Book Reviews by Title - L

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Book Reviews by Title - L

Post by LadyKestrel » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:46 pm


Labyrinth by Kate Mosse ***1/2
When Dr Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons during an archaeological dig in southern France, she unearths a link with a horrific and brutal past. But it's not just the sight of the shattered bones that makes her uneasy; there's an overwhelming sense of evil in the tomb that Alice finds hard to shake off, even in the bright French sunshine. Puzzled by the words carved inside the chamber, Alice has an uneasy feeling that she has disturbed something which was meant to remain hidden...

Eight hundred years ago, on the night before a brutal civil war ripped apart Languedoc, a book was entrusted to Alais, a young herbalist and healer. Although she cannot understand the symbols and diagrams the book contains, Alais knows her destiny lies in protecting their secret, at all costs.
Skilfully blending the lives of two women divided by centuries but united by a common destiny, LABYRINTH is a powerful story steeped in the atmosphere and history of southern France.

There are plenty of novels that deal with the grail legend, but this one is definitely one of the most interesting. The approach of weaving together the linked story of two women separated by time works nicely and the mix of history and mystery fiction is well balanced. Sometimes there was some repetitiveness in the writing style, but apart from that, I liked one very much. Way better than The Da Vinci Code, though not quite as good as Gabriel Knight 3 (but then again, what is? :wink: )
~Reviewed by Wimli

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Towner Whitney can read the future in patterns of lace. It is a family trait, but one that she wanted to get as far away from as possible - to California, in fact - because she feels that the reading of the lace caused the death of her twin sister. The disappearance of her Great Aunt Eva, however, draws her back to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, and as she becomes involved in trying to find out what happened to her aunt, who was like a mother to her when she was growing up, family secrets and the story of Towner's past slowly unfold.

I got wrapped up in this story from the beginning. The characters are well-drawn, and the history of Salem, a town that has more witches now than they ever did during Colonial times, is fascinating. The author weaves a captivating story with magic and mystery, and it has an ending that came at me from the side and knocked me flat. This is one that I will re-read to find all the clues I missed the first time through. It receives a 5 out of 5 from me.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
Final Part of the trilogy. Battle still rages in the north and Logan "Bloody-nine" Ninefingers returns from his quest at the edge of the world and has to now take on his old enemy one last time. Superior Glokta is still trying to uncover the truth behind the conspiracies and lies. Using blackmail, torture and threats. The King lies on his deathbed they are surrounded on both sides by enemies as people scramble for power and glory. Will anyone survive?
Only the First of the Magi can help, but will be break the First Law of magic to do it?

Rousing finale that neatly ties up the series, but leaves some open ends for future books.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane's past reaches out to bring them back into the game--as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

Like the previous Scalzi novels this is a very entertaining book, easy to read, thrilling action, great dialogue and decent characters (The banter between Perry and his assistant is constantly funny).

However as always it just feels like it is all resolved far too easily. The chapters bounce forward in time in a jarring manner, some details are just rushed through and there are far too many coincidences and timely interventions.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
I had heard that some people didn't like this book as much as most of Pratchett's other Discworld books, but I quite enjoyed the romp through this alternate version of Australia and the Dreamtime stories. Yes, the plot is a bit convoluted, but the humor is still there as are many of the characters many of us have grown to love. The place names made me laugh out loud, and the explanation of how certain animals came to be is priceless. I think this visit to XXXX is well worth the trip!
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Last Galley by Arthur Conan Doyle
Also recently read Doyle's collection of stories named 'The Last Galley'. Pretty good. It's a collection of short stories based on actual events through history, from the Carthaginian wars onwards to the decline of the Holy Roman Empire. Some more factual than others. Some entirely fictitious. Doyle describes the lives, and exploits, of individuals of such characters as he imagined their (sometimes insignificant), entanglement in such occasions, and events, as the experiences of a shepherd/poet during Nero's coming to Athens to enter a poetry competition, or the life of a recluse during the coming of Attilla's armies to Europe. The stories give you a different, and refreshing, perspective on what life must have been like at a personal level during several momentous historical periods. Well worth a read! :study:
~Reviewed by Gelert

