I love books about books – not only do I think that the not-so-obscure references to other books and characters are a little bonding between the author and me (they’re not – but I like to think so) but they also enlarge my already too-long-reading-list.In this book the author shines a light on the world of collecting in general and the little known world of rare book collecting specifically. Ms. Bartlett writes her fascinating narrative while trying to understand John Charles Gilkey, a man with no real job and no real address and whose only passion is acquiring rare books by any means necessary.What makes this book, in my opinion, is the fact that Ms. Bartlett met with Gilkey several times, in prison, after he was released and even at a bookstore he stole from. Gilkey talks about how he “acquired” the books, boasts about his crimes and even tries to justify them to us – which doesn’t really work.Another compelling character in the book is a dealer named Ken Sanders who made it his mission to capture the person or persons who were stealing from California based book shops. This is no small feat in a business where admission of theft is akin to lost revenue (because clients won’t trust you to sell their books for them) and the amounts stolen as well as the objet d'art are of no, or very little, interest to the local Constables.The author peppers the book with anecdotes about past thieves and builds a very interesting narrative around a story which otherwise would make a meager subculture take notice, but skid on the sidelines for the rest of us.As a collector whose objects of passion have spiraled beyond his meager means to continue collecting them, I certainly understand Gilkey’s frustration (after all speculation ruins every hobby once it turns into a business) but I find his justification for stealing abhorring, nonsensical and immature. From what I gathered, Gilkey is a manipulative con man and a thief – not a bibliophile.
“Stardust” is a simple story about a boy named Tristan Thorn who lives in the English village of Wall, a boy who’s in love with a beautiful woman and promises to bring her a falling star they both witnessed. The star falls beyond the wall in Wall, which is the entrance to an enchanted world and the star takes the shape of a girl, instead of a rock. Tristan and the star set out on an adventure, as unlikely road companions, through the faerie realm, trying to get back to Wall and Tristan’s love.This is a wonderful, funny and charming book with a sweeping story which is both fresh and original. Each chapter starts with a subtitle about what we’re about to read, reminiscent of Don Quixote, which helps move the story along.
In this second installment of the Gabriel Allon series we find our sensitive and scarred spy taking on the Swiss bankers who helped the Nazis during WWII and are still hiding old Jewish money and treasure under the boardwalks of Zurich. As in the first novel, "The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon)", the reluctant Israeli spy Gabriel Allon is joined by a world famous woman, this time though she is a violinist named Anna Rolfe, on his adventures. As in his previous novels, Mr. Silva brings back characters he created in the "Silva Universe" which are always a pleasure to reacquaint with. The novel is a mystery within a mystery - after recovering some missing paintings Allon goes after the Swiss banking cartel that has been hiding them. In the midst of the all the globetrotting, Allon has to avoid assassination attempts from a worthy adversary, an English assassin, however the least said the better in order to avoid spoiling the story. Silva's narrative is fast paced and uncluttered. The book's descriptions are detailed but not over bearing and the action sequences are brutal and effective. The characters do not get lost within the book's descriptive prose; they are all individuals, rich and well rounded. The incredible historical research is pouring out of the book, the insight into the world of art restoring is distinct and refreshing, but still manages to be engrossing as well as entertaining. I felt that the first half of the book was much better than the second half which seemed, to me, to be stretched. However, this is a delightful read and as in the previous Silva books keeps the characters full of shades of gray - it's difficult to say who is the good guy or the bad guy because Silva makes a wonderful, even though not too convincing case, for each (except the Nazis of course).
The Gates introduces us to Samuel Johnson and his beloved dachshund Boswell. Samuel is a strange boy who likes to confuse his teachers and dreams of getting his soon-to-be-divorced parents back together. In order to get a leg up on all the other kids during Halloween Samuel goes trick-o-treating two days before only to witness the gate to Hell opening up at 666 Crowley Road due to the rituals the owners playing at devil worship while at the exact time the Hadron Collider is working on the other side of Europe. No one believes poor Samuel that the end of Earth is near, demons are trying to kill him and that the neighbors are Satan’s minions. No one except Boswell and his friends Maria and Thomas. The book becomes a keystone- cops type of comedy, with the minions of Hell being roughed up and a lower entity demon - Nurd, The Scourge of Five Deities - becoming a lovable figure which I hope we’ll meet again.Even though I’m not the target audience for this book, I found this book hilarious (dry English humor), enchanting, and brilliant and wonderfully told.I even learned a thing or two along the way.
This is a short book, but long on advice even, and especially, after the financial meltdown. It took me about 40 - 45 minutes to go through the book, but I'll read it again tomorrow and maybe again next week allowing the content to set in. The book is a fun read and gives novices, such as myself, some basic fundamentals and concepts before we rush in (again) to lose our money (again) while the big boys rake all the profits (again) in the casino we all know as the stock market. There is no specific advice in this book other than to spend as much time researching a stock as you would buying a new refrigerator; however I found the general concepts interesting and informative. But reader beware, even though the book is short Lynch does get the point across that choosing your own stocks is and making money is a combination of perspiration and luck. I've made the mistake of rushing in to buy a certain stock that was "hot", sometimes it worked out but mostly I lost money.
