Lee Child/Personal

Lee Child

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Jack Reacher is maturing as Lee Child’s books increase in number.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however if you are looking for Reacher to continue being Reacher, breaking bones, throwing people out of airplanes as he did in Bad Luck and Trouble and fighting anything that moves you’re in for a bit of a disappointment.  I’ve been kind of prepared for his mellowing as I’ve read each of his books in succession.  I still long to see his violent side come out more again, but I think as with everyone we slow down with age.  Personal was NOT a bad book in the least.  The story starts with Reacher in Washington State in a Bus station.  He leafs through an Army newspaper left behind then finds himself embroiled in an international affair:

Attempted assassination of the French leader.
Then attempted assassination of several world leaders in London.


In London is where most of the action takes place, there are a few scuffles that Child puts Reacher through and of course, Reacher’s usual ubiquitous toothbrush and the fact that he has nothing but the clothes on his back.  These are traits that Reacher will carry with him to his grave.  Personal is the story of an army sniper who Reacher put away several years in the past.  The sniper is now out of prison and appears to be on a mission to take out several world leaders starting with France.  Reacher is called in because he has history with this sniper.  Hence the title.


Another new twist to the Reacher collection is Lee Child’s voice seems to have changed a bit with this novel especially but I noticed it a bit in his last book too:
Never Go Back.


He is becoming more descriptive.  Going into a bit more detail, not necessarily flowery, far from it as a matter of fact; but he is spending more time describing place and events then he has in the past.  I wonder if he is even aware of this?


I will continue reading his books as they publish because I’ve invested so much time in the character, but I do miss the old Jack Reacher.  The Jack Reacher from:
Bad Luck and Trouble and Persuader.


Those are the two quintessential Reacher books that should be on everyone’s reading list if you want to know the old Reacher.


Of the last four Reacher books:
The Affair
A Wanted Man
Never Go Back


I’d have to say that Never Go Back is probably my favorite Reacher of ALL time.  If you haven’t yet read this book, you’re missing out.  From a storytelling point of view you can’t get much better than this book.  If you are looking for typical Reacher then:
Bad Luck and Trouble and Persuader are the books to read.  Personal falls in the middle of the pack.  Not a bad read.  The book certainly held my interest.  As I said above, however, I STILL miss the Old Jack Reacher.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Dean Koontz

September was a wash.  Didn’t get around to writing my columns for September.  It’s the first time I missed the schedule and I apologize for that.  I’m going to a bi-weekly schedule.  These columns will be publishing now the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month to the best of my ability.


Today let’s talk about an old favorite of mine.


Dean Koontz
is an author I’ve read consistently in the past.  Haven’t read much of his recent fiction but I devoured is old fiction.

The Bad Place
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Each time Frank Pollard awakes from a night’s sleep something odd has happened that he can’t remember. What is happening to Frank?  Where does he go during the night that he can’t recall?




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Two genetically modified animals play a huge role in this thriller, one a collie named Einstein and one a dangerous hybrid must eventually cross paths but until that time arises, you’ll be in for one long day or night of page flipping.  I read this in two days.  Simply couldn’t put it down.  First Koontz book I read.


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Time travel and a young woman who come perilously close to jeopardy time and again if not for her own “guardian angel” who appears during lightning storms.  





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Six strangers are drawn to each by similar terrors they experience that may be linked to a time they all spent together in a Nevada hotel.  What is causing these memories and terrors to surface now?


I’ve read other books by Koontz as well.  These four continue to resonate however, even after over ten years.


Until next time…
Turn the page.




Into the Abyss

I finished Into the Abyss two weeks ago and I can recommend reading the book wholeheartedly.  What I found really fascinating about the book is the story AFTER the crash and rescue of the four survivors.  The crash was only part of the story.  What happened to each of the survivors after is what gave the book its meat.

I recognized JUST a bit of Into Thin Air, the book about the 1996 Mount Everest Tragedy  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is another nonfiction tragic adventure that anyone interested in reading this kind of book should definitely track down.


Into the Abyss is more than a plane crash story.  It’s a story of the friendship that develops with the survivors.  Each of the survivors carry scars from the crash, both physical and psychological and it’s the psychological scars that hurt one survivor more than any of the others.  I’m not going to tell you which one however.  You’ll have to read the book to discover that secret.


And trust me.  Once you pick this book up, you’ll be hard pressed to put it down until you’ve finished it.


I’m now reading the political book called Double Down Game Change 2012.  I’m about 100 pages in which is my point of no return.  I won’t be putting this book down either.  Will fill you in once I finish reading.


Until next time…
…Turn the page.


Reading Blockage

For about three months now I’ve experienced a blockage of epic proportions.  I’ve picked up approximately 15 books in that three month period and I haven’t felt much compunction to read much passed 60 pages in any of the books.  I felt as if my reading life may be over.  I can say that that is not the case.  I think I’ve discovered what the challenge is:


It’s fiction that is causing my blockage.  I’ve read two non fiction books in the past month now and am in the middle of my third book at the moment and I can FINALLY breath a sigh of relief.  I’d hate to think that I lost all love of reading as it has been such a part of my life for as long as I could pick up a book and understand the words I read.


