Monday, August 31, 2009

Twenty Seven - The Assassin - Stephen Coonts

Huntington Winchester's son is killed in Iraq. He forms a group of wealthy financiers to help fund an "army" of killers to take out known terrorists. The President sends Jake Grafton to help Winchester. Jake enlists Tommy Carmellini to help him with the request.

While Grafton and Carmellini are trying to get to Abu Qasim, he is having each of the group of 7 financiers killed off one by one. Marisa, Abu Qasim's supposedly daughter, betrays Tommy's confidence and leads Abu and his assassin to where some of the group is hiding. In the end, Marisa ends up killing Abu when he comes disguised to a fundraiser for the President.

Coonts, Stephen. The Assassin. St. Martin's Paperbacks (2009). 512 pages. ISBN 031299446X
Great book! I could not put it down and the thriller aspect as very prevelant because I had a hard time walking into an empty and dark place.

Twenty Six - Now Face to Face - Karleen Kohn

Barbara, Countess Devane, travels to Virginia after her husband Roger is killed. She adjusts to life in Virginia and works hard to know every part of the land on her grandmother's estate. She becomes good friends with Colonel Perry - her neighbor and fast enemies with Captain Bolling who used to own the estate. She flirts and shares a passionate kiss with Klaus, the Captain's nephew by marriage.

Back in England a plot to overthrow George I continues led by Slane for James III. Slane convinces the Bishop of Rochester to join the Jacobites in preparing for the invasion. George I's minister Robert Walpole "Robin" has the bishop and a few others locked up in the Tower while trying to prove they are supporting the invasion. The Duchess. Barbara's grandmother, sends letters to Barbara asking her to return to London to help clear the family's name after Tony duels and kills a person over Barbara's honor.

Barbara returns to London and is shocked to hear about the plot to overthrow the King. She is even more shocked to see Slane who she had a tryst with in Italy. She finds out that Robin used Roger her husband as a scapegoat for the South Sea Bubble scandal. She vows to bring him down and help the Jacobites with their invasion.

Kohn, Karleen. Now Face to Face. Three Rivers Post (2008). 734 pages. ISBN 0307406083.
This book was probably the best historical fiction I've read in the past couple of months. I liked having part of the story occur in Virginia. The ending was not the greatest and actually had two alternatives. I really like Karleen's writing style and I can't wait to see what she writes next.

Twenty Five - First Daughter - Eric Van Lustbader

The president-elect's daughter, Alli, is kidnapped two days before his inauguration. Jack McClure is asked to help investigate the kidnapping. Jack's daughter, Emma, went to boarding school with Alli. Emma was killed a year ago in a car crash. Jack tried to investigate the cause of the crash and was unable to determine the cause.

It is assumed that a religious faction - E-Two, the Second Enlightenment, is the group responsible for Alli's kidnapping. Jack investigates the clues and rescues Alli, but along the way he visits his past.

Van Lustbader, Eric. First Daughter. Forge Books (2009). 464 pages. ISBN 0765361426.

While this book was a good thriller, the religious aspect of the plot kinda took over the book. Also the jumping forward and backward between the present and Jack's past was hard to follow. I was disappointed by the ending and how the "bad guy" was caught. Although there is a good twist at the very end which the reader is able to figure out. DC is featured nicely and the local flavor is included in this book.

Twenty Four - The House that George Built - Wilfrid Shead

This book explores the American Song, mostly jazz related, created during the 1920's - 1950's. Each chapter walks through a different composer and how they contributed to the popular music of the day. It was interesting to see the similar paths that the "American" composers took - come from hometown USA - write for Broadway - write for Hollywood - go back to write for Broadway.
The author focused on how a composer's nationality and/or social background influenced their work. Most of the composers adjusted their "pen name" to be different from their given name.

Sheed, Wilfrid. The House that George Built. Random House (2008). 368 pages. ISBN 0812970187.

