And so ends another month of great reading!
Halt's Peril (#9, Ranger's Apprentice Series, John Flanagan)
Ranger's Apprentice! How could I forget the Ranger's Apprentice series that I have yet to finish??
Halt's Peril delivers. One might think that the story might begin with
Halt getting shot (as the jacket blurb spoils for us) and spend the
whole time focusing on Will and how he would manage without his mentor.
But no. Halt doesn't get shot till around chapter eight or so. Which
gives Mr. Flanagan ample time to do what he does best: establish his
cast of colorful characters so vividly you can almost smell them.
This book feels almost like a culmination of the story arc that started
in Book 5 with the Sorcerer of the North and was briefly interrupted in
Book 7 with Erak's Ransom. We see familiar characters from the last 3
books, namely Tennyson, the unscrupulous "prophet of Alseiass" whom we
met in "Clonmel", and the healer Malcom from "Sorcerer" and "Macindaw."
Horace joins the Rangers in their quest to discredit Tennyson once and
for all, after all the grief he's caused. The bonds of friendship are
sound, and the theme of sacrifice and true strength and courage rings
throughout. I laughed, I held my breath—and I can't believe it's ending
Along Came A Spider (#1, Alex Cross series, James Patterson)
Along Came A Spider introduces us to Alex Cross, a psychiatric doctor
often called to help on cases where the criminal is obviously troubled.
And boy, does this dude have a problem! His style of kidnapping is to
bury his victims—young children—alive in a remote location where there's
not much hope that they'll be found before they're dead. It's up to
Alex to get inside the kidnapper's head to first figure out his
identity, and then where he has taken the children of some prominent
government officials, and why.
That being said, I didn't much appreciate the intensity of said
psychopath. I felt disturbed more often than intrigued, and the
compulsion to finish was driven more by frantic desperation for a
resolution than actual interest in the story. Alex himself did not much
strike me as a very strong character. I don't think I will be pursuing
this series any further.
1st to Die (#1 Women's Murder Club series, James Patterson)
This book had so much going for it—and yet from the first crime
scenario, I discovered it was a serial killer whose preferred MO
involved mutilating the bodies in ways I never thought possible—which
Mr. Patterson seemed to enjoy describing in minute, graphic detail.
The characters happened to be marginally interesting (at least enough
for me to actually want them to catch this sicko) which is why I kept
reading it—but every time the killer struck, I skimmed pages while my
I'm giving the sequel one more chance, in the hopes that it was sheerly
the nature of the crime chosen for the first book that made it so
revolting. We'll see if the characters get any more interesting—or maybe
I discover an author who just plain can't write female characters.
G is for Gumshoe (#7, ABC Mysteries, Sue Grafton)
In this mystery, Kinsey receives two messages in a single day. The first
is an elderly client asking her to investigate the whereabouts of her
own mother, whom she hasn't heard from in a long while. Kinsey knows it
will be simple; for a PI who is a pro at sniffing out paper trails and
false identities to find people who want to hide, how hard could it be
to find a near-senile old lady?
The next call she gets informs her that a mobster she helped incarcerate
a few years prior has put a hit out on her—several dangerous killers
are out for her blood. Hence, her friend in the police department has
issued her a bodyguard to follow her 24/7 and approve activities outside
her house—something that severely cramps Kinsey's mode of operation!
How can she hunt down leads when she can't investigate by herself? Will
the Irish mob get her before she can solve the case?
A cast of colorful characters, an intriguing mystery, and a rather
entertaining literary reference—There were one or two cringe-worthy
scenes that contributed little to either Kinsey's character or her case,
but barring that, a delightful read!
Council of Mirrors (#9, Sisters Grimm series, Michael Buckley)
Finally! The last book in the Sisters Grimm series! Not in the sense
that I've been waiting for a very
long time—rather, I am glad that I can
now quit that series with impunity.
Granted, this series had its warm-fuzzy moments, however rare or brief
they were. But I never really quite got into the story, nor did I feel
any sort of support or attachment to any of the characters.
