Sunday, December 25, 2011

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers by Nigel Cawthorne

Tis the season to read about some freaky and disturbing people! This is a collection of the most notorious, although in some cases obscure to me, serial killers and mass murderers. People like Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac, The Night Stalker, and over a dozen more. All of them were interesting. The only one that freaked me out was The Night Stalker. My only problem was for every person profiled, I had to read about what a horrible childhood they had. Not everyone that has a horrible childhood turns into a monster and vice versa. Some people are just plain evil.

4 stars

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery , one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker . "Powerful and haunting," and "nights of unrest" were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery:" with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson's remarkable range--from the hilarious to the truly horrible--and power as a storyteller.

I bought this just so I could read The Lottery. I wasn't too impressed by it. The story that really bothered me was The Daemon Lover. It was really sad to me. I had a hard time getting with the writing, and most of the stories I just didn't see the point of. I guess this is meant for someone far more intelligent than I, because after finishing most of them I thought "What?"

2 stars

We Have Always Lived in the Castle By Shirley Jackson

Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

This may be one of the top 5 creepiest families I have ever read about. I wasn't really into the book and kept waiting for the big reveal but I was kind of disappointed. I can see that, for it's time, it was maybe considered sensational, but I was so creeped out by the family I didn't really get into it.

2 stars

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Books of 2011

1. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
2. Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles
3. The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
4. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum
5. Iron House by John Hart
6. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
7. Back Roads by Tawni Odell
8. Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice
9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burberry
10. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Best Debut - Good Neighbors by Ryan David Jahn
Best Series - The Graveyard Queen by Amanda Stevens
Best Classic - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Best Book to Lose Yourself In - Back Roads by Tawni Odell
Best Nonfiction - Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum
Biggest Disappointment - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Best Suspense - Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Best Historical Fiction - The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen
Best Vacation Book - Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Moonlit Mind by Dean Koontz

In this chilling original stand-alone novella, available exclusively as an eBook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz offers a taste of what’s to come in his new novel, 77 Shadow Street , with a mesmerizing tale of a homeless boy at large in a city fraught with threats . . . both human and otherwise. Twelve-year-old Crispin has lived on the streets since he was nine—with only his wits and his daring to sustain him, and only his silent dog, Harley, to call his friend. He is always on the move, never lingering in any one place long enough to risk being discovered. Still, there are certain places he returns to. In the midst of the tumultuous city, they are havens of solitude: like the hushed environs of St. Mary Salome Cemetery, a place where Crispin can feel at peace—safe, at least for a while, from the fearsome memories that plague him . . . and seep into his darkest nightmares. But not only his dreams are haunted. The city he roams with Harley has secrets and mysteries, things unexplainable and maybe unimaginable. Crispin has seen ghosts in the dead of night, and sensed dimensions beyond reason in broad daylight. Hints of things disturbing and strange nibble at the edges of his existence, even as dangers wholly natural and earthbound cast their shadows across his path. Alone, drifting, and scavenging to survive is no life for a boy. But the life Crispin has left behind, and is still running scared from, is an unspeakable alternative . . . that may yet catch up with him. There is more to Crispin’s world, and its darkest corners yet to be encountered, in this eBook’s special bonus: a spine-tingling excerpt from Dean Koontz’s forthcoming novel, 77 Shadow Street .

Nice and short but very boring. Not even a little bit chilling. Reminded a little of Neil Gaiman's writing, but without the enjoyment Gaiman gives me. Will not be reading 77 Shadow Street.

1 star

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

"I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger . . ." writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922," the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In "Big Driver," a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Raped and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

"Fair Extension," the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

In "A Good Marriage" when her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

King's novels bore me to tears, with the exception of The Long Walk. His endless narrative almost puts me into a coma. However, I have always loved his short story compilations. The theme in all of these stories is a revenge of some kind. And for the most part it is an every day kind of revenge, due to a horrible every day circumstance. "1922" left me with feeling nothing; "Fair Extension" was kind of predictable, and "A Good Marriage" was pretty predictable too. The only reason this book gets 4 stars is for the story "Big Driver". Disturbing, hard to read,  and all too possible, this one story pushed the rating up from a 2 to a 4. You feel everything Tess is feeling, and can't help but go along on this horrible ride with her. I was up till 7 in the morning reading it because I had to find out what happened and had knots in my stomach by the time I had finished it.It really makes you think about what you would do if you were in a similar situation; contact the authorities or take matters into your own hands to save yourself embarrassment and get true justice for what you had to endure. King proves in this story alone, that all of his books don't have to have the supernatural elements, because every day life and circumstances beyond our control are way more terrifying, and he is the perfect person to write about them. Read this for Big Driver alone, you won't be disappointed, but you will be left disturbed.

4 stars

Don't Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons--the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball bad-boy. Shocked and shaken, he doesn't realize that he's accidentally captured a key piece of evidence. Ensnared in the city's most sensational crime in years, Nick investigates for a story of his own. Back off-- or die-- is the clear message as he closes in on the facts. Heedless, and perhaps in love, Nick endures humiliation, threats, violence, and worse in a thriller that overturns every expectation and finishes with the kind of flourish only James Patterson knows.

I keep getting more and more disheartened by Patterson's books and I'm not sure why I keep reading them besides the fact that they are a quick read. I was hoping for a good, quick mob story. What I got was a story with tons of characters that I had no feelings for either way. The whole thing bordered on absurd, the baseball "bad boy" tie in was ridiculous and seemed like it was just thrown in as a way to tie things together, and once again each and every chapter is peppered with unnecessary and overused exclamation points. I was thinking, same as I did with Now You See Her, how much crap happens to one person? I mean really.

2 stars

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens

There are rules for dealing with ghosts. Too bad Ree Hutchins doesn't know them.

When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman's death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her. Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as The Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn't understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest—before she is locked away forever....

This is the prequel to the new Graveyard Queen series. It doesn't have much to do with the first book, The Restorer, but it was a nice quick read. It was only 64 pages on my e reader, so there isn't much character development, but still entertaining.

