Saturday, September 29, 2007

Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor)

Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor) by Sergei Lukyanenko (1998)

Description: Others. They walk among us, observing. Set in contemporary Moscow, where shape shifters, vampires, and street-sorcerers linger in the shadows, Night Watch is the first book of the hyper-imaginative fantasy trilogy from bestselling Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko. This epic saga chronicles the eternal war of the "others," an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who must swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light.

The agents of Light - the Night Watch - oversee nocturnal activity, while the agents of Dark keep watch over the day. For a thousand years both sides have maintained a precarious balance of power, but an ancient prophecy has decreed that a supreme Other will one day emerge, threatening to tip the scales. Now, that day has arrived. When a mid-level Night Watch agent named Anton stumbles upon a cursed young woman - an uninitiated Other with magnificent potential - both sides prepare for a battle that could lay waste to the entire city, possibly the world.

Review: What an interesting novel from Russia. It was really refreshing to read something from another country (although it was translated). I really like the whole light vs. dark scenario going on. It almost makes the light (or good) side seem like the real bad guys. I also like how each person actually chooses if they are light or dark and if one is dark, it doesn't make them evil. I almost have to wonder if Lukyanenko ever read Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising. After reading Rising, I found some similar themes. I know they are all taken from mythology, but I found them to be very close, which fascinated me. The book is long and is actually three stories in one. However, it went really fast and I couldn't wait to continue on the story. I highly recommend this book to sci-fi fans.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Movie Connectrions: Timur Bekmambetov brought this book to the big screen in Russia. Most of the story elements were left alone, but an important one was really changed. In the book, Anton is just a friend of Egor, not his father (as in the movie). I'm not exactly sure why they did that, but perhaps it was just to create some additional conflict. Honestly, I haven't seen the movie in a while, so I would need a refresher. I do remember being absolutely blown away. I thought it was really original and glad to see something of this quality coming from Russia. This movie should most definitely be seen by all.

Nochnoy Dozor (2004)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Tattooed Girl

The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates (2003)

Description: Joshua Seigl, a celebrated but reclusive author, is forced for reasons of failing health to surrender his much-prized bachelor's independence. Advertising for an assistant, he unwittingly embarks upon the most dangerous adventure of his privileged life.

Alma Busch, a sensuous, physically attractive young woman with bizarre tattoos covering much of her body, stirs in Seigl a complex of emotions: pity? desire? responsibility? guilt? Unaware of her painful past and her troubled personality, Seigl hires her as his assistant. As the novel alternates between Seigl's and Alma's points of view, the naive altruism of the one and the virulent anti-Semitism of the other clash in a tragedy of thwarted erotic desire.

Review: This has to be one of the worst books I have ever read. The only reason I finished it was because it was a book club pick. The whole book is filled with anti-Semitic slurs. I couldn't care less about any of the characters. It was difficult to find a redeeming quality to anyone. Also, certain facts are never discovered (what was Seigl's disease and who tattooed the girl and why???) I really wonder if the person who wrote the blurb on the book cover read the same book that I did. It was nothing like the book at all. Unfortunately, this was my first Oates book and to be honest, it may be my last. I would most definitely pass this book up.

Score: 1 out of 5

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Lake House

The Lake House by James Patterson (2003)

Description: Six extraordinary children are trying to lead normal lives in the Rocky Mountain countryside. They live in different homes, with different families, but there is something powerful that connects them. Something that puts them in terrible danger.

The only time they've ever felt safe was when they were together in the waterfront cabin they call the Lake House. And the only people they've ever trusted are Frannie and Kit, the couple who rescued them from unimaginable evil once before.

When that evil resurfaces, the kids reconnect with Frannie and Kit and set off on an astonishing adventure. They flee to the Lake House, but even that haven may no longer be safe.

Dr. Ethan Kane is chief of surgery at Liberty General Hospital, one of the most esteemed hospitals in the nation. It is here that terrible secrets lie, secrets that will change the world for all of us.

Review: I only read this as it is the sequel to When the Wind Blows. What it really was, was the first book all over again... but a twisted version of it. We catch up with the kids and Frannie and Kit during this huge custody battle. Not long after we are back on the run with them in an all too familiar sinario. Then, the book takes a somewhat twisted change. Its like Patterson forgot that these kids were kids. They were talking and acting a lot older than 12 year olds. I would most definitely pass this book over.

