Book Reviews by Title - I, J, K

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Book Reviews by Title - I, J, K

Post by LadyKestrel » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:53 pm


“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison
Not sure if I mentioned it before... I also read 'I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream'. It was ... hmmm ... okay! Must resume the game now. I stopped ages ago so that I could read the short story first. Not too keen on Ellison's style. Acquired taste I guess. Have more of his to read. May do someday.
~Reviewed by Gelert

Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole by Dr. Jerri Nielsen (with Maryann Vollers)
This is a fascininating memoir, not only because of the headline story of Nielsen’s bravery and rescue from South Pole Station, but also because I learned so much about what it’s like to live as on the high ever-frozen plateau at the bottom of the world. Pollies, living and working as they do in an environment that is hostile to life, are a rare breed of adventurers. Through Nielsen’s words, I gained a tremendous respect for them and for her.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
I've enjoyed all the mysteries I've read so far from The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series. Smith uses gentle humor and well-drawn and very likable characters to tell his stories. In this one, Precious Romotswe, already overworked with the agency's business, must deal with a mysterious intruder, a strange gift, a theft, an overworked husband whose apprentice ran off with a wealthy lady, an ex-prisoner and, most importantly, a secret from her past that has come back to haunt her. This is a sweet and satisfying story and a great addition to the on-going series.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

In the Presence of Books by Deborah DeWit Marchant
Marchant is an artist who often uses books and readers in her paintings, and this is a lovely compilation of her works on the subject along with commentary and a poem by Kim Stafford.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

In the Woods by Tana French
I just finished this novel by Tana French. I was chilled, intrigued, on the edge of my seat, frightened, and even laughed. What a wonderful book. It is part mystery, part "monster in the woods," and part love story. It won the Edgar Award in 2007 for best first novel. I especially love that it is set in Ireland.

I highly recommend this wonderful read...
~Reviewed by Draclvr

Infected by Scott Sigler
They dropped from the atmosphere like microscopic snow. Billions of seeds, smaller than specks of dust, spiralling down from the heavens. A few survived, and began to grow...

Now three people face a race against time. Dew Phillips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.

And Perry Dawsey, an ex-footballer in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. And which is getting bigger.

And then the voices start.
OK it certainly won't win prizes for originality and I think the booker prize is a tad out it's reach, but what we have here is a Holywood summer blockbuster in book form.

Big dumb and stupid, but if you switch off the brain and sit back you have a rollercoater ride with lots of gore and action that will keep you occupied for a few hours.

This was originaly developed as a self publicised podcast serial, when he failed to get a book deal the normal way, he gave away the book free online in a series of podcasts. He built up a big following and hey presto the publishers come a knocking.

It was reasonably enjoyable.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Inferno (Star Wars Legacy of the Force 6) by Troy Denning
Luke Skywalker wanted to unify the Jedi order and bring peace to the universe. Instead his wife Mara lies dead at the hands of an unknown assassin, his wayward nephew Jacen has seized control of the Galactic Alliance, and the galaxy has exploded in all-out civil war.

With Luke consumed by grief, Jacen Solo works quickly to consolidate his power and jumpstart his plan to take over the Jedi. Convinced he’s the only one who can save the galaxy, Jacen will do whatever it takes, even ambush his own parents.

With the Rebel confederacy driving deep into the Core to attack Coruscant and the Jedi under siege, Luke must reassert his position. Only he can lead the Jedi through this crisis, but it means solving the toughest problem Luke’s ever faced. Does he fight alongside his nephew Jacen, a tyrant who’s illegally taken over the GA, or does he join the rebels to smash the Galactic Alliance he helped create?
A drop in quality compared to Sacrifice as this series hits a bit of a lull.

Not much movement in the characters as it descends into lengthy space battles and some weird decisions from the main characters.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Infoquake by David Louis Edelman
~Reviewed by Lucien21

The Inverted World by Christopher Priest
I read this book way back when I first joined the Science Fiction Book Club in the mid-1970s, and although the specific details faded, certain vivid images of the strange world the author created stayed with me all these years. I decided to reread it to see if the book still grabbed my imagination, and I must say, it is still one of the most creative sci-fi stories I’ve ever read.

The inhabitants of the city of Earth have waited for rescue from the mother planet, Earth, for two hundred years. They have been winching the city along tracks that must be picked up from behind and put down in front every day. The city can’t stand still because it would be swept away in the constant southward movement of the land itself, as those who have ventured south and returned can attest.

