Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The White Road by John Connolly

In this installment of the Charlie Parker series, Parker is headed to Charleston, SC, where racism runs deep, murders from long ago are coming back to haunt those involved, vengeance is being doled out by those who feel it's their duty, and blood feuds are running deep.

Parker gets a call from an old friend of his who is now working as a private attorney in Charleston. He has taken on the case of Atys Jones, a young black man who is accused of the murder of his rich white girlfriend. Parker agrees to help him out, and uncovers long buried secrets, long buried murders, while the players involved are being exterminated one by one and all involved are being haunted by the spectre of a ghostly woman in white, burned beyond recognition and by a black car waiting for a passenger who never comes. Soon all will face a final reckoning on a place called The White Road.

I am really enjoying this series, and I am not a fan of series books. I like how in each book things you thought were going to be left unresolved come back into the spotlight throughout the series and you found out more information. If you plan on reading these, I recommend starting with the first one for this reason or you will get lost.

5 stars

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

OK, totally not something I would have normally read, but it was given to me as a Christmas present from my 80 year old aunt who obviously does not know about my book tastes. Now that that is out of the way....

Lured by a brochure his doctor gives him after informing him that his emphysema has left him with scarcely a year to live, 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell abandons wintry Chicago for Lost River, Ala., where he believes he'll be spending his last Christmas. Bestselling author Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes; Standing in the Rainbow) makes this down-home story about good neighbors and the power of love sparkle with wit and humor, as she tells of Oswald's new life in a town with one grocery store and a resident cardinal (or redbird, as the natives call it). Frances Cleverdon, one of four widows and three single women in town, hopes to fix him up with her sister, Mildred—if only Mildred wouldn't keep dying her hair outrageous colors every few days. The quirky story takes a heartwarming turn when Frances and Oswald become involved in the life of Patsy Casey, an abandoned young girl with a crippled leg. As Christmas approaches, the townspeople and neighboring communities—even the Creoles, whose long-standing feud with everybody else keeps them on the other side of the river—rally round shy, sweet Patsy. Flagg is a gifted storyteller who knows how to tug at readers' heartstrings, winding up her satisfying holiday tale with the requisite Christmas miracle.

Cute enough story, very quick easy read. Kind of predictable at times, but enjoyable on the whole.

4 stars

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

The mystery of King Tut, the teenage boy King, deepened slowly, one sandstorm and deluge at a time. Tut lay alone, year after year, century after century, as if waiting for the day when some explorer would scrape off those layers of dirt and limestone. And, perhaps, unearth the secrets of his life and untimely death.

I have always been fascinated with Egypt and everything about it so I was really looking forward to reading this. While it goes into an attempt at solving the mystery of what happened to King Tut, no one will ever know for sure. Patterson writes what he thinks happened, although I am not sure I agree with his entire theory. The story is mostly about Howard Carter, the Egyptologist who found Tut's tomb. If you are looking for a story about ancient Egypt and the life and, perhaps, murder of Tut, I would look elsewhere. That plays a very small part in the whole scheme.

3 stars

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top Ten Books of 2009

Here are my top 10 picks for 2009:

  1. Acid Row by Minnette Walters
  2. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex
  3. Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
  4. Whiteout by Ken Follett
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  6. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
  7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  8. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  9. Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith
  10. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Best Debut - Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith

Best Series - Charlie Parker books by John Connolly

Best Classic - Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Best Book to Lose Yourself In - The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Best Nonfiction - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Biggest Disappointment - Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

Best Suspense Book - Whiteout by Ken Follett

Best Historical Fiction - Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

Best Vacation Book - The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Genre I really got into this year after a very long, disappointing hiatus: mystery/thriller/suspense. Every one I had read for a long time was such a disappointment that I stopped reading them, but I read quite a few this year that introduced me to new authors, new series, and got me reading and enjoying the genre again.

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

In this third installment of the Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan story, Archie is in a psychiatric hospital due to his last run in with the Beauty Killer when people at a rest stop discover a spleen and eyeballs in a rest stop. His longtime partner, Henry Sobol is called in, and in the next few days a head is discovered on a hillside missing it's eyes also. Sobol and others think Gretchen Lowell has started killing again and he goes to see Archie. After a series of events in the hospital, along with the murder of another patient Archie had tried to help and an accomplice disguised as an orderly, Archie checks himself out of the hospital to help Sobol.
Susan Ward, journalist, not reporter, for the Herald, has been trying to talk to Archie for help writing her book about America's fascination with the Beauty Killer. There are now Beauty Killer tours, t-shirt are sold that say "Free Gretchen", she is all over every newspaper and magazine in the country, you can even get a Gretchen Lowell manicure. Susan, who has been emailing Gretchen Lowell fan sites, receives an anonymous call telling her if she wants to write her book, she should go to a certain address where she will find a body. Susan goes, finds a dilapidated house, with a body in it who is missing it's spleen.
Susan and Archie are then drawn into trying to figure out what is going on; is Gretchen killing again or is one of the fan sites killing people in her style to get her attention? When Gretchen starts contacting Archie, things become a whirlwind that no one could have predicted.
I loved the first book of this series but I wasn't too impressed with the second one. This one I am on the fence about. I read it in 2 days, but I didn't think the story was that great compared to the first one. I still love the characters and how they interact with each other, but to me, this installment seemed kind of thrown together and rushed to make the way for the next book. The ending isn't very satisfying, since you don't really know anymore than when you started the book. Worth the read if you have read the previous two, but I am really hoping the next gets back to the great style of the first one.