3 stars

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles

What could make a successful, happily married man take a gun and shoot himself? What made a young artist on the brink of fame throw himself to his death? These are the questions facing Chief Inspector Lamb and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Cogan. Neither victim left a note behind to explain what drove him to take his own life, and it appears that nothing untoward had occurred in the weeks preceding their deaths. Having briefly met both victims, Lamb struggles to connect the impression he gained of the men with their final actions, and his close attention pays off when a postmortem reveals some surprising results. With one case now looking like a suspicious death, Lamb looks for links between the two men. All paths seem to lead to the enigmatic figure of Mrs. Isobel Amberley and a mysterious event that took place one winter’s night in Vienna. Beautifully written and highly evocative of the bustling streets of London and Vienna in the early twentieth century, Last Nocturne is an intriguingly complex mystery of passion and the devastating repercussions of a single action.

I was very impressed with this. I loved that it was a mystery set in the art world. Even though I know absolutely nothing about art, I feel that books in this setting make for the most interesting characters. It was well paced and kept you guessing as to what was really going on. There are a lot of characters, but written in a way that is not confusing at all.

4 stars

Monday, October 31, 2011

Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

A successful lawyer and loving mother, Nina Bloom would do anything to protect the life she's built in New York--including lying to everyone, even her daughter, about her past. But when an innocent man is framed for murder, she knows that she can't let him pay for the real killer's crimes.

Nina's secret life began 18 years ago. She had looks to die for, a handsome police-officer husband, and a carefree life in Key West. When she learned she was pregnant with their first child, her happiness was almost overwhelming. But Nina's world is shattered when she unearths a terrible secret that causes her to run for her life and change her identity. Now, years later, Nina risks everything she's earned to return to Florida and confront the murderous evil she fled.

This book is exactly the reason I stopped reading James Patterson. While they are light, easy and quick reads, the plot and storyline is just unbearable and ridiculous. Without spoiling anything, how many things can happen to one person? The things that happened to Nina were so absurd I actually said "Give me a break" out loud. No big climax in my opinion and the whole story was so unbelievable it wasn't even remotely entertaining.
1 star

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Ghosts of Varner Creek by Michael Weems

In the summer of 1909, Solomon Mayfield awoke to find his mother and sister had disappeared. Left with his alcoholic and abusive father, Sol lived his life believing the story he'd been told, the story all the people of Varner Creek believed about what happened that summer. But in a plot of twists and family secrets that will leave the reader reaching for their jaw upon the floor, Sol is taken back to his childhood by the spirits he knew in life when he passes away so many years later . . . it is only then he learns what secrets The Ghosts of Varner Creek have been keeping so many years.

Very engaging book. As I slowly found out what had happened it really bothered me, which usually doesn't happen with books. I really loved the way Sol ended up finding out the truth; it was very original. Very well written, keeps you reading long into the night. Looking forward to more by this author.

4 stars

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A House Divided by Deborah LeBlanc

Keith Lafleur, Louisiana's largest and greediest building contractor, thinks he's cut the deal of a lifetime. The huge old two-story clapboard house is his for the taking as long as he can move it to a new location. Its too big to move as is, but Lafleur's solution is simple:divide it in half. He has no idea, though, that by splitting the house he'll be dividing a long dead.

Not for anyone with a weak stomach. Some parts made me a little nauseous, but a good enough story. Not creepy or anything even though I think it was meant to be, but it was fun to read. I was hoping for more of the Louisiana flavor, but that is the one thing I did find it lacking. However the character to Tawana makes it all worth while.

3 stars

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Amelia has seen ghosts since she was a child. The first time she was with her father, a cemetery caretaker and restorer, who she found out he could also see them. He gave her a very specific set of rules to follow, because once the door has opened between the living and the dead, something comes through, and it can never go back.

Now in her 20's, Amelia works as a cemetery restorer, working in old and long forgotten cemeteries, cleaning them up and restoring the headstones and the cemeteries themselves to their original state.

She is working at Oak Grove cemetery in the south when she's approached one might by Detective John Devlin, a man haunted by his own ghosts who she develops a strong attraction to, the likes of which she has never felt before. A body has been found in Oak Grove, only it is not one of those buried there. A young girl who was murdered in a brutal way was buried recently in an already occupied grave. Amelia is called in as a consultant to make sure nothing is disturbed or ruined during the investigation. As she works closely with Devlin, more bodies are discovered. Trying to figure out who the killer is, she is drawn inexplicably to Devlin and his ghosts, and breaks one of her fathers rules: stay away from those who are haunted.

I'm not a big fan of books that are a part of a series but I can't wait for the next book to come out. If you are looking for horror this isn't it, but it is definitely creepy enough. Amelia is a very likable character and I may have a fictional crush on the haunted detective, John Devlin and I think any woman with a pulse who reads this will agree. The book manages to solve the case of the murders while bringing a few things up throughout that makes you want to read the next book to see what's going to happen. This was a very pleasant surprise.

4 stars

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER________________________________________________________________________________________

Told in the point of view of a governess sent to a pleasant country home to care for 2 orphaned children, the tale turns dark by the appearance of 2 ghosts. These ghosts, who are said to belong to the prior governess and a common man whom she carried on an affair with, both of whom died under curious circumstances, are seen by the governess, who believes the children can also see them. The kids come off charming at first, but ended up creeping me out as the story went on. Then there is the question of are there really ghosts at all, or is the house playing tricks on the governess? And if they really are there, why are they always staring intently at the children when they appear?

I can't write a description of this at all because I have no idea what the hell I just read. For a short book, this took forever for me to finish. I always have trouble with reading books written during this time period and this is no exception. The sentences carry on so long, and with so much punctuation, by the time I get to the period I don't remember what I just read. The whole story is very elusive, or was in my opinion. Probably a story for people a lot smarter than myself.

1 star

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hill House has stood empty for years, being the backdrop to many stories that go around the town where it stands. But the townspeople stay away from Hill House, because whatever walks there, walks alone. Dr. Montague organizes a small group of sensitives to stay in Hill House for the summer and record what, if any, paranormal things occur. The guests are Luke, who is the young heir to Hill House, Theodora, an antique store owner who jumps at the chance to spend the summer at Hill House after a fight with her lover, and Eleanor Vance, a 32 year old woman who experienced a poltergeist phenomena as a child and who's mother, that she took care of full time, just passed away. Within their first week there, things are happening that no one can explain, Theodora and Eleanor have become friends but compete for the attention of Luke, and everyone is on edge. All of this culminated into an ending you will never see coming.

