The Pharaoh’s Secret

The Pharaoh’s Secret

by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

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The dazzling new novel in the #1 New York Times–bestselling NUMA Files series from the grand master of adventure.

Kurt and Joe tangle with the most determined enemy they’ve ever encountered when a ruthless powerbroker schemes to build a new Egyptian empire as glorious as those of the Pharaohs.

Part of his plan rests on the manipulation of a newly discovered aquifer beneath the Sahara, but an even more devastating weapon at his disposal may threaten the entire world: a plant extract known as the Black Mist, discovered in the City of the Dead and rumored to have the power to take life from the living and restore it to the dead.

With the balance of power in Africa and Europe on the verge of tipping, Kurt, Joe, and the rest of the NUMA team will have to fight to discover the truth behind the legends—but to do that, they have to confront in person the greatest legend of them all: Osiris, the ruler of the Egyptian underworld.

I’m just gonna say this is less a review of The Pharaoh’s Secret, and more a look at my affection for Clive Cussler books.

I only occasionally read Clive Cussler, but there was a time when he was all I read. Dirk Pitt: of course! NUMA Files: yep! Oregon Files: absolutely! Cussler provided an escape from the petty drama of high school. He was my go-to when I needed adventure during my first round of college. I knew who to turn to when I found myself desperately needing an over the top action read in the weeks leading up to my vacation. Clive Cussler delivered!

I honestly chose The Pharaoh’s Secret because of the cover. I mean look at it! Thankfully the plot was fantastically action packed. Readers were provided multiple plots that melded together seamlessly, and included both historical and scientific points. There was SCUBA diving, underwater battles, car chases, and plenty of snarky one-liners. I loved how readers were exposed to both ancient Egyptian and Roman history. My favorite part was, surprisingly, the side story of the Italian WWII soldiers. I even enjoyed Kurt and Joe, though Dirk and Al will always be my favorite Cussler duo.

Do I have any negative thoughts about The Pharaoh’s Secret? Eh, sure..just take all the points I previously mentioned. These are the reasons I don’t read much Cussler anymore. The stories are too over the top, the action scenes a tad too unbelievable, and the stories too similar. Cussler has a formula that works and he has stuck to it through the decades. But I go into his books knowing, and even craving, these traits when I pick one up.

Dirk Pitt holds a special place in my heart. He’s pulled me through reality when I needed an escape into the unknown. The Pharaoh’s Secret made me smile 😊. It did EXACTLY what I wanted.

Are you a Cussler fan? Which series is your favorite? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

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Winter Update

This is my Winter Reading Update. I have decided to provide a quarterly update to help keep track of my reading goals, progress, and trending themes. It is no surprise the majority of my reads were historical mysteries. These are the books finished January, February, and March 2018.

TOTAL: 9

This number includes my one DNF and I have them listed under the different genres. It was an ok reading quarter and I’m looking forward to what I will read this spring!

Mystery: 5

 

Historical Fiction: 1

This genre tab has books that are strictly historical fiction without an additional mystery plot.

TBCNM

 

Nonfiction: 1

Reread: 1

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Do Not Finish: 1

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What books did you finish this winter? Do you have any suggestions for my spring TBR? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

A Caribbean Mystery

A Caribbean Mystery

by Agatha Christie

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As Jane Marple sat basking in the tropical sunshine she felt mildly discontented with life. True, the warmth eased her rheumatism, but here in paradise nothing ever happened. Then a question was put to her by a stranger: ‘Would you like to see a picture of a murderer?’ Before she has a chance to answer, the man vanishes, only to be found dead the next day. The mysteries abound: Where is the picture? Why is the hotelier prone to nightmares? Why doesn’t the most talked-about guest, a reclusive millionaire, ever leave his room? And why is Miss Marple herself fearful for her life?

Of note: A Caribbean Mystery introduces the wealthy (and difficult) Mr Jason Rafiel, who will call upon Miss Marple for help in Nemesis (1971) — after his death.

I was first introduced to Agatha Christie as a preteen. I spent many a night curled up on the couch with my mom binge watching David Suchet’s Piorot (and BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and A&E’s Nero Wolfe). My mom is definitely responsible for my love of historical mysteries.

Now, I know I read a number of Agatha Christie novels as a preteen, but I cannot remember which ones, and I decided it was time to revisit her work after watching Murder on the Orient Express over the holidays. I found myself rewatching the old tv shows, and found A Caribbean Mystery to be the perfect read for the Caribbean cruise vacation I took last week.

