Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flight of Shadows (2010)

A walled-in city known as Lynchburg separating the Influentials and Invisibles from the Industrials and Illegals is the setting of this book by Sigmund Brouwer. Away from the city is Appalachia, rural and oppressive, and ruled by a religious leader. Caitlyn was brought to Appalachia by her father but wants to return to the city. She needs the assistance of a surgeon to correct a congenital deformity that was the result of genetic engineering.

As the story opens we find Caitlyn and friends escaping to Lynchburg in the hope of contacting the surgeon. Along the way she meets a shadowy character named Razor who can get her into the city. The problem is that they are being chased by a bounty hunter and others eventually join the chase. It appears there is more to her genetic makeup than meets the eye.

The story was very dark, being a dystopia, and even our glimpses to life inside Lynchburg are not that rosy. The action is non-stop. Chapters vary in length and switch locales so the rhythm is choppy. I have not read them but this books makes me think of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson in that some of the characters have wings.

Some fantasy readers might enjoy the book, but I really did not.

My rating for this book: ++ 1/2

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Double Comfort Safari Club (2010)

This is the eleventh book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. We return to Botswana, the home of the recently married Mma Ramotswe and her secretary, Mma Makutsi who is engaged to Phuti Radiphuti.

Mma Ramotswe helps a lawyer in the U.S. find the recipient of a legacy, a friend who suspects her husband of infidelity and her husband who suspects her of infidelity, and Mma Makutsi. Phuti suffers a terrible accident and his doting aunt refuses her to visit and care for him.

One of the charms of this series is the slow, quiet dignity of Mma Ramotswe and life in Botswana. However, this book seemed to start off slower than previous books. It seemed that the first half of the book gives us Mma Ramotswe pondering things over a cup of her favorite red bush tea. Patience is rewarded, however, as events unfold and her assignments are resolved to almost everyone's satisfaction.

This series should be read to give the reader an idea of life in modern Africa. The traditional greetings when people meet, and the respect shown to family and friends is genuine and touching. While we enjoy modern conveniences, I wonder if we are truly better off. Without the assistance of television, radio, computers, libraries, etc. Mma Ramotswe is able to find solutions and settle even the touchiest of matters.

My recommendation for this book: +++1/2

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)

Another thrilling masterpiece by the late Stieg Larsson, we are again treated to amazing characters and non-stop action. Having transferred a fortune from the offshore accounts ofWennerstrom, an industrial billionaire who sued her friend Blomkvist, Lizbeth Salander took time to travel, recuperate, and stay out of sight. Lizbeth is a terrific heroine in that she is smart and fearless and sexy. "Salander was the woman who hated men who hate women."

During her absence, the magazine publisher, Mikael Blomkvist tries to publish information about sex trafficking both in his magazine and as a book. The authors of the article and the book are killed as is Salander's guardian, an odious man who raped her and would have continued to abuse her if she didn't tape the abuse and threaten him with it. Found at the scene was the guardian's gun which Salander handled and left her fingerprints. A man hunt was out for her.

Blomkvist, sure of her innocence, and Salander both launch their own investigations. Knowing her ability with computers and hacking, Blomkvist finds an ingenious way to communicate with Salander. They discover the identities of the murderers, clear her name, and discover more about her history in the meantime.

The action is high for the whole book and the reader will fly through the 724 pages and by thirsty for the third and last installment.

My rating for this book: +++++