Unless you are like me and saw the movie The Haunting when it was in theaters. I had a hard time getting into it because I kept thinking about the movie and waiting for the same things to happen. I know the book and the movie are never the same, but I couldn't stop comparing the two. I think what really makes this creepy is there are no answers, no resolutions. The reader is left with their own thoughts and impressions about what really happened. It would be a great book for a book club to read because I think it would spark a lot of discussion and it would be interesting to see what other people took from it.

4 stars

Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Ten Shocking Book Endings

I saw this on another blog and thought it was a god idea. Since I can't sleep tonight to save me, I am going to try to come up with my top ten book endings that shocked me:

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
2. Blood and Circumstance by Frank Turner Hollon
3. Come Closer by Sara Gran
4. The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder
5. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
6. Back Roads by Tawni Odell
7. Standoff by Sandra Brown
8. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
9. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
10. Family History by Dani Shapiro

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano

Melody McCarthy and her family were forced to enter the Witness Protection Program when she was 6 years old after accidentally walking in on a mafia murder. She spent the next 20 years of her life, running from town to town, identity to identity, constantly looking over her shoulder as she tries to live her life to the fullest she can. That is until the day a man walks up to her and calls her by the name she left behind years ago, and she is forced to face her past.

I can't say too much about this without giving anything away. The writing at the beginning and the end was wonderful, bordering on beautiful and poetic, but the story in between really bored me. Melody annoyed the hell out of me and I just didn't really care what happened to her, but that wonderful writing in the beginning kept me reading just in case it came back.

2 stars

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Plantation by Chris Kuzneski

The first to disappear is a ski instructor, out for a morning jog in the secluded mountains of Colorado. Hours later, a pregnant woman is abducted from a crowded hospital and smuggled past security without a hitch. Two places, two incidents, a single motive. And so it begins. . . . One by one, in cities across America, people of all ages are being taken from their homes, their cars, their lives. But these aren't random kidnappings. They're crimes of passion, planned and researched several months in advance, then executed with a singular objective in mind. Revenge. Ariane Walker is one of the victims, dragged from her apartment with no obvious signs of a struggle. The cops said there is little they can do for her. There isn't enough evidence to go on. Not enough time has passed. But that isn't good enough for Jonathon Payne. He loves Ariane and isn't about to sit around while her trail runs cold. Using the skills that they learned in the MANIACs, a special branch of the U.S. military, Payne and his best friend, David Jones, give chase, trekking to New Orleans on little more than a whim, hoping that Payne's gut instinct pays off. It does. With the help of several locals, the duo slowly begin to uncover the mystery of Walker's abduction and the shocking truth behind Louisiana's best-kept secret: THE PLANTATION.

Wow, that makes it sound so promising. I have been dragging though this book for a week now. I finally just skimmed the last 50 pages so I could finish it. The interaction between Payne and Jones seemed a lot like a Scooby Doo episode, if you are paying attention, everything is pretty much given away half way through the book and like me you will just want it to end., and quickly.

1 star

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

The story of the abduction of Jaycee Dugard at the age of 11 by a sex offender and his wife, her life in captivity, and her rescue 18 years later. I work for the prosecutor's office and have been there 9 years and have seen things most people wouldn't even believe and have become quite desensitized. I had to actually stop reading this twice because it was too much for me. Incredibly graphic and disturbing. It made me sick at times. I can't imagine going through that myself. While I appreciate her courage to tell her story, I think she wrote this a little too soon. The writing jumps all over the place, sometimes I didn't know what she was talking about and had to reread the same paragraph over and over and sometimes I still didn't know what she was talking about. I hate to rate this low, because what she went through is completely horrifying, but I think if she would have let herself heal a little more before she took to putting her story out there, it would have been easier to read and the flow of the narrative would have been better. I have gone through therapy myself, for different reasons, and one of the things they had me do was write a letter to everyone I was upset with, but you never send it; when you are finished you burn it. It provides a lot of closure and helps you move past things you thought you would never have been able to move past. So while I understand this is part of the healing process, I still think it was too soon to put it out there.

2 stars

Monday, September 12, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

After witnessing his grandfather's murder, Jacob is given a message from the dying man that leads Jacob and his father to the island where his grandfather spent most of his childhood after fleeing the Nazis. At Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, everyone has their own strange talent; one person can levitate, one is invisible, and so on. Jacob had heard these stories as a child and saw his grandfather's pictures but never believed any of it was real. That is until he finds the house on the island and discovers a secret world there that he play a key role in preserving.

I didn't think this book was ever going to end. The story was boring, the characters were boring, the pictures scattered throughout were about the only amusing thing in the whole book. It was just ridiculous all the way around and I wish I wouldn't have wasted my time reading it.

1 star

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

From the acclaimed author of Knockemstiff —called “powerful, remarkable, exceptional” by the Los Angeles Times —comes a dark and riveting vision of America that delivers literary excitement in the highest degree. In The Devil All the Time , Donald Ray Pollock has written a novel that marries the twisted intensity of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers with the religious and Gothic over­tones of Flannery O’Connor at her most haunting. Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right. Donald Ray Pollock braids his plot lines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.

Well I wasn't deeply moved and didn't think it was all that taut. The novel is very noir/pulp fiction, and reminded me a little of Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith, just without the edge. It was a fast read and tied up into a neat little bow at the end, but it was a little too neat for my taste. If I was to recommend this or Yellow Medicine for this type of book, Medicine would still win.

3 stars

Dismembered by Susan D. Mustafa and Sue Israel

The shocking true story of serial killer Sean Gillis, a nerdy, nonthreatening, Star Trek fan from Baton Rouge, who killed over 9 women. He chose his victim's carefully: made sure they were of slight stature so he could control them, after his first kill went for prostitutes, drug addicts and alcoholics, women who he felt wouldn't be missed. After he killed them by putting a zip tie around their necks after getting them in his car with the promise of money for sex, he went to work on them. Cutting of legs, heads, etc and having sex with the body parts, before he disposed of them and went on with his life. When finally caught, he would tell the police a story that shocked the most seasoned veteran, saying he was "pure evil", the whole time with a smile on his face.

Quick fast read. Wasn't that disturbing to me, but I can see where it would bother people, it gets pretty graphic. This guy was one sick puppy. The writing at the beginning made me feel like I was reading a high school students paper, but it got much better about halfway through and was much easier to read.

3 stars

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum

Nine Lives is a multi-voiced biography of the fascinating city of New Orleans told through the voices of nine unforgettable people, from different walks of life, bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which hit in the 1960's and changed the city, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it.

