July 28, 2016

The Appeal by John Grisham

Title:  The Appeal
Author:  John Grisham
Pages:  324
Genre:  Legal Thriller
Publisher:  Doubleday, 2008
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Politics has always been a dirty game.  Now justice is, too.

In a crowded courtroom in Mississippi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town’s water supply, causing the worst “cancer cluster” in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it.

Who are the nine? How will they vote? Can one be replaced before the case is ultimately decided?

The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court. The cost is a few million dollars, a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Mr. Trudeau. Through an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit, his political operatives recruit a young, unsuspecting candidate. They finance him, manipulate him, market him, and mold him into a potential Supreme Court justice. Their Supreme Court justice.

The Appeal is a powerful, timely, and shocking story of political and legal intrigue, a story that will leave readers unable to think about our electoral process or judicial system in quite the same way ever again.

Review:  John Grisham outdoes himself this time.  I was so ready for a happy ending, or at least a fair ending.  This book isn't fair.  It isn't happy.  It's a story of what could (and probably has) happened.  The story made me angry, sad, and upset and I'm sure that's exactly what the author had in mind.  In this instance, the truth does not set you free -- it's just plain horrible.

The main characters were all very human.  Some were good, some were bad, and the rest were somewhere in between.  I ended up feeling the most sorry for the justice of the Supreme Court that Carl Trudeau buys.  He was idealistic and had no idea the monster he'd aligned himself with until it was far too late.  His family winds up facing a tragedy and then he realizes what he's done by supporting 'big business' over real people.  So sad because this really very well-meaning man has to look himself in the mirror every day and know he sold out.

I loved this book.

Rating:  9 / 10

July 23, 2016

Sorcerer's Legacy by Janny Wurts

Title:  Sorcerer's Legacy
Author:  Janny Wurts
Pages:  246
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Ace, 1982
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  The sorcerer beckoned to her from a land of ice and snow and, stricken by the death of her husband and the loss of the lands they had ruled together, she followed his call.  He led her to a world ruled by wizards who played a deadly game of court intrigue, with a kingdom as the prize.  He brought her to their court wrapped in the protection of his sorceries -- and then he died.  And she was left in the center of the game, with no knowledge of the rules or the players, no way of knowing who played with White magic, and who played with Black...

Review:  A very nice and short fantasy story, complete with princes and wizards and demons.  Impossible to put down in some places, this story tells a harrowing tale of a woman torn from her home and her time to try to save a prince from death.  She pays a heavier price than she ever thought possible to give herself a chance at life.

I'd have given this book a higher rating if there weren't quite so much sappy romance in what was otherwise a very solid fantasy tale.  I really like this author and only have one more of her stories left to read.  I have to find more of her novels.  Time to discover what other books she's written and get copies!!

Rating:  7.5 / 10

July 21, 2016

Desolation Angels by James Axler

Title:  Desolation Angels
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  314
Genre:    Action / Adventure, Sci Fi
Publisher:  Gold Eagle, 2014
Series:  Deathlands #118


A hundred years after the nukecaust, the tortured landscape of post-apocalyptic America offers a brutal fight for survival. Yet tech secrets lie hidden, useful to those brave and strong enough to believe that hope can carry them toward ever-elusive peace.

Violent gangs, a corrupt mayor and a heavily armed police force are the hallmarks of former Detroit, a mutie-infested, rubble-strewn metropolis. When Ryan and the companions show up, the Desolation Angels are waging a war to rule the streets. After saving the companions from being chilled by gangsters, the mayor hires Ryan and his friends to stop the Angels cold. But each hard blow toward victory proves there's no good side to be fighting for. As Motor City erupts into bloody conflagration, the companions are caught in the crossfire. In Deathlands, hell is called home.

Review:  Well, this book wasn't as bad as I expected since I don't like the particular author that wrote it.  But, it was no where near as good as the last one.

It was still full of plenty of action and adventure and thrills, but some of the interactions between the characters just seemed forced.  The characters are a major part of what I love about this series and to see them take second place to the violence and killing just makes me sad, especially now when the series is almost over.

