sábado, 17 de agosto de 2013

Ricochet - Sandra Brown

A great action book. Good story with an addicting beginning, ongoing middle and a very clever (and good) end. At the beginning of the book most everything is a big mystery and loads of question marks are all over your head as you try to find out what's going on. Other than knowing who is the good guy you aren't really sure about all the rest - the story takes its twists and turns at times making you believe you figured it out and at other times just confusing you even more. In my opinion, just the fact that such an intriguing book was written by a woman makes me like this book a few notches even more - and so despite it all it's a fantastic story which was very well thought out and written. If you are hoping to read something to just "chill" and get a good plot running in your head (and you trying to piece all the puzzle of this story as well) then this a good book as any!

Book Review: 

When Detective Sergeant Duncan Hatcher is summoned to the home of Judge Cato Laird in the middle of the night to investigate a fatal shooting, he knows that discretion and kid-glove treatment are the keys to staying in the judge's good graces and keeping his job.

At first glance, the case appears open-and-shut: Elise, the judge's trophy wife, interrupted a burglary in progress and killed the intruder in self-defense. But Duncan is immediately suspicious of Elise's innocent act. His gut feeling is that her account of the shooting is only partially true -- and it's the parts she's leaving out that bother him.

Determined to learn the dead man's connection to the Lairds and get at the truth, Duncan investigates further and quickly finds his career, as well as his integrity, in jeopardy -- because he can't deny his increasing attraction to Elise Laird, even if she is a married woman, a proven liar, and a murder suspect.

When Elise seeks Duncan out privately and makes an incredible allegation, he initially dismisses it as the manipulative lie of a guilty woman. But what if she's telling the truth? Then that single fatal gunshot at her home takes on even more sinister significance, possibly involving Duncan's nemesis, the brutal crime lord Robert Savich.

And then Elise goes missing . . .
Ricochet's plot twists -- as only Sandra Brown can write them -- and palpable suspense combine to create this gripping thriller, in which a decent cop's worst enemy may be his own conscience, and trusting the wrong person could mean the difference between life and death.

terça-feira, 6 de agosto de 2013

Even Silence Has An End - Ingrid Betancourt

Yes, even silence has an end for a woman held captive for almost seven years by the Colombian Guerrilla.
Ingrid Betancourt was one of the many political prisoners which the FARC captured and kept in the Colombian jungle so they could use as a means of exchange for FARC prisoners.
After many years of loneliness, solitude, humiliations, sickness, chains and pain she was finally freed by the Colombian army in the "Jaque Operation" (Jaque meaning checkmate in French).
I have read many many good books throughout my young and short 23 years of age, but once you discover yourself to be an avid book reader - reading at least one book per week - you can easily see the difference between a mediocre, good and excellent book. This book is easily rated as excellent. 
Ingrid enters her inner being and uncovers her soul to the reader. She makes you understand her suffering, inhuman living conditions and the tortures of her soul. Yet despite through it all she never looses contact with the human soul, the desire to live, the audacity to escape, the love to help her fellow prisoner and the courage to defy those whom no one else had the courage to stand up to. 
I am adding bellow a great book review I found which explains this book even better and more thoroughly.

Book Review:

Ingrid Betancourt was held in the jungle for six years. This picture was released in 2007. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Before I read Ingrid Betancourt's harrowing memoir, I wrongly assumed many things about the Franco-Colombian politician who endured six gruesome years in captivity in the Amazon jungle at the hands of Farc guerrillas.
I thought, pre-capture by the Marxist-Leninist insurgents, that Betancourt was a spoilt product of the bourgeoisie. I believed her capture was the result of bad judgment. I assumed she had ventured with a team from her political party, Oxygen Green, into a dangerous area known for ambushes, because she was seeking publicity for her presidential campaign.
In France, where I live, Betancourt became a cause célèbre. I often wondered why less attractive hostages were left to rot while the photogenic Ingrid was paraded with abandon. In fact, Betancourt is a product of privilege. She had grown up in Paris the daughter of a diplomat and a former beauty queen-turned-senator. She was used to ordering around her staff and having her breakfast brought to her on a tray. In Colombia, where the divisions between rich and poor are so vast, it is no secret she used her elite status to rise in politics.
But I had many things wrong. First off, Betancourt was not kidnapped out of naïveté. She took the trip to San Vicente – the centre of the demilitarised zone that was created as a safe haven for the Farc – with a wary heart. She travelled there two days after peace talks, believing she would have heavy security and that she and her team would be safe. But at the last moment, her detail was taken away from her. Despite her intuition telling her otherwise, she decided to press on with her trip to the Farc area in an old pickup truck with limited protection. She was soon ambushed. The minute she saw their rubber boots – a sign of the guerrillas who spend most of their time marching deep in the jungle – she knew she was done for.
What Betancourt experiences in the jungle is soul-destroying. She lives under the most painful conditions physically – shackled in chains; starved; beaten; attacked by armies of red ants, bees, not to mention the tarantulas, "shiny-backed beetles", anacondas, bears, jaguars and wild boar that lurk outside the various camps where she was held. She was moved often, leaving behind the few precious items to which she had grown attached.
She witnesses the sexism and the promiscuity of the Farc; but also how they tried to strip away her own dignity because she was a prisoner, and a female one at that. When she goes to bathe in the river, she is watched by the guerrillas who taunt her, calling her an old hag. Early on, she decides: "I had just lost my freedom, but I was not willing to surrender my identity."
Spiritually it is even more gruelling. "The days seemed endless," she writes. "Stretching cruelly and slowly between anguish and boredom." She yearns for her children, Mélanie and Lorenzo, who grow older without her with each day she spends in the jungle.
She struggles not to lose hope and keeps up her concentration by learning to weave, giving French lessons, reading her Bible and dictionary, and exercising. But she sees that she is Sisyphus pushing a sliding boulder uphill. When the realisation comes that she might never be released, she slumps into a dark and isolated place.
Her greatest fear is that she will lose her faith that she will be released. At first, she believes it is a matter of weeks. At first, it is inconceivable to her that she will be in the jungle more than a month. Than she starts counting Christmases. Six pass before she will be free.
By the time Ingrid gets out, her children, whom she last saw as teenagers, are now adults. Her mother is an old woman. Her father, whom she promised to come back to, is dead. Her teeth have rotted. But she has survived.
The most interesting part of Betancourt's book is her relationship with her fellow captives, and the transformation of her own character. She learns that by being stubborn – she repeatedly tries to escape, despite the severe beatings and shackling afterwards – she keeps her identity.
She befriends some of her jailers, though she jokes that she is certainly not suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The interaction between her fellow prisoners is also interesting. The strangest is the tale of Clara, one of her aides who spends her time in captivity freaking out about her biological clock and succeeds in getting pregnant by one of the commanders (the baby –a boy– is born in the jungle but his arm is broken when he is pulled roughly out of her).
Betancourt weaves the book in and out of her six years, concentrating on the cast of characters. First, there are the prisoners: her beloved Lucho who suffers from diabetes and has no insulin in the jungle; Gloria who was captured with her two sons, but then brutally separated from them; three colourful Americans who arrive and squash into their camp causing havoc; and various Colombians. And she herself is hardly popular: her fellow prisoners are constantly voting to drive her out of their huts.
She describes how she learns to "trust no one" and how they fight viciously over talcum powder, chickens' heads and stolen radios to listen to messages that their families may or may not send to them. She describes the fear, the jealousy, the basic instinct to survive and the lengths one will go to in order to do that.
Then there are the guerrillas. She befriends some of the commanders and sub-commanders, trying to understand their logic, trying to tell them that they will never bring peace to Colombia through violence. At times, the Farc almost seem like teenagers, these agrarian Marxists who bash her over the head with their AK-47s if she gets out of line, then playfully jump one another in the bushes and grow jealous over girlfriends (or "associates" in Farc jargon). Then, she exposes the inconsistency and hypocrisy of their beliefs.
Even Silence Has an End – a line from a Pablo Neruda poem – has a triumphant ending, because we know from those television images that Ingrid is finally released from her torment in 2008. She finds on the other side of the jungle her mother, her sister, her children "my sun, my moon and my stars".
Throughout her ordeal, she is tormented by what she might feel when she finally is released. But she falls to her knees (there are lots of religious overtones here) and realises that after all that she had endured, she was still intact. The guerrillas had not gotten the best of her. "There was nothing left in me," she writes, "but love."
Janine di Giovanni is contributing editor of Vanity Fair and author of the forthcoming Ghosts by Daylight (Bloomsbury)