May 30, 2015

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Title:  And the Mountains Echoed
Author:  Khaled Hosseini
Pages:  404
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Riverhead Books, 2013

Synopsis:  Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page

Review:  I was surprised when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I did not expect to enjoy the book half as much as I did.  This time around, I knew what a fine author Khaled Hosseini is.  And still, his panoramic and engrossing tale has managed to surprise me.

The characters, the backdrops, and the story are all so rich and vivid that it begins to feel as if it's real and you are there.  Incredible, sad and unforgettable.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

May 25, 2015

The Walking by Bentley Little

Title:  The Walking
Author:  Bentley Little
Pages:  373
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Signet, 2000

Synopsis:  It begins in a small Southwestern town. Then it spreads. Across the country a series of strange deaths have overtaken the living. And a stranger compulsion has overtaken the dead.

In a travesty of life they drift with bizarre purpose toward an unknown destination. The walkers have become an obsession for investigator Miles Huerdeen. His father is one of them.

Now, lured into the shadow of the restless dead, Miles is a step closer to a secret as old as a reality as dark as hell. For Miles is following them into the deep end of an unfathomable nightmare.

Review:  Witches, monsters and dead people walking around.  What's not to love?  This story is actually pretty good, not great, but certainly a fine story to pick up on a dark and stormy night.

What intrigued me the most is that the dead people are called Walkers.  This book was published before the first of the Walking Dead comics and certainly before the first of the television episodes, so I must wonder if this author was the inspiration for at least part of the idea and the name.

I liked how the story kept going from the past at Wolf Canyon to the present in whatever location the main characters are in.  It kept the story fresh and allowed you to slowly begin to understand what was happening to Miles and his friends.

Rating:  5 / 10

May 17, 2015

Army Wives by Tanya Biank

Title:  Army Wives:  The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage
Author:  Tanya Biank
Pages:  261
Genre:  Non Fiction
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, 2006

Synopsis:  Army Wives goes beyond the sound bites and photo ops of military life to bring listeners into the hearts and homes of today’s military wives.

Biank tells the story of four typical army wives who, in a flash, find themselves in extraordinary circumstances that ultimately force them to redefine who they are as women and wives. This is a true story about what happens when real life collides with army convention. Army Wives is a groundbreaking narrative that takes the listener beyond the army’s gates, taking a close look at the other woman – the army itself – and how its traditions, rules, and wartime realities deeply impact marriage and home life.

Review:  As a huge fan of the Lifetime Television series based on this book, I was prepared to be either thrilled with this book or disappointed by it.  I knew there wouldn't be a middle ground.

The book is okay, but certainly not the same great story as shown in the television series.  Ms. Biank is a news reporter and it shows in her writing style.  While I understand that this is a factual account, her writing style comes across as cold and detached, which may be right for a newspaper but is just not quite good enough for a book.  I'm glad the book wasn't any longer.  I was losing patience and interest.

However, the importance of the book is clear.  It surely must have helped open the military's eyes to the fact that quite a few military marriages were unhappy.  And that, unfortunately, that unhappiness led to deaths in several cases.  I can only hope that now, almost 10 years later, the military has addressed these issues and made some kind of reliable system to help those in need.

I wouldn't read it again but I'm not sorry I read it.

Rating:  2.5 / 10

May 14, 2015

Skybowl by Melanie Rawn

Title:  Skybowl
Author:  Melanie Rawn
Pages:  760
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  DAW, 1994
Series:  Dragon Star, Book 3
His fire.  For all of them, for however long it would burn.
Synopsis:  With her widely acclaimed fantasy trilogy, DRAGON PRINCE, Melanie Rawn opened an enchanted gateway to a spellbinding universe of Sunrunner's magic and sorcerous evil, telling the tale of one man's crusade to bring peace to a land divided into often warring kingdoms. In the first two novels of the best-selling DRAGON STAR trilogy, the peaceful reign of High Prince Rohan was shattered by a mysterious invasion force which began a devastating campaign against the people of the Desert and the Sunrunners. And now, SKYBOWL brings this magnificent epic work of fantasy to its dramatic close.

With High Prince Pol's wife Meiglan held prisoner by the Warlord of the enemy, and Skybowl keep purposefully abandoned to this deadly foe, Pol's mother Sioned leads a daring mission into the castle, using all her years of experience as High Princess in a cunning attempt to strike at the heart of the invasion force. And even as Sioned carries out this perilous plan, Pol and his cousin Andry, Lord of the Sunrunners of Goddess Keep, are forced into an uneasy alliance. For only if they can overcome their longtime rivalry and suspicions of one another and draw upon their combined powers of Sunrunning and Sorcery, do they stand any chance of defeating the invaders who have sworn to destroy the people of the Desert - down to the last newborn child...

Review:  I cannot begin to say how much I enjoyed the six books that make up the story of Rohan, Sioned, Pol and their family, friends and enemies.  This is one of my favorite series of all time, right up there with Margaret Weis' Death Gate series and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.

I am so sad I am done.  I wish there were more.  I'm not done with these characters or this lovely place with it's fantastic dragons yet, but I am content as well.  The stories were so well written, each even better than the last, that I am unable to say how Ms. Rawn could possibly have continued to outdo herself.  I just wonder what happened next.....

Rating:  10 / 10

May 6, 2015

March / April 2015 TBR Challenge Wrap Up

Goal:  50
Completed:  10

The date the book was added to my TBR is in parenthesis.

March / April
7. Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn (8/19/2008)
8. The Star Scroll by Melanie Rawn (8/19/2008)
9. Sun-Runner's Fire by Melanie Rawn (8/23/2008)
10. Stronghold by Melanie Rawn (8/19/2008)

Favorite of these?  Impossible to decide!  All of the Melanie Rawn books are fantastic!


The Dragon Token by Melanie Rawn

Title:  The Dragon Token
Author:  Melanie Rawn
Pages:  654
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  DAW, 1992
Series:  Dragon Star, Book 2
From page to squire to knight to Lord of Remagev, he had served his prince, fought for him and beside him, loved him -- and now, in the shattered moonlight, he wept for him.
Synopsis:  The time for retreat has come to an end as Rohan's son and heir, Pol, rallies his forces in a desperate bid to halt the advance of the invaders. But ancient rivalries begin to weaken his alliance and only time will tell whether those loyal to the High Prince can defeat both the foreign invaders and the betrayers in their own ranks.

And even as Pol leads his troops forth, Andry, the Sunrunner Lord of Goddess Keep, is also determined to take the attack to this enemy force which has sworn to slay all workers of magic.

Yet the invaders have their own agenda of conquest, and they are even now readying to strike at the very heart of the Desert, stealing treasures which Pol and Andry would pay any price to reclaim -- even if the price should prove to be their own lives.

Review:  Out with the old and in with the new.  I know it's how life works, but I hated seeing some of the older characters that I've come to love in these 5 books die.  Nonetheless, this story is fabulous and the series is leading up to what I'm sure will be an awesome finale.  I'm starting the last book in the series right away.

Rating:  10 / 10
Back to Top