all life’s endowments—the gift of free agency; man’s inherited and inalienable right.”

--David O. McKay

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The One with Visitors

310. Title & Author: Visitors by Orson Scott Card (598 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Science Fiction & Fantasy
Completed: 18 December 2014

Summary & Review:
Still facing the eventual extinction of all life on their home planet of Garden, Rigg and his friend Umbo along with several others, must figure out why the “visitors” from Earth decide to immediately destroy their planet after seeing how the colonization has progressed. Utilizing their abilities to travel through time, they decide that Rigg must sneak aboard the original colonizing starship and return to Earth to find out why Earth turns on their colony. Meanwhile, Umbo and the others are faced with the more immediate threats of political power struggles.

I have really enjoyed this series. Visitors is the third book in the Pathfinder series, and I can’t tell if it is the last book or not. It seems as though all the major conflicts introduced in book one have now been wrapped up. If it is the last book, I’ll be disappointed. I really like the world and the characters that OSC has developed here. While the time-traveling can get a little complicated, it is still a great read. This book returned to a lot of the themes that Card writes about, such as morality and justice, but does so in a fresh way.

Rating: 8.0

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The One with The Rising Mist

309. Title & Author: The Rising Mist: The Final Book of the Mist Trilogy by M.J. Evans (236 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy
Completed: 24 November 2014

Summary & Review:
After learning that his two younger sisters have been taken captive by the lord of the Dark Kingdom, Hasbadana, Nick must leave the peaceful confines of the Kingdom of Celestia to try and rescue them. Offering himself as a prisoner in exchange for his sisters’ release, Nick soon finds himself captured as well. Only Urijah, the Lord of Celestia, can free them, but doing so means he must remain with Hasbadana. Knowing Urijah will never go back on his word to stay, Nick must figure out how to convince Hasbadana to willingly let him go. Finally, Nick, along with his companions Bethany, Lazari, and Mastis, decide the only way to free Urijah is to heal the shattered soul of Hasbadana. But, is that even possible?

This is the third and final book of my mother’s middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Mist Trilogy. It has been really fun to see her grow as an author since first reading her drafts of book one, Behind the Mist. I really like how she expanded the world of the Land Behind the Mist here with the addition of a cool underground kingdom called Mantelia. It was fun to see that new world and the creative creatures that occupy it. There was a lot of adventure and fun in this final installment and the pages flew by.

All three books of The Mist Trilogy, as well as her excellent stand alone novel North Mystic, are available at her website: http://behindthemist.com/buy.htm.

Rating: 10.0

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The One with The Summons

308. Title & Author: The Summons by John Grisham (341 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Thriller
Completed: 4 November 2014

Summary & Review:
Summoned home to settle his father’s estate, Ray Atlee returns to his hometown of Clanton, Mississippi. As he enters his boyhood home he finds his father dead, an apparent overdose of morphine during his battle with end-stage terminal cancer, and also finds something completely unexpected: a hidden stash of over three million dollars in crisp $100 bills. Torn about what to do and who to tell, Ray stashes the money and hides his discovery from his brother. Soon, however, he realizes that someone else knows about the money and will stop at nothing to get it.

My dad has always said that Grisham is hit or miss. One of his books will knock it out of the park and the next will be a dud. This book, unfortunately, falls in the latter category. The plot plodded along as virtually nothing happened after the discovery of the hidden cash for almost three hundred pages. Then, when the action finally picked up, it just wasn’t that exciting. The Associate (#182) wasn't a much better read.

Rating: 5.5

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The One with Ground Zero

307. Title & Author: Ground Zero (A Repairman Jack Novel Book 13) by F. Paul Wilson (368 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Thriller & Science Fiction
Completed: 24 October 2014

Summary & Review:
Despite his best efforts to completely severe all ties with his childhood, Repairman Jack’s past comes roaring back into his present. When his old friend calls to help him locate his missing sister, a girl who was Jack’s best friend while growing up, Jack figures it will be nothing more than a simple missing person’s case. But, when Jack locates Louise, he realizes that she, too, is aware of the Secret History of the World and the battle raging behind the scenes. Enlisting her help to sort through the mystical Compendium of Srem, Jack hopes that together they can defeat the Adversary's latest evil creation--an evil hatched at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It is getting difficult to try and write a summary that has any meaning to anyone who has not read the Repairman Jack series.  With twelve books worth of backstory previous to this novel, there is a lot that is assumed the reader already knows in this book. While I think someone could pick up this book, read it, and enjoy it without having read the previous twelve, they would be doing themselves a huge disservice. This series has become one of my favorites because of it's depth. Repairman Jack is an intriguing, entertaining, well-developed character and the world in which he is placed by Wilson is full of history, mystery, and action. Basically, I am never disappointed when I pick up a Repairman Jack novel.

Rating: 8.0

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The One with The Rembrandt Affair

306. Title & Author: The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva (484 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Thriller
Completed: 20 September 2014

Summary & Review:
While resting and recovering in the English countryside, Israeli spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is approached by his old friend Julian, an art dealer in London, to help him recover a stolen Rembrandt. As Allon delves into the murky history of the painting, he uncovers the truth behind a certain Swiss businessman’s massive wealth: it was built on the goods and money stolen from European Jews as they were deported to concentration camps during the war.

I have yet to tire of Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. In fact, now that we are living in Europe and have had the chance to visit some of the great cities of the world here, I enjoy the books even more. As Allon walks down the Hauptbahnstrasse in Zurich, I can place him perfectly having strolled down that myself. We are so lucky to get to live here!

A lot of the appeal of this series really hinges on the fact that it often deals with two of my favorite subjects, art history and the Second World War. With that formula, Silva could be a much less capable writer and I would still probably like the series. But, since on top of the subject matter Silva is an excellent thriller writer, it makes it even better.

Rating: 8.0

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The One with President Me

305. Title & Author: President Me: The America That’s in My Head by Adam Carolla (277 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction--Comedy & Politics
Completed: 7 September 2014

Summary & Review:
Comedian and media personality Adam Carolla lays out his presidential campaign platform filled with gripes, observations, and solutions to some of the problems facing America today. Carolla focuses in particular on the rampant narcissism in our culture and the plague of broken families. Mixed in with serious analysis, Carolla offers a heavy does of comedic cynicism and sarcasm.

This was a pretty quick read. While Carolla did offer some sincere observations, most of the book was his humorous take on some of the ridiculous parts of American culture right now. Carolla leans somewhere between conservative and libertarian so I agreed with a lot of what he found wrong with our government and culture. He harped on over and over how broken families are at the heart of almost all of our social ills. I absolutely agree. Until children are raised in homes with intact marriages, i.e. a mother and a father, composed of parents who care about and love their children, we will continue to have issues especially in educational drop out rates, gang affiliation, poverty, and crime.

Rating: 6.0

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The One with Gone Girl

304. Title & Author: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (422 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Psychological Thriller
Completed: 31 August 2014

Summary & Review:
Despite starting out completely in love, Nick and his wife Amy drift apart. By their fifth anniversary, their marriage is a wreck and perhaps irreparable damage has been done. So when Amy goes missing, presumed dead, Nick is the police department’s prime suspect. As the story unfolds, the true nature of Nick, Amy, and the disappearance becomes hauntingly clear.

Paige read this book few weeks ago as part of a book club she started with a friend. She seemed to enjoy it so I decided to give it a try. Flynn did a good job doling out the suspense to keep the book interesting all the way through. I thought the plot was clever and the character development was interesting. Apparently this is going to be a movie soon, so I’m glad I read the book so that the plot twists aren’t ruined by the movie.

Rating: 8.0