The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
This is the story of Cohen the barbarian and his ancient cohorts who decide that it's time to return fire to the gods, which the first hero stole so very long ago. Since this would be disasterous for the whole of Discworld, a motley crew consisting of Captain Carrot, Rincewind, and the inventor Leonard da Quirm is launched (literally) on an amazing journey to try to stop them. This is an oversize coffee table book illustrated in beautiful color by Paul Kidby. I swear Paul got inside my head when he created the characters because they are just as I've pictured them all along, from Cohen's bandy legs to Carrot's noble profile. This wonderfully funny and touching addition to the Discworld series should not be missed.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Last Wish by Andrzei Sapkowski
Geralt de Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.
And a cold-blooded killer.
His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.
But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good
. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.
The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher.

A short story collection from the Polish writer made famous by the Video game adaption of his fantasy hero Geralt the Witcher.

The stories are told as flashbacks while Geralt is recovering from injury and vary from the story version of the game intro, to humourous adventures battling a devil and various stories based on famous fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast and Snow White etc)

Decent Characters and sparkling dialogue, but it is more of an snack before the main course.

Book 1 of the 5 book series is due for release 16th October (uk)
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . . .
I decided to read this after seeing the fantastic movie.

I loved the book even more. A sweet tale of friendship, a horrific novel about bullying, dsyfunctional families and a vampire novel all in one. The book can be very depressing and dark at times especially with one character who is a pedophile.

For me the novel expanded on the movie so much (I saw the film first), it expanded on the violent fantasies of the bullied boy, the relationship between Eli and her "father" and the bullies themselves. Obviously there were things left out of the film and the novel delves deeper into their lives.

A novel where the least Evil person just might be the blood sucking vampire is a breath of fresh air.

I loved it.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
Just finished "Life and Death in Shanghai" by Nien Cheng. I'm speechless at what this woman went through and survived during the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao Zedong (as she spelled it). I learned things about that era I never knew. First it started against anything remotely associated with capitalism and then progressed to anything to do with the entire Chinese culture of thousands of years. The amount of "treasure" - in intellectualism, music, art and people who were destroyed is mind-boggling...I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the modern history of China.
~Reviewed by Draclvr

The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst
The lighthouses that dot the rocky coasts of Scotland were designed and built by the ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson. This book tells the often harrowing tales of their construction under amazingly difficult conditions. Each generation of Stevensons had at least one lighthouse to construct in near-impossible locations - places like Bell Rock, Skerryvore, Dubh Artach, and Muckle Flucca. This is not only a fascinating account of the designing and building of the lights at a time when engineering and architecture as professions were in their infancy, but the reader also gets interesting glimpses into the lives of the working people - the sailors, builders, stonemasons, and lighthouse keepers - who made the construction and running of the lights possible.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, subtitled A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies, takes place in Mexico circa 1900. Tita is youngest daughter who must not marry but stay home and care for her mother. The young woman, of course, falls in love, and the recipes are intertwined with longing and trying to cope with her difficult parent. This, too, was made into a movie, but I haven't seen yet.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
This is the story of Brrr, the Cowardly Lion. It begins at the Cloister of Saint Glinda where the lion has come seeking information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West, from the feisty oracle named Yackle, who appeared at the sidelines of Elphaba's life in the other two books. In exchange for information, Yackle wants some of her own, and so the lion tells his own tale. Abandoned as a cub and knowing very little about the world outside the Great Gillikin Forest, he ends up having terrifying adventures that give him his cowardly title.

