Categories: "Series" or "A Song of Ice and Fire" or "Harry Bosch" or "Harry Potter" or "Lincoln Rhyme" or "Pendergast" or "Robert Langdon" or "Tales of the Otori" or "Temeraire" or "The Chronicles of Narnia" or "The Dark Tower" or "The Edge Chronicles" or "The Farseer" or "The Wizard Knight"

Trunk Music - Michael Connelly

March 8th, 2012

Trunk Music by Michael ConnellyTony Aliso finally had a hit. Stuffed into the trunk of his Rolls on a ragged stretch of Mulholland Drive, the B-movie producer took two bullets to the head -- a kind of job wiseguys call "Trunk Music." LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, hungry for action after an involuntary layoff, catches the case and is soon painstakingly unraveling Aliso's life, times, and ties...from his Mob deals to his beautiful wife to a stripper in Vegas to the disgraced FBI agent who just happens to be Harry's ex-girlfriend. Now somewhere between LA and Las Vegas is the one answer Harry needs. But so are enemies on both sides of the law, the woman he still loves, and the secrets that can break your heart -- or get you killed.

A no-name movie producer is found dead stuffed in the trunk of his own car. He may have been murdered by a business partner from a deal that went south, his estranged wife, his stripper girlfriend, or maybe this murder has more to it than meets the eye. Harry Bosch is back in action and this case has him traveling to Las Vegas and uncovering a complex scheme that has significant ties involving the Mob. It wouldn't be Bosch if everything went smoothly, even though the guy does try to play it level...most of the time. The road blocks he faces this time come in the form of a new boss, The Feds, an old flame and some potentially dirty cops.

This is the fifth book in the series. Harry is a tough pill to swallow at times; he can have a very reckless disregard for personal and professional relationships and certainly for protocol, as well. In the earlier books this is even more prevalent than here, but he is still the same, old Harry. I keep reading them because I do enjoy them. I like how the books are written and I like seeing the progression of Harry's career.

Trunk Music is my favorite of the series so far. I definitely attribute it to Michael Connelly's improvement as a storyteller and I am excited to read them all.

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Cold Vengeance

June 21st, 2011

Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildDevastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife's betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen's past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he's believed, everything he's trusted, everything he's understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

COLD VENGEANCE

Nothing is what it seems.

This book will be available on August 2, 2011.

Pre-order your copy.

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

July 2nd, 2009

Royal Assassin - Robin HobbFitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king's assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. in this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz's hands -- and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice....

Fitz is in a weakened condition after someone tried to kill him and now he must make choose between going back to Buckkeep to live under the same roof as the man who wants him dead or striking out on his own and abandoning the oath he made to his king. When duty prevails, arguably over good sense, Fitz makes the treacherous journey home. Rest was in short supply then as he needed to be ready for any possible danger that may befall him back in the castle while he grew into a man and more of a weapon for his king.

Royal Assassin is book 2 of Robin Hobb's The Farseer trilogy. What was maybe only hinted to be a complex story in the first book blossomed in the second. The first book only scratches the surface. The second book plunges readers into the story head first. Fitz continues his training to kill from the shadows as a secret assassin for the king, he learns to fight in hand-to-hand combat when Prince Verity sees what he can do on the battlefield, he sails with his people to confront the Red Ship Raiders learning to row a ship and fight onboard, he receives permission to court a young woman, he makes new friends, and he maybe loses another. Love, hate, betrayal, loyalty, pain.

This book was wonderfully written and had elements of every genre I can name. The characters’ emotions ran wild across the pages and I was the string wrapped around the author’s finger, unable to put the book down until I knew what happened next. Can you recall the book that cemented the fact that you would read every book that Robin Hobb wrote? I can – Royal Assassin.

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The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly

March 17th, 2009

The Last Coyote - Michael ConnellyHarry Bosch's life is on the edge. His earthquake-damaged home has been condemned. His girlfriend has left him. He's drinking too much. And after attacking his commanding officer, he's even had to turn in his L.A.P.D. detective's badge. Now, suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation, he's spending his time investigating an unsolved crime from 1961: the brutal slaying of a prostitute who happened to be his own mother.

Even after three decades, Harry's questions generate heat among L.A.'s top politicos. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes more and more apparent that someone wants to keep it buried. Someone very powerful....very cunning...and very deadly.

Edgar-Award-winning author Michael Connelly has created a dark, fast-paced suspense thriller that cuts to the core of Harry Bosch's character. Once you start it, there's no turning back.

