So, here are the books I have read for the month of July. I fell a little behind on my yearly goal. But that’s OK since I don’t want to rush through books and not enjoy them. I’ve gotten 30 free books from the book trading websites Bookmooch, PaperbackSwap, and FrugalReader, so I’ve got quite a stack to go through.
There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews. Reviews in quotes were borrowed from amazon.com:
1. Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder ©2006 –A frightening scenario of ambition and insanity. “In Finder’s newest business thriller (after Company Man), Jason Steadman, a middle-management salesman for an international electronics firm, befriends mysteriously well-connected tow-truck driver Kurt Semko and suddenly finds himself on the fast track to the executive suite, thanks mainly to the misfortunes of others. When a suspicious Steadman confronts Semko, his benefactor turns into a deadly foe who threatens to kill him, his wife and newborn baby. Finder’s informed view of the dark side of the corporate world is deliciously devious and he is shrewd and witty enough to provide his likable hero with a particularly credible weapon against the seemingly omnipotent opponent: his salesmanship. (Publisher’s Weekly)”☻☻☻☻
2. The Mark by Jason Pinter © 2007 – Suspense in the vein of John Grisham.“Disappointed to find that his new job with the prestigious New York Gazette is all pap pieces and obits, 24-year-old freshman journalist Henry Parker jumps at the chance to work with the paper’s top reporter on a where-are-they-now look at the scum of New York. Arriving at the apartment of ex-con Luis Guzman with some follow-up questions, Henry finds a scene right out of Goodfellas: a big guy pistol-whipping a terrified Guzman and his wife. Before Henry knows what’s happening, the victims turn the table, the assailant is killed, and Henry is left holding the smoking gun. From there, the cub reporter goes on the run—his only ally an unsuspecting NYU coed—while trying figure out how he became wanted by the NYPD, the FBI and the mob. Though some of his situations can strain credibility, Pinter’s a wizard at punching out page-turning action, and the voice of his headstrong protagonist is sure to win readers over; his wild ride should thrill any suspense junky. (Publisher’s Weekly)”☻☻☻☻
3. The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian © 1999 – Bohjalian has become one of my favorite authors because of the accessibility of his prose. His characters and their motivations are clear and you can really empathize with them. He puts decent people in difficult situations that test their moral fiber (and perhaps the reader’s as well, as the issue of what is right and what is wrong is not immediately clear-cut in his stories).“As he proved in last year’s Midwives, Bohjalian is adept at examining social and moral issues fraught with ambiguities. Here, again, he focuses on a fallible protagonist whose lapse in ethical judgment is motivated by love and need. Widower Leland Fowler, the chief deputy state’s attorney in Burlington, Vt., has been lonely since his wife was killed in an accident two years previously, leaving him to raise his daughter Abby, now four. When traditional methods fail to cure a persistent sore throat caused by stress, he consults homeopath Carissa Lake, receives a remedy that works on the principle of “like cures like” (i.e., using the cause of the illness as the cure) and falls desperately in love with Carissa. When another of Carissa’s patients misinterprets the law of similars and falls into an allergy-induced coma, Leland realizes that Carissa may be accused of malpractice. Abandoning his judgment and his rectitude, Leland instructs Carissa in fabricating and destroying evidence. He does this while his own office may seek to prosecute her. The consequences are, of course, ineffably sad. Despite his tendency to use foreshadowing with the bluntness of hammer blows, Bohjalian succeeds in escalating tension and communicating the irony of Leland’s position. The evocation of domestic routines and the quality of small-town life ring true in beautifully captured details. But despite Bohjalian’s evident compassion for decent people who behave irresponsibly in moments of crisis, it may be difficult for readers to accept Leland’s unethical behavior, no matter how deep his emotional need. Since credibility is essential in understanding Leland’s fall from grace, one finishes the novel wishing that Bohjalian had been able to portray his hero’s quandary without so completely betraying Leland’s moral principles. (Publisher’s Weekly)”☻☻☻☻☻
4 The Cripple and His Talismans by Anosh Irani ©2004 – A total dud. It sounded like an imaginative novel with metaphysical implications, but turned out to be nonsense from start to finish. Perhaps one has to be of Indian descent to understand the culture and its sensibilities. I actually did finish this book, hoping there would be some kind of message at the end. There was, but the couple hundred pages it took to get there was not worth it. The book concerns the journey of a man who lost his arm (thus considered a “cripple” in Bombay, India) and how he gets intuitive “clues” about where to go and who to talk to about getting his arm back. He meets many colorful characters along the way. For me it was just a lot of gibberish. ☻
5 Sandcastles by Luanne Rice ©2007 – A novel about family foremost. It was readable and had high entertainment value, but I often found myself wondering why the main character was always so pissed off at her husband, who seemed like a good guy to me. The whole story hinges around her anger with her husband, so this is a major issue. I kept thinking of Denis Leary as the husband for some reason. Teetered dangerously close to the Romance genre which I detest and never, ever read. “Honor Sullivan is a woman torn apart. Her famous earthworks artist husband, John, has spent six years in an Irish prison for killing a man who attacked their then 14-year-old daughter, Regis. Now he’s back at Star of the Sea Academy, the convent and school in Connecticut where the Sullivans live and teach, or rather, is in the area, but hesitant to return home and face Honor’s ire at being effectively abandoned. His notes find their way to Honor, perhaps via Sister Bernadette Ignatius, who runs the community and is John’s sister, and Auntie Bernie to John and Honor’s daughters. Or perhaps they come via Tom Kelly, still in love with Bernie and bone-loyal to John. Add a little moonlight mysticism, daughter Regis’s impending bad marriage and a red-haired nurse given up for adoption the same year Tom and red-haired Bernie went off to Ireland to trace family roots.(Publisher’s Weekly)”☻☻☻
6 Without Consent by Kathryn Fox © 2006 – I love novels about female (or male for that matter) forensic scientists, like Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta character. This one, Anya Crichton, is not quite as sophisticated in nature as Kay, but that’s refreshing. There’s lots of story here and no knowledge is needed of past episodes of the character’s life, unlike Kay Scarpetta. The subject matter is disturbing so some may not want to read it right before bed (although it didn’t bother me to do so).“In Fox’s sophomore thriller, the follow-up to last year’s Malicious Intent, Aussie physician and freelance forensic pathologist Anya Crichton returns with a temporary gig as acting director at a center for sexual-assault victims. When a number of victims come to the center bearing signs of similar attacks, Anya begins to suspect a serial rapist—and it isn’t long before the rapist’s m.o. turns to murder. The lead suspect in the police investigation is Geoffrey Willard, a convicted child rapist just released from 20 years in prison; meanwhile, Anya’s own investigation throws doubt on Geoffrey’s culpability—and also attracts the murderous attention of the real madman. Fox, a physician with a mind for forensic medicine, provides plenty of authentic, grisly detail and has a real talent for carefully plotted mystery. Though the action can occasionally drag in the name of scientific accuracy, Fox keeps the suspense high, the down-under prose fun and her readers guessing, making this a captivating thrill ride with a great kicker. (Publisher’s Weekly)” ☻☻☻☻
None this month!
☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.
☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.
☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.
☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.
☻ Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.