October 23, 2011

Review - "The Race" by Clive Cussler

Genre: Action/Adventure

Why can't I learn a simple lesson? Clive Cussler writes superb action/adventure books. Clive Cussler when using co-authors, in this case Justin Scott, does not write superb action/adventure books! This is all for the money.. Baahh... It gets me every time, and I make the mistake again and again - hoping, maybe this time, that things have changed. Well, they haven't..!

A bit about the book

The story takes place in 1910 and we are at the beginning of the aviation era. A news publisher, Preston Whiteway, offers $50.000 to the first aviator/aviatrix who is able to cross the States in less than 50 days. Whiteway even sponsors one of the favourite candidates, a tough and highly competitive girl - Josephine Frost - and this is where Cussler's/Scott's chief investigator Isaac Bell gets into the game.

Josephine's violent and convicted husband has just killed her lover and have tried to kill Josephine as well. There is no doubt that he will continue trying till he has succeeded. Isaac Bell has met Harry Frost before and he knows that Frost has built his fortune on gangs with thieves and murderers in every city and state accross the continent. Bell also knows that Frost not only will come after his wife, but also the news publisher Whiteway. And if Bell takes the case, well - then he'll also be on the list.  

Spoiler alerts...

The aviation race starts and what must happen happens. Isaac Bell manages during the whole competition to prevent every attempt of killing Josephine and himself. The attempts aren't even specially creative, and Bell - who has never been in an aeroplane before, manages to fly his own (!) as he hasn't done anything else in his whole life but flying. No instruction, nothing. Fantastic! He even wins the race! Yeeyyhh...

At the beginning of the story it is clearly visible that Josephines lover who is killed by Harry Frost will survive the attempt and somehow reappear. And of course he does. You'll find so many obvious subplots that it is pathetic. At the same time the novel is slooooooow. When has ever a true Clive Cussler novel been slow?!? 

My opinion, and

...my advice? Use your money more wisely. I was at least very disappointed - again! As mentioned, I used to find Cussler a very competent action/adventure storyteller, and his Dirk Pitt books are among the best in this genre. They are up to speed, are very exciting although easy to read, but creative and highly infectuous. Cussler mixes past "history" with present activities and has always a couple of parallell stories and subplots which always blend perfectly together in the end. There are always exciting twist & turns when you least expect it, and this fantastic mix has made Cussler to one of my favourite action/adventure writers. In the past, that is....

Cussler HAS written some good novels with another co-author, but he is the exception. This is the NUMA files with Paul Kemprecos. The first 8 books in this series holds in my opinion Cussler standard. However, I see that the 9th book "Devils Gate" he has swapped Kemprecos with the new Graham Brown for some reason, so here we go again...

How can Cussler accept this? He has now celebrated his 80th birthday, and yes - he is getting old. But why not end his career while on top? Why drag his own name through this co-author mud of destruction? I have now bought my last Clive Cussler novel! An era is over, I salute the author he used to be, and will probably re-read the whole Dirk Pitt series at one point in life. You were great, Cussler!

For you who want to read his good novels, check the list of his series HERE. I recommend all 21 novels in the Dirk Pitt series, and the first 8 NUMA files. The rest you can safely leave!

Pic of the day which goes with the novel: The de Havilland dual wing
Source: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk

October 21, 2011

Review - "Soul Protector" by Amanda Leigh Cowley

Genre: Paranormal

Gracie's boyfriend just left her after cheating on Gracie's younger sister Michelle, and she is now alone and depressed. It doesn't make the situation better when one of the evenings she is out with her friends two of them get engaged. Gracie is so overwhelmed by both her own sad situation and envy towards one of her best friends that when she gives Lydia a hug to congratulate her with the engagement she suddenly switches into her friend's body! She quickly manages to switch back, but fears that she can't tell anybody without them thinking she has gone completely insane.

