August 1st, 2011

Eric in Robe

No. 42 of 2011

Title: Now You See Her
Author: James Patterson
Rating: 5/5
Book: 42/50 (84% completed)
Pages: 377 pgs
Total Pages: 16,862
Version: Book
Next up: One Summer by David Baldacci

I loved this book. It kept me turning pages and I could not put this one down! I was starting to get worried about James Patterson. His last few books haven't been anything special but this book redeemed him.

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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Books 26 - 31

Book 26
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

I had no idea that in the summer of 1942, French police rounded up more than 13,000 Jewish women, children and men living in Paris and dumped them at the Velodrome d'Hiver.

From that squalid makeshift camp, they were sent onto internment camps in France. Then, with adults going first and children left alone with no care, the authorities dispatched them to Auschwitz.

This under-told reality is the basis for his book, which follows the life of an American journalist married to a Frenchman in Paris and how her reporting on the Vel d'Hiv leads her to an unlikely connection to her husband’s family.

Both stories collide, of course, but in realistic ways. The writing is moving and concise – not easy to do – and is remarkable for its ability to contrast privilege and misfortune from a 60-year gap.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who thinks a historical novel can’t be timely, or who can’t imagine being caught up a story that takes place so far away. Actually, I’d recommend this book to pretty much everyone.

Book 27
A Very Simple Crime – Grant Jerkins

Dark mysteries can be hard to pull off, unless you’re this first-time novelist from my newly adopted town of Atlanta.

The novel is nearly Gothic in its interplay of the Lee family: creepy Adam, our narrator; his mentally unstable wife, Rachel; his disabled son, Arthur; and his slick brother, Monty.

The story opens with Adam on trial for murdering Rachel, which at first blush appears to be the act of Arthur on his first release from an institution.

Arthur, it should be noted, killed his roommate and had previously attacked his mother.

Monty, who is representing his brother, is credited by Adam for teaching him about cruelty degradation.

All three men are suspects in the murder, and the story twists and turns to make each seem a plausible killer at different points.

Trying to sort it out with the reader is Leo, an assistant district attorney trying to regain his stature after setting a child killer free.

No one is everything they appear to be, though. The regular mystery rules don’t apply in this disturbing tale, but I couldn’t put it down all the same.

Book 28
I Thought You Were Dead – Pete Nelson

 Paul is your basic lovable loser.

He’s Minnesota nice, makes a living writing the For Morons series of self-help books, still mopes over being divorced, drinks too much and struggles with dating a woman who is also dates another man.

Thank goodness, then, for Stella. She’s his 15-year-old declining dog who talks to him. Yes, to him.

For a book that contains a talking dog and some really painful relationship speak in it, this is book as sweet as our hapless Paul.

I’ll admit, too, that I actually cried while reading, which I think is a first. Suffice it to say that anyone who has ever had to put a beloved pet down will relate.

Book 29
I Knew You’d Be Lovely – Altethea Black

 Fear and lack of motion dominate this collection of stories by first-time author Black.

Characters are cautiously optimistic about what lies in front of them or ahead, but often a bit too quiet to make the points she is trying to make.

I also found most of the stories too earnest but the characters not very emotionally warm.

That said, some moments stick. The opening story of a divorced man looking for a connection uses a worn device for his link: “talking” with an attractive woman at a party whose laryngitis has her relying on writing down her end of the chatter. But the amount said and not said is what keeps this story moving gracefully to the end.

Black also shows the results of action not taken in another story about three sisters who bicker at their summer home as their parents’ marriage crumbles.

Black wants to keep her characters upbeat, despite the problems. But I find she does best when she captures the melancholy alongside the hope.

Book 30
Virals – Kathy Reichs

 Who knew Kathy Reichs – the creator of Temperance Brennan and the inspiration for the TV version of the character on Bones – had such a strong affinity for teen snark?

Reichs captures the voice of 14-year-old Tory perfectly, from the usual teen hyperbole to the more specific complaints of a clearly precocious and brilliant young woman.

Tory is actually Dr. Brennan’s niece, a fact she discovers only after her mother dies and she is forced to live with a father she has never known and did not know she existed.

Father and daughter are adjusting to life together on a secluded island off South Carolina, home only to those working in a research facility located there. Her only friends are boys the same age, just as bright in science, whose parents also work at the lab.

Their geeky adventures turn dangerous one day when they free a dog from a secret lab. Infected with a new virus, the teens come to realize they have new powers from their ailment, powers they will need to solve the riddle of a decades-old murder and how it relates to the current day.

