Frank H. (perryfran) - Reviews

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11/22/63
11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 263
Review Date: 1/10/2012
Helpful Score: 10


I had kind of given up on Stephen King - I believe the last novel of his I tried to read was "Lisey's Story" a few years ago which I couldn't finish. I loved all of his earlier works including "Salem's Lot," "Carrie," "The Shining," "The Stand," and on and on, but some of his later stuff just didn't do it for me. But when I first heard about "11/22/63" and its premise of going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, I had to read it! I got a copy as a Christmas gift and I was not disappointed. This has to be one of King's best books since "The Stand" - I loved every word of it (and that's a lot of words - almost 850 pages worth)! I was 13 in 1963 when Kennedy was killed and I actually remember thinking at the time that it would be nice to go back and prevent the killing - it really was like a bad dream. King's book uses this idea and the resulting novel is all that you could ask for in a time travel story. Some of it was reminiscent of the "Back to the Future" movies including using known sporting events results as a betting tool to make money. It also reminded me a little of "It's a Wonderful Life" and how changes can effect other events and people's lives. Along the way in this novel, King takes us back to Derry, Maine and the events of his novel "It". He then provides a myriad of information about Lee Oswald and his wife Marina, and the events leading to 11/22/63. The novel also includes a great love story and the ending I thought was near perfect. This is the first book I have read in 2012 and I doubt I will read a better one this year - very high recommendation!


The 19th Wife
The 19th Wife
Author: David Ebershoff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 129
Review Date: 9/20/2008
Helpful Score: 13


I found this to be a real eye-opener! Coming from a Mormon background (I grew up in Utah), this book was very relevant for me. I thought Ebershoff did a great job in telling this story that includes the roots of polygamy in the Mormon Church along with a modern day murder mystery in a polygamist cult and how the two stories connect with each other. I tend to agree that the story would have perhaps been better if only the story of Ann Eliza Young was told, but I did get engrossed in the modern-day story as well. Reading the story of the Mormon beginnings and Brigham Young was definitely not the same stories I was taught in Mormon Sunday school. Especially the baser aspects of why Brigham and Joseph Smith entered into polygamous relationships and some of the other historical aspects such as the "hand-cart tragedy." This is a work of fiction and it is hard to separate the fact from the fiction, however, I think the author tried to accurately portray the events as much as possible.

The story within the modern-day cult reminded me a lot of the HBO series "Big Love." I would recommend this series highly. This book also piqued my interest in reading more about Ann Eliza Young -- I would like to read her book "Wife No. 19" at some point. I didn't realize she had such an impact on the Mormon Church's renouncement of polygamy. Overall a high recommendation for this book.


61 Hours (Reacher, Bk 14)
61 Hours (Reacher, Bk 14)
Author: Lee Child
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 298
Review Date: 2/3/2012


This was another page-turner in the Reacher series. In this one, Reacher is on a bus going through South Dakota in the middle of the winter. The bus is involved in an accident and Reacher is stuck in a small town with a lot of problems including a motorcycle gang selling meth and a potential murderer about to strike the town. Well, needless to say, Reacher gets involved in what turns out to be an epic climax. I don't know if Child was thinking of ending the series with this book (given the ending which leaves you wondering about whether Reacher survived) but the series continues with "Worth Dying For" - the only remaining Reacher book I haven't read. I did have a couple of quibbles with "61 Hours" - first, it seemed like Reacher was not quick enough to figure out who was doing the murders in the small town (I had this figured out about half way through the novel), and second, I didn't really like how the novel left you wondering at the end. That being said, I still liked the book and would recommend it along with all of the previous Reacher novels from Child.


77 Shadow Street
77 Shadow Street
Author: Dean Koontz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 86
Review Date: 6/30/2013


I never know what to expect from Koontz. I was expecting this book to be possibly a kind of haunted house type thriller but in actuality it was more of a sci-fi what-if novel with themes of overpopulation and post-humanism. I was somewhat surprised at this because the recent Dan Brown novel Inferno also used these same themes but in a totally different way. Shadow Street took the reader into a very bleak future where mankind had been wiped out as a result of a need for population control and use of nano-technology to develop super-humans who were more-or-less immortal. A very scary portrayal of this future including the use of "pogramites" to eliminate the overpopulation. I would mildly recommend this book and rate it above some of Koontz' more recent novels but still not in a league with his earlier work such as Watchers.


