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La Chakoteya

Review the Last Book You Read

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Nemesis by Agatha Christie

The last of the Miss Marple novels, and my last, since I have now read them all.

Unusual, in that before the murder can be solved Miss Marple must first discover who has been murdered. She is sent on a quest for Justice by the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel (a character from A Caribbean Mystery), but he gives her no clue as to what crime has been committed, nor the name of the victim, not the perpetrator.

Once that initial mystery is solved the case proceeds in much the standard way.

The Miss Marple stories, all in all, were good mysteries; however, I must say that there was a decline in quality, somewhat, when Miss Marple herself became the central character. I prefer Hercule Poirot to Miss Marple. But either is better than Tommy & Tuppence, IMO.

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Fortune's Child by Pamela Simpson

The book handles the 1991 return of a shipping heiress who went missing twenty years earlier. The family thinks she's an imposter trying to steal a fortune and firm they consider rightfully theirs. But why did the then fifteen year old Christina Fortune ran away? Is she really Christina or is she Ellie? And what dark secrets does the family harbour? In the end it's revealed that she was raped by her cousin and ran away in fear and that her cousin and uncle are involved in drug trafficing. She also manages to create a partnership for her company with China and is accepted by her grandmother as "Christina".

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River-Horse

by William Least Heat-Moon

Finally! And I hope to never take so long to finish a book again! Certainly, Deathly Hallows will take less time...But as for this one, it's the third of Heat-Moon's travel narratives. The first and most famous, Blue Highways, was a car trip, the second on foot. Here, as could be supposed by the title, he's gone by boat, on an ambitious transcontinental journey entirely by water. Part of the reason I think it took so long (aside from a few logistical issues that cropped up) was because I had a hard time working myself back into the author's style. It seemed different from the other trips, and it certainly was, because he spent a lot of time contemplating not just his journey, but the rivers he took, less time ruminating with people, more time on nature. It took getting used to, but about halfway through, once I had rededicated myself, I found, as different as this was, from his own work and from Lila, the book I'd finished before this one back in April, and as much as I'd have hoped for a little more context, it was still worth the effort. I had waited so long to read it, this was a pleasant thing to realize after so long (in both senses). Heat-Moon's got one more book out there, on Columbus, and in a few months, I may be tackling that one, or at will certainly have it, too.

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Night Trap by Gordon Kent

A book about a naval officer who sees his navy aviator father crash and die after returning from a mission against an Iranian. Throught the years he starts to think there was something very suspicious about the crash and he comes to the conclusion that the plane was sabotaged. Having become convinced of this, he embarks upon a quest which leads him to Naples, Athens and Sudan to capture the Iranian spy responsible for the death of his father.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I just knew it was going to end like that. I thought the book dragged in spots but overall it was good. GOF is still my favorite.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - took 6 hours! Loved it. I think because the beginning and end were so fast paced, the middle 'seemed' slower than it actually was. Plenty of chuckles, laugh out louds alongside weepy and shocking areas to keep the moitional rollercoaster screaming along. Fantastic end to the series though, definitely wasn't disappointing, and will definitely rank among my favourites.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I picked it up at midnight on the 21st with Lil Q but she finished it before I did. :P Awesome ending to a great series. I think she did a great job at wrapping everything up. It gave me the closure I was hoping for. :)

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It gave me the closure I was hoping for. :)

I've heard a lot of people complaining that the epilogue wasn't that great, but I thought it did just what you mentioned - brought closure to the series.

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What was in the epilogue was really good. But, I just wanted a little more from the epilogue - find out what happened with the majority of the main and secondary characters instead of just the core. I also wanted to see what happened in the aftermath of the last chapters - it just ended a little suddenly. But, those are really minor gripes to what was a terrific story.

Can't wait to see how it's going to translate into a film viewable by kids though :).

