Tag Archives: thriller

The Torah Codes by Ezra Barany

The Torah Codes by Ezra Barany: This was described to me as sort of a Jewish Da Vinci Code and, truth be told, that was enough to get me interested. Nathan discovers that his landlord is spying on him, his name (and several other things) are encoded in a certain book of the Torah, and several people are after him for some weird and vaguely religious reason. Okay, so maybe my synopsis isn’t a good sell, but the fact is that I plowed through this book in record time. Nathan is likable and often very funny, and the action kept me turning the pages. Do I believe prophecy is encoded in the Torah? Doesn’t matter. It was fun and crazy and I look forward to Barany’s next thriller.

Confession time: I did not read the essays in the appendix. I hear they’re quite good and well worth reading, but I was just in it for the story, not the religious speculation.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Original Sin by Beth McMullen

Original Sin by Beth McMullen: Lucy Parks is a stay-at-home mom, simultaneously raising her three-year-old son and trying to hide the fact that she used to be James Bond. Well, that’s only sort of true: in her former life she was known as Sally Sin, a spy for the US Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction, an action-packed thrill ride of a career that allowed for exactly no social life whatsoever. When Lucy met her soon-to-be husband Will, she quit the Agency and dedicated herself to full-time normalcy. The story is an entertaining mix of Lucy’s current pleasantly mundane life and her memories as a spy, which could have been directed by Michael Bay. Though I had trouble buying the relationship between Lucy and Will, as they appear to have pretty much nothing in common, I got a kick out Lucy’s struggle to maintain calm as the madness of her former life comes back to haunt her. From what I understand, this is the first book in an upcoming series – one I might actually try to keep up with. This book is a fun ride.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Juliet by Anne Fortier: Though Romeo & Juliet is perhaps my least favorite Shakespeare play, I am quite familiar with it and was curious to see how it would work here. When her aunt and guardian passes away, Julie is given the key to a safe deposit box in Siena, Italy, belonging to her deceased mother. Once there she discovers a longstanding feud between the Tolomeis and the Salimbenis, legendary families that inspired the famous Shakespeare play. Intertwined are the tragic tale of the original Romeo and Giulietta with Julie’s adventures as she attempts to uncover her family’s secrets. I really enjoyed this one. Some of the twists and turns truly took me by surprise, and the descriptions of Siena were vivid and enticing. I didn’t want to put it down, always promising myself just one more chapter. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Fortier novels.

Also posted on BookCrossing.
Read as part of the Books Won Reading Challenge.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz: Koontz books are many things – exciting, amusing, preachy, absurd, creepy, fun – but never boring. This book, alas, is boring. The Koontz staples are there – magical dogs, blameless Catholics, bad people with no motive other than being Pure Evil – but they’re all just a bit too yawn-worthy in this story. The baddies spend too much of their time demonstrating how bad they are, from killing strangers for sport to abusing a child with Down’s Syndrome, and very little time having distinguishable personalities. The only time I felt any emotional connection to the story whatsoever was when a dog died, but I always cry when animals die, so that’s not saying much. I’m starting to think Mr. Koontz and I need to break up. Or maybe I should just stick with his older stuff.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

No Greater Sacrifice by John C. Stipa

No Greater Sacrifice by John C. Stipa: Independently wealthy archaeologist Renee and troubled history professor David are summoned to a small village in France to hear the reading of a will. Though ostensibly strangers, it turns out the pair met a couple years before while vacationing (separately) in Rome, and their pasts intertwine even more. Their romance blooms in fits and starts, which didn’t really interest me all that much but luckily was not a huge chunk of the story. Rather, the plot focuses on a strange artifact, broken into pieces and scattered throughout Europe. Finding and reassembling them becomes an obsession for Renee and David. The flavor is distinctly reminiscent of Dan Brown, except with far superior writing and less exasperating characters.