3 stars

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Killing Kind by John Connolly

When the discovery of a mass grave in northern Maine reveals the grim truth behind the disappearance of a religious community, Charlie Parker is drawn into a violent conflict with a group of zealots intent on tracking down a relic that could link them to the slaughter. Haunted by the ghost of a small boy and tormented by the demonic killer known as Mr. Pudd, Parker is forced to fight for his lover, his friends......and his very soul.

This is the third installment in the Charlie Parker series. Not one of the best though. The story felt pretty rushed to me, with the fate of characters from the previous two books decided rather abruptly and with little fanfare in my opinion. The constant mention of the honeycomb world, the origin of the Golem, and how the Traveling Man figured into the story are still lost on me. It was an ok read, however I am hoping the rest are better.

3 stars

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

This was pretty entertaining, which surprised me. I had tried to read the book before but could never get with it, so the audio was perfect for me. The dialogue had me laughing out loud at times and I really enjoyed all the stories around King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. My first audio book too. I only give it 3 stars because there were times I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but I think that was due to the person narrating it speaking in such soft tones.

3 stars
audio book

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on the barren island, despite having been kept in a locked, guarded cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, sinister shades - with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal counter moves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

Very interesting story, got me out of my book funk and had me reading nonstop, but the ending was a bit of a let down I think. I figured it out halfway through, and the whole thing, looking back at it once finished, was pretty depressing. Loved the back drop of Shutter Island, very creepy and menacing. The whole story has a very, menacing and unnerving undertone. There is something holding me back from giving it 5 stars but I can't but my finger on what it is. Maybe the sadness of it, I don't know. Definitely worth the read though.

4 stars

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas

Fifteen years ago troubled teenager Irene Dos Santos went missing in the lush Venezuelan rain forest. Her best friend, Lily, was found nearby, semiconscious, with no memory of what had happened. Now, years later, as she prepares to give birth to her first child, Lily has a vision of Irene. Whether it's a memory, a dream, or a ghost Lily can't be sure, but she is finally ready to uncover the truth about what happened that fateful day.

But before the quest can begin, Lily slips and falls. Confined to her bed, she is surrounded by her family and closest friends, and each offers prayers and a personal story to guide the baby's spirit safely into the world. What emerges over the next nine nights is a vivid portrait of Venezuela during a time of revolution and uncertainty - and the unraveling of the mystery behind Irene Dos Santos.

The above is the synopsis on the back of the book. Lily never has a vision of Irene, she finds a letter she had written to her when they were teenagers. It does offer a vivid portrait of Venezuela, if you can keep up with all the different characters that come into play and remember all of them throughout. There is no unraveling the mystery of Irene, and as to Lily being found nearby when Irene goes missing, semiconscious, is in fact that she is found in a hammock half asleep.

I read this in one day and kept hoping for a big revelation but this was a complete let down. Once you find out about Irene at the end and find out the truth about the rest of the characters I felt immensely cheated.

1 star

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Drood by Dan Simmons

Charles Dickens, along with his mistress and her mother, were on board a train in the 1800's when there was a major accident. The car carrying Dickens' and his company was the only first class car not to derail. Dickens climbed out and went down below to help the dead and dying. As he was headed down he met another man going to help. This man's name was Drood. He was hideously deformed and as Dickens went around trying to help where he could, he noticed that everyone Drood went to help immediately died. He becomes obsessed with this creature named Drood, and drags his good friend and fellow author Wilkie Collins, to abandoned graveyards, the slums of London and into crypts themselves in search of the truth.

Well, I am still not too sure what I think about this one. It was interesting enough, the character of Drood was fascinating, but I really wish he would have made more appearances. His lisping, hissing speech gave me the creeps. Even though the story is about Dickens and Collins search for the truth surrounding Drood, it is more about their friendship, their rivalry, and their jealousy of one another, which drives one (or both?) to murder. I was hoping for a huge climax, but by the time I was about 30 pages from the end, I started skimming because I just didn't care anymore. Simmons definitely has a way with words, but it is too wordy at times. I would skip entire pages with long descriptions of things that made no difference to the story whatsoever.

I am a big fan of historical fiction and historical mysteries, but I think all in all this fell very short for me. I wanted more Drood, more nights in the tombs; not ridiculous jealousy to the point of being adolescent, detailed descriptions of opium addiction, and pointless side stories like the marriage of Dickens daughter Kate to Collins brother Charlie.

It was good, but if you are looking for an amazing historical fiction mystery, look elsewhere.

