Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays (February 26th)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The spear seemed entirely savage, but once my hand closed on the polished wood I did feel rather fierce.  This was the first real weapon I’d possessed since losing my rifle in Tripoli, and fortified my confidence the way a primitive might have felt when going up against one of Jefferson’s woolly mammoths.

The Emerald Storm by William Dietrich

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Death Relic Review

The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski

(from the back of the book)
After being vanquished by the Spanish empire, little remains the Aztec and Mayan civilizations.  From the ashes of their cities emerged a unified legend: Their conquerors possessed a mysterious artifact so powerful – so deadly – that it was universally known as the “Death Relic.”  Despite its infamy, little else is known about it.  Like the lives of the men who carried it, the object was lost long ago.  Or was it?

When archaeologist Maria Pelati’s research team disappears in the rugged terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula, she contacts Jonathan Payne and David Jones to help track them down.  Following the clues left behind, the duo discovers a link between the research team’s work and their recent disappearance.

As Payne and Jones embark on a perilous mission to find the lost archaeologist, they realize that Maria’s research may be the key to solving one of the darkest mysteries of the New World.  But their quest may end up costing them their lives as they unearth the secret of the Death Relic.

Maybe if I had some history with the characters I might have enjoyed this more.  As it was I didn’t connect with them much.  I liked the idea of the long standing relationship between the two friends with all sorts of history that leads to friendly banter.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.  The banter was odd and forced and sounded awkward and ended up taking away from the story instead of adding to it.  And unfortunately there were long passages of it.  There is some good action and mystery with people who are not who they seem, plots and schemes, fire fights and ancient puzzles.  And you get to learn something about the Maya.  But after all the action and mystery, just when it seems to really be picking up, it just sort of ends.  Abruptly.  It felt like the book was leading us somewhere and then decided at the last moment not to go there.  And I was left feeling that the ending didn’t really deliver what the rest of the book promised.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Big Snake Review

Big Snake by Robert Twigger

(from the book jacket) 

Scanning the internet for poetry prizes, Robert Twigger discovers the Roosevelt prize for capturing a live snake longer than thirty feet. The $50,000 prize has been unclaimed since 1912. About to be married, Twigger sets off for the Far East, making sure his last adventure as a bachelor is a big one.

Part travelogue, part classic adventure, Big Snake grapples with the mythic symbolic status of one of the world’s most fascinating creatures. Along the way, Twigger hunts for reticulated pythons in the sewers of Kuala Lumpur, survives on greasy civet cat in the jungle, attempts to date the most beautiful woman in the world, encounters the cobweb hunters of Buru and evaluates the legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace (‘the true discoverer of evolution’). After a few close shaves with snakes of all sizes, Twigger eventually comes face to face with the big one – but the final capture is not quite what he had in mind.

Big Snake is both moving and comic – a poetic quest and a real adventure, which paints a portrait of the Malay and Indonesian archipelagos seldom even suspected.

This book is part memoir, part travelogue, and part adventure story. Twigger, who knows nothing about snakes or the jungle, decides that it would be a good idea to try to win a $50,000 prize by catching a snake over 30 feet long. Along the way he learns a lot about snakes and so do we, like why you want to carry snuff into the jungle with you. But even though there is a lot of information here he kinds of sneaks it in a little at a time and you don't always even realize that you are learning something because it fits in so well with the flow of the story. And in his quest he enlists the help of some very colorful characters who are eager to help even if they don't understand what it is he is doing. And as he introduces you to all the people he meets along the way you learn about their culture and their land. You also get a look into his own life and stories about his grandfather that make the story more personal. At turns informative, funny and exciting it is worth a look if you like stories about adventure and exploration, even if you don't care that much about snakes. The ending did seem a bit abrupt though so it was slightly unsatisfying.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Crimson Joy Review

Crimson Joy by Robert B. Parker

(from the back of the book)
Spenser is back on his home turf: a Boston of sleaze and surprises, dangerous days and deadly nights.  A serial killer is on the loose in Beantown and the cops can’t catch him.  Called the “Red Rose Killer” because he leaves a long-stemmed red rose on each woman he slays, he’s terrifying every female who has to go out after dark.  But once Spenser joins the chase, the murderer’s trail turns toward home when a rose is left for Spenser’s own Susan Silverman.

I like Spenser and I like Hawk which is what makes these books work for me.  I like the quips and the sarcasm.  Unfortunately I think there was less of that in this one.  A lot of the book took place between Spenser and Susan.  There is a lot of them working out why their relationship works so well and how they can both can do their jobs, even when they happen to intersect, and still keep their personal relationship strong.  At times it seemed to be the focus of the book even more than the serial killer and, for me, it took up a little too much of the book.  I still liked the book and I always find Spenser books to be fun quick reads.  Spenser fans will read all of the books anyway so what I say won’t make a difference to them but for people who aren’t fans yet I would suggest starting with a different one and working your way around to this one if you find you like the others.