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I will be on vacation from August 8-14th. Blog updates will resume on August 15th.

August 2006


Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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The Locket: 08/30/06

The Locket

Sometimes it's refreshing to read a book where the main characters stick to their convictions and don't let other meddling characters undermine their feelings or their self confidence. Unfortunately too much self confidence can lead to a story with few surprises and sometimes boring narrative. The Locket by Richard Paul Evans walks a fine line between charming and dull.

The book reads like a standard romance of a poor protagonist having recently lost a parent must now find a way to survive in the world and of course win the heart of a wealthy suitor regardless of their class differences. Most of the time in these stories, the protagonist is female and the suitor is male. The Locket is written from the point of view of a young college aged man who is desperately in love with a brilliant and wealthy pre-med student who loves him in return even though they have nothing apparently in common. Their relationship is a bit like that of Ben and Elaine minus Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

The Locket over all is a charming story of a man trying to do the right thing and win the heart of the girl he loves but it's bogged down by the protagonist's naivety and the sappy tone in which some passages are written. Over all I liked the story especially the friendships Michael made at the nursing homes but sometimes it felt like I was reading a book report as everything is written in the same flat tone except for the ones where the author tries to add some emotion to the scene and it comes off as sappy.

Then there is the slight problem of the trial. I can't believe that the case ever came to trial. Why weren't more people interviewed? What about making a timeline to see if all of the events made sense as originally stated? What about a proper autopsy to look for older injuries? Fortunately all these questions are finally addressed but the author opts for a Perry Mason ending instead of a C.S.I. one.

Here's the odd thing, I actually liked this book even with all of its flaws. I just think it could have been better. I enjoyed the book enough that I would read other novels by Evans if they were to cross my path. I think he has potential.

Comments (0) Steps: 3500


Day of Reckoning: 08/28/06

Day of Reckoning

Revenge can take down even the largest of crime families but it doesn't necessarily make for an interesting story. Perhaps if I had been of a different mind-set when I read Day of Reckoning I would have enjoyed it more but after the first hundred pages I found myself rereading the same sentence or paragraph. There are so many characters and so many different locations of simultaneous events that I felt the need to chart the plot.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Imagine a mob family having IRA connections and gang affiliations in England to create a multinational enterprise comprising both legal and illegal operations. This is the Cosa Nostra and it's headed by the Solazzo family. In an attempt to keep their under-the-table dealings secret, the family has a journalist murdered. It is her death that begins this three hundred page tale of revenge by her ex-husband, ex-FBI agent who has friends in high enough places to bring down the family by bankrupting Cosa Nostra and killing those who participated in his ex-wife's death.

There is a lot of potential to this story but it bogs down with the sheer number of characters all taking advantage of the situation to play out their own long dreamed of plans of revenge. There are some interesting pieces like the way in which they close the casino but there aren't enough of these scenes to keep the story going.

Comments (0) Steps: 10000


Doctor Who: The Myth Makers: 08/27/06

Doctor Who: The Myth Makers

My husband spent a year living in England when his father was on sabbatical. During that time he became a Doctor Who fan and picked up a bunch of books inspired by the long-running series. The Myth Makers is one of these books.

It takes place during the Trojan war with the first doctor and his two companions. I guess it falls under the "historical and educational" bit of Doctor Who and not the "bug eyed monster" bit. The book is fortunately very short. It started out fun but it quickly started to drag with a narrator who was supposedly Homer but didn't sound anything like Homer the poet. He might have been Homer Simpson, if Homer were British.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

The first doctor and his companions Vicki and Steven end up in the middle of the Trojan war. As often is the case the doctor finds himself separated from his companions and needs to rescue them. The doctor this time has the help of Homer and Odysseus.

The story is told from Homer's point of view as another of his epics, the Whoiad, I guess, but it's unfortunately nowhere near as well written as either the Iliad or the Odyssey. There are so many "modern" Britishisms in Homer's story that it's impossible to believe that he would be the one telling the story or that his Greek audience would understand a tenth of what he was saying. I wish that Cotton had chosen to use an unnamed narrator if he was so set on using such a chit-chatty tone.

