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11/22/63 by Stephen King

8 Jul

 

 

 

 

I was truly surprised by King’s new novel. And I didn’t have high hopes for it.

After finishing (and greatly disliking) Under the Dome, I debated whether I was done with King. After reading the disappointing Mile 81, I was sure I was done with King. But decided to give him one more change.

Boy am I ever glad I did!

Jake Epping, an English teacher from 2011, is given the chance to go back in time. His friend Al Templeton has a supply closet in his diner that also happens to be a rabbit hole to September of 1958. Al is dying and leaves Jake with an important task: go back in time and stop the assassination of JFK.

This is easy feat. Because the past is obdurate; it moves against Jake and doesn’t want to be changed. But there are also other distractions.

One is: Did Oswald do the deed alone? Jake must determine this before he acts. The second? A woman named Sadie who Jake falls in love with. Will he risk everything, even the love of his past life, to save another?

At 850 pages, my meagre summary of the plot doesn’t come close to covering everything that happens in 11/22/63. But that’s okay. No plot summary would come close because there is so much life in this novel. The parts where Jake is living through the fifties and sixties really come to life in King’s writing and the stories contained within are ones that are at once timeless and essential.

It’s a novel that you want to live in. Rarely have I been so affected by a novel. It really wasn’t about the assassination, but about the characters and that is where King really shines. He made an 850 page novel seem like it was 300 pages; that is how good the writing is.

There are no supernatural elements to the novel, but that isn’t a downside. King has tried something different by writing what could be loosely described as historical romantic fiction. The good thing is that he succeeds on every level.

I loved this book so much that I didn’t want it to end. When I did finish it, I was left breathless, teary eyed and wanting more. That is the mark of a great book and this is Stephen King’s best work to date, hands down.

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Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

8 Jul

 

I have just recently finished reading this book for a second time and enjoyed it even more than the first read through. And the book only came out on August 23rd. I got my copy as a birthday present for myself (what with my birthday being on the 22nd of August, after all). So why have I read a book twice in less than six months?

The book is just THAT good, THAT amazing, THAT thrilling. I have always loved Vincent’s work (her Shifter series rocks and her Soul Screamers series is top notch) but she’s gone above and beyond with Blood Bound. In fact, she’s come up with a storyline so incredible that it could almost redefine paranormal romance.

Liv Warren is a Tracker. And not an ordinary Tracker, she tracks by blood. She is one of the Skilled, one of those with an ability that makes her more than human. Set in a time not unlike our own, this world comes with a whole new set of rules.

Bound to four friends when she was a young girl, Liv is surprised by a visit from her childhood friend Anne. Her husband Shen has been killed and Anne wants Liv to track the killer…and then kill him. Though Liv wants to refuse, the oath they swore as children was Bound by blood. Liv has no choice but to obey.

Anne brings along another Tracker, Cam Caballero. Compelled to work with him against her will, Liv all too well remembers the touch of Cam’s lips against hers, the touch of his hands along her body and the heart she broke six years ago. She left Cam to protect him. But who will protect her heart?

The two must work together to find Shen’s killer. But they are working against the clock and there are those out there that are working against them.

There are more than just other Trackers to worry about, however. There are Travellers, Binders, Jammers, and those that know the truth. It is a world where nothing is safe, where blood is sacred and the game is on a whole other kind of playing field.

In a world with crime syndicates, oaths and blood, is anyone truly safe?

Rachel Vincent has REALLY outdone herself with Blood Bound. Nothing is what you think it is and no one’s secrets are safe. The book is so awesome, I may have to read it again before Shadow Bound comes out next year.

If you want a thrill ride that will suck you in from page one and not let you go till the very last page, this is the book you want to read.

The Mark by Jason Pinter

22 Sep

The Mark

 

 

Things are not looking up for Henry Parker

His relationship with his girlfriend is suffering and his new job writing for the New York Gazette is not the thrilling dream he thought it would be.

But his luck looks as it’s going to change.

Jack O’Donnell, the New York Gazette’s star reporter, gives Henry Parker a chance. He needs a bit of help with a story he’s working on. Nothing too strenuous or exciting but he would get credit for the work.

For Henry, the chance to work with his idol is worth anything. But for Henry, it could cost him his life.

Jack is writing a story on the criminals of New York. Henry is given the task of interviewing ex con Luis Guzman. But when he shows up at the apartment, things go incredibly, horribly wrong.

When someone dies, Henry is fingered as the killer. Having no choice but to go on the run for his life, Henry gets help from the beautiful NYU coed Amanda. Together they must find out how Henry became wanted by the NYPD, the FBI and the mob.

Or die trying.

If you think this is your average run of the mill, cookie cutter thriller, think again. The Mark is an incredible book that pulls you in from page one and doesn’t let go. Pinter’s first novel did two things: it reinvented the thriller genre and gave voice to one of the most intelligent protagonists of our time.

What I loved about The Mark was that everything about it was unexpected. Unlike most thrillers, Pinter gives you the time to become emotionally involved with Henry and his troubles before pulling the rug out from under you.