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 152
Review Date: 12/6/2010
Helpful Score: 5


When I started reading this, I thought it was going to be a very campy, comic-bookish, off-the-wall kind of read. However, I was pleasantly surprised by all the research the author did into the life of Lincoln. If you throw out the vampire story, this would be a pretty good biography of Lincoln from his childhood through his untimely death. I especially enjoyed some of the possibilities laid out there including things like Lincoln's possible friendship with Edgar Allan Poe. The author then does a great job of blending Lincoln's history with the vampire story and at the end even left room for a possible sequel. The writing style to me was very good and did not detract from the story. I would overall give this one a high recommendation. It made me want to read more about Lincoln's life and tragedies.


Absalom, Absalom!
Absalom, Absalom!
Author: William Faulkner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 60
Review Date: 4/6/2011
Helpful Score: 2


I have been meaning to read a Faulkner novel since I took a literature course in college that included Faulkner over 40 years ago. Well, I finally finished this one and I have to say it was a challenge to read with the page-long sentences and its stream of consciousness style. But I'm glad I stuck with it. I know Faulkner is considered one of the greatest American novelists and I can see why. I can't imagine how he was able to write in the style he did for over 300 pages. The story was told from different points of view and was sometimes very convoluted - I found myself having to reread several sentences to get the full meaning of what was being said. The novel tells the story of the rise of a plantation owner in Mississippi and his downfall. It includes themes of race, slavery, incest, the Civil War, and the downfall of the South. Overall, a rewarding experience but not sure when or if I will try to tackle another Faulkner - maybe I'll try Moby Dick instead.


The Absence
The Absence
Author: Bill Hussey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 12/14/2009
Helpful Score: 2


An okay thriller. The Absence told the story of a very dysfunctional family and how each family member's guilt played into an ancient and evil presence at an old mill house in the Fens of England. I would give this one a marginal recommendation although I thought the story was a little long-winded and overplayed its premise of the absence. The novel reminded me somewhat of James Herbert's horror stories although I enjoyed Herbert's novels much more.


The Advetures of Tom Sawyer
The Advetures of Tom Sawyer
Author: Samuel Clemens
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/14/2006


Classic Mark Twain story!


The Affair (Jack Reacher, Bk 16)
The Affair (Jack Reacher, Bk 16)
Author: Lee Child
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 153
Review Date: 10/19/2011
Helpful Score: 3


I really enjoyed this latest Reacher thriller and thought it was on par with most of the other Reacher novels that I have read (I still have 5 or 6 left to read). This one takes place while Reacher is still in the army immediately before his discharge and the events of The Killing Floor. In fact it nicely ties up how Reacher happened to go to the little town in Georgia where the Killing Floor takes place and how his brother happened to be there. I always thought this was way too coincidental when I first read Floor. As far as the events in The Affair, Reacher sifts through the evidence and even with some misdirection comes to the right conclusions as usual and handles the outcome in the usual Reacher way! I would recommend this one! Now I need to finish reading the other books in the series.


The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations, Bk 1)
The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations, Bk 1)
Author: George Mann
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 6/1/2015


I really enjoyed this one more than I thought I would! This steampunk novel comes at you from a lot of different directions and ties them all up neatly at the end. First, there is a plague that came from India that is decimating the lower class population of the Whitechapel area of London. This plague turns people into "revenants" or zombie-like creatures that attack the living similar to "The Walking Dead." Then there is a series of murders in the same area that are supposedly done by a bobby that has a blue glow. These murders are similar to another case some 12 years earlier where a dead bobby supposedly got revenge on his murderers. Then there is the wreck of the airship The Lady Armitage, a Zeppelin-like ship that crashed in London killing 50 people. All of this is being investigated by Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes at the direction of Queen Victoria herself. The captain of the downed airship turns up missing and it is revealed that the captain was in fact an automaton, developed by the airship company to pilot the ships. The automatons are made of brass and are supposedly driven by mechanical clockworks and punch-cards...but is this really the case? And how did the automaton piloting the ship disappear? (I kept picturing CP30 from Star Wars as the automata in the novel.) All of this takes place around 1900 in and around London. Overall, very enjoyable in a kind of Sherlock Holmes way with elements of steampunk thrown in. I know Mann has written some sequels to this book which I will be on the lookout for. He has also written a couple of Sherlock Holmes novels that I would also like to read.


Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer
Review Date: 10/6/2016


Finally finished this long massive story of Ahab's wife (666 pages). I've been reading this off and on for the past several weeks concurrently with some other books. This one seemed to take me forever to read -- not that it was boring, I just had to read it in small doses to get the full impact of the novel. Of course, this was the story of Ahab's wife (yes the Ahab from Moby Dick), Una, and what a tale it was! I hate to admit that I have never read MOBY DICK, but maybe this will motivate me to do so.