A quick run down of the characters:

Ronald Lewis: a black man that lives in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where he was born and raised, that doesn't want to see his ward disappear due to the storms, the kids taking to the streets to live lives he never even imagined when he was their age, and the politicians who want the ward to disappear.

John Guidos: a white man who loses his family's business due to bad investments and continually struggles with his sexuality and gender while try to live a "normal life" with his wife and children.

Anthony Lewis: a black man from California who always tried to get back to the New Orleans he visited as a child, just to get there and see it destroyed.

Joyce Montana: a black woman who is the wife of the famous Tootie Montana, a man who lead the change of the Mardi Gras Indians from fighting every year, to a more peaceful resolution of seeing who could have the best Indian costume.

Frank Minyard: a white doctor, prone to bouts of depression, who sees change is needed in 1960's New Orleans, and goes after it by running for city coroner. He survives both hurricanes to help the city get back on it's feet.

Billy Grace: the current Rex when Katrina hits, Billy tries to get his rich friends to help rebuild the city but it seems everyone likes to profess their love for the city but don't want to touch their wallets.

Belinda Carr: a black woman who has dreamed of a Walton life with a white picket fence since she was a young girl, and never gives up the dream that she will eventually get there no matter what life hands her.

Wilbert Rawlins Jr.: a high school band teacher, he takes his job seriously and changes the lives of every student he comes across, no matter how down and out they are or how rough a life they are living.

Tim Bruneau: a white man who becomes a New Orleans police officer after the major change in the way the department is run, he takes his job in this city seriously, until Katrina hits and changes everything he ever thought and believed to be true.

This is by far the best book I have read in the past 5 years. Although nonfiction, it reads like a novel. Usually in a book like this there are 1 or 2 people I don't really care about and have to force myself to read their sections but not the case in Nine Lives. I loved every one of people as if we were friends. I truly, honestly did not want this amazing book to end. Its fascinating and heartbreaking, at times making me laugh, shake my head in shock and fill with tears. New Orleans is a city that has been through hell, twice, and it's people have never lost their spirit or their love for their city. I think a big theme is race, but it isn't told on a way that says this way is right and that way is wrong. I can't even give this book justice in a review. I just recommend everyone to read it and see if you don't fall in love with The Big Easy and it's amazing and fascinating cast of characters.

5 stars

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

The time: the present. The place: a Balkan country ravaged by years of conflict. Natalia, a young doctor, is on a mission of mercy to an orphanage when she receives word of her beloved grandfather’s death far from their home under circumstances shrouded in confusion.

Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man, would go on such a far fetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.

I'm pretty sure this entire book went over my head. It is beautifully written, but I felt through the whole thing, especially at the end, that I was missing something the author was trying to convey. It was interesting, but the whole thing about the tiger's wife was completely beyond me. I mean, I understood it, but I think there was a deeper meaning that I didn't pick up on.

2 stars

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Iron House by John Hart

An old man is dying.

When the old man is dead they will come for him.

And they will come for her, to make him hurt.


At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.


For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy. . . .


The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena—who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door— back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House.

Awesome, awesome book! Family secrets, hit men, the mob, enforcers, this has it all. There is only one thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars: Elena. She annoyed the hell out of me. Possible minor spoiler coming could she even think to ask Michael to chose between his brother and her? I know she was pregnant but come on! And she was such a whiner! She found out who Michael really was, decided to go with him, and then had a fit every time he did something illegal. Make up your mind. I wish she would have left early on in the book to go to Spain because her little tantrums and drama made me freaking insane. Otherwise, this book is Hart's best by far in my opinion. It rocked!

4 stars

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen

Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents' crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family's ambitions through marriage. Yet stories of courtly love, and of her parents' own legendary romance, surround her. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her-seemingly a perfect husband. But what begins like a fairy tale ends quite differently. When Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Who is to be believed? The King, beloved by his subjects? Or the Queen, unseen and unknown by her people?

First of all, I did not write that summary, I was afraid if I did I would give something away. Reading books like this always make me realize that if I had been born in this time period I would have most likely been beheaded very soon because I would not have been able to hold my tongue. I felt so sorry for Juana, and oh how I hated Phillipe. As soon as his name turned up on a page, I could feel my blood pressure rise a little. Another great historical fiction read by someone who is becoming one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Can't wait to read more by this author.

4 stars

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.

I am not too sure how I feel about this book. Some of the stories made absolutely no sense to me or had no resolution or little details and I kept waiting for the characters to pop up again but they never did. I liked Olive a lot; she reminded me of myself. It also made me take a step back and look at the way I treat my parents now that I am older. That is the part that resonated with me the most. The way we behave and act toward our parents may seem like no big deal to us and we see nothing wrong with it, but it affects them deeply, and hurts them. I kind of felt like crap when I finished reading it, but it was interesting enough to hold my attention on vacation which is a feat.

3 stars

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

The story of 3 generations of the Kelleher family and the drama that unfolds at the family beach house in Maine one summer. There is Alice, the matriarch, who is still suffering over the death of her husband 10 years earlier and for which she blames her daughter, and the tragic death of her sister at the Coconut Grove when she was young for which she blames herself. Then there is Kathleen, Alice's oldest daughter, the one Alice blames for her husbands death. Kathleen is a recovering alcoholic who lives with her boyfriend on a worm farm in California. She always swore she would never return to that beach in Maine, but circumstances beyond her control make her go back on the proclamation much to her dismay. Finally there is Maggie, Kathleen's daughter, who's in her 30's, just broke up with her loser boyfriend, and found out she is pregnant with his child. On the sidelines is Ann Marie, wife to Kathleen's brother, who just won a dollhouse competition (she's in her 50's) and thinks it is her sole purpose to care for Alice, much to Alice's chagrin. These women converge at the house in Maine one summer to confront their demons, come to terms with each of their deep secrets, and try not to kill each other.

I had a really hard time giving this book a rating. I wasn't rushing home to read it, but once I picked up reading it I didn't want to put it down. Every character in this entire book is self absorbed and insufferable. Alice is a tyrant, and knowing the truth of what happened that night at the Grove didn't make me change my opinion of her. It was sad and tragic, but her actions through the whole book could not make me pity her. Kathleen, who is 59, needs to grow up and get over herself, however out of all of them she is the one I liked the most and that isn't saying much. Ann Marie is just incredibly bizarre and reminded me of a Stepford wife with a savior complex. Then there is Maggie. I think she may have been the absolute worst character in my opinion. The things she did to spy on her boyfriend, the whining, her complete dependence on a guy who doesn't care for her and is obviously an asshole and the way she pines away for him made me sick.

