Monday, September 19, 2011

The Accident

The Accident: A Thriller
Linwood Barclay
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0553807189
400 pages

Sometimes one event in your life can seem like a domino with it causing more problems than you could
ever imagine. This one event is the domino that causes everything else to collapse.

Glen Garber owns his own company which builds houses. Unfortunately with the recent economic
problems and the downward spiral in the housing market, it is causing some money problems at home.
His wife, Sheila, is taking a business class at the local college so that she can assist with the bookkeeping
for Glen’s business and might be able to get another job on the side to help with the family finances.

However, their lives change dramatically when Sheila is killed in a car accident. Apparently, she was
drunk and attempted to drive. Her car was involved in a head-on collision facing the wrong way on an
interstate on-ramp killing Sheila and two people in the other car.

Glen is home with his daughter, Kelly, when the accident happens. His wife is suppose to be at class but
apparently she skipped class tonight. As Glen looks for her vehicle, he sees the police and immediately
sees the situation. The police let him know that the accident was his wife’s fault and they already know
that she was intoxicated.

What bothers Glen the most is that this accident was not like something that Sheila would have ever
done. She didn’t drink and drive. Added to that, now Glen is being sued for not insisting that his wife
get help for her alcohol problem. How could he insist that she didn’t get help when she didn’t have a

Glen has to deal with the grief while still maintaining his business. Unfortunately, not all is at it seems
and his life continues in this downward spiral. Where will the bottom be?

The Accident is a riveting page-turner. The characters are realistic and unfortunately, the story has an
authentic feel throughout the entire story. Things are seldom as they seem.

The character of Glen was extremely well-developed and realistic. He just wants to do what is
best for his daughter and business. Literally, he is in the survival mode but manages to get through
many uncomfortable and crisis situations while still grieving and protecting his daughter.

Linwood Barclay has written numerous comic thrillers and many darker standalone adventure novels.
This former journalist now writes novels full-time.

If The Accident is typical of Linwood Barclay’s novels, I definitely plan to read anything written by this
master of suspense.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Becoming Marie Antoinette

Becoming Marie Antoinette
Juliet Grey
Ballantine Books
August 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0345523860
480 pages
Historical Fiction

Most of us have a general knowledge of Marie Antoinette and focus on her being the beheaded queen.
Who was she? How did she become the infamous queen?

Growing up as the fifteenth child and youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and the Holy Roman
Emperor Francis I of Austria, who reigned over the Habsburg dynasty, had to have been unusual. Marie
Antoinette learned quickly by charming those around her rather than being well-educated. In music,
she excelled after having Gluck as her musical tutor.

Once her father died from a stroke, the Empress sought a French alliance and marrying one of her
children to the Dauphin of France strengthened the relationship between these two countries.
Unfortunately, the French advisors found many faults with Marie Antoinette that needed to be
immediately altered such as being tutored with the French language, politics, having her teeth
straightened, and having a personal hair dresser. For a twelve-year-old child, she became very insecure
with her own capabilities with all the constant criticism and advice.

Having a young teenager understand the intricacies of the French royalty society and understanding
who the power players were and how to play them did not always work for the young Dauphine. Added
to that was a husband who did not want sexual relations with her while both France and Austria were
anxiously looking for her to become pregnant.

Becoming Marie Antoinette is the first of a proposed trilogy about the French queen from a well-
researched novelist, Juliet Grey, the pseudonym for Leslie Carroll. This native New Yorker has worked
extensively as a writer adapting many classics for stage productions, general fiction, and historical
fiction. She has also used the pen name of Amanda Elyot. She lives with her husband in Manhattan and

The strength of this novel is the strong personal voice of the main character, Marie Antoinette and
seeing her life through her eyes. For the reader, you feel that you are actually on a journey with this

I look forward to the next book in this trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow (Marie Antoinette, #2).
This should be available in 2012.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Lantern

The Lantern
Deborah Lawrenson
Harper Collins
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-204969-8
387 pages
$ 25.99