The next time Gracie switches body it is planned. She needs to do it both to confirm to herself that she wasn't crazy the first time, and second to see if it really is possible for her to just decide to switch. It works perfectly fine, but this time Gracie gets abducted when switched, by a monitor - Dan. He clearly sees an orange aura coming from Gracies switched body. Dans job is to hunt down corrupt Soul Protectors who steal bodies for their own benefit, and the orange aura reveals that this person has gone over the recommended time limit for switching. When Dan finds out that Gracie is just not quite aware of neither her own Soul Protector situation nor the rules applied to a switched person, they become friends. Dan teaches her what the Soul Protectors are and their mission on earth.

Gracie falls in love with Dan, but there are complications on both sides. Gracie refuses to become a professional Soul Protector despite Dans recommendations, and continues in her present job. Dan himself is fully occupied with hunting down the corrupt Soul Protectors. How the story continues with Gracie, her friends, family and Dan is for me to know and you to find out, and I strongly suggest that you do!

My evaluation

This is a very good read! When I find myself not being able to put down the book even though it's in the middle of the night I just know I have found myself another pageturner. It is not high speed action that keeps me enthralled, it is more Cowleys way of developing her genuinely believable characters. They all have their strong and weak sides, and even though body swapping (still) isn't known to man, Cowley none the less manages to describe a perfectly sane attitude towards the phenomenon from Gracie's standpoint. This makes the story truly credible. Can this actually be done?

The whole idea of Soul Protectors are new to me. I found the plot very engaging and interesting and there are surprising twists and turns throughout the novel. It never gets slow! The lovestory between Gracie and Dan is also sweet, without me revealing any spoilers on the subject. This is only the first book in a series, and I must say I really look forward to the sequel. I am thoroughly curious about the developing of the characters and the soul protecting business going on. This novel I highly recommend, and I am amazed by the fact that this is Amanda Leigh Cowleys first novel!

My rating

(+) of 5

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: YouWriteOn (July 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1908481714
ISBN-13: 978-1908481719

Pic of the day: Jakarta by night - where I read this novel :-)

October 14, 2011

Review - "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice

Genre: YA/Paranormal

Well, now I have read my first ever vampire novel! It will not be my last, because this was definately something else than expected. This novel was first published in 1976. This is decades before vampires became popular main characters in both books and TV series. This story is unique! There are more novels following in the same series, "The Vampire Chronicles". I already have them installed on my Kindle :-)

A bit about the book

Having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. When he really reaches a low point in his life, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. Lestat convinces Louis that the world is a much better place to stay as an immortal vampire, and after only a short periode of time Louis accepts the offer and moves with Lestat to Louisiana.

The two prey on innocent people, but Louis still isn't satisfied with his life. He fells in love with the daughter at the nearby plantation. When she finds out that Louis is a vampyre she throws him out of the house, and Louis enters a new depressive periode. To enlighten his life, Lestat gives their "dark gift" to a young girl. Louis and Lestat become "fathers" and life reaches new heights. They are a happy "family" for many decades.

The years go by and a dramatic episode alters the life of the vampires resulting in Louis and the girl seeking soulmates in Europe. Without revealing too many spoilers the story gets worse and Louis ends up alone.  

And here the story actually begins, because...

The whole novel is an interview with the vampire Louis! He is interviewed by a sceptical young boy who to begin with doesn't believe in vampires at all.. The story is mainly written from the vampires perspective, and this transforms more or less Louis from a terrible murderer to a very sympathetic, seductive and too human figure..

The other very interesting aspect of the book is that by presenting the story from the view of an immortal raised as a catholic, Rice could freely explore the nature of evil, the reality around death and dying and above all the human limit of perception of what actually happens when one die. This is truly a different vampire story which mixes a childish facination for the supernatural (from the interviewers perspective) and a more inquiring look at the human condition from the vampires point of view.

Being not too fond of the idea of vampire novels to begin with, I found this one intrigueing. It made me definately want to read the other books in the series. The speed of which I read a book tells more about the book than anything else. This one was done in only a few days. A promising start for sure :-)

My rating

of 5

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 18, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345409647
ISBN-13: 978-0345409645
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches 

Pic of the day: Winter slowly creeps up on us - perfect days for reading ahead :-)


October 07, 2011

Blog Hop - Follow Friday

A great way to get to know other fellow book bloggers and find new and interesting blogs to follow. Join the blog hop Follow Friday!

