Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book: The Bourne Deception

Highly recommend this Bourne sequel. If you read previous Bourne books, you will love this suspenseful thriller. Main characters: Jason Bourne, Moira Trevor, and Soraya Moore, director at Central Intelligence. This book is packed with action and it is definitely a reward winning read for lovers of thrillers with twists and turns. The book begins with a pact to kill Jason Bourne which nearly succeeds, and Moira and Jason make sure that he is dead to his enemies. Also,in the beginning of the plot, a jet is shot down over Egypt. Is it the work of the Iranians or is there another reason for why the jet was shot down and by whom.?
Strongly recommend that you read this book if you like suspenseful thrillers and Jason Bourne who has more than nine lives!

Grade: A

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book: The Christmas Pearl

Another excellent story. Definitely recommended.

Grade: A

Book: Land of the Mango Sunsets

Starting to really like Dorothea Benton Frank and her stories involving Sullivans Island. Excellent story. Definitely recommended.

Grade: A

Book: Summer by the Sea

I absolutely love Susan Wiggs, have since the 1st book I read by her. Definitely recommended.

Grade: A

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book: Middlemarch by George Eliot

I give this book an A- because I was so amazed at how all-encompassing it was. I had previously only read Silas Marner - taught it, actually, to many 10th grade English classes.
Middlemarch deals with the lives and loves of a typical English shire of her time. Dorothea has an idealistic attitude towards marriage - which she is disabused of by her hapless and too old husband. The banker is seen to have stolen money from his first wife and cheated her from a reunion with her lost daughter. Class differences are clearly delineated including the effects of the 'entail' system.

Grade: A-

Book: The Red Wheel (vol 1) by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I give this book an A- because it is only a part of his major war cycle, The Red Wheel. And not one of the works for which he earned the Nobel Prize.
Solzhenitsyn used real German and Russian generals, dukes, czars, etc., but make up a colonel to tie various people and actions together.
The Russian army was so dysfunctional that it could not possibly have defeated the organized Germans. They telegraphed their plans without encrypting the messages, being
sure the Germans would never stay up at night to interpret them: they were wrong.
They planned to strike to the north then the west, etc. and sent their troops marching back and forth to no avail. They claimed victory when they had only retreated to a previously held town. They lied incessantly and tried to appear heroic in cowardly retreat. It is no wonder the author was up a big creek without a paddle. I heartily recommend.

Grade: A-

Book: A Rogue of My Own by Johanna Lindsey

This romance novel "A Rogue of My Own was disappointing. I expected more romance and intrigue with this period. Characters: Lady Rebecca Marshal who goes off to court as a maid of honor and the charming marquis, Rupert St. John. Lord Rupert is supposed to be involved in spy mastering and intrigue but the book really doesn't offer much of this intrigue to interest me. However, he does seduced Rebecca who is forced to marry him . However, they are at odds with each other and sparks do fly. Only lovers of romantic novels will probably read the book. I have read several of Johanna Lindsey's books and found this one to lack substance.

Grade: C

Book: The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver

Highly recommend this mystery by Jeffery Deaver. Familiar characters include: Lincoln Rhyme and his protege, Amelia Sachs. Setting: New York City. Lincoln needs all his skills as a criminologist to solve this crime. The murderer has a distinct tattoo of the Grim Reaper waltzing with a woman and his an expert at deception. This book is extremely suspenseful and is full of twists and turns. Lincoln also has an added interest in this criminal since he killed two of Lincoln's subordinates during a previous search. Do not underestimate this master of deception, and hopefully you can solve this crime.

Grade: A

Book: Fatal Secrets by Allison Brennan

Highly recommend this mystery by Allison Brennan. The setting is Sacramento, California. The main characters: Sonia Knight, an Immigration Senior Agent and Dean Hooper, an FBI agent. Both agencies are involved with bringing down the illegal operations of Xavier Jones. So Sonia and Dean are very much annoyed with this operation, and are forced to collaborate. Sparks fly and they become romantically involved with a dangerous mission going down. Not only is laundering involved with the criminal element, there is evidence of human trafficking of minors. This human traffickers hit home to Sonia who was rescued many years ago when she was very young but the images will always remain with her of what she experienced during the weeks of being held captive. This mystery is suspenseful and has a lot to offer to mystery lovers.