I’m sure I will eventually find my way back to fiction but until I do, I am so happy to know that I haven’t lost my love of reading entirely.  The book I’m reading now is
Into the Abyss
by Carol Shaben

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Good Reads


Erik Vogel, A Canadian bush pilot is charged with carrying several passengers home on a cold October night.  The plane goes down and and only 4 of ten passengers survive.  I’ve read 80 pages so far and the book is quite well done.  I highly recommend picking it up.  I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.




Until next time…
Turn the page.


Upcoming Reads

Something a bit different today:
Here are two books that I haven’t yet read but are on my radar.  I’ve stopped reading fiction for awhile because I got a bit burned out on it which is why you’ve been seeing more non fiction reviews appearing at Scranton Page Turner.  I think I’m ready to try reading fiction again with this book.  The plot is one I’m comfortable with as I believe we all come back, as in reincarnation.

Life after Life
Kate Atkinson

This book delves into this topic a bit from what I read on the jacket and inner sleeve.  I have the book checked out and will fill you in as I start reading it, whether it holds my interest enough to keep reading.





Into the Abyss
Carol Shaben

This book came through our delivery service last week and I was immediately drawn to it.  I leafed through the pages and found I’d read about twenty pages

Four men, including the author’s politician father, the pilot, a cop, and a handcuffed criminal, fight to stay alive in the northern Alberta wilderness after surviving a commuter plane crash that killed six others.


As I’ve said previously here at Scranton Page Turner
I read everything.  Whatever catches my eye.


And this book caught my eye.  I placed a hold on it and am looking forward to doing more than simply leafing through the first twenty pages.  As with Life after Life, I will update you as I read the book.

Until next time…

Turn the page.


Clive Barker

Clive Barker has been a favorite writer of mine since I discovered Weaveworld in 1987.

Weaveworld is one of my favorite books of ALL time.  And it is one of the few books I’ve re-read.  In fact it became an annual ritual that at the end of EVERY school year while I attended Southern Connecticut State University that as a release I would pick that book up and read it.


I treasure Weaveworld to such a degree that I own multiple copies of the book.

–A signed UK first edition
–A hand corrected (Mr Barker’s own hand) proof
–Three paperbacks
–One held together by rubber bands, the book has been read do often.
–One trade Paperback
–One mass market paperback.


A warning about this book:
Weaveworld is EXTREMELY graphic and if you are concerned about graphic material this is not the book for you.


If you can look beyond the graphic nature of the book you’ll be in a for a thrill ride.  So what is Weaveworld about?

The Weaveworld is a magic carpet, but this carpet is unlike any other magic carpet you’ve ever come across.  There are beings who not quite human who have taken sacred places to them and woven them into this carpet to hide from something that has sought to destroy them for millennia.  A guardian chosen by them has stood watch over their carpet and now the last guardian has become sick and is dying.  What will happen to the carpet now?


I’ve mentioned Clive Barker previously in Scranton Page Turner Teen Fiction column.  He has written many other books and readers may be turned off by him as they consider him a “horror” writer.


He is NOT!


His extensive catalogue includes several favorites:
Teen Books:
The Abarat Series

Four books about a young girl who travels to a mystical archipelago of thirteen islands.  She thinks she’s been there before but cannot recall.


The Thief of Always
A young adult fable.


This is his most personal book as it discusses his coming out.  It’s the one book I felt he HAD to write as it was probably very cathartic for him.  Sacrament is more than about coming out, however.  It’s a call to action to come together and save what’s left of this planet.  You’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean.  Weaveworld also has that as a theme as those not quite humans I discussed are saving sacred places to them.  Now that I consider Mr Barker’s work more in depth I realize that his stories return to that theme again and again.


As with my own writing when I wrote fiction, dark fantasy is merely a vehicle to get the point across.  It’s why I’m so adamant about readers reading EVERYTHING.  If you can look beyond the genre and see the point of a particular story, you’ll come to enjoy every genre of fiction and non fiction.


Mr Barker simply uses his genre to express his feelings.  I’ve read everything has written other than his latest book:
Mr. B. Gone is on my list.  I just haven’t gotten to it yet.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Ben Bova


Ben Bova has been writing Science Fiction for many years.  I discovered him in the early 1990s when I picked one of his books in the Planet series:
This was the first book I read by Bova and the first in the series.  He has since written Planet books:


He has written sequels to several of the of these.  In my opinion the best in this series is Mars.  I have yet to read any of the sequels.  I’ve pretty much stopped reading sequels, because I don’t think you can ever go back and recreate an experience.


That doesn’t mean anyone else should stop reading them.  It’s just how I feel.


I’ve also read books by Ben Bova outside is Planet series and he hasn’t disappointed yet.  See? SF/Fantasy is my favorite genre as anyone who has been following Scranton Page Turner should be aware of.