The city is run by work guilds, and the society has become rigid and medieval in outlook. The protagonist of the story, Helward Mann, chooses the Futures Guild like his father before him, and after an intense and physically challenging apprenticeship with the other guilds, he begins riding up future to survey the obstacles that may lay in wait for the city. When he discovers a body of water with no visible farther shore and some strange elongated people, his beliefs and those held by the inhabitants of the city begin to fall apart.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel


Jack of Fables (Issues 1-35 still ongoing) by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Spin off from the Fables comic see Jack Horner hitchhiking across America after losing all his holywood power and money. He gets kidnapped and imprisioned in a retirement community by Revise who is trying to rewrite all the fables and lock them up until the mundies forget about them.

This was a more lighthearted and hilarious book containing a lot of minor story characters that most of us has forgotten in real life. Jack is a rascal character who is always trying to escape, sleep with every woman in sight and get rich quick.

Six storylines have been published/announced so far for the series:

The (Nearly) Great Escape is the first one, detailing Jack's capture and time in the Golden Boughs.

Jack of Hearts recounts his brief tenure as Jack Frost as well as his trip to Las Vegas after escaping from the Golden Boughs.

The story titled The Bad Prince is a counterpart to the Fables storyline The Good Prince and involves Jack in the tale of the Sword in the Stone, with Jack as the stone.

Following this, Americana focus on the "American Fable homeland".

The fifth story is called Turning Pages, detailing each of the Page sisters' past and personality.

The sixth and current tale, The Books of War, is about Bookburner's war against the Golden Boughs Retirement Village.

Loved it
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Jackdaws by Ken Follett
I have just finished an excellent book Jackdaws by Ken Follett. Set in the second World War in France and England, its a story of how 6 British women were recruited to blow up the German communication system and thus shorten the war. It had me gripped from beginning to end.
~Reviewed by Rosaboobie

Jingo by Terry Pratchett
A long-lost island rises from the sea equidistant from the shores of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch. Both countries begin disputing its ownership, and war is looming on the horizon unless cooler heads can prevail.

The Watch is involved with this one, complete with Carrot of Arabia and Nobby getting in touch with his feminine side. Vetinari takes advantage of one of Leonard of Quirm's wild inventions, and we learn a special technique for removing a donkey from a tower. It's a good romp seasoned with pokes and prods at many sacred cows (well, at least camels and donkeys). Although it's not a contender for my best-loved Discworld novel, it's still great fun.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke ***
Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.

Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats.

But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

Susanna Clarke has constructed a fascinating alternative early 19th century. Thanks to two magicians magic has returned to every day life, now who wouldn't want to live in such a world? :) Part fantasy novel, part owing to romantic literature (the 18-19th century one, not the Danielle Steel variety :wink: ), I really liked the style of the novel, the characters and the manner in which events unfold. Unfortunately it also runs a bit out of steam about half way through and is not helped by a rather weak and (surprisingly) quick resolution to the novel. I also couldn't help thinking that the plot wasn't entirely up to the quality and originality of the world Clarke had created. Still, I had fun reading it, too bad it had some weaker bits.
~Reviewed by Wimli

Just After Sunset by Stephen King
What would you do if your everyday world were turned upside down in an instant? Here are twelve riveting stories about relationships with unexpected twists. Be very careful what you wish for.

Read about the acts of kindness from strangers: ‘workmen’ who intervene in the obsessive exercise regime of a middle aged artist in Stationary Bike; the unexpected visitor, a blind girl, whose kiss saves a dying man; a mute hitchhiker who helps a driver get over his wife’s affair.

There are tales of obsession and fights for power: The Gingerbread Girl runs and runs to ease her pain; two neighbours contesting for a piece of land get into A Very Tight Place and a man who witnesses an act of domestic violence in a Rest Stop needs to step into his identity as a crime writer if he’s to intervene.

Then there are the unexpected outside events which turn people’s worlds upside down or the right way up: a young couple, David and Willa who are derailed on a train find themselves seeking the bright lights in a nearby town – and playing the jukebox, for eternity; an older couple want to punctuate the banal humdrum with something unusual – until it happens.

So my Fav author has a new book out. Well a short story collection at least. Fortunatly King has always been a master of the short story format (A skill he seems to have passed to his son, Joe Hill, who wrote the best short story I read in ages - "Pop Art")

Anyway, this collection is a mix of 12 stories of varying success

Willa - A sweet story about a young couple waiting at a train station. 4/5
Gingerbread Girl - Woman suffering from the loss of a child takes up running and runs into trouble. 5/5 - My favourite of the stories.
Harvey's Dream - Odd story about an old mans dream - 3/5
Rest Stop - A bit of wish fulfilment from the author I think. - 3/5
Stationary Bike - Actually a very funny story and one that hits home to someone who is overweight. - 5/5
The things they left behind - 9/11 fable that didn't quite work for me - 3/5
Graduation Afternoon - Short and sweet with a killer ending - 3.5/5
N. - Very nice story about OCD and a strange field. - 5/5
The Cat from Hell - Old story and a tad predictable - 3/5
The New York Times - Another afterlife story - 2/5
Mute - T'was ok story about a hitchhiker. 3/5
Ayana -
A Very Tight Space- Never look at a porta loo in the same way again. Oh and be nice to your neigbours - 4/5

