Review – Gorky Park

Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Synopsis from GoodReads:
A triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three corpses found frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing. Chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko is brilliant, sensitive, honest, and cynical about everything except his profession. To identify the victims and uncover the truth, he must battle the KGB, FBI, and New York police as he performs the impossible–and tries to stay alive doing it.

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Review – This Rough Magic

This Rough Magic (Heirs of Alexandria, #2)This Rough Magic by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Venice had been thrown into chaos by the scheming of Chernobog, who came within a hair of seizing absolute power, but was thwarted by the guardian Lion-spirit, who awoke to protect his city from the power-mad demon. But the power of the Lion does not extend beyond Venice, and Chernobog has a new ally in the King of Hungary, who has laid siege to the island of Corfu as the first step in his plan to seize control of the Adriatic from Venice. Trapped on the island is the small band of heroes who awoke the Lion and blocked Chernobog’s power grab before. They are far from the Lion’s power to help them, but as Manfred and Erik lead a guerrilla movement to fight the Hungarian invaders, Maria discovers that the ancient magical powers of the island are coming to life again, stirred by the siege. If she can make an alliance with them, she may be able to repel the invaders-but not without paying a bitter personal price. . . .

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Review – Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American HistoryThomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Only weeks after President Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, he decided to confront the Tripoli pirates who had been kidnapping American ships and sailors, among other outrageous acts. Though inclined toward diplomacy, Jefferson sent warships to blockade Tripoli and protect American shipping, and then escalated to all-out war against the Barbary states.

The tiny American flotilla—with three frigates representing half of the U.S. Navy’s top-of-the-line ships—had some success in blockading the Barbary coast. But that success came to an end when the USS Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor and was captured. Kilmeade and Yaeger recount the dramatic story of a young American sailor, Stephen Decatur, who snuck into the harbor, boarded the Philadelphia, and set her on fire before escaping amid a torrent of enemy gunfire.

Another amazing story is that of William Eaton’s daring attack on the port city of Derna. He led a detachment of Marines on a 500-mile trek across the desert to surprise the port. His strategy worked, and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.

Few remember Decatur and Eaton today, but their legacy inspired the opening of the Marine Corps Hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.”
 
Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates tells a dramatic story of bravery, diplomacy, and battle on the high seas, and honors some of America’s forgotten heroes.

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Review – The Blackthorn Key

The Blackthorn Key (Christopher Rowe, #1)The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.

But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

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Review – Station Eleven

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Synopsis from Goodreads:
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

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Review: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

I started this book back in fall of 2015, but I didn’t get very far.  I ended up loaning my copy out to someone, so that postponed my reading of it, too, so I ended up starting it over again in January and then proceeded to slowly work my way through it over the course of the entire month.

This book counts for the 1920-1939 slot of my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

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Review: The Alpha and His Ace

Quick bit of housekeeping before I get into the review.

Firstly, this is a book a friend of mine found but couldn’t read as she a) doesn’t have an e-reader and b) her phone doesn’t function as such.  So I read it because of her, and otherwise wouldn’t have known it exists.

Secondly, because of how early in the year I read this, it counts towards my When Are You Reading? Challenge for the 2000-Present slot.

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When Are You Reading? 2016 Challenge

After quite a bit of thought, I have indeed decided to once again participate in the When Are You Reading? Challenge.  I had fun with it last year and I appreciate the way it broadens my horizons.

when are you reading 2016 final

To see the rules, please go to Sam’s page over here.

The timelines:

Pre-1500: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
1500-1599: This Rough Magic by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, & Dave Freer
1600-1699: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
1700-1799:
1800-1899: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
1900-1919:
1920-1939: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
1940-1959:
1960-1979: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
1980-1999:
2000-Present: The Alpha and His Ace by Ana J. Phoenix
Future: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Here’s hoping I do better this year than last (7/12 read, 5/12 reviews posted).