3 stars

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson

Interesting enough story about a young man in England who becomes the keeper of two elephants bought by his master. The elephants had me laughing out loud. They are like mischievous children. Good enough read. Wish I would have gotten it from the library instead of buying it though.

3 stars

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I absolutely loved The Forgotten Garden and hurried up and went and got this one upon completing it. I could not get with the story at all and I didn't see where the plot was going. I gave up about 250 pages in. Disappointing

1 star

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Cassandra finds out after her grandmother, Nell's, death that she was not who she thought she was. Her "father" found her on a ship when she was 4 years old all by herself and brought her home where he and his wife raised her as their own. She did not find out until her 18th birthday that she was not who she thought she was and everything she knew was a lie. After Nell's father passes away when she is in her 60's, she receives the suitcase she had with her all those years ago as a little girl. Inside it she finds a book of fair tales, written by an Eliza Makepeace and illustrated by the well known portraitist Nathanial Walker. The book stirs some memories within her and she sets off to England to find out her true story. After her death, Cassandra follows in her footsteps to finish what Nell had started when she finds out that her grandmother had bought a house in England years ago that once belonged to Eliza Makepeace. Thus begins the journey that will change Cassandra's life.

I don't even know how to give this book justice. Beautifully written, heartbreaking, 4 different time periods written about in a way that I was breathless to find out what happened next. This is 550 pages, I bought it for my vacation this week, and I finished it today. Be ready to stay up late to see what happens as the story goes from present time, to Nell's trip to England in the mid-1970's, to the early 1900's with Eliza's story, and Nell's memories as a child, secrets revealed at the turn of every page. May very well be the best book I have read in 2009 so far.

5 stars

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Connie Goodwin is about to begin research for her dissertation at Harvard University in Colonial History when she receives a call from her flighty New Age mother, asking her to go to Salem, MA to clean out her grandmothers house to get it ready for sale. While there Connie, discovers her original source for the dissertation, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. It is a recipe/spell book from a Salem witch of 1692 who has never been documented. As she digs further into Deliverance's story in quest in locating the book, she finds that her own familial ties to Dane and the use of spells throughout generations may be more than she is willing to believe. As the hunt for the book goes deeper, and her mentor at Harvard slowly revealing his true intentions for her and the book, Connie is caught up in a mystery she could never have imagined.

3 stars

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elsewhere by William Peter Blatty

I was really looking forward to this one, but I must say that after finishing it I wish I had never read it. think of the movies The Haunting and The Others and you have Elsewhere. Kept me reading and finished it in one day, but not in the least bit impressed.

2 stars

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

I was really avoiding this book. I am not one to enjoy popular books and I seem to see this everywhere. I finally started it this past Saturday and was finished by Sunday night. I really enjoyed the writing format, the way the entire book was letters written to and by the various cast of characters. I enjoyed the emphasis on book lovers, how books can get you through hard times, and how reading one thing in a book can lead you to research it, which leads to another book and so on. The characters were highly amusing. I found myself laughing quite a few times. I also enjoyed that there was romance, but it did not weigh down the book and take over the story. Juliet and her friend Sophie reminded me very much of my own best friend and myself.

Overall I would give this 3 stars. There wasn't anything bad about it, I just wasn't blown away by it as some people were. It was enjoyable, but not something that will make an impression on me and stay with me.

3 stars

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dark Hollow by John Connolly

Charlie "Bird" Parker has retired to Scarborough, Maine and is continuing his work as a private investigator. He is asked by a woman he knows to try to get child support money from her ex. Bird gets the money, which is dirty, the woman and her son are found murdered, the ex flees, and Bird, Louis and Angel are headed for northern Maine in search of a killer, who haunted Bird's grandfather and became a myth in the town he grew up in, a killer by the name of Caleb Kyle. While Bird and his friends are on the hunt for his ex-partner's daughter, who disappeared along with her boyfriend on their way to the mountains,they are drawn into the mystery of decades old murders, old rivalries, and long ago loves.

"Caleb Kyle, Caleb Kyle, if you see him run a mile"

I enjoyed this one much better than Every Dead Thing. With a lot going on and many characters, Connolly never loses you along the way. Louis and Angel have become my favorite characters in the series. I was laughing so loud the other night my brother came to ask what was so funny. I can't wait to continue with the series.

4 stars

Friday, July 24, 2009

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

Charlie "Bird" Parker is recently retired from the New York police force following the murders and mutilations of his wife and 3 year old daughter. He is asked by his former partner to investigate the disappearance of a young woman who was the girlfriend to the son of an acquaintance. The former partner is involved in a charity run by the boyfriends step-mother. As Bird starts investigating her disappearance he is drawn into another search, for The Traveling Man, the man who murdered his family and others. From the underground of New York to the swamps of Louisiana, Bird tries to find the man responsible for ruining his life.

I really wanted to like this book. It had a fast moving plot, lots of secrets being revealed, but there was one big problem. I figured out who the Traveling Man was about 200 pages from the end. I like being surprised, I don't like being right. I was so incredibly disappointed when I found out I was right it just ruined everything I liked about the book. I am not happy I spent so much time reading it.

