Last year, I read only a few books, and didn’t review them online as I have in years past.
Probably one of the best that I read last year was, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ – I never read it before and I really enjoyed it! Another good one was ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.
I’m off to a good start this year. I’m trying to stop getting lost in cyber space, watching less TV, and committing to making more time to read. This is what I’ve read so far this year…
1) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Great book with a compelling story. I appreciated that fact that the language was not as how it would have been actually spoken in 1154… that would be painful. The story twisted and turned and I look forward to reading the others in the series.
2) 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I have read a lot of King’s novels over the years (my sister in law owns every book he’s written) – and this was one the best of his I’ve read. He really has a gift for making characters (and even time travel!) very realistic and believable. When reading this book. I Just Wanted To Know How it Finished! I couldn’t put it down, and it drove me crazy! It’s such a unique idea and I loved how history (well, from the late 50’s and early 60’s) was entwined in the story. I loved the language and feel of the time in America. Awesome book.
3) The Highest Calling by Larry Janesky. This is a business book written in the style of a novel – that’s probably why I found it tolerable and actually interesting. Mr. Janesky is probably best known for creating the business Advanced Basement Systems (maybe some of you aren’t familiar with that franchise, but here in Southern Ontario – there have a thriving business – actually my mom used them to waterproof her basement in her 100+ year old cobblestone farmhouse!) If you are a business owner and are looking for some ideas and inspiration, then I highly recommend this book.
4) Swimsuit by James Patterson. I am so over thinking I’ve read everything he’s written! This novel was typical of his style – short chapters and a nice fast moving story. I read this book in less than 5 hours (and during that time I also made dinner and went in the hot tub for almost an hour!). This book could have been better if it was written by someone else. The story was unique and would have been better if it wasn’t written in Patterson’s normal quick style. Essentially an author/reporting is following a story and a serial killer contacts/hire/threatens him to write his story. Good book, but it could have been better.
Well, I’m off to a good start. I’ve reading one I’m halfway through, then the epic, ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King (compliments of my sister-in-law of course) to read.
The challenge begins again! I’m hoping to read a little bit out of the box this year. I’d like to read a few biographies and histories.
Here we go!
#1 – The House Rules by Jody Picoult. This is the only book I’ve read by this author and I would certainly be open to reading more of her novels This was the January selection for my book club. This is the story of a young man with Asperger’s Syndome, who becomes the focus of a murder investigation.
The story is told in the first person, which I generally don’t like, however, with many different characters giving their perspectives, it felt right.
It was quite frustrating at times, and often I was wondering, ‘why? Why would he do that?’, but the author did a great job of explaining Asperger’s without being overly clinical.
It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but a good read nonetheless.
#2 – Honeymoon by James Patterson. I’m not even going to say it…
This book is again very typical of James Patterson; short chapters, evil doers, and a quick, compelling read. I think I read this book a bit too fast as a part of it that was revealed at the end didn’t make sense. I may look up a review or surmise of it just to clarify a few things – that was not typical of my experiences reading James Patterson, so I’m sure it was just me.
All in all, a decent book, but not his best IMHO.
#3 – Where Serpents Lie by T. Jefferson Parker. This is the first book I’ve ever read by this author, and I would definitely looks for more of his books in the future.
The book starts off in a rather disturbing way as the subject matter deals with child prostitution and kidnapping. I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who couldn’t handle books of this genre, as at times the story was quite bothersome, and the characters rather deranged.
The author did a fantastic job creating the lead character. I was moved by him and his character seemed realistic.
A good book.
#4 – Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell. I have said in the past that I’m not going to read any more Patricia Cornwell novels, and this time I mean it! This book features her reoccurring character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and is written in her first person perspective.
I found this book annoying and slow. The characters (again, much like the last novel I read of hers) are always fighting, secretive, withholding information, self-centred, and paranoid. The characters are over achievers who believe the entire world would collapse because of something they did or did not do. They are unrealistic, one-dimensional, without many redeeming qualities, except anal obsessive-compulsive workaholics – if that can be viewed as a good thing…
The constant dialogue jumps around and is filled with eye rolling, exasperating and needless conversations.
