Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Dancer and the Raja

Javier Moro

A fascinating novel that transports us to the fabulous world of the maharajas, abundant with harems, bacchanalian orgies, jewels, palaces, flamenco music, horses, Rolls Royce cars, and tiger hunting

On January 28th, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals, anxious to pay homage to their new princess with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas. This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the wealthy maharaja of Kapurthala, a grand story of love and betrayal that took place during almost two decades in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Ever since reading M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, I’ve pretty much been a sucker for books set in the time of British held India. For some reason, this place and time period just fascinates me.

In The Dancer and the Raja, Mr. Muro provides us with his interpretation of the life of Anita Delgado. Anita is a young 17 year old Spanish dancer when she catches the eye of the maharaja of Kapurthala. Her family is poor, the Raj offers an incredible monetary sum to marry Anita and this is seen as a huge opportunity for Anita to have a better life.

As a Spaniard married to a prince from India, Anita is never accepted by the the British who rule India, or by the Raja’s family. The prince’s other wives see her as a threat. The British feel that a European women should have never lowered her standards to marry someone from India. What was supposed to be an ideal life for Anita ultimately turns into one of loneliness and rejection.

I found this book mesmerizing. Javier Moro write with such rich description of India in the early 1900s. I learned a great deal about the history of India through this story. This was one of those books that as soon as I read the last page, I wanted to reread it all over again. It was that magical.

I truly want to thank Open Road Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this delightful book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Valhalla Prophecy

Andy McDermott


In a Stockholm museum, thieves steal an enormous Norse rune stone, but not before killing a security guard. When Nina Wilde, head of the International Heritage Agency (IHA), and her husband and ex-mercenary Eddie Chase arrive to investigate, they are told a chilling story: A scholar has discovered that the stone may be one of two keys to finding the mythological site of Valhalla, where the Vikings predicted the world’s final battle would begin. The second lies at the bottom of a Norwegian lake. But when Nina and Eddie race to the scene, they’re hit with a shocking surprise.

Covert agents from around the world are drawn into a lethal game, including a ruthless mole in the IHA. Then a disturbing secret surfaces from Eddie’s past, involving a mission in Vietnam and a woman he tried to save. Suddenly suspicious of her own husband, Nina cannot afford to stop the perilous search for the artifact. For somewhere in a remote wilderness, two forces are about to converge: one that could save the world. . . . and one that could destroy it(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

American archaeologist Nina Wilde and her husband,ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase are at it again. This time, they are trying to get to a powerful secret weapon before the bad guys can find it and use it as a weapon of mass destruction. The chase is on!

As is typical of this series, there lots of action. Nina and Eddie are such likeable characters. Both are smart, witty and dedicated to their jobs. I like how Mr. McDermott weaves Norse mythology into the fictional story line. The ending certainly has me sitting on the edge of my seat to find out what will happen to Nina and Eddie next! Just the way a good series should leave us wanting more.

Thanks to Random House-Bantam Dell, via Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Shadow Protocol

Andy McDermott


Adam Gray is a cipher, a disciplined loner conditioned not to betray a single emotion. Part of an elite team spearheaded by a brilliant neuroscientist, Gray is a covert agent armed with PERSONA, a device that allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. For twenty-four hours he can recall their memories. He can know every detail of their plans. He can be America’s worst enemy—before he’s back to being Adam Gray again.

Now Gray and his team are racing to stop a plot to release a radioactive isotope that could kill millions. And in a nerve-racking clandestine meeting, Gray senses that his cover is cracked and that the mission—not to mention his life—may be in grave danger. But as they fight this violent conspiracy around the globe, another threat has emerged. This one has the perfect cover, the most unlikely double agent, and the most terrifying power of all. For a beautiful young scientist has discovered an unforeseen weakness in PERSONA: Adam Gray’s own past(from Netgallley)

My Thoughts

I have always been a fan of under cover, spy type novels and The Shadow Protocol really filled the bill.

Adam Gray is part of a government team whose activities are supposed to fly under the radar. A neuro-scientist has developed the ability to transfer one persons thoughts and memories to another person. Adam is the only person surgically enhanced to receive the transfer information.The good guys use this information against the bad guys/terrorist to find out about future attack plans.

Wow - talk about action packed - this story was relentless. At a little over 600 pages, I was pleasantly surprised out how quickly I got to the end. I thought the basis for the story was an interesting idea. There were some good plot twist along the way the helped to keep the this moving along. This was my first Andy McDermott novel but won’t be my last.

I’d like to thank Random House-Bantam Dell, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Ove is a very simple man. Brought up mostly by his father who taught him to be responsible, work hard and follow the rules. Ove follows these principals into adulthood and struggles with the fact that not everyone else does. This is the story of how Ove and his neighboes, through a series of mishaps, finally come together to form an unlikely family.

This was delightful. If I wasn’t laughing, I was sniffling to hold back tears. Ove’s encounters with his neighbor are very funny. And while his personal story is sad, we really do need to know that piece of Ove so we can appreciate who he was at the end. This definately was a feel-good story and I am very glad I read it.
Thanks to Atria, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The House We Grew Up In

Lisa Jewell

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Lorelei and Colin Bird are parents to Meg, Beth and twins Rory and Rhys. A tragedy occurs one Easter Sunday when the kids are teenagers. From this point forward, the Bird family starts to fall apart in many unique ways.

This story is told from several perspective. Lorelei, who showed snippets of hoarding when the kids were young, goes all out when she ends up by herself. A majority of her story is told via emails to someone she has connected with online. As adults, each of the children’s lives have taken totally different paths and they hardly ever see each other. Colin does a total 180 once he and Lorelei divorce.

Talk about a dysfunctional family! Ms. Jewell did a great job on character development. This story flowed well and I thought the relationship (or lack there of) between the Bird family members seemed realistic. Sometimes, a tragedy will tear a family apart and another can pull it back together. All told, this was an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Atria, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review