Grade: A

Book: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

As with most series, the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series is starting to run down. The tenth (and latest) is TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT by Alexander McCall Smith and shows signs of being produced more because it is expected than out of the inspiration of a story. There are more--and more flagrant--red herrings than in the earlier books, as if it needed padding out. And the editing has gotten sloppy (assuming it has not been dropped altogether). For example, on page 20, Mma Ramotswe's appointment with Mr. Molofololo is at eleven o'clock; on page 29 it is at ten o'clock. (And why are some men "Mr." and some men "Ra"?) And who is writing the blurbs? "Irrepressible" is not an adjective I would apply to Mma Ramotswe--it is far too frivolous for her. On the plus side, McCall Smith does finally give the younger apprentice a name. But the thinness of the plot makes me think it may be time for McCall Smith to put this series on hiatus, at least until he has a stronger basis for a book.

(By the way, on page 48 it is "Mafeking" and on page 52 it is "Mafikeng", but this is *not* a typo--the first (on a tea tin) was the old British spelling, the second is the current South African spelling.)

Grade: C

Book: Merton of the Movies

MERTON OF THE MOVIES by Harry Leon Wilson is a satire of Hollywood in the 1920s, with our hero a gullible small-town boy who thinks that everything he sees on the screen is done with no doubles or tricks, that everything he reads in the fan magazines is true, and that everyone feels the corny emotions that so many of the films portrayed. Much of what is in the book is based on real people and events, and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Grade: A-

Book: Return to Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Excellent story, again, about family, love and forgiveness. Definitely recommend.

Grade: A

Book: Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Excellent story about family, love and forgiveness. Definitely recommend.

Grade: A

Book: Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C.J. Box

Very good--quite a few surprises. Would recommend.

Grade: A

Book: A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

This was a comedy with many underlying social criticisms. The fickle relationships, although a result of magic, symbolize the ephemeral courtings of then (and now). Nick Bottom's transformation represented how lowly the working class was viewed. All seriousness aside, the play was fun to read with witty lines and constant change.

Grade: A

Book: King Lear by William Shakespeare

Written in Shakespeare's poignant prose, King Lear was a touching tale of family. The theme of overlooking those who care the most is not unheard nor is it uncommon. However, Lear's demise is especially moving because of the way his words evoke emotion. Cordelia's love for her father emanates from the pages while her sisters make you loathe humanity and its selfishness. No other Shakespeare has moved me as this one did.

Grade: A

Movie: Bandslam

Not only was this movie uneventful, it wasn't even inspiring. Everyone who begins a high school misfit ends up popular and achieving their dreams. If this transformation had been gradual or even done realistically, the movie may have been interesting. The one good thing about the movie was the music.

Grade: D

Movie: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

This movie was a disappointment because nothing really happens. The focus is on relationships and there is no fight scene. The main character, played by Radcliffe, is devoid of emotion. His expression remains the same whether he is angry, sad, or in love. Maybe I'm judging too harshly because I liked the book, but I just wasn't satisified with the movie.

Grade: C

Movie: Up

It was a Disney movie for all ages. I know quite a few people, young and old, who cried. It was sentimental but kept you laughing the whole time. I loved their transition from children to adults to old people. It was done smoothly in one song. Although a balloon house seemed ridiculous at first, by the end of the movie you were believing it. This was a great movie that I would want everyone to see.

Grade: A

Book: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

I had high expectations for Hamlet after hearing its famous quotation over and over again. Although it was a good read, I was not enthralled by the story. Even the "To be or not to be" soliloquy was not as exciting as I thought it would be. Hamlet's lack of action or passion dampered the action that could have been. He spent more time talking than taking action. Also, the climax happens too quickly to make an impact.

Grade: B

Movie: The Day After Tomorrow

I recently saw this movie on TV and I was disappointed. From the reviews, I expected a much more fast-paced thriller. The phenomenon was incredibly done with special effects, but it was the acting that was a bit boring. I didn't connect with the characters and that is usually what makes disaster movies hit me.

Grade: B