He allows you into Henry’s life, into his mind and then turns the tables and changes all the rules.

Not only has Pinter given us a well great mystery, he’s also given us a well written thriller with a great plot and believable fleshed out characters. He also doesn’t give you a lot of time to breathe.

It’s also a wonderful study of what happens to someone in danger and what they are willing to do. It’s a look at what one man is pushed to do in order to find the answers and a thrilling portrayal of a shadier side of life that most of us will never see.

From page one you’re pulled along into one of the most emotionally charged suspense thrillers that I’ve read in years. Those that have overlooked the suspense genre in the past few years would be wise to pick up The Mark and enjoy it’s brilliance. I loved every twist and turn The Mark is amazing make your heart race suspense.  

Henry Parker is here to stay and I for one couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait for the next thrill ride.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

28 Jul

physick

 

Connie Goodwin has just achieved her life’s dream: candidacy for the PHD program at Harvard. She must provide her mentor with a PHD dissertation topic shortly. He encourages her to look for a new, unheard of primary research source. But there are other things on her mind.

Her New Age mother, Grace, has asked her to clean out her Grandmother’s house. Not having anything to do aside from research, Connie agrees, despite a wish to do the exact opposite. While cleaning the house, she finds a key tucked inside of an old bible.

Inside the empty shaft of the key is a slip of paper. On the paper is a name: Deliverance Dane. As she digs into the story of Deliverance Dane, Connie realizes that Deliverance was a Witch, accused during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

But what she doesn’t know is that she is connected to Deliverance in an incredible way. And, though Connie doesn’t believe in Witchcraft, what does she do when she is given proof that Witchcraft actually exists?

As she delves further into the mystery surrounding Deliverance Day, she realizes that she is connected to her, and the Salem Witch Trials, in a way that she could not imagine.

This is by far one of my favourite books of 2009 and I can’t wait to read the authors next book. She deftly weaves history, romance, suspense, intrigue and magic into one of the most amazing novels ever written.

Normally, books set in modern day that have a historical background read like text books. The author tries to incorporate the history we need to know and ends up dragging down the storyline, making it lag. Not so in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Though we do come away with a thorough history of The Salem Witch Trials, and its causes, the book is written in a breezy, easy to read manner.

Connie is an incredibly likeable character who, though bookish, is a strong woman, a refreshing change from a lot of fiction out there today. I also love the fact that the author introduced the love interest, Sam, so well; their meeting and the build up of their relationship was incredibly natural and very sweet.

If you’re looking for the special book this summer, look no further than The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. With enough history, romance, magic and surprise twists, it’s writing at its best and is pure magic.

Who Gets The Apartment by Steven Rigolosi

25 May

 

who gets

 

FOR RENT
Central Park West & 72nd Street. Luxurious 3,000 sq ft. duplex penthouse: 2 bedrooms, fireplaces in LR & master BR, 3 baths, cathedral ceilings, all modern kitchen with DW & all new appliances, dining room, balcony overlooking the park, doorman bldg. with full security features, basement parking included. $600/month. Two-year lease. Available first of the month. Call 212-555-2997.

It all started with a newspaper ad.

Corrine Jensen’s life it about to change. And not for the better.  Facing eviction from her current home because she can’t afford the condo fees, she wonders if she will end up homeless and on the streets.

Untill she reads a classified ad on the “Bulletin Board” of the Clarion, a community newspaper published on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. At first Corrine can’t believe her eyes; a luxury apartment for $600 a month? There had to be some sort of mistake. Corrine contacts the rental agent, Andrew Weisch, who assures her that there is no mistake. The apartment can be hers for first and last month’s rent.

Corrine can’t believe her luck. She pays Weisch first and last and he hands her the keys to apartment 18D. He tells her she can move in on the first and Corrine is overjoyed and believes that her luck may finally be changing.

Until she goes to move in.

When she arrives at apartment 18 D, she finds that the apartment has also been promised to three other people: Ollie, and up and coming artist, Venice, an assistant district attorney and Ian, a computer expert. They’ve all been promised the apartment and each has paid first and last months rent. They’ve all been duped.

They examine their leases and find that each one of them is a legally binding document. But now the question remains: Who gets the apartment? Each of the four has no place to go, they’re all essentially homeless; and each of them wants the apartment very, very badly. So who gets the apartment? But more importantly…

….what is each of them willing to do to get it?

Be warned before you start reading: this is not your average run of the mill mystery. Who Gets The Apartment? Is a serious mind trip that just gets better with each page. A quick prologue gives you the impression that you are in for a wild ride but you have no idea what’s coming.

What sets this novel apart from other mysteries is that you are given four possible scenarios, each more puzzling than the last, and you have no idea which one is the real outcome of the situation until the very end. It’s almost like a choose your own adventure except you’re shown each outcome and the story won’t let you go.