Ben Bova is one of the masters of this field and if you want to dip your toes into the wide array of the genre I couldn’t think of a better place to start.  If you’re intimidated by SF or if it isn’t something you think you’d like then pick up one of his non fiction books.


Might I recommend his 2001 book called:
The Story of Light


Give me a choice of several authors I could read and Mr. Bova would certainly make that list.  Check him out.  I won’t steer you wrong.  I think you’ll find him an enjoyable read.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Suzanne Palmieri

What draws me to a particular book?  That’s a challenging question to answer as I read so many books a year.  Science Fiction and Fantasy are still and I think always will be my favorite genre.  Magic Realism is an extremely close second.  Authors such as as Jonathan Carroll and Alice Hoffman fall into that category.  There is just enough fantastical magic in those books to keep me turning the pages.  Last summer I discovered a third author who has made the list and moved up a notch in my list of favorite authors.


I met Suzanne Palmieri on Google+ where she has a profile last year after reading her debut:
The Witch of Little Italy.

I felt an instant connection to that book and if you want to see how strong that connection is I recommend reading my column at Wisdom and Life about The Witch of Little Italy.






That book and her second book:
The Witch of Belladonna Bay


has magic, witches, and just a bit of the paranormal in them to keep a reader looking for that type of fiction turning the pages.  I can see the gradual improvement in Suzanne’s style with Belladonna Bay. She’s more confident in writing about the magic that permeates our world, the magic that is all around us every day.


You know that Magic and the Divine are around us all the time, don’t you?  And it isn’t just a select few that feel it.  We can all find that magic within us if we only work on cultivating it.




Suzanne has another hit with her Belladonna Bay.  If you haven’t discovered her yet, run!  Don’t walk to find her books.  You won’t be disappointed.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Reading Lists

Working at my public library in Madison, Connecticut, I’ve made many many friends who relish books as much as I do.  One longtime reader of another blog I maintain, Lisa R. and I were discussing books last week.  She asked me if I always had a love for reading.  Honestly when I went to high school, you couldn’t pay me to read.  And I told this to Lisa.  I understand some of you may take umbrage with what I’m about to say, but I can say without hesitation the reason I didn’t want to read in middle school and high school is the books we were given to read.


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Let’s be honest, many students in the primary school system aren’t mature enough to understand the symbolism in the books they are required to read:
The Scarlet Letter
Grapes of Wrath
Lost Horizon

These are just three books that are on many reading lists.  I read all three of these in high school, and I found them completely dull, and without any style.  I’m sure many students would agree.  I didn’t understand what these books were attempting to put forth.


Now some thirty years after high school I’ve gone back and re-read The Scarlet Letter and Lost Horizon multiple times and I adore them.  I see the books in a much different light now.  I understand the symbolism.


Grapes of Wrath?  Still haven’t been able to get passed 50 pages in that book.  However I’ve read just about every other book by Steinbeck.

Cannery Row is my favorite


Hemingway is another classic reading list book.
The Old Man and the Sea was a HUGE favorite of mine when I read the book in the eighth grade.  Hemingway became the exception.  And I devoured every book he published.  My favorite?  That’s easy:
The Sun also Rises


Primary School Reading Lists?
While they have their place, I think we should reconsider the books being placed on those lists.  After all the reason behind those lists is to encourage reading, correct?  Some of the books on standard reading lists need to be refreshed.


That’s my two cents for what it’s worth.


Until next time…
Turn the page.


Quantum Science

As everyone following Scranton Page Turner knows, my reading taste is quite eclectic.  Recently, thanks to a friend of mine I’ve been exploring Quantum Science.  Two books I’ve read in April have really been amazing and I can heartily recommend them.


Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn
Amanda Gefter
Trespassing Einstein

The author, Amanda Gefter had a love of science instilled in her from an early age by her Dad.  Now a young woman, she works for a Manhattan magazine and she comes across a notice of a physics symposium taking place in New Jersey.  Amanda sees this as an opportunity to question some of the worlds well known physicists.  She and her Dad decide to “crash” the symposium as reporters.


What is completely fascinating about this book and its author is that she is “learning as she goes.”  The other thing I found surprising is that I actually understand what Ms, Gefter is writing.  Granted she IS writing for the lay person, however some of what she says can only be understood if you have a passing knowledge of science.  This is one fine book and I’m so happy it was suggested to me.  Check it out.  Think you may get something out of it.

Parallel Worlds
Michio Kaku
Parallel Worlds

I’ve read about four chapters from Parallel Worlds and I can give a HUGE thumbs up to this book already having only read a small sample.  Kaku has several other books that are on my radar now.  Hyperspace being one of them.  I honestly don’t know what influences me to become fascinated by a particular genre of book but at the moment I’m completely engulfed by Quantum Science.  It’s interesting reading these two books back to back as many of the same terms are used.  I think it’s a welcome choice to read them one after the other.  I don’t think there is any particular reason to read one first as they both discuss similar topics.


I can’t recommend these two books highly enough.


Until next time…
Turn the page.