In the sequel to “Mark of the Assassin”, ex-CIA agent Michael Osbourne is recouping from his physical injuries and gets bored out of his mind playing Mr. Mom. When Osbourne’s father in law has taken a position as the USA’s ambassador to the Court of St. James Osbourne willingly comes back to the CIA in order to investigate a new Irish terrorist group as well as protect his relative. Osbourne manages to foil the plot, but the group takes out a contract on his life.The plot actually has two main parts, the Irish terrorists who call themselves “The Ulster Freedom Brigade”; the second is about Osbourne and the two parts are closely related.This book has most of the same characters as its prequel, but the book is not as enjoyable. The pace is fast but the story is predictable, about half way through (if not sooner) I already figured out the ending which, this time, had no twists. This is an OK thriller, I liked Silva’s other books better.
"The Kill Artist" tells the story of Gabriel Alon, a former Israeli agent who has retired to a life of an art restorer, his former cover which became his occupation. Alon is called back for duty one last time to stop an old enemy who is on a murderous spree before he leaves this world. The story takes place in Europe, US, Canada and Israel and has many twists and turns where no character is left unharmed. The book if an easy read, fast and a page turner even though somewhat predictable, yet it does have its surprises. The author does try to present several sides of the mid-East issues but doesn't delve into any issues of take sides (almost a bullet point presentation summed up in a few paragraphs). There are no "good" or "bad" guys in this book, which is one reason I liked it, the Israelis fight with the same immoral conviction as their Palestinian counterparts - and both believe they are right an stand on a higher moral ground than their opponent. The characters in the book are somewhat cliché, a supermodel spy who is used to entice enemies, a tortured reluctant hero, an enemy who feels justified, SOB directors and more. It is a well written spy novel, filled with details in all the right places as well as several characters from Silva's previous novels and wonderful political popcorn for those of us that care. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
A fast paced mystery which starts out a bit slow (but well paced) and keeps your reading with twists and a surprise I didn't see midway through.To be fair though, the setup alone is half the book.The story starts with an act of terrorism. A jet liner is shot out of the sky using an land-to-air shoulder missile, the shooter is a terrorist known to the authorities who is found dead next to the empty missile tube shot in the face three times.Three shots to the face are the mark of the assassin and CIA agent Michael Osbourne knows it - he has encountered it before while working in the field.Michael believes that the jet liner was not shot down by Arab terrorists but by someone else and this makes him a target.What Michael doesn't know is that a group of rich and powerful world policy manipulators have targeted him for assassination and sent the world's best assassin to do the job; an assassin who justifies his work and morality by the famous Wild West well reasoned defense of "he needed killin'".Mix those elements with political intrigue, a wife, medical issues, international locations, twists, turns and a few surprises - and you got yourself a winning combination.The book has well developed characters, great plotline and it kept me interested until the last, as well as a theory which is thought provoking, if nothing else. "The Mark of the Assassin" was a good, quick read with several references to Silva's first novel "The Unlikely Spy" which I found entertaining - even though this is a separate story and has almost nothing to do with the first novel.At the time of this review, the under the book's title it said "Gabriel Allon" in parenthesis - this is not a Gabriel Allon book.
This was my first John Irving novel and the word "operatic" comes to mind. Even though this novel is long, the plot is tight and interesting. I never thought I'd read a novel which has a tight plot, but still manages to ramble on and on as well as keep my interest - but there you have it.The premise of the novel seems, at least to me, is the making of a writer. Daniel Baciagalupo and his father flee a 1950's New Hampshire logging town after Daniel accidentally killed his father's lover. On the run the Baciagalupo rediscover their Boston roots and spend a large part of the novel dodging a vengeful and crazy New Hampshire sheriff.After attending some very exclusive schools, Daniel becomes a successful writer, has a son and keeps in touch with Ketchum, an extinct species of Americans who embodies New Hampshire's motto of "Live Free or Die". Ketchum manages to rant against everyone and anyone, the hippies, Catholics, conservatives and liberals; ironically the embodiment of extreme libertarian hates all other extremes - yet, in my opinion, his character is the glue that holds the story together.The story moves back and forth in time, despite Irving's weird sex scenes, violent actions and some funny (and not so funny) deaths, the plot revolves around Daniel becoming a writer and gives Mr. Irving the opportunity to take out his ire on "dimwitted" book reviewers and sensationalistic media, which I thought was hilarious given the context.This is one of those books that I, personally, really like. The book is polished (but not overdone), the characters are very engaging and each one, even the minor ones, has their own history full of prose as well as many insights into parenthood and the joys and pains that come with it.
Disclaimer: I got this e-book for free in exchange for a review.The book tells the story of Asia Booth Clarke who is placed under house arrest the night her brother shot President Lincoln. The book is divided into two parts, part one is when Asia reflects on her childhood and the second takes place in adulthood after the murder of President Lincoln.The first part (young Asia) was difficult to read and confusing, but the second part (adult Asia) was interesting with its perspective and easier to get through. The writing style is old fashioned and heavy handed, I believe the author used Asia’s diary and /or memoires as a guideline but the style didn’t work for me; to boot there are a lot of Shakespeare quotations peppered around the book, understandable since the Booths were a family of famous Shakespearean actors, but instead of adding to the story I felt it just made it more difficult to read (too much of a good thing?). I don’t know what to think of this book. I never really got into the novel even though it was an interesting read about an event we all know about, but from a fresh (to me) perspective. I was really looking forward to reading this book, maybe that’s why I was not too thrilled with it.