The paranormal is a new bit for Reichs, but she manages to wrap fantasy and science together in a surprisingly authentic way. The layers come together nicely at the end, which screams for a sequel if not a series.

That appears to have been the plan. A new “Virals” book is due out later this year.

Book 31
So Much Pretty – Cara Hoffman

 Wendy White is a young woman who goes missing and is later found murdered in her small upstate New York town.

Everyone seems willing to move on after the death except Stacy Flynn, a newspaper reporter who moved from violent Cleveland to the rural area in search of environmental exposes. Flynn’s search for justice for Wendy gradually shows the community’s indifference to women and violence.

Alice Piper is the local teen who follows the story from her own unique vantage point: the brainy daughter of idealistic doctors who relocated from NYC when she was a toddler, thinking a life of organic farmers would be more pure.

The problem for me in this story is not how Alice’s story becomes the action, or that it takes so long to get there.

My issue is that each chapter is told in a different voice, either from a different character or from invented court documents and interviews with fringe players.

Hoffman has some skill in capturing the culture shock of living in the other New York and the intentional blindness of locals to the ability of their opinions and beliefs to create tragedy.

But I found the jumping around akin to listening to someone stutter, trying to tell you something they find important. At least for me, it makes me want to find another narrator.

El Corazon

95. Brave New World

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Started: July 27, 2011
Finished: August 1, 2011

I can recognize the genius of the ideas behind this book/of the world that Huxley created here, but I can't see that I really enjoyed this book either. Maybe it's because I've read it before--though it's been at least ten years since the last time--but I was bored at times while reading it. 259 pages. Grade: B-
Total # of books read in 2011:
Total # of pages read in 2011: 27,324
  • cat63

Book 42 for 2011

 The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson. 731 pages

I hadn't intended to read this. In fact I was pretty appalled when I originally heard that Donaldson was writing a third Covenant trilogy. But I found this copy in a charity shop and couldn't resist after all.

I didn't expect to enjoy it all that much as it focuses once again on the character of Linden Avery, and I wasn't that keen on her in the previous trilogy, but the book and she were much better than I expected. The plot is rather tortuously drawn out in places and Donaldson's love for obscure words manifests itself again, but I think I'm going to have to get hold of the second book now, dammit.

Recent reads.

26. The Woodcutter - (6/26) - Reginald Hill 528p
3/5 - review behind the link

27. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - (7/11) - George R. R. Martin 864p

28. Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel - (7/14) - Charlaine Harris 320p

29. The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) - (7/15) - Shirley Jackson 208p

30. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) = (7/24) - George R. R. Martin 1040p

31. The Leftovers - (7/26) - Tom Perrotta 368p
4/5 - Review behind the link

32. The Night Circus - (7/30) - Erin Morgenstern 400p

5/5 - Review behind the link - LOVED this book, definitely check it out.  Release date, September 13.  If you find my review helpful, I'd really appreciate your vote.

33. The Griff - (8/1) - Christopher Moore and Ian Corson 160p 
4/5 review behind the link 


11. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption - Laura Hillenbrand 5/5 stars 
5/5 - Amazing!

12. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - (7/2) - John Green 5/5 stars
5/5 - LOVED!

It is hard to say that this is the best audio book I've listened to because of the masterpiece that was Freedom. However, I think this is the best audio book I've heard.

This is one of those cases where the audio HAS to have been better than just reading the book. It was BRILLIANTLY done. It was a duel narration (one for each Will Grayson).

This is a teen book, for certain. About 3 high-school aged boys, two named Will Grayson, one named Tiny Cooper. It is about friendship, love, acceptance, self-acceptance, tolerance, being gay, being straight. The characters were excellent. The book was hilarious. And also touching.

I absolutely loved it, and a HIGHLY recommend it, particularly if you struggle with audio.

Skull - "vanitas"

July Reading

I have fallen behind in my book count due to reading too much online fic. It was fun, but it's time to get back to the books.

20. Tess Gerritsen, The Keepsake, 418 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 2008 (Jane Rizzoli Series, Book 7). A serial killer is leaving his victims preserved like they were ancient remains in order to lure out his intended target. It's a fast-paced thriller with some interesting twists. 4/5

21. Tess Gerritsen, Ice Cold, 435 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 2010 (Jane Rizzoli Series, Book 8). Dr. Maura Isles decides to be spontaneous, and finds herself a victim of a vehicle accident during a snowstorm, with no way to reach help. Her only hope is her friend, Detective Jane Rizzoli. This feels like a transition story, setting up for changes for Dr. Isles in future books, instead of the case-based stories like the rest of the series. 3/5