Overall the collection has some decent stories and a couple of fillers. I enjoyed it and look forward to his next novel
(Under the Dome - A huge Cannibal novel due 2009)
~Reviewed by Lucien21


De Kapellekensbaan (translated as Chapel Road) by Louis Paul Boon ****
According to the author, Chapel Road "is the book about the childhood of Ondine [. . .] about her brother Valeer-Traleer with his monstrous head wobbling through life this way and that." But the book is about a lot more than that. It is also the story of Louis Paul Boon, an author working on a novel entitled Chapel Road, surrounded by his colorful group of friends. His readers and companions include the painter Tippetotje, who habitually works a naked woman into her paintings, and Johan Janssens, the journalist and poet who is fired from the paper for refusing to agree with the Capitalists, the Socialists or the Ultra-Marxists.

Beyond that, Chapel Road includes a retelling of the myth of Reynard the fox and Isengrinus the wolf, a tale that underscores the greed, stupidity, hypocrisy, pride and lust motivating the other characters of the book.

Chapel Road is "a pool, a sea, a chaos: it is the book of all that can be heard and seen in Chapel Road, from the year 1800-and-something until today.

This novel is considered one of the greatest written in Dutch (or Flemish dialect if you will), but in a recent poll it also ended highly on a list featuring the most unread book people had on their book shelves (it did find itself in good company though, among Dutch translations of Eco's 'The Name of the Rose' and Joyce's 'Ulysses' :wink: ). The book itself is indeed very hard to get into because it is so eclectic: it constantly switches between parts of the novel the main character is writing, comments from his friends on that and a zillion other things, anecdotes, both fictitious and actual newspaper reports and the reworking of Reynard the Fox (which in turn is written by one of the supporting characters in the book).

At first I was thinking that I would never finish this novel as you really have no idea at first what this is all about, but about 80 pages into it something changed. I got used to the various story parts, started appreciating the various characters (which in turn are various personifications of the author's differing views on life), and got used to the language the novel was written in (which turned out to be one of its best features: brilliant dialect words and expressions you don't hear anymore in Dutch, but still understand the meaning of :cool: ). And from then on, I must say this was one of the most fascinating and fulfilling reads I had in a long time. Epic, though not presented that way cause its broken up in so many bits and pieces, in a modernist style that really enhanced the experience. Absolutely recommended reading if you don't mind first putting some effort into it.
~Reviewed by Wimli

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
On the fiction side of things, I've read 'The Kite Runner', which, as others have already said here, is a truly terrific novel. Superbly written and gripping from beginning to end.
~Reviewed by Gelert

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Gripping novel about a man who goes back to his homeland of Afghanistan to rescue the son of his former best friend. Told against the backdrop of conflicting cultures and a war-torn country, it's impossible to forget after finishing. Loved A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author as well, but it's effect on me was slightly less intense than The Kite Runner had.
~Reviewed by Wimli

Kronos by Jeremy Robinson
Two years after his wife's death, oceanographer and former navy SEAL, Atticus Young, attempts to reconcile with his rebellious daughter, Giona, by taking her on the scuba dive of a lifetime-swimming with a pod of peaceful humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. But the beauty of the sea belies a terror from the deep-a horrific creature as immense as it is ancient. There is no blood, no scream, no fight. Giona is swallowed whole by the massive jaws. Only Atticus remains to suffer the shame of the survivor and his inconsolable grief turns to an unquenchable thirst for revenge.

Drawn by the spectacle, Trevor Manfred, a ruthless billionaire, approaches Atticus with a proposition: Trevor will make available all the advanced technology of his heavily armed mega-yacht, the Titan, to aid Atticus in his death-quest. In return, Trevor is to receive the beast's corpse as the ultimate hunting trophy. But in the midst of the hunt, Atticus makes a terrifying discovery that changes the way he sees the ocean's creatures and begs the question: what is Kronos? The answer sets him on a new and much more deadly course.
I want to sue the company for false advertising. The cover of the book makes it look and sound like a Jaws/Meg style monster novel. Instead what you get is a bunch of bland cliches for characters in a boat chasing a monster that swims around eating fish for the whole book.

Far too unbelievable (The mega yacht is like a swiss army knife of weapons and state of the art tech :lol: ) and the story just goes completely off the deep-end with it's big "Twist" towards the end. WTF?? I thought this was an action adventure monster movie not a religious parable.
~Reviewed by Lucien21
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.