I have always been a fan of Hercule Piorot, but GUYS, I forgot how much I loved the snarky Miss Marple! Miss Marple is on vacation in order to relax and maintain good health…which of course means that she is bored out of her mind. Then a man suddenly dies, the day after telling Miss Marple that he has a picture in his wallet of a murderer. Marple knows that something fishy has happened, and must discover the truth without her normal confidants.

I loved how our detective assumed a self-depreciation persona to gain information from her fellow guests. It’s refreshing how she does not lament her age, instead embraces it. She frequently rolls her eyes at the ignorance of youth and manipulates people’s preconceptions of ‘little old ladies’ to her advantage.

The mystery was interesting, twisted, and surprising. It kept me hooked and guessing until the very last page. Marple is relatable as she frequently brainstorms the facts in order to discover the culprit; she does just suddenly have the answers. My favorite part of A Caribbean Mystery was Marple’s conversation with the fantastically curt Mr. Rafiel. And it was kinda refreshing that Christie didn’t attempt to provide an explanation behind the murder’s behavior.

A Caribbean Mystery was fantastic and a mystery that I would recommend to anyone, especially those needing a light read for a beachy vacation! I have a feeling that I will be spending more time enjoying the adventures of Miss Marple this year.

Have you read A Caribbean Mystery? What is your favorite Agatha Christie story? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

How to Lose a Marathon

How to Lose a Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters

by Joel H Cohen

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In How to Lose a Marathon, Joel Cohen takes readers on a step-by-step journey from being a couch potato to being a couch potato who can finish a marathon. Through a hilarious combination of running tips, narrative, illustrations and infographics, Cohen breaks down the misery that is forcing yourself to run. From chafing to the best times to run, explaining the phenomenon known as the “Oprah Line,” and exposing the torture that is a pre-marathon expo, Cohen acts as your snarky guide to every aspect of the runner’s experience. Offering both real advice and genuine commiseration with runners of all skill levels, How to Lose a Marathon lets you know that even if you believe that the “runner’s high” is a complete myth, you can still survive all 26.2 miles of a marathon.

My one New Years resolution was to run a marathon in 2017. I was not a runner but I’ve actually been sticking with my training! AND ENJOYING IT! So of course I need to read about running because that’s who I am.

I heard about How to Lose a Marathon while listening to a running podcast. It’s humorous look at the unique ‘aspects’ of becoming a runner appealed to me. Each chapter covers a mile in his journey and Cohen includes drawings to help illustrate the joys and frustrations of running.

I loved it! I don’t want to provide too many details because you just need to read it. This book is a delight and I recommend it to runners, aspiring runners, and couch potatoes. How to Lose a Marathon will be one of my favorite nonfiction reads this year!

Any runners out there needing a funny read? Any couch potatoes wanting to understand why people run? Bored while waiting for an airplane? READ IT!

Lindsay

Vacation Reads!

We are going on a cruise this spring and I get way too excited about picking my Vacation TBR. I always tend to stick to a specific theme. Since I’m cruising…I’m reading all the tropical books!

My list is:

  • Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
  • A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
  • Dress Her in Indigo by John D MacDonald

What reads would you take on a cruise? Have you read any of these?

Lindsay

Darker Than Amber

Darker Than Amber

by John D. MacDonald

DTA

A great bestseller starring Travis McGee, a real American hero–and maybe the star of a new movie franchise! Reissue.

Helping damsels in distress is nothing new for Travis McGee–it’s basically how he spends his life. But this one was different right from the start. Tossed off a bridge with cement wired to her feet, dragged to safety by Travis and Meyer, she was a hot Eurasian beauty with a cold heart…ready to snare them in a murder racket to end all murders….

I started February desperately needing an escape into the tropical Florida weather I love. Sadly, this Florida February was dismally cold, wet, and windy. So I turned to one of my recent favorites for an escape, John D MacDonald.

Travis and Meyer are enjoying a quiet evening fishing under a bridge in South Florida when a body comes pummeling down from the road above. Travis acts instinctively, diving in after the body and miraculously pulling the young woman out alive. Evangeline, Vangie for short, opens up to her rescuers. She tells of the dark life she has lead and the murder ring that led to her attempted disposal. McGee only wishes to help the young woman find a new life but instead finds himself vengefully working to discover the truth and destroy the criminal operation.