2 stars

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Cal and Chloe Tobias think they have a pretty good life. They are living in Florida where she restores paintings and he runs fishing trips through the Everglades, with their 12 year old daughter, Meghan, and their 18 year old son, Marshall, who is away at college. Marshall witnessed his best friends death when he was 12 years old, being hit by a train, and has since spent all of his time in search of new religions and faiths. Chloe has helped him along the way, in educating him about different beliefs. Meghan, who is quickly growing up and has a major fascination with Winona Ryder, suffers from severe allergies. When fed peanut butter as a 2 year old she went into anaphylactic shock and her parents have had to educate everyone she comes into contact with about her allergies and changes that need to be made.

Chloe is excited when she gets an email form Marshall saying he is coming home for spring break and is bringing a girl, Ada. Chloe and Cal's marriage is starting to get rocky, so she is hoping her son's return, with a girlfriend, will slowly begin to mend things between them. Marshall and Ada arrive and Ada is a twin to Winona Ryder, so Meghan is absolutely enamored. She follows her everywhere, they share Meghan's room, and Meghan is in complete awe. Ada, meanwhile, has secrets of her own. While talking to Ada in Meghan's room, she finds her EpiPen and asks Chloe what it is. After explaining, Ada asks if they have ever tried an organic, whole foods approach or researched that Meghan may not have allergies at all, but it is from the pesticides, etc put on foods. Chloe gently shuts her down, they have lived with this for years, gone to many doctors and know what they are dealing with, but a bug has now been put in Meghan's ear, so to speak.

Marshall and Ada go out on Cal's boat and Meghan comes along. They stop at a store on their way to buy some food and get cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chip. While out on the boat Ada convinces Marshall, who is completely obsessed with his girlfriend and her eccentric beliefs, that Meghan isn't really allergic to peanuts and it they give her some and then pray over her, she will be healed. Marshall gives in and the story takes off at page 100 when Marshall and Ada are arrested for child abuse with extenuating circumstances, Meghan in the hospital in a coma doctor's don't know if she'll ever come out of, and Chloe and Cal fighting for the lives and well-being of their children, and their marriage.

Great story, well paced, I wanted to not work at all and just read it to see what happened. Some points I just wanted to reach in the book and slap some of the characters, especially Marshall, for being so naive. You don't feel like you are reading a book, but feel like you know this family and what they are going through. The story focuses on the Tobias family, Ada, religion, faith, secrets, and how far you would go for your family. I felt the story focused more on the mother than anyone else and she really got on my nerves sometimes.

All in all, great book, major page turner, and I can't wait to read more of her books.

4 stars

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr by Michael Seth Starr

This is the biography of actor Raymond Burr, best known for his roles in Perry Mason and Ironside, and how being gay in 1950's Hollywood affected his life and relationships.
I grew up watching the Perry Mason movies as a kid during the 1980's. My grandmother loved Raymond Burr. My grandfather, who passed away when my mom was 10, was his twin, especially in Ironside. They looked exactly alike. As I grew older my mom told me Burr was gay. I would not believe her. I just couldn't believe Perry Mason was gay. My grandmother flat out wouldn't accept it at all. I even taped a Biography done on him where they talked to his partner of over 30 years, and she refused to watch it and told me to "keep it up" lol
It's amazing to me how much Burr had to lie about so many aspects of his life. Three wives, a deceased son, a false military record, all to hide the fact that he was gay, even though it was Hollywood's best kept secret; everyone knew, but no one talked about it.
The book is very good in giving you insight into Burr's movie roles, including his famous turn in Rear Window, although the author's recollection of the movie is very different from mine. Also a behind the scenes look at the making of his most famous roles, Perry Mason and Ironside. Delves into his close friendships, his relationship with his partner, Robert Benivedes, his love of orchids, food, and his numerous trips overseas to meet and entertain the troops during the wars (more trips than Bob Hope, but he never wanted the fame for it).
The only thing keeping me from making this a 5 star book is the author's non-stop insistence over Burr's weight. I know he was a big man. But to call him enormous, huge, and other adjectives I just ignored when reading it is ridiculous. He was not that big of a man, and wasn't truly heavy until the later years of the Perry Mason movies, when I was introduced to him.
Interesting facts throughout, Quincy Jones wrote the Ironside theme song, but it left me wondering about quite a few things. What did Burr's partner think of his trysts with other men? Why lie about a military record? Who really was Frank Vitti?
I guess some questions will just stay unanswered. What I was left with was knowing that Burr was truly a generous, generous man who loved his friends, and fiercely protected his private life.

4 stars

Monday, July 6, 2009

Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith

Sheriff Billy Lafitte has always gotten through his days in law enforcement by following his own rules. Taking "payment" in the form of sex or money to turn his head the other way won't cause him to bat an eye as he works for his former brother-in-law in Minnesota. When a friend comes to him asking for help with a problem her boyfriend is having he decides to look into it. The problem involves meth rings and lost merchandise. What Billy thinks is pretty cut and dry ends up involving terrorists, drug dealers, former friends selling him out, his secrets coming out, an FBI agent on his tail who is hell bent on catching him, and a head rolling around in his trunk. And that's just the beginning.