Ultimately the story is one long (142 pages) shaggy dog story with a few pages to get the TARDIS on its way again after the punchline. The joke did make me crack a smile but I was most grateful for the fact that I was nearly done with the book.

Comments (0) Steps: 5000


Cathedral Cats: 08/26/06

Cathedral Cats

Cats and old buildings seem to go hand in hand in Great Britain. Cathedral Cats is another photographic journal that tracks the lives of cats living in historic (and in this case, religious) buildings in Great Britain. It's a short read, less than one hundred pages but the photographic portraits of the cats in their homes and scouting their territories are beautiful. I think I spent more time appreciating the photography than I did in reading the accompanying text.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Cats and architecture make a nice combination. The photographs are lovely and it's the perfect book to read in an afternoon.

I should add that it was a perfect book to read on a day when I hadn't had much sleep. Caligula, my cat, even took some time to admire some of the photographed felines.

Comments (0) Steps: 5000


The Last Girls: 08/25/06

The Last Girls

I love the cover art, the title and the concept of the book. I just wish I had actually enjoyed reading The Last Girls. I kept waiting for the story to get started but it seemed bogged down incoherent flashbacks. The only progression the book managed was the river boat's slow trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans.

There's nothing wrong with a book made up of flashbacks. Many writers have done it successfully: Nabokov's Lolita and Knowles's A Separate Peace are both good examples. Or for a more contemporary example, Fforde's Eyre Affair uses extensive flashbacks to illustrate the present day world, explaining how it came to be, thus enriching Thursday Next's story. Lee's story should do the same thing but her many flash backs never cover the adventure that brought the women together as friends. Instead her many flashbacks further divide up the characters keeping them separated into different boxes and chapters. It isn't until the very last chapter that she even attempts to explain why they have all decided to reunite for the river cruise!

Here is my BookCrossing review:

After the death of a mutual friend, a group of women take one last journey together down the Mississippi to relieve a previous adventure they had shared and of course all the memories they had built together in their youth. It sounds like a story with great potential but it just isn't carried off. Throughout the book the present and past stories compete for page space so that neither one comes off in any coherent fashion. There is no room given for character growth and the protagonist is such a pushover that she never does anything to drive the plot except to reluctantly agree to do what everyone else tells her to do!

Comments (0) Steps: 3500


A Dirty Job: 08/24/06

A Diry Job

Collecting souls after death is a dirty job but someone has to do it; that's the premise to Christopher Moore's current book, A Dirty Job. Most of these agents of Death (or Death Merchants) are antique dealers or junk shop owners like the protagonist, Charlie Asher. Every city has its own team of independently operating Death Merchants, each working from the "Big Book of Death" and the story focuses on a select few who live and work in present day San Francisco.

For fans of Moore's writing, A Dirty Job revises characters from Blood Sucking Fiends and Coyote Blue. While the book can stand alone, I was grateful to have recently read the other two books and see these characters come together under such unusual circumstances. People who have not read any previous Moore should still read A Dirty Job as he does a fine job of making sure the story stands on its own. All the back story one needs is provided.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

After finishing the book, read the acknowledgements. In them Moore explains the inspiration for the story, namely the deaths of a dear friend and two mothers. Taking what he experienced in the hospice he put his own supernatural spin and sense of humor to work to create a book that both celebrates life (and death) and pokes fun at the whole process.

He returns to San Francisco for this story and in many ways it is a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends but one that plays out with some of the minor characters. M. F. has also moved to town and fans of Coyote Blue will enjoy what his character brings to the story. Best of all Moore took the time to capture San Francisco's personality which he failed at doing in Bloodsucking Fiends. He does it in getting the little things right, like the fog that always manages to roll out in October, the absurdity of a seven mile per hour cable car chase, and the odd ex-suburb that is the Sunset District.