This author has written three more of the last eight novels in this series.  Thankfully, he didn't write the next few.  This novel wasn't horrible.  It just wasn't great.  And, I'm ready for a small break.  I'm determined to finish this series this year if at all possible.  But, these fairly poor examples of the series are really slowing me down.

Rating:  4 / 10

July 20, 2016


Way back in 2010, I had no idea whether or not I'd love blogging...or still be doing it six years later.  And, really, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I'm not sure I know what I'm doing any more now than I did then, but...

  Lately, I've disliked my old URL, especially because one of the challenges I am in has me listed as 'Julie's Reading Room'....which I just don't like any more.  I couldn't have just readinglife but I got jreadinglife which is close enough for me.

~Reading Life~

Hopefully, the followers I have can still find me!!

July 14, 2016

Mid July 2016 Wrap-Up

For June 13th through today, I have plenty of news!  I completed my original goal for the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge and so I upgraded to the highest level!  I feel confident that I'll make it.  I also reached my original goal in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge and so, once again, I upgraded, doubling my goal!  I'm so excited!

I haven't completed any new challenges (except the two I upgraded) this time around, but I'm down now to the harder challenges and I'm on track to finish them.

My favorite book is easy again this time around!  Gray Mountain by John Grisham was so very good!

I visited 5 more states for the Around the World Reading Challenge - total 27!  I did include the District of Columbia on my list but even if I hadn't, I'm over half-way through the nation!

It's been such a fabulous year for me.  I just love how much time I have now for reading!

End Program by James Axler

Title:  End Program
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  317
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci Fi
Publisher:  Gold Eagle, 2014
Series:  Deathlands #117


No one waits long for trouble in Deathlands—it's everywhere in the remains of a nuke-altered civilization. The American dream was annihilated more than a century ago by the country's own unchecked power play. But the worst may be yet to come.

Built upon a predark military installation in former California, a ville called Progress could be the utopia Ryan Cawdor and his companions have been seeking. A place where humanity and technology thrive, it's the nucleus of a new hope for Deathlands. The successful replacement of Ryan's missing eye with a cybernetic prosthetic nearly convinces the group that their days of surviving hell are behind them. Then they discover that the high tech in Progress isn't designed to enhance human life, but to destroy it. To block the final assault, the companions must stop Ryan from becoming a willing pawn in the eradication of mankind.

Review:  This book was sooooo much better than the last one I read from this series.  Action, adventure, excitement and a great story line -- it's all here!

I loved this book and already have picked up the one that comes after it, although I'm worried.  It's written by the same gentleman who wrote #116 which I really disliked.  I'm going to miss these books so much once I'm done with them, which won't be long if they're all this good.  The series ends at #126....I have so very few left to read after all this time.

Rating:  8 / 10

July 13, 2016

Disclosure - The Movie

I found a rental copy of Disclosure on Amazon for $3.  It's based on Disclosure by Michael Crichton.  It stars Michael Douglas as Tom Sanders and Demi Moore as Meredith Johnson.  Plus, it had the wonderful Donald Sutherland as their boss, Bob Gavin.

It follows much the same story line and is a good movie.  However, since it is just over two hours long, I expected a bit more.  I felt like they left out a quite a lot of Tom's search for the truth and the clues he followed.  This movie would have been even better than it was if they'd stuck a little more closely to the original story.

It still had all the drama and thrills (and most of the cliches).  The technology was more interesting in the film version, although some of it was still outdated.  I'll give this one 7 out of 10 stars.

July 11, 2016

Disclosure by Michael Crichton

Title:  Disclosure
Author:  Michael Crichton
Pages:  496
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  Ballantine, 1993
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Tom Sanders is an up-and-coming executive at the computer firm DigiCom. When his new boss turns out to be a woman who is both his former lover and a business rival, Sanders determines to be professional. But after a closed-door meeting, the woman accuses him of sexual harassment. It's her word against his, and suddenly Sanders finds himself caught in a nightmarish web of deceit in which he is branded as the villain. As he scrambles to save his career and his reputation, Sanders uncovers an electronic trail into DigiCom's secrets . . . and the cynical scheme devised to bring him down.

