Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Fifth Witness

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. Criminal defense in Los Angeles has virtually dried up, and with paying clients few and far between, he has had to expand his business into foreclosure defense. But just when Mickey thinks criminal court is in his rearview mirror, one of his new clients is accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take her home away. For Mickey, it’s back to what he does best – at the center of a case that has attracted massive media attention. He puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, despite what seems to be a mountain of evidence against her, a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, and his own suspicions that his client is guilty.

This is the fourth novel in the Mickey Haller series.


This is an okay book written by Jonathan Kellerman. Enjoying one final night at the Fauborg Hotel in Beverly Hills before it closes its doors forever, Alex Delaware and Robin Castagna notice a striking young woman sitting at a bar by herself. Two days later, police detective Milo Sturgis asks Alex for help in solving a grisly homicide. To Alex’s surprise, the victim is none other than the woman he saw sitting at the hotel bar. As Alex and Milo struggle for leads, their investigation turns deadly.

This is the 26th novel in the Alex Delaware series.


This is an okay book co-written by James Patterson and Neil McMahon. Hays Baker and his wife, Lizbeth, possess superhuman strength, extraordinary intelligence, stunning looks, a sex life to die for, and two beautiful children. Of course they do – they’re Elites, endowed at birth with the very best that the world has to offer. The only problem in their perfect life: humans and their toys! The top operative for the Agency of Change, Hays has just won the fiercest battle of his career. He has been praised by the president and is a national hero. But before he can savor his triumph, he receives an unbelievable shock that overturns everything he thought was true.

The Whole Truth

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. Nicolas Creel is a man on a mission. He heads up the world’s largest defense contractor, The Ares Corporation. Dick Pender is the man Creel retains to “perception manage” his company to even more riches by manipulating international conflicts. But Creel may have an even grander plan in mind. Shaw, a man with no first name and a truly unique past, has a different agenda. Reluctantly doing the bidding of a secret multinational intelligence agency, he travels the globe to keep it safe and at peace.

The Collectors

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. A murder at the Library of Congress marks the beginning of the Camel Club’s focus on rogue CIA agent Roger Seagraves, who is selling classified political information to the highest bidder. Caleb Shaw, an ex-CIA assassin, and the other members of the Club must stop Seagraves before his deals demolish the foundation of national security for good.

Stone Cold

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. Annabelle Conroy, an honorary member of the Camel Club, is also the greatest con artist of her generation. She has swindled forty million dollars from casino king Jerry Bagger, the man who murdered her mother. Now he’s hot on her trail with only one goal in mind: Annabelle’s death. But as Stone and the Camel Club circle the wagons to protect Annabelle, a new opponent, who makes Bagger’s menace pale by comparison, suddenly arises. One by one, men from Stone’s shadowy past are turning up dead. Behind this slaughter stands one man: Harry Finn.

This is the third novel in the Camel Club series.

The Sentry

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Five years ago, Dru Rayne and her uncle fled from Louisiana to Los Angeles after Hurricane Katrina hit, but now they face a different kind of danger. A neighborhood protection gang savagely beats Dru’s uncle, but Joe Pike witnesses it and offers his own brand of protection. Oddly enough, neither of them seems to want it – and neither do the federal agents mysteriously watching their storefront, men who appear quite willing to let the gang have its way. As the level of violence escalates, Joe Pike himself becomes a target. And everything Pike thought he knew about the pair turns out to have been lies.

The Throne of Fire

I liked this book written by Rick Riordan. Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed on the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister, Sadie, have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians. And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it’s a typical week for the Kane family. To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra.

This is the second novel in The Kane Chronicles series.

The Confession

I liked this book written by John Grisham. In 1998, Travis Boyette raped and murdered a popular high school cheerleader in Sloan, Texas. To his amazement, Donte Drumm, the school’s football star and the victim’s boyfriend, was wrongly convicted of his heinous crimes and sent to death row. Now nine years later, Travis, who claims to have an inoperable brain tumor and is stricken with guilt, decides to confess in a bid to save Donte, who has just four days left before he is executed.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Split Second

I liked this book written by David Baldacci. Eight years ago Sean King retired from his career as a Secret Service agent in disgrace after losing his protectee, third party candidate Clyde Ritter, to an assassin. Now a lawyer and part-time deputy sheriff in a small Virginia town, Sean learns that the current third party presidential candidate has disappeared - this time under the protection of Secret Service agent Michelle Maxwell. King and Maxwell join forces in a search for answers, and for redemption - a search that leads them into the depths of the government's Witness Protection Program and into the past of Clyde Ritter's dead assassin.