The description doesn't even give the book justice or begin to scratch the surface. Billy is such a slime ball you are just waiting for him to get his, but he ends up being the antihero of the book. Very exciting, fast paced, and will keep you up many nights flipping pages to see what happens like I did. Excellent book, cannot recommend it enough.

5 stars

Monday, June 29, 2009

Indognito by Karen Ngo

Since everything I have read this month sucked, I really enjoyed this. Just pictures of cute dogs wearing costumes, along with some quotes regarding man's best friend. Think Ann Geddes, but with dogs. The beagle is adorable. I may have to go out and buy it just so I have it to look at when I am having a bad day.

5 stars

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

My month of books that suck continues! Tells the story of a woman growing up in a small Wisconsin town who ends up marrying the future President of the United States. I still can't put my finger on what I didn't like about it. There just wasn't anything that had me grabbing it every spare second I had. I really didn't care about any of the characters at all. Let's hope the next one is better!! Or maybe I should just give up for June all together?

2 stars

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

50 year old Alice has a great life; loving husband, 3 grown kids and a tenured job in the psychology department at Harvard. All of that starts coming down around her when she finds out that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease which she inherited through a gene that is passed down from parents to their children.

I did not like this book at all. I had to force myself to finish it. Her children and husband were intolerable, and I was confused as to what was going on most of the time, but it may have been written that way so the reader knows what the disease feels like. Wish I wouldn't have bought it.

2 stars

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Twelve year old David, while mourning the loss of his mother in a house with his dad's new wife and their newborn son together, finds solace in the books he reads. When David starts experiencing black outs, he can hear books speaking among themselves. He sees a hole in the garden wall of the house and goes through it one night after a fight with his father over his new step-mother. He finds himself in a new world, where his favorite fairy tales have come to life, but with a twist. Where a King is loosing control of his kingdom as he dies. David is heading to the castle to find The Book of Lost Things that belongs to the King and is said to tell him how to get back to his own world. He encounters many people along the way, is being stalked by a herd of half human wolves who want to take over the kingdom and his every step is followed by the Crooked Man who has plans of his own.
I loved this book. Even if you don't read it, pick it up in the store or library and just read the two chapters about Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, it is absolutely hysterical. I wish more fairy tales had been incorporated into the story, but the way it is written I felt like I was right there along side David, and it was a great adventure. Beautiful ending that gave me chills and made me smile. A must read.

4 stars

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Threshold by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Incredibly boring. Written in a way that you keep reading hoping it will pick up and get better and maybe at least make a little sense but it doesn't. Lots of paleontologist and geologist information and terms. The story just seemed kind of half cocked. I loved Murder of Angels, and will read more by her, but I didn't really like this one at all. I gave it 3 stars because like Angels, her gift with words is amazing.

3 stars

Friday, May 29, 2009

Murder of Angels by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Ten years ago, Niki Ky and Daria Parker saw something unspeakable in an old house in Birmingham, Alabama. Daria has denied it, escaping into a frantic music career and various addictions. But Nikki hasn't been so fortunate. Diagnosed schizophrenic, she's lost years in a haze of therapy and antipsychotics. Now terrifying fragments of waking nightmares are reaching out to her, ghosts and demons driving her toward revelation and release, and she has begun to doubt that all the cracks in her reality are hallucinations.

Her dead lover, Spyder Baxter is calling to her from another world, an alien, impossible place where Niki is known as the Hierophant, a feared and prophesied sorceress who can open a portal between worlds. Forces of darkness and light are at play across the highways of America, forces that move inexorably toward the abandoned house the Niki and Daria have spent ten years trying to forget. And Daria will finally have to face what really happened there if she's to help Niki save a world....or destroy it.

Very fast paced, eloquently written story. One blurb on the back of the book says the author writes "like a Gothic cathedral on fire" and I could not agree more. The story gets kind of confusing sometimes but well worth the read. I will be picking up some more of the author's books.

4 stars

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shatter by Michael Robotham

Professor and psychologist Joe O'Loughlin gets called to the scene to try to get a woman not to jump off a bridge. She is completely nude, except for red heels and the word "slut" written on her stomach in lipstick. She is holding a cell phone talking to someone. When he is unable to save her the woman's daughter shows up at his front door telling him that her mother would never kill herself, not that way, she was terrified of heights. Joe believes her and is drawn into a sick twisted game with an AWOL soldier who's job was to "break" people the military had in custody by shutting down their senses so the only one in use was their ears, the only voice they could hear was his, and he would drive them to the breaking point. After another senseless death, a woman who was friends with the first victim, who is found in another bizarre way, nude, wearing only shoes a full fledged manhunt ensues. With Joe's personal life starting to fall apart and the twisted mind of the killer, you are led on quite a ride up to the very last page.

