Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
(Little, Brown and Co., 2011, 364 pages)
The setting is Washington, D.C. and the children of the President have just been abducted. Detective Alex Cross is assigned to the case, but when the FBI are brought in someone up the ranks doesn’t want to share the limelight with Alex and gets jurisdiction of the case. In addition to being a detective, Alex leads a normal family life with his two children, grandmother, and housekeeper. The First Lady enlists Alex’s support and gets him reassigned to the case, knowing that he once rescued his son from a similar fate. The abductor remains elusive, expertly keeping the children drugged and hidden. He soon develops an infatuation with Alex and is determined to kill Alex as well as the children until Alex turns the tables on him.
You can also check out Gwen’s review of this title!
Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis
(Little, Brown and Co., 2012, 424 pages)
Abbie Elliot and her three best friends go to Monte Carlo for the trip of a lifetime, not knowing that their lives will change forever. Four married women venture off without their husbands to bask in the sun and excitement in the land of the rich and famous. Little do they know that their husbands are lurking in the background. They go off with some interesting guys for a private party on a yacht only to find the next morning that one of the guys has been murdered. The French police swoop down on them and transport the women into France where they stand trial and are imprisoned. All but Abbie Elliott are willing to take pleas to cut their jail time, but in the end Abbie’s tenacity and wiliness to prove her innocence wins out.
You can also check out Gwen’s review of this title!
The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
(Hogarth, 2014, 500 pages)
This was something of an impulse read for me. It was on my radar from seeing it mentioned/reviewed in a number of different places, but I wasn’t actively setting out to pick up The Book of Strange New Things. The title just happened to show up as “available” while I was looking into selecting my next eBook. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I became invested in the novel.
Set in an indeterminate future Peter has been selected to go into space to serve as the minister for an alien race on another planet known as Oasis. He leaves behind his wife, Bea, and literally finds himself in a new world where nothing is familiar. Peter’s interaction with the Oasans is far from what he ever could have expected. Those that want to hear from him and “The Book of Strange New Things” (how they refer to the Bible) welcome him with eagerness and open arms. While Peter works among them and adapts to his new reality, Bea is back home in a world that seems to be experiencing the end of days.
Peter and Bea are able to communicate via a very basic email system and as time passes the reality of how different their situations are becomes more and more apparent. As Peter quickly finds himself adapting to life as a religious leader for the Oasans, Bea is suffering and struggling with her faith.
The Book of Strange New Things definitely held my attention and had me eager to pick the book back up whenever I set it down. Despite its length it’s a quick read. And while there is obviously a science fiction element to the book (space travel, aliens, etc.) it doesn’t necessarily feel like you’re reading science fiction, per se. That could be because of the religious element, I’m not sure. Regardless, I’m glad I picked this book up. If you’re looking for something different I would recommend giving this book a try.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2014, 410 pages)
There’s no question that this book sounds like it would be an interesting read. Lepore presents the truth behind Wonder Woman’s creation – not just how the comic came to be, but the unique circumstances of her creator(s). I’d read two of Lepore’s previous titles (Book of Ages and The Mansion of Happiness) and came away with some unique insights so I had an idea of what kind of book to expect. That being said, Lepore’s writing style leaves something to be desired. While she makes “hidden” history accessible, she isn’t necessarily engaging in her writing style. I think it might be that she can allow herself to get bogged down in some of the details that she uncovers in her research.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman offers up a biography of the comic’s primary creator, Charles Moulten Marston, while also shining a light on the women who inspired him. He was a unique man who was ahead of his time in his appreciation and support for women. He also had a unique family life that existed outside the norm for most American households.
In addition to providing the Wonder Woman backstory, Lepore provides a history of the feminist movement in America. If you’re a fan of comics (especially Wonder Woman), history, and/or enjoy reading about the progress of women’s rights in America this would be a book that would most likely have some appeal for you.
Lazarus Vol. 3: Conclave by Greg Rucka; illustrated by Michael Lark
(Image Comics, 2015, 144 pages)
This third volume in the Lazarus graphic novel series brings more families and characters to the plot. Forever Carlyle is the Lazarus, or protector, of the Carlyle family. As she carries out the orders of her father, she questions whether she is a blood member of this powerful family. But she is loyal and determined to do whatever her father asks, including kill her brother Jonah, who has betrayed the family. In this volume, the sixteen ruling families and their Lazari come together to solve a dispute between the Carlyle and Hock families which involves Carlyle brother, Jonah. The book ends in a cliffhanger–the possible death of a major character–so I’m looking forward to volume 4 (and trying to avoid reading individual issues until it comes out)! As with the other volumes, the story by Greg Rucka is gripping, and the artwork by Michael Lark, beautiful.
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
(Candlewick Press, 2014, 346 pages)
There’s a new librarian at Cynthia and Annie’s high school, and he’s super good-looking. When Annie starts to fall for Mr. Gabriel, Cynthia senses that something isn’t right about this librarian. And she’s right—he’s a demon. While Cynthia deals with her best friend becoming more and more strange and aloof as she spends time with Mr. Gabriel, she is also working hard leading the tech team for the school’s musical, Sweeney Todd, about a demon barber who kills his clients with a sharp razor as they wait for a close shave. With the assistance of Ryan, Cynthia’s long-time crush who’s playing Sweeney in the musical, Cynthia has to find a way to get Annie out of the grasp of the evil Mr. Gabriel, who has already likely killed a couple of teachers who got in his way.
The audio version of this young adult novel kept me on the edge of my seat (literally) and looking forward to the next time I was in the car to listen to it. It was a nice combination of horror, humor, and all the normal things teenagers experience with their teachers and friends (well, maybe not totally normal). Other reviewers have compared it to the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’ll have to check out next.
The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church by Rousas John Rushdoony
(P&R Publishing, 1968, 233 pages)
In the final chapter of The Foundations of Social Order Rushdoony, the obscure but influential Presbyterian theologian and political thinker, confidently declares that “Every social order rests on a creed, on a concept of life and law, and represents a religion in action” (219). For Rushdoony, the state is not and cannot be organized according to a neutral set of values. The state makes inherently religious claims on its population. Conversely, religious commitments include inherently political and legal implications. In this study, Rushdoony provides a reading of the early Christian councils and the creeds they produced in an attempt to reveal the basic assumptions behind political order in the West.
There are significant problems with Rushdoony’s reading of the councils. Primarily, this reading is anachronistic in the way that it projects back into the creeds an affirmation of a stringently libertarian and anti-statist understanding of the nature of liberty and the political power. Rushdoony believes that the creeds’ affirmation of the Christian shape of history is a primary influence on the shaping of Western political order, and that “Christian creedalism is thus basic to Western activism, constitutionalism, and hope concerning history” (8). The broad point is surely correct, but Rushdoony seems to read the early conflicts between Christians and the Roman Empire as simply equivalent to the conflicts between political conservatives and progressives in the twentieth century. His recognition of the political nature of the early creeds is helpful, but his commandeering of this point to support radically libertarian ideas about the nature of private property, liberty, and the causes of poverty are pretty appalling.
Rushdoony’s role in the development of the Religious Right has recently been chronicled in Michael McVicar’s Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism. While he is an obscure figure, Rushdoony’s widespread, if indirect, influence in conservative political circles is becoming recognized. The Foundations of Social Order is an early work, written before he formulated his notorious proposals for the implementation of Old Testament case laws in civil legislation. It is a fascinating example of how political ideology can warp one’s reading of religious texts.