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    $18.95 $17.99
    1. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray : A Novel
    $6.99 $4.29
    2. The Closer
    $16.47 $14.88 list($24.95)
    3. The Mermaid Chair: A Novel
    $17.13 $14.99 list($25.95)
    4. Zorro : A Novel
    $14.99 $9.70
    5. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide
    $10.50 $8.43 list($14.00)
    6. The Kite Runner
    $16.47 $13.79 list($24.95)
    7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly
    $16.47 list($24.95)
    8. Map of Bones
    $10.50 $7.19 list($14.00)
    9. Life of Pi
    $17.00 $12.14 list($24.00)
    10. Never Let Me Go
    $17.79 $5.30 list($26.95)
    11. The Innocent
    $19.11 list($28.95)
    12. The Closers (Harry Bosch (Hardcover))
    $16.47 $14.48 list($24.95)
    13. Lost in the Forest
    $17.79 $17.57 list($26.95)
    14. Acts of Faith
    $7.19 list($7.99)
    15. A Nightmare On Elm Street #1:
    $17.13 list($25.95)
    16. The Historian
    $17.16 $10.98 list($26.00)
    17. Saturday
    $17.13 $14.95 list($25.95)
    18. The Triumph of the Sun
    $5.85 list($6.50)
    19. Mission: Irresistible
    $13.57 $12.33 list($19.95)
    20. A Good Yarn

    1. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray : A Novel of the NYPD
    by Anthony Cancelliere
    list price: $18.95
    our price: $18.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0595346782
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
    Publisher: iUniverse, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 3968
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The Following takes place 9am

    June 9th 2002

    Events Are Read In Real Time.

    Detective Jim Clark is a cop on the edge and still nursing the loss of his wife and daughter three years ago. Detective Clark has been deep undercover for the past three months working a Snuff Film case. Jim gets a phone call that his best friend and partner Detective Peter Brown is the suspect of killing his wife late last night. Suddenly Clark is tossed into a frantic search to clear his partners name before Internal Affairs can formally charge Peter with murder.

    When Detective Clark uncovers the truth, about what happened to Detective Brown’s wife the truth it is more horrifying then Detective Clark could have ever thought possible. The deeper the truth goes the more shocking it becomes. Shaking New York City to the bone with one of the most horrible crimes ever committed.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (34)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Disturbing book
    This book is filled with plot twists and curve balls out of no where. The story takes you on a roller coaster of events that tie into one great ending. Detective Clark is one of the great cops of our time and really makes you care about him and how he is going to save his partner. A few spelling errors and what not, but I didn't even notice since the story, and the action is just so great.
    Anthony Cancelliere is such a great story teller that he is able to take horror and thriller and action mix it with drama and heart break all into once story. He is able to take all these great aspects that I love so much and mix it into one really good story. When the story takes off it really takes off and me as the reader had to buckle my seat belt and really hang on for the ride of my life.
    The side plots are so good and the undertones of friendship and love really make this novel good. The book is about how this detective is going to save his best friend, while dealing with his demons. One part of the novel the main detective is walking back and forth talking to himself trying to talk his way to having a drink. It is really a good look at how booze and drugs really can ruin your life. The messages that the author puts in this novel really make it so much more then just a cop and robber novel.
    What makes this novel really amazing is that it all happens with in 24 hours. By the time the novel is over it feels like the story took place over weeks or months. This book really shows the dark side of the police force and the dark side of what the political world is like. But it also shows what good cops are willing to do to make sure that justice is served.
    This book is really worth the price I paid and if the editor did his job a little better it might be a simply out of this world novel. This book is just really a rare book that is able to mix so many different tones into one 24 plot line. I have so rarely read a book that can do so many things and yet has a solid plot line and works really good. For my money nothing beats this young voice of a talent that is going to making waves in the world of thrillers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hear stopping terror and blood rushing action
    This book is a great novel from a first time author although the book could have used some grammer work. Aside from the editing problems this book was great and it did not appear slow to me. Jim Clark is undercover as Jim Ryder and is trying to uncover a killer making Snuff Films. His partner is a suspect in the murder of his partner's wife. When Jim is called back into duty he is tossed into a whirlwind of action and terror to find the killer. As Detective Clark starts to go down a dark road he finds that the real killer is much worse then he could have ever dreamed. The book really gave a sense of dread as well as taking me on a one hell of a thrill ride.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A little too reel for me
    The book starts out after events that had already changed Detective Clark leaving him a troubled man. He is a former drunk and battling the loss of his wife and little girl. You get the sense right away he is a good man who just needs to keep his head on straight. His partner is charged with murdering his own wife the night before. So Jim is undercover and comes out of it to help find the killer of his parnter's wife.

    While the book is not perfect no one is saying that it is but I found it did not keep me from enjoying it. The story keeps moving quickly kept me guessing as to what was coming next. There were times I was shocked when someone was killed off. If this book had a better editor it would have been simply amazing. Here is a small bi of everyone in the book.

    Detective Jim Clark: A cop on the edge still dealing with the loss of his wife and a drinking problem. We know that Jim can do his job from mentioning cases he had worked in the past. We also know that Jim is a good cop when everyone thinks he should be brought out from under cover.

    Detective Peter Brown: A former football player turned detective is still pretty much a rookie. We know that he is a good man and that he and Jim are like brothers.

    Captain Tyler Anderson: The head of the entire sector Captain Anderson has his own problems. The stress of having a new baby might be getting to him as well as his own drinking problem.

    Captain Patrick McCabe: An evil IAB Captain who is turning the precinct upside down and inside out. Once McCabe gets his gook into the 24th he is going to bring everyone down.

    Detective Allen Hill: A rookie night watch cop called into duty when an office goes down. A good cop who is still just learning the ropes of the police force.

    Charlton Prescott: City Councilman and running for Mayor in New York. Is mixed up in what could be one of the biggest scandals in New York City. Is an old school man and a former detective from the NYPD.

    Halo: One of the most evil and sadistic killers I have ever read in my entire life. This man kills so coldy with no emotion of regard for human life. The torture he brings others is nothing short of evil and I wonder how the author could ever think up this stuff.

    In short the book is good despit the few pimples it has here and there. The story was good and I enhjoyed reading this book very much. The author talks about the evils of drinking and how it could ruin a person as well as how to be true to a friend. Like I said if you need a pure polished novel then this is not for you. If you like to sit back and enjoy the thrill ride then buckle up. This book will take you and drag you along twenty four great hours of action and suspense.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best
    Although a good first novel, I found this book to be slow and difficult to read due to the absence of an editor.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You have to ask.........
    What in the world this author was on when he wrote this novel. Granted there were a few spelling mistakes this was a great book. As far as thrillers go this was a fast paced novel that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. I loved how there were all these different things happening all at the same time. Also the real time aspect was really cool giving a new meaning to tension. I thought as far as making twenty fours fit into one novel this author really did a good job and makes "Time" one of the villians. This was an orignal novel that stood on the line of horror and action. ... Read more

    2. The Closer
    by Donn Cortez
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743476980
    Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
    Publisher: Pocket Star
    Sales Rank: 7392
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Download Description

    "METHODHe is the Closer -- a remorseless executioner whose modus operandi is terrifying in its brutal simplicity. He captures his prey, tortures them until they confess their sins, and disposes of them as they deserve. His victims have only one thing in common: they are all serial killers. MOTIVEAccompanied by a hardened ex-prostitute who lost her closest friends to a twisted murderer, the Closer is closing in on his ultimate quarry: an ingenious psychopath known as the Patron who must be stopped. For behind the facade of the Closer is a tortured man whose family the Patron slaughtered. MADNESSBut even as the time for his revenge approaches, the Closer may be turning into what he despises most. Because with every violent act of retribution, he fears that he's no longer killing in the name of justice.... HE'S KILLING BECAUSE HE LIKES IT." ... Read more

    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pulls You In and On
    I can't say enough about how much I loved "The Closer". It is written exactly how a great book should be. I was scared. I was enthralled. I was shocked. I was addicted. Most important I didn't have to put on my thinking cap and force myself between the lines. I didn't have to use a thesaurus and dictionary. All I had to do is read and enjoy. That is the sign of a great book. A great book pulls me to read on and I usually finish it in a few days (I finished "Map of Bones" in four days, "My Fractured Life" in three days, and "The Program" in four days).A pretty good book I will finish in under two weeks (I finished "The Da Vinci Code" in a week and a half). This was a great book, every bit as good as "My Fractured Life" and "Map of Bones." It is easy to read and easy to get lost in. I read it in five days.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dot Com Horror Show
    If people like this really exist, then boy, we'd better watch out.The Patron, Road Rage, Gourmet, and Djinn-X, are truly horrific characters.Each of them deserved what they got and more, and it was so much fun knowing they got what was due to them. The Closer is all business and man, what a gruesome business he and his cohort Nicki are in.I loved their relationship although there wasn't any romance, you kind of got the feeling that if the Closer shows up again, he and Nicki will be a romantic killer couple instead of just a killer couple.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ewwww
    This was a great novel one of the best that i have read in a long time. The torture scenes were awesome and the villian was classic. Cortez has a true gift for the disgust I hope that he gets to put more out in the comming years.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good
    I like to keep my reviews short so al I'm going to say is GET THIS BOOK!!! Though its not amazing its still a great, entertainning book. Also check out any Edward Lee or Richard Laymon books@!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very violent book, but enthralling
    This book both captured me and repelled me.

    The concept and storyline are well fleshed out and very clever.The characters are interesting.

    But I can't seem to give this book 5 stars, because of the amount of graphic violence.

    Don't get me wrong.....I read all the suspense and thrillers I can get my hands on, and I don't cringe when Kay Scarpetta is doing an autopsy.But the violence in this book is so intense, so personal, and so extraordinarily over-the-top, that I finally found myself wondering about the author's sanity.

    This is a very entertaining book, but do be prepared to be shocked, and occasionally, perhaps, nauseated.
    ... Read more

    3. The Mermaid Chair: A Novel
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0670033944
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Viking Adult
    Sales Rank: 10
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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    Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair is the soulful tale of Jessie Sullivan, a middle-aged woman whose stifled dreams and desires take shape during an extended stay on Egret Island, where she is caring for her troubled mother, Nelle. Like Kidd's stunning debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, her highly anticipated follow up evokes the same magical sense of whimsy and poignancy.

    While Kidd places an obvious importance on the role of mysticism and legend in this tale, including the mysterious mermaid's chair at the center of the island's history, the relationships between characters is what gives this novel its true weight. Once she returns to her childhood home, Jessie is forced to confront not only her relationship with her estranged mother, but her other emotional ties as well.After decades of marriage to Hugh, her practical yet conventional husband, Jessie starts to question whether she is craving an independence she never had the chance to experience.After she meets Brother Thomas, a handsome monk who has yet to take his final vows, Jessie is forced to decide whether passion can coexist with comfort, or if the two are mutually exclusive.As her soul begins to reawaken, Jessie must also confront the circumstances of her father's death, a tragedy that continues to haunt Jessie and Nelle over thirty years later.

    By boldly tackling such major themes as love, betrayal, grief, and forgiveness, The Mermaid Chair forces readers to question whether moral issues can always be interpreted in black or white.It is this ability to so gracefully present multiple sides of a story that reinforces Kidd's reputation as a well-respected modern literary voice. --Gisele Toueg ... Read more

    Reviews (146)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
    After being moved to tears by the story and the beautiful words of SECRET LIFE OF BEES I awaited the first day of THE MERMAID CHAIR with great anticipation.It's plesant and light, but nowhere near the depth and beauty of BEES and surprisingly predictable.The worst part was, after sticking with MERMAID hoping it would get better, the ending was just a big thud.If you absolutely must read it, don't waste your money on the hardcover.In my disappointment, however, I found THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL by Phillipa Gregory and give it 5 stars!!

    2-0 out of 5 stars What happenned?
    What a disapointment.After loving "The Secret Life of Bee's" I jumped in and bought a hardbound copy of "The Mermaid Chair".After a couple chapters and not believing this was from the same author, I put it down for weeks.Finally, in an urge to finish one book before starting another, I decided to give it another try.I felt as if I was reading "The Bridges of Madison County" all over again, but without the heat or any real connection between the two lovers.Sue Monk Kidd explained on a talk show that the book was about a middle-aged woman finding herself.What a shame the story centered around the main character running from one man to the arms of another one for her answers.There's nothing new,challenging or thought provoking in such a weak story-line.I'll give her another try--- "Bee's" was that good.Leave the love stories for Harlequin.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The buzz about this book . . .
    Okay. So most people have read "Secret Life of Bees" by now and either decided that they loved it, or hated it.But whether or not you HAVE read it, please, please, please give "Mermaid Chair" a chance.You can't expect the same book over and over, from the same author."Chair" is very well constructed and thought out, the way McCrae's "Children's Corner" is or the way Martel's "Life of Pi" makes you think about certain issues.Don't be put off by the hype and give Kidd's latest novel the chance it deserves.