It was one of those books where, HE’S THE BAD GUY! screams so loudly that obviously he’s not. Very annoying, I think Patricia Cornwell thinks her readers are stupid (we may not have 6 degrees, but we’re not stupid).
The book did come to a tidy end and I almost enjoyed the last 4 pages.
I did not enjoy this book and would love to talk to someone who did.
Alright! Done and done on December 30th with a day to spare! Please excuse the short reviews…
#43 – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This was an excellent book about a headstrong Southern Baptist preacher who drags his very unprepared family in the wilds of the African Congo during the very turbulent and politically dangerous late 1950’s. I became emotionally involved in this book, not understanding the meekness of the wife/mother, and frustrated by the husband.
The story follows the family for years and it is very interesting to see how the kids lives end up. This is a brilliant book and I recommend it and also another book by Kingsolver I read years ago, ‘The Bean Trees’.
#44 – The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly. This crime/law/drama is the story of a lawyer who left the profession due to an accident and drug addiction and is thrown back into the limelight when he is given a huge case when a lawyer friend mysteriously dies. It’s a good story and I recognized some of the characters having read this author before, but I found the lawyer character to be so obnoxious and egotistical it was at times difficult to read. I give this book 6 out of 10 stars, a hearty ‘meh’.
#45 – White Hot by Sandra Brown. I have read several of Sandra Browns novels over the years, my mother being a fan ergo; free reads for me – and never have I been as disappointed as I was with this effort. The characters are completely one-dimensional, but repeatedly described as passionate, focused and driven. I’m not usually super critical of novels, as I know even the worst book is better than I could write, but this one was decidedly not good. Too bad, it could have been great if the author just toned down the characters and made them more realistic… thinking back there were maybe 3 characters that seemed real, and they were all blue-collar workers or alcoholics… hm…
#46 – Watership Down by Richard Adams. I loved loved loved this book! Apparently it was one of my grandmother’s favorites (my wacky grandmother btw), and I can see why. The author did a beautiful job describing the English countryside without burying the reader in it. The story is about a group of rabbits (so cute that the author states that rabbits can’t count past 4, so above 4 the rabbit language word is ‘thousand’ – When asked how many rabbits are travelling together and there is 6, the response is ‘thousands’ – too funny) who move about looking for a safe, happy place to live. It’s amazing that I became more enthralled with these animals that I have with many human characters, it is just written so well. I realize a book about rabbits may sound weird, but it is awesome, and one my top 10 list of all time favorites.
#47 – Run For Your Life by James Patterson. Wisely I am no longer assuming that I have read everything that James Patterson has written, as books keep popping up that I’ve never heard of… This is the story of police detective Michael Bennett who leads a very colourful home life, but is also busy chasing a mass murderer who calls himself, ‘The Teacher’. This novel is typical of Patterson’s other books, it’s lightening quick, engaging and compelling. I like this new Bennett character and the background of New York City. Of course I’ll look for other Patterson novels now that I’ve accepted the fact I’m not always right. Ha!
#48 – Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. There was a time when I was really into Stephen Kings novels and I can actually remember quite a bit about the last one I read, The Duma Key, although it was probably 4 years ago. I forgot what an incredible author he is. His writing flows so nicely and his style, at times, is my ideal. This book is 4 short stories and truly, I was more enthralled by the characters in these short stories than I have been with others in full length books. Stephen King is just that good. This is an excellent book and all four stories will have the reader on the edge of the seat. I give it 9/10 stars.
#49 – Alex Cross’s trial by James Patterson. Surprise surprise – another James Patterson book that I never read! This was an awesome book and a very unique concept, as the book is ‘written’ by Patterson’s famous character, Dr. Alex Cross. It’s the story of one of Cross’ ancestors whose meeting with a ‘civil rights lawyer’ (although no such thing really at that time) had an impact on race relations in hostile Mississippi in the early 20th century. Just as Patterson’s other books, this one is quick and very entertaining… the story is so different from his usual books I constantly had to remind myself that I was reading Patterson and not John Grisham (I have all of his except Ford County and Skipping Christmas, honestly, I checked). It’s a great book and I hope that ‘Alex Cross’ writes more novels about his ancestor or the lawyer character.
