03 October 2013

Thursday's Review: Glass House 51 by John Hampel

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my review

Publication Date: January 28th, 2013
Publisher: Bzff Books
List Price: $19.95 Print 
                  $ 3.99 Digital
Genre: Science Fiction Thriller
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 Recently I stumbled across John Hampel's book Glass House 51.  The premise for this story centers around Alphabank, the largest financial institution in the U.S.  The powers that be at Alphabank have picked two of their employees, Richard (no last name) and Cristin Darrow to be bait in their quest to draw out Norman Dunne, a reclusive computer genius who is a former employee, and a suspect in a series of murders of young women.  

What unfolds is a captivating story about power, greed, and control in the same vent as the classics dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World.  In fact, the publishing blurb for the book states, "Glass House 51 is humbly dedicated to George Orwell and Aldous Huxley,,,,,,They saw it coming; they saw it first; they warned us.  We learned nothing."  In fact, the story that John Hampel weaves in this book is a first rate story that combines all of the best elements of the classic Big Brother stories of the past.  Reading the book was like reading 1984, Brave New World, Animal House, and Fahrenheit 451 all rolled into one, with the addition of an exciting thriller threading through the story.  I loved the way that the author referred to these books throughout the story, but I also loved the way that he updated the themes presented in the classics to make this book relevant to the current times.  The addition of a thriller story line only added to the suspense in the book and really kept me turning the pages.  

The main characters in the story were also masterfully done.  I love books where the characters continually surprise me, and that happened in this books in many ways.  At times I would think that I had a character figured out, only to have them do an about-face.  This propensity to change and challenge my thinking of the characters really kept me interested to see what was going to happen next.  I loved the way it also blurred the lines between the good and bad guys, and kept me on my toes trying to figure out who were going to be the eventual heroes.  

Unfortunately, this book has not gotten a lot of either press or exposure, which is really sad.  It is a top-notch story with  well developed characters that deal with important issues for our times.  Is the story entirely plausible....probably not, but it has a lot to say to us about the information intensive age that we live in and lessons that it would be better to learn through fiction than through real life. Since neither of my sons were required to read 1984 OR Brave New World, I am going to direct them towards this book and hope that is sparks some great discussions among us.  

02 October 2013

Blog Tour: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber


Book Tour Schedule for "Starry Night" by Debbie Macomber

October 1st -  My Home of Books
October 2nd - A Book Addict's Musings
October 3rd - Creative Madness Mama
October 4th - Griperang's Bookmarks
October 5th - Jax's Book Magic
October 6th - Tidbits of Experience
October 7th - My Recent favorite books
October 8th - The Book Bag
October 9th - Deco My Heart Reviews
October 10th - Mary - Andering Creatively
October 10th - Mary-andering Among the Pages

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date:  October 8, 2013
List Price:  $18.00 Hardback
                      $ 7.99 Digital Edition
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Believe it or not, Starry Night is the first Debbie Macomber book I have read.  I enjoy light romances, often interspersing  them between my historicals, mysteries, and thrillers.  Add to that the advent of the Christmas season, when I get in the mood to read lighter stories that center around Christmas, and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for this book seemed like a natural.  

Starry Night is the story of  Carrie Slayton, a society reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, who longs to be able to report on more serious stories.  Her boss challenges her to find and interview reclusive author Finn Dalton,  with the promise of being able to write any stories she wants if she can get the coveted interview.  As a result, Carrie heads out for the wilds of Alaska in search of Finn.  What she finds, changes her life and perspectives dramatically. 

Starry Night is your typical romance book, complete with a smart, self sufficient female protagonist and the reluctant male love interest.  As you can probably guess, when Carrie and Finn meet, sparks fly, and not always the good kind.  The fact that this book is a typical romance has both good and bad sides to it.  The story of Carrie and Finn was thoroughly enjoyable and a nice break from the mystery/thrillers that I have been reading,  Here is a story where the characters are who they are supposed to be.  There is no subterfuge, and you can trust them.  Their actions are what they appear to be, and their motives follow the expected path.  I have heard good things about Debbie Macomber's books, and I can see why.  She has a smooth, easy writing style, her characters are easy to become invested in, and her settings are interesting.  Alternately, though, it is so typical, that if you are looking for something a bit different in the genre you will not find it here.  Luckily for me, I was looking for the typical.  

Aside from the fact that this book is typical in every respect, my biggest caveat about the book is that Christmas was really insignificant to the story.  The fact that part of the story takes place over the holidays is the only thing that allows this story to be classed as a Chrismas story at all.  The good news here is that Christmas plays such a small part that you could read the story anytime of the year and not be slapped in the face with a lot of Christmas talk.  The only other  caveat I had about the story was that I wished that more of the story took place in Alaska.  I love the less ordinary settings, and would loved to have had more of that part of the book. 

The bottom line here, though, is that I enjoyed this book enough for it to entice me to read more by Debbie Macomber.  I know a lot of her other books are a series, and I look forward to fitting them in between my other reading.  Many thanks to my friend Melissa for including me in this blog tour and introducing me to Debbie Macomber.