25 January 2010

Review: Out of the Shadows by Kay Hooper

Out of the Shadows by Kay Hooper book coverHaving read the first two in the Shadows series by Kay Hooper, Stealing Shadows and Hiding in the Shadows, I was really disappointed when I'd finished reading Out of the Shadows. This novel was nowhere near the same standard of writing as the first or second. Sheriff Miranda Knight is psychic and has escaped to a small town in America, where she has changed her name to escape her past.

Miranda's past is referred to throughout the book, however the complete story came far too late and after waiting so long to find out, it was almost an anti-climax.

The tension/romance between FBI Agent Bishop and Sheriff Miranda Knight annoyingly detracted from the plot in which young people were being murdered in the town. The snow storm was a cliche and I found myself rolling my eyes at the predictability of certain points.

I read about the hunt for the murderer with interest and the ending was satisfying, however in general this was an average read. I would enjoy reading about further cases featuring this team of FBI Agents made up of psychics and those with special abilities, so I'll leave myself open to reading further books by Kay Hooper in the future.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!

Review: The Magician's Death by Paul Doherty

The Magician's Death by Paul Doherty book coverThis is the fourteenth book in the medieval mystery series featuring Sir Hugh Corbett. As in every book in the series, Doherty weaves fact into his story, making it a convincing historical fiction.

This time Corbett and his retinue are called to Corfe Castle in England to discuss Roger Bacon's Book of Secrets. I enjoyed the premise of this story immensely, and found reference to the works of the controversial scholar quite intriguing. Roger Bacon imagined inventions such as the aeroplane and submarine and this book by Doherty has inspired me to investigate this further at some point in the future.

However, it's not long before murder reaches Corfe Castle and Corbett is almost assassinated by the killer. His investigative skills are put to the test again as young women from the Castle are found slain and two French scholars who are also gathered in an attempt to decipher the code in The Book of Secrets, seem to have had suffered fatal accidents.

I'm still enjoying these historical fiction mysteries set in 1300s England however this has been the longest series I've ever read from start to finish. I'll enjoy 'catching up' to the most current one so to speak and really enjoyed this one.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!
21 January 2010

Review: The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book coverI don't know why, but up until now, I've never read any of the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the celebrated character Sherlock Holmes. When considering my reading goals for 2010, Sherlock Holmes didn't rate a mention and I guess it was only that someone else brought one into the house that I became interested at all (thanks Brett).

And so it was that I came to read The Sign of Four. I warmed to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson much quicker than I ever thought possible. This is probably a result of my ignorance and assumptions I'd made over the years as to the dynamic between them and just what type of character Holmes was. I didn't find Dr Watson to be dumb or dopey in any way, although he is readily portrayed as such in many circles. I didn't realise that Holmes was such a genius when it came to observing the detail in a fashion that even Simon Baker's character from The Mentalist tv show would be proud. Holmes was in no way stuffy or old-fashioned, and I was shocked to learn of this character's involvement with drugs that are now illegal.

I did find the romance between Dr Watson and the leading female character to be totally unrealistic for the modern reader, but who knows, perhaps it was completely believable at the time of publication.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the explanations of logic Holmes provides Watson and the setting in London in the 1880s is immediately appealing. In fact, it's hard to believe the author was writing these mystery novels more than 130 years ago, and I can now understand how the Sherlock Holmes series of books can endure all this time, and why they're a treasured classic!

If you haven't read any Sherlock Holmes, I encourage you to get onboard, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
16 January 2010

Review: Relentless by Dean Koontz

Relentless by Dean Koontz book coverI love when authors write about 'writers' in their novels and that's exactly what we find in Relentless.

The main character in this book is 'Cubby' who happens to be a writer, his wife is a children's book author and their six year old son is a prodigy. When Cubby (I found this nickname somewhat annoying throughout the book for what it's worth) receives a poor review of his latest work by Shearman Waxx, well known book critic, Cubby can't 'let it go'. He pursues Waxx to find out more about the reclusive critic, however soon wishes he had followed everybody's advice to 'let it go'.

Shearman Waxx turns out to be psychotic and begins hunting Cubby and his family and trying to kill them. Cubby does some investigative work while on the run, and learns that other authors who received poor reviews from Waxx have been killed or are in hiding.

The book moves along at a great pace, and for once the main character seems to think ahead and make all the right moves. It's frustrating in books when the characters make stupid decisions and you know it's going to result in their death and you feel like yelling out at them.

Cubby's son Milo is extraordinarily gifted and is working on a device that he cannot explain to his parents but which the reader knows will save them in the end. This is a little predictable and unbelievable at times but if you can 'go along with it' then it doesn't interfere with the pace of the book.

Koontz loves to write about dogs with special powers and children who are intelligent and mature beyond their years and Relentless is no exception. Familiar themes, a terrifying nemesis and much murder and mayhem means that I really enjoyed this book.

Recommended for any Dean Koontz fans or those who enjoy a thriller but who are willing to submit a little to some of the sub plots.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!

New Year, New Decade

It's a new year and a new decade, and who knows what the future holds for any of us. One thing that will remain stable and that is my love for books and reading, and I'll continue to share my thoughts with you here.

Having said that, I have 3 book reviews to catch up on (whoops), so I'd better get typing.

That's my four bucks!