#50 – Back Story by Robert B. Parker. This is a Spenser novel. These novels are light reads, but I find the constant banter between Spenser and his cronies nearly unbearable. It doesn’t feel real. People I know who behave that way are socially awkward, often very intelligent, but appear to be forcing closeness with others. I don’t find that back and forth style entertaining, just annoying. However, the story was typical of Parker – good, quick and entertaining.
Ahh… done, now another 50 in 2011.
I'm still way behind on reading 50 books in 365 days… but I'm also still trying… hopefully I'll be on track by the end of August. Egads! I don't even want to think about the end of August!
#18 Then the Wind Blows by James Patterson. Last time I reviewed a few books I mentioned that it would be wonderful to find some James Patterson books that I have not read – and this one literally fell into my lap (my sister in law gave me 2 boxes of books to go through, and this was one of them). I enjoy James Patterson's novels as they are interesting and a quick, compelling read. Oddly enough, this novel was the inspiration for the 'Maximum Ride' series. I couldn't believe I never read this book. Essentially it's the story of vet and an FBI agent who with the helped of a winged girl try to take down a crazy, out of control genetics company. Wow – okay, re-reading what I just wrote sounds completely 'out there', but really, it's not all that far fetched (okay, excepted the winged girl part…).
While the 'Max' in this book is not exactly the same Max as in the series, it was interest
to see the author's inspiration for his very successful series. Cool.
#19 The Untouchables by Eliot Ness. I may be the only person in the Western Hemisphere to not have seen the movie, 'The Untouchables'. Even I'm surprised that I haven't seen more than a minute or two here and there. This type of story is right up my alley… why? Well, because it's a true story, real history
– it takes place (I'm sure you know) during the Depression and Prohibition in gangster riddled and control Chicago.
It was a great story. These men were exceptionally hard working and dedicated. What they accomplished was truly an amazing feat. I'm going to seek out more books in this
#20 Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. This is the type of novel that redeems my desire to read 50 books in 365 days. From beginning to the end, it was a great book. I wish every book was this good.
The story is about an elderly gentleman, who is either 90 or 93 – he can't remember. He lives a boring life in an assisted living home, but when the circus comes to town, he recalls his years travelling with the circus in Depression era America.
I absolutely recommend this book to just about anyone. It reads and feels very true. The characters are real, (some unreal), deep and consuming. From the first page to the last this was a fantastic book.
#21 A Cold Dark Place by Gregg Olsen. This is a cop drama revolving around a small town female detective who is dealing with the disappearance of her daughter after the brutal slaying of a local family.
There is a token serial killer, a mean ex-husband, a dirty lawyer and a messed up teenager – all the fun necessary for a good book - the story was decent. At times the author really pissed me off, (the mother walks into the kitchen and is shocked by red splatter everywhere – on the counter, dripping from a huge knife, etc… then realizes her daughter was making spaghetti sauce – Baaa!) thinking he's clever at times, but it came off a little juvenile.
I would read another book by this author, but without great expectations and if there was nothing else readily available.
Still hacking away at the 50 books in 365 days… I plan on reading a little today – then plenty next week while camping!
#15 Violets are Blue by James Patterson. Just when I think I've read everything that he has written, my mom leaves a book laying about that appears unfamiliar… Even when I started reading the book, featuring the character Alex Cross… I assumed I had read it, but then I came upon the vampire aspect of the novel, and I realized, no, I have not picked this one up before…
William knows this and now I will share with you all… I'm really over the whole vampire thing. Like really over it. Yes, I liked the Twilight series, and before that I read all the Ann Rice vampire series, but now it's just so overdone and everywhere!
Anyways, this book was good, but like I mentioned, the plot revolves around vampires. Enough already. However, I wish I could discover 345 books by James Patterson that I have not read – I like his style generally and find his books compelling and interesting.
#16 Hawkmoon by Nancy Williams. This was a very simple afternoon read. The story is about a young girl who is raised to be a violent horse thief in the frontier plains. It was a little predictable, but a good summer read. I enjoyed the historical aspect of it, and it reminded me that I like books that are set well in the past. Hmmm… I should look for some of those…
#17 Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. This is a very easy read, and is probably a good novel for a tween. When I first started the novel I thought perhaps Mr. Grisham was attempting to re-create To Kill A Mockingbird, but after a few chapters, I realized that maybe somewhere in his subconscious he perhaps honouring the best book
(imho) ever written. I enjoyed the novel written from a young teen's perspective, with his
strict parents, and passion for the law. Theodore Boone is a quarky, cute character – I don't think he'll re-occur in another book – but it was pretty entertaining.