Comments (0) Steps: 3500


A Constellation of Cats: 08/22/06

A Constellation of Cats

I have been reading more short story collections this year than I normally do. These collections have been grouped by theme and the latest one I've just finished for a book ring focuses on cats in fantasy, though a few of these stories I wouldn't class as fantasy.

The short story is by it's nature short and I prefer the "short shorts" and the stories in Constellation of Cats are all between 18 and 30 pages long, about the ideal length for me. They're long enough to keep me interested but not so long that I feel over committed to any one story.

The authors included are apparently fantasy writers, I didn't recognize any of the names beyond Andre Norton but I usually think of her as a science fiction writer. With the other authors, I came to each story without expectation. Some of the stories I enjoyed and some I hated. The ones I hated most were the ones that stuck most closely to the fantasy genre with castles, wizards, kings, and the like.

Here is my BookCrossing Review:

The thirteen short stories in this collection revolving around cats run the gamut from mediocre to entertaining. I found the most disappointing stories to be the high fantasy ones. The best ones take place in more mundane and recognizable locations.

Here is a breakdown of ratings by each story:

"The Stargazer's Familiar" by Mary Jo Putney: 4/10
It starts with the cliché of all clichés: "It was a dark and stormy night" and goes down hill from there. At least the ending is vaguely clever.

"Three-Inch Trouble" by Andre Norton: 9/10
It's a shaggy dog story with a cat as the narrator.

"Purr Power" by Jody Lynn Nye 7/10
Can some worshipers of Bast stop a battle with an army of pussy cats?

"Star" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch 10/10
"Star" was my favorite of all the stories. It's a heartwarming tale of reunion, recovery and renewal.

"Under the Sign of the Fish" by Karen Haber 5/10
A stupid woman uses magic to learn that fish and cats can't be friends.

"Every Life Should Have Nine Cats" by Mickey Zucker Reichert 7/10
A woman with cats tries to stop a long standing witch hunt.

"Once, We Were Worshiped" by Diane A. S. Stuckart 9/10
A vain cat learns her place in the world the hard way.

"Praxis" by Janet Pack 1/10
It was fantasy but I'm really not sure what happened.

"Death Song" by Bill McCay 7/10
An old cat makes the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the spread of evil.

"A Light in the Darkness" by Pamela Luzier 10/10
Another Bast/Bastet story but set in Colorado where the focus is on a mother who desperately wants her daughter back.

"Mu Mao and the Court Oracle" by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough 8/10
Um -- how can a calico be of "undistinguished markings"? Anyway, it's a story of a missing cat king, oracles and reincarnation.

"Star Song" by Nina Kikiri Hoffman 7/10
A single mother with two kids tries to find herself after leaving a Commune. She has help from a local cat.

"Ecliptic" by Von Jocks 1/10
Another all MEN are evil and all WOMEN are good story involving witchcraft and witch hunting. Yawn.

Comments (2) Steps: 7000


Whispers: 08/21/06

Whispers

I like horror and mystery stories though I get most of my horror stories through either short stories or films. It's been a couple years at least since the last horror book I've read and that one involved vampires. Whispers is more of a psychological thriller with some slasher stuff thrown into the mix.

Given the mundane way Los Angeles is presented I was surprised at how quickly all the characters were willing to accept that there might be supernatural explanation behind the events. I suppose Koontz was hoping his readers would go along with the main characters until they figured things out but there are enough clues and enough use of cliché to make predicting a more terrestrial answer fairly easy.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

The book has its flaws, mostly in the details and a lot of my complaints are petty but if Koontz is as much a perfectionist as he claims in the Afterword, then he should triple check things. Two that jumped out at me: Warner Brothers should be Warner Bros. as that is the company's name. I've seen their incorporation paperwork when I worked in the film archive at UCLA. Secondly, it's Caltech, not Cal Tech; my husband went there as did a number of our friends.