“A secret can tear the soul. Unspoken, it seeps into the subconscious, it penetrates the body, the character of a person, until at last it takes over all reason and reasoning – until nothing is left but the secret that cannot be told and that must be kept tight inside at all costs. This is devastation, the inner waste.”
How many of us are really what others see? Do we have secrets that change and daily influence us? Or ones that would greatly change someone’s opinion of our personal character? Should you accept the blame for the problems within your family? If not you, who will take the responsibility for your family?
The Lantern is written in a similar style as Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier with the past haunting and influencing people’s lives with a mixture of love and death in Provence, France. This is the intertwining of two tales both at the rural Les GenEvriers surrounded by the lavender fields.
One story revolves around Eve who has quickly become involved with Dom. He obviously has many secrets, especially about his former wife, Rachel. Unfortunately, Dom refuses to talk or to answer questions about her which naturally makes Eve more curious and almost obsessed about the past.
The other story is about the former owners of Les GenEvriers, the Lincel family. This particular family became famous because of one blind daughter who became successful in the perfume business. The one boy in the family, Pierre, was abusive and psychotic. Unfortunately, it appears the even though Les GenEvriers was sold to Dom, the former residents have not left completely.
While somewhat haunting and at times chilling, this seemed to be an imitation of Rebecca rather than a similar story. The story was predictable and leaned strongly to being a romance novel rather than a haunting tale. This was more like family secrets and gossip.
On the positive side, this tale tended more towards a realistic story with real problems and real people. Though not fast-paced, this aspect kept the intensity of the story-line moving and developing.
The Lantern is a different story with a non-linear plot line that still weaves an intriguing tale.

Galaxy Games: The Challenger

Galaxy Games: The Challengers
Greg R. Fishbone
Illustrations by Ethan Beavers
To Books
Lee & Low Books
September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-600-60-660-1
352 pages
$ 15.95
Ages 8 and up

Ty Sato is looking forward to his eleventh birthday party until he finds out that his older sister, Amanda, planned it for his busy parents. She even arranged for there to be a clown at this event. Now, Ty has to figure out a way to have the party but not to be the nerdy kid and the joke of a typical vengeful teenaged sister.

His cousins in Japan have sent him an unusual present. They had a star named after Ty.

Quickly though, this star that astronomers are following, is not a normal star and is moving way too fast and closer to our planet. From being a star, to an asteroid, to a meteor, to now looking like a spaceship, this Ty Sato is closely approaching our planet. With many people believing that the end of the world is near, the planet slowly anticipates their last days due to the arrival of Ty Sato. How would you like to share a name with the possible destruction of the planet?

On board this spaceship is M’Frozza from the planet, Mrendaria, who is an octopus-like creature on a secret mission. She desperately needs to save her own world from disaster in the universe, being a part of the galactic Galaxy Games. Ty Sato is given the chance to save both his world and hers, but will he make the correct choices? Does he have what it takes to be the hero of our planet?

This is a delightful, fast-paced comic type of art book with a teenaged sense of humor such as communications being relayed through the toilets on the Mrendaria ship. This collaborative book is fun, funny, and at the same time realistic. The story line is easy and enjoyable to follow. The characters are well-developed, even for a three-eyed, multiple nostrils, octopus-like creature.

Galaxy Games: The Challengers is fun to read. Combining science fiction, fantasy, with humor and realism makes this intriguing for all ages. The mix of the story with the graphics is a perfect blend for Galaxy Games.

Trail of Blood

Trail of Blood
By Lisa Black
Harper Collins
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-198936-0
406 pages
$ 7.99

Most investigators would not be interested in a murdered body that was killed seventy-five years ago. However, Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist, is more than intrigued by this discovery especially when she identifies the body of a long-dead policeman.

An older building is being destroyed and as the construction crew is preparing for the complete annihilation of it, they discover a secret room with the remains of this man on a table where it seems that his blood was drained. Who had access to this room? Why would someone have this type of table in a business? Where did the drain lead to? Who knew about this?

This policeman, James Miller, seemed to be one of the few uncorrupted officers at the time. However, he was listed as a deserter of the force when in actuality he was murdered.

Trail of Blood goes back to the mid-1930s, with Eliot Ness being assigned as the leader of the corrupt police force of Cleveland, Ohio and accepting the challenge to clean-up the force. Unfortunately, there seems to be a copycat killer from the 1930s known as the Torso Killer who is leaving new evidence to this old crime.

The strength of this mystery was the realism. Some evidence did not lead to the conclusion, whereas, others did. The reader had to sort out the information as the evidence and interviews were revealed. With various point-of-views, this approach included the reader as actually part of the investigation.

The weakness of this mystery was the lack of attachment for the characters. They all seemed depressed and involved with their own personal misery. This slowed down the pacing considerably while developing a believable storyline.

Lisa Black actually works as a forensic scientist and obviously utilizes this experience in her books. She currently resides in Florida.

The storyline development with the various point-of-views made this an interesting novel by an unusual writer with true forensic experience. I plan to read more by this author to see how she approaches her other novels.