Dianne (gardngal) - Reviews

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Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, Bk 3)
Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, Bk 3)
Author: Tom Rob Smith
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 11/8/2013


It is time for Leo Demidov to retire, and go away. This is the third and highly anticipated book in the Demidov series. The first two were incredibly tense, dealing with the Cold War period of the USSR. This was told in more recent times, i.e. the war in Afghanistan. Because it is now familiar to us as a current event, it is much less tense. Because he is in a foreign country, it is less mysterious. Leo becomes an opium addict after the sudden loss of his wife in NYC. He is forbidden to go to America to solve her murder. Instead, it takes well over 400 pages of effort and war to get through. Many chapters felt irrelevant and could have been left out entirely. I agree with the previous reviewer: this book was too long and too slow to get to the point. Will still look forward to reading this author, however. His prose is smooth and descriptions thorough. You feel as if you are right there with the characters. Hope he can now move on to new territory and leave the Soviets completely. Just sayin'. D.


The Alchemist
The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho, Alan R. Clarke (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 744
Review Date: 4/8/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This is a gentle and surprisingly modern parable about a young man who seeks his personal destiny. He learns about life with each day he gets closer to his goal. With every experience he is taught some truth about life. An easy read, but also one that provokes thought. D.


All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 210
Review Date: 7/24/2016


The story is based during WWII with the focus on the French Occupation and the liberation of France. It follows several young lives from early childhood, and how they are changed forever by war. Beautifully written - indescribably sad. D.


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 968
Review Date: 1/27/2010


A strange book. Very, very strange. Hard to get into, even harder to describe. Yet I came away from it with a deep sense of satisfaction. The writing was excellent, the story very descriptive and detailed. Full of American icons, i.e. fast food. Suspend all belief in reality and let the plot wash over you. D.


An Occasion of Sin
An Occasion of Sin
Author: Andrew M. Greeley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 10/10/2016


It baffles me how this book earned more than 4 stars! I found it really boring. The only reason I continued to read it to the end was because I thought I was maybe missing something that would make it exceptional in later chapters. NOT so! An okay read at best. D.


And the Mountains Echoed
And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 9/28/2015


As usual with this author, this was a sad, sad tale. At times difficult to follow, when he switches to completely different characters without transition, and you are left to keep reading to find out who the narrator is this time. However, each character is thoroughly covered by telling his own side of the events for the time frame, and eventually the facts of their lives are rounded out. D.


The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer, Bk 1)
The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer, Bk 1)
Author: Candace Robb
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 6/13/2010


Meet Owen Archer, possibly the world's first undercover cop. Long before DNA, before "caught on tape", even before fingerprints, Owen Archer is asked by the Archbishop to investigate two suspicious deaths at the abbey outside the town of York. It is the fourteenth century, and all he can rely on is questions, reactions, and deductions. He must pretend he needs employment, and becomes an apprentice under Lucie Wilton, who runs her husband's apothacary during his illness, and is herself an apprentice. What really happened at the abbey? Why is Master Wilton so ill? Who was the pilgrim who died first? What really happened to the Summonor? All the characters are well fleshed out and the intrigue continues right to the end...great Medieval mystery! D. (gardngal)


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker, Kevin Wiliarty (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 42
Review Date: 4/1/2014


The main characters become a legend for their lifelong love of each other. Fate has kept them separated until the very end of their lives. A beautiful story, one to cherish! D.


Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries
Review Date: 8/15/2011
Helpful Score: 1


This author can make the history of medicine read like a great novel. You can't help but empathize with the patients who are the people she writes about, and their doctors who struggled to help them in light of a brand new, unknown affliction. The symptoms that are manifested AFTER a person recovered from sleeping sickness are incredibly bizarre. To this day, it is not known what caused this epidemic, nor what might cure it.
Truly a forgotten disease, she wrote this book based on her observatitons of her grandmother, who contracted it as a teenager. Thoroughly researched, it is told on a case by case basis. A fascinating, easy read and a great follow up to "American Plague" by the same author.


Beatrice and Virgil
Beatrice and Virgil
Author: Yann Martel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 5/22/2010
Helpful Score: 6


Unlike another reviewer, I did not like this book. Initially I was very excited to read another book by this author, having just finished The Life of Pi, and even bought it new. It was a big disapointment. Perhaps it should be read with a group in a book club and discussed as it proceeds. It was hard to get into, and plodded along without much action so that it was tedious to read. The main character, Henry, meets a taxidermist who has written a play. It consists of the conversation between two animals. It is a parable of sorts for the Holocoust. This author seems to use animals in his books to portray his ideas. Then towards the ending, he describes severe, horrendous torture of one of the animals so graphically that it sickened me. If you are sensitive about the suffering of animals or graphic violence, do not read this book. Just my opinion.


Before I Go To Sleep
Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S. J. Watson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 190
Review Date: 3/12/2013


Loved this book!!! Tense, psycological thriller that kept me up until 3 AM to finish it. Sincerely hope this author writes more - I checked and this is her only book - :( It is creepy, scary and wonderful. D.