However, there were parts that had me cracking up out loud. If you have read it or plan to read it, remember the Canadians. Just thinking about that part makes me smirk even now that I've finished it. The story of Alice's sisters death was one of the most tragic things I've read and made me pity her, until the next time she opened her mouth that is. No one really ends up with any redeeming qualities. I wish Alive would have told her family the story if her sisters death; I think that would have made for good reading. I'm really on the fence with this one and the more I think about the less I'm decided.

3 stars

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

When journalist Ellie looks through her newspaper's archives for a story, she doesn't think she'll find anything of interest. Instead she discovers a letter from 1960, written by a man asking his lover to leave her husband - and Ellie is caught up in the intrigue of a past love affair. Despite, or perhaps because of her own romantic entanglements with a married man.
In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in hospital after a car accident. She can't remember anything - her husband, her friends, who she used to be. And then, when she returns home, she uncovers a hidden letter, and begins to remember the lover she was willing to risk everything for.
Ellie and Jennifer's stories of passion, adultery and loss are wound together in this richly emotive novel - interspersed with real 'last letters'.

I am not one for love stories, romance or any other kind of mushy topic, in books, T.V. or movies. I find them corny and pathetic. I bought this because I thought it had a really cool title and sounded pretty interesting. I was amazed by how much I loved this book. It almost made me cry, and that is a feat in itself. I was up late many a night reading it trying to find out what was going to happen to Jennifer and her ill fated love affair with Anthony. If I could ever have a love of my life, I would want it to be like theirs. The only reason it didn't get 5 stars is because in the beginning, you stay in the 1960's, but it flashes back and forth from before Jennifer's accident and after, and it took me about 75 pages to realize that is what was happening. Be prepared to be swept away in their beautiful and heartbreaking story.

4 stars (I wish it was 5!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good Neighbors by Ryan David Jahn

This is a fictional account of the Kitty Genovese case from the 1960's. After coming home from work she was attacked outside her apartment and stabbed. She managed to get away and run to the courtyard where she was attacked again. There were 38 people in the complex that watched it happen and not one of them called 911 or tried to help. After her attacker fled the second time, she managed to drag herself back to her apartment only for him to come back for the final time. This book tells individual stories of the little dramas unfolding in all of the apartments.

I read this true story a few years ago and was appalled by it and I didn't feel any different after reading this book. It gives me chills. Great story, wonderful writing, you won't want to put it down. Just don't hope for a happy ending because there isn't one sadly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back Roads by Tawni Odell

Harley Altmeyer should be going to college. Instead he is stuck in a mining town in Pennsylvania raising his 3 sisters, working 2 jobs to pay the bills, while his mom serves a life sentence for killing his father. Harley ends up becoming obsessed with Callie, the 33 year old mom of his youngest sister Jody's friend. As they begin a doomed affair, Harley starts to find out what really happened the night his father was shot, who is really to blame, who really pulled the trigger, and some family secrets that were best kept hidden.

I read this in one day. It was like a train wreck, you know you aren't supposed to look but you just can't help but stare. I can't remember the last time a book gave me such a sense of foreboding. A lot of reviews remark that the book is funny; I did not find it funny. It was heartbreaking, disturbing, sad, but not funny. Be prepared if you read it; I had an idea as to what was going to go down, but I hadn't even scratched the surface.

5 stars

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen

Sofi is a young girl from Italy who's portraits attract the attention of Michelangelo, who invites her to come study under him. While learning everything she can, she also falls into a dangerous, at that time in history, relationship with a fellow student. After an encounter that could forever tarnish her family's name, she leaves her study and returns home to soon become a painting teacher to the new queen of Spain, wife of King Felipe. The Queen, a French girl of 14, in a Spanish court, has to learn how to please her King, in matters of the flesh and heart, and must ensure the birth of a son for an heir to the throne. King Felipe has been married twice previously and has a son from one if the marriages, Don Carlos, but everyone knows that he can never take over the crown. The queen develops a strange, in my opinion, relationship with Don Carlos, and becomes involved in a dangerous relationship with the Kings half brother, Don Juan. Sofi goes from being the Queens painting instructor to her favorite lady in waiting, trying to teach her how to please get husband, all the while receiving constant news about the Spanish Inquisition and their focus on her old mentor, Michelangelo, and the man who stole Sofi's heart along with something much more important in that day and age.

I loved this book. It was like a historical soap opera. Sofi is so real you can't help but relate to her on some level, Don Carlos completely freaked me out and his relationship with the Queen was just plain weird, as was he, the fighting between the Queens French and Spanish ladies in waiting, and wondering what will ever come of the incident that caused Sofi to leave her painting studies to begin with, I couldn't get enough of this historically accurate account of one if the few women painters of the Renaissance. If you are into historical fiction, a little romance (which I usually am not), betrayal, secrets and possible murder check this one out. You will not be disappointed.

5 stars

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

The vampire saga continues within third installment in Rice's popular vampire series. In this one, the vampire Lestat becomes a rock star, his music and lyrics about vampire history waking the Mother, who is out to kill anyone that is against him.

I'm going to keep reading these but I couldn't get with this at all. Flashing from the past to present, with more characters, both old and new, that are too many to begin to name here, I didn't even know what was going on most of the time. While the story of the twins was very intriguing along with the mystery behind it, it couldn't redeem this even a little.

1 star

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

The Vampire Chronicles continue in this second installment, with Lestat taking the center stage to tell his history and his side of things. Going from pre-turn of the century Paris to Egypt, Lestat tries to find meaning in what he has become and the story of how all vampires came to be. I really liked this one also. The history of Egypt and the Mother and Father was fascinating, and at times freaked me out so much I had to stop reading for awhile. I loved the character of Marius and would liked to have seen him with his own installment because I think he was fascinating. I am so glad I tried to read these again because I am really loving them.