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Since the last one noted here...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I reviewed here, and The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey, which I reviewed at another site. Which brings us to:

The Screwtape Letters

by C.S. Lewis

Hey, the guy apparently wrote about more things than just Narnia. He was also a noted religious scribbler, and this was one of the books (besides Narnia) he did to that effect, but that only really scratches the surface. An experimental novel, it's written in the form of letters that don't follow a necessarily linear plot, from one demon to another, concerning the potential corruption of a soul during WWII. And yes, it follows Christian beliefs and philosophy to the hilt, to the point where sometimes the reader may be excused to wonder if it is merely a thinly veiled lecture, but more than that, it is an excellent psychological study of the human condition, and social trends from the hundred years preceding the novel's creation. Consequently, because it is written in the form of letters (but only from one end), it is also a clever display of the psychology between two people as well, be they demons or otherwise. Regardless of what it may be perceived as, it is, in the end, a worthwhile window into life.

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Boomsday

by Christopher Buckley

Somewhat disappointed to discover this humor novelist's style is no different from what I've already read in the Dave Barry books I've reported on in previous posts, but the Social Security revolt he explores here is still worth a good set of characters, even if he distances himself too quickly from the possibilities of exploring the consequences of his actions by sticking to what he thinks would happen in the real world, all his liberties included. Free himself from those needless restraints, and Buckley'd be better.

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Was twenty pages from finishing The Reluctant Fundamentalist before it vanished...

The Sweet Science

by A.C. Hall

A collection of Hall's fiction and columns at Stumbebum Studios...I'm sorry, an introduction: A.C. is a colleague both at Paperback Reader and Dead Letter Quarterly, two of my nonOL pursuits these days, and this was a book he self-published. The fiction is mostly very short stories as well as several longer pieces, most of which he never completed. The columns are an amateur's look at writing. On the whole, worth having a look at.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

by Dave Barry

Speaking of short stories, this is a rather short novel from the retired humor columnist, based on his memories of a childhood Christmas pageant in which things went horribly right. Being a more focused (only a single main character!) book than his two previous, nonPeter Pan books, and because it's so short, Barry's forced to himself be rather focused, and it's a fun, swift ride, a jolly little holiday treat, nostalgia if you like but also a very nice memory you can share with others in your own time.

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Love, Stargirl

by Jerry Spinelli

The first Spinelli I've read since the childhood milestone (and lifetime favorite) Maniac Magee, and a sequel to an earlier book I of course haven't read. All that aside, the guy's still got it. The book is written in the form of a letter Stargirl is composing to a boyfriend she moved half a country away from, reflecting on her experiences in her new hometown, its eccentric citizens and her attempts to forge a new life, which eventually converge in her creation of a solstice calendar. Despite the obvious gonzo nature of events, characters, Spinelli still manages to craft a story true to the human experience. It makes me want to read the first book.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Thirteenth - The End

by Lemony Snicket

Okay, so technically I skipped the first six books and then the last five before this one, but I was as excited last fall as anyone could be for this release, and the unusual conclusion is entirely befitting of the series, as I eventually learned. Although most of the mysteries remain mysteries, the sense of what Daniel Handler was trying to accomplish became perfectly clear, his idea that the Baudelaire orphans' story was about, if not finding a perfectly content conclusion, than a new sense of family. Handler also makes a deft move in his overarcing story, that of Snicket's relationship with Beatrice, and perhaps why he's been so interested in the orphans to begin with. Good stuff. I look forward to more of Handler's original fiction.

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Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein

Unedited, full version - nearly six hundred pages as Heinlein originally intended it.

The overall thrust of the philosophical direction was so much clearer to me after a gap of 20 since I read the shortened version.

'Thou art God' struck me as similiar in approach to 'Be the change you want to see in the world' (Ghandi) or 'Do unto others'. That is, our individual actions are the ones that shape the world, create and destroy it, so make sure what you do is the right and best thing not just for you, but for everyone.

Recommended re-read for all.

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The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

A Christian classic and must-read.