This is the first novel to feature Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.

The Jungle

This is an okay book co-written by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul. Jungles come in many forms. There are the steamy rain forests of the Burmese highlands. There are the lies and betrayals of the world of covert operations. And there are the dark and twisted thoughts of a man bent on near-global domination. To pull off their latest mission, Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon must survive them all.

This is the eighth novel in The Oregon Files.


I liked this book written by Catherine Fisher. Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. But then Finn finds a crystal key, and through it a girl named Claudia.

This is the first book in the series.

What the Night Knows

I liked this book written by Dean Koontz. In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy. Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family – his wife and three children – will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed the slayer.

The Sixth Man

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. Edgar Roy – an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility – is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy’s attorney, Sean’s old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins – en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered. The more they dig into Roy’s past, the more they encounter obstacles, half-truths, dead-ends, false friends, and escalating threats from every direction. Their persistence puts them on a collision course with the highest levels of the government.

This is the fifth book to feature Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.

Buried Prey

This is an okay book written by John Sandford. In 1985, Lucas Davenport was a young cop with a reputation for recklessness. He was working the case of a missing young girl until his bosses ultimately declared the case closed. It has haunted him ever since. Now that he has a chance to investigate it all over again, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: it wasn’t just the bodies that were buried. It was the truth.

This is the 21st novel in the Prey series.

Raising Arizona (1987)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Perennial convenience store robber Herbert I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) decides to change his life around on his most recent release from jail and proposes to police photographer Edwina (Holly Hunter). They want to start a family, but soon learn that she is incapable of getting pregnant. After being rejected by several adoption agencies, they decide their only chance of raising a child is to steal one of the Arizona family’s quintuplet sons.

Several babies were auditioned for the role until choosing T.J. Kuhn; they wanted a baby that could not yet walk.

Three Colors: Red (1994)

This is a solid French movie. Valentine (Irène Jacob) is a student and model living in Geneva. She feels lonely because her boyfriend Michel is always coming up with excuses for why he can’t see her. While driving distractedly she hits a female German Shepherd, and using the dog’s tag is able to locate the owner. The retired judge seems indifferent to his pet’s injuries, so Valentine takes it to a veterinarian. The two strangers gradually become closer as she tries to convince him to stop intercepting his neighbors’ phone calls.

This is the final film of The Three Colors Trilogy and director Krzysztof Kieślowski's last film as he died two years later. The characters on the ferry include Julie and Olivier from Blue, and Karol and Dominique from White.

Kingpin (1996)

This is a solid movie. A young bowling champion’s future is derailed when a bet goes awry and a gang of men crush his right hand. The next seventeen years of his life are so bad that his name becomes a synonym for failure. When he meets an Amish man with great bowling potential, Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) decides to become his manager so they can attend a million dollar tournament in Reno, Nevada. Ishmael (Randy Quaid) has lived a very sheltered life in his rural community, but he will soon experience several of the vices that the outside world has to offer.

Professional bowlers Mark Roth and Randy Pedersen have cameos in the film.

Eight Days to Live

This is an okay book written by Iris Johansen. It all begins with a painting called Guilt. Eve Duncan's daughter, Jane, has no idea why she painted the portrait of the chilling face that now hangs in a Paris gallery. But the members of a cult that dates back to the time of Christ know both the face and significance behind it. They believe that Jane must die – when the moment is right, and not an instant before she leads them to an ancient treasure whose value and power are beyond price. But for now they target those close to her, killing without mercy or conscience.

This is the tenth novel to feature Eve Duncan.

The Magic Thief: Lost

This is an okay book written by Sarah Prineas. Conn, the young thief turned wizard’s apprentice, is still working to return the flow of magic to the city of Wellmet. But the situation has become urgent – his locus stone is missing, and bands of ruthless Shadows roam the streets. When Conn’s attempts to mix fire and magic result in the destruction of his master Nevery’s house, he tries to explain what happened. But Nevery doesn’t believe Conn’s story about him hearing strange voices through the fire during his experiments, so the wizard banishes him from Wellmet. Refusing to give us his quest, Conn travels to the shimmering desert city of Desh – home of the shadows – where he’ll face a powerful sorcerer king.