Now onto the story itself. Much of it is dated which is understandable given it was written in 1978. Many of the details rely on pop culture references relevant to the time like Mork and Mindy and the Rockford Files. Of course back then there isn't the internet which I'm sure would have played heavily in a more modern version of this story.

The story starts as a horror / slasher and then dabbles in the supernatural and occult. Both of these disguise the fact for a while that it's really a combination of Psycho and Flowers in the Attic.

I have to admit to enjoying the book for its goofy charm. It's not one of the best books I've read this year but it kept me entertained and was easy enough to read in a couple of afternoons.

Comments (0) Steps: 3500


A Swiftly Tilting Planet: 08/20/06

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

A Swiftly Tilting Planet is one of those books that I've had to read for school and don't have fond memories of the process. In this book's case, the teacher read the book to the class and although I listened as carefully as I could I remember getting lost and confused quickly and being frustrated throughout the rest of the book. Things just seemed to happen and I couldn't figure out how all these pieces fit together.

A few months ago I found an unregistered copy of the book at the Dublin library shelf inside the Starbucks where we do our monthly BookCrossing meeting. Since I knew my husband had enjoyed the book and still speaks highly of it, I thought it was time to try the book again. I made doubly sure that I would read it by offering the book on the Book Relay site. I finished the book on Friday.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Back in 1984 or 1985 my sixth grade teacher read this book aloud to us. I remember not being able to follow it at all. People seemed to be jumping around from adventure to adventure without rhyme or reason. Now having finally read it myself I can see where my confusion started. There is time travel (through possession more or less), a unicorn spirit guide (for lack of a better term), and a prophecy that can go one of two ways as it jumps from generation to generation with names being passed down and modified over time. This time I was able to enjoy the story, follow the twists and turns of things as Charles Wallace blipped from When to When and predict many of the plot developments. In other words, it was a much more enjoyable story now than it was when I was a child.

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Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Doghouse: 08/19/06

Scooby Doo

After having finished Castle in the Air I was in the mood for something shorter. Fortunately the perfect book arrived in the mail via the Book Relay site: Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Doghouse. The book was published when I was seven, so I would have been the perfect age for it when it was new. At the time though I had no idea that one of my then favorite cartoons had books associated with them. I was too busy reading much older books like The Hobbit and various books from the Hardy Boys series.

Here is my BookCrossing Review:

Fantastic! The book arrived with today's mail and I just had to read it before making a journal entry. I was half expecting one of the newer Scooby-Doo kids novels but this one dates back to 1980 and the artwork was more in keeping with the old cartoon. I enjoyed how each page had an illustration to go with the text. While the choice of language is aimed at younger readers the mystery is still complex enough to have kept my attention.

Comments (0) Steps: 3500


Castle in the Air: 08/17/06

Castle in the Air

I keep wanting to call Castle in the Air, the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky. I think this is because I have seen and enjoyed Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 film Castle in the Sky and of course his 2005 adapation of Howl's Moving Castle. Castle in the Sky, however, is inspired not by Jones's books but by one of the lesser known chapters of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

I have to admit that I haven't finished reading Howl's Moving Castle but I have read enough to get a general sense of how the character dynamics differ in the film and the book. In reading the sequel I found that the characters acted more like they do in the film than they do in the first book. Sophie is more self confident, Howl is less arrogant and Calcifer is more playful. Michael is not in the second book so there is nothing to compare.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

After awhile I found Abdullah's flowery speech annoying. I suppose Jones was trying to make him sound exotic but a little bit of it goes a long way. Abdullah's dialogue is over-kill.

Setting aside the problems with Abdullah, it's a cute story that lets fans of Howl's Moving Castle revisit the characters but from a new perspective, that of a carpet salesman from a vaguely Arabian (think more of 1001 Arabian Nights than an actual Arabian country) country. So of course there are Djinn, and a genie in a bottle and a magic carpet. There are also two demon cats who can make themselves larger. And somewhere in the confusion is Howl, Sophie and Calcifer. Figuring out where they are is the really fun bit of the book.