When the Wind Blows

When the Wind Blows by James Patterson (1998)

Description: Frannie O'Neill is a young and talented veterinarian living in Colorado. Plagued by the mysterious murder of her husband, David, a local doctor, Frannie throws herself into her work. It is not long before another bizarre murder occurs and Kit Harrison, a troubled and unconventional FBI agent, arrives on her doorstep.

Late one night, near the woods of her animal hospital, Frannie stumbles upon a strange, astonishing phenomenon that will change the course of her life forever...

Her name is Max.

With Heartbreaking energy, eleven-year-old Max leads Frannie and Kit to uncover one of the most diabolical and in human plots of modern science.

Review: I decided to check this book out after reading Patterson's Maximum Ride, as it is based on When the Wind Blows. For whatever reason, Patterson decided to take his characters from When the Wind Blows and The Lake House and revamped them into the story of Maximum Ride. I have to say, I think I like the revamped characters. This book was a decent book with an interesting concept. Basically, there is this big government conspiracy with biotechnology. Nothing new, really. These bad scientists decided to splice human with avian DNA. So we get these bird-children. We also have a rouge FBI agent frequently referred to as "Mulder" and a softy veterinarian as their protectors. Once they all find each other people start dying and other mischief ensues. While it was interesting, it was a bit too dramatic at times for me. On the whole, not a bad beach read, but if you are looking for a good read, I would check out one of Patterson's Alex Cross books.

Score: 3 out of 5

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Woods

The Woods by Harlan Coben (2007)

Description: Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again.

For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. when a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor's family are threatened.

In this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with sister? could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.

Review: This was my first time reading something by Coben. I have to say that I am a fan. This was a great read that didn't take me too long to finish. I can see why we have a hard time keeping any of his books on the shelves at the library. I thought the original story was interesting, so I checked it out. Wow, there were so many different turns and revelations. It was very true to life though. Do we ever really know those closest to us? I also loved the sarcastic character of Cope. He was a great "hero". He had his faults, but at the end he knew what was right and did it. A really great mystery that I think everyone should check out. I will definitely check out some of his other works.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Quickie

The Quickie by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (2007)

Description: When she sees her husband with another woman, Lauren Stillwell's heart nearly stops beating. Their marriage is perfect, she has a great job, she loves her life. But his betrayal turn her into someone she never imagined she could be - a woman lusting for revenge.

It was supposed to be a quickie, a way to even the score. But Lauren's night of passion takes a shocking turn when he witnesses an unexpected, unbelievable, deadly crime. Her horrifying secret threatens to tear her life apart, pitting her need to uncover the truth against her fear that the truth may be too horrible to bear. And whichever choice she makes could cost her dearly - her job, her marriage, even her life.

Review: I couldn't wait to get to the end of this book. It took no time to read, but what time I did spend, it was pure entertainment. What a ride from beginning to end. Although, I did figure some stuff out early on, I was really intrigued by all of the plot twists and turns. It was really a fantastic book (more like a beach read) that I think if you need some entertainment, you should definitely check out.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Friday, September 14, 2007

Too Late to Say Goodbye

Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal by Ann Rule (2007)

Description: Jenn Corbin appeared to have it all: two sons, a posh home, expensive cars, and a successful, handsome husband - Dr. Bart Corbin. Then their idyllic life together began to crumble. Just before Christmas 2004, Jenn was found dead, a revolver beside her. Gwinnett County detective Marcus Head was not convinced it was suicide. And was this related to the apparent suicide fourteen years earlier of Dorothy "Dolly" Hearn? A high school athlete and homecoming queen, Dolly dated Bart in dental school. Or was the answer to be found in a relationship Jenn was having outside her marriage?

Review: What a heartbreaking story. I felt so connected to the people involved due to Rule's excellent writing. What I really love about Rule is that she doesn't make you feel a certain way about the case she is presenting. She presents the facts and then lets you form your own opinion. I thought this book was outstanding and a great fast read for those who really like true crime.

Score: 4 out of 5