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