What is a hot-headed detective supposed to do while on involuntary leave for putting his boss's head through a window? A series of frustrations get the better of Harry Bosch, starting when he had to testify in court about his mother, the prostitute. And now he has plenty of time to think about what he has done. Instead he considers his leave a blessing-in-disguise; what better time than this to investigate his mother's murder -- a case that is decades old.

In theory this book was my worst nightmare. To me an unbridled Harry Bosch, gone rogue, cowboying across L.A. against great forces is a recipe for boredom. It is like when you used to play DOOM after you learned the cheat code for "God mode." When the characters act without concern for even fictional danger, walking into situations as if bulletproof, I don't want to read it. And that is how this book was...at the beginning. Thankfully Mr. Connelly pulled up on the reigns and brought Harry back down to Earth.

The story developed pretty well as it took us from California to Florida and back. A few things were set in motion that I will be curious to follow up on in the next book. One might argue that the plot twist was a little predictible, but if you really want to enjoy a book you probably aren't trying to predict the ending anyway.

Another solid effort and another solid addition to the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. It wasn't as good as the last, but it was still a good book.

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The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly

March 5th, 2009

The Concrete Blonde by Michael ConnellyThey call him the Dollmaker, a serial killer who stalks Los Angeles and leaves a grisly calling card on the faces of his female victims. When a suspect is shot by Detective Harry Bosch, everyone believes the city's nightmare is over. But then the dead man's widow sues Harry and the LAPD for killing the wrong man -- an accusation that rings terrifyingly true when a new corpse is found with the Dollmaker's macabre signature. Now, for the second time, Harry must hunt down a ruthless death-dealer before he strikes again. Careening through a blood-tracked quest, Harry will go from the hard edges of the L.A. night to the last place he ever wanted to go -- the darkness of his own heart...

A civil lawsuit is brought against Detective Harry Bosch for the wrongful death of a man that Harry believed to be a serious criminal. Harry had no doubts that the man was the rapist and murderer he was investigating -- until a new body is found and it matches the killings Harry thought he had stopped. Is there a copycat killer who somehow knows intimate details of the prior murders, or did Harry kill the wrong man?

This is the third Harry Bosch book and it is easily the best so far. I loved the duality of the investigation and the trial. I will admit my bias due to my interest and training in law, but I found it very interesting how Connelly developed the court case. Another factor that may have contributed to my enjoyment was that when Harry was in court he was vulnerable. And a vulnerable Harry Bosch is a better read than a Harry Bosch who is always in charge -- he often gets too over-the-top cowboy in those situations and it becomes unrealistic (see my review of Harry Bosch #2 - The Black Ice).

One thing that I like about Michael Connelly is how well he writes frustration. I find that many other authors who write serial detectives will always have them unsure of a situation to keep the story believable, but with those other authors you never really get a sense that the bad guy might get away. Granted, there are times when Connelly gets away from this, but I have already detailed that for you.

I'm through three Harry Bosch books now and they seem to be written more quickly than I read them (I don't like to read a series back-to-back), but I am still interested enough to try to catch up. And if the others are as good as this one, that catching up will be well worth my time.

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The Cabinet of Curiosities - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

January 15th, 2009

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildIn an ancient tunnel underneath New York City a charnel house is discovered. Inside are thirty-six bodies -- all murdered and mutilated more than a century ago. While FBI agent Pendergast investigates the old crimes, identical killings start to terrorize the city. The nightmare has begun. Again.

FBI Special Agent Pendergast is in New York City on unofficial business. He is deeply interested in a crime scene that is over 100-years old, yet he refuses to tell anyone why. Once again he enlists the help of someone who works at the Museum of Natural History to aid him in his rogue investigation. Like the first two books in the Pendergast series, Agent Pendergast is a unique man. He is almost like a more bookish James Bond. Unlike the first two books in the series, in The Cabinet of Curiosities Agent Pendergast is acting very much on his own behalf and receives little to no help from the NYPD.

Pendergast has always marched to the beat of his own drum, but in this book he really has gone rogue. His intentions are not always clear and his messages are more cryptic than ever. This book focused more on him and his work, so maybe that is why there was a different feel. If that is all it takes to change my opinion of this series, please let Agent Pendergast take a step back. He seems to make a better supporting cast member than lead.

I am about to make a statement that even I think sounds ridiculous. The story in this book was a little too far-fetched for me. Yes that means that I had no problems with a reptile/human hybrid creature that terrorized a museum feasting on any hypothalemus it encountered. All I can say was that was within my limits, but this story was not. Some sci-fi works for you and some does not. This sci-fi did not work for me.