I want to start out with the negative. This series was written in the 70s in a James Bond/Miami Vice/Magnum PI style. Feminists who easily get their feelings bent about negative cliche representations of women need to steer clear. The book starts with McGee dealing with an old female friend who had become desperately needy and twitchy thanks to an abusive marriage. The woman uses McGee’s boat as a form of escape that naturally results in consensual adult escapades. Additionally, Vangie and her friends are high paid hookers who lure rich single men onto cruises where the girls’ pimps steal fortunes before tossing the marks overboard. The majority of the women in Darker Than Amber are not presented in a positive light. And this is the biggest complaint I have seen. I will add that Travis does complement a handful of secondary female characters who are wholesome and intelligent.

The negativity is more of a commentary on the lack of honest, good people in the world. McGee laments on how he feels used by his old friend; frustrated that knowing she will return to the abusive husband after all. He grieves at how Vangie’s upbringing has given little other options.

I enjoyed Darker Than Amber because it gives us a different look at Travis than I experienced with Tan and Sandy Silence. Travis’ snarky, happy-go-lucky attitude is missing as he barrels forward in stubborn determination to force the ‘bad guys’ to pay. This is a Travis that will do anything to survive; a more vindictive Travis. I prefer the lighthearted Travis, but I enjoyed the complexity presented here.

I enjoyed Darker Than Amber, and am looking forward to reading more by John D MacDonald this year. Are you a fan? What are you reading to get your summer vibes?

Lindsay

Too Many Women

Too Many Women

by Rex Stout

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Celebrated sleuth Nero Wolfe is renowned for cracking tough cases — and never leaving his New York apartment, where he quaffs beer and cultivates orchids. For legwork, Wolfe employs a fast-talking, wisecracking assistant named Archie, who also serves as our narrator.In Too Many Women, Wolfe and Archie are charged with investigating the mysterious goings-on at a big engineering supply company.

Work has been crazy the last few weeks. I always find myself needing a good cozy mystery when I’m stressed. I was struggling to find what I wanted, so I decided to stick with a solid favorite, Nero Wolfe.

Too Many Women did the trick! Archie finds himself working in an office setting surrounded by beautiful women and conniving men. A man was run down by a car and Archie is asked to prove it was murder. What follows is humorous account of Archie’s attempt to survive in the office world, full of lies and manipulation.

Of course I adore Archie and Wolfe, but I was even more pleased at how the women are presented. Sure some of them are flighty and manipulative (which is accurate based on my personal experience) but there were a number that were smart and self reliant. I didn’t figure out ‘who dunnit’ until right before Wolfe made his big reveal. And the banter between Inspector Cramer and Wolfe always makes me smile!

Nero Wolfe always makes my day and Too Many Women didn’t disappoint. What is your go to comfort read? What historic cozy mystery do you recommend?

Lindsay

Hatchet

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

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Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty good job. Plus, I feel like Hatchet is an American classic; if you haven’t read it you’ve probably still heard of it.

Surprisingly, I had not read Hatchet before last year. This is odd as I adore Julie of the Wolves and read My Side of the Mountain as a pre-teen. And I’ve read pretty much every book written by Bill Wallace. I have no idea why I never read Hatchet, but my husband and I decided to remedy that and listened to the audiobook during our annual holiday road trip.

Hatchet was fantastic. For those who don’t know, my husband and I are both pilots and minimalist campers. I have been flying for most of my life and M is really good at survival style camping. Paulsen’s descriptions of the flight (and subsequent crash) are spot on, obviously written by someone with aviation experience. Brian’s successes, and failures, at survival are also quite realistic. Paulsen provides exquisitely detailed descriptions that pull the reader through the story, and Hatchet is a fantastic example of solid character development. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story that was actually enjoyable, without the pages upon pages of teenage angst that now represents the genre standard.

The only ‘negative’ point is there are some pretty gruesome moments as Brian survives the plane crash, multiple injuries, a moose attack, and a tornado. The book is not for the faint of heart and there are a number of people I wouldn’t recommend it to because the well written passages would leave them terrified of small aircraft and the great outdoors. This is not necessarily a fault against the book, just a point audiences need to be aware of.

Hatchet holds up as a classic survival story and I personally think it needs to remain as standard reading for preteens…especially as society forgets the skills of basic survival. I feel like its a book for any season, and look forward to picking it up again.

Does anyone else love Hatchet? What are your favorite survival stories? (I have so many on my list!)

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

Eiger Dreams

Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains

by Jon Krakauer

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No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska’s notorious Devils Thumb.