5 stars

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Professor Robert Langdon is called to help investigate the death of a scientist in a high security facility where the victim is branded with the ambigram Illuminati. This leads him, along with the scientists daughter, Vittoria Vetra, to the heart of Vatican City where a canister of antimatter was stolen from the lab has been placed, and will go off at midnight. The Vatican is about to close for the conclave due to the recent death of the Pope, but the prefretiti, the 4 cardinals who are unofficially chosen as the front runners for the papacy, have disappeared. It is now up to Langdon and Vetra, along with the Swiss Guards and the camerlengo, to find the cardinals before midnight as they have been warned that one cardinal will be killed in each hour leading to midnight in a very public place, with the 4 known ambigrams of the Illuminati branded on their chests. An ancient brotherhood that may still be active, a race against the clock to save the cardinals and to find that antimatter before it levels Vatican City, and other twists and turns will keep you reading long into the night.

5 stars

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Story about the fever that ripped through Philadelphia in 1793, killing over 3,000 people. The story surrounds a 14 year old girl, Mattie Cook, and how she deals with her family becoming infected and how she handles what she will do next when she thinks she is all alone. Not much of a review, but I didn't think it was much of a book.

2 stars

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Time of Dying by Reina James

This book is about the Spanish Influenza outbreak in England in 1918. The story centers around Henry Speake, a local undertaker, his relationship with his family, and a widow whose company he likes to keep. Kept me reading but I didn't really see the point of some of the side stories and it doesn't really end with a conclusion. Interesting insight as to how things were handled during the epidemic and other matters of that sort, but I was sort of hoping for more.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

I am not a big fan of memoirs, I think this may be the only one I have ever read to completion, but I loved this book. The things the kids in this family went through, and made it through, are astounding. Some parts had me laugh out loud, but most of them just left me shaking my head that any adult could put their family through even one of those incidents. But, what doesn't kills you makes you stronger, and this book is proof of that. Highly recommend.

5 stars

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard

A young medical student becomes embroiled in a longtime mystery, what really happened to Louis Charles, the dauphin to the throne of England. With the help of the first documented police detective, Vidock, they set off on a mission to find out what really happened. The dauphin was kept in the tower and the young medical student's father was his doctor. Everyone was led to believe he died and was buried in an unmarked grave. But is he really dead? And if he isn't, what implications does this have on the throne?

Very fascinating story, well paced, the only disappointment is that there is no real answer to the question. No one will ever know what happened, whether the dauphin survived or not. One of the best historical fiction novels I have read in awhile.

4.5 stars

Friday, April 10, 2009

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Another book most people read in school that I did not. Just a very silly story. I understand it is a fable of sorts and that it was directed at events during WWII, but it was just plain silly. Animals learning how to write, forming a democracy when they run the farmer off the land. Too much for me. It only got 2 stars instead of 1 star because it was so ridiculous at some points I was laughing out loud.

2 stars

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Very curious indeed. This was kind of odd. I had heard such great things about it and I read it in a day, but it was just strange.
Story about a 15 year old boy who is autistic and decides to write a book after finding his neighbor's dog impaled with a rake in her front yard. He finds out secrets about his parents split up and about other people. The book is told from his point of view. You will be reading about what happened and then the next chapter, which are only in prime numbers because the boy likes prime numbers, will be about how he solves a particular math equation. Very odd.

3 stars

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

When I told my mom I had never read this before she told me I must have been absent that day in school because every one's read this. I would have remembered if we had though, because this has moved in to my top 5 books of all time. I don't even know where to begin. There are so many ways to analyze the story, the characters, the symbolism. There is the loss of innocence, or the fact that no one is born innocent, just ignorant; maybe we are all savages deep down; the religious aspect of an Eden with no Eve. A lot of things I have read have compared Flies to The Catcher in the Rye but I personally don't see how. Rye was nothing compared to this. This was, I am sitting here typing this and I don't even have words to describe it. This will stay with me for a very very long time and is definitely going on my shelf to be read again at another time.
5 stars +++++++++++

Friday, March 27, 2009

Whiteout by Ken Follett

A high security lab in Scotland looses one of it's testing animals and an employee disappears. He is later found, carry the virus the animal was carrying, and tells the head of security, "there is no cure". On the heels of this a team of thieves is planning on robbing the high security facility and not stealing the cure, but the virus itself, which is to be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Will the thieves be caught in time? Or will thousands die for someone else's greed?

A lot more side stories going on throughout the book. This started off like a bullet from a gun and never slowed down. Any amount of free time I had I was reading it. Very interesting, fast pace, good subplots, and everything tied up in a neat package by the end. my first book by Follett, but definitely not my last.

5 stars

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Season of the Snake by Claire Davis

Nance is married and has everything she has ever wished for; a happy marriage, burgeoning career, etc. Her sister Meridith keeps ending up in abused relationships, the last of which landed her in the hospital. Nance receives a call from their father telling them that Meridith went back to the apartment she shared with the boyfriend to pick up a few things and now he can't get in contact with her. Nance gets her husband Joe, who is going out for a run, to swing by the place and see what's going on. While Joe is running in the park with a Walkman on he doesn't hear the three teenage boys with the baseball bat coming up behind him.