5 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I am not going to summarize this one either because I think pretty much everyone knows what this is about; either from reading or hearing about the book or the movie. I was a huge fan of the movie. When it came out I saw it at least 20 times; I loved it. Not a Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt fan but I found it fascinating. This book made the movie look like something I shouldn't have even wasted my time watching all those times. The writing is beautiful, the descriptions perfect so that you can see all in your head, and the characters you felt you knew. (Every time they talked about "the boy" that was listening to Louis' story I kept picturing Christian Slater) but other than that I didn't even think about the actors who played the characters in the movie. Lestat is mesmerizing, Louis is grappling with his life as a vampire and Claudia may be the creepiest character in all fiction for me to this date. If you loved the movie like I did and didn't read the book because of that, please read the book. You will be blown away like I was.

5 stars

Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

I have been trying to get into Anne Rice books for as long as I can remember and have never been able to. I loved Memnoch the Devil and the Mummy but that was about the extent of it; until I read Blackwood Farm. It was a 600 page book and I didn't want it to end! I loved loved loved it. Vampires, ghosts, family secrets, and the creepy backdrop of a Louisiana swamp. Perfect in every way. I don't want to give too much away so I am not putting a summary, but if you want to lose yourself in a creepy book for a few days, this is the one.

Reading and loving this has also sent me on an Anne Rice kick, so most, if not all, of my reviews will be of her books until I get through them. I may throw some different ones in there, but right now I can't get enough of Lestat.

5 stars

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burberry

Renee is a concierge at a high class building, trying to hide her true self from everyone who lives there. Though she may be just a concierge, she is incredibly intelligent, reads massive amounts of books on a wide variety of subjects, but due to an event her past, feels that she should not mingle with the upper class people of the building. So she buts on a front, careful not to let anything slip that would give her away.

Paloma is a 12 yr old girl that lives in the building, the daughter of a wealthy parents who has a secret of her own. She is exceptionally intelligent, a genius in fact. But she also feels that she needs to hide this from everyone, just getting by in school, because if her parents knew how smart she was, they would expect more of her. She dwells on her life and the life of all those around her, and decides she doesn't want to be "stuck in the fishbowl" like everyone else, so she comes up with a plan to set the building on fire and commit suicide on her 13th birthday. While she waits for the day to approach, she keeps a journal of deep thoughts that she has, and decides from things she has experienced whether the human race is worth not taking her life. If there is hope after all.

While both Renee and Paloma already have their careful plans, a new man moves into the building, Kakuro Ozu, and everything they thought was true falls to the side. All 3 become friends, and Ozu, through his actions, shows them both that not everything they think is as it should be or is true.

This book was great, but very hard to read. The intelligence of Renee and Paloma is so great, that most of the time I had no idea what they were even talking about, but the writing was so beautiful and poetic that I couldn't stop reading. I am not saying you won't understand the book. Its just very philosophical, and that kind of thing goes way over my head, but you still know what is going on in the story. It is chock full of beautiful quotes also, and the ending had my eyes filling with tears.

4 stars

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The I-5 Killer by Ann Rule

Randy Woodfield had an athletic career ahead of him, with his good looks had his choice of any woman he wanted. But it was never enough for Randy. He started out in high school and college being arrested and most times not for indecent exposure. He got a rush from the looks on women's faces when he exposed himself to them. Not being able to hold a job, he started robbing commercial businesses. After a stint in prison for robbery, he got out and his urges got even darker. He cruised the I-5 highway, from California to Oregon, raping, sodomizing, robbing and terrorizing women, eventually leading him to murder.

Fast read. It was pretty interesting, kind of crazy how much mayhem he could cause in one day. If you have read Ann Rule before, this is just like the others, just a different story.

3 stars

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

I am so behind on reviews I can't even remember the characters names. Sorry guys!

A young girl is sent to prison for a heinous crime when she is 16 years old. After receiving 10 years in prison, she is paroled for good behavior and sent to live in a halfway house to get on her feet. But what happened that fateful night keeps coming back to her. She desperately tries to get a hold of her younger sister to talk about what happened, but her sister wants nothing to do with her. When they finally meet up, the secrets of that awful night come to light completely, and secrets they had both been hiding are forced into light, showing that hings were much worse than they seemed.

Sorry that summary sucked, I read this so long ago I don't remember much. What I do remember: this was seriously a screwed up book. I thought I had it figured out but at the end my mouth dropped open from shock. Good, fast read, but if books involving bad things happening to kids bothers you I wouldn't recommend this. Those things don't bother me and I was still shocked by the secret.

4 stars

I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

The third installment in the John Wayne Cleaver trilogy, John is searching for the monster he spoke to on the phone, sure that she is going to come after him. When bodies start showing up in his town again he thinks at first that it must be her; that she gave in to his taunting. But the more he looks at the bodies when they arrive at his family mortuary, the more he thinks this is something else. Could 2 monsters have come to town? And can he stop them both before its too late?

I loved this trilogy, I really did, but this last book was a letdown. I thought the ending was a bit of a cop out. Without going into detail, I thought the ending was pretty sad, and not in the weepy way. It was still a good, fast read, but I wish Wells wouldn't have stopped at 3 books and kept exploring the character of John. There was a lot of potential there, a little Dexter in training if you will. But the ending was just like, oh well, this is only a trilogy so let's make this happen to tie it all up.

3 stars

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

The accident was tragic, yes. Bloody and horrific and claiming, the life of a beautiful young sorority girl. Nicole was a straight-A student from a small town. Sweet-tempered, all-American, a former Girl Scout, and a virgin. But it was an accident. And that was last year. It's fall again, a new semester, a fresh start.

Craig, who has not been charged with murder, is focusing on his classes, and also on avoiding Nicole's sorority sisters, who seem to blame him for her death even though the police did not.
Perry, Craig's roommate, is working through his own grief (he grew up with Nicole, after all, and had known her since kindergarten) by auditing Professor Mira Polson's sociology class: Death, Dying, and the Undead.

Mira has been so busy with her babies -- two of them, twins, the most perfect boys you could imagine but still a nearly impossible amount of work even with husband Clark's help -- that she can barely keep herself together to teach (Death, Dying and the Undead), let alone write the book she'll need to publish for tenure.

And Shelly, who was the first person at the scene of the accident, has given up calling the newspapers to tell them that, despite the ''lake of blood'' in which they keep reporting the victim was found in, the girl Shelly saw that night was not bloody, and not dead.