Council of Mirrors was an ending that never rose above the level of the
rest of the series. I am only grateful to be done with it. For once,
I've read a series that might actually be entertaining only to ages
8-10. And even then... There are more worthwhile things to read at that
The Sixth Man (#5 King & Maxwell series, David Baldacci)
Sure enough, this book was the one on which the pilot for TNT's
short-lived series, "King & Maxwell" was based. Reading the novel as
part of a series, instead of the beginning, provided an interesting new
perspective on the two characters. Not only that, but it quickly became
evident which parts of the original novel were changed for the TV
series—and upon reflection I may have figured out a likely explanation
as to why that would be.
The mystery was tight, complex, and very intriguing, but Baldacci
infuses his characters with plenty of heart. The relationship between
half-siblings Kelly and Edgar is heartwarming and tender. The fact that
Edgar doesn't say a word until something like Chapter 40 is a unique way
of presenting a character. We get inside his head before we "hear" what
he has to say. A great book, and a great author. I can't wait to read
the next one!
Allegiant (#3 Divergent Trilogy, Veronica Roth)
At long last, I found a copy of the last book in the Divergent series! I
had read the first six chapters at an airport bookstore during a
layover a few months back, but Allegiant didn't hit library shelves till
The thing I find most intriguing about a book is when the title
adequately describes the focus and theme of the novel. In Divergent, we
find out about the class called "Divergent" that are outside the faction
boundaries and therefore not as easily manipulated or controlled.
Insurgent centered on the group that arose, committed to overthrowing
the faction system and instituting a system akin to total anarchy, as a
reaction to the stern regulation of the factions.
Allegiant deals with the fallout from the rebellion, and a group that
calls themselves the Allegiant, who know the truth about the society
that once lived by faction: they were part of a genetic experiment,
collected into a single US city and closely monitored by the Council,
whose job it was to discover whether genes could be used to correct
"damaged" personalities. Those with more damage are more suceptible to
chemical alterations. The "genetically pure" do not have the
discrepancies that would make them vulnerable. It is the "damaged" ones
that are viewed as the inferior race—and also the members of the
Allegiant, whose aim is to strike back against the Council and prove
themselves "worthy" of respect.
But does violence truly warrant respect? If you do as I say because
otherwise I will kill you, is that actually respect or is it fear and
The book closes with the quote: "We are all damaged, every one.... But we can mend. We mend each other."
I love this series; I love the way it made me think, I love the
continuous message of hope, I love the characters. It was awesome.
Once Upon A Time Fairytales (Cameron Dokey)
Have I mentioned how much I love fairytales? Especially ones that are
well-done and take themselves seriously. From the original Grimms'
Fairytales to Regina Doman's Fairy Tales, Re-Told and Marissa Burt's
wonderful adventures in Storybound, fairy-tales to me are pretty things,
like a soft-colored, peaceful painting, or a sun-catcher made of wire and
strung with glass beads: delicate and awe-inspiring in a quiet sort of
Cameron Dokey's Once Upon A Time Fairytales are no exception. She has
taken the stories we all grew up hearing and expanded them, adding new
and unexpected insights and fresh perspectives that rejuvenate the old
stories into a new timeless tale. And just like the old tales, there is a
valuable lesson for each character to learn.
The two I read this month were for the stories of Beauty and the Beast
and for Jack and the Beanstalk. They were both delightful stories (a bit
girl-powered, but oh well). In the first, Belle is the youngest of
three sisters who are far more beautiful than she is, and she takes her
father's place to stay with the Beast because she is the only one who
can free him from the enchantment in a way one would never expect. In
the next story, Jack has a twin sister who is the level-head to his
impulsiveness, and they find out that their mother is royalty from the
World Above and must brave many dangers (the least of which,
interestingly enough, are actually the giants) to reclaim their
inheritance from the man who stole it and killed their father. I enjoyed
every minute spent reading these, and I will certainly be on the
lookout for more!
So how about you? What amazing reads did you discover in the month of March? Leave a recommendation in the comments!