This is the story (in Part I) of Christian, a citizen of the City of Destruction, who forsakes all and sets out on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City. Along the Way (like the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz) he meets many characters, such as Evangelist, Interpreter, Faithful, Hopeful, Talkative, Mr. By-ends, Mr. Worldly Wiseman; he fights Apollyon and is captured by Giant Despair; he passes through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and Vanity Fair.... Part II is the story of his wife, Christiana, and his children, who follow after him.

It is, of course, an allegory of the Christian life. And a very insightful one, at times, too. However, I found the geography of the Way caused problems. It worked well as an allegory for Christian himself, but raised questions about some of the people he met along it.

Overall: :angel:

Edited by Dahar Master Kor

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

A fantasy/fairy tail about a boy on a quest to prove/find his true love, a fallen star and the wiches who hunt it. Easy reading but not a book making a lasting impression... I also just saw the movie Stardust and I liked it very much. In my opinion the movie, although differing from the book on a few substantial places, is very much better than the novel.

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Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard

Fantastic. Rouge spy, Lily, is on a quest to bring the murderer of her friends and their adopted daughter to justice. The government agency she works for isn't happy about this, so they send out their top hunter. To terminate the problem. The fun begins as he is swept along for the ride, o.k. he actually starts driving. Because, before he can carry out his mission he must solve the puzzle of her, (so to speak).

Absolutely riviting from the first page. The ending was unexpected.

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A few, since I last checked in:

52: The Novel

by Greg Cox

If you're at all familiar with the weekly comic, this is most of the story, a few characters excluded.

The Shining

by Stephen King

I went through two versions of movie adaptations, the acclaimed Kubrick-Nicholson one and King's own TV version, and neither managed to do the book justice, which is pretty funny. The book is more about the family than it is the hotel, but even the hotel is never done any justice.

Bad Twin

by Gary Troup

The Lost book, a pretty good mystery.

Falling Man

by Don DeLillo

I thought it would a bit better than it was. It was my first DeLillo (White Noise, Underworld), and it was his take on 9/11 aftermath. A riddle, anyway.

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The Salmon of Doubt

by Douglas Adams

I knew it was going to not so much be finished, but somehow I didn't expect the Dirk Gently novel including here, giving the collection its title, to be, well, so unfinished. And it was shaping up to be another memorable lark, despite the fact that its author seemed in such turmoil about it really being a Dirk Gently novel. The rest of it, of course, is a fond reminder of a great man and writer who continues to be sorely missed.

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Antony & Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough.

The final novel in her great Masters of Rome series (totalling 7 volums and about 4500 pages). McCullough finally caved in to pressure that she write a final novelling concluding the fall of the Republic. But it seems to me that due to her failing eysight she rushed this work as it's not of the same quality of her previous volumes. It's a third shorter than her previous novels and it hops and skips. Nonetheless it was a good novel, a outy but it could have been better.

The book starts some months after the end of the previous novel The October Horse. With Brutus and Cassius dead the Roman world is now devided between Antony and Octavian. The book handles the Perusine war, Antony's dalliance /love affair with Cleopatra, Antony's disastrous war against Parthia, the conflict between the two triumvirs, the war against Sextus Pompey, and the final war of the republic.

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The Swiss Family Robinson, by the guy who wrote it (Jonathan Weiss or somesuch). This was the second time I have read the novel -- or at least the "abridged" version I have a copy of -- and it was a very good read. Actually a bit of a downer at the end, but exciting and fun nonetheless.

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The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Much-acclaimed book, as well as author. Still, I thought it could have been a bit less completely esoteric, like maybe a hint at the world beyond the man and his boy. On one hand, it makes the ending that much more interesting, but on the other, it makes things seem even more bleak than it would probably be. McCarthy, in the end, does as much manipulating of the reader as mesmerizing. I've got Blood Meridian to read later on, so I'll find out if that's how he usually writes, or just what this one ended up being.

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On the Wrong Track, by Steven Hockensmith. This is the sequel to Holmes on the Range, which introduced two brothers, one of whom fancies himself a sort of cowboy detective minus the cowboying and any real detective skills. In On the Wrong Track, the brothers are trying to solve several layers of crime aboard a train. A fun read and I await the next entry in the series.

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