This was so super creepy. I read it in one day and it reminds me of something but I can't seem to remember what. A movie or something. Nicole, the sorority, the hazing, all of it; creepy, creepy, creepy. I could not put this book down, and yet I read the whole thing, and have no idea what the outcome was; I didn't get it. That was the only negative thing. Knowing this author wrote The Life Before Her Eyes (I saw the movie, didn't even know it was a book until I started reading this one), I knew that the ending was going to leave me confused, but I had hoped for more of a resolution than there was. A story about relationships, campus ghosts, getting into the perfect sorority, and obsession at the very heart of it, I think anyone who reads this will be up late finishing it. And if you do and understand the ending? Please let me know....

4 stars

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Strain by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan

A Boeing 777 lands on the tarmac at JFK airport and goes completely dark. The engines have shut down, communication has been cut off, there is no movement inside, and every shade has been pulled down. The FAA and CDC are called in, and Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from Project Canary are called in to investigate. What he sees and finds is beyond his imagination.

In a pawn shop in New York, Abraham Setrakian knows something has landed on US soil. Something old, something evil, something he tried to stop years ago while he was in a WWII camp being held by the Nazi's. He knows it is here now, and he knows how to stop it, but will anyone believe him and his story of the unbelievable?

Think Stephen King meets Michael Crichton. It was good, not as great as I had expected, but still good. Some parts were seriously creepy and I may never go in my basement alone again, but I was hoping for a bigger scare. Hopefully the second and third installment are better.

4 stars

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Giveaway!

I am giving away a brand new copy of the third installment of author Dan Wells John Wayne Cleaver trilogy, I Don't Want To Kill You. Reply to this post and I will radomly pick a winner at the end of next week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley is a young con, running IRS scams from New York City. He is approached one night while he is out at a bar by, Mr. Greenleaf, the father of Dickie Greenfleaf, a brief acquaintance of Tom's. Mr. Grenleaf believes Tom and Dickie to be closer than they actually are and asks Tom for his help. Apparently, Dickie went to live in Italy and work on his painting, which his parents think he has no talent for, and won't come home to help with the family boating business. Mr. Greenleaf agrees to pay Tom's way to Italy, so he can bring his son home. But once Tom gets there and slips into the lives of Tom and his friend Marge, he becomes obsessed with Tom and his life. He wants to be like him, exactly like him, and will stop at nothing, not even murder, to accomplish it. This was pretty disturbing. I never saw the movie so nothing was spoiled for me, but Ripley is a complete nut! I couldn't believe some of the things he did and got away with, all the way up to the end. I am going to have to check out the other Mr. Ripley books to see what he gets into next. 4 stars

Friday, April 8, 2011

Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner

The story of Jane Seymour and her rise from the daughter of the inhabitants of Wolf Hall, to a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine and later Queen Anne, and her sudden ascent to the Queen of England, wife to King Henry VIII. I love reading about Tudor history so I was happy to find a book devoted to the Queen there is so little known about. It was a great, interesting, quick read. The actions of Anne Boleyn never cease to amaze me no matter how many books I read involving her. The ending is sad, very sad in my opinion, and gave a view of Henry that I had never read about before.

4 stars

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

Rosamund tells her grandfather that she would gladly sell her soul to Satan for a chance at freedom from the house where she lives with him and no sooner are the words out of her mouth than a stranger shows up at the home. Philip Tempest, a long time student of Rosamund's grandfather, hears these words and starts beguiling her with tales of his travels. When he asks her if she will go with him, where he lives on his yacht and travels at his own freedom, she readily agrees having no idea what she is getting in to. The two sail off, and when Philip's true self becomes clear, Rose does everything she can to escape him, going from Paris to England, convents to insane asylums, with Philip following her every move. The story culminates in an ending that I didn't even see coming. I usually have a hard time reading books written in the 1800's but had no trouble with this one. The story is fast paced, interesting, and its easy to see why it was too sensational to be published at its time. The lengths Philip goes to in order to get back Rose are disturbing in the least. Rose's character got on my nerves a little in the beginning, but as the story moved on I liked her. This is the truest stalker/obsession/domestic story I have ever read. It was describe in such detail as to be creepy. Good book. 4 stars

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

I can't even begin to describe my love for this book. I can't really give a plot summary, as there is no definite beginning, middle and end. It is the story of a group of ex-Texas Rangers who decide to run cattle up to Montana and be the first to settle there. The book follows their journey from Texas to Montana, everything they endured, those they lost upon the way, and those they gained. I have never been a fan of westerns, but this book was amazing. I have seen reviews that call it epic, and I don't think I have ever used that word to describe any book, but this truly is epic. There are characters you love, characters yo hate, and characters you love to hate. It made me laugh, made me cry, and made me slow down my reading because I didn't want it to end. I have the next one in the series but I am afraid it won't be as good so I am going to put off reading it for awhile. I recommend this to everyone though. All day at work I looked forward to getting home and losing myself in the journey with Captain Call and his unlikely group of cowboys. 5 stars

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Angel Time by Anne Rice

Lucky was born and raised in New Orleans by 2 alcoholic parents, one who was a crooked cop that ended up going to jail and being killed when he was very young. Lucky's mother never got off the booze, so he was left to bring in all the money and take care of his 2 younger siblings. The only comfort he finds is when he plays his lute. After a shocking tragedy, Lucky goes to New York to start over. There he finds company with an unlikely man, and ends up becoming what we meet him as, a hit man. He calls his boss, The Right Man, finds out the particulars, and kills with frightening accuracy. He has record with Interpol, the CIA and the FBI but no one knows who he really is. He's a ghost, and he likes it that way. The next job he gets he has to kill a Russian banker in the hotel room in California that Lucky himself always stays in when he needs to get away. He is himself whenever he's there; no disguises, no false names.

"There were omens from the beginning"

Lucky didn't feel good about this assignment. It was a part of his life that he kept away from The Right Man, so he had no idea that this was Lucky's personal place to go and be himself, but it was still a job and had to be done, whether he liked it or not. After completing the job, Lucky is approached in the room by Malchiah. Malchiah is an angel, not a guardian angel, but one of the Seraph, who took an interest in Lucky's life early on. He takes Lucky back to his past, to the tragedy that still haunts him to this day, shows him how he became what he is now, and asks for his help. He wants Lucky to start working for him, using his skills for good instead of bad. With Lucky's consent, they travel back in time and Lucky tries to complete the task given to him. But his past continues to haunt him, the things he has done and seen continue to haunt him, and he wonders if anything he does will make a difference to anything. What happens if he completes this great task given to him? And what happens if he fails?