Flash forward 5 years. Nance has now moved to Idaho where she conducts field research on rattlesnakes. She is now remarried to Ned, and everything is going well. Meridith shows up out of the blue and goes on a trip with Nance. She and Ned have never gotten along, because he makes her nervous. Meridith decodes to move to Idaho also, since there is nothing holding her back with the passing of their father. She and Nance become closer than they ever were before in their lives and when things start to really start going right, Ned starts behaving strangely. Leaves in the middle of the night for hours at a time, disappears from work, where he is a school principle. He is hiding something, but Nance refuses to accept that there is anything wrong with her idyllic life. Until one night of passion turns violent and she sees a side of her husband she never knew existed.

Good plot, keeps the pace going well, and ends with a major confrontation between the 3 main characters. The only down side was all the details about snakes - they are my biggest fear.

3 stars

Friday, March 20, 2009

Disguise by Hugo Hamilton

This book jumps from the past to the present so often, with no hint that's it is moving time, I became completely confused as to what was happening. Couldn't even finish it.
Story about a man in his 60's who reflects back on his life during WWII. As a child, he was taken from a train and grew up with a man and woman who lost their child due to a bomb. When he was taken from the train he was the exact same age as the child they lost, and was raised with that child's name. The father, who was fighting in the war, even thought it was his own son. The book is about Gregor, the son, finding out where he really came from.

1 star

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

A woman and mother of a pre-teen girl awakes in the middle of the night to find the ghost of her daughter's friend by her bed. She follows her only to discover the girl has drowned in her family pool. Her daughter knows something but won't tell, and the appearance of this ghost reopens a lot of old wounds from the mother's childhood and what really happened to her Uncle in the woods when he, her father, her and her sister went hunting in the woods when the were around her daughters age.

The main theme is sisters, their connections, their rivalry, and how far one would go to protect the other. A lot of story lines going on throughout, but not so it's hard to follow.

4 stars

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Virgin Lies by Rodrick Anscomb

A young girl disappears on her way for coffee for the social services office she volunteers at and the only witness is a homeless woman with multiple personality disorder and paranoia. One of the workers husband is a profiler and is called into consult. The husband and wife lost their son in a car accident years prior and this reopens new wounds. Since they couldn't save there own son, they feel they must save this girl, at any cost to their personal and professional lives.
Psychological thriller I guess but I have never read the words "facial tic" more in my life. Goes into a lot of what the husband sees in his interviews with people regarding the case. There is past history between him and the lead detective on the case, the doctor was suspected of killing her partner. The end leads up to the 2 suspects in the psych hospital where the husband works and the lines he and the guards cross to get the location of the girl were pretty disturbing.
Not that great of a book, but it has it's moments.

2 stars

Monday, March 9, 2009

First, There is a River by Kathy Steffen

Emma lives day by day with her two children and her abusive husband Jared. When Jared sends her children away to work on another farm with no regards to them continuing their education, Emma flees during the night to go work on her uncle's riverboat, The Spirit. There she has a happy existence as the boats cook and earns the love of the boats Captain and first engineer, the latter of who was burned severely in a boat explosion and was rescued by her uncle years ago. She fights with her feelings for both men, with no idea that the boat is being trailed and watched by her abusive husband, who is setting the engineer up for murder in the riverside towns, and planning his vengeance against all on board she has become close to. After an accident during a boat race the Spirit is in with the Ironwood, a rival riverboat, Jared comes aboard the Spirit to no one's knowledge and begins his revenge. Will Emma be able to stand up to him and save those she loves? Will she get her children back?

Not something I would usually read, but I was drawn into life on a riverboat and all of it's characters. The story left somethings unresolved, but all in all was a good book.

3.5 stars

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

Story about the French Revolution told from the point of view of a young woman who was married off at the age of 15, denied her true love, widowed by 17 and made a kept woman by the age of 20. Goes into detail in the regards to the Court, the trials of King Louis and Marie Antoinette, as to her own fate and if she will ever meet her true love again and if he will forgive her for the aristocratic life she has led when everything is stripped from her.

4 stars

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

I did not think was ever going to end. Book 1 was great, Book 2 so so, this one flet like a Scooby Doo mystery. What a waste of time

2 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Hollow by Nora Roberts

Not nearly as good as the first one. Moved really slow and took me a really long time to get into it and even then I didn't really care what happened, I just wanted to finish it so I could move on to the last book in the trilogy. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint.