Because of the laws that oppress talking animals, Brrr is forced into service for the warmongering Emperor of Oz. This battle of wits between himself and Yackle is hastened by the approaching battle between the Emerald City's army and the rebels from Munchkinland. The final twist to this story is fine and very satisfying, and it left me wanting more.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Locke & Key: Volume 2 by Joe Hill
Following a shocking death that dredges up memories of their father's murder, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are thrown into choppy emotional waters, and turn to their new friend, Zack Wells, for support, little suspecting Zack's dark secret. Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face. Open your mind - the head games are just getting started!

Joe Hill continues to impress with this weird story of the Locke children and the strange keys they find. In this story they find a key that opens the top of your head and allows you to put things in or take stuff out. i.e Insert book to instantly learn the whole book or maybe you can look in your head and remove memories or nightmares.

Superb art and a gripping story.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I actually stumbled on this book by serendipity as a teenager looking for novels by William Goldman. (see post below) And thank God I did! Apparently, Flies isn't taught much in high schools anymore, and I might have missed out on this classic otherwise.

Lord of the Flies tells a now-familiar story of a planeload of English schoolboys who crash land on an uninhabited tropical island. Without any adult supervision, the boys' veneer of civilization soon breaks down and they revert to savages, even to the point of hunting, killing and declaring war on each other.

The magic of Golding's novel is that it works on several different levels at once and manages to succeed brilliantly at all of them. It is a gripping adventure yarn. It is a sharp sociological analysis of social order. And it is canny religious allegory... all wrapped up in one short page-turner that you can get through in one or two sittings.
~Reviewed by Bacardi Jim

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, a symbologist who teaches at Harvard, receives a last-minute invitation to give a lecture at the U. S. Capitol Building. When he gets there, he finds an ancient invitation of a more grizzly sort, and he learns that Peter Solomon, a wealthy philanthropist, prominent Mason, and Robert’s longtime friend, has been kidnapped. To try to save him, Robert must follow clues that will lead him into hidden historic places and closely held secrets, while at the same time trying to shake the CIA agents who seem to be doing their best to thwart his efforts to save his friend.

This was a page turner for me, and it had some twists that I didn’t see coming. The villain in this one is truly creepy, and Brown’s characters, although they follow familiar patterns, have a little more depth to them when compared to his previous books. My only gripe was that the philosophies of the characters were repeated a bit too often. I found myself saying in a couple of spots, “Yes, I get it. Now get on with the story.” Other than that, however, it was an exciting story.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones
I recommend this one highly. It's a beautifully written story that combines love and archeology while painting a marvelous picture of China's history from its old customs to the present day. It's a gorgeous first novel, and I hope Mones writes many more.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is both an uplifting and a devastating novel. It is told from the point of view of a murdered teenage girl who watches her family and friends from heaven as they try to cope with her disappearance and the eventual realization that she has died. It is not a mystery because the reader knows who the killer is, but we watch him, too, through her eyes, as he slips away from immediate justice. We learn his story, but, to my relief, the author does not use it to excuse him from his crimes.

The story has humor and some magical moments reminiscent of the movie Ghost, and I love the author's version of heaven where we grow and learn and get what we truly need when it's time. Despite the horror, there is healing and beauty in this wonderfully written novel. It's one that will stay with me for a long time.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
This is an excellent historical novel based on the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Both were intelligent and eccentric people who are unforgettably rendered in this tale. Both were married with children, and their affair shocked Chicago society of the early 1900s. Horan skillfully crafts Cheney's inner life and allows us to see the joys of freedom she attained with Wright and the price that same freedom cost her. The author treats the couple with compassion but without sentimentality. It is a stunning first novel.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis **
Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons. As long as Jim can survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the hopelessly desirable girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand.

Considered as a modern classic, I was looking forward to this satirical look at post-war university life at a British university. Unfortunately it was a rather disappointing need. Long passages about nothing in particular, bland plot and a main character that keeps blundering into obviously end-badly situations. It does get a bit more interesting in the last 50 pages, but in general I found this book totally forgettable.
~Reviewed by Wimli
Not only did I fall off the diet wagon, I dragged it into the woods, set it on fire, and used the insurance money to buy cupcakes.