Had Abdullah been written with greater care I would have rated the story a 10 out of 10. I enjoyed the story of a carpet seller going to an exotic land to rescue a princess with the help of a ex-soldier but Abdullah's flowery language gets in the way of the story's flow.

Comments (0) Steps: 5500


Fast Food Nation: 08/15/06

Fast Food Nation

So many of my BookCrossing friends had read and raved about this close up look at the American fast food industry that I felt it was time to read it myself. I've actually had this copy for around a year, having gotten it as a RABCK from another local BookCrosser.

I wasn't sure what to expect of the book having heard many reviewers say that they would never eat fast food again. While much of the book focuses on McDonald's, a chain I haven't eaten in for nearly twenty years (except twice when it was the only option), I figured a lot of the book would be covering information that neither surprised nor horrified me. While McDonald's is mentioned often, it's mostly in relation to the Speedee Service System which brought the assembly line into the restaurant industry (if one can can call McDonald's a restaurant).

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Fast Food Nation is an interesting cross between history, essay and social realism. It starts as a straight forward history of the major players in the early years of the fast food industry: Carl Karcher, the McDonald Brothers, et al. Starting with Chapter 5: "Why the Fries Taste Good" the book begins its hard look at the industry as it was in the late 1990s. The inclusion of "beef flavor" in the McDonald's fries has had a backlash against the company since the publication of the book and in the appendix, Schlosser covers some of that. The two most hard-hitting chapters are chapters 8 and 9: "The Most Dangerous Job" and "What's in the Meat" where Schlosser looks at what has become of the meat packing industry since the time that Sinclair wrote The Jungle (a novel I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't read it). Don't stop reading at the close of Chapter 10. The book doesn't really close until the Epilogue and Afterword.

The most common response I've heard from readers of Fast Food Nation is a combination of shock and repulsion. Coming to this book knowing quite a bit about how the industry works (or doesn't), I didn't find myself either shocked or repulsed. I did however find myself saddened at the chapter on food contamination ("What's in the Meat") at the deaths of those children.

As a parent of a 4 year old (and soon to be born infant), I have been keeping my son away from most fast food. He's never had a hamburger, doesn't especially like french fries and hates soda. As Schlosser states near the close of the book, the fast food industry isn't evil; it's a business. Change will come more quickly when consumer demands it. Yes, advertising is aimed at children but parents still can control what their children see and eat.


Comments (0) Steps: 10000

Wild Crimes: 08/14/06

Wild Crimes

Over the weekend I finished a collection of short crime stories collectively called Wild Crimes and edited by Dana Stabenow. The best of the stories take place in rural mountain areas within the United States but there are areas from all over the world included in this compellation. Of the lot I thoroughly enjoyed about a third of the stories, another third were interesting but not necessarily entertaining and the last third were a chore to read.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Wild Crimes is a collection of eleven short mysteries all taking place in wild or remote locations. My favorites of the book are "Following the Quarters" by Michael Armstrong, "The Man Who Thought He Was A Deer" by Margaret Coel and "The Bog" by Loren D. Estleman. The others are good too but they don't have the ironic humor that sets this small list of stories apart from the others.

"Following the Quarters" starts of the collection with an Alaskan cop is called to the scene of a robbery where a young man has apparently been steeling quarters from newspaper dispensers. When the man insists that he had been hired to put quarters in the machines, the real mystery begins. Why put extra quarters into the dispensers?

"The Man Who Thought He Was A Deer" is basically Wild Animus light. Here though the main character doesn't think he's a ram, instead he thinks he's a deer. As it's hunting season and this "deer" carries a gun, things don't go well for a local hunter.

"The Bog" reminded of Poe's short stories in that a murderer is undone by his own cleverness.

