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Name : Bella F.

My Reviews

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
 
Interesting, Adventurous, Informative
Great Read

Angels and Demons is a fast read and definitely gets the mind going. I recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers, mysteries, and conspiracies.

 
Great Read for Adults and Young Adults

In an attempt to fill the hole of the now complete Harry Potter Series, I came across English writer Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand (“The Amulet”), and I soon fell in love with the whole Bartimaeus Trilogy. The Amulet takes place in a world where magicians rule the UK and everyone one else – those who are unable to perform magic – are subjected to unfair and sometimes cruel laws.

The series opens with two anti-heroes: 11-year old Nathaniel, whose parents hand him over to become an apprentice of a second-rate magician – Underwood – and a 5,000-year old sarcastic, self-absorbed djinni named Bartimaeus who seeks freedom. Readers soon learn that Nathaniel has ambitions of his own and becomes disillusioned and bitter over Underwood’s mediocre power. Further, Nathaniel receives a fatal blow to his esteem when he is callously punished for insulting Simon Lovelace – a power hungry and political magician. Without giving too much away of the plot, Nathaniel conjures Bartimaeus to seek revenge against Lovelace, including stealing and hiding the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. Both Nathaniel and Bartimaeus are “in it” for themselves but must work together to accomplish. From there on out, the plot becomes an often dark, humorous, and even political ride (wait until the Resistance appears!) that no reader should miss.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the remaining series because the heroes are not the stereotypical “nice guy/gal” types. They are flawed, sometimes self-absorbed, heroes who have an edge that at any moment they could fall into their darker nature. Also what is stellar about this series in the not-so-basic political and economic issues that occur between the “haves” and “have-nots.” These are great issues to pursue in conversations among adults, young adults, or book clubs that involve both adults and young adults.

The Eight by Katherine Neville
 
Adventurous, Interesting, Romantic
Fantastic Read

After reading a summary about Katherine Neville’s The Fire, I decided to read its predecessor, her debut novel The Eight. What a debut it is! The Eight is a meaty, complex, heart stopping read. The novel follows two storylines (Mireille, a nun at Montglane Abbey during the beginning of the French Revolution, and Catherine Velis, a 1970s computer expert and auditor) that eventually converge into a mind-blowing ending.

The plot revolves around the Montglane Service, a mystical chess set made by the Moors and given to Charlemagne. When put together, the Montglane Service unveils the universe’s secrets to power. Realizing the adverse potential of the chess set if given to the wrong person (being almost consumed by it himself), Charlemagne requested that it be hidden at the Montglane Abbey under the protection of its abbess. Hidden for centuries, the pieces of the Montglane Service must finally be hidden in separate pieces in different locations by Mireille and her fellow sisters during the French Revolution, as many “players” begin to vie for the pieces even at the expense of lives. Moving into the future to the 1970s, Catherine Velis becomes involved in the same quest for the Montglane Service, and with the help of Mireille’s journal, Catherine must hurry to gather the pieces for safe keeping before they fall into the wrong hands. What becomes more remarkable is what Catherine learns about the Montglane Service that will bring her closer Miereille than she ever expected.

If you like intrigue, puzzles, adventure, and just a tad of romance mixed it, definitely pick up this book.

 
Confusing, Graphic, Difficult
Add This Book to Your Collection

Leave it to a British born author (who now lives in America) to write what is considered one of the greatest modern American novels. American Gods, winner of multiple awards, utilizes mythology, urban and rural landscapes, and magic realism to ask the questions of what does it mean to be an American and how has the concept of “being an American” changed over time?

Don’t think for once that this novel is about patriotism. These questions bubble out of the violent war between the old world gods and the modern day gods (e.g., Media and Internet) that have controlled the landscape. In the middle of this war is Shadow, an ex-convict, betrayed by his cheating (now dead) wife and best friend. Looking for work, Shadow becomes the bodyguard of Mr. Wednesday, who we later learn is one of the old gods, Odin. As they travel across America, we get a darker vision of America – a land that feels like a tortured soul having trouble finding its sense of “self.”

What makes this book so intriguing is Mr. Gaiman’s ability create characters that feel very real and alive, including the landscape. I’m fascinated by his parallel of the characteristics between Shadow and the American landscape. Sacrifices are made at the end, but for whom? And, do the sacrifices make any difference to humanity and the future of America?

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun
Predictable but Gooey Fun

At the public library, I had a pile of books and audio books haphazardly balancing in my arms, when I came across Steve Berry’s The Venetian Betrayal. I never read Steve Berry’s works, but it looked interesting, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did! Undercover agents, secret plots, archaeology, biological warfare, Greek fire . . . I’m surprised it isn’t a movie, yet.

The novel starts during the time of Alexander the Great, who just experienced the loss of his friend and lover Hephaestion to a strange disease and which Alexander contracted and succumbed to the same disease soon after. Jump forward to current day Europe, and we find our heroes in a quest to find Alexander’s tomb and a possible cure for one of the deadliest modern-day plights – HIV/AIDS – before a despotic leader and a money-hungry, self serving fat man use the tomb and cure to their political and economic advantage.

The language can be a bit cheesy and the plot predictable but The Venetian Betrayal is pure, gooey adventure entertainment – don’t pass it up!

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous
Leaves Me Hungry for More

Robin McKinley’s Sunshine creates a spellbinding tale that takes place in an alternate universe (somewhat like our own), but in the main character’s world, there exists the hated, evil Others: vampires, demons, werewolves, magicians and part-bloods. Of course nothing is what it seems to be, an underlying theme in the book, and what Rae “Sunshine” Seddon must come to terms with.

Abducted and shackled by a vampire gang led by Bo as a form of torture to another shackled and rival vampire – Constantine –, Sunshine becomes a surprisingly, albeit reluctant, advocate for protecting Constantine as well as herself from Bo’s gang once they escape. Throughout the course of the novel, we see Sunshine psychologically conflicted with her “normal” life now blurred by what she thought was an evil world. Now, she’s not so sure – especially since she learns she can perform a bit of magic herself – and on top of everything else, she needs to enlist her friends, whom she learns are part-bloods, to help Constantine and her escape the vengeance of Bo.

Sunshine can be a bit long-winded sometimes, but the absorbing plot and interesting characters such as Constantine and Pat make the book engrossing. Like many other fans of Sunshine, I’m hungry for a sequel that may not come.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
 
Informative, Dramatic, Adventurous
Already Been Done

The Historian just didn't cut it for me, especially when Dracula did appear. I've ready many imaginary, fantasy, magical based books, but when it comes to this novel, the more I read, the more I became unconvinced. The plot was quite predictible and for a lack of a better word, "cheesy."

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Fun
A Fun Ride

The Templar Legacy introduces the reader to Cotton Malone, a forty-something "retired" US agent who just wants to spend his time in Denmark selling antique books. When his former boss and current friend shows up on his door with some trouble and in need of his help, retirement and book selling has to be put on hold. The plot follows the line of action/thriller/intrigue, and while typical of many of these types of books, The Templar Legacy was still a fun read. Don't expect anything too deep. Just enjoy the ride.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Fantastic
Great Book and Great Series

Don't pass this up!

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