If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

Today that is an easy question to answer! Right now I could do anything to swap with the Norwegian snowboarder Terje Haakonsen in "First Descent". They are snowboarding the wilderness of Alaska! *sigh*

Yes, today I am eager to jump a couple of months into the future. I have been drooling over the very good offers from Whistler, Canada. I am more than ready to bring the family back the following winter. All four of us snowboard, and we had a great winter holiday in Whistler earlier this year. 

October 06, 2011

Review - "In Her Name: Dead Soul" by Michael R. Hicks

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy & Romance

I got the welcoming opportunity of being one of the beta-readers of this book, and boy was I happy being chosen. I have been anxiously awaiting Hick's new book in the "In Her Name" series, and I was far from disappointed!!

About the book (from Amazon)

Three years after the brutal first contact encounter with the alien Kreelan Empire, the human Confederation is desperate for a victory. With over a dozen worlds under siege by legions of Kreelan warriors, President McKenna orders the Confederation military to deliver a victory to give humanity hope.

Roland Mills, Valentina Sikorsky, Ichiro Sato and his wife Steph, along with the irrepressible General James Sparks are once again at the sharp end of the spear in a mission to take back the colony of Alger’s World from the alien invaders before it’s too late.

But overwhelming firepower may not be enough. For leading the invasion of Alger’s World is Ku’ar-Marekh, a Kreelan warrior priestess with dreadful powers, whose spirit is trapped between life and death. Feared by the warriors of the Empire, she is known as the Dead Soul...

My evaluation

Hicks has done it again. This is an excellent novel, and one among the very best I've read in this genre! This sixth book in the "In Her Name"-series holds the same quality as my favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy trilogy, which also happens to be Hicks first three novels in the same series - "In Her Name: Empire, Confederation & Final Battle". Thinking of it, I may put "Dead Soul" on the very top! This is a true pageturner, and I only had a short night between the first and last part of the book. I could not put it down!

The new Kreelan warrior - Ku'ar Marakh - is frighteningly scary, even compared to her blue companions. Allison as an early teenage "mini-heroine" develops beautifully throughout the story. I was very happy to meet Valentina Sikorsky again - the girl with the enhanced body and extended functionality from the previous book "First Contact". And Roland Mills, he is the perfect hero! The humans can finally match the blue warriors in warfare, with Ichiro Sato as "the chosen one" commanding fleet officer.

Hicks has his own beautiful way of developing unique characters, and it is brilliantly done! They have a wonderful depth to them, and they are so credible you may wonder where he picks them :-) In this novel you get everything - the fight between the Kreelan race and humanity, love and sacrifice, tactical warfare and hand-to-hand combat. You don't have to read the other books in the series to thoroughly enjoy this one, it stands very well on it's own two feet, but I recommend you spending time on each and every one "In Her Name" books. You will not be disappointed! 

No one above, no one even close! Being a reader is so enjoyable and rewarding when you find authors like Hicks!

Happy read! :-)

My rating

of 5

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 441 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Imperial Guard Publishing, LLC (October 1, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Yes - Hicks definately nailed it... :-)


Kindle Fire success

It looks like Amazon with their new Kindle Fire has had a great sales start! Information leaked from amazon.com reveals that over 254.000 Kindle Fire's have been pre-ordered the first 5 days! This means an average of 2.100 units pr. hour! Not too bad!!

I don't think the Kindle Fire will sell better than the iPad in the long run, but I have to admit that I'm thoroughly impressed so far, bearing in mind that this is US only (unfortunately).

After having giving it a second thought I have decided not to buy one of the new Kindles. I am too fond of my now newly renamed Kindle Keyboard. It has nothing to do with pricing, more that I'm not that fond of touch screens. Buying the simple Kindle will then be kind of stupid since my excisting K3 in addition to a keyboard also has twice the battery capacity and storage compared to the small, new one.

If I was in the market for a new e-reader and found touch screen an interesting feature I would probably wait till the Kindle Touch reached Europe. It has a nice design, is small and quick and with a one-click easy-buy of e-books from the amazon.com store just a touch away :-)

What I more look forward to is this - and my snowboard out of storage again :-)

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