Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Secret Service - Book Review

In Secret Service
By Mitch Silver
Pocket star Books 2007
Author's website

In 1964, James Bond’s creator sealed a package containing an explosive manuscript he thought no one would read until fifty years after his death.

Ian Fleming was an officer in Britain’s Naval Intelligence during World War II, and he had his own adventures to recount. His family ties and his career had taken him to the upper echelons of British and American society and espionage, a world where passionate affairs, exotic locations, and polite cocktail chatter were interlaced with danger, betrayal, and deceit. He’d replicated that world in his famous novels, but this manuscript contained a real spy story that would explode history when its secrets were revealed. He’d chosen the reader, and he’d have to trust she would serve the truth.

In 2005, Amy Greenberg — a young American academic with a glittering future — is summoned to Ireland to claim the contents of her grandfather’s safe deposit box, in which she finds only one thing: a manuscript by Ian Fleming. The pages detail Fleming’s involvement in Allied spycraft and contain information so confidential, so potentially explosive, that Amy soon discovers that people on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to kill to maintain its secrecy. As she journeys back home with her precious cargo, Amy finds herself in a race against time—she must unlock the manuscript’s shocking and fascinating secrets and outwit the unknown assailants who would do anything to bury the truth and protect a traitor’s name.

Peopled with real characters including Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Edward Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson, Anthony Blunt, Rudolf Hess and FDR and illustrated with authentic looking documents, In Secret Service is an explosive historical mystery inside a contemporary thriller.

This is Mitch Silver's first novel. He combines impeccable research with thrilling action, in a brand-new take on espionage suspense.

I really enjoyed this novel. Read it in 2 days and could not put it down.

Monday, June 29, 2009



A literary friendly blogger sent this to me so I shall answer as best I can.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Equal numbers of books by James Rollins, Steve Berry & Clive Cussler

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I don't own multiple copies of any book.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
HUH? No.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Dirk Pitt - described as over 6 feet with ebony hair and aqualine eyes.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)? 84 Charing Cross Road and 100 Million Francs (see below)

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna.
Berna's most famous book Le Chevel sans tĂȘte, (The Horse without a Head) usually known in English as A Hundred Million Francs, was published in 1958. It concerns the adventures of a gang of street urchins from the slums of Paris whose plaything, a headless horse on wheels, is used as a hiding-place by train robbers. It has been translated into several languages, enjoying great success in Britain and the United States. In 1963, the Disney Studios in Britain filmed the book as The Horse Without a Head: The 100,000,000 Franc Train Robbery, scripted by T. E. B. Clarke and starring Jean-Pierre Aumont and Herbert Lom.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Zero Tollerance - by Toller Cranston - the Canadian skater.
It was so impersonal I could not get past the 3rd chapter.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Hang on - have to look through my blog to answer that.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
None really. I dont like forcing myself or my favourite book onto anyone

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I'm gonna say the guy who wrote The Kite Runner - if he hasn't already won it.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Any of James Rollins or Steve Berry's adventure novels.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
When I am sleeping, I don't dream - at all.
My fantasy dream involving books is to write the ultimate historical novel a la James Michener.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
None that I can think of.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Any shakespeare play - especially HAMLET

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
none obscure - have seen all the well known ones - as films or on TV

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

18) Roth or Updike?

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Chaucer - at least he wrote decent stuff that tells us about history.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen - if I absolutely had to choose.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I seldom read the classics. I dont read them for fun.
I am not fond of the old fashioned language. Jane Austen, Shakespeare etc

23) What is your favourite novel?
You mean NOW? None specifically.

25) Poem?
I HATE poetry unless it rhymes. Silly I know, but if it does not have rhythm or rhyme, I cant read it. The only poems I like reading are those of Australian poet, Banjo Patterson. He wrote classics like The Man from Snowy River. This poem was made into a movie in 1982 - The Man from Snowy River

26) Essay?
The only essays I have read in the last 12 months, were those on the Art of Writing, by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch. And that was only because Helene Hanff loved them so much. I had to read them online.

27) Short story?
I don't read short stories.

28) Work of nonfiction?
Anything mentioned in this blog. I LOVE reading NON-Fiction.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Just one? Impossible.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Don't know. I probably wouldnt read them anyway

31) What is your desert island book?
If I am stuck on a desert island I will be wroting down those stories I can rememebr so I can keep my mind busy. I hope I have pen and paper.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
The Bookseller's Apprentice - this one if I haven't already read it.
The Summer Book (cookbook) - this would be second
How to Identify Prints - NO
The Encyclopedia of Ephemera - NO
The Making of a Marchioness - NO
The Children who Lived in a Barn - NO

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping Faith - Book Review

Keeping Faith
by Jodi Picoult
Harper Collins 1999
Author's website

As I have mentioned through this blog, I am not a fan of Chick-Lit. So I have never read any of Jodi Picoult's books.