Still trying to read 50 books in 365 days… I'm still behind…
#15 The Day the Fall Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan. When I was only 2 pages into this book, I could have sworn I read it before. I remember thinking, 'Okay, if her Dad gets a job at a button factory for sure I'm not reading any further'. I was wrong – I hadn't read it before. It was… okay. It reminded me very much of a Margaret Atwood novel, but… prissier. It was an easy read and a decent story, but it's going in my pile to donate.
#16 Fang by James Patterson. This is the 6th book in the Maximum Ride series. Here's some advice. Don't give your niece a book in a series telling her if she likes it you'll buy the rest of the series… Why? Because she's been receiving this birthday gift from me for 3 years now!
It was a good book, especially for a teen female audience… (I think they're making a movie soon) but I would recommend that the reader starts at the beginning of the series. It's a bit far fetched, action packed and moving. Yes, I cried. Damnit! I'm such a wuss.
#17 The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais. I have never before read anything from this author. This book was pretty good. The story is mainly about a former bank robber who upon his release discovers his estranged son, a police officer, was killed. It's unusual in that it is written from the perspective of a criminal… that doesn't often happen.
It was a good book, actually I was quite surprised. I think I will for this author in the future.
#18 Kiss Her Goodbye by Robert Gregory Browne. This book started off as very compelling, reminding me of a drama written by James Patterson, featuring a super bad
guy. Then the book became a little unrealistic, voodoo whack a doo stuff that didn't feel true. It was almost like the author had a great idea for a story, but didn't know how to finish it, so near the end he threw in some supernatural crap.
This was the author's first novel, and I would read him again, if I'm given free a free copy and have nothing else to read.
#19 Under the Knife by Karen Roebuck. This is a true crime book, on the cover it states, 'as seen on Maury', well, jeez, it has to be good then right? Look at the quality of that show!
I swore to myself I would never again read a true crime novel after reading the most
disturbing book I've ever read, 'Deadly Innocence' by Scott Burnside. It's the story of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, two of the sickest people that have ever existed. Even creepier, is that I know the author, and can't believe he was able to write (and experience through his writing) what they did…
'Under the Knife' was tame tame tame comparatively. It was 'okay', but not really disturbing, of which I'm grateful. I didn't feel much sympathy for the victim… I don't know why… I don't think I was led to care about her enough before 'the incident'.
This books make me realize that I can read 'true crime' novels, as some (as this one)
aren't that bad… not that good either… it's going in the donate pile.
#5 Vlad, The Last Confession – by C.C. Humphreys. This is a fictional, (with a little historical) story about the life of Vlad Dacul; better known as Vlad the Impaler. The novel is an account of Vlad's life story told by those who knew him best.
I now know more about the process of impaling a human than I ever wanted.
Although fiction, the author did a great job of enlightening the reader of perhaps why Vlad was such a nasty ruler.
It was a incredibly gory at times, with descriptive torture scenes, but a good read.
#6 Max – by James Patterson. This is latest book in the 'Maximum Ride' series. This series is written for a teenage audience.
The main character, a human/bird genetic mix, named Max, continues her plight against the evils of the world with her sarcastic, witty, tough girl attitude.
It's a quick, light and enjoyable read, especially after 'Vlad'.
#7 The Devil's Punchbowl – by Greg Iles. This story, featuring on of the author's reoccurring characters, is about big corruption in a small town.
The town is indebted to a river boat casino, but under the surface is a world of prostitution, slavery, drugs, and dog fighting. It was a little tough to stomach at times, but an excellent novel nonetheless. In my opinion, Greg Iles one of the best authors at present
#8 A Cold Heart – by Jonathan Kellerman. This story featured the reoccurring character of Dr. Alex Delaware.
In this novel, artists are being murdered and it takes an in depth investigation to uncover the murderer.
It's a great read for those who like police dramas.