The story starts out with Una at her mother's cabin in Kentucky during a snow storm, while Ahab is out to sea. While there she gives birth to her first baby, Liberty, who dies before morning. She is assisted by a runaway slave, Susan, while her mother has gone to fetch a doctor resulting in her death in the frozen snow. Then the narrative switches to Una's life as a young girl where she stays at a lighthouse with her aunt and uncle and young cousin, Frannie. Later she decides to go to sea on a whaler dressed as a boy where an ensuing tragedy occurs that was apparently based on the real life events of the whale-ship Essex, the basis for the Moby Dick story. (I read In the Heart of the Sea which details this story several years ago). Una is stranded on a whale boat for several weeks along with some other shipmates and the methods taken to survive haunt Una throughout the rest of her life. She eventually weds Ahab and waits out his encounters with Moby Dick. Along the way she also meets several historic personages including Emerson, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglas, and others. And she gets involved in many of the issue of the day including women's rights, abolition, and transcendentalism.

Overall, I would recommend this one but I did like the first part of the novel better than the last third or so of it. In the last part of the book, it did get a little tedious as Una is waiting on the fate of Ahab and deciding what to do with the rest of her life. And, as I said, the book was long -- I think it could have been cut by a couple of hundred pages to make it flow better.


The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly, Bk 1)
The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly, Bk 1)
Author: Carol McCleary
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 8/16/2015


This novel is the first in a series featuring Nellie Bly. Bly is a real person who in 1885 began her reporting career at the Pittsburgh Dispatch. Then she travels to New York seeking a journalist spot at the New York World and finally lands a job after selling the idea of going undercover as a woman committed to the notorious Blackwell's Island Asylum for ten days to the newspaper mogul, Pulitzer. When she is committed to the asylum, she find out that a Dr. Blum is murdering prostitutes that were committed there. She is almost murdered herself when she discovers him in the act. After her release from the asylum and writing an exposé about her experiences, she learns of a serial killer in Whitechapel London using the name Jack and connects him to Dr. Blum. She goes to London after the Ripper but fails to catch him which then leads her to Paris on the trail of a similar slasher. In Paris, she meets Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Louis Pasteur and Toulouse-Lautrec who end up assisting her in her search for the slasher. The World's Fair with the Eiffel Tower is in progress while a black influenza is killing many of the poor in Paris. Overall, I thought this was a good historical mystery novel told by Bly as she hunts for a psychopathic killer on two continents. The novel also involves anarchists who are willing to take any steps for their cause of injustice to the downtrodden. The descriptions of Paris at the time are very well done and the reader gets a real feel for the city including the Moulin Rouge and the horrific conditions of the poor. This is the first in a series and I will probably seek out the next books.


Alert (Michael Bennett, Bk 8)
Alert (Michael Bennett, Bk 8)
Author: Michael Ledwidge, James Patterson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 43
Review Date: 3/22/2016


Patterson/Ledwidge are back on track with this latest Michael Bennett thriller! After being a little disappointed with the last outing, Burn, I was glad to see this book was a straight-forward good page-turner without too many side stories and distractions as in Burn.

In this one, New York is being terrorized...first by a subway explosion, the mayor is then assassinated by a long-range sniper, and then a large section of New York is brought to a standstill by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device which burns out the electrical grid including car batteries, cell phones, etc. Bennett is teamed up with his old friend, the FBI's Emily Parker, to catch the shadowy criminals who claim responsibility-but they're as good at concealing their identities as they are at wreaking havoc. But are there more attacks to come? Are Islamic terrorists behind it or could it be the work of a lone attacker? Along the way Bennett and Parker travel to Colorado to interview the unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who provides them with some insight on the type of person involved in the attacks.

During this outing, Bennett's love interest, Mary Catherine, is taking care of some family business in Ireland, however, love is expressed on both sides. Maybe they will finally get married in the next book!


Alex Cross's Trial (Alex Cross, Bk 15)
Alex Cross's Trial (Alex Cross, Bk 15)
Author: Richard Dilallo, James Patterson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 220
Review Date: 3/8/2010
Helpful Score: 3


For Patterson, I thought this was a very powerful novel delving into the racial injustices in the South during the early 20th century. Although the title of the book implies that this is an Alex Cross thriller, it is actually much more. It tells the story of Cross' great uncle, Abraham, and his cousin, Moody, in the town of Eudora, Mississippi. It is the story of lynchings, racial bigotry, hatred, and violence towards African Americans at that time, and paints a very ugly picture of man's inhumanity to man. The book is written in Patterson's fast short-chapter style and is a very quick read but the subject matter leaves you with something more to think about that his usual action thrillers. The trial sequences in the book were somewhat reminiscent of "To Kill a Mockingbird" but not quite in the same league. The book includes references to historical figures such as W.E.B. DuBois and Teddy Roosevelt but I'm not sure of the historical accuracies. If the South was anything like what is portrayed in this story, there is a lot to be ashamed of! Overall, a high recommendation for this one.