Until this week after I saw the trailer of the new movie My Sisters Keeper - which opened at the theatres this week. The trailer looks good. My logic says, if the trailer looks good then the movie must be good. If the movie is good, then the book must be good. So I decided that I maybe better read a Jodi Picoult book or two. So I did.

Keeping Faith is about atheism and religion. One of my favourite subjects.

Seven year old Faith talks to her imaginary "Guard" constantly and begins to recite passages from the Bible. Being Jewish, Faith has never read the bible. Fearful for her daughter's sanity, Mariah sends her to several psychiatrists.

Yet when Faith develops stigmata and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter, a girl with no religious background, might indeed be seeing God. Word leaks to the press and a media storm ensues.

Mariah's ex-husband suddenly instigates a lawsuit for custody of Faith, claiming that Mariah is a danger to his daughter. And his lawyer gets a court order stating that Mariah must be kept away from her daughter for Faith's protection and safety. Faith is put under the care of a court appointed guardian. The court case is riveting.

I really enjoyed this book. A lot more than I thought I would.

Jodi Picoult has written more than 15 books. I know a lot of my readers will have read them, but I am just discovering them now. I plan on reading more - starting with My Sisters Keeper which has been reserved at my local library.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Doomsday Key - Book Review

The Doomsday Key
By James Rollins
Harper Collins June 2009
James Rollins website

The Doomsday Key is a special fungi that protects humans from the genetically modified crops currently being grown and sold through out the world. The trouble is that genetically modified organisms (GMO) are NOT confined to one place, they are blown by the wind to many other places and interfere with other foods.

In this novel people are dying after eating GMO crops. Their bellies are full but they still starve to death. Grayson Pierce, his Sigma Team, two women from Gray's past, and even the Sigma Agency boss Painter Crowe, are all drawn into the mad rush to find the cure for the GMOs.

This cure was mentioned just ONCE. In one book written at one time. The Domesday Book of England. You haven't heard of this book? Well maybe because it's better known as the Doomsday Book.

The Sigma team travel to Italy, France, England, Norway and to the Svarlbad Islands in the Arctic Ocean, in a bid to find the cure and destroy the GMO's before they kill the people of the Earth.

This book is due to be released to the public on Tuesday 23rd, June, just 3 days from now. I received my reviewers copy last week, and read it straight through.

Once again, this book was fast moving, with plenty of action, lots of history and even some science and archaeology as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

National Archives - Domesday Book

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free Rider - Book Review

Free Rider
by John Lawrence Reynolds.
Mcarthur & Co 2001

This is the story of the Bay Street Embezzler, Michael Holoday. For most of the 1990s, Michael was an investor and trader on Bay Street in Toronto. And for most of that same time, he stole the money he was given by his clients.

When it all started falling down around his head, he kept on asking for loans from his clients until eventually the Stock Exchange and the Police stepped in. Michael's trial was held during 2000.

I arrived in Canada in November 2000, so I missed all of this. Michael was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Twice during that 8 years, he was given day parole. Twice the parole had to be revoked, because he continued to borrow money, contuinued to make trades, and continued to live beyond his means. His sentence ends in December 2009.

Michael Holoday still beleives he was right and that he is entitled to live a good life with other people's money. Michael frequently made up false statemetns for his clients telling them that they had made a lot of money, when in reality most of his clients had lost money. As soon as they paid him money to deposit into their account, Michael would spend it. He never did the trades. He spent the money on his wife and his wife's family in a very loud and overly lavish manner.

Those who read this book will be checking their statements more carefully and questioning account discrepancies, I guarantee it. The Toronto Star.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Betrayal - Book Review

The Betrayal - The Lost Life of Jesus
by Kathleen O'Neal and W. Michel Gear
Tor Books 2008
Author website

You might recognize the writers names as the authors of the "People of..." series of Novels. This book is also a novel.
The Year is 325 AD - a most critical year in the life of the Catholic church. The Council of Nicea, headed by Emperor Constantine, trying to decide which writings will be used in the church and which will not.

In the writings of Mary Magdalene, Philip, and James are clues to the real truth about Christ. But the church rejects these writings as they dont want a rebel for a god, they want a teacher and a leader, one who will come again and save his people.

Emperor Constantine declares these scrolls, and others like them, to be a "hotbed of manifold perversity". Constantine also decrees that anyone found reading or copying these texts will be executed as a Christian heretic.

