Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: Cemetery Dance

Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 9780446580298

Here’s the blurb from Barnes & Noble:

Pendergast-the world’s most enigmatic FBI Special Agent-returns to New York City to investigate a murderous cult.

William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan‘s Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor-a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived.

The Short of It:

A somewhat entertaining romp through dark, cavernous tunnels complete with zombies, sarcastic quips and a larger than life storyline. Suspend your disbelief with this one.

My Thoughts:

Thrillers don’t do it for me anymore. However, one guilty pleasure that I admitted to here, is to sit down and read a good Preston and Child novel. They’ve written several and about half of them center around Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta. I love it when these two characters get together to work on a case. Special Agent Pendergast is more “high brow,” more refined and D’Agosta is more “matter-of-fact” and to the point. It’s a good mix.

That said…I have no idea what happened with this novel. All the elements were there. A bizarre murder takes place, Pendergast and D’Agosta arrive to investigate, craziness ensues, the crime is solved. However, you see that part where I said that craziness ensues? Well, think zombies. Think, animal sacrifice. Think, missing bodies. Think, voooooodoooooo.

(Insert Chuckle Here)

If you are a big fan, as I am, you can either get really frustrated at how unbelievable the storyline is, or just throw your arms up in the air and give in to it. I fought it at first, then I gave in and it ended up being pretty entertaining in the end. Perhaps Preston and Child have amassed so much of a following that they decided to have fun with this one? That is what I’d like to believe.

If you’ve never read a Preston & Child novel, please do not let this review deter you. I urge you to pick up Relic, Mount Dragon, Riptide or Thunderhead. Relic being my favorite to date. They are all page-turners and even readers that are not fond of thrillers will have fun with them.

If you are like me, and a real fan, you will still appreciate the banter between Pendergast and D’Agosta. Just know ahead of time that it will be a much more entertaining experience if you suspend your disbelief and just go with the flow.

Thanks to Miriam over at Hachette for sending this book to me!

If you’d like to read more about Preston and Child click here to visit their website.

Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

Note from Ti: I am going to try something new with this review. My reviews will have three parts now: the summary, something that I am calling “the short of it” and then a section for my thoughts.

The “short of it” will be a few sentences about the book. Basically these brief sentences will indicate whether or not I enjoyed the book. Some readers like to know up-front if a book is worth reading so there you go! Consider it a mini-review of sorts.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Random House Inc
Pub. Date: September 2007
ISBN-13: 9781400095209
Here’s the blurb from Barnes and Noble:

“With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one ofthe most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.”

The Short of It:

Tightly woven, character driven novel about the fight for Biafra’s freedom. Although this novel is fiction, it is based on historic events and achingly real at times. I could not put it down.

My Thoughts:

There are so many things to say about this novel. I was completely swept away to another time and place while reading it. It basically follows the lives of three main characters during the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970). This was a brutal war where the Igbo or Ibo (eebo) were slaughtered just for being Ibo. As the world falls apart around them, Olanna and Odenigbo who have become accustomed to the finer things in life, are stripped of all their worldly possessions and forced to focus on survival.

Ugwu, the boy servant who works for Olanna and Odenigbo, ended up being my favorite character. His innocence and boyishness is so well drawn. There were times where I just wanted to shake him and say, “Silly Ugwu! What were you thinking?” We really get to know Ugwu and his thoughts as he cares for Baby, Olanna and Odenigbo’s young daughter. Ugwu is a constant reminder of the class differences within Nigeria. Although he is often considered part of the family, he quietly takes his place as the houseboy and never questions his place within the household.

There are other characters within the novel that I enjoyed as well. Richard, the Englishman that falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister, Kainene. Richard is a misfit of sorts. A struggling writer who believes in the freedom fight and will do anything to win Kainene over. Although educated, he struggles with his place in the world.

Adichie’s portrayal of a war-torn state is vividly real at times. There are some violent scenes within the book and depictions of rape. I do not have a strong stomach when it comes to rape but these scenes accurately depict the horrors that the Ibo people were forced to live with during their quest for freedom.

My book group met last night to discuss the book and it was a good discussion. Most fell in love with the characters and found the writing quite easy to follow. Although the novel is 500+ pages, you do not notice its length as you are reading it. Although it deals with a heavy subject matter, there are moments of hopefulness and even humor at times. I highly recommend this novel.

To read more about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, click here to visit her website. Also, Jill over at Fizzy Thoughts recently reviewed this book as well. She and I are on the same reading kick right now. Click here to check out Jill’s review.