The Bell Messenger
The Bell Messenger
Author: Robert Cornuke, Alton Gansky
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 10/30/2009


Easy to read and easy to follow the characters. This book reminded me of People of the Book, in which an ancient Hebrew manuscript is preserved throughout the centuries, but this is about a Bible. A dying Confederate soldier gives the book to the man who shot him on the last day of the Civil War. This Bible then travels from Pennsylvania to the Gold Rush in Californina, to Egypt, to Belgium and beyond. Each of the people entrusted with it are to "save lives and give life" as predicted by the first person. How each fulfills that prophesy before passing the book to the next person is a fascinating tale. The plot moves along smoothly. It is not difficult to follow the characters, as they all are connected by this particular Bible. Excellent story, excellent writing! I really enjoyed this book. D.


The Bible Jesus Read
The Bible Jesus Read
Author: Philip Yancey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/23/2013


This is an excellent look at the Old Testament, a part of the Bible that is not easily understood even by the author. He studied it extensively and came to conclusions that make it easier to relate to from our modern perspective. He reduces certain books to their simple solid form and explains how they can be meaningful to us and how they relate to our belief in God.


The Bird's Nest
The Bird's Nest
Author: Shirley Jackson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 6/20/2009


Like The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil, The Bird's Nest is about the many hidden personalities in the mind of a young woman. Unlike those stories, which are told from the perspective of the therapist who discovers the condition of the patient, this one is told from the perspective of the many characters who people the book, not only the personalities themselves, but including the treating doctor and the aunt. How the personalities force the girl to behave, think and act while they are "in charge" makes for very fascinating reading. A fast and excellent read - very good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Bittersweet: A Novel
Bittersweet: A Novel
Author: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 9/8/2016


Great book for 'tweens and teens! D.


The Book Thief
The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 1024
Review Date: 7/25/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This is the most powerful book I have read in quite some time. Liesel is a small girl of nine, on a train with her mother and brother to meet her foster parents. She will live with her Papa and Mama on Himmel Street in an impoverished suburb of Munich from 1939 to the end of the war. She is initially illiterate, but Papa lovingly teaches her to read. To relieve the boredom and for the shear love of words, she takes to stealing books - her most precious possessions. The story is narrated by Death, but not in a morbid or morose way at all; instead, Death is rather bemused by humans, and is an observer of the way humans interact. He will even state, "He didn't deserve to die like that."

What this girl learns and experiences during the next five years of her life, as she moves into adolescence during the war in Nazi Germany, is a moving story of love, hardship, compassion and survival.

I must add a note about the writing itself. The author uses words and expressions that are very unique, and I found reading his book delightful.


Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Author: Susannah Cahalan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 8/13/2015


Is there a possibility that children who are diagnosed with autism or adults who seem to have schizophrenia actually are misdiagnosed? That instead they are victims of this rare and hard to track disease instead? This book shows how the author had all the symptoms of madness and was on the verge of being admitted for mental illness. The doctors who persisted in finding the true cause of her sudden onset of illness had only recently discovered this brain inflammation...and brought her back to her self again. An amazing story of her lost month. D.


Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir
Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir
Author: Martha Mason
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 2/14/2014


Since I was a young child during the years of the polio epidemic, I remember the fear of that time. My own personal worry was that I'd be trapped in an iron lung. That fortunately did not happen, but is the main reason that Martha Mason's book was so intriguing to me. Ask yourself what would life be like to live in a machine your whole life in order to breathe? How does it work? How would you interact with others? The author answers those questions and tells of her life in a straightforward and honest manner. Her tale is humorous and upbeat. Her use of language and words is very, very beautiful. I LOVED some of her descriptive phrases - original and very visual. (She graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and summa cum laude from college with a degree in English.) Brilliantly written! I highly recommend this book!


But Don't All Religions Lead to God?: Navigating the Multi-Faith Maze
Review Date: 3/8/2014


An excellent and basic look at many religions and their beliefs in a brief summation. Uses quotes from the Qu'run, the Bible and other sources of those religions to make his points. Michael Green is easy to read and understand, and keeps it all very simple. Really, really enjoyed this book and recommend it. It just might confirm your beliefs. D.


Butterfly (Butterfly, Bk 1)
Butterfly (Butterfly, Bk 1)
Author: Kathryn Harvey
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 99
Review Date: 9/5/2016


What a naughty book! Lots of sex...but I have to say it is written with very good taste, not offensive at all. In fact, I decided to read the sequel right away! The plot centers on a young girl who grows into adulthood with only one thing on her mind: revenge on the man who turned her into a prostitute and forced her to abort her baby when she was a helpless teen. There is a lot of suspense and intrigue as she plots and plans toward this goal. I liked the author's treatment of the subject and style of writing. Very mature content, but no foul language or crudeness in it.


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