Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#22: The Oriental Wife (Evelyn Toynton)

My final book of 2014 was another installment in My Library Shelf project. The Oriental Wife was a book that was both engaging and confusing at the same time. The story begins with three young German children who find themselves dealing with the horrors of the 1930s. Ultimately, all three find themselves in the United States, but things do not turn out any smoother for them. It seems the book itself is a study of the impact of human loss and human cruelty.

The confusion came on several levels. First, there is the issue of the title. What in the world does the idea of an “oriental wife” have to do with anything in this story? There are references at the end of the novel to a wife of a Indo-Chinese businessman who leaves New York unexpectedly, but Toynton does not establish a clear connection between the figure and the rest of the story. My other issue with the book is its abrupt shifts and lack of continuity. Divided into three parts, the book is united by returning characters. However, the lives of these characters seem totally different than what was observed in the previous section. For instance, part 2 centers around the severe illness of Louisa and her apparent helplessness. By the time we begin part 3, Louisa is living in a boarding house where she requires little assistance for her disability and it is her ex-husband who is now sick with terminal cancer. While there is a certain amount of karma in this aspect of the story, the end of the book focuses on Louisa’s daughter to such a large degree that the idea of revenge is completely loss.

The writing had potential. I found myself thrust into the author’s world. It simply lacked development of plot. This is the only work by Toynton on my library shelf….and I don’t intend to seek out other works by this horribly confusing author.

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#21: Merry Christmas, Cowboy (Janet Dailey)

I could say that I was a little feverish while recovering from bronchitis when I selected this book. I could claim momentary insanity. The truth of the matter is that I just wanted a Christmas story to read. It wasn’t until I had completed the check out process at the library that I noticed the lovely sticker on the spine that indicated the novel was a romance. I read it. I want to maintain my honesty as a blogger, so here’s my public review.

Merry Christmas, Cowboy actually is based on a charming story line. Paula, a Denver police officer, volunteers at the Christmas House, a Victorian mansion that is lavishly decorated for the holidays. The Christmas House is run by Edith, an elderly woman who cares for her teenage grandson, Brandon. As the volunteers hustle to put things together for the opening of the Christmas House, a rugged cowboy assists with some carpentry and quickly catches Paula’s eye. Brandon becomes involved with some local thugs despite the warnings he receives from Edith, Paula, and Zach (our cowboy). When the Christmas House is robbed, Brandon and his “friends” are prime suspects. Will the cop catch the young man red-handed or is she simply overly suspicious of a good kid?

There’s no need to attempt to fool anyone. Merry Christmas, Cowboy is not high literature. Honestly, I don’t know that it can even be classified as “literature.” It’s a piece of fluff that passes the time without requiring the use of brain cells. The on-again, off-again romance between Paula and Zach was annoying and lacked depth. The robbery and eventual criminals could be clearly seen a mile away by a remotely intelligent reader. Thankfully, the romance was never overly graphic. The idea had potential, but needed the aid of a different author.

Now it’s time to move on to something a bit more interesting to read.

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#20: Takedown (Brad Thor)

How is it possible that I have missed Brad Thor’s work? This author is definitely one that I am excited to have discovered through My Shelf project!

Takedown features ex-SEAL Scot Harvath and a rag-tag group of discharged veterans in an unexpected situation. Terrorists have attacked New York City again. This time, they have targeted the city’s tunnels and bridges — essentially cutting the island of Manhattan off from the rest of the world. While first responders are busy rescuing victims, the terrorists continue their plot and create havoc at seemingly unrelated locations throughout the city. As Harvath and his team discover that the locations are actually sites in an ultra-secret government project, the importance of stopping the terrorists becomes more evident. Brad Thor’s novel is definitely a page-turning thriller that cannot be put down easily.

After reading Takedown, I learned that it is actually the 5th book in Thor’s series featuring the character of Scot Harvath. I was impressed that the novel stood alone so well, despite making subtle references to past plots (which I assume are told in the earlier novels). The novel was an easy read and very entertaining. I’m not sure that I will read the entire series, but Takedown‘s ending certainly left me with many questions and a classic cliff hanger that are drawing me in to read the next book in the series. For more information on Brad Thor and his work (including a new series that begins with the first book released in 2014), visit his website at To see books in the Scot Harvath series in order, here’s a convenient list from our friends at Mystery Sequels.

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