    2-0 out of 5 stars No depth - No tension - No story - NOT "Bees"!
    Although the characters and story line seemed interesting initially, in the end they both missed the mark.The story lacked depth - intrigue.The characters felt underdeveloped and one-dimensional. All in all, "The Mermaid Chair" was a major disappointment.

    He (a monk) sees her (married for 20 years) and it's all over.No pounding hearts... heat... connection... preamble - they are just "in love".Enough after one look, that our hero and heroine appear to be quite shallow and amorphous. The ending supports that opinion (I won't spoil it... just in case you're brave enough to take this one on in spite of the warnings).

    I love romance as much as the next person, but this was just too much of a strettttttch!Maybe it happened too quickly. Maybe there wasn't enough tension.Maybe it simply wasn't believable. For me, it didn't work.

    After placing "The Secret Life of Bees" in my collection of all-time favorites, I couldn't wait to read this one.Next time, I'll read the jacket more carefully - pay more attention to the story line before I invest so much of my time in something that falls so short.

    Although Ms. Kidd uses wonderfully creative and descriptive phrases and word pictures, much of "The Mermaid Chair" felt forced and uncomfortable.Metaphors and flowery phrases abound with predictable regularity and rhythm. After the tight writing in "Bees", this one seemed to be one or two re-writes short of "finished".

    The story line and the characters DID keep my interest enough to finish the book - but barely. If you're terribly bored, read it, but better to spend your time on something more worthwhile.

    2-0 out of 5 stars disappointing
    SPOILER ALERT***After just loving "the Scret Life of Bees", I eagerly awaited this book.I was disappointed at the shallow re-working of similar plot elements.Most upsetting--the main character thinks s/he is responsible for a parent's death, later to find out that's not so.Sue Ellen, you are such a good writer, why did you resort to this?? ... Read more

    4. Zorro : A Novel
    by Isabel Allende
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060778970
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 46
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man we all know so well

    Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

    At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.

    Between California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures -- duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues -- Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Zoro You Can Relate To
    Isabel Allende writes with an effortless flow. Her action is enthralling, her drama captivating. Allende carves out a ZORRO who is romantic and historical, but one who exhibits sensibilities we can relate to. Thematically the book has more in common with modern greats like "My Fractured Life", "Saturday", and "Life of Pi" than most historical fiction. You'll see "Zorro" on the bestseller list for a long time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Zorro you've never seen
    This is the first time that I have read anything by Isabel Allende. Initially, her narrative style put me off a bit. I'm used to a lot on dialogue that describes the situations rather than a lot of narration telling me what is happening. HOWEVER, within a couple of chapters, I was completely pulled into the story by Isabel Allende's tremendous ability to invite her reader into the world that she so adroitly creates. I found myself smiling as each piece of the puzzle that makes up the story I know so well fell into place. Allende allows her readers to observe young Diego De La Vega as each of his skills, personality traits and burning desires snap neatly into place. None of the characters motivations are left to chance, which makes for wonderful story telling.

    Her detailed descriptions of early California, Barcelona and Panama make the reader believe that Alende actually has seen and experienced the 18th century world that she describes.Also, she pulls no punches when it comes to her description of the indians and their mistreatment by early European aristocrats. The deep rifts between the upper class and lower class that is currently still in place in Mexico is made clear.

    Although the world of 18th century California is detailed, this story is character driven. Diego De La Vega (Zorro) is an extremely three dimensional character that runs the gamit of human emotion and Allende allows her readers to see his flaws as well as his attributes (as is so often true, the two are one and the same). Bernardo, who in previous incarnations of the Zorro story is a typical "sidekick", is anything but a "sidekick" in this novel. Bernardo is a complex, spiritual young man that in many ways is the moral superior of Diego. He is a brother, but also a wise guide, keeping the brash young man on his life's path. Rather than serving Diego because he is of "higher" caste, Bernardo serves out of love and a deep sense of destiny. In Yogic terms, these two men have found their darma, their purpose in life.

    "Zorro" is an interesting look at the legend as well as a wonderful, non-judgmental description of a world of the near past. "Zorro" is fiction, but Allende fills this story with historical fact as well clever analysis of the ramifications of many of the political decisions made at the time. Every dollar you spend on this one is an investment in thought and entertainment.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, enriching adaptation...
    I never read The Mark of Zorro, but if the original was anywhere near as good as this recreation, then I look forward to reading it some time in the future.Allende takes the reader into an enriching journey full of precise history and keen storytelling with Diego de la Vega -- a man torn between the customs of his heritage and doing the right thing.We see how Diego grows up in a somewhat corrupt society in which Europeans torture and abuse Native Americans.He starts off by joining a group called La Justicia, a group of Robin Hood types who help the poor.And through various adventures and turns of history, Diego becomes el Zorro -- a legendary hero that we will not soon forget...

    As said earlier, I have not read The Mark of Zorro and therefore cannot compare that book with this one.However, this novel is one of the best books I have read in a long time.Isabel Allende has been one of my favorite novelists for as long as I can remember and she has done a wonderful job with this novel.Zorro is a bit of a change from her usual work, but the different angle in her standard writing style is a welcome one.The most impressive part of this novel is the historical reference.Her descriptions of European landscapes and architecture and customs are vivid and breathtaking.We also get a lot of subplots centered on the times in which French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte ruled and corrupted a major part of Europe.All of the aforementioned things make for a literary, enlightening read.I only wish I had taken the incentive of reading the original Spanish version, for I am sure that many things were lost in the translation.Alas, it is difficult to write a summary without giving away important details or spoilers, which is why I have made mine brief. I simply suggest that you get this book and savor its pages like fine wine because historical novels based on legendary heroes don't get better than this!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, great for book clubs
    A very different book for Ms. Allende. Based on the fictitious, though widely known, legend of Zorro, Ms. Allende creates a character that we get to know so well, his unusual childhood, his doubts, ambitions and thirst for justice that one has to stop to realize that this is not a biography!! Diego de la Vega's father is a Spanish officer and his mother a Shoshone Indian. He eventually is sent to Spain for a European upbringing and education.

    Characters are described in depth and are an incredible mix of Indians with their legends and beliefs, his "milk brother" Bernardo whom he is fiercely bonded to, radicals fighting for justice for the poor in Spain, a fencing master who teaches Diego everything he knows and a woman whose love he cannot have.

    I think the weakest part of this book is the first third, unfortunately, as the reader must have the desire to "stick through" the first 100 pages or so; but once they do will be nicely rewarded.

    A great book for anyone who loves an adventure; particularly those who grew up in the 50's and watched the TV series and/or has a fascination for this character.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A zesty saga about the making of a legend.
    Isabel Allende's enchanting new novel, "Zorro," traces the origins of the legendary folk hero, who evolved from a privileged and foolish young man into an intrepid warrior.Zorro's mission was to use his wits, agility, and formidable fighting skills to defend the poor and downtrodden in early nineteenth century Spain and California.Allende laces her narrative liberally with humor, irony, wit, and dozens of colorful characters.

    The story begins with the birth of Zorro's alter ego, Diego de la Vega, in Alta California.We follow Diego to Barcelona, Spain, where he changes from a playful and callow youth into a passionate young man.The author enlivens her story with intrigue, sword fights, romance, treachery, adventures on the high seas, prison breaks, and fascinating historical background about the relationship between the Native Americans, the Spaniards, the French, and the Catholic Church during those turbulent times.There is never a dull moment in this nearly four hundred page book, and the translation from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden is excellent.

    Without compromising the spirit of fun that permeates her tale, Allende makes it clear that the Indians in North America were victims of genocide. The Spanish conquerors came to the New World, greedy for land and treasure, and they murdered the Indians, burned their villages, and enslaved those who survived.Allende creates a number of unforgettable Native American characters.Bernardo, Diego's devoted "milk brother," becomes mute after his mother is brutally assaulted; White Owl, Diego's grandmother, is a respected shaman and medicinal healer who teaches her grandson to be faithful to his spiritual guide, the fox; and Toypurnia, Diego's mother, is a fierce warrior who cannot be tamed, even by the love of the handsome hidalgo, Alejandro de la Vega.

    "Zorro" works so well because Allende goes back to storytelling basics.She puts interesting people in exotic settings, and she has them contend with nasty villains who will stop at nothing to get what they want.Finally, she features a brave, albeit flawed hero, who risks his life, with panache and style, to fight for justice.If this sounds like a Spanish "Star Wars," that's not far off the mark.Although the characters, the setting, and the time frames may vary, well-told stories about the battle of good versus evil will always find a place in people's hearts.
    ... Read more

    5. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide
    list price: $14.99
    our price: $14.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0517149257
    Catlog: Book (1996-01-17)
    Publisher: Wings
    Sales Rank: 1033
    Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    It's safe to say that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction novels ever written. Adams spoofs many core science fiction tropes: space travel, aliens, interstellar war--stripping away all sense of wonder and repainting them as commonplace, even silly.

    This omnibus edition begins with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is introduced to the galaxy at large when he is rescued by an alien friend seconds before Earth's destruction. Then in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur and his new friends travel to the end of time and discover the true reason for Earth's existence.In Life, the Universe, and Everything, the gang goes on a mission to save the entire universe. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish recounts how Arthur finds true love and "God's Final Message to His Creation." Finally, Mostly Harmless is the story of Arthur's continuing search for home, in which he instead encounters his estranged daughter, who is on her own quest.There's also a bonus short story, "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe," more of a vignette than a full story, which wraps up this completist's package of the Don't Panic chronicles.As the series progresses, its wackier elements diminish, but the satire of human life and foibles is ever present. --Brooks Peck ... Read more

    Reviews (257)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A comic genius!
    Douglas Adams is possibly the funniest author I've read. His "Guide" is a wacky, crazy, hilarious tale of a totally clueless human's (Arthur Dent) travels in the big bad galaxy out there. Arthur, like millions of other humans, is totally ignorant about the Universe. Indeed, until the day the Earth is demolished (to make way for a hyperspace bypass!), he doesnt even know that his close friend Ford Prefect belongs to another planet - and is a researcher for the hugely successful book The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

    But Ford & Arthur escape from Earth, and set out on a journey of a lifetime, spanning 5 novels so far, where time and space are equally trivial barriers that can be crossed at a leap. Along the way, Arthur finds out a lot he didnt know, and lots more than he ever wanted to know, from hitching rides on passing space ships and teaching their computers to make tea, to the real history of his planet and the knowledge that his is the third most intelligent species on earth(and not, as was widely believed, the second) He also grapples with scientific concepts way beyond his grasp like the Infinite Improbability drive, Somebody Else's Problem field, discontinuities along the probability axis, not to mention the End of the Universe(the universe's most spectacular & profitable catering venture) Douglas Adams serves up one wacky idea after another, a universe wildly beyond our imagination, yet very familiar in its core values of crass commercialization and tasteless marketing hype. The reader is hurled through a series of increasingly improbable events, all held together by equally crazy characters and brilliant, witty(and ofcourse crazy) dialogs.

    So if I'm raving so much about the book, why do I give it only 4 stars? Because, like all artists, Adams has his highs & his lows, both of which are present in this collection. I would wholeheartedly recommend the first two novels - Hitchikers guide & Restaurant at the end of the universe. But coming after them, Life, the Universe & Everything is somewhat of a letdown, and So Long & Thanks for all the Fish even more so. Mostly Harmless is better, but still doesnt meet the standards set by the first two. All in all, this book is a collectors item for Adams fans - and I dont regret buying it. But for those just starting out on Adams, I'd recommend they try individual copies of the first two novels.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Panic! A long review means much good things to say...
    This collection deserves to be read in one continuous read. It refers to itself backwards and forwards, sideways and down, so it's a real treat (and quite a convenience) to have the whole tangled mess between two covers. However, each of the six sections deserves its own sub-review.

    'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' is the name of both the most popular portable comprehensive galactic encyclopedia, and the book that begins Douglas Adams hilarious space saga. It neatly sets up the tale by giving away the answer to the meaning of life! Don't panic, it's not all it's cracked up to be, because they don't have the question! We meet a great cast of eccentric characters, get to fly around on the 'Heart of Gold' (powered by the ludicrously simplistic Improbability Drive), and discover that planet Earth will be destroyed to make way for an interstellar roadway.

    'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' builds on the logic of the first book, and tweaks it enough to keep things really interesting. Milliways (the aforementioned restaurant) is a great comic creation, walking a grossly absurd existential tightrope to become a fascinating setpiece. There's a great moment about how Zaphod Beeblebrox's great-grandfather is named 'Zaphod the fourth' while he's 'Zaphod the first' ("An accident involving a contraceptive and a time machine"). The whole gang narrowly escapes flying into the sun, and are saved by a piece of specious bureaucracy. The whole mess ends with Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent landing on a familiar planet, and discover that evolution ain't all it's cracked up to be.

