Into the Book



  1. The Shadow of the Wind is Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first adult novel, telling the story of Daniel, a young man tasked with finding out the terrible secrets behind the Spanish writer Julián Carax. In a similar vein to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Umberto Eco, Zafón has produced an immense Gothic novel. Filled with suspense, horror, and surprising wonder, The Shadow of the Wind is a phenomenal piece of writing that fully immerses you in its world (more…)

  2. The Museum Guard drew me in by accident, just like the woman on the cover is being drawn into the open painting. I picked the book up and read the first sentence, “The painting I stole for Imogen Linny, Jewess on a Street in Amsterdam, arrived to the Glace Museum, here in Halifax, on September 5, 1938.” With that, I was hooked on the book’s matter-of-fact tone and mysterious air, so I read it. (more…)

  3. Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy has been waiting for a review for a few weeks now. I can confidently say that I’ve never read a more confusing, unresolved book than this one. What’s incredible about Auster’s work, though, is that this doesn’t condemn the book in any way. If you’re a fan of neat and easy storybook endings that are predictable from a million miles away, stay away from The New York Trilogy. If you like great writing that gives you a headache, this is the novel for you.


  4. When buying a house there are three important things to remember: Location, location, location. Everyone knows this, even Count Dracula in Middle-of-Nowhere, Transylvania, knows this. Strangely enough, even with all the money and all the power (he’s a Count, not some shabby Duke), Dracula chooses a place right next to an insane asylum outside of London, England. As if things weren’t strange enough, Dracula arrives into port on a ship devoid of crew save for the dead captain. To top things off, the guy starts hanging out in cemeteries and the solicitor who helped him buy the house has mysteriously disappeared.


  5. A relaxing weekend with her husband and newly adopted son is all Gillian Thayer expects as they check into Sabbath Resort and Conference Center. What she finds instead is a highly controversial meeting of a Bible translation committee, a group of protestors, and a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as a template for his murderous revenge. The tension only increases as Gillian’s husband, Marc, finds his friend dead and surrounded by frogs, and as Gillian herself runs into her old boyfriend, Gabriel, who is one of the protestors. As people die with each ensuing plague, Gillian fears losing her new son and struggles to forgive Gabriel for his past actions and establish a proper relationship.


  6. Detective Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one to notice evidence of a missing female victim at a gang-related multiple-murder scene, he finds the second chance he’s been looking for.

    March connects the female victim with another case involving the disappearance of Hannah Mayhew, teenage daughter of a famous Houston evangelist. None of his superiors are convinced, but they agree to transfer March to the Hannah Mayhew task force.

    From there – in the immortal words of Barney Fife – things go “kablooie.”

    Back on Murder is a great book. Not a great book “for a religious book,” but a great book, period. A rare and most welcome example of contemporary Christian fiction that does not induce vomiting.

    That was harsh, but I meant every word.

    Mr. Betrand manages to avoid the literary potholes that plague so many Christian novelists, by which I mean… wait a sec. Forget I said anything about potholes. We’re really talking about ditches, and the fact that Christians today are generally the dumbest drivers in the writing world. We seem to have forgotten what it means to tell a good story; but we sure as heck know what a tract looks like. I hope your airbag is working.

    Back on Murder is not a tract. It’s a smart, well-written, and utterly unPreachy (yes, I made that word up) piece of detective fiction. The characters aren’t cut from fiberboard, the plot is genuinely compelling – and not in a ‘waiting for the conversion scene’ way – and the dialogue is alive and kicking, even if the bodies are not.

    Like I said, it’s just a great book.

    Roland March himself is one of the book’s gems, mainly because he isn’t one. To adapt a line from Lemony Snicket, March is like a chef’s salad, “with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” He’s proud, petty, stubborn, brave, heroic, and broken. He’s looking for redemption, a chance to get ‘back on murder’ before he gets cut loose.

    But there is more than one kind of redemption. And by the end of the story, March has caught a glimpse of the kind with a capital R.

    – Corey P.

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  7. After reading the first novel to this series, I was immediately interested in reading Memory’s Door. Speculative fiction, unusual circumstances, and the like are often favorite reads. These strange events happened on two levels. One: extending the main theme of the novels, and the second: providing a bit of variety with alternate realities. To be fair, the second didn’t extend far enough to have much variety, but instead accomplished the same goal as the main theme: restoration. (restoration and a deeper relationship with the Spirit was the theme in the first novel, and likely will be for the series as a whole) (more…)

  8. The only category I feel no doubt placing The Gamecocks in is “Southern.” It has dramatic, mysterious, mischievous, and most importantly historic content. The book is set up with the main character introducing each chapter of his story by reading it to us, himself being the author. This gives a sense of realism which is necessary because, in fact, the historical reveal brought forth here is being brought forth right now.

