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