My Interests

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Avid reader who loves finding new authors with well written books. Am interested in reading and reviewing various genres and am always looking for the next good read.

Upcoming Books to Read and Review

  • 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel
  • Code Blue by Richard Mabry
  • Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
  • Vandalism of Words by Derek Haines

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran, 496 pages, 2008

Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear.

"Nefertiti" is an amazing novel about one of Egypt's most legendary rulers. Nefertiti's half-sister, Mutnodjmet, is the narrator of the book, which chronicles Nefertiti's marriage to Prince Amunhotep until the time of her death. These two sisters from the same household couldn't be more different but would ultimately do anything for each other. Nefertiti is calculating and shrewd, and she plots with her father to keep her family in favor with the Pharaoh and make sure that his second wife, Kiya, stays out of the picture. 

Greed, murder, betrayal, and palace intrigue abound in this spellbinding novel.

Pharaoh's heretical desire to raise a new son god, Aten, above all others soon plunges the country into chaos. He destroys centuries of religious tradition, closing the temples to all other gods and establishing Aten as supreme. Nefertiti encourages her husband's prideful foolishness, so long as it keeps her and her family in control. When the royals establish a glittering new court at Amarna, the on-going rivalry between Nefertiti and Pharaoh's second wife, Kiya grows dangerous. Nefertiti tries in vain to produce a son. With priests, ministers and the military vying to exert control over Pharaoh, the only person whom Nefertiti can consistently rely on for the truth is her sister Mutnodjmet. However, Mutnodjmet finds her loyalty often tested by Nefertiti's determination and the desires of her own heart.

I loved the way she made Egypt come alive. I felt like I could hear Nefertiti's rages, see her putting on her wigs and kohl, and smell the perfume she wore while trying to keep her husband's attention away from the harem and firmly on herself. Because the author had spoken about her research into plague in ancient Egypt, I wasn't surprised when plague broke out in the novel, claiming the lives of some of the characters and altering Egyptian history. 

It was a thoroughly entertaining book and I would highly recommend it.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Donovan Creed Series by John Locke

The Donovan Creed series by John Locke consists of 8 books (so far) in the series as follows:

Lethal People
Lethal Experiment
Saving Rachel
Now and Then
Wish List
A Girl Like You
Vegas Moon
The Love You Crave

There is a lot of action and adventure in these books. They follow ex-CIA, assassin, hit man, Donovan Creed as he dishes out his own brand of justice. He's smart and resourceful and has a soft spot for hookers. The book is a real page turner. It is funny and witty and sucks you in from the beginning. When I started reading the series, I had to continue and read every one. I was disappointed when I came to the end as I wanted the Donovan Creed adventure to keep on going.

I would highly recommend this series. Rating out 4 of 5.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Left Neglected Review

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, 2011, 336 pages

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. 

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.
 A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.   
A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future. 
Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

Lisa Genova creates another beautifully written book. It is difficult not to make comparisons between this book and Still Alice (one of my favourite books). Although, I preferred Still Alice, Left Neglected is a very interesting story and makes you think twice about grabbing that cell phone while driving. A split second of inattentiveness could lead you to disaster.

I found the left neglect condition fascinating and Lisa Genova really brought it to life and is a master at taking complex medical conditions and making them something we can relate to and imagine.

The book is about a young family whose children are involved in many activities and the parents are extremely career driven, working 80 hours per week. They are juggling many balls in the air when, in a split second, everything comes crashing down. Sarah is always multi-tasking and while on her commute, she searches for her phone and during the split second of inattentiveness, her car goes off the road and she is lucky to survive the accident.

The aftermath of the accident leaves Sarah with a traumatic brain injury known as left brain neglect. For the individual who suffers this devastating brain insult it is beyond all comprehension, because to Sarah the left side of her body ceases to exsist. She has to keep reminding herself to "Look Left".

It was a fascinating book and one that I would recommend.

Rating 4 out of 5

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cleopatra: A Life Review

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, 384 pages, 2010
Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.

Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and--after his murder--three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

Cleopatra: A Life was captivating in all of its opulent glory. The excess of the day was truly ostentatious and I wish we were able to uncover more documented discoveries from Cleopatra's days.

This biography allows Schiff to dig into the world of antiquity and gathers as many facts about Cleopatra as are available. She mixes biography with history and uncovers current information as well as that discovered by historians over the years and strives hard to separate fact from fiction. 

The author provides us with historical documentation to help us understand Cleopatra's role as the last great Queen of Egypt and what her allure would have been to Caesar and Marc Antony the two Romans that became both allies and lovers.

I found Cleopatra: A Life to be informative and entertaining with new facts that I had either forgotten or missed in the my past reading. The author also does a good job in debunking a number of myths surrounding Cleopatra over the years.

We do not really know what Cleopatra looks like (aside from her profile on coins and statues). I believe that the lack of information has fuelled our fascination of Cleopatra although, we can tell that she demonstrated great cunning, intelligence, wit and style and captivated both Ceasar and Marc Anthony. 

I did expect it to be more of a story and easier read but found that the author got sidetracked by times in her attempt to fully document everything which led to a slower and less enjoyable read. However, the book is overall well written and certainly well sourced. 

It was very interesting and enjoyable.

Rating 3 1/2 out of 5

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Gargoyle Review

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, 2008, 465 pages
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul. 

A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished. 

After a terrible accident leaves him burnt beyond recognition, the unnamed narrator of The Gargoyle begins to receive an odd visitor in the hospital where he is recovering. Her name is Marianne Engel, and she seems to, at the beginning, suffer from delusions and other mental instabilities which are narrator is fascinated by and tries to find out all of the information as possible on mental illnesses. Before long, Marianne is visiting frequently, spinning intricate tales to the fascinated narrator. Her stories involve landowners, gifted artists, outcast orphans; all ill-fated lovers, all with stunningly touching stories. One story though, seems more puzzling than most. Marianne reveals the story of the past. It is the story of the love between the burnt man and Marianne herself, lovers long ago in Medieval Germany. As he begins to heal, the narrator becomes more involved in the stories of the strange woman, not knowing whether to believe in her mental instability, or in the impossible story she tells.

I was completely spellbound from the beginning of this book. The atmosphere was dark and the author's handling of the plot was brilliant. The story pulled me in and never let up until the end. The graphic depictions of the narrator's severe burns and subsequent treatment was a little graphic, but it was extremely well researched and related with an uncommon elegance as to be informative and interesting, as well as shocking and horrific. Though serious in nature, the book also had moments of humour and exceptional moments of insight. The main story was intertwined among other smaller stories, with particular focus on the story of fourteenth century Germany. Each story in the narrative grew in focus and detail and all were extremely captivating.

The narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the book, was a bit cantankerous and cynical, yet I had no problems relating to him or finding sympathy for his character. The talent of the author in his ability to make an unlovable character moving and sympathetic was impressive. I rooted for him to find his way and learn to accept his misfortune and how this accident may have well been the best thing that ever happened to him. His eventual bravery in the face of overwhelming obstacles was a heartening change from the self-pity and suicidal despair that first enveloped him. I could see the narrator changing with every story that Marianne Engel told. It was a tremendous feat to witness. Marianne was an alluring and compassionate character who brought open mindedness and hope to the narrator. Her certainty and determination were admirable, and the passion with which she drove herself was both frightening and formidable. It was interesting to see the two of them react to each other's differences, and to watch their growing attachment unfold.

This story will appeal to a wide audience, but the vivid detail of the accident and burn may be off-putting to some. I feel that the story was actually enhanced by this level of detail. It was extremely believable and accurate, and it heightened the story's impact and made me understand the character's situation all the more readily and believably. The information regarding mental illness was also authentic and informative. As well as advancing the plot, it provided a wealth of character description and enhancement that would have been laborious done any other way. The story was as compelling as the style in which it was written. This book had no easy answers. The subject matter was difficult, but ultimately rewarding and thought provoking.

This is a book that I can see reading over and over again, and taking away something different each time. I was amazed to find out that this is Davidson's first novel. As a writer, he is very impressive. 

I would highly recommend this book.

Rating 5 out of 5