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Book Reviews

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

This classic and much-loved novel about the French Revolution offers deep social commentary and an intriguing cast of characters.

One of the best-selling novels of all time, Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities recounts the story of Alexandre Manette, a French physician who is released from a long imprisonment on the eve of the French Revolution. As he sets out for London to find his daughter Lucie, social and political turmoil in Paris lead to the Reign of Terror. Against this backdrop, the reader is introduced to a variety of characters and storylines in both cities that are woven together to tell the story of a tumultuous era. This enduring classic showcases at its finest Dickens’s flair for creating rich detail and memorable characters.

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Book Reviews

The Sign And The Seal – Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant by Graham Hancock (1992)

The fate of the Lost Ark of the Covenant is one of the great historical mysteries of all time. To believers, the Ark is the legendary vessel holding the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Bible contains hundreds of references to the Ark’s power to level mountains, destroy armies, and lay waste to cities. The Ark itself, however, mysteriously disappears from recorded history sometime after the building of the Temple of Solomon. After ten years of searching through the dusty archives of Europe and the Middle East, as well as braving the real-life dangers of a bloody civil war in Ethiopia, Graham Hancock has succeeded where scores of others have failed. This intrepid journalist has tracked down the true story behind the myths and legends-revealing where the Ark is today, how it got there, and why it remains hidden. Part fascinating scholarship and part entertaining adventure yarn, tying together some of the most intriguing tales of all time-from the Knights Templar and Prester John to Parsival and the Holy Grail-this book will appeal to anyone fascinated by the revelation of hidden truths and the discovery of secret mysteries.

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Excerpts

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther Excerpt about love

“And when I look around the apartment where I now am,—when I see Charlotte’s apparel lying before me, and Albert’s writings, and all those articles of furniture which are so familiar to me, even to the very inkstand which I am using,—when I think what I am to this family—everything. My friends esteem me; I often contribute to their happiness, and my heart seems as if it could not beat without them; and yet—if I were to die, if I were to be summoned from the midst of this circle, would they feel—or how long would they feel—the void which my loss would make in their existence? How long! Yes, such is the frailty of man, that even there, where he has the greatest consciousness of his own being, where he makes the strongest and most forcible impression, even in the memory, in the heart of his beloved, there also he must perish,—vanish,—and that quickly.

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Book Reviews

Orson Scott Card – Homebody Book Review

I bought a house recently and never would I have thought that an audiobook of a novel written in 1998 about a house haunting would strike so true.

I didn’t read anything about the book prior to its purchase and as I went along, the story unfolded as a sweet, sometimes uplifting, sometimes saddening, tale of becoming.

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Book Reviews

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall 1783 – 1787 (Poldark Book 1)

Ross Poldark is the first novel in Winston Graham’s hugely popular Poldark series, which has become a television phenomenon starring Aidan Turner.

Tired from a grim war in America, Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family. But the joyful homecoming he has anticipated turns sour, for his father is dead, his estate is derelict and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin.

But his sympathy for the destitute miners and farmers of the district leads him to rescue a half-starved urchin girl from a fairground brawl and take her home – an act which alters the whole course of his life.

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Book Reviews

Robin Cook – Genesis Book Review

New York Times best-selling author Robin Cook takes on the ripped-from-the-headlines topic of harnessing DNA from ancestry websites to catch a killer in this timely and explosive new medical thriller.

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Book Reviews

Neil Olson-The Black Painting Book Review

“A riveting psychological thriller, a serious dissection of a dysfunctional family and an exploration of the power of art to change lives.” —Associated Press
“A fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters. … A real page-turner.” -B.A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger


An atmospheric literary mystery about an infamous painting rumored to be cursed—and the family torn apart by its disappearance.
There are four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.


I love books dealing with art and I have to say, books dealing with art collectors are a strange lot. New York writer Neil Olson’s The Black Painting discusses a very spooky work by Francisco Goya that supposedly exerts powers that drive viewers bonkers — in this instance, various members of a wealthy East Coast family. “Black Painting” purportedly belongs to a series of gruesome works created by the Spanish genius near the end of his life.

  • The Black Paintings stand out in art history for their dark composition and themes.
  • The biggest mystery, though, is that Goya painted them directly onto the walls of his home and never told anybody about them.
  • By 1819, the painter Francisco Goya had been through quite a bit. He had witnessed the chaos of war when Napoleon invaded Spain and the chaos in Spain as its government bounced back and forth between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy. He had become deathly ill a number of times, occasionally fearing he was going mad. One of these illnesses had left him deaf. Increasingly bitter about humanity, afraid of death and madness, Goya withdrew into a villa outside of Madrid called la Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s House.

Back to the book. Before its theft years earlier, the Goya painting had hung, shrouded, behind the desk of elderly collector Alfred Arthur Morse. When the four Morse cousins are unexpectedly summoned by their grandfather, they all show up: Kenny, the successful lawyer; James, the psychologically fragile medical student; Audrey, the wild divorcée; and Teresa, the shy art student subject to seizures. Complementing the cast are foggy pines, rocky cliffs, a crumbling estate and the ghost of a vanished painting.

 “Last night she dreamed of the house on Owl’s Point,” reads the first line, echoing Daphne du Maurier’s timeless thriller, Rebecca. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Make way for strange happenings in a mansion on the sea, managed by a cold housekeeper with an agenda of her own.

Kenny tells Teresa about his meeting with their grandfather: “Go to the place that’s most private to you. Most humiliating. You know what I mean? That tender spot. That’s right where he would have put his finger.” Only Grandpa didn’t have the chance, since Teresa discovered his corpse when she arrived at Owl’s Point.

So, we have grandfather in the study, but who did it and why? If death came naturally, how to explain his horrified expression? Motives abound: money, family secrets, simmering hatreds. Luckily gloom takes a lighter turn with the arrival of P.I. Dave Webster, a latter-day Philip Marlowe. Hints that all will be resolved appear when Dave is hired to resume the poking around he began years before with the original theft. Get ready for a thrilling ride through the worlds of the unhappy rich, whose acquisitions can prove very dangerous indeed.

3/5

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Book Reviews

Jeff Lindsay – Just Watch Me

A masterful thief plots an impossible crime – stealing the Iranian Crown Jewels.

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Book Reviews

Jo Nesbo – Macbeth

Scandinavia’s king of crime turns the tragedy into a deliciously oppressive page-turner

120866955Set in a run-down, rainy, industrial town, Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem.

Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom a master of manipulation named Hecate – has connections with the highest in power and plans to use them to get his way.

Hecate’s plot hinges on steadily, insidiously manipulating Inspector Macbeth the head of SWAT and a man already susceptible to violent and paranoid tendencies.

What follows is a pause resisting story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, exploring the darkest corners of human nature and the aspirations of the criminal mind.

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Book Reviews

Dexter’s Final Cut (#7) by Jeff Lindsay Book Review

“Life teaches us that human thought almost never walks hand in hand with logic, and it is usually counterproductive to raise the point.”

Hollywood gets more than it bargained for when television’s hottest star arrives at the Miami Police Department and develops an intense, professional interest in a camera-shy blood spatter analyst named Dexter Morgan.