And I thought the conclusion to this conflict to be quite poor. The entire book we wonder what this antagonist's great life purpose was. And when you find out the entire story falls flat on its face. I am not saying that I can do any better than the two men who authored this book. Ultimately all I am saying is that I recommend only the first two books of the Pendergast series. I will not keep reading these books.

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Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

December 17th, 2008

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin HobbYoung Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill -- and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

A young boy is abandoned and left in the charge of the prince's men; the boy, they've said, is the prince's bastard. It is more than irony that descends upon the royal family when news that Prince Chivalry, at least in one act, has not lived up to his name. Upon some assemblance of acceptance, the young boy begins his education -- bastard or not, the son of a prince should be educated in books and battle. He also secretly begins his other training -- as an assassin for the king.

While Robin Hobb's work was basically recommended to me as a whole, this particular series, The Farseer, was said to be her best. I love the idea of a boy from a very young age being trained to do the king's most secret bidding. And just like that I am engrossed in these books.

I am pleased with the recommendation so far. Much of the action in the first book happens elsewhere and is then retold, rather than our young protagonist being there to experience everything first-hand. And there was a lot of setup in the first book, but that is fine because there was a lot to set up. By the end of the book, things are really set in motion and there is a great momentum that will carry me forward. I just hope that the momentum continues when I delve into book 2.

After one book I love that this is a three-book series. I am currently in the middle of a few series that seem neverending. My opinion may change as I get deeper into the trilogy, but for now I am excited for my next dose of Robin Hobb.

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Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

December 15th, 2008

Black Powder War by Naomi NovikAfter their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty's Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn -- thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master's death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte's implacable army?

As Captain Laurence is about to make his slow way back to England, an urgent message is delivered to him. Ultimately, his orders change so that he must hurry to Turkey to pick up three dragon eggs that England has purchased. To make it in time, Capt. Laurence, his crew, and his dragon Temeraire must travel across the uncharted expanses of land that lie between China and Turkey.

Barring some unforeseen event, this is the last book in the Temeraire series that I plan to read. In my review of book 1 (I left it out of the review for book 2) I have described before that Captain Will Laurence is a drab and uncharismatic leading man. I was hoping to see a change in his demeanor and that has not yet happened. It still may, but there are too many other books I could read instead of waiting for him to become more interesting. And to make matters worse he seems to be really affecting Temeraire. The dragon has always been a free thinker and has bucked authority, trying to balance out how obsequious Capt. Laurence is. Through three books, now the relationship is beginning to strain and it is frustrating.

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

August 7th, 2008

The Chronicles of NarniaNARNIA....a land frozen in eternal winter...a country waiting to be set free.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia -- a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change...and a great sacrifice.

The classic tale of four curious children who wander through a dusty wardrobe into a magical land called Narnia. One of them discovers the portal on her own, but the others do not believe her. When she gets one of her brothers to venture through with her, they become separated and alone he is subject to the influence of the White Witch. It is up to the other three to save him and all of Narnia from the Witch's evil plans.

This is the quintessential childhood epic adventure. Whether or not you have read these books or seen any of the film adaptations, you always seem to know the story. In its recounting, it seems to grow ever-larger, though when I read the book now, it is so brief. I think that speaks volumes about how magical C.S. Lewis's Narnia truly is. I look forward to the rest of the series, with which I am unfamiliar.

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Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn

July 7th, 2008

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian HearnIn his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.

The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But unbeknownst to him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural skills. When Takeo's village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor -- and to his own unimaginable destiny...

A teenage boy named Takeo is chased out of his peaceful village as it is attacked by a local warlord. He escapes pursuit with the help of a strange man, who then takes him in and adopts him as his son. As they get to know each other the man tells Takeo more and more and soon he realizes that their meeting was not random, nor was the attack on his village. Takeo, unbeknownst to him, is from a long line of assassins. They are a race of people with extraordinary abilities, and his father was the best of them all. And now Takeo's fate has come to meet him as he is asked to do that for which he was born to do.

I picked this book up off the shelf having never heard of it, but I read the synopsis on the back and became very interested. I love feudal Japan and the idea of a young man born with specially-heightened senses to facilitate his fate as the world's next great assassin sounded great. And the book was good, I just believe it missed it's mark.

It had everything I described above, but what I didn't like was the disparity between the assassin race and everyone else. I was hoping that the advantages wouldn't be so extraordinary. I afford sci-fi/fantasy authors a lot of creative license, but at some point it goes too far. And I felt like that happened, to an extent, in Across the Nightingale Floor.

But, at least for now, I am not so turned off that I am unwilling to give this series another shot. I do plan to read Grass for His Pillow, which is the second book in the Tales of the Otori series, but I'm not sure when I will get to it.

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