    The strength of the first two books is that when Adams goes off on these incredible leaps in logic and flights of fancy (two of my favourite modes of transportation) they always seem to follow some kind of narrative thrust. In 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', they seem like non-sequiters, or at most just interesting tangents. I enjoyed the concept of the poem that was never written due to a reckless time travel expedition, and the guy who was injected with too much truth serum and now told The Truth. But they seemed more ornamental than consequential to me. Maybe I just didn't understand the plethora of cricket references (although I did get a kick out of them). Furthermore, the installment was hurt by a serious deficiency in Zaphod Beeblebrox.

    A grand comeback is made in 'So Long and Thanks for all the Fish'. This manages to be a really touching love story, interlaced with grand questions about the nature of existence and what happened to all the dolphins. Arthur Dent and Fenchurch (don't call her Fenny) slowly but surely realize that the universe has a higher purpose for them, and they have no choice but to fall in love. And the scene describing their first consummation of that love is actually quite original, and very beautiful. That all being said, the story still manages to be a strong link in the overall chain of events, periodically keeping track of Ford Prefect until it becomes necessary for him to swoop in near the end (deux es machinas-style) and save the cosmic day. Adams also manages to include several more comic illogicalities (probably not a word, but whose rules am I following here?), the standout being the description of Wonko the Sane's inside-out house. A great little interlude, that.

    'Young Zaphod Plays it Safe' is a confusing little mess, that I hope gains some meaning in hindsight, once the entire book is complete (**I've just finished reading 'Mostly Harmless', and I'm still in the dark over this one. Oh well.)

    'Mostly Harmless' is a little less frenetic than its predecessors are, and a little more assured in its narrative structure. Its story is one of those that begins with three different plots, and as time goes on the plots slowly begin to converge into one final conclusion (kind of like an episode of Seinfeld, now that I think about it). Arthur and Ford get into some seriously mixed up situations, but they are perfectly explained through some more of that demented Douglas Adams logic. Ford actually jumps to his death, miraculously escapes, and then jumps again. And he has a perfectly good reason for doing it both times. My one complaint is that the book doesn't give each plot equal attention, so when you haven't read about one of the characters in a while, you tend to forget what they were doing when last you met them. On a positive note, the whole enterprise actually validates the mess that was 'Life, the Universe, and Everything'.

    The series can be read in two ways: as comic fluff (albeit high comic fluff), or as a satire on the nature of existence. A third way, and probably the most effective, would be to read it as both. Or neither. Just read it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Funniest Series Ever!
    When you've just finished a book that's as thick & heavy as a dictionary, it is all too tempting to write pages and pages in review of it. However, I will spare you as much as I can.

    The basic premise of the novels is that Ford Prefect is a hitchhiker and writer for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." He hitches rides all around space, writes up his experiences and sends them in to his editors. As the novel opens up, it's roughly 1980 in England, and he's been stuck on Earth for 15 years because Earth (as we know) has not really made contact with other planets and so he can't find a ride out of there (here). In that time, he has made friends with Arthur Dent, one of the absolutely most endearing characters I've ever come across in literature (even more than a Hobbit).

    When we first meet Dent, he thinks his greatest battle for the day will be to lie in front of the bulldozers which want to knock down his house. Little does he know that Earth is also about to be knocked over (obliterated really) for a hyper-space by-pass. Prefect, however, catches on and rescues Dent at the very last minute...Whether or not this was a good thing is up to the reader to decide.

    While Adams shows his literal genius for comedic timing and absurd humor within the bounds of Earth at the beginning, once he is freed of all constraints his writing style blazes with unique talent. Every page is so filled with parody, dry wit, perfect timing, and mind-boggling fictitious science that it leaves you laughing aloud and reeling at the same time. I realize that his humor is not for everyone...but for anyone who enjoys satire and for anyone who is frustrated with the insanity of life, this book brings the proverbial comic relief.

    From what I've read from hard-core Douglas Adams fans (and there seem to be quite a few of those), books #1, 2, and 4 in this series are Adam's purest works. #3 and 5 are a bit heavier in tone. #6 (Young Zaphod Plays It Safe) is simply baffling.

    For those who don't like science fiction, I would say that that shouldn't really be a problem here. While Adams does invent some very funny alien races (like the race with 50 arms that was the only one to invent deodorant before the wheel), his focus clearly isn't imagining how different life can be. Everything in his novels is a satire of humanity - from the bureaucracy to the androids to the laws of physics.

    Of all the wonderful things I could dwell on in Adam's work, the last thing I would like to mention is that of all action/adventure stories I have ever read, I think Adams has created a few of the most realistic heroes. Dent, Prefect, and Zaphod - though somewhat resourceful - aren't particularly strong, bold, courageous, intelligent or smooth. They bungle any number of situations, and only Trillian has a real moment of brilliance. And yet, no matter how much they might want to simply run and save their own hides, a sense of duty to man/life nags at their conscience and keeps bringing them to help save somebody. Ultimately, I think this balances out so much of Adams ironic humor about how stupid life can be. Yes, life is absurd at so many levels, but Adams never abandons our Western Civilization ideals of the value of life and our duty to help each other.

    Oh, and the dialogue is priceless!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wit and ridiculousness.
    There are those who don't get "The Far Side" by Gary Larson. It's too wacky and weird. There are those who don't like the wit of "Calvin and Hobbes," passing it by for simpler humor.

    There are those who hate "Monty Python" because it's "stupid" or "ridiculous." And there are those who hate the humor "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or "Pride and Prejudice," as its wit is deep and veiled.

    Now try and envision an amalgam of these two approaches to comedy. Witty lines, and wordplays, combined with floating penguins and Vogon poetry. You have to be pretty quick to understand some of Adams' jokes regarding quantum mechanics, yet silly enough to laugh at the manic depressive robot, and the apathetic mention of the destruction of Earth. Douglas Adams is simply the best at combining wit with irony and absurdity. And this is simply the best book in which to find his genius.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best comedy writer since spike milligan.
    If you are an Adams fan then this is for you, My copies of the 5 books are all in a rotten state after years of reading and rereading, and I wanteed a tome to keep. Apart from the additional Zaphod story I will not read this for many years. i know it verbatim. Those raised on Pratchett and Rankin might find Adams' humour a little dated to be fair, but he was first and he cannot be replaced.

    Cleverer than Pratchett and nowhere near as predictable, Adams seems to start at the beginning and then just bimble along through the narrative, but previous issues reemerge to show that the first three books, at least, were all part of a masterplan. ... Read more

    6. The Kite Runner
    by Khaled Hosseini
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1594480001
    Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
    Publisher: Riverhead Books
    Sales Rank: 11
    Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The timely and critically acclaimed debut novel that's becoming a word-of-mouth phenomenon... ... Read more

    Reviews (107)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Riveting. Fascinating. Powerful.
    In a word or two, this book is riveting, fascinating, powerful. An avid reader, I found this to be the best book that I have read in recent memory. It more than lived up to all the accolades that heralded its US debut. Khaled Hosseini could not have written a more apropos novel than The Kite Runner, a story that is set against the backdrop of the recent historical events and subsequent political upheaval of Afghanistan. And while this story does cover much of the political turbulence that disrupted and destroyed the lives of so many Afghani people, this is a story, which because of its of theme friendship, betrayal and ultimate redemption, will eventually transcend time and place.

    The author presents the reader with a serene, picturesque description of pre-war Afghanistan before the fall of the monarchy and the 1979 Soviet invasion. Hosseini, who portrays Afghans as a generous, gregarious people in a land where perhaps the only things more cherished than custom and tradition is loyalty and honor, has given a face to his country that until the events of September 11, 2001, have remained virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world. The deeply held mores and customs of the Afghan people that Hosseini so skillfully, yet simplistically weaves into his story also serves to enlighten the reader about Afghanistan.

    Finally, it is the storyline itself that is truly memorable. The Kite Runner is ultimately a tale of friendship, betrayal and redemption - about how one person finally atones for the sins of his past. Filled with bouts of harrowing action and blissful calm, the novel verily elicits the entire spectrum of human emotions. Hosseini makes his characters quite real, very human, keeping them true to themselves, their personalities, although it is the protagonist, the primary narrator, whose character flaw is at the heart of this novel. Finally, I must admit that some parts of the story were predictable, but it does nothing to lessen the terrific tale told by Hosseini. The Kite Runner is a beautifully written story that will stay the reader long after many other stories have been read and forgotten.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Kite Runner
    This is a truly magnificent book! Without a doubt one of the very best stories I have ever read, not just because it is so beautifully written, but also because it is an important story. It takes place during the last thirty years of turbulent history in Afghanistan, and deals with a family and their love for each other and for their country. Author Khalid Hosseini no doubt has drawn heavily on his own life experiences to bring us this story. He was born to a wealthy family in Kabul Afghanistan and came to America as a political refugee in 1980. In The Kite Runner, Amir is the son of a prominent Pashtun family; his best friend, Hassan is the son of their servant man and a Hazara, a much hated ethnic minority. Despite their ethnic differences, Amir and Hassan are close friends throughout their childhood, both of them always mindful of Hassan's servant status. The two boys grow and learn, one of them privileged, the other deprived, both of them secure in the bosom of a prominent Pashtun family, both loved by the patriarch of that family, while the winds of change blew ceaselessly over the Afghan landscape. This story traces the lives of Amir and Baba his proud Father, and of Hassan and Ali his Father and faithful servant to Baba. In July of 1973, the people of Afghanistan woke to learn that while their King Zahir Shah was away in Italy, the Afghan monarchy had been ended in a bloodless coup led by the King's cousin Daoud Kahn. For a while there was peace in their lives but it was not to last. Before the end of that decade came first the Russians with soldiers, tanks and helicopter gun ships, and when they left, came the years of wanton destruction by the countless tribal war lords. This was to be ended, they thought mercifully, by the arrival of the Taliban, who at first brought order to the chaos, but later proved to be the most ruthless of killers. Amir and his Father left Afghanistan when the Russians arrived and came to America to settle in an Afghan community in San Francisco. However, the ties to their homeland and to the family they had left behind were to haunt them for years. One day, Amir received a telephone call from a friend in Pakistan and decided he must return. What he found there was a revelation of the awful changes which had been brought to his homeland and its people since his childhood. Don't buy this book because it is about that part of the world which changed our lives, don't buy it because it is a story about Muslims, don't even buy it because it is in a way a modern "Gone With The Wind" a story of a strong family in turbulent times. Buy it because it is a wonderful meaningful story, beautifully, sensitively written, by a man whose first language was not even our language, but who has mastered it as few of us have, and who has shown an unusual understanding of the workings of the human mind in times of great mental and physical stress.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wow!
    This book is absolutely riviting. It is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters will stay with me long after the book has been put down.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Exquisitely Written Novel With An Extraordinary Plot
    Khaled Hosseini's powerful and haunting first novel, "The Kite Runner" is the best book I have read this year. It is a story of family relationships, friendship, betrayal, guilt and atonement. Mr. Hosseini also explores, movingly, the horrors of war and the terrible conflicts between classes and ethnic groups that have long plagued the people of Afghanistan. The novel spans the period in Afghani history from the peaceful 70's to the rule of the Taliban in the late 1990's.

    In Kabul, during the winter of 1975, Amir's life changed forever. Those were the last peaceful days of Afghanistan's monarchy. Amir, our young narrator, is the privileged son of a wealthy Pashtun businessman. They are Sunni Muslims. Totally unlike his father, (called Baba, the "Toophan agha" or "Mr. Hurricane"), Amir is very sensitive, introspective, and much more interested in poetry and literature than in football. His mother died giving birth to him and the boy struggles to win his father's affection. Hassan was the closest person to Amir and his constant playmate, but they were not quite friends. The two boys had nursed at the breast of the same wet nurse - a special bond to the Afghanis. They were virtually inseparable. They climbed trees, wandered the streets of Kabul, made mischief, shared secrets, ran kites, and Amir would read while Hassan listened avidly to the wonderful stories. "The Shahnamah," a 10th century epic of ancient Persian heroes, was Hassan's favorite. He was an illiterate servant and his father was Amir's father's servant. They are Sh'ia Muslim, Hazaras. During a kite flying tournament in the winter of Amir's twelfth year, he betrayed Hassan - a defining event that will haunt him always. He will spend the rest of his life trying to atone. The Soviet invasion caused Amir and his father to emigrate to the United States, leaving everything and everyone behind. However, Amir will have another opportunity to prove his loyalty to his childhood friend and gain forgiveness. The story revolves around Amir's internal struggle.