In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the world’s most experienced mountain climbers in one horrific summer. In Valdez, Alaska, two men scale a frozen waterfall over a four-hundred-foot drop. In France, a hip international crowd of rock climbers, bungee jumpers, and paragliders figure out new ways to risk their lives on the towering peaks of Mont Blanc. Why do they do it? How do they do it? In this extraordinary book, Krakauer presents an unusual fraternity of daredevils, athletes, and misfits stretching the limits of the possible.

From the paranoid confines of a snowbound tent, to the thunderous, suffocating terror of a white-out on Mount McKinley, Eiger Dreams spins tales of driven lives, sudden deaths, and incredible victories. This is a stirring, vivid book about one of the most compelling and dangerous of all human pursuits.

Eiger Dreams is my first nonfiction read in 2018! (One down…eleven to go!)

I liked it. It’s not going to be my favorite book of 2018 but I did enjoy Eiger Dreams. I started the year craving a book that would satisfy my need for adventure. I found myself looking at Jon Krakauer books on Audible, I realized that I had no desire to read Into the Wild (and probably never will) and that I wasn’t up to reading Into Thin Air (I can be lazy…what can I say?). Eiger Dreams seemed to be a perfect choice for my first Jon Krakauer read. It is different because it is a series of articles, some of which were published in magazines, that detail different climbing styles and locations. Each article is full of eccentric characters, death defying feats, and Krakauer’s own climbing experiences.

The format made Eiger Dreams feel like a quick read. This is essential to enjoy the story as Krakauer’s stories have a way of disenchanting the romance of climbing while also pulling at adventurous heartstrings in a way that makes you want to sell everything you own for the next trip. It can be a pretty overwhelming wave of emotion by the time you finish one climb. And then you are off to another part of the word! Eiger Dreams introduces readers to a variety of cultures that seem so foreign while so familiar as the field is full of the same type of character who longs to reach the top of each peek.

My only complaint can not be considered a complaint because its not the book’s fault. Eiger Dreams it dated. The book was published in 1997 and I never forgot that while listening. The book was great, but I finished it ready to pick up a second installment. Ready to read more stories, newer adventures, of those who long to conquer nature’s peaks and ignore danger to follow their passion

It was an interesting read, and I recommend for those wishing to learn more about the varied aspects of climbing. Let me know if you have read Eiger Dreams. What is your favorite Krakauer book?

Have a great weekend!

Lindsay

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

by Carey Wallace

TBCNM

An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention

In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town’s most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don’t believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world’s first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.

2018 has been so crazy so far! Thankfully I managed to get some reading in despite the reviews not got out at a consistent rate. We’re starting March off with an interesting historical fiction.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine follow’s the story of Carolina, the blind woman who inspired the creation of the first typewriter. The story is written from her perspective as she grows from child to woman, deals with matters of the heart, and struggles as the world turns dark around her.

The story is good. I enjoyed Carolina. She is an interesting woman with a pleasant mixture of stereotypical teenage girl characteristics (having crushes and trying her hardest to be a mature adult) and a refreshing intelligence driven by the wonders of nature. Like Carolina, I find contentment in being outdoors alone. She was refreshing and find to read. I enjoyed her friendship with Turri, and her quick whit even when she struggled with depression.

Wallace’s setting is brilliant. You can taste the sugar coated lemons; you can see the lights of the lake cabin beckoning in the darkness. Turri’s experiment are intricate without being tedious; especially the typewriter.

I even enjoyed the tough aspects of the story; the affairs of both Carolina and Pietro, the condescending statements concerning her blindness, the constant underlying feeling of being trapped in a passionless relationship. Wallace handled each masterfully, easily invoking an emotional connection to the characters when I normally would struggle.

Here There Be Spoilers! I didn’t like the ending. I will admit that it was brilliantly written by Wallace, BUT it was too openended for me. Those that have read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine will argue, “but Lindsay, it couldn’t end any other way.” I KNOW. I still wanted answers. I wanted to know if Pietro intercepted Carolina’s letter. I wanted to know Turri’s last words to his love. I wanted to know why it didn’t end with the happily ever after knowing that it could never end that way. And I was so frustrated with Carolina’s pig headed refusal to read that letter! So while the ending was fantastic, I am still over here throwing my sucker in the dirt and pouting.

sad star trek GIF

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a fantastic love story and an interesting fictionalization of the woman who inspired the creation of the typewriter. I wish there was more history available about the actual typewriter (history buffs may find this frustrating) but I still recommend it!

Have your read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay