Monday, June 27, 2011

Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage

Bloodmoney: A Novel of EspionageView a preview of this book online
Although her last outing nearly got her killed, CIA field operative Sophie Marx is eager to get out of the office again. She gets her chance with a dangerous assignment: She's charged with tracking down the source of a leak that has gotten four agents killed. What she uncovers leads to Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also to a wheeler-dealer on her own side. Once again, David Ignatius (Body of Lies; The Increment) delivers the goods with a realistic foreign intrigue thriller.

This novel a great read for anyone interested in learning a little about world politics while reading fiction. Not surprisingly, most of the characters are lying or hiding something...the book cover does say "A Novel of Espionage". It did take me awhile to decide who the "good guys" were. I was never entirely sure that I was right!

What I loved:
I loved that today's current events were woven through out this book. I loved the insight it gave into the Pakistani culture, the CIA and other covert operations may or may not be happening in the real world today.

The Pakistani culture is fascinating. This book gave me a better understanding into their ideological concepts of honor and revenge and a lesson about the tribal codes that I had been previously unaware of. I also loved the introduction into the language and proverbs of the Pakistanis.

I loved that the main character was female. I liked that she had a little romance on the side. It gave her character some much needed depth.

What I didn't love:
All of the characters were a little flat. They all could use some more development.

Sophie, the main character had a past with the CIA that could have been expanded upon. Her family life was revealed in little snippets of information. The information that was given was interesting and made me what to know more. Give me more! Sophie has the potential to be a great three dimensional character...she just needs a little work!

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and plan to read more of this author!
Thanks to the publisher, W.W. Norton and Company for allowing me to read and review this book.

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley, Susan Donovan

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man

Regency London’s most celebrated courtesan, The Blackbird, was a woman before her time—uninhibited, financially independent, and free to live by her own rules. Schooled in the sensual arts by the one man she loved the most, she recorded every wicked detail in her diaries…
Expected publication: May 24th 2011 by St. Martin's Paperbacks

Let me start with the X rated sex...
For many readers this book with be way too bold, blatant  and detailed in the bedroom scenes.   If you are into erotic reading, this book has some interesting sexual twists and variety. It is interesting to note that  this book  addresses the issue that many women have with actually uttering the "dirty words" to their partners.  The masked male sex buddy, known only as "sir", seemed a bit sexist in concept, but worked in the context of the story.

I need to preface the rest of the review with this statement....I hate the "formula" romance books.  We have all read them....ugly, fat, virginal, shy or otherwise undiscovered ugly ducking girls that meet hunky, hot pirates, lords, millionaires or highway men and hook up.  Then there is some terrible misunderstanding, abduction or other traumatic event that tears them apart.  Ultimately the man comes to his senses, rescues the maiden or performs some other heroic deed to win her back and they all live happily ever after.  The End. 

So...if you enjoy this type of book, you should probably quit reading this review here.

This book does tend to follow the above formula, but with two heroines, one sent in  present day and one in the past and two different authors writing each story.  While I didn't hate this book(I think the sex made it at least a bit more interesting than the usual romance novels.) and I did actually read it to the very end, I did have some complaints.

Without going into great detail and spoiling the plot, for this of you brave enough to read this book...
I had problems with the basic concept of the character of Ophelia choosing to become a courtesan in order to escape marriage and the rules of traditional society.  I also had difficulty with "Sir's" choices and motivation (other than the obvious sexual motive).  His choices were never explained or justified within the story.  That said, I did like the characters of Ophelia, her story line better that the present day story, which seemed to exist only to provide a vehicle to tell Ophelia's story.    The present day plot with Brenna and Mick totally followed the "formula" of a romance novel and copy-catted the sex scenes from Ophelia's plot.

 If you enjoy this type of book, don't tend to question the choices of that the characters make and aren't offended by the sex, you will like this book.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Twisted Thread

The Twisted Thread

When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to school, and to Claire, finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it.

Publication date:  June 14th, 2011

Tired of reading romance novels?  Looking for a change of pace?  Give this novel a try!  This book is more than just a "who dun it" mystery.   While it does have a well planned plot, it also is a commentary on the privilege of the wealthy and provides a glimpse into their world.  It also has it's share of "mean girls", quirky adults and self involved parents.  
Charlotte Bacon has an elegant writing style that is easy to read.  She uses beautiful imagery that brings each scene to life.  It's the perfect read for those lazy summer afternoons!
My only criticism  is that the story seemed to slow down in the middle of the book.  Without spoiling the story and giving too much away, I felt  that certain parts of the plot should have resulted in an urgency to solve this mystery and I just didn't feel that from the characters that were investigating the death of Claire.  Towards the end of the book, the pace picked up again.  I thought I had the ending all figured out, but watch out for a few surprises!  
Thanks to Voice Publishers for allowing me to read and review this novel.