The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, Bk 2)
The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, Bk 2)
Author: Steve Berry
Book Type: Perfect Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 8/20/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I thought it was a pretty good thriller in the ilk of "The DaVinci Code" and "The Last Templar." I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story of the Alexandria library. The premise about the Biblical translations and that the Holy Land was actually in Saudi Arabia was very interesting. However, I thought the political implications of this were somewhat far-fetched. Overall though, an enjoyable and fast-paced story.


The Alien Years
The Alien Years
Author: Robert Silverberg
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 10/19/2012


One of the best sci-fi novels I have read in some time. Silverberg has always been one of my favorites in this genre and in my opinion, this is one of his best! The novel details an alien invasion over a 50-year period using one family, the Carmichaels, as a focus. The Carmichaels struggle for years through several generations to try to rid the earth of the invaders with no success. Any attempt at killing the invaders results in harsh reprisals including a virus that kills more than half of earth's population. The invaders seem to be invincible and use humans as slave labor. During the invasion, many earthlings collaborate with the invaders and these "quislings" are hated and despised by the rest of humanity. There are several complex characters in the book mostly in the Carmichael family. The patriarch of the family fought in Vietnam and was named Anson, a name passed down through the generations and a nice tribute by Silverberg to Robert Anson Heinlein. Overall, a high recommendation for this one.


The Altar Girl: A Prequel (The Nadia Tesla Series)
The Altar Girl: A Prequel (The Nadia Tesla Series)
Author: Orest Stelmach
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 4/23/2015


I received this as a Kindle e-book as part of the Amazon Prime program. It was an unusual mystery about a young girl (Nadia Tesla) in the Ukrainian community in Hartford, Connecticut, who was kidnapped at the start of the novel by a former acquaintance who is trying to find out what she knows about her godfather's business. The godfather had died in an apparent accident but Nadia thinks he has been murdered. The novel switches back and forth between what Nadia is doing in the present to solve the murder and an episode in her youth where she was put through a 3-day test to win a survival badge. Along the way, a lot of Ukrainian history is found to be connected to the godfather's death. This is mostly about what happened after WWII when many Ukrainians were liberated from Nazi concentration camps and were known as displaced persons (DPs). The Soviets were trying to repatriate the DPs and send them back to the Ukraine but most were considered enemies of the state and were executed when they returned. The parts of the novel dealing with this history were very fascinating and educational especially in light of the current situation in the Ukraine. Overall, I would recommend this one. It is actually prequel to a series of books about Nadia Tesla which I may also seek out.


Altar of Eden
Altar of Eden
Author: James Rollins
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 4/16/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Another good page-turner from Rollins about the nefarious genetic manipulation of DNA in animals and humans! This one reminded me a lot of some of Michael Crichton's novels such as "Next" which was also about genetic engineering and intelligent animals. I was also reminded a lot of H.G. Wells classic "Island of Dr. Moreau" - one of my Wells favorites. I really enjoyed the setting of the first part of the story in the bayous of Louisiana and would give this one a very favorable recommendation.


Amazonia
Amazonia
Author: James Rollins
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 417
Review Date: 8/26/2008
Helpful Score: 6


Another super James Rollins adventure story! I took this book with me on a business trip to Florida and read it on the plane and at the hotel. Hard to put down with non-stop action and very interesting premises about life itself and how man may have evolved. Some very wicked people were also in this adventure - Louis Favre and his Indian girl-friend "Tshui" (who got thrills out of torture and shrinking heads!) had to be some of the nastiest villians I have encountered in recent memory. Overall - a fun and exciting read.


Andr?e's Story
Andr?e's Story
Author: S. A. Andr?e, Nils Strindberg, K. Fraenkel, Edward Adams-Ray
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/25/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Finished reading this today. It always amazes me how early explorers had the courage to do what they did. This is especially true of polar exploration. I mean what would it take to head off into the polar regions in a balloon?? Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of the Andree expedition so I am glad was able to read about it. This book reminded me of some of the biographies I read growing up in the 1960s - it was nostalgic in a way. I was also a fan of Jules Verne growing up and this expedition could have come straight from his pen! Overall a very fascinating story. It is definitely amazing how the story and photos were preserved and discovered over 30 years after the fateful balloon voyage. The mystery of why Andree and his crew perished is also very interesting. The writer of the introduction to the book is quite sure they perished by carbon monoxide poisoning from their cooking stove, however, if you read the Wikipedia.com article on the expedition, the theory that the men succumbed to trichinosis that they got from eating undercooked polar bear meat is suggested along with some other theories. Recommend this book to anyone interested in early exploration of the polar regions.


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