    Mr. Hosseini's characters literally come alive on the page. Their emotional struggles and triumphs moved me deeply. Amir, Hassan, Baba, Ali, and Rahim Khan are so credible that I really became attached to them and miss them, now that I have turned the book's last page. The narrative is beautifully written, poignant, and also very informative about an Afghanistan most foreigners have never seen. Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan émigré living in San Francisco. I look forward to his next book. Very highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and timely story
    Khaled Hosseini's debut novel "The Kite Runner" is an expertly crafted and timely novel about Afghanistan. Amir and Hassan grew up together in Kabul and are inseparable playmates and companions. Hassan would do anything for Amir, yet Amir does not consider Hassan his friend because they are of different worlds. Amir is a Sunni Muslim and a Pashtun, a member of the privileged class of Afghanistan. Hassan is the family's servant boy, a Shi'ite Muslim, and a Hazara, the lowest Afghani class. At a critical point in their lives, the cowardly Amir turns his back on Hassan and irreparably destroys their relationship. When the monarchy of Afghanistan is overturned and the Soviets take over, Amir and his father flee to America, leaving Hassan behind. But Amir is haunted by guilt because of his callous treatment of his childhood companion. Years later, when an old family friend is dying, Amir is asked to return to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and he knows that he must use this opportunity to atone for the past, and in doing so, risk his life.

    The book also touches upon the immigrant experience as Amir's father Baba struggles to adjust to the California lifestyle and to an existence without the luxuries and honorable status he enjoyed in Afghanistan. It highlights the difference in customs and ethnic mindset between Afghanis and Americans. Parts of this novel are humorous and parts are touching. Some sections are painful to read, yet they are a necessary and haunting part of the story.

    I cannot recommend this wonderful book highly enough. It is one of the best novels I have read so far this year. The writing style is sparse and simple, yet it packs an emotional wallop. I could smell the kabobs sizzling on the grill, see the kites soaring and battling in the crisp winter sky, and feel the despair of the Afghani people over the loss of their old way of life due to war and oppression. The story is almost allegorical in its universal truths of love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. Not only does it bring to life the turmoil and hardships that Afghanistan has faced, but also it sheds light on the culture and nature of the people behind the news stories.

    Eileen Rieback ... Read more

    7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0618329706
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-04)
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
    Sales Rank: 190
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
    Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
    An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (97)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Second Novel Delivers
    I think there are probably a great many people who hoped that Foer's second novel would fall short of his first achievement, as second novels often do.Such a marvelous first novel from such a young writer is bound to stir up jealousy and resentment.Indeed, I think some critics and readers hoped this so intensely, that they found failure where there was very little.This is an amazing follow-up to _Everything is Illuminated_. If it delivered nothing else but Oskar's hilarious voice, it would be worthy of a read.The humor is wonderfully complex.Take, for example, Oskar's habit of delivering unlikely compliments.The situational comedy, that Oskar is complimenting an unattractive someone (an old or fat woman, say) on her beauty, may be the joke.But it's the transparency of Oskar's underlying need to be loved which delivers the real comedic burn.At the same time, these compliments are also genuine.I can hardly explain it, but Foer manages to explore this leitmotif in a way that conveys both Oskar's essential snobbery and generosity in a single stroke.

    I can only imagine that critics who have called this work exploitative or accused it of sentimentality are responding to some abstraction of the work, some thing they wish it were.In lesser hands, such a project might have been either exploitative or sentimental, but from Foer's deft pen, it is neither.

    I find equally incomprehensible critiques which suggest Oskar's voice is unrealistic.Certainly, we might be hard pressed to locate the grade-schooler who could discuss physics with such facility (though I suspect there are panini-eating children in New York who could come frighteningly close),but realism is the wrong lens through which to consider Oskar's voice.Part of the delight of Foer's work is the way he pushes the limits of realism, skirts it, brings a magical sensibility to historical events, without (in _Extremely_, anyway) actually going magical realist.

    The ending (and I certainly won't spoil), the way the mystery of the key delivers, falls a little flat.But to my mind, this is an extremely small sin that barely detracts from the genius (I don't mind saying it) of the whole.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Makes my top 3 list of all time
    As an avid reader of over 45 years (I won't count those that I read in my pre-teens), I have had to make decisions on which books would leave me and which would continue to keep me company.
    All of my books get passed on to friends.Of those that are returned, I sell many at garage sales or donate them to charitable organizations.
    "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" was a book that I didn't even want to lend to my best friend, but I did.When she returned it in pristine condition, I heaved a sign of relief and put it on my "favorite books to keep" shelf.I will NEVER part with this book again and will re-read it many times over.
    Oskar Shell is a 9 year-old boy who has become one of my favorite fictional characters ever.Every little quirk of his amazed me...his heavy boots, his letter-writing, his tambourine, and his quest to find the answer to the key his father left behind.
    I loved Oskar so much that I was aggravated when the story shifted to his grandparents and the bombing of Dresden.It would have made an extremely interesting story in itself, but I was too fascinated by little Oskar and hs amazing journey to find "Black."
    The week before I visited my nephew, a student at NYU, I told him how much I loved this book.As we took the subway from Manhatten to Brooklyn, he gave me a review he had copied by Harry Siegel of the N.Y. Press.As I read it, he began to fear that my anger might start an unfortunate incident on the train.
    A hack critic calls Foer "corrupt and debased.""Cloying, false,
    a fraud.""An admixture of shtick and sentiment."I'm assuming that Mr. Siegel is quite jealous of Jonathan's talent.
    I loved "Everything is Illuminated" very inventive...and this novel was even more so.As a middle school librarian who has read a lot of fiction for younr people, the only author who comes close is Jerry Spinelli...Daniel Zwick in "Loser."
    I honestly cried through the last 75 pages of Foer's book.It was that will never leave my "save"

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Seminal Work
    The Economist recently suggested that September 11, 2001 is the contemporary novelist's biggest dilemma: impossible to ignore but doomed to failure if addressed.Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, narrated by a boy whose father died in the World Trade Center that day, does not fail, but neither does it truly succeed.The heart of the novel has young Oskar searching for months for the lock that belongs to a key his father left behind.Along the way Oskar meets an array of characters to whom he is able to speak more openly about his father's death than to his mother or his counselor.A subplot has Oskar's grandparents describe their childhoods, how they met, and their sad lives together.

    Solitariness, loss, sadness, and the inability to communicate with those we love are themes throughout the novel.Oskar's only honest conversation with his mother ends with him telling her he wished it were her, not his father, that had died that day.Oskar's grandfather, having survived the bombing of Dresden during World War II but having lost his first love, loses his ability to speak and must carry around blank books in order to communicate.The New Yorkers that Oskar meets on his quest all give the sense of longing to talk to someone - anyone - but of being incapable of connecting.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about a boy, a family, a city, and a country dealing with the shock of September 11.It is creative, well crafted, funny, and sad, and like the attacks themselves it is difficult to digest and interpret.Foer is perhaps the first American novelist to address the September 11 attacks.Time will tell if others are able to do it more deftly, but Foer's will undoubtedly be a seminal work.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Calculated Kitsch?
    The following is excerpted from the rave review in the New York Times Book Review:

    ''Unless,'' Oskar wonders, ''nothing was a clue.'' This paradoxical would-be koan is a clue for the reader: profundities ahead, possibly a lot of them, and all of them dropping with the same ''plop.'' And so it begins, and doesn't ever stop - a rain of truisms, aphorisms, nuggets of wisdom and deep thoughts tossed off by Oskar and the other characters as if they were trying to corner a market in ironic existentialist greeting cards. ''It's better to lose than never to have had.'' ''You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.'' ''Everything that's born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they're all on fire, and we're all trapped.''

    If the above quotes are any indication, perhaps the book should have been titled "Extremely Trite and Incredibly Boring". Is Foer writing for sophisticated adults or the "Harry Potter" crowd? Genre bending is one thing, but this is an indigestible stew - a hodgepodge of narrative, fantasy, adventure, pop culture, doodles, photos - and lame aphorisms that read like self-help affirmations. Critics will love it because it confirms their hipness. Readers who habitually channel surf and multitask won't care that the book is more style than substance. As the book's protagonist, Oskar, might say: "Style is the new substance". A lamentable trend, IMO. But decide for yourself. Another book I need to mention -- very much on my mind since I purchased a copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, not reviewed anywhere -- but an odd, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good story, but sometimes hard to follow
    I really enjoyed this book, but I often found it hard to follow. That's because the main story line is interrupted by letters, which also tell the story, but from a different perpective and time. Very interesting technique, but it gave me a few headaches, haha. As you continue reading, it all begins to make sense. I recommend this book, just beware, you may get lost more that you're used to. ... Read more

    8. Map of Bones
    by James Rollins
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060763876
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: William Morrow
    Sales Rank: 39633
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    9. Life of Pi
    by Yann Martel
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0156027321
    Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
    Publisher: Harvest Books
    Sales Rank: 73
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

    The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?
    ... Read more

    Reviews (976)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A truly remarkable tale
    Good storytelling in this age is quite rare. Rarer still is an engaging story with a sustaining set of characters to draw you in and teach you about what it means to be a human being. There is plenty of plot summary elsewhere to give you a sense of what the book is about. What you won't know until you read it is how deceptively simplistic those synopses are. Long ago, I actually decided not to read the book after reading such a summary. What a mistake!

    "Life of Pi" is without a doubt the best work of contemporary fiction I've read since "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay". The story's elements are simple and straightforward, but the author's voice is charming, intelligent and insightful. What I found so remarkable about a book advertised for it's "inventiveness" is the degree of realism. In many ways, Martel's style reminds me of the great "magical realists" like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Pi's fascination with religions and his attention to the detailed inner workings of zoo management are illuminating. Never before has such an eloquent case been made for the civility of a zoo (I suppose it would take a zoo run by a vegetarian family to make such a place civil).

    Naturally, the story really finds its legs once Pi is stranded at sea with wounded animals. It is a testament to the author's abilities that 227 days on the ocean can be filled with such immediacy and interest. Pi's journey is a story of resilience and determination...a desire to go on living when there is seemingly no point in doing so. Throughout it all, Pi suffers with dignity and pride, engaging his plight head-on, digging in his heels and sticking it out until the end. What's staggering is how lively and redemptive such an experience can be. This book is funny, informative and surprisingly fast-paced given the fact that the narrator is adrift at sea.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Multi-faceted
    Life of Pi has one of the strangest beginnings that I have ever read. The narrator gives us many small and random facts about zoology, then proceeds to detail his interest in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, and how he practices all three religions at the same time. Not exactly gripping writing, or similar to the survival story described on the back jacket. But, near page 100, Life of Pi abruptly transitions. Our hero, Pi, leaves India with his family and their zoo animals, (his family runs a zoo) on a cargo ship bound for a new life in Canada. But, the cargo ship soon sinks and Pi is left on a life raft with a tiger. Now, the real book begins. Pi must survive on a small life raft with a massive tiger. The meat of the novel is Pi explaining his activities while on the high seas. But, as the novel continues, his exploits change from the normal, collecting water when it rains; to the hard to believe, going blind and meeting fellow survivors. Predictably, Pi survives, and the author's purpose of writing the novel becomes clear when he is interrogated. Life of Pi can be read two ways, as a exciting survival story with a bad beginning; or as an allegory for the two different ways in which events can play out, the reader not knowing which way actually happened, and which way was fantasy. Because of the questions it raises, Life of Pi would be an excellent discussion book for a book club, however, it is enjoyable when read alone as well.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A deeper look
    Life of Pi was a wonderful book, with notes of philosophy and theological thought tied into a well crafted story. While it may start with a slightly slower pace than other books in the genre, it is worth the effort. If you liked this, I would also recommend Golf in the Kingdom.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A delicious rendering of an exciting and memorable
    journey across blue seas with one of the most unforgetable characters I have ever come across. Pi Patel, a zookeepers son living in India,has a vast knowledge of animals and is in a love/fear relationship with them all. When the family must move, they do so, zoo and all to Canada. Unfortuneately the ship they are on loses its battle with the sea and sinks; leaving Pi on a lifeboat with several of the surviving zoo animals.

    This floating island becomes a city within itself and how Pi survives, fighting to co-exist with the wild beasts while defending himself against hunger, thirst and nature is a frightening yet mystical journey for both Pi and the reader.

    The fact that Pi is a Catholic/Hindu/Muslim adds something very thought-provoking to an already magnetic novel.

    I suggest you travel along with this enigmatic boy/man and see through his eyes the vast expanse of sea; hear through his ears the wild frightening animal noises; pray with him to his God and above all take this author's flight of imagination and savor and enjoy because it is truly wonderful!

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Slice of Pi
    Martel spins a fascinating yarn that goes beyond the realm of imagination. The exposition moves slowly, leaving the reader to ponder where the tale is headed. However, once the plot becomes apparent, the text flows, for the most part. The seemingly simple story line of being trapped on a lifeboat is, indeed, complex. Some readers tout their religious denotation; however, no one needs to look that deeply. Read it because it's an enlightening tale that makes one wonder how anyone would endure such a crisis. ... Read more

    10. Never Let Me Go
    by Kazuo Ishiguro
    list price: $24.00
    our price: $17.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400043395
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 113
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    All children should believe they are special.But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny.Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection.Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.

    Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another.She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it.Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms.As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure.--Regina Marler ... Read more

    Reviews (58)

    4-0 out of 5 stars beautifully lyrical overall
    A beautifully lyrical piece, deceptively simple prose.Part of the resolution feels a bit forced though; the story would have been better without it.The final few pages, however, help to correct part of this mistake and continues the generally sweet, sad tone of the inevitably of departure.
    An important commentary on what could plausibly become a major social issue from modern cloning technology.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read It Quickly, Think About It Deeply
    Everyone wants to write dissertation-length reviews of this book that spoil the suspense and mood Ishiguro tries to build. Here's a quick one instead: This book is marvelously and beautifully written. The prose reads quickly and feels right, creating the narrator as a very real presence. And the story deals with an alternate history, in which human cloning is possible and society has developed a system for taking advantage of this possibility.

    After finishing, I wasn't sure how I felt about the story--whether it worked, whether the ending was necessary, and various other issues that other reviewers have pondered. But at heart the book is about people who have had vital information about their world withheld from them and how, with the exception of the narrator and two of her friends, they accepted their lot in life without question--even though that lot was to be nothing more than contributors to the health and happiness of others without remuneration, financial or otherwise. The story thus touches on issues surrounding not only obvious topics like stem cell research and cloning, but also wage slavery and the perils of unbridled greed and willingness to turn a blind eye to the plight of others.

    Have all your friends read this. You'll have plenty you want to discuss.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good in the small; disappointing in the large
    Caveat: there are small spoilers ahead, though fewer than in the Publsher's Weekly review that Amazon provides.

    I really wanted to like this book a lot, and it certainly is not without its virtues. The way Ishiguro sustains the voice of the narrator over the course of the story is impressive; Kathy's voice is every bit as distinctive as Stevens' in The Remains of the Day and yet quite unlike it. The book also deals with worthy themes, not least the way we might come to take for granted something utterly shocking and repulsive. One reviewer asked why none of the characters tried to run away. My response is that the reader wishes they might, but the point of the novel is that the characters have been lulled into a sense that their lot in life is inevitable; they have their place and the most they could hope for (a hope that plays out in the final pages) is that there might be a brief respite from what must come.

    More below on the psychological plausibility of that premise. My disappointment had to do with what sits in the background. The novel, after all, is set in contemporary England -- or, at least, a version of contemporary England that's supposed to be within a reasonable imaginative distance of the world as it actually is. Perhaps the scheme on which the novel is built could actually emerge from the real attitudes of contemporary Western Europe. The way we are to assume most people view Kathy and her fellow "students" is not unlike the kind of racism that's still far too common in supposedly civilized Europe. But even that sort of reflexive racism seldom goes so far as to call into question whether the "other" has a soul and, the most vicious aside, most Western racists would still be horrified by the use to which the "students" are put. It's true; we are within living memory of the Holocaust. But it's also true that because of those very memories, the Western world, at least, is a different place. Moreover, even though most of us have deep reservations about cloning, it's not because we think that cloned humans would be any less than human. On the contrary, our reservations are partly because it's so clear that these beings _would_ be humans -- just like us.

    Or so one might think. In order to make the case that this isn't so, and that the England he imagines is within imaginative reach, Ishiguro would have had to tell us a lot more than he does about how his dystopia came about. What we get, instead, is a hasty and almost perfunctory account in the final pages that feels unconvincing and blunts the emotional force of the novel's ending.

    That said, there's a coda that honesty compels me to add. When I finished the book, I felt much less moved than I thought I was meant to. But in spite of the clumsiness of the backstory, I woke up the next morning with a real sense of unease. It was not that I was ready to grant the plausibility of the backstory. It was that I could imagine all too easily that the characters might really have been manipulated into accepting the utterly unacceptable lot that they have been handed, however implausible that lot may be. These characters may not be intrinsically less soulless than the rest of us, but we can imagine them being robbed of a piece of their souls -- not by the circumstances of their births but by how they've been schooled to see themselves.

    Never Let Me go opens with the young narrator Kathy H. telling us that she has been a "carer" now for eleven years, and that the authorities - whomever they are - have been generally pleased with her work. Then she talks about her "doners" and their "impressive recovery time," even before the "fourth donation." Kathy tells us that she's a graduate of Hailsham; a type of exclusive boarding school, "a privileged estate" set in the tranquil English countryside, presided over by a mismatched group called the "guardians."

    Hailsham is no ordinary school. Like most boarding schools, Hailsham exists in its own enclosed world, with its own philosophy, and its own faintly odd traditions. But there's never any mention of parents or a home life, and daily existence is permeated with strange customs, names, and an esoteric terminology. Former students are known as "veterans" and a mysterious "Madame" drops by occasionally to collect artwork for something called "the Gallery."

    Obviously something strange is going on and it all looks obliquely sinister, but this hardly matters to Kathy and her best friends Tommy and Ruth, as they think they are living some sort of idyllic existence, having the best time of their lives. In Hailsham they had their own "lost corner."

    "We knew a few things about ourselves - about who we were, how we were different from our guardians, from the normal people outside. We perhaps new down the line there were donations waiting for us, but hadn't yet understood what any of it meant." In reality, the students are clones and have been bred specifically for harvesting their organs. After they do this, and their series of donations are finished, they'll be "complete" and presumably die.

    Of course, this is all kept mysteriously quiet, although the kids have a hint of their purpose. In one instance, a frantic Miss Lucy - one of their kinder guardians - blurts out that even before they're middle-aged they'll have to start to donate vital organs - their first donations, and "if your to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you."

    Ishiguro, in very careful increments, lets the children know, and through them us what Hailsham is really for - an exclusive institution where the children are reared for one soul purpose. For them death is not only inevitable, it's almost desirable. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy often discuss big plans for the future, but because of their preconceived role they stay fearful of the world around them - "unable to quite let each other go."

    Ishiguro takes a rather icy, restrained, and dispassionate look at this issue, but he does it from the point of view of the donor, rooting the reader firmly in the mind of Cathy. We get to see her thoughts and views of the world, and throughout, a picture emerges of a passionate, intelligent, perceptive, and also a remarkably sensitive woman, who is unfortunately regarded by the society around her as "not quite human."

    Never Let Me Go portrays a new world rapidly becoming more scientific; there are more cures for the old sicknesses, and there are now vast human banks rich in deposits of hearts and lungs and livers. But it's become also a harsh and cruel world full of scientific objectivity, where the donors are housed in government run institutions and where societies are exhibiting a resoundingly deep moral blindness towards the issue. It's a scenario that is chilling, compelling, otherworldly, and also deeply disturbing.

    Beautifully written, with exquisite warmth and tenderness, Never Let Me Go is often disquieting and worrying, but it will also fill you with the bright light of understanding and leave you absolutely enriched for the experience. This gifted author has created something astonishing, not so much a novel, but a passage into the heart of the human soul. Mike Leonard May 05.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hail Sham!
    What do Kazuo Ishiguro's new science fiction novel "Never Let Me Go", his Booker Prize first novel "Remains of the Day" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" have in common? Well, they all deal with stultifying British class structure. And they could all share Pirate's subtitle "A Slave of Duty".

    But to an American mind at least, stories of self-sacrifice due to unwritten orders given by dubious authority seem like a sham. In fact, in his new book, the truly privileged students live in a cloistered private school named Hailsham. Now of course Hailsham is a very British name, and the proper division is Hails-ham or Hails hamlet. But I prefer the wordplay "hail sham" or "health deception", because Hailsham is not what it seems.

    Unlike most reviewers I will not give the plot away ("Luke, I am your father"). Do not listen to the National Public Radio interview where Mr. Ishiguro cheerfully ruins the story by telling the central secret.

    The simplicity of his writing, without any jargon or forced super-futurism, makes the story even eerier. It is like a sinister version of a cheery P. G. Wodehouse school story--with pranks, sports, eccentric "masters" distracting the reader from the central horror. The character's minutely detailed emotional reactions to minor events would seem neurotic. But in this cautionary morality play they are needed. They help prevent a freedom-loving, individualistic reader from kicking over the author's traces and shouting "Run away you fools, save yourselves!" at the quaint, spidery, Bembo typeface. ... Read more

    11. The Innocent
    by HarlanCoben
    list price: $26.95
    our price: $17.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0525948740
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
    Publisher: Dutton Adult
    Sales Rank: 58
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Matt Hunter made a mistake when he was 20 years old and paid for it with a four-year stint in prison that left him with a determination never to be locked up again. Finally, his life is back on the promising track he was taking before he accidentally killed a man: He has a good job, a newly pregnant wife he adores, and is about to close on the home of their dreams. Then he gets a couple of bizarre photos on his cell phone that seem to show his wife in a compromising position with a black-haired stranger. But before he can sort out who sent the anonymous pictures and why, he's running from the law--especially from the cop who was his best friend in grade school, and a sharp young detective who's stepped right into the middle of an FBI investigation spurred by the discovery that a dead nun who wasn't who she claimed to be is somehow mixed up in Matt and Olivia Hunter's life. Coben deftly wields a complicated plot involving a missing stripper, a dead gangster, an incriminating videotape, and a couple of agents who aren't quite who they seem to be, while Hunter manages to hold onto his faith in Olivia despite her clouded past and uncertain future. Like all Coben's protagonists, (including the hero of his popular series starring sports agent turned detective Myron Bolitar) Hunter is a nice, middle-class New Jersey boy who's still the innocent of the title, despite the miscarriage of justice that sent him to prison. Or was it? That's the moral question at the heart of this tightly constructed thriller, which will no doubt shoot directly to the top of the bestseller list, and deservedly so. --Jane Adams Exclusive Content

    A Bit of Bolitar: An Exclusive Essay by Harlan Coben

    Beloved series character Myron Bolitar appears in a new short story included with Harlan Coben's latest thriller, The Innocent. In this exclusive essay, Coben shares his thoughts on Bolitar's return.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (38)

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is a good one!!!
    I have read all these reviews up until today regarding this book and find most of them very true. This is a great book. A fast read as with all of cobens novels. I had seem him when he visited a bookstore in NJ the day the book came out. He was very excited about the release. When I brought the book home that night I finished it in 5 hours. I liked it alot. Still my fav's are Tell No One and Gone for Good. But this is up there. Its not confusing and I didn't think it was convoluted either. It just a fun read and worth the while to read, eventhough it will be a short while. THANKS HARLAN!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Man, this guy can tell a tale!
    Coben manages once again to spin an amazingly engaging yarn about hapless Matt Hunter who, while in college on a typical undergraduate pre-law trajectory, goes to a fraternity party where his best friend gets into a fight.Hunter, very reluctantly enters the fray late when his friend is getting the bejesus beat out him.Hunter does not want to fight and in fact regards his reluctance as cowardice.But intervene he does and with catastrophic results.He accidentally kills another boy who was also uninvolved in the fight.

    The story resumes 9 years later with Matt out of prison working as a para-legal in a law firm and married to a woman who can only be described as perfect - perfect in every way for our Matt.He can barely believe his good luck.

    But the bliss doesn't last long after Matt receives on his mobile phone a picture of his wife wearing a blond wig in a compromising situation.BAM!!Matt and we are off to the races.And what a wild ride it is!

    Coben is simply the best contemporary writer that I've come across who grabs your interest and simply will not let go.The old cliche about not picking up a book unless you have the time to complete it is actually true of Coben.He is a master at creating suspense and intrigue.

    Coben's characters are always ordinary and manage to find themselves in extrordinary circumstances that would bedevil anyone.Coben creates characters and situations that nearly anyone could relate to which is to a large extent why his books work so well.Ordinary people getting caught up in overwhelmingcomplicated unfathomable situations.

    Coben is an amazing story teller and this book will deliver.I heartily recommend it to all.My wife loved it as much as I did.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 Stars!
    In my humble opinion, Harlan Coben is one of today's best mystery and thriller writers and stands above all of the rest.I agree with another reviewer who said that Harlan on a bad day is still better than many on their best days.

    Having said that, The Innocent, wasn't Mr. Coben's greatest endeavor to date.While still a page turner, his novels are becoming formulaic and you just expect twists and turns.

    This is a story of a guy(Matt)who was convicted of murder, spending 4 years in jail when, in actuality, it was an accidental killing and "our hero" was just trying to stop a barroom brawl.Usually I can go with Mr Coben's flights of fantasy, but he lost me right here, in the beginning.Matt's family could afford a good lawyer and in today's world, Matt would be a lawyer himself "with a past."Matt's wife has a past of her own unknown to Matt.Using the old picture in a cell phone trick, Coben is off to the races and doesn't stop until the last page. The pace is fast, there are some surprising twists (although I had many of them figured out), but I never did "warm up" to the characters.The truth of the matter is that while I certainly wanted to see what happened, I really didn't care enough about the characters for it to matter if the ending was happy or not.

