Showing posts from November, 2012

Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn (♦♦♦)

Will Cochrane is MI6’s most valuable asset; he is the agent called Spartan, killer of killers, one whose identity is known to just two men in England one of whom is the Prime Minister. After a failed mission in NY City, Cochrane is extracted by a CIA man who knows his identity all too well. Upon his return to England, Alistair, Cochrane’s controller, summons him to be debriefed on his most recent mission and a new one, one that will put him in a collision course with his father’s killer.

The mission is to capture alive a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, an agent called Megiddo, who is planning an attack somewhere in the Western hemisphere. Will Cochrane must track that man and make him talk about his genocidal plans. The problem is…Megiddo is one of the most elusive men anyone has ever met and in getting to him many lives will be in jeopardy.

Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn is a good book, but not great. The plot is intense, Will Cochrane, its protagonist, is one of the most hu…

El Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho (♦♦♦♦)

A young shepherd from Andalucía, Spain, has a twice-recurring dream. He dreams that he travels to the Pyramids of Egypt where a treasure is supposedly waiting for him. A gypsy confirms that he should go to Egypt. An encounter with a centuries-old king puts him on the path of realizing his dreams, but as you can guess, it is anything but easy.

The first time I read El Alquimista my reaction was wow! What a book! Every time I needed to know there’s magic in life I picked up the book and read it again. This time I didn’t feel the same way, but I assigned the rating for old time’s sake.

El Alquimista (The Alchemist) is a very easy read; I read it last night in a few hours. It is a profoundly beautiful reflection on the mission of each and every being on Earth. It is a philosophical story that it’s anything but preachy. Great storytelling and the roundness quality of its ending, a-la classical myths, make this book a contemporary classic.

Book: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (♦♦♦)

Piscine Molitor Patel, Pi for short to avoid embarrassing mispronunciations, was born and raised in India, until his family decided to leave the country for good in mid-summer of 1977 for Canada. Pi was fifteen years old. The Patel family sailed away in a ship named Tsimtsum, but in the middle of the Pacific the ship mysteriously split in half and sank. Pi was the only survivor of the shipwreck.

Suddenly on his own in a lifeboat, accompanied by four wild animals—an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker—that attacked each other until only the tiger was left standing, Pi had to learn survival skills that kept himself and the tiger alive for the 277 days that took their voyage throughout the Pacific until they reached civilization. During the journey, the castaway encountered the strange and the amazing that helped him keep his faith in God intact.

I’ve read this book in anticipation of the movie release. I liked this book, though not as …

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (♦♦♦)

Luke Warren, a famed biologist, is an expert in wolves’ behavior. He was adopted by at least two wolf packs in captivity before leaving his human family for two years to live in the wild, meanwhile searching for a wild pack of wolves to welcome him as a member. Luke Warren has always felt more comfortable among animals than with humans, thus is no wonder he can’t understand nor keep together his own human family.

Edward and Cara are Luke’s children. Edward is twenty four years-old and has lived away in Thailand for six years since he left his family in a hurry after a supposedly heated argument with his father. Cara has lived with Luke for the past four years, ever since her mother Georgie got remarried and gave birth to twins. Edward has hated his father since he left his family to live with wolves. Cara adores her father; for her, Luke is a god. She shares everything with her father.

When Cara’s best friend implores her to go to a party and Cara accepts, she consumes “one beer” bef…

Skyfall (♦♦♦♦½)

An operative for hire steals from MI6’s computers a list of NATO officers infiltrated in terrorists organizations around the globe. James Bond must recover the list, but gets entangled in a fight with the rogue on top of a running train. Eve, another MI6 agent, is ordered to take a shot at the fighters and Bond gets thrown off the train towards a river below and presumed dead.

After the theft of the list, Gareth Mallory, a bureaucrat, calls “M” to his office and tells her that she has exactly two months to plan her voluntary retirement and a smooth transition to take place. Only, terrorist attacks start happening all around London and it appears it’s someone connected to the MI6 and who knows things from “M”’s past.

After the first attack, James Bond comes back from the dead, and must join forces with a captive beauty to lead him to Silva, the man behind all the horrible machinations, who is determined to make “M” pay for decisions made in the past.

Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, is…

Flight (♦♦♦♦½)

William “Whip” Whitaker, a commercial pilot, is an alcoholic who also consumes drugs recreationally. The night before a flight he has a drinking, drug consuming “orgy” with Trina, a flight attendant who frequently flies with him. In the morning, after a sleepless night, he gets high on cocaine and goes to fly as usual, only it turns it out the flight is anything but ordinary.

Shortly after takeoff, they encounter turbulence and Whip takes the plane to higher altitude than recommended; the pressure is sky high. Thirty minutes before landing, the co-pilot makes a maneuver to take the plane off autopilot and chaos ensues. The plane starts nose diving. In a desperate maneuver, they invert the plane and when they turn it back, they are gliding over an isolated field, and just before the crash, a wing of the plane collides against the steeple of a church and the plane brakes in two but doesn’t explode.

The crash kills six people, including two crew members, and someone must be held account…

Taken 2 (♦♦♦½)

Bryan Mills’ family is beginning to recover from the shock of Kim having been sold as a slave by human traffickers. This time, Lenore (Bryan’s ex and Kim’s mother) is separated from her second husband and going through a rough patch. Kim is dating a young guy and taking driving lessons from her father.

On short notice, Lenore’s soon to be ex-husband cancels plans he has to spend time with Lenore and Kim, and Bryan invites them to travel to Istanbul to spend time with him where he will be on an assignment. Soon after Lenore and Kim arrive in Turkey, the family of the men who took Kim last time come looking for Bryan to avenge the deaths of their relatives. Lenore and Bryan are kidnapped but Kim escapes unscathed. It is up to Kim this time around to find out her parents’ location and save the day…with her father’s help, of course.

Good movie but not great, not even remotely to the level of the first Taken; there is less drama in spite of the obligatory chase scenes round Istanbul, and …

The Confessor by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦½)

Gabriel Allon is in Venice, under the name Mario Delvecchio, restoring Bellini’s Madonna in the Church of San Zaccaria, when he is summoned by Ari Shamron to a secret rendezvous in the Ghetto Nuovo. Once again Gabriel is called to action when he learns that Benjamin Stern, a colleague from his early days in the Office, has been assassinated arguably by Neo Nazis.

Gabriel puts the restoration of the Madonna aside and travels to Munich where Stern lived and meets with the detective in charge of the investigation. As he inspects the apartment and the offensive graffiti left behind by the assassin, Gabriel realizes that the killer is a professional who has taken precautions to take all incriminating evidence from the house.

Gabriel further learns that Benjamin Stern had been writing a book before his untimely death; a book whose subject may be crucial to unlock the identity of his killer or killers and their motives. As it turns out, Stern had been working on a book relating the actions …