Friday, April 01, 2011

Letterbox Look-see (Mar 2011, Part II)

Happy April Fools' Day everyone! No pinching or punching here, just the second installment of books that I received in March:

The Russian Renaissance by Ian Kharitonov

Constantine can no longer hide in Europe. As he discovers a century-old secret, he must flee back to Moscow, chased by assassins.

Only one man can save him. Eugene Sokolov: an officer in the world's most elite rescue unit, a martial arts legend… and Constantine's brother.

They face an enemy unlike any other. In a game run by a KGB spymaster, the fate of Russia will depend on their survival.

THE RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE has won the Adventure Writer's Grandmaster Award from the Clive Cussler Collector's Society.

Rubies of the Viper by Martha Marks

When her brother is murdered in first-century Rome, Theodosia Varro inherits the family estate, going from poverty and isolation to great wealth and a prestigious position in society. Unfortunately, she lives in a time and a place that deny women of her class the very things she most desires: personal freedom and self-determination. Only by identifying her brother's killer can she feel safe, yet her efforts take her in quite the opposite direction. After her own actions and the scheming of others lead to catastrophe, Theodosia struggles to survive and recover what matters most in her life.

Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire by Marc Johnson

For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace.

Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.

Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands.

Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power—power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.

In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn...

Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red by Jacqueline T. Lynch

In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, a museum administrator, returns home from work early to find her artist husband having an affair with another woman. Juliet slips unseen back to her office, where she meets an intruder. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison for a museum robbery, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter. Since Juliet left her apartment, her husband has been murdered. She is the prime suspect, and Elmer is her only alibi.

Juliet, the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison, learn to rely on each other. Juliet is Elmer’s guide to a post-world that has changed so much since he entered prison. He feels guilty for having missed his daughter’s childhood, for being safe when friends were killed in World War II, and is bewildered over atomic energy, Modern Art, ballpoint pens, and frozen orange juice concentrate.

Juliet is not sure she believes Elmer’s story. Elmer is not sure she didn’t kill her husband. They are compelled to work together, dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.

The End Is Near by Harry Ramble

On his forty-fifth birthday, as his hostages slept and state police prepared to take him by force, Nathan Huffnagle placed the cold circle of a shotgun barrel beneath his chin and gripped the trigger. The end was near. Or so he believed.

His last act—a proper revenge upon his childhood nemesis, Randy Trent—had deteriorated into a farcical hostage standoff beset by a media circus, a combustible romantic rivalry among his captives, and the undeniable reality that Randy Trent, a vicious thug and bully twenty-five years before, had grown up to become a man too humble, too good, too exasperatingly decent to kill.

Nathan pulled the trigger. And his life began again.

Weeks later, Nathan wakes in a hospital bed to a new assignment, delivered to him by a series of seemingly angelic visitors. Nathan must write a new suicide journal on the backs of the pages of a court transcript of his previous suicide journal. And this time, he must tell the truth, the painful and possibly liberating truths he was forced to confront about himself during the hostage situation.

Is Nathan up to the task? Or is he losing what’s left of his mind? Will his search for the truth grant him the death he seeks? Or a new lease on life? THE END IS NEAR consists of both of Nathan’s journals, presented in alternating entries, each journal commenting wryly on the other, each generating its own suspense, and each leading to a surprising conclusion. Infused with humor and sadness, restless longing and regret, flights of fantasy and the sheer damnable contrariness of real life, THE END IS NEAR is a tale of redemption like none you’ve read before.

Over Easy by Beth Ellyn, illustrated by Scott Finkelstein

Adam Spiegel is exactly what the Culinary Channel needs: a chef without a clue how to cook. The hilarious instructional show becomes an overnight sensation, but it’s Adam’s son, fifteen-year-old Doug, who emerges as the real star of Over Easy. It doesn’t take viewers long to see who has the talent in the family, and Doug’s sheepish boy-next-door persona and good looks throw him head-first into a media (and fan) frenzy he never asked for. Can Doug's long-time friendship with Dana London (intern for The Good Evening Show) survive? Will Dana's new intern friends be enough for her?

The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

A year has passed since the Paladin Nation was exposed to the public. Their mission is still to protect humanity from whatever may threaten them. Previously, it was the human duplications, but now that they've been extinguished their biggest challenge is dealing with the complications of public image.

Socket Greeny, now 17 years old, has been a Paladin cadet for the past year and is nearing the final test. But that's the least of his problems. He's trying to live two lives: one as a superhero while hanging onto his normal life. While fearlessly dealing with his masochistic trainer, he's trying to salvage his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend back home. But Socket's greatest challenge is to find his true enemy. He discovers that fear has many faces.


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