    From another author, this would be a very good story.From Harlan Coben, it is only good.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Less than his best
    I did not care for "Just One Look" and had high hopes for this one. I was disappointed. Coben is good but this is simply not up to some of his best in the past.
    You will be entertained with a tangled plot but perhaps I expect too much.
    Lots of surprises and a review of the plot would take multiple paragraphs. I would not discourage your reading the book, just know that it is not up to par in my opinion.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Coben at His Best
    In the first twenty pages all you get is an innocent murder "you" committed, a nun with breast implants, a Reno stripper, FBI agents who don't look good and more is still to come!Coben gets the reader enthralled immediately.

    This is a mystery with several intertwined mysteries going at once and several characters proceeding in several directions, yet also all entwined - a delicious mix, especially when stirred with good writing.At times, Coben came perilously close to overdoing it, but he never passed over the razor thin line between head-scratching and hair-pulling.The plot worked and did not get over the top.

    We have the ex-con, who really isn't a con, a county inspector, the FBI, and an Amazon private detective, all in the hunt (with a few helpers to boot) for what first appears to be a murder, then two murders connected, then a third.All get tied together in the end.At about page fifty, the reader is afraid he has at least some of it solved.Fear not.Nothing is as it seems.

    Simply put, this is a great mystery with twists and turns taken by a few different threads.

    What adds to this book is Coben's characters.They all have depth, a rarity in a genre where one is happy if the main character has some depth.There is not a single cardboard cutout character.They all have feelings, flaws and strengths.This book actually has three characters you want to root for, yet they are not perfect, nor even close to it.For that reason, there are times you really have to doubt them - which just adds to the mystery.The primary bad guys are not all bad.Their motivations are understandable, which makes them human.

    This is a page turner and great mystery.Highly recommended, I think this is Coben's best and certainly much better than his last. ... Read more

    12. The Closers (Harry Bosch (Hardcover))
    by Michael Connelly
    list price: $28.95
    our price: $19.11
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316058831
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-16)
    Publisher: Little, Brown
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    13. Lost in the Forest
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400042267
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 339
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Download Description

    Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures,and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston.

    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (17)

    3-0 out of 5 stars fair
    Lost in the Forest is not one of Sue Miller's better books.
    I agree that the ending was kind of a disappointment. You would think Daisy's Father would have been outraged by the thought of Duncan and his young daugher's affair.
    I didn't really see the point of this story. I felt bad for Daisy in that she was so mixed up after her stepfather died and Duncan took advantage of her.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A subtle, engaging story of one family's journey
    Sue Miller is in fine form in this novel revolving around her specialty theme: a family in crisis.In this case, we're presented with a story about an already broken family (broken via divorce some years before) having to deal with an additional crisis: the sudden death via automobile accident of the family's new father figure.The different family figures deal with the crisis in different ways.Yes, one of the young daughters in the family eventually falls into a sensual relationship with a much older man, but those with prurient motivations for picking up this book should be forewarned: though there's one fairly graphic chapter, the whole scenario is treated intelligently and thoughtfully, not as softcore entertainment.Also, that particular plotline is only one of many narrative lines developed by the author:many of the characters, not just the one daughter, are "lost in the forest" in this novel, and we spend a lot of time dealing with their particular issues, too.This is a fast, though thoughtful and subtle, reading experience, with characters you really get to know.Recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Superb Plot with Distinguished Characters
    Mark's teenage daughters call him from their mother's house, asking for help. When he picks them up, along with his ex-wife's two-year-old son, Theo, they inform him that their stepfather was just hit by a car and killed. Worse, their mother Eva and little brother were with him when it happened.

    Eva is crazed with grief, and so the three children live with Mark for a bit while Eva's friend, Gracie, cares for her. The death of John unleashes complicated emotions for Mark. He had liked the man and enjoyed talking with him. Yet, Mark has continued to yearn for Eva throughout her new marriage.

    As Eva tries to find her way through her sorrow-filled days, mothering is both nearly impossible and also the anchor holding her to life. She aspires to mourn while tending her children, and hopes not to frighten them with the power of her desolation. As time goes on and whole days pass without tears or rage, Eva finds herself grieving even for her lessening heartache.

    Mark almost inevitably becomes attached to Theo, bringing him home along with the girls for visits. He realizes that he loves all three children and that he longs to woo Eva back to him through their children.

    As her parents struggle to cope, Daisy, the younger daughter, grows increasingly hostile toward her mother and inaccessible to her father. She acts out, at first in relatively harmless ways. Eventually, though, her actions turn increasingly dangerous and troubling, as a family friend exploits her vulnerability.

    Like a character in the fairy tales that the family collaborates on for the benefit of Theo, Daisy is lost. In the family's made-up stories, the lost child finds a way through the forest to the inevitable happy ending. Is there hope for a similar conclusion to this particular chapter in Daisy's life?

    In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that I am such a Sue Miller fan that I would --- with great joy --- gladly read her grocery lists. In LOST IN THE FOREST, the author gives us her finest: characters we fully believe in and care about; a plot that draws us in, engrossing readers to the point that they're happy to give up sleep in order to discover what happens; and lyrical writing. As in real life, the conclusion of the tale is not a true ending, leaving readers with the sense that this family's existence is not contained within the book covers and so continues on.

    This highly awaited work is a must-read treat for Sue Miller's many fans. And, if you've not read this author before, fair warning: Opening LOST IN THE FOREST may well set you up for a lifelong addiction.

    --- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon

    4-0 out of 5 stars Was I supposed to be outraged by the ending?-No spoilers
    I read this book rather quickly.I liked it, not as much as some of Ms Miller's other books, but it read easily and fast. The characters were well developed, and I enjoyed the setting of the book (California Wine Country) as well as the businesses the characters were involved in- a bookshop and vineyards. I was saddened by the beginning of the book, and appreciate that what happened was the start of what was to become. I hated what happened to Daisy, the middle daughter. I tried to read into the characters to see how this could have been avoided-especially her parents, divorced though they were. I appreciated most of the relationships in the book. But the ending absolutely infuriated me. I nearly threw the book across the room-something I had not done since Centennial by James Michener-in the scene where he describes what we did to the Indians and Buffalo. Anyway, I do not want to give the ending away.I wish I could talk to Ms Miller about the omission in the end, the lack of responsibility by several characters.I want to know if she wrote this ending to make us the reader furious, so we would not forget what happened to Daisy and not allow us to let it happen to another. Or was it her idea of an okay ending, or was the book due per a contract and just had to be wrapped up. I hope she meant for us not to forget; I won't. But I have to wonder if that was her intent. And I really wish I had an email address so I could give her my thoughts on it.Read the book, then you can decide-was the ending the right one?

    5-0 out of 5 stars With Great Wit
    A very witty and droll take on relationships, placed against the backdrop of wine country. Somewhere in between the dry wit of "Saturday" and the slick wit of "My Fractured Life", "Lost in the Forest" has a strong delivery. Masterfully scripted, "Lost in the Forest" is a fine feast. ... Read more

    14. Acts of Faith
    list price: $26.95
    our price: $17.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375411666
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-03)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 411
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Acclaim for Acts of Faith
    “Philip Caputo, from Vietnam onwards, has understood the hardest truths of the modern world better than almost anybody. Acts of Faith is a stunningly unflinching novel. On the surface it is set in Africa, but in fact its true landscape is the ravaged soul of the twenty-first century. Philip Caputo is one of the few absolutely essential writers at work today.” –Robert Olen Butler
    “In Acts of Faith Philip Caputo has fashioned a gripping cast of characters and placed them in a spellbinding story. You can’t get any better than that.” –Winston Groom
    “Caputo’s ambitious adventure novel, set against a backdrop of the Sudanese wars, makes for a dense, riveting update on Graham Greene’s The Quiet American . . . Caputo presents a sharply observed, sweeping portrait, capturing the incestuous world of the aid groups, Sudan’s multiethnic mix, and the decayed milieu of Kenyan society.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
    Acts of Faith offers an image of Africa deserving comparison with Conrad, Hemingway, Peter Matthiessen, and Jan de Hartog’s forgotten near-masterpiece The Spiral Road.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    “Philip Caputo is a splendid, muscular story teller who possesses the crucial power to make endearing ordinary men from diverse fragilities and stubborness.” —Gloria Emerson, Los Angeles Times

    “For the past twenty years, Caputo has written parables of hubris upbraided, populated by outsiders whose defects lead them into trouble as unerringly as does fate.” —David Haward Bain, New York Times Book Review

    “Caputo lets no one and nothing off the hook.” —Richard Bausch, Washington Post Book World

    “Caputo takes on most of the hot-button issues of our time–racism, random violence, disempowerment, the decay of social fabric, even the nature of evil itself–and more than lives to tell the tale.” —Roget L. Simon, Los Angeles Times

    Acclaim for Philip Caputo's previous books:

    The Voyage

    “An adventure filled sea story.” —Andrea Barrett, The New York York Times Book Review

    “Genuinely exciting . . . Caputo’s prose is a pleasure . . . The ending satisfies completely, adding layers of intriguing meannig to the already rich adventure story.” —Debra Spark, Chicago Tribune

    “A compellig novel that offers both rousing adventure and penetrating insight into the mystery that is family.” —Library Journal

    “A high seas classic combined with a mystery . . . a complicated psychological drama . . . an engaging study of the emotional life of young me . . . [their struggles] toward independent adulthood, their rage and love for an unapproachable father.” —Paul Kafka, San Francisco Chronicle

    “Caputo is a conjurer of rich atmosphere; he knows the sea and sailing. But he also knows the ways of building finely shaded characters. Readers will find all his talents on display here.”--Brad Hooper, Booklist

    “Strongly imagined . . . those who plunge headlong into its dark waters will not soon forget the experience.” Kirkus Reviews


    “What makes Exiles extraordinary is the lead story, “Standing In,” . . . Here Mr. Caputo brings fresh subtlety to the psychology of exile. It is one of the most engaging works of fiction he has yet produced.”--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

    “Philip Caputo is a splendid, muscular story teller who possesses the crucial power to make endearing ordinary men from diverse fragilities and stubborness.” —Glor
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    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Truth Comes Out of Us All
    Acts of Faith will be compared by many to the epic books about how people under stress in exotic circumstances reveal themselves such as The Quiet American.In this case, the stress in question is the desire to do the right thing . . . in a place and time when you will be tempted to let the ends justify the ends.

    The war in the Sudan is the centerpiece of Acts of Faith.In this 660+ page novel, Mr. Caputo leisurely lulls you into taking sides against the Arab slavers . . . but reels you into realizing that the Christian do-gooders don't have clean hands either.

    The story has several narrators.The most important is Fitzhugh Martin, a multiracial Kenyan who simply wants to have a job, but gains a purpose in life through serving the Sudanese.But Fitzhugh gets more than he bargained for when he joins the zealous American, Doug Braithwaite, in establishing a bush airline to deliver humanitarian supplies.Fitzhugh's perspective is the reader's lifeline back to the reality outside of the Sudan and the passions of the characters.Wesley Dare narrates from the perspective of a bush pilot whose altruism is tempered by the desire to make a big score and leave Africa forever.Quinette Harden narrates from the viewpoint of an ordinary American Christian woman who finds herself drawn to the unfolding struggle, particularly in rescuing slaves.She goes with the flow and becomes sucked into an unexpected life like quicksand.Finally, Ibrahim Idris ibn Nur-el-Din presents the Sudanese Arab perspective as he pursues his twin goals of keeping power and regaining his favorite female slave.

    The core of the story revolves around a small area in the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan where a tiny medical mission has been tending to those fleeing from the Arab attacks on the black Africans in southern Sudan.The vulnerability of the mission and its patients quickly draws the sympathy of those who are new to the area.But the Sudanese government won't allow aid to reach the mission.The United Nations has a policy of requiring permission to fly in, and won't supply aid because Sudan opposes it.That leaves the desperate people there in need of help.Drawn initially by idealism, some of the bush pilots decide to supply aid.Funding isn't a problem.And the Sudanese government doesn't try very hard to stop the flights.

    But as time passes, the needs of those in the Nuba Mountains change and grow.Those who have committed to helping them find themselves tempted to do more . . . than perhaps they should.

    The book is filled with little moral challenges and lessons.An ethics teacher could use this book for years to generate interesting moral questions to consider.

    Ultimately, though, the book is about peeling back the veneer of who we appear to be . . . to reveal who we really are.The character developments of Quinette Martin and Wesley Dare are masterful.The other characters are developed much less well.That was a disappointment because clearly Mr. Caputo has the skills to do more in this regard.Many of the characters, by comparison, are barely-sketched-in cardboard figures who simply tie the plot together.The problem seems to be that Mr. Caputo prefers to develop his characters through plot rather than by using revealed thoughts and selected background.The exception is Doug Braithwaite where selected background is used to try to reveal a lot, but the effect doesn't quite work as smoothly as it might.

    Many will find this book to be ponderous and wish it were shorter.I didn't mind the length, but much of the plot development was predictable which made some parts a little more tedious than they might have been.

    But Mr. Caputo is generous in his observations about the mixed nature of good and evil . . . and our tendency to justify ourselves in doing as we please.That's what made this book rewarding for me.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Sudan...cut off from normal standards...under harsher rules."
    Setting this almost 700-page novel in Sudan and neighboring Kenya, Philip Caputo details the massive aid efforts of non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world to bring aid into an area so dangerous that the UN will not enter.Using bush pilots and small airlines from Kenya, the NGOs fly into southern Sudan and land on hidden landing strips.The Muslim government of Sudan, located to the north in Khartoum, has long been at war with the oil-rich, largely Christian south, and atrocities, thoroughly described here, occur on a regular basis--the abduction of children for children's armies, the rape and enslavement of women, the maiming and mutilation of the healthy, the cutting off of food and water, and the theft of crucial medical supplies.

    Caputo's large cast of characters consists of relief workers in Nuba, an oil-rich area in Sudan--Christian evangelists who bring aid and wish to convert the inhabitants;the International People's Aid group, a humanitarian group from Canada, run by a former Catholic priest;German Emergency Doctors, which operates a local hospital;and the mercenary pilots and owners of small airlines which service the area--along with members of the SPLA; a local Arab warlord allied with the Khartoum government; and members of the international press, most notably CNN.

    The novel has a three-fold, rather than single focus--the very real atrocities of war and the real corruption of the Sudanese and Kenyan governments;the real, marginal lives, and real tribal and religious conflicts of the Sudanese people; and the fictional lives, backgrounds, and relationships of the characters.Well over two hundred pages are devoted to the backgrounds of fictional characters, including, sometimes, even the backgrounds of the characters' parents.The characters are people of action and impulse, however, not of thought and contemplation, and it is their actions, not thoughts or past history, which drive the novel.Judicious editing of the lengthy background material, especially at the beginning, could have shortened the novel significantly, tightened it thematically, and improved it dramatically.The three love stories draw in the reader and keep the interest high, but they are given as much space here as the real struggles of the real Sudanese of Nuba.

    Caputo's intentions are to publicize the horror of this Sudanese civil war, but he also wants to show that "In Sudan the choice is never between the right thing and the wrong thing but between what is necessary and what isn't"--an ethical conundrum which conflicts with absolute, conventional values and shows the magnitude of the problems.Planes flying aid are sometimes used to smuggle weapons;the desire to save lives on a massive scale sometimes involves the sacrifice of lives on a small scale.

    Caputo's vision of man's inner nature is dark.When even a high-minded evangelical makes expedient decisions with horrifying results, and when intense love slowly sputters out, then what is left?Caputo does not provide those answers, nor does the structure of the novel.In a conclusion dependent upon coincidence and melodrama, the reader is left with the idea that in a conflict between good and evil, the best one can hope for is a toss-up. (3.5 stars)Mary Whipple

    5-0 out of 5 stars thought provoking anti-war thriller
    In the oil rich Nuba Mountains of Sudan, Muslims wage war on the natives.A variety of individuals with differing purposes try to provide sustenance to the beleaguered populace.One relief group Knight Air includes Biracial Kenyan Fitzhugh Martin who fills his previously vapid life as a soccer star with meaning due to the relief operation.Americans Douglas Brathwaite and Wes Dare, and Canadian Mary English also find spiritual sustenance with the fly lift effort.

    At the same time as Knight Air and other rival relief groups struggle to assist the blacks, the ferocious slaughter continues as Arab warlord Ibrahim Idirs keeps fighting though he misses his black mistress who is probably dead..The Sudanese People's Liberation Army has its agenda too and so does the altruistic Knight Air who chooses an immoral means that will geometrically increase the death rate in order to end the killings.

    Using detailed events to describe a devastating war, Philip Caputo provides a deep look at what Colin Powell declared as genocide.The story line uses action to paint a complex multifaceted look into the killing fields of Sudan and how mercenaries, missionaries, military and mindless humanitarians cause havoc on the beleaguered local populace.Though depressingly a Rwanda replay, ACTS OF FAITH is a thought provoking anti-war thriller that even uses seemingly out of place romantic subplots to serve as ironic counterpoint to the killings in which all is not quiet on the southern front.

    5-0 out of 5 stars American Acts Of Faith Brings Acts of Destruction inSudan
    The best of Philip Caputo's writings concern the chaos and madness of war. His previous books were born out of his experiences as a Vietnam War veteran (see "A Rumor Of War" - 1977 and "Indian Country" - 1987). This time he writes about a war different from his own with masterful results.

    He places his American characters in the ugly civil war that turn into genocide in the Sudan. As in Vietnam, his Americans believe that they have the answers and know what is best for the local Sudanese. They don't, and from that premise their growing involvement will bring tragedy by the close of the novel.

    His storytelling of American do-gooders in way over their heads approaches epic proportions. It has riveting characters whom the reader will care about their respective fates. This is a long tale at nearly 700 pages -- it is double the length of his other books. "Acts of Faith" will hold your interest and haunt you long after you have set it down for the last time. ... Read more

    15. A Nightmare On Elm Street #1: Suffer The Children
    by David Bishop
    list price: $7.99
    our price: $7.19
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1844161722
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Black Flame
    Sales Rank: 433451
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    Book Description

    When six teenagers volunteer to test a new anti-insomnia drug, all they expect is cash and a good night's sleep. However, they are now the plaything's of Freddy Krueger, the bastard son of a hundred maniacs¨ ... Read more

    16. The Historian
    by Elizabeth Kostova
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316011770
    Catlog: Book (2005-06-14)
    Publisher: Little, Brown
    Sales Rank: 61
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    Book Description

    DESCRIPTION: In this riveting debut of breathtaking scope, a young girl discoversher father's darkest secret and embarks on a harrowing journey across Europe to completethe quest he never could -- to find history's most legendary fiend: Dracula. When a motherless American girl living in Europe finds a medieval book and a package of letters, all addressed ominously to "My dear and unfortunate successor..." she begins to unravel a thread that leads back to her father's past, his mentor's career, and an evil hidden in the depths of history.In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright:a hunt that nearly brought her father to ruin and may have claimed the life of his adviser and dear friend, history professor Bartholomew Rossi. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula, have to do with the 20th century? Is it possible that Dracula has lived on in the modern world? And why have a select few historians risked reputation, sanity, and even their lives to learn the answer?So begins an epic journey to unlock the secrets of the strange medieval book, an adventure that will carry our heroine across Europe and into the past -- not only to the times of Vlad's heinous reign, but to the days when her mother was alive and her father was still a vibrant young scholar. In the end, she uncovers the startling fate of Rossi, and comes face to face with the definition of evil-- to find, ultimately, that good may not always triumph. ... Read more

    17. Saturday
    by Ian McEwan
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0385511809
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-22)
    Publisher: Nan A. Talese
    Sales Rank: 52
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    "In Saturday he remains at the top of his game — assured, accomplished and ambitious... [Saturday] offers something transcendent, impossible to dissect."
    —Lewis Jones, Telegraph

    "operating at the height of his formidable powers...Artistically, morally and politically, he excels"
    —Ruth Scurr, Times

    "Where the literary careers of some of his contemporaries now look like gaudy wreckage, he has triumphantly developed into a writer of outstanding subtlety and substance. ..Written with superb exactness, complex, suspenseful, reflective and humane, this novel about an expert on the human brain by an expert on the human mind reinforces his status as the supreme novelist of his generation."
    —Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

    "It's the good writing and the truthful and convincing way of rendering consciousness that makes Ian McEwan's Saturday so engrossing, keeping me awake like a mystery thriller."
    —Colm Toibin chose Saturday as one his books in A Little Night Reading, in The Sunday Times

    "Refreshing and engrossing, Saturday has a pleasing intimacy... McEwan's superb novel amply demonstrates how good fiction, by dramatising unweildy and fraught ideas in a deeply personal narrative, can fashion the world into gobbets sometimes more digestible than factual reportage"
    —James Urquhart, Independent

    "His gift of observation, wonderfully precise, now comes thick and fast. There is nothing in this novel that feels forced. The author's mature attention illuminates equally everything it falls on....this [is a] profound and urgent novel."
    —Tim Adams, Observer

    "In Saturday he is at his best — thoughtful, eloquent, yet restrained. The novel has all the technical assurance of its predecessors, and suggests as well as a newly political sensibility and a seductive, Joycean attention to the textures of normality."
    —Henry Hitchings, FT

    "Saturday is a brilliant novel about post 9/11 Britain, about the fragility of middle-class liberal values and assumptions, and the escalating vulnerability of our small, democratic island. It is McEwan writing on absolute top form."
    Daily Mail

    "An exemplary novel, engrossing and sustained. It is undoubtedly McEwan's best."
    —Anita Brookner, Spectator

    Praise for Atonement:
    “Atonement is a deliriously great read, but more than that it is a great book.”
    —Zsuszi Gartner, The Globe and Mail

    “A book that shocks one into remembering just how high one’s literary standards should be… A tour-de-force by one of England’s best novelists.”
    —Noah Richler, National Post

    “A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama.”
    The New Yorker

    “Atonement is a tremendous achievement, a rich demonstration of McEwan’s gifts as a storyteller.”
    The Vancouver Sun

    From the Hardcover edition.
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    Reviews (95)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A moving story
    Saturday brilliantly depicts life in a post 9/11 environment and successfully portrays a world of divergent but understandable differences. This novel's varied attributes places it in the line ofgreat stories like DA VINCI CODE, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE TRIUMPH OF THE SUN, NEVER LET ME GO. They have at their core mystery,love, happiness, hope, sufferings and uncertainty.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Perfectly pretentious
    Henry Perowne, brilliant neurosurgeon, lives in a 7000 square foot period townhouse in the beautiful part of London, plays squash every Saturday (before making love to his wife of 20 years for two hours), never looks at other women, runs the London Marathon every year, never loses his temper and generally makes you want to throw up.As does his perfect wife (brilliant lawyer/daughter of famous poet/heiress), perfect daughter (beautiful brilliant poet protégée) and perfect son (brilliantly gifted blues musician). At least he does have one flawed relative, his drunk of a father in law.Then again, the drunk father in law is also a brilliant world famous poet who lives in a French chateau.These characters are all sickeningly bourgeois and totally unbelievable.Add to that some shallow and equally artificial pontifications on the wisdom of the War on Iraq, a score of sleep inducing pages describing squash matches and the like and, hey presto, you have "Saturday".

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chaos and Order
    Ian McEwan is a master at pitting chaos and order against one another to create human drama. I personally loved McEwan's "Amsterdam" as an all time favorite and thoroughly enjoyed "Atonement" as well. With "Saturday" he keeps that same approach of human drama. Here with "Saturday" he utilizes a stream of conscious voice reminiscent of "My Fractured Life" that is tremendously effective. Just when you think the voice is rambling you realize its purpose and the lesson of consequence. You will be enthralled.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The weekend is here---do you know where YOU are?
    In my quest for the next best thing, I ran across "Saturday."While I hadn't read "Atonement," I was still cautiously optimistic, given the fact that sometimes the term "bestseller" doesn't always mean "good." But the sixth day of the week turned out to be quite fascinating.Well written and well thought out, along the same lines as McCrae's "Children's Corner" and full of inspirational insight (think "Glass Castle") this wonderful novel captivated my attention from page one until the end.Certainly one of the reasons for the success of this novel is the fact that it deals in some way or other with terrorism and the war in Iraq.But McEwan takes things farther than just that.It may only be one day in a man's life, but what happens internally to him is much, much more.Caution:This is not the book for you if you don't like to think!!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great writing about unbelievable people
    In spite of the fact that Henry Perowne's world is vastly different from the one in which which most of us live, we share the same emotions.On any day we can be fearful of the world's future; we can be content in a loving yet sometimes touchy family relationships; we can be comfortable in careers, and we can be forced to react to situations that seem unfair, random, or meaningless.As different as Henry's world is to mine, I could relate.I suppose that's a sign of a good author.

    On the other hand, I can't say that "Saturday" will be a novel I'll never forget.The situations and Henry's reaction to them are at times just too contrived.I really can't envision a street thug such as Baxter so easily softened by the recitation of a poem.I can't believe a neurosurgeon would allow himself to perform surgery after the events of his day on that particular patient.I can't believe the almost surgerical analysis of Theo's blues "three times rounds the twelve bars" and such could have such an emotional effect.Henry seems to be an expert at many things (cooking, wine, music, squash), and totally oblivious to others.The family is a bit too perfect, too artificial.

    Furthermore, I don't understandthis novel as a reaction to 9/11.Terror and fear of a world out of control is not new (remember the atom bomb).

    The writing at times is beautiful although at times tedious (that squash game!).However, in spite of shortcomings, I'm glad I read "Saturday" and would recommend it to others for its ability to connect each of us in some very vague and almost unexplanable way.