I was never an Anne Rice fan. I didn't get into the vampire books or the witch books, in fact the only 2 books of hers I really enjoyed were Memnoch the Devil and The Mummy. I fell in love with this book. Her writing is beautiful, the characters are engaging, and as we went back in time with Lucky to see what tragedy befell him when he was 18, the angel Malchiah turned and wept, and I found myself weeping as well. I am thoroughly looking forward to the second book in this series, and can only hope for more wonderful things.

5 stars

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

Private investigator Tess Monaghan is on bed rest due to her pregnancy. With nothing to do during her long hours sitting on her back porch, she has taken to watching all of the dog walkers in the park. One in particular catches her attention, a girl in a green raincoat walking an Italian Greyhound in a matching green rain coat. They are there every day at the same time, except for the Sunday Tess sees the little dog running through the park in his coat, leash attached, and the girl is nowhere to be found. She enlists the help of friends to try to find out what happened to the woman, getting involved in something that she never expected.

Yes, it is Rear Window basically. Its a nice short read, and there is a bit of a twist at the end, but nothing spectacular. Still, if you are looking for an enjoyable quick read, I would check it out.

3 stars

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

Eliza has been happily living her life with her husband and two children, not thinking about her past, when she receives a letter in the mail. It is from the man who kidnapped her when she was 15 and held her for 6 weeks, eventually raping her before letting her go. He is on death row for the murder of another girl, and is believed to have killed others, but it could never be proven. His letter tells her that he saw her and her husband's picture in a newspaper and though she had grown up, he'd know her anywhere. This starts a series of correspondence with the man, Walter Bowman, phone calls and an eventual visit. Eliza doesn't want her children to know yet what happened to her that summer, and she knows Walter wants something. She wants something herself; she wants to know about the other girls he never admitted to killing and she wants to know why he let her go.

Going back and forth from the present to the time she was being held captive by Walter, this was pretty interesting, disturbing and creepy to say the least. The game of cat and mouse, and the true reason Walter is contacting Eliza will keep you reading long into the night.

4 stars

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Ann Rule was working at a crisis hotline when she met and became friends with her coworker, Ted Bundy. They became very close friends and as his murders started coming to light, with no suspect in sight, but a slight description, she was working with police on the case, never knowing that it was Bundy who they were looking for. As a few of the women he tried to kidnap and later kill got away and gave descriptions, she realized that the person sounded more and more like Ted.
This was audio book and read by the author. I had never really read about Bundy because he is pretty notorious and I like reading about crimes that most people hadn't heard of. This book wasn't bad, I didn't like the authors narration. The fact that he escaped from custody 3 times is astounding to me. I work for prosecutors and I can't imagine that ever happening, but things were different back then. The brutal killing spree he went on in Florida, beating, strangling, and raping 5 women in a college dorm in 15 minutes time with no one hearing anything was more than disturbing. The thing that I didn't like about this most of all was how the author goes on and on about the women who had become blind to the things they suspected Ted of doing and the things they knew, when she herself was one of them. I would think if it was me, a time would come when I would say to myself, "OK, it is him" and stop taking his freaking calls! I don't care how close of friends we were, some things you can't ignore.

2 stars

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo

The Vidocq Society, a group made up of the top profilers, detectives, pathologists and other types of law enforcement from across the world meet once a month in Philadelphia to discuss a cold case to see if they can provide any insight or help with the investigation. The case must have been cold for at least 2 years for the society to even consider taking it on. The group was founded by William Fleischer, former Philadelphia Police Officer, FBI Special Agent who later became the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Customs Service in Philadelphia; Frank Bender, a talented sculptor and forensic reconstructionist who's bust of John List helped lead to his eventual capture; and Richard Walter, forensic psychologist for the State of Michigan prison system and a crime scene analyst/profiler. The group is now compromised of over 150 men and women from around the globe who gather to try to solve the world's most perplexing crimes.

This was an audio book for me. I think if I had read it, I never would have been able to finish it. The stories are very interesting, the members of the Vidocq are incredibly interesting and I enjoyed reading about all of them, however the problem I had with the book that it seems most people have had is that it jumps all over the place. A case that is brought up in the first chapter doesn't show up again until the end of the book, so I think it would be hard to follow if you read it; at least for me. Otherwise, I found it fascinating. The narrator was enjoyable, and his narration of the crime of John List was so intense I stopped what I was doing as I listened to devote my full attention to what he was saying.

4 stars

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

On their father's deathbed, Meredith and Nina's father extract a promise from them that they will get the full fairy tell their mother always told them when they were children. Their mother, Anya, has been distant their entire life and appeared to not love them. After his death, Nina is able to get Anya to start telling the fairy tale only its not a fairy tale at all, but the story of her life in Stalin's Leningrad before she met and married their father. It is a story of love and loss, surviving in the harshest of circumstances, and the things we are forced to do and how they stay with us and influence the rest of our lives.

This book reminded me of why I love historical fiction. I loved this book. Great story, great characters. I hope she writes another historical fiction because out of all her books I have read, this is by far the absolute best.

5 stars

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Im Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black

Let me start by saying I love Lewis Black. Not many people can make me laugh as hard as he does. However, this book is just too far. I get it, he is Jewish and doesn't celebrate Christmas. I was hoping for a funny book where he makes fun of the holiday and all of the fuss and what I ended up with was him continually whining over the fact that he is 61, not married and doesn't have kids, how the marriage wagon passed him by, and about those he has lost in his life. Dwelling on those I have lost in my life is the reason I am depressed from November to January, I don't need to read about someone else's misery. When he isn't going on about that, he is going on about what a glutton he is, how he doesn't give enough to charity, and his addiction to clothes. I am really glad this was a free download and I didn't pay for it. The only reason it got 2 stars is because the final chapter about his USO Tour was wonderful.

2 stars

Monday, January 3, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2010

1. The Long Walk by Stephen King

2. The Machiavelli Covenant by Allan Folsom

3. The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell

4. The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse

5. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

6. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

9. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

10. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Best Debut - I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Best Series - John Wayne Cleaver series by Dan Wells

Best Classic - The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Best Book to Lose Yourself In - The Machiavelli Covenant by Allan Folsom

Best Nonfiction - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Biggest Disappointment - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson

Best Suspense Book - The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse

Best Historical Fiction - Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Best Vacation Book - A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin