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mazerlodge has commented on (3) products.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

mazerlodge, January 11, 2013

Yes, I know. It is everywhere. It is so much everywhere there were three people at my office reading it at the same time. While talking about it, a fourth co-worker asked what book we were discussing, and when we told her she rolled her eyes. Over exposure will do that. But this is a good book, so what do you say about it?

The storyline is pretty well known by now, the launch of a major motion picture-- and a successful one-- kind of gets the word out. In case you missed it; The hunger games is set in a futuristic country situated where the United States are today. Sometime in this country's past, the districts (12 of them) rebelled against the capital. The capital eventually put down the rebellion, and as an annual reminder of who is really in charge, requires each district to send one boy and one girl to fight in the hunger games. Think survivor with teenagers and the last living person being the victor.

Simple enough, this is classified as juvenile fiction. The story begins shortly before the annual selection process, follows our main characters through the games, and ends...well I don’t want to ruin it for you so lets just say there are three books in a series, this is book one, and book two starts one sentence after this book ends.

The story is engaging. The main character is immediately likeable. She’s clever, so you get the feeling she’s going to get out of whatever trouble she finds herself in, but you don’t know how. The pace is quick, this has been the fastest I’ve read a book in a long time. If you want some entertainment, you can find it right here.
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The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Cabinet of Curiosities

mazerlodge, January 6, 2012

Aside from being a catchy title, a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ is a real thing- the term refers to a collection of, well, stuff. Usually some sort of theme was pursued- mounted animals, geological collections (aka Rocks), bones, insects, plants, etc. Along with genuine articles, fakes could be mixed in and maybe even favored. The reason for the collection could be any number of things, the book implied wealthy people might acquire things into these collections for their own amusement (and presumably to impress and entertain their friends) while other people have created collections then charged admission.

The book, the third in a series, opens with an enigmatic FBI agent enlisting the help of a anthropology professional from the New York Museum of Natural History to investigate a freshly discovered charnel house (vocabulary day- think vault full of bodies, mostly bones remaining).

A brief examination of the bodies indicates they didn’t die of natural causes. When noticing all the corpses have spinal injuries, the age of the find and the number of dead, a record breaking serial killer is suspected. It is no easy investigation though, as our heroes are sent away and prevented from preserving the site. The associated questions of who did this and why are answered through the rest of the book as our FBI agent and the good doctor from the museum are undeterred in their investigation, and motivated by a new series of killings suggesting a copycat or continuation of a hundred year old crime.

The two lead characters have a third added to their group, a New York Times reporter. This forms a character group that is manageable and yet has enough opportunity for unique interactions to keep the book moving. A roster of supporting characters are introduced as needed, serve there purpose, and the book moves on. The supporting cast stay an appropriate time and re-enter the story enough to develop and earn the readers interest in caring about their actions, but without being burdened with an overly involved back-story. This is distinct from another style of writing where a huge list of people are introduced at the beginning of a book, each developing a back story with indeterminate relevance, and then gradually converging.

This book isn’t a roller coaster, the pace of the book accelerates steadily to the finish. An epilogue provides the cool down. All together, a solid work.
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The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
The Sherlockian

mazerlodge, January 2, 2012

Not just another Sherlock knock-off, this book mixes two story lines and neither claims to be a lost recounting of Sherlock Holmes.

The first storyline is set in the period of Conan Doyle’s life (1890’s) and follows Doyle, not Holmes, at the time when he was planning to kill off of Sherlock Holmes. Through this book the reader relives the days leading up to the story published as “The Final Problem” in 1893. The book recounts the resulting real life outcry at the death of Holmes and interweaves a fictitious investigation by Doyle with his real life friend, Bram Stoker (yes, the Bram Stoker of Dracula fame). Through the narrative we get the impression this period of Doyle’s life is important to a (real life?) missing Conan Doyle diary, and perhaps could explain why Conan Doyle resurrected Sherlock Holmes in 1901.

The second story line is set in present day and tracks our hero, Harold White, a newly initiated member of a prestigious Sherlockian society, The Baker Street Irregulars. His mission: Find the lost Conan Doyle diary. Harold is motivated by the murder of one of his Sherlockian peers who was expected to announce the discovery of the missing diary.

Mixing the occasional fact with a lot of fiction fabric makes for a fun quilt of reading entertainment. You don’t need to know Sherlock Holmes stories to appreciate this book. It may inspire some new fans as well as encourage the rereading of a few for people who have been through the stories before.
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