SAXTON B. LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
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Saxton Reads! & Reviews
We invite the public to post reviews to our catalog by logging into our online catalog. Reviews will then be posted to this blog. Comments can be added to existing posts or may be added as separate reviews on our catalog
SEPTEMBER 27, 2009
Takeover ~ Lisa Black
A Forensic Scientist to Watch!
I can't figure out where I read about this author in the last few days. I read lots of reviews and reader blogs so it may have been on one of these. Or it could have been in an article about September 2009 releases. This is annoying me and I'd like to remember so I could back and see what prompted me to go looking for Lisa Black's first book, Takeover. I do know that I was intrigued that Black is a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office and that her character in this book, Theresa MacLean shares this occupation with her creator. I remember reading about this debut novel back in August 2008 but it quickly left my range of consciousness until the announcement of the new book prodded it into my radar.
Reading Lisa Black's Takeover sparked the same thrill I felt when first reading Cornwell's Postmortem. Though not as heavy on forensics as reader's of that genre might like, Takeover is a fast paced, hard to put down, suspenseful read. Taking place mostly in just one day, June 25th, starting at 6:42 AM, I was never bored with the events as they unfolded. Initially there's a dead body, hence MacLean's involvement. The body might be Mark Ludow, a recently hired federal reserve bank employee. Homicide Detective Paul Cleary, MacLean's fiance, begins an investigation at the bank when two persons storm the lobby, grab hostages and are at a standoff as their escape vehicle is driven away by a security guard. Whether or not their intent is to rob the bank is unclear but the hostage situation is a serious one, prompting Cleary who is in plain clothes, not to reveal his ID as a cop, biding his time for an opportunity to nail the bad guys. The hostage negotiator, Chris Cavanaugh arrives and sets up house in a library of all places. The next ten hours are a nail biting, tense ride. The characters are wonderfully drawn, I grew quite fond of Cavanaugh, the story is darn good, and by day's end, you're hoping for another book featuring MacLean and company. Did I see where the story was going, the why of Ludow's death. Yep, but it didn't lessen the enjoyment of the book one iota.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2009
Shiver ~ Maggie Stiefvater
**reviewed by bas bleu
While admittedly not a fan of the Twilight series, I was intrigued by the numerous positive reviews of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, another paranormal YA novel, and decided to give it a try. Shiver tells the story from the points of view of its two main characters. Seventeen-year-old Grace is inexplicably drawn to the wolves who gather in the woods outside her Minnesota home each winter. She is particularly attracted to one wolf with mesmerizing yellow eyes, and thinks it might be the same wolf that rescued her from an attack by a pack of wolves when she was younger. Sam, the second protagonist, appears in two forms. In warmer weather, he is human, and during the cold months of the year, Sam reverts to his wolf form. When Grace encounters Sam in his human form, complete with the same amazing eyes, they form an immediate bond (think wolves and how they mate for life…). Grace realizes that Sam is a werewolf and the yellow-eyed wolf from her past. The plot revolves around their struggle to keep Sam in his human form so that they can be together. I am a hard sell when it comes to fantasy writing. It took me forever to jump on the bandwagon and read the Harry Potter books, and as far as the Twilight series is concerned, you already know how I feel about that. I thought I might be outgrowing my aversion to fantasy when I fell hard for Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but I now believe that I like those books because they are masterfully written and totally engaging. The fantasy element is secondary. There were some things I liked about Shiver. Some of the writing was lyrical, for example, and this particular passage totally drew me in: “Even in the bookstore, which was air-conditioned, the heat crept in around the door and came in through the big picture windows in waves…. Behind the counter, I slouched on my stool in the sun and sucked in the summer as if I could hold every drop of it inside of me. As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.” (p. 8). Anyone who loves words and books has to be enchanted by that description. And then Stiefvater spoils it by writing something like this: “I was not a wolf, but I wasn’t Sam yet, either. I was a leaking womb bulging with the promise of conscious thoughts…” (p. 63). Come on, now. Do you know any men who actually think or talk like that? Would you even want to? Ewwwww…. Furthermore, plot issues abound: 1. Grace’s parents (as well as the other parents in the novel) are completely oblivious and totally detached from their children. If you were a parent, wouldn’t you notice if your daughter had a young man living in your house and sleeping in her bed? For weeks? 