I absolutely loved this book. It gives the mystery genre something to be immensely proud of. Rigolosi has crafted four very different scenarios of guile, suspense and pitch perfect humour that the novel moves forward at break neck speed.

The characters are unique and far from the usual cookie cutter talking heads that populate normal mysteries and you would swear you know someone exactly like them. Rigolosi is really an expert in studying the human mind and uses this to great flair within the pages of Who Gets the Apartment?

I haven’t had so much fun reading a mystery in eons. Who Gets the Apartment? is perfect for a day at the beach, a ride on the bus. It’s good for anywhere you want to be entertained because one thing is for sure: Once you start Who Gets the Apartment? you won’t want to put it down until the very last page.

Circle of Assassins by Steven Rigolosi

25 May

Circle

 

Revenge is Sweet

Every day we are brutalized by those who hurt us, take advantage of us, steal what is ours, mistreat our loved ones, destroy our property, terrorize us psychologically, criticize and condemn us, or trample our self respect. Enough is enough! It’s time to turn the tables. Write to A care of Box 270. (For entertainment purposes only) 

 

When five people answer the above ad, they have no idea that they have started a chain reaction that will result in the ultimate revenge: death. Each answers the ad in hopes to rid their life of an unwanted person. Someone known only as “A” offers to help them, if they kill someone else.

The deal is simple: Five strangers each assigned a letter and a colour. Each will receive details in the mail about the person they are to kill. Each of them must be careful to leave no paper trail and to destroy any and all communication.

Coordinated by “A”, they are each sent letters, pictures and address information in order to more effectively murder the person their contact has chosen. But why must these people die? There are all sorts of different reasons for someone to die; maybe this person is a drug dealer. Maybe he is a pedophile. Maybe he is not who he seems on the surface.

They become a circle of killers, a circle of assassins. Their identities are hidden, even to themselves. But, as with most secrets, something goes horribly wrong.

Each of them must reach deep down into their hearts, and their souls, in order to survive…

To tell you any more of the plot would be to ruin what is without a doubt the most engaging and ingenious mystery novel I have read in years. Make no mistake; this is not your ordinary mystery novel. Told in a series of letters, emails, book proposals, prose, newspaper articles and anything in between, this novel really makes you consider the question “What if?”

What Rigolosi has done is turn a mystery novel inside out. Through the correspondence, we get inside the characters’ heads. We know WHY they have chosen their particular person, what has driven them to such extremes. Normally, you don’t feel sympathy for a killer in a mystery novel. Circles of Assassins is the opposite of this; I felt nothing but sympathy for each of the characters driven to commit murder.

Because it’s told from each character’s point of view, you get to see them, really know them, and this makes Circle of Assassins different from anything you have read before. I found myself rooting for the murderers, hoping that their killings would go off without a hitch. Because you know the killers, you’re involved with them. It’s an emotional, page turning adventure that will leave you breathless.

Rigolosi has given us a case study of five people who are willing and able to commit murder. No other book I’ve read before has been able to see into the heart of a killer so effectively. He also shows us that even regular people, not just psychopaths, can be driven to kill.

What really threw me were the multitude of twists thrown into the novel. Nothing happened the way I expected it to, nothing went according to where I thought it should. And the twists are HUGE. I can’t tell you what any of them are but, suffice it to say, they will have you looking at the book in a new, frightening light.

This book is so good that I’m reading it for a second time, just to pick up everything I missed the first time. Circle of Assassins is an incredible read that sucks you in from the first page and then doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the last. If you haven’t read it yet, pick it up. It’s liable to be the best mystery you’ll read in years.

The Deadline Murders by Ron Morgans

18 May

The_Deadline_Murders

 

I am not really a big fan of mystery novels.

I find that a lot of mystery authors kind of move their characters around, try to surprise us with red herrings or twists in the plot that aren’t really twists as we can see right through them. The other problem mystery novels have is that they’re boring. I just flat out can’t read most of them.

There are a few mystery authors that I do like however: Agatha Christie, Minette Walters, Mo Hayder. I know that when I see their name on the cover of a book I can (usually) expect a great read from them.

However: Ron Morgans blows them all out of the water. Really, he does.

The Deadline Murders is the freshest and most fun mystery I have read in years. It’s heroine, Henrietta Fox, is a paparazzo, a celebrity photographer. She’s tall, lean and has flaming red hair to match her Irish temper. At the beginning of The Deadline Murders, she’s pissed that she’s at the Farnborough Air Show instead of photographing some sort of celebrity mess up.

That all changes when a plane, a prototype Sumxu military transport plane from China nosedives and crashes, bursting into flames. Henrietta captures this all on film, not realizing that she has just started events in motion that could mean her death.

She teams up with newspaper reporter Cass Farraday and, as the two begin to dig further into events, they realize that five reporters have each been murdered and Henrietta might just be the next in line…

This is an absolutely wonderful mystery. If you read one good book this summer, make sure it’s this one. The Deadline Murders is fresh, funny, fast and furious. It hooks you from page one and doesn’t let go.

I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.