3 stars out of 5

I would write a more detailed review but if you haven't read the first book it may spoil it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

Picking this one up to read was a stretch for me. I am not one to read romance, which is what I thought Nora Roberts always wrote, however I was very pleasantly surprised. Story about three childhood friends who camp in the woods of their hometown of Hawkins Hollow on the eve of their tenth birthdays. They decide to spend the night at the Pagan Stone, a place that has long been forbidden to them by their parents. As midnight approaches they take an oath that they will always be friends, cutting their arms and joining their blood, to make them blood brothers, over the Pagan Stone. This blood joining releases an evil that has been trapped in the earth since the 1600's. They walk out of the woods with all small boyhood injuries healed, an immunity to future illnesses, and each with a gift. Every 7 years, all hell breaks loose in Hawkins Hollow on the week of their birthdays and they are left to clean up the mess, with each year things getting stronger. People go mad. There are rapes, murders, suicides and it all links back to what happened on the eve of the boys, now men's, tenth birthdays.

A reporter of the paranormal comes to town to do a story on the strange events during the 21st year of the occurrences. As soon as she comes to town, she starts having strange experiences also, experiences only the men have had until now. Also present is a woman who work at a boutique in New York, who upon having strange dreams about the Hollow, packs up and comes there, for no reason she can explain. She has never been to the Hollow nor heard of it, but finds her way with no help from directions. Also a friend of the author, who also starts to experience things upon her arrival.

What are the women's ties to the men, why are they experiencing this paranormal along with the men who were there that initial night, and what is to be said about all of the occurrences happening so far ahead of the 21st year, and the fact that they seem so much stronger?

Very engaging, I read it in one day, and I am looking forward to getting the next book in the series to see what happens next. I am very glad I went out of my reading "comfort zone" to pick this one up.

4 stars

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

Very interesting story. Switches back between the late 1700's and early 1800's with regards to the Lord and Lady Elgin's attempt in acquiring all of the ruins left in Greece. Throughout the story it flashes back to the years of the 30 day truce with Sparta with Pericles and his courtesan. Their unconventional lives, attempts at funding for the great Parthenon and it does a great job of interweaving the stories from Aspasia's life (Pericles' courtesan) and Lady Elgin and how some plights of women have not changed. Delves a lot into Greek mythology also.

4 stars out of 5

Monday, February 9, 2009

An Inconvient Wife by Megan Chance

2 stars
Interesting enough to keep me reading but about half way through I flipped to the end because I just didn't care anymore. I can't even really tell you what it was about, I was so uninterested by that point.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black

He is seriously the funniest comedian ever. The book isn't too much like his stand up, but about his faith and the different religions he has experienced throughout his life but it still had me cracking up out loud. If you are a fan of Black I highly recommend it. Not a five star book, but it gets 5 just because I love him :-P

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

They Hunger by Scott Nicholson

Great easy read. Many different plots going on. Loose in the woods is a psychopath and his girlfriend who have been going across the country bombing abortion clinics because he believes it is God's will. Two FBI agents looking for the bomber and his girlfriend and a group of extreme sports figures going white water rafting to help a company promote their new line of rafts. FBI agents walk into a trap the bomber has set which blows a big hole in the Earth and releases creatures that have lived there for years, and they are hungry lol. Sounds corny I know, but it was fun to read.

4 stars

Acid Row by Minette Walters

I am trying to catch up on all the books of hers I missed. Story of a neighborhood in London, Bassindale Estates, or Acid Row as its occupants call it. Housed there are junkies, alcoholics, social outcasts basically. Things get out of control when a convicted sex offender is placed in one of the houses and word leaks out to the residents on the Row. A simple march to get him out leads to an insane mob, murder, castration, fires, beatings, and death. A doctor who treats patients on Acid Row answers a simple call for help and ends up being held hostage and in the middle of a situation that is beyond every one's control. Very interesting look at society and the roles it plays in people's situations, how a misinformed public can turn into an outraged mob, and how even the evil can become good in the midst of certain circumstances.

5 stars

The Sculpress by Minette Walters

I really like her books because as soon as you are sure you figured it out it takes a huge twist and you are wrong. Wasn't too impressed with this one. A woman who's daughter is killed while out driving with her father is asked to write a book on a woman in prison known as The Sculptress. She killed her mother and sister and brutally mutilated them, admitted her guilt, pled guilty and went to prison but did she really do it? The Sculptress gets inside the author's mind and under her skin while she pursues leads because she now thinks that the woman is innocent.

4 stars

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best of 2008

So here are my picks for the best of 2008 from what I read:

Child 44 - beast debut

Water for Elephants - best shocker ending

East of Eden - best classic

The Thirteenth Tale and Season of the Witch - best Gothic fiction

The Shadow Year - best book to make you feel like a kid

Beasts by Joyce Carole Oates - best quick read

The Monster of Florence - Best Non Fiction

The Hour I First Believed - Most eagerly awaited book that sucked

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - Most Depressing book of 2008

Pig Island by Mo Hayder

This was a pretty different mystery than the usual mystery genre books. Plot kept moving, very fast paced. I was forgetting who some of the characters were there were so many. However, I am a huge huge fan of The Devil of Nanking by Hayder and the plot twist/dropped bomb at the end of that book left me speechless; it was like a hard blow to the stomach. I could not read another book for about 5 months it affected me so much. The twist in Island? Mundane at best.

3.5 stars