2. One of the secondary teenaged characters, Isabel, is written as a vapid, Paris Hilton-like stereotype, complete with a “handbag Chihuahua that she dressed to match her outfits.” (p. 32). Yet later in the story, Isabel illegally enters a clinic and draws vials of blood from a patient there, which she then injects into the werewolves. The author has Isabel report, “Yes, I know how to draw blood! Doesn’t everyone?” (p. 352). Evidently, this explanation is supposed to be convincing to the readers, but instead it feels like a mere contrivance. 3. One of the biggest issues with the plot is with the wolves themselves. When in their human form, many of them are intelligent and successful. Why, then, do they continue living in frigid Minnesota? Have they never seriously considered a more temperate climate? Passing mention is made of an ill-fated relocation of several werewolves to Texas, where an open door and a waft of air-conditioning spell doom for one of them. The weak plotting makes Shiver far-fetched even for paranormal fiction. It disrupts the narrative flow and is a sign (to me, at least) of laziness on the part of the author. And don’t even get me started on the egregious liberties Steifvater took with the ending. The characters test a hypothetical “cure” involving a contagious, genuine, and oftentimes fatal infection. I found this to be simply irresponsible on the part of both the author and the publisher. I do not want to include any “spoilers” here, but if you read it, you will perhaps have the same reaction. Shiver is another novel whose reviews are all over the place. It might be a good choice for a teen reading group. I could definitely envision a lively discussion!
SEPTEMBER 9, 2009
In the Authors Own Words ~ Mike Angley ~ updated 9/15/09*
Welcome Guest Blogger Mike Angley
O'Donnell is a man of deep faith and is a loving and devoted husband and father. He must make tough ethical choices in order to balance his desire to rescue children with what he knows to be right and wrong when it comes to what the government expects him to do. And all the while he threads through this murky moral morass, he must solve the murders that occurred because of him, while protecting his family who have become trapped in a twisted web of government intrigue.
Child Finder received some outstanding reviews before it launched. Library Journal said, "This compelling debut novel, the first in a trilogy, features a memorable protagonist who is a combination of devoted father and mystic. For fans of supernatural thrillers and those who enjoy the TV show Medium, this is a real find." Armchair Interviews gave it five stars and noted, "I loved this book! This is a book for anyone who loves political suspense, secret government agencies, and uniquely gifted heroes!"
While the story itself is certainly unique, so is the author's background. Colonel Michael "Mike" Angley retired from the US Air Force in 2007, following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the USAF equivalent of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). He held thirteen different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Squadrons and a Wing.
Mike is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. Following the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, he was dispatched to command all OSI units throughout the Middle East, with responsibility for 23 countries. During his tenure he and his teams effectively neutralized numerous terrorist threats to U.S. forces in the region, to include an imminent threat to senior Department of Defense officials.
Angley has an M.A. in National Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, and a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Psychology from King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA. He is a former National Defense Fellow and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Florida International University, Miami, FL, and is an Honor Graduate of the Defense Language Institute's Korean language program.
We'd like to congratulate Mike Angley on winning the following award:
Debut Author Wins National-Level Book Award
When Mike Angley retired from his USAF counterterrorism career he had no idea his debut novel would end up winning in a national awards program. His mystery/thriller, Child Finder, took the Silver Medal in the Fiction category of the Military Writers Society of America's 2009 Awards program. All award winners were announced on the Veterans Radio program (www.veteransradio.net) on September 12, 2009. Mike Angley will attend the MWSA's annual conference in Orlando, FL from October 9 - 10 to receive this prestigious honor. (http://militarywriters.com/2009Awards.html)
Category: Meet the Author