I’ve realized that while I really enjoy cataloging/reviewing the books I read that its not the real driving force behind the blog. For one, I’m not terribly great at doing book reviews. I’ve never been big on writing or figuring out how to summarize a book that doesn’t give away the high points of the book, but still sucks in the reader. I also think we’re just far more about food and we enjoy talking about what we’ve eaten or what recipes we think we should be trying. That being said, I’m still going to do the reviews from time to time, I think I’m just going to group them a bit more. We’ll see how it works out. I think my biggest goal is to get better at writing and capturing the various foods we’ve been trying out. I think we’ve had a few winner recipes that really must get published.
The Last Man by Vince Flynn
The Last Man is the 13th book in the series that focuses on Mitch Rapp. I can’t get enough of these books. I just love them. The short summary of what the series is about: Mitch Rapp is the worlds leading assassin/spook. Early on in his life his girlfriend was killed in the Pan Am 103 bombing and ever since he’s essentially vowed to rid the world of scumbags. This book picks up the series where one of the CIA’s top handlers has gone missing, Mitch is sent in to investigate and get to the bottom of it in quick order. His team knows that the longer they wait the more likely it is that the handler breaks. Everyone has their breaking point. The investigation and action mostly takes place in Afghanistan, but it also bounces to Washington and a few European countries. We also meet some characters from the past in this book which added a lot of intrigue. I’d say Mitch runs into a bit more problems than he’s typically used to and its great to see him have to work through those challenges.
One thing I really liked in this go around was that we saw a bit more emotion/character development out of Mitch. We were able to see that he does have to work through the issues that come with his line of work.
I wouldn’t suggest just grabbing this book off the shelf as a stand alone or the start to your reading of Vince Flynn. I think the book gives away too much of past plots for a person to start here and then go back and start the series. I’m a very sequential engineer type thinker though so that bugs me probably more than most if I don’t get a series in order. I don’t really care for all the language, but I understand that goes with the territory. I’ve seen a lot worse in that department.
Overall I really liked the book, I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I don’t know if you’ve all heard or not, but The Hobbit is coming to theaters this month… If I see another trailer for The Hobbit at the movies I could scream. I’m so ridiculously tired of the hype surrounding the movies(3). Seriously, how the heck can this story be 3 movies. Well that was part of the reason I decided to go back and reread The Hobbit. I was fascinated by the story growing up and figured it was about time to go back and check it out again.
The story is focused on Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, surprise. Anyway, this story is really about adventure, and finding oneself. It also brings about the really old idea of good things come in small packages. I enjoyed The Hobbit, though I find the Lord of the Rings trilogy to be superior. Tolkien is very wordy and likes to describe things to very minute details which can make for some sections of the story that tend to drag. I didn’t love the book as much this time around as I had the first time. Perhaps its because I basically knew the ending. I had forgotten much of the middle though, so other than pace it was really good to go read it again. In the literary sense this has a lot more to it than most fiction that I read. You can tell the influence that has gone from this book out into the rest of the fantasy fiction realm.
I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
This is book 4, the final book in the Seven Realms series. I was really excited to see the release of this book happen earlier this fall. To this point I’ve loved all the stories that Cinda Williams Chima has put out. They are just the right blend of fantasy, woven with elements of relatable human nature that endear the characters to your heart. You really grow to like and root for the people because they do struggle with their power and the expectations put on them. You can even relate to the villains in the story. I’ve often had trouble with that in fantasy books, but not here.
So being book 4, this book starts off very much right in the middle of the action. Our hero Han Alister is trying to figure out what in the world has happened to his life, everything he trusted is being questioned in his head, his girlfriend Rebecca/Raisa has turned out to be the Queen of the Feels, and to top it all off he doesn’t really have a place that feels like home. Raisa is also in the same boat of being thrust into the queenship after her mother has died and she is getting pressure from everyone around her to marry for political reasons and quell any potential uprising in her kingdom. She’s put in a very unenviable situation in having to try to chose what to do and feeling as if she has no choice to marry for love or her own desires. Mix in some wizard battles, and some clever mystery subplots and this made for a fantastic read. I wasn’t disappointed by the end outcome of the book, it left me happy, but it made me so sad that this was the final book. I could just keep going. This book/series ranks right up there with my favorite fantasy novels.
I’d give the book a 4.5 out of 5.
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Well I just finished this earlier this morning. Wow, what a wonderful book, wonderful series, and I have to say that I had an incredibly hard time putting it down. I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I got done reading “The Son of Neptune”. I think the characters in this series are some of the most beloved characters that I have in books. I know that Jackie would disagree with me, but I think I like Percy better than Harry Potter. Sacrilege, I know.
At the end of the Son of Neptune we’re left thinking about the Prophecy of the Seven and trying to figure out what sort of quest is coming up. Well for all of us Percy fans we knew that this story was going to be focused on Annabeth. She had quite small role so far in The Heroes of Olympus series, but she was heavily featured as the title would suggest, being a daughter of Athena and all. The story starts out with the team of seven demigods being formed up. Some of them coming from Camp Half-Blood (the Greek side) and the others coming from Camp Jupiter (the Roman side). The action starts and goes non stop right from the beginning. We’re given a healthy dose of mythology as always mixed in with new world settings. Its also the first excursion for the group outside of the United States as they head back to their roots, specifically Rome. There are multiple reasons for going, Hazel is wanting to rescue her brother Nico, and Annabeth must follow the Mark of Athena in order to try to bridge the divide between Greeks and Romans, and repair the God’s personalities that have been thrown out of whack with the war of the Titans. What you get is a lot of the classic humor and wit that are expected out of Riordan’s books, and this book seems to have a lot more relationship elements (Jason and Piper, Annabeth and Percy, Frank and Hazel).
I loved the book wholeheartedly. I can’t wait until the next one comes out and it is getting a 5 out of 5 rating for me. The book is written with young adults in mind, but the grown ups among us should have no problem picking it up and enjoying the story just as well.