Twenty Three - The Left Bank - Kate Muir

Madison, an actress from Texas, and her husband Olivier, a French philosopher, take their daughter Sabine to PlayWorld. She ends up disappearing after riding a roller coaster, which sends both Madison and Olivier into a panic. Katie Muir flashes back and explains how Madison & Olivier's marriage became strained as well as Sabine's relationship to her nanny - Anna. Anna ends up having an affair with Olivier while Madison realizes that she must embrace her age and play older characters. This book is a fictionalized look into a "celebrity" power couple's lives and how nothing is what it seems.

Muir, Kate. The Left Bank. Plume (2007). 352 pages. ISBN 0452288401.
One of the most strangest books I've read lately. Very soap operaish. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a harlequin romance or a gossip magazine. I picked this book because it was set in Paris, but the city was not featured very prodominently.

Twenty Two - Annette Vallon - James Tipton

This book explores finding your true love but not being able to be lovers in the open. Set during the French Revolution, Annette meets a poet, William Wordsworth, and falls in love with him. Annette ends up pregnant and has the baby while William is in England. While waiting for William to return to her, Annette helps many folks trying to escape prosecution leave France. She becomes known as the Blonde Chouanne. William returns to France a few years later with his sister to visit Annette and the child. During that visit, Annette realizes they will never be a proper couple.

Tipton, James. Annette Vallon. Harper Paperbacks. 528 pages. ISBN 0060822228.
This book was a quick read even though some of the plot twists were predictable. Though, the ending was not what I expected. I felt the last couple of chapters really jumped ahead just to finish out the plot and leave no loose ends. It was nice to read about another time period other than Tutor England.

Twenty One - The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster

Milo, a young boy, receives a tollbooth as a present one afternoon. Being intrigued by the tollbooth, Milo picks the town of Dictionopolis as his destination. Along his travels in this new "land" he meets Tock, the watchdog. Together they travel to find the princesses Rhyme & Reason and return them to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. Random House (1961). 256 pages. ISBN 0394815009.
First children's book I've read in a long time. Thanks to Patrick for the recommendation! Full of puns and humor this book will allow you to see familiar concepts differently.

Twenty - The Taste of Sweet - Julie Chen

Joanne Chen took some columns that she wrote and combined them into an engaging book. I enjoyed that she was hands on and participated in some of the research studies and activities that she referenced. Joanne explains how everyone is a different level of taster and the taste map of the tongue. One chapter discusses how the concept of a refined palate was born. Genetic enhancement of flavors - specifically strawberries - is referenced. Another chapter focused on the perception that sweets are bad for you and make you fat. One final section explained the history of artificial sweetener.

Chen, Julie. The Taste of Sweet. Three Rivers Press (2009). 272 pages. ISBN 0307351912.
I found this book on the giveaway shelf at work and was immediately intrigued. Diabetes runs in my family and therefore I'm always watching the amount of sugar I'm eating. I learned a lot about sugar and its many forms. I also found a new genre of books - food literature - to explore and dive into. Two books that were referenced in this book which I'm looking forward to reading are True History of Chocolate and Mindless Eating.

Nineteen - The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

This book follows the lives of Henry, who has the ability to travel through time, & Claire. When Henry becomes stressed he time travels and arrives at his destination naked. Claire meets Henry for the first time when she is a young girl playing in the meadow. A few years later they meet in Chicago and start to date. Eventually, they marry and have a little girl who can also time travel.

Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler's Wife. Mariner Books (2004). 560 pages. ISBN 015602943X.
I read this book because it was recommended to me (thanks Elizabeth!). It was an interesting story, but at times the plot was hard to follow since each chapter jumped forward or backward in time. The ending was not a surprise, but a tad bit more graphic than I expected. I am excited to see how the book translates to the screen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Last ten books

...will be reviewed and posted shortly. I can't believe I'm 10 books in the hole. I'm also trying to hit 30 books before next Monday. Possibly going to make it - considering I'm on book 29 right now.

Stay tuned....