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The Man in the High Castle: 08/13/06

The Man in the High Castle

Last night I finished The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. While I enjoyed the concept of the book, another "what if the Axis had won" but done with a science fiction angle, the story itself was too slow and tied down by too many plot lines. Clearly Dick was expiramenting with a style of story telling that he later used successfully in Martian Time Slip.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

As with Roth's The Plot Against America, Dick's book begins with the premise that life in America would have been very different if FDR hadn't been president at the start of World War II. While Dick's version has a different president than Lindergh and it extrapolates out to the 1960s where the Axis won the war. Half of the United States is run by Germany and the other half by Japan. The middle bit is left to fend for itself.

The central mystery of the book is who is the "Man in the High Castle" and why did he write a novel which proposes what life would be like if the Axis lost the war? Various characters become fascinated with the novel and are driven to seek out the truth behind it.

The problem though is that there are too many characters and too much political manouvering to cover in this book. Dick's books are best when they are short and the plot is quick. The pacing in this one is out of character for his other books.

Comments (0) Steps: 5000


Martian Time-Slip: 08/07/06

Martian Time-Slip

I finished another excellent Philip K. Dick novel last night, Martian Time-Slip. I found the description of the colony on Mars similar enough to how it is depicted in Futurama that I have to wonder if anyone on the show had read the book. It was not their similarities that made me like the book; it was the writing and the character development. Before the story unfolds, the characters and setting are introduced through a series of vignettes that at first appear to have nothing to do with each other. It is only when all these narrative threads finally come together that the story begins in earnest.

The story itself is rather short. It involves some land speculation that might lead to a land bust in the far future and the ultimate collapse of the colony. These glimpses of the future are brought forward by two characters: Jack and Manfred. Jack as a functioning schizophrenic has the mindset to communicate with Manfred, an autistic boy who rarely speaks and when he does, it's usually to say "gubble gubble."

Here is my BookCrossing review:

The first half of the book brings the dramatis personae together from their separate places in Martian society. The second half sees what will unfold when their talents are put together. At the center of everything is FDR Mountain, aka Dirty Knobby, the native Martians known as Bleekmen, and a severly autistic boy who may or may not be able to see the future.

I really don't want to write more and risk spoiling the story. Just go get a copy and read it.

Comments (0) Steps: 4500


A Year by the Sea: 08/06/06

A Year by the Sea

Women who hit their midlife crisis point seem to go to the ocean to write a memoir. Sometimes it works, like Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea and sometimes it misfires like A Year by the Sea. Throughout the book I could not relate to most of Anderson's life-changing insights. She writes of wanting to be "completed" by her husband and sons and not understanding how one can "laugh at one's self." While I adore my husband and children, I do not judge myself by them nor do I feel "incomplete" without them. Yes, I can function as an individual and I frequently laugh at myself.

The were only two chapters where I connected with the author. The first was when she met the feisty older woman, also named Joan, who is so self reliant and gutsy that she's able and willing to give Anderson the stern talking to that she needs. The second time is when the water heater breaks and the author has to spend a week clamming with her fishermen friends. It was the first time she shows any true initiative and manages to accomplish her goal of getting her water heater fixed.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

I didn't enjoy A Year by the Sea as much as I did A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Lindbergh had gone to the beach already a strong, confident and happy person, so her time away from her friends and family was one of renewal and introspection. Anderson's trip to the seaside was done out of desperation and so the tone of her book is filled with loneliness, self doubt and sometimes self loathing. While she does come around by the end of the book the process is painful at times to read. I just wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. I think my reaction is one of a personality difference. I am more like Lindbergh and less like Anderson.


Comments (0) Steps: 3500

Civil WarsCivil Wars: 08/05/06

Civil Wars covers the events that lead to the creation of civil partnerships in Vermont. The book begins with the State's supreme court sending a lawsuit to the legistlature to create a more finely tuned constitutional definition of who can marry whom. The hope of course had been for a straightforward ruling to open marriage up for same-sex couples rather than passing the job onto the legislature but it was a start.