I think my favorite part was how our heroes pursue the secret of their inheritance purely out of personal interest and thirst for adventure. Yes, they’re being chased by bad guys, but that’s external drama and does not drive their quest. They could have simply forgotten about it and gone home, but of course then we wouldn’t have had a story. Luckily, Renee and David let their curiosity get the better of them, and have some grand adventures in the process. Parts were clearly written with a camera lens in mind, but that actually made the action easier to visualize. Though I was still slightly confused as to what the Big Secret ended up being in the end, I had no problem keeping track of the myriad of players. All in all, a good first novel.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh: It’s never a dull moment for the cops of Hollywood Station. The overarching plot is about a master of disguise, a handful of con men, and a handsome teenager just beginning to embrace his inner psychopath. In addition, there are plenty of little asides along the way – funny and/or poignant conversations between the cops, bizarre incidents with criminals, and the like – which keep the action moving. All the characters were great, but I enjoyed the surfer cops the most. Something about the lingo makes me chuckle every time. As far as I can tell, this is the third Hollywood Station book, but I didn’t ever feel like I was missing something. My only real complaint was that the ending felt a touch forced. However, the rest of the story was so good I can overlook that.

I listened to this on audio, read by Christian Rummell, who was absolutely excellent. Not only is he a great narrator, but he is also the man of a thousand voices. Even his female voices are convincing and distinct!

Also posted on BookCrossing.
Read for the Books Won Reading Challenge.

The Taking by Dean Koontz

The Taking by Dean Koontz: Um, wow. This was really terrible. I have no idea why I finished it. Basically, there’s a bunch of sparkling rain and people start seeing weird stuff in mirrors, and everybody immediately assumes that it signals an alien invasion. They’re right, which saves a bunch of time, but I’m still not sure how they knew. The prose is a solid shade of purple, people suspiciously quote T.S. Eliot, and dolls get possessed. And because this is a Koontz novel, there are magical dogs, questionable science, preachy theology, and a serial killer. I saw the “twist” ending a mile away, but thought “No, that would be too silly, even for Koontz” – and was of course completely wrong. Clearly nothing is too silly for Koontz. I’ve liked several of his other books, but this was simply awful.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Fire by Katherine Neville

The Fire by Katherine Neville: The long-awaited sequel to Neville’s excellent debut novel, The Eight, and it’s pretty meh. I admit I probably did not come into this in the best mindset: The Eight is just so good, it’s hard not to expect The Fire to be just as engrossing. Then again, it didn’t help that one of my favorite characters was killed off in the freaking prologue either. Anyway, the gist of this story is that The Game has been restarted thirty years after the events in The Eight – both in the present (Alexandria, daughter of Cat and Solarin) and past (Mirielle’s son Charlot) timelines. There’s a lot of random people involved, a lot of talk about Original Instructions which may or may not refer to sexual intercourse, loads of obscure chess references that don’t make a whole lot of sense, and very few loose ends tied up. I was quite clear on the purpose of the Montglane Service at the end of The Eight; now I have no idea. The inevitable love story between the narrator and the mysterious foreigner was all too predictable. The twist ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth, it was so contrived. All in all, just not a very good book. I kept reading, hoping things would pick up, but they never did. Alas.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Eros Ascending by Mike Resnick

Eros Ascending by Mike Resnick: Harry Redwine has been sent to cook the books of the Velvet Comet, and orbiting pleasure palace singled out for sabotage by an unnamed, power-hungry bureaucrat in the upper echelons of parent company Vainmill. Despite the science fiction backdrop, this is more of a thriller, full of complex power struggles and intrigue. I wasn’t all that satisfied with the ending, but it’s only the first in a series so I can’t really complain too much. Not Resnick’s best work, but still a decent read.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Eight by Katherine Neville

The Eight by Katherine Neville: This is my second time reading this book and it was amazing all over again. Like all of Neville’s novels, two stories are interweaved: one in the present (in this case, the 1970’s) and one in the past (late 18th century). Two women, a computer expert and nun, attempt each in their respective time periods to unravel the mystery behind a powerful and much-coveted ancient chess set, the Montglane Service. This book is full of action and romance, suspense and memorable characters. The number of famous historical figures who show up does border on the absurd, but I was too busy having a good time to nitpick. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Side note for those who’ve read the book: my sister was in love with Solarin, but my heart belongs to Nim. :)

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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