This is the second book of a trilogy.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)

This is a solid movie. While attending a party, Romeo Montague (Leonardo DiCaprio) notices Juliet Capulet (Claire Danes) and is instantly attracted to her. He briefly speaks to her, but then she is whisked off by her nurse to the dance. He is saddened to learn that she belongs to a family who is the arch-enemy of his own kin, but promises to love her anyway. Romeo convinces the local priest to marry them. Afterward, Romeo and Tybalt Capulet have a duel and Juliet's cousin is killed. Romeo flees the city for protection. During his absence, Juliet receives another offer for marriage and with the help of the priest, participates in a scheme to deceive the second man.

Shakespeare created a lot of clever lines. It was interesting to see the old story put into a modern setting, but odd to hear those people speaking Elizabethan words. During filming Danes was 17 and DiCaprio, 21. The film is an abridged modernization of Shakespeare's play and retains the original dialogue. Most of the film was shot in Mexico City and Veracruz, and the Capulet mansion was set at Chapultepec Castle.

First Family

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. It began with what seemed like an ordinary children’s birthday party. Friends and family gathered to celebrate. There were balloons and cake, games and gifts. This party, however, was far from ordinary. It was held at Camp David, the presidential retreat. And it ended with a daring kidnapping which immediately turned into a national security nightmare. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell were not looking to become involved. As former Secret Service agents turned private investigators, they had no reason to be. The FBI doesn’t want them interfering. But years ago, King saved the First Lady’s husband, then a senator, from political disaster. Now Sean is the one person the First Lady trusts, and she presses Sean and Michelle into the desperate search to rescue the abducted child.

This is the fourth novel to feature Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.

The Burning Wire

This is an okay book written by Jeffery Deaver. After a devastating electrical weapon is unleashed on New York, destroying a city bus and killing its occupants, quadriplegic forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme is called to investigate. As the attacks continue, Rhyme and his team race to find whoever is responsible for the carnage. Meanwhile, Rhyme consults on a case in Mexico, where a long-time nemesis, the Watchmaker, continues to elude authorities. With his health failing him, Rhyme must crack both cases before the body count rises.

This is the ninth novel in the Lincoln Rhyme series.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth George Speare. Kit Tyler, an orphan, leaves her Caribbean paradise and arrives in Connecticut to the harsh reality of Puritan society. She must now live her life in accordance with strict laws and suppress unnecessary emotions. As time passes, she meets the infamous Witch of Blackbird Pond and a sailor named Nat. Kit comes to realize that her friendship with the witch has caused paranoia among village people, which leads to rumors of witchcraft.

The book was published in 1958 and won a Newbery Medal.

Slathbog’s Gold

This is an okay book written by M.L. Forman. The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter’s bookshop window: “Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within.” No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation. Upon entering Mr. Clutter’s shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves. Alex becomes the eighth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red – an evil dragon with a legendary treasure.

This is the first book in the Adventurer's Wanted series.

Live Wire

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. Myron Bolitar has always dreamed about the voluptuous femme fatale walking into his office and asking for help. The woman standing in his doorway has killer curves all right: she’s eight months pregnant, which kind of ruins the fantasy. Former tennis star Suzze T and her rock star husband, Lex, are both clients, and over the years Myron has negotiated his share of contracts for the power pair. But now Lex has disappeared and a very pregnant Suzze is in tears, fearing the online rumors questioning the baby’s paternity have driven away the man she swears is the child’s father.

This is the tenth novel to feature Myron Bolitar.

The Inner Circle

I liked this book written by Brad Meltzer. Beecher White, a young archivist, spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. He has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself…until now. When Clementine Kaye, Beecher’s first childhood crush, shows up at the National Archives asking for help, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault of the President of the United States. After they accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact, Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder.

While conducting research for his novel, President George H.W. Bush gave Meltzer a copy of the secret letter that he had left in the Oval Office desk for President Bill Clinton.

Raging Bull (1980)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie based on a true story. In 1941 Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) loses his first boxing match. Although he is already married, he meets 15-year-old Vickie and develops a relationship with her. They get married in 1947, but he starts to sense that she is flirting with other men and becomes jealous and abusive to her. He accuses his brother and manager, Joey (Poe Pesci), of having an affair with his wife, which strains their relationship also. By 1956, Vickie asks for a divorce. Two years later, Jake sees his brother and apologizes to him.

Jake LaMotta was forced into fighting as a childhood by command from his father. He became a professional boxer at age 19 and tried to join the military during World War II, but was rejected for health reasons. He was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson in a fight. The film was adapted from LaMotta's 1970 memoir. Pesci was an unknown actor prior to the film. De Niro gained approximately 60 pounds to portray La Motta in his early post-boxing years. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Editing.