There is an alternate story of the life of Jesus. It is a very HUMAN story, one that has been SUPPRESSED for 1900 centuries. The story in this novel is based on ACTUAL documents recovered from archaeological sites in the Middle East or respected repositories of ancient literature, such as the Vatican Library.

Nearly all the ancient texts verify that Jesus was crucified as the "King of the Jews". He was not, as many books and movies would have us believe, a meek and mild man who spent his time spinning tales (parables) and healing the sick. Such a Jesus would have been a threat to NOONE.

The historical Jesus DID theaten and enrage people, from the priestly aristocracy in Jerusalem Temple, to the Roman Prefect who finally condemned him to be crucified.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh Dear - I spoke too soon

Now I have got the flu. I guess it was inevitable when you live in a small apartment with 2 other people who both have the flu. I started coughing at 8pm last night while I was reading a bedtime story to my son. Fortunately it is the weekend. I HOPE to get some time to rest and relax.

I start a new class next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wake - Book Review

By Robert J Sawyer
Published by Penguin April 2009
Robert's Website
Trilogy website

I have mentioned Canada's home grown sci-fi author a few times on this blog. Robert J Sawyer is an excellent writer and a very nice fellow. He is almost always at the Word on the Street festival held at Queens Park (Toronto) in September.

Anyway Sawyer has started another new trilogy. This one is about computers and sentient intelligence inside the Web. The first book in the series is called WAKE and was just published 2 months ago - in April. I reserved my copy at the library and had to wait 6 weeks to finally get it.

It was excellent and unforgettable. I could not put it down. I even stayed up to 1 am to finish it. I cannot wait for the next 2 books - WATCH and WONDER. That is what WWW means - not World Wide Web but - Wake, Watch, Wonder.

I have always loved computer related books, and computer related movies too.

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.

When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.

But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter ...

Caitlin and her parents are Americans, but they move to Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. Both her parents have PHD doctorates.

I have just one small nitpick with this book. Robert Sawyer needs to be somewhat more educated on Canadian immigration law. The Decter family have not immigrated to Canada. The father has a work permit, and the mother has applied for hers which is allowed under Canada law. So why is it that Mr Sawyer makes no mention of Caitlin needing a study permit to attend the local high school. Which under Canadian immigration law, she must have.

I mention this only because of my extensive experience with Canadian immigration and my excessive need to mention the nit-picking details

Other than that, this was an excellent book.

Oh yes, and I read this book for the Canadian Book challenge in an attempt to get the challenge to over 1000 books. And because on the last update (the 11th) John asked ever so nicely - in fact he challenged us.

At the bottom of the long post you can read this...

Now with just 47 books to go to reach 1000 (which is just amazing--thank you so much!), I want to really push it this last month. If every participant just reads one book this month, we'll easily reach this goal. But just in case, I want to make June Read A Canadian Book Month. So, even if you've completed the challenge already, please read just one more! Pretty please! Pretty please with a Canadian cherry on top! And if you were going to read a Canadian book this month anyway, I challenge you to read two. Come on! I need your help here!

The swine flu pandemic

Apologies for the silence over the last 10 days, but we have been hit by the flu. At least my husband and son have, I have been lucky enough to not catch the flu, despite still living in an apartment with two sick patients.

With all the concerns about Swine flu these days, one cannot be sure if one has the regular flu or the dangerous kind

The paper said today that the WHO have upgraded the swine flu to a pandemic. The paper also said that there have now been over 1000 cases of swine flu in Ontario alone - but only 2 deaths!!! And both those people had underlying medical conditions. My husband also has underlying medical conditions. And he is having much more difficulty in shaking this flu off. Other years have been much easier.

We will be heading out soon to the doctor to get a doctors note so my son can go back to school tomorow (despite the bad cough) or next week - if the doctor says so. Husband will go see the doctor tomorow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Magician Series - Again

Charlie Bone and the Magician Series
by Jenny Nimmo
Egmont Press 2002-present

A few days ago I posted about a new series of books about school students who do magic.

I have now read all 7 books. This is an excellent series, so if you have any pre-teens or teenagers who are missing their Harry Potter fix, tell them about Charlie Bone. I am sure they will love you for it.

These are the books listed in chronological order.
Midnight for Charlie Bone (2002)
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (2003)
Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy (2004) / AKA Charlie Bone and the Blue Boa (2006)
Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors (2005)
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King (2006)
Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf (2007) AKA Charlie Bone and the Beast (2007)
Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock (2008)
Charlie Bone and the Red Knight (Due out - September 2009)

Children of the Red King