Scott Richards and Chuck Stokes, Easy Radio Book Club Reviewers...
The Relaxation Station
The Easy Radio Book Club
"The Vacationers" by Emma Straub is really a perfect beach read. It's the story of a dysfunctional family taking a two week vacation on the island of Mallorca. It could be dark and tragic, but this book is so well written with a great sense of wit, these people end up being likeable. Grab the beach towel and chairs and bring this one along to the beach! (sr-7/14)
"The Book of Life" is the final chapter of the All Souls Trilogy, that began with "A Discovery of Witches". Interview with Deborah Harkness on July 15th. She's a delightful person, and an exceptional author. This series has been a treasure from start to finish, and I'm sorry there will be no more. Of course we can always go back and start all over again.
So how did we miss this guy? Brad Taylor's Pike Logan series continues with "Days of Rage". Pike Logan is a member of a semi-legitimate government agency tasked with preventing terrorism attacks. In "Days of Rage" the team is in Bulgaria, Berlin, and South America attempting to prevent a disaster, and fighting to avenge the murder of a team member. It is paced quickly, with depth of description of guns, electronic equipment, spy strategy, and the bureaucracy of both USA government agencies and those of foreign governments. Well written, well paced, well worth every page. Only negative is our delay in getting to the series! Interview with Brad Taylor in July 2014. (sr 7/14)
Jojo Moyes new novel, One Plus One is the story of an odd, troubled little family and a rich, troubled man who end up on the road together heading toward a math competition. Sounds a little odd itself, but believe me, the journey of the novel and the journey of reading this book is enormously engaging and worthwhile. Set in England, the characters are full of depth, emotion, and complexity, and the story rings clear and true without a false step through the book. This is a thoroughly complete novel. It is funny, emotional, troubling, and ultimately satisfying. Interview with Jojo Moyes on July 7th. (sr 7/14)
"The Lincoln Myth" by Steve Berry. All is not as it seems. A secret message passed from George Washington to President after President, including Abraham Lincoln. The contents of the message could threaten the very concept of a United States. Lincoln established a secret agreement with Brigham Young involving the Mormons in the future stability of the United States Constitution. All of which is based on accurate US History. Steve Berry then adds a dose of ex government operative Cotton Malone, a splinter group of Mormons, and the race to find a secret document. It's breathtaking stuff, especially considering the factual basis of the story. A US Senator is plotting his own rise to the top of the Salt Lake City hierarchy, while Cotton Malone's girlfriend is involved with a Spanish leader of another Mormon sect. A Historical Thriller!
"The Devil's Workshop" by Alex Grecian is set in the late 1800's London. Jack The Ripper is loose after having been chained in an unknown underground prison. A prison escape sets violent, disturbed men upon the city of London, with Scotland Yard's Murder Squad in pursuit. This is a dark, disturbing story, violent at times and horrific in places. Yet it is grounded and focused, and that alone makes for a scary, intense book. Add fascinating and likeable characters from the Murder Squad, and a sometimes sympathetic criminal or two, and The Devil's Workshop becomes a first rate thriller. (May 2014)
"The Skin Collector" by Jeffrey Deaver is a Lincoln Rhyme mystery thriller. I like Jeffrey Deaver's writing, and I like Lincoln Rhyme. There is a great deal of technical analysis in this 11th story of the quadriplegic police consultant, which drives the story forward with intensity and anticipation. A murderer kills his victims by poison tattoo ink. There are numerous subplots but everything in Deaver's books exist for a reason. And I am so happy to say there are no "
oh come on!!" moments. By that, I refer to those plot twists and devices that leave the reader thinking "oh come on!!" because all logic leaves the page. (May 2014)
"Natchez Burning" by Greg Iles. Wow. Big, thick, complicated, and full of passion. From the early 1960's through post Katrina in Natchez, Mississippi this is the story of secrets, racism, family, murder, and determined investigation. A truly outstanding book.
"Glorious" by Jeff Guinn, is the name of a silver mining town in Arizona. This isn't a cowboy western with a gunfight at sundown on main street. Cash McLendon is on the run from some trouble in St. Louis, has never ridden a horse, has never fired a gun, and doesn't know a thing about the west. However there a bad guys (without the black hats) and red eye whiskey, beans, and dusty street. The folks of Glorious are hanging on to their tough lives by a thread, but are determined to hang on despite the intentions of a ranch owner planning on taking over every bit of the town. The first of three in a series, this is a fantastic western for those of us who aren't particularly fond of westerns! (sr - May 2014)
"The Collector of Dying Breaths" is the latest in the series by M.J. Rose about past lives, perfume, and history. Fully developed characters, highly descriptive scents, tastes, and sounds, and historical detail are trademarks of M. J. Rose. M.J. herself describes the books as having a velvet feel, which is a perfect way to describe the style and feel of her stories. 1550's Paris, and current day finds a fascination with capturing the last breath of individuals in order to find a way to bring them back. Or at least their soul. A novel of suspense, "Dying Breaths" is rich, colorful, and steeped in history.
Meg Wolitzer received almost universal critical acclaim in 2013 for The Interestings, and now that the book is being released as a trade paperback, no doubt the applause will be renewed. This is a simple story; six teenagers meet at summer camp and we watch them grow up. That's about it. However, the characters in The Interestings are so vivid, so perfectly pitched, it's not hard to be drawn into their sometimes funny, sometimes tragic lives. There really isn't a mystery involved, but as readers we are drawn into the changing times, changing lives, and ever present friendships. A truly outstanding reading experience. (sr 3/14)
Game Warden Joe Pickett is back, getting into business he has been warned to avoid. A seemingly all benevolent member of a small community may be involved in things less than benevolent. Joe Pickett has been asked by the Governor to poke around and see what he can learn. Joe Pickett is a man who sticks by his principles, and doesn't much like being pushed around. It's cold in the mountains of Wyoming, and there's more than a little bit of trouble waiting for Joe. Always a good solid read. (sr 3/14)
"The Hour of Peril" by Daniel Stashower is the story of the secret plot to murder Lincoln on his trip to Washington before being sworn in as President. It is the story of Allen Pinkerton, Lincoln, his closest advisors, and the unsavory characters in Baltimore who aim to destroy the nation by the assassination of Lincoln. The Hour of Peril reads like a modern day mystery thriller, but is in fact the true story not often heard or recounted of Lincoln's train trip through the United States on his way to Washington, DC. Though we know how this initial chapter of Lincoln's life ends, we're drawn to the time, place, and history of a country soon to be divided. Amazingly rendered. (sr 1/14)
Lisa Gardner has become one of my favorite mystery writers. She doesn't spend time on kicks to the stomach or chops to the head. Instead, she creates meticulously researched mysteries that have an intense, forward thrusting energy. Gripping is always a good word for her work, and "Fear Nothing" is the best of her efforts. Sisters, one in prison since she was 14 for murder, the other a respected therapist who suffers from a rare condition where she is unable to feel physical pain, are both daughters of a notorious mass murderer. D.D. Warren, Boston PD is on the scene of a horrific murder when she suffers a painful injury. And all of this ties back to a 30 year old murder. Wow.
Doris Kearns Goodwin has crafted another outstanding book of time, place, and personality. Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the era of journalism that marks the beginning of the supportive relationship between press and politician. Colorful, expansive, and full of fascinating American history, "The Bully Pulpit" is a non fiction book of the year. Don't do the download. Read the big thick book for the full impact. (sr 12/13)
Favorites from 2013...
Liane Moriarty has
written a stunningly powerful book about secrets and their unintended
impact. Set in Sydney and Melbourne, busy, focused, and organized housewife Cecelia finds a letter from her
husband to be opened in the event of his death. Unfortunately, he hasn't
died and the letter contains a secret that disrupts numerous families
in ways unimagined. While the heart of the story is dark, the book
retains a sense of lightness and hope, not without a bit of redemption.
Exceptional writing and characters make this a highly recommend read.
"Stella Bain" is the name of a woman suffering from Amnesia (shell shock) during World War One, searching for a memory of more than the past four months. At times this is a novel both dark and gritty, full of the horrors and unimaginable sufferings of a terrible time in history. Yet Anita Shreve has crafted a story with hope and love. She is a fine writer, fully immersed in the time and war torn atmosphere of France, England, and America. Eventually Stella does find her true identity, a person with a troubled past. Thoroughly engaging and evocative, "Stella Bain" is a gem.
"Critical Mass" by Sara Paretskyis the latest in the V.I. Warshawski series, and it just keeps getting better and better. This time, V.I. is caught up in a missing persons case involving the grandson of a WWII Survivor with a possible connection to a Noble Prize winning scientist. Switching between 1930's Germany and present day, this complicated and propelling mystery is engaging, enlightening, and well written.
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