Review:  This book takes a hard, long look at sexual harassment in the work place and forces you to really think about it.  This time it's a man whose life has been changed beyond all recognition by his female supervisor.

The story was fast paced and ended with a bang, but sometimes it felt a little like the author had an ax to grind on the subject matter -- men and women in the workforce and harassment.  Somehow, it came out as a little cliche, where men simply cannot be expected to help themselves and women should be viewed as an underdog and somehow deserving of special treatment.  I'm sure when this story was written, that's exactly how things were.  But today, I'm hoping we're past many of these ideas.

The characters' attitudes and the technology described gave this novel a dated feeling.  It was still a good story and certainly worth the time.  What made it especially interesting is that it's based on a true story.

Rating:  7 / 10

July 8, 2016

The Harp of the Grey Rose by Charles de Lint

Title:  The Harp of the Grey Rose
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  230
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Avon, 1985
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  He is the Songweaver, but before he was a master of song he was merely Cerin of Wran Cheaping - a seventeen-year-old orphan raised by a wildland witch.  Then he encountered the Maid of the Grey Rose - the lone survivor of the war that devastated the Trembling Lands and the promised bride of Yarac Stone-Slayer, the feared and terrible Waster.  The mysterious beauty captured Cerin's heart, drawing him into a world both dark and deadly, until armed with only a tinkerblade and the magic of song, he would take on a man's challenge...and choose a treacherous path toward a magnificent destiny.

Review:  This is pure, high fantasy.  There are gods and goddesses, wizards and harpers, and too many other creatures to name.  It is magical and wonderful.  It has been reprinted but this original paperback is, from what I understand, fairly hard to come by.  I'm not sure where I found it, but I'm very glad I read it.

Cerin and his lady Grey Rose are great characters.  There are others they meet who help them along the way, including a dwarf named Calman.  Since I am particularly fond of dwarves, he quickly became one of my favorite characters.  Music plays an important role in the magic of this land and, since I happen to agree that music is magical, it was very easy for me to believe in this story.

Rating:  9 / 10

July 3, 2016

Mount TBR Reading Challenge Checkpoint #2

I reached my original goal (Mt. Ararat) on June 24th so I upgraded to Mt. Everest.  I've read 50 books as of today, so I'm exactly 1/2 way there -- only 14,514 miles to go!

A Case of Need by Michael Crichton and The Second Opinion by Michael Palmer are both medical thrillers.  They are both set mainly in hospitals.  The Crichton novel was the better of the two.

Blake Pierce was a brand-new author for me.  Plus, the book was in e-book format, which I almost never read.  His novel Once Gone was surprisingly good!

The Daughter of Regals and Other Tales by Stephen R. Donaldson had been on my TBR since November 22, 2007!  My only excuse is that I'm just not a huge fan of short stories, but I wish I had gotten to this one sooner.  It was very good.

My Life According to Books:
1. My Ex is/was the Prince of Darkness (Sharon Kay Penman)
2. My best friend is Unhinged (A. G. Howard)
3. Lately, at work I have to deal with the Powers That Be (Anne McCaffrey)
4. If I won the lottery, I'd find The Gate to Women's Country (Sheri S. Tepper)
5. My fashion sense went out of style One Year After (William R. Forstchen) the 80's ended.
6. My next ride will be Breathless (Dean Koontz)
7. The one I love is The Man in the High Castle (Philip K. Dick)
8. If I ruled the world, everyone would have a longer Life Expectancy (Dean Koontz)
9. When I look out my window, I see a Winter Moon (Dean Koontz)
10. The best things in life are Untamed (A. G. Howard)

My mountain climbing, book reading year is going great!

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Title:  Anansi Boys
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Pages:  306
Genre:  Thriller
Publisher:  HarperCollins, 2005
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  One of fiction's most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age -- complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.

When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny.

Review:  This book was very different from what I was expecting.  It was funny, which I expected, but it surprised me by being also scary and touching.  The story was quite good.  It's not my favorite book by this author, but it was still fun to read.

It's hard to write anything about this book without giving away some of the surprises so I'll just say that, even though I really hate spiders, I still loved this book.

Rating:  8 / 10
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