The book provides background information on the couples who were named in the original suit and how they came to joining the suit. Later the book unfortunately becomes more of a book report on the legislative process and it's in these lengthy passages of direct quotes from the floor that the it goes from being an interesting read to a tedious one.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

The writing in Civil Wars is uneven. The first half takes a very personal look at the people who started the law suit that eventually resulted in Vermont creating civil unions. The second half looks at the process itself and reads like a book report with lengthy quotations from the actual proceedings. I ended up skimming these final chapters as they were just too dry.

Although I didn't like the last couple chapters of the book, I still recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of gay rights.

Comments (0) Steps: 10000


The Bourne Ultimatum: 08/04/06

The Bourne Ultimatum

I was looking forward to reading the final book in the Jason Bourne trilogy but after having suffered through it, I wish I had stopped after The Bourne Supremacy. The book fails in every way that the first two books succeed. The quick pace here is unnecessary and silly; Bourne is out of character; the political arena has changed too much to make the plot possible.

The original book and the one that followed were written at the height of the cold war. They take place in a time were the superpowers were suspicious and paranoid of each other. Espionage was big business for all of the big countries and many of the small ones. It was a time when communication was more difficult due to the lack of cell phones and the modern day internet. Yes; the precursors of both technologies existed but they were not being put to use in the ways that they are now. It was easier for spies to hide and countries to cover their tracks with misinformation and subterfuge.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

The Bourne Ultimatum takes place more than a decade later from the The Bourne Identity. This length of time between events makes the story unbelievable. After successfully being in hiding for so long and with Bourne clearly not active, there is no reason for the Jackal to resurface. Nor is there any reason for Bourne to go into a blind panic and race around the world drawing attention to himself and his family.

By the time of the third book, the cold war was ending. Germany was reunifying, the USSR was on the brink of collapse and mobile communication was becoming more ubiquitous with early cell phones. This environment is not one where Jason Bourne or Carlos could function using the tricks they had perfected after Vietnam. First of all, they'd be too old for chasing after each other. Second, the nations that had backed them were under new leadership and different foreign policy. What had been political maneuvering was now a silly personal cat and mouse game that is out of character for both major players!

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Steps: 5000


The Haunted Planet: 08/02/06

The Haunted Planet

I like ghost stories and I like short stories. A book of short ghost stories is perfect! These stories were written for a younger audience, probably of the middle school range of ages. Nonetheless, it's still a fun read for an afternoon. Although the stories are aimed at children, they aren't devoid of horror and suspense. Some of them are a little goofy but I did experience some genuine chills while reading this book.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

What a perfect read for a Friday night! There are seven short horror stories aimed at younger readers (probably grades 4-7). They are: "The Haunted Gull", "The Empty Hotel", "Ghost Flight", "The Bridge", "The Robot's Revenge", "Don't Go Into the Baby's Room", and "The House on Pearl Street".

My favorite of the set is the first one. It is reminiscent of Poe's "The Raven" and Hitchcock's film, The Birds. My next favorite is "Ghost Flight" as it has a Twilight Zone feel to it with the protagonist being the only one who can see what trouble lies ahead but is unable to make those in power believe him. The book ends on a good one too, though I wish there was a little more follow-through; I wanted to know more about the house on Pearl Street and the creature who lived inside.

My least favorite of the stories were "The Empty Hotel" which tries for something akin to The Shining but falls flat and The Robot's Revenge which can't decide if the horror is technology gone bad or a vengeful ghost in the machine.

The remaining stories left me scratching my head. They started out good but their endings seemed to come too soon and without much thought to the rest of the plot.

I got The Haunted Planet from a pile of books that another BookCrosser had rescued from a library discard sale. These were books that they couldn't keep and couldn't sell. I love finding gems like this book at charity sales and whatnot. I hope this book finds other eager readers after I release it. It's currently available on the Book Relay site.

Comments (0) Steps: 7000



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