    ... Read more

    18. The Triumph of the Sun
    by Wilbur Smith
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0312318405
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
    Sales Rank: 369
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    It is 1884, and in the Sudan, decades of brutal misgovernment by the ruling Egyptian Khedive in Cairo precipitates a bloody rebellion and Holy War. The charismatic new religious leader, the Mahdi or "Expected One," has gathered his forces of Arab warlords in preparation for a siege on the city of Khartoum. The British are forced to intervene to protect their national interests and to attempt to rescue the hundreds of British subjects stranded in the city.

    Along with hundreds of others, British trader and businessman Ryder Courtney is trapped in the capital city of Khartoum under the orders of the infamously iron-willed General Charles George Gordon. It is here that he meets skilled soldier and swordsman Captain Penrod Ballantyne of the 10th Hussars and the British Consul, David Benbrook, as well as Benbrook's three beautiful daughters. Against the vivid and bloody backdrop of the Arabs' fierce and merciless siege these three powerful men must fight to survive.

    Rich with vibrant historical detail and infused with his inimitable powers of storytelling, THE TRIUMPH OF THE SUN is Wilbur Smith at his masterful best.
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    Reviews (3)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Starts with a bang ... ends with a whimper
    I can modestly claim to understand Mr. Smith's style for storytelling, considering I have followed his books written in the 60s through today. I immensely enjoyed the earlier books - Shout at the Devil, Hungry as the sea, Goldmine, Cry Wolf etc.

    Lately Smith seems to have lost his touch for the exotic and has become more mainstream. Triumph of the Sun displays his usual brilliance in the beginning - however the latter half dissolves into a standard formulaic action adventure you get to see from Hollywood only too frequently.

    Smith also seems to have stopped trying to keep his characters in, well character. Case in point, Rebecca Penbrook, our vestal, pure heroine seems to degenrate into a slutty tramp as the story unfolds. I was particularly put off by her 'awakening' with the creepy Mahdi after her capture. While I applaud Mr. Smith's confidence in his deep insights into the female sexual psyche, I seriously doubt if women think with their 'quimmies', as he puts it, all the time, which is what our dear Rebecca seems to do. If we wanted a detailed description of what Rebecca does with the Mahdi's 'essence' in her mouth, we always have Harrold Robbins or Erica Jong.

    I am waiting for a book with the classic Smith touches of elephant hunts, lions roaring and crocodile snapping off people's legs in the Zambezi.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A page turner
    I consider Wilbur Smith as Africa's all time best writer or novelist. The Triumph of the Sun just goes to add to the accolades from his other bestselling novels. This great historical fiction is set in The Sudans when it was gripped by the rebellion against the ruling Egyptian Khedive and the British by The Madhi or "Expected One" who in 1881 deemed himself a religious prophet who Allah had chosen to purify the Islamic faith, a rebellion which saw the creation of a vast Islamic state from the Red Sea to Central Africa by preaching the omnipotence of the Qur'an, utilizing internal class struggles, and by successfully organizing his "ansar" or military.

    Against the backdrop of the Mahdi's war that led to the capture of the Khartoum, the death of General Charles George Gordon and the temporary loss of British influence, are the figures from the Courtney and the Ballantyne families that featured in Wilbur Smith's other books, amazing characters that gave the historical fiction that spice that made this story so great.

    To have a better feel of the story, I suggest you also read Wilbur Smith's other books such as "When the Lion Feeds", "Blue Horizon" etc. One thing I am sure is that whether this is your first Wilbur Smith novel or just another, you are certainly going to enjoy the story. Just like DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, the message in this novel resonates today.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Better Cover available
    Just to let you know you have a choice in covers. The European/ South African cover is a beautiful wrap-around photograph evoking the scorching North African desert.

    This is the copy i bought instead from ... Read more

    19. Mission: Irresistible
    by Lori Wilde
    list price: $6.50
    our price: $5.85
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0446615153
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Warner Forever
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    Book Description

    PR specialist Cassie Cooper loves the adrenaline rush of a well-planned party. And the masquerade ball at the museum is her best yet. But one minute she's chatting with a mummy, and the next a legendary amulet is stolen partically from under her nose. There are times when a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do. To find the artifact and save her job, Cassie turns to her nemesis: Dr. Harrison Standish. Standoffish as she likes to call him.

    Archaelogist Harrison has all the intensity of Indiana Jones, but his no-need-for-romance attitude could use some adjustment. Who knew it would happen while had and Cassie are chasing leads, dodging bad guys, and racing against the clock. Just when he needs his full attention on their mission, he's having the damnest time keeping his mind---and his hands--off her. They still have a shot at recovering the amulet but when it comes to Cassie, Harrison's already a goner. ... Read more

    20. A Good Yarn
    by Debbie Macomber
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0778321444
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Mira
    Sales Rank: 236
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    You might have heard about a wonderful little yarn store in downtown Seattle. Debbie Macomber can take you there! Thousands of women discovered it when they read her bestselling novelThe Shop on Blossom Street.

    Whether this is a return visit or your very first, you'll find that A Good Yarn is a place of welcome and warmth. A place where women feel at home. Where they're among friends, old and new:

    The first person you'll meet is Lydia Hoffman, who owns the shop. In the year since it opened, A Good Yarn has thrived -- and so has Lydia. A lot of that is due to Brad Goetz. But when Brad's ex-wife reappears, Lydia is suddenly afraid to trust her newfound happiness.

    Elise Beaumont, a retired librarian, joins one of Lydia's popular knitting classes. Since losing her life savings, Elise has been living with her daughter, Aurora -- the only positive legacy from her brief marriage to professional gambler Marvin "Maverick" Beaumont. Now she learns that her onetime husband plans to visit and that Aurora wants a relationship with her father, regardless of how Elise feels about him.

    Bethanne Hamlin, like Elise, is facing the fallout from a divorce. But her husband, Grant, left her for another woman -- not a pack of cards -- and she's still struggling to reshape her life. She joins the knitting class at her children's urging; it's the first step in her effort to recover a sense of dignity and hope. Then she starts a small business and meets a man with whom she has something surprising in common!

    Courtney Pulanski is a depressed and overweight teenager. She's staying with her grandmother, who's trying to help her . . . help that takes the form of dragging her to seniors' swim sessions -- and to the knitting class at A Good Yarn.

    Like so many women, these four find companionship and comfort in each other and in this age-old craft. Who would've thought that knitting socks could change your life?

    Debbie Macomber, the author of The Shop on Blossom Street, Changing Habits, Between Friends and Thursdays at Eight, has become a leading voice in women's fiction worldwide. Her work has appeared on every major bestseller list, including those of the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publishers Weekly. She is a multiple award winner, and there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print. ... Read more

    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Sweet
    What a sweet and delightful novel this one is. Very romantic, full of love and well as the women in the knitting class. Debbie Macomber has given us a delightful read. One in which i did not want to put down
    also read: Full Bloom by Janet Evanovich and the hot-Fire In The Ice by Katlyn Stewart

    4-0 out of 5 stars No one does Women's Fiction better!
    Debbie Macomber is one my favorite authors.No one can write about women, for women better (in my opinion!!).A GOOD YARN is no different from any of her other books on this subject.It's not her best novel (BETWEEN FRIENDS has that honor!), but it's certainly a pleasant read, and would make the perfect "beach companion"or poolside read this summer.

    The book is a sequel (or follow-up) to last year's SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET, with the story revolving aroud the main character and shop's owner, Lydia.This year's knitting class teaches us how to make a pair of socks (an actual pattern is included inside the book), while Lydia meets and becomes friends with a new group of three women.The three characters from last year's book (students from her first knitting class) make"cameo" appearances, but the story focuses on Lydia and her three new students.

    Written from the point of view of all four characters, the chapters once again alternate between narrators (which is actually typical for a Debbie Macomber novel).While this can become confusing or even a nuisance under the pen of other writers, Debbie Macomber does it flawlessly and effortlessly, so that readers get to know each character on an intimate level, and can actually see themselves becoming with friends with one or all of all of the book's main characters.

    Lydia is the shop owner and the one who brings these women together (through her knitting classes which she offers at her shop).After battling illness for most of her life, she's given a clean bill of health and finally found, what she believes is true love with Brad (the handsome UPS guy!) and has made a connection with & become much closer to her sister, whom she has battled with for nearly as long as she's battled her illness.

    Bethane is a recently divorced mother of two, who is learning how to live life on her own, discovering who she is, and what it is she can offer to those around her, all the while trying to deal with the emotional roller coster her children are on due to the divorce.Elise is also divorced, whose gambling ex-husband comes to town to re-accquainthimself with their now grown and married daughter, while trying to mend the fences with the one & only woman he's ever really truly loved.Courtney is a teen-aged girl who is new in town and has recently come to stay with her grandmother.After losing her mother in a car accident, her father to his work, and her siblings to marriage, Courtney must deal with a new school, making new friends, and all the other trials & tribulations that all teens go through, all without the guidance of a parent close by to lead the way.Each character has their own individual story to tell, while at the same time, we see how their paths cross and how each affects one another's life and help each other along.

    The stories are fairly predictable, yet the familarity of each character with their trimumphs and tragedies makes this a comfortable, enjoyable read that most readers will certainly identify with and feel like one of the friends in the book.I'm sure many will be wishing that a similar shop existed in their own neighborhood!

    My only "negative" thought about this book, and the reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5, is that I felt the characters & stories were too similar and parallel to the characters & stories of last year's SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET.While most of Debie Macomber's books have a familar feeling to them, since most deal with the friendships of women and are often told in a similar way, I'd prefer to meet new charcters with new stories and go on a new journey.It didn't make this book any less enjoyable, it just left me with a feeling of "been there, done that."

    I still think Debbie Macomber is one of the best authors of women's fiction today, and her stories and characters feel very real with many true-to-life experiences.If you enjoy stories about the love of friends and family with a little romance thrown in, you're certain to enjoy any one of Debbie Macomber's HC releases.

    You don't have to have read SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET to enjoy this book, but it will certainly help fill in some of the blanks.Once you've finished this book, if you're left wanting more, I highly recommend BETWEEN FRIENDS, which was written by Debbie Macomber and released about two years ago - it remains one of my favorite books of all time!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Real Page-Turner and an Inspiration to knit socks!
    This novel kept me up all night last night! Debbie Macomber teases you into reading just one more page all the way through, so don't start it until you have time to read it all at once! And now that I am done I feel like the characters are real people.

    I think anyone who reads this book is going to walk into the first yarn store they see and ask to have a class like the characters in the book do. The only thing missing for me was that no men were knitting. Sometimes it seemed like the author was about to have a man or boy knit but she never did.

    I learned to knit socks on two circular needles three years ago from Cat Bordhi's excellent book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. A Good Yarn starts right out with a sock pattern by Nancy Bush (she is the matriarch of sock knitting books!) done on double pointed needles, and then the same pattern is given again by Cat Bordhi for two circular needles. The story is about a group of women who learn to knit socks as taught in Cat's book and so I felt like I was right in the room with them, because I knew exactly what they were knitting!

    This second knitting novel by Debbie Macomber (the first is Blossom Street) is a wonderful gift for any knitter or even for any woman who appreciates true friends. There's a bunch of knitting novels now, from mysteries to Debbie's wonderful books. I read Knitting: a Novel recently and it is very good too, but not as easy to follow as this one. Cat Bordhi also wrote a novel that has sock knitting in it and even tree house knitting (no kidding). The book is called Treasure Forest.It kept me up all night too turning the next page until the very end.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Good Yarn
    Another class is about to start at A Good Yarn, and with it, more lives that are in need of repair have the opportunity to come together and be reknit. There is Elise, a retired librarian who lost her heart and savings to Maverick Beaumont, a professional gambler, or more aptly, loser. Then comes Bethane, a woman whose husband ditched her for a younger model, leaving her to raise two teens who are in the throes of acting out. Finally, there is Courtney, a teen with a weight problem who does not want to be in that town, much less the class. Together with their teacher, Lydia Hoffman and her sister Margaret, these women will begin to weave new lives, ones that interlock with each others' in new and inspirational ways.

    *** Although the shifting perspective between first and third person, as well as the changing point of view between characters takes a while to get the hang of, in the end it is worthwhile to do so. This book is not billed as inspirational, per se, but you would not be wrong to look for inspiration herein. ***

    2-0 out of 5 stars Predictable and Bland
    I found the characters in A Good Yarn rather cliché: the divorcee who is still in love with her gambling ex-husband; the gambling ex-husband with a heart of gold; the woman who finds courage to start a career when her husband of 20-odd years dumps her for a younger woman; the rebellious teenager; the wise grandmother, ad nauseum.The plot was predictable: of course the teenager loses the weight and ends up going to the homecoming dance with the football teem quarterback/Homecoming King; of course the goodhearted ex-husband gambler is dying of cancer and mostly reformed.The best that can be said of the writing was that it was redundant; for example, Macomber writes how the gambler's luck at the casinos influenced his moods, and then tells us in the very next sentence that he was happy when he won and depressed when he lost, as if it would have been the other way around.I didn't particularly sympathize with any of the characters or their situations. ... Read more

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