    Jake, the main character and “author”, is quite a real person. In fact, this is true with each of the greater-seen cast. The time Mrs. Stephanie Sellers invests in her characters is very clear to see, and impresses me a great deal. She tied these characters very close to the South, and therefore the reader too. I felt ready to see a rowdy procession at the church, boys being told off by their momma, or Fisk and Wart runnin’ after a snake. Likewise, she doesn’t tone the speak down completely, neither.
    Now, for the history. I appreciated the beginning exposition on the discovery of the Lumbee’s origin. This helped me track the book as I was reading, and made it much easier to understand once repeated. But, I also appreciate it for not saying all that would be said. It left quite a bit at the end for the Knights Templar, the Portuguese, the Council, etc.
    The title of the book doesn’t become very clear until the end. This is where the action begins to unfold, and abruptly finishes the story. The end was unexpected, but when I think about it, was necessary. This is because it leaves much room for mystery that won’t be revealed, meaning there will likely be no sequel (not that it needs one).
    In conclusion, The Gamecocks is a Southern-to-the-heart story of two friends trying to bring the historical truth of the Lumbee origins to light. It has fantastic characters which bring out the South in the reader, and has great historical enlightenment, which we would all benefit to learn.

    ~ Noah
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  9. “I lead an unusual life.” Says the title character Odd, of his own existence on the second page of one of Dean
    Koontz’s best novels to date.
    Odd Thomas is a very average guy—as plain as could be. He’s a fry cook by trade in the lonely desert town of Pico Mundo, a loyal boyfriend to his soul mate Stormy Llewellyn, a budding author under the tutelage of mystery writing master Ozzie Boone—and, oh yeah, he sees dead people.

    The dead don’t speak, but they do try to communicate, and apparently they love to try to communicate with Odd Thomas. Sometimes they are only seeking justice, occasionally they try to prevent a crime by warning him. But one day everything changes with a mysterious stranger in town surrounded by dark hyena like shadow creatures called bodachs. They are the heralds of imminent disaster and death—beings that feed on chaos and violence, and they’re crowding around the small town of Pico Mundo, and it’s up to Odd and his band of allies, including Stormy, Chief Porter, and the ghost of Elvis, to get to the bottom of it and stop the gathering evil before time runs out.

    This may seem to be a bit of an exhausted premise now, having a protagonist who sees the departed spirits of the dead—and we won’t even begin to delve into the theological complications of such a subject—but somehow, Koontz pulls it off beautifully. The character of Odd, our narrator in this story, is fascinating, witty and darn lovable. Written with a tone of wry humor, and self-depreciating sarcasm, this tale is not as horrific as it may seem, although it maintains it’s frightening moments. In these pages, you see from a first person perspective the heart of Odd Thomas, his love for his friends, loyalty to do what’s right, and how far he will have to go to stop a plot that nobody else has the ability to prevent.

    Keep in mind this is certainly an adult novel. It does contain adult language, content and violence. It is not a book I recommend lightly, but only for mature readers who are able to take the good aspects of this story and leave the rest. Of course it is riddled with theological problems, that we can’t spend all that much time solving, and really, due to the nature of this book, we need not spend time trying to.

    However if you take this novel at face value, it is a fun romp into the fantasy world of fiction. The characters don’t seem so cardboard and cut out, but real, breathing people. Pico Mundo is populated by some of Koontz’s best creations and probably will prove to be some of his most enduring work. There’s a reason this one makes my list of favorites, and for the mature reader who is able to discern properly, I’m confident it will make your list as well.

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  10. Has any hero, in any adventure novel, ever discovered a treasure that didn’t get them into trouble? Gold seems to attract the most unsavory of characters and situations, from pirates to politicians to rogue agents to the threat of global catastrophe.

    Or all four at once if you’re Ben Blackshaw.

    When diving in the Chesapeake Bay, this retired Navy SEAL finds something far more valuable than oysters: a wrecked boat, a corpse, millions in gold, and enough explosives to start World War III. From that point on, his life gets considerably more interesting. And not in a good way.

    Will our heroes ever learn to leave the gold and pursue a different, less hazardous career? One with a lower body count? Someday perhaps. But until then, we may as well enjoy the ride.

    Deadrise is Robert Whitehill’s first novel. It’s a good one. Not simply “good for a first time effort,” but really, truly good. Whitehill writes with the skill of an experienced storyteller, and his work here far exceeded my initial expectations.

    For one thing, the quality of Whitehill’s writing is exceptional. Not flawless, but still several cuts above average. There’s a sharp efficiency to it that compliments the frenetic pacing of the story, and I lost count of the times I vowed to read “just one more chapter” only to find myself reading four or five. Deadrise is pretty much the textbook definition of a page-turner.

    The supporting characters are adequate, if not terribly interesting, but Whitehill’s best work is the character of Ben Blackshaw: a reluctant hero whose cultural background is just as important as his military training. Not, mind you, that his military training is anything to thumb your nose at…

    Opposite Mr. Blackshaw is Maynard Chalk, corrupt NSA operative and villain extraordinaire. He’s brooding, vicious, utterly self-centered, and yet graced with an inexplicable amount of charm. He steals the scenes and chews them up. He is, in other words, a very good very bad bad guy.

    The story itself is well plotted and consistently engaging, with one foot planted in reality and the other planted in a world of fantastical adventure – sort of like Indiana Jones meets Tom Clancy, with several unique twists of its own. I look forward to reading more of Whitehill’s work. He’s made quite an entrance, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next.

    (It should be noted that Deadrise isn’t something to pick up for family read aloud. It’s for mature audiences only, due to strong language, brief sensuality, and a number of violent, intense, and occasionally gory action scenes.)

    – Corey P.

    (I received this book free in exchange for a review.
    I was not required to write a positive review.)

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