Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Empress Holds the Key (Jack Rogan Mysteries, #2) by Gabriel Farago

The Empress Holds the Key
(Jack Rogan Mysteries, #2)
By: Gabriel Farago

Published: May 2016
Published By: Bear & King Publishing 
Format Read: Kindle for PC
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4/5

I was sent a copy of The Empress Holds the Key (Jack Rogan Mysteries, #2) by Gabriel Farago, from the author in exchange for an honest review.

An old war-time picture is discovered in a burned down cabin depicting a Nazi officer uncovers a trail connecting a violin to a Vatican cover-up that could change the fate of Christianity. Due to the immense details of this books description, I will refer to the Goodreads synopsis as I believe it will give a better understanding to what the story is about:

Journalist Jack Rogan knows a great story when he finds one. A charred old photograph found in the ruins of a burnt-out Blue Mountains cottage hints at dark secrets and unwittingly reignites an ancient and deadly quest for a holy relic mysteriously erased from the pages of history.
Federal Police officer Jana Gonski in pursuit of a suspected Nazi war criminal joins forces with Rogan, barrister and amateur archaeologist Marcus Carrington QC, and celebrated composer Benjamin Krakowski. Together they uncover a murky web of intrigue and greed, hoards of Nazi gold and hidden Swiss bank accounts. All implicate wealthy banker Sir Eric Newman. When Newman goes on trial, unexpected clues are discovered pointing the way to a mystery that has haunted the Catholic Church for centuries.
On a dangerous journey to find the relic, Rogan and his companions trace links back as far as the reign of Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh of ancient Egypt, and King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. What is this dark secret guarded by the Knights Templar, and so feared by the Vatican? Will religious fanatics foil the quest which could destroy the very foundations of their Church and challenge Christianity itself? 

The Empress Holds the Key is a very faced paced suspense-thriller that keeps the reader intrigued from start to finish. The amount of research that must have gone into the writing of this novel is quite impressive. To be able to tie in so many different time periods (from biblical times, ancient Egypt, to the Knights of the Templar, World War II and finally present day) shows the true dedication and knowledge of the author.

Even though this is said to be the second book in the Jack Rogan Mysteries, it can be read as a standalone novel. In fact the plot follows other characters more than it does investigative journalist Jack Rogan. Most specifically Officer Jana Gonski and lawyer Marcus Carrington. However Jack does play an important role in uncovering the mystery.

Apart from the World War II era storyline, I must admit that the other time periods aren’t something I would generally read about. However I became so drawn into this story and the suspense of it all, that I often had a hard time putting it down.

I would recommend Gabriel Farago’s The Empress Holds the Key to fans of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series and those who enjoy suspense novels. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Vote for Murder (Murder, She Wrote. #22) by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. Narrated by Cynthia Darlow

A Vote for Murder 
(Murder, She Wrote, #22)
By: Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Narrated by: Cynthia Darlow

Published: October 2004
Published By: Blackstone Audiobooks 
Format Read: Audiobook, OverDrive App. 
Genre: Mystery, Series, Cozy Mystery

Rating: 3/5

Beloved mystery author Jessica Fletcher is invited to Washington D.C. to a literary event hosted by a senator and his wife. When the chief of staff for the senator is found dead at the opening dinner party, Jessica uncovers a trail of shady politics, extortion and affairs.

A Vote for Murder is a mystery that tied in the importance of literacy with a murder the shined the spotlight on corruption. It was an interesting storyline that kept my attention, even though the literacy event did take a backseat to that of the politicians involved. Unfortunately I did have some issues with the final revelations, mostly pertaining to one character whose actions didn’t exactly line up with the initial traits given to them earlier in the novel.

Still I think that Jessica Fletcher is a wonderful character and I like how she always manages to stay poised and level-headed during the situations she finds herself in.

It is nice to come across a larger series where each book can be read as a stand-alone. Mention of previous mysteries are noted, but it isn’t necessary for the reader to have read them in order to understand the current installment.

Cynthia Darlow was a good narrator, however I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t done by Angela Lansbury herself. After-all no one would be better suited to voice Jessica Fletcher than the actress who made the character famous.

I would recommend A Vote for Murder and the Murder, She Wrote series to fans of the television show and light mysteries. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
By Jamie Ford

Published: January 2009
Published By: Random House Inc. 
Format Read: Kobo, eBook, Paperback 
Genre: Historical Fiction 

Rating: 4/5

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a dual time period novel that following Chinese-American Henry Lee as he recalls his experiences during the war years growing up in Seattle. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbour and the war raging between Japan and China, Henry’s father is more patriotic than ever. And although Henry was born in the USA, his Asian features makes him a target, especially in the all-white school his father insists he attends. 

At 12 years old, life is very lonely for Henry until a new student by the name of Keiko Okabe comes to his school on scholarship. A beautiful friendship blossoms, however the Japanese (even the Japanese American’s) are seen as the enemy and his father greatly disapproves. Can the bond that Henry and Keiko made survive their separation as she and her family are forced off to an internment camp for the duration of the war?

Jamie Ford has written a beautiful tale of friendship and love. The bond that Henry and Keiko form felt so pure and genuine. It wasn’t a frivolous pre-teen crush, but something far more meaningful and strong.

The treatment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry after the attacks on Pearl Harbour was terrible. It amazed me how they persevered and fought to prove their pride and allegiance to their country.

Despite the sad subject manner, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a quick and easy read. I enjoyed Ford’s writing style and the way he tied in the two time periods: the early 1940’s and the mid 1980’s. I also learned a lot about the differences in the traditional Chinese and Japanese cultures, which was quite interesting.

I would recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to historical fiction lovers, especially those with an interest in life on the home front and the plight of the Japanese-American’s during World War II. Although it is technically adult fiction, I think that the subject manner would make for a great learning experience for younger readers as well. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Currently Reading: March 13, 2017

I didn't really have much of an update to do yesterday for a Sunday Wrap-up, so I decided to do a Currently Reading post instead..

Currently Reading

I'm still chipping away at The Empress Holds the Key. I'm currently at 72%, so hopefully it won't take me too much longer to complete. 

I also started reading A Man Called Ove, this past week. I am considering joined a local book club and this is the first book chosen. I'm not sure how much I will be able to commit to the club, or if I will even be able to attend the monthly meet-ups, but I like the idea of connecting with other book lovers in my community. 

Have you ever read A Man Called Ove? If so what did you think of it?

Hope you all have a wonderful week. 

Hosted by: Book Date

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) by Rick Riordan

The Battle of the Labyrinth
(Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)
By: Rick Riordan

Published: May 2008
Published By: Listening Library
Format Read: Audio Book
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 3/5

In this 4th installment of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, our hero sets out on another quest. This time he joins friends Annabeth, Grover and half-brother Tyson, as they enter the labyrinth in an effort to stop the rise of the evil Kronos and his army.

I admit that I had a hard time getting into book 4. The thought of our hero’s travelling through a labyrinth initially had me intrigued. However as I listened along, I got somewhat overwhelmed by the vast difference in each room they came across. I also had a hard time picturing the monsters they battled on their journey.

Thankfully closer to the end of this audio book, I began to enjoy the story more. The pace really picked up and there was quite a bit of action. I really appreciated how the author included the God Pan to give his readers a lesson in the importance of preserving our environment.

Although this wasn’t my favourite book in the Percy Jackson series, I would still recommend it to fans of middle grade fantasy. 

Previous Books in the Percy Jackson Series:

  1. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympian's, #1) 
  2. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympian's. #2)
  3. The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympian's. #3) 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Wrap-up: March 5 2017

Today my Mom threw me a wonderful baby shower. She has been planning it for weeks and at all came together nicely. Lots of good friends and family attended. We played games and ate delicious food. I am so grateful for all those who attended and brought gifts for my little boy. He sure is blessed already.

Check out the amazing cake my friend made for my shower:

Isn't that cool? She included some of my favourite books that I read growing up and of course a baby boy and his kitten too. She is so talented.

Instead of cards, we asked that guests bring a book to help start the baby's library. I will be making a Stacking the Shelves post to share all the wonderful books soon.

My Reading Progress:
Since my last Sunday Wrap-up I completed 2 books..

The friendship between the two characters in this book was beautiful and genuine. I gave Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet 4 stars and will be posting my review in the next couple of weeks.

A Vote for Murder was an interesting mystery that I gave 3 stars. My review for this one will also be posted in a couple of weeks. I listened to this book on audio via the Overdrive app.

Currently Reading

The past couple of days I have been really focusing on reading The Empress Holds the Key. Like I have said before it is quite long, but I am making good progress.

And that is all for this weeks wrap-up. I hope you all had a great weekend.

Happy reading!

Hosted by: Book Date