Tag Archives: Book review

Books I’d Recommend: ‘The Pagan Lord’ by Bernard Cornwell

26 Jan

Pagan-LordSome literary series seem to lose steam over time. That’s not the case with “The Pagan Lord,” the seventh entry in Bernard Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicle/Saxon Tales.

The series is the story of England, and the battles between Danes and Saxons to determine who will rule the island. The first book is “The Last Kingdom.”

In the latest installment, our hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, has let his temper get the best of him — again. After killing an abbott, Uhtred is cast out from his lands, which gives him the opportunity to pursue his dream of reclaiming his ancestral home in Northumbria.

And Uhtred, Danish raised and a believer in the Old Gods, will once again be asked to lead the forces of the Christian Saxon kingdoms  in a battle against the Danes.

You won’t be able to put down the book during the final, climactic battle, which ends with Uhtred’s life hanging in the balance.

At 320 pages, this is among the shortest of the books, although none are lengthy tomes. It took me about three days to race through “The Pagan Lord,” which was just released at the beginning of January in the U.S.

If you enjoy history, a good tale and a quick read, pick up Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Tales.

Books I’d Recommend: ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

23 Jan

gone-girl-book-cover-medIf you can make it past the meandering, start-and-stop style that’s so evident in the opening 37 pages of this book, you won’t be able to put down Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.”

At least that was the case with me.

This was my second attempt at the book. I tried a few months ago and just couldn’t get past those first pages. But having read so many good things about it, I vowed I’d give it another try. I’m glad I did.

I struggled again with those opening pages. The author starts and stops a thought often, adding so many asides that it can be difficult for the reader to get into the flow. And in the earliest portion of the book, it’s difficult to make a connection with the characters and immerse yourself in the slow-to-develop plot.

The story revolves around a pair of 30-year-olds who, both having lost their jobs in New York City, return to his small Missouri hometown. As they prepare to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, the wife goes missing, and it’s not too long until the husband is suspected of murder. But that’s only the beginning of the twists and turns.

The book alternates viewpoints throughout, focusing on her diary and his first-person narrative. Once the plot begins racing along, it’s much easier to become enamored with the style.

There’s nothing straightforward about the book, including an ending that will keep you wondering about the story’s resolution.

Here’s a link to Flynn’s official website, which includes several places for buying the book.

According to Flynn’s website, the movie based on the book will be released Oct. 3, 2014. Ben Affleck will play the husband, while Rosamunde Pike plays the wife, according to the IMDb listing. And apparently, Flynn wrote a different ending for the movie.

Here’s an excellent review of the book from the New York Times.

And in this clip, Jimmy Fallon talks to the author, who admits, “It’s kind of a weird book.”

Books I’d Recommend

24 Apr

Walking In Circles Before Lying Down

Life’s lessons are always a little cuter, a little sweeter, a little more humorous, a little more poignant when they come from the mind of a dog.

At least that’s my takeaway from three books I’ve read over the past couple of years that that tell their tails tales from a similar perspective.

I just finished reading “Walking In Circles Before Lying Down,” by Merrill Markoe, who was an Emmy Award-winning writer for the “Late Night With David Letterman” show.

The book revolves around Dawn Tarnauer and her dog Chuck. Dawn has been unlucky in life and in love. Her family’s a train-wreck — from her self-centered, get-rich-quick-scheme mother to her absentee father to her life-coach sister. Think: Stephanie Plum’s family (by author Janet Evanovich), but not as funny.

And she’s been just as unlucky in love, marrying and divorcing twice in fairly quick succession — and still falling for the next loser who stumbles into her life. That’s when her dog Chuck finally decides it’s time to speak up and guide her through the dating process.

Markoe has an easy-reading style, and it’s a thin book, so you’re not investing hours and hours of your life. As you’d expect from a writer with Markoe’s credentials, there were a few laugh-out-loud moments in the book. Just not enough of them.

You can find more reviews and a synopsis at Goodreads at this link.

Two better options

The Art of Racing in the RainIf tales from a dog’s perspective is a genre, I’ve read two better books in this genre: “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein and “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron.

A Dog's PurposeBoth of these books are deeper, more poignant and tell a better story than “Walking in Circles.” I could hardly put down “Racing in the Rain,” and I’ve recommended it to numerous friends. As for “Purpose,” there are some surprises along the way that are sure to choke you up, and it offers the best message of the bunch.

For a synopsis and member reviews of “Racing,” follow this link. For info on “A Dog’s Purpose,” follow this link.

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