Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

About the book:The year is1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come too Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades - with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.

Quote: "Ah," Cawley said, "now we're getting into the true horrible beauty of the full-blown schizophrenic's paranoid structure. If you believe, gentelmen, that you are the sole holder of truth, then everyone else must be lying. And if everyone is lying..." "Then any truth they say," Chuck said, "must be a lie."

Why this book?: I've been seeing the ads for the movie and thought is looked good. Then I found the book for four something for the Kindle. So I got it.

My Thoughts: First off, this is not a spooky ghost story, as I thought it might be from the TV ads of the movie. It is a psychological thriller and it was quite an emotional ride for me. This story was told totally from Teddy's point of view, no info from other characters. The 1954 setting was true with to the time with Cold War overtones and rememberances of The War (WWII.) After finishing I went back and read the prologe again then reread the end. Wow. The only other book that I have read that has such a twist at the end was Ted Dekker's THR3E. I'll have to tell you that I felt my heart sink at the final few sentences, very sad. I'll probably reread this one at some time.


100+ Reading Challenge
eBook Reading Challenge
Pages read in 2010:
This book - 336
Total - 4728

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

About the book: When John Sutter's aristocratic wife killed her Mafia don lover, John left America and set out in his sailboat on a three-year journey around the world, eventually settling in London. Now, ten years later, he has come home to the Gold Coast, that stretch of land on the North Shore of Long Island that
once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America, to attend the imminent funeral of an old family servant. Taking up temporary residence in the gatehouse of Stanhope Hall, John finds himself living only a quarter of a mile from Susan who has also returned to Long Island. But susan isn't the only person from John's past who has reemerged. Though Frank Bellarosa, infamous Mafia don and Susan's ex-lover, is long dead, his son, Anthony, is alive and well, and intent on two missions: drawing John back into the violent world of the Bellarosa family, and exacting revenge on his father's murderer - Susan Sutter. At the same time, John and Susan's mutual attraction resurfaces and old passions begin to reignite, and John finds himself pulled deeper into a familiar web of seduction and betrayal. In The Gate House, acclaimed author Nelson DeMille brings us back to that fabled spot on the North Shore, a place where past, present, and future collides with often unexpected results.

Quote: The reason I've returned to America has to do with the former residents of this gatehouse, George and Ethel Allard, who had been old Stanhope family retainers. George, a good man, had died a decade ago, and his wife, Ethel, who is not so nice, is in hospice care and about to join her husband, unless George has already had a word with St. Peter, the ultimate gatekeeper. "Wasn't I promised eternal rest and peace?Can't she go someplace else? She always liked hot weather." In any case, I am the attorney for Ethel's estate and so I needed to take care of that and attend her funeral.

Why this book? I got this book from iTunes at a sale price. It was, I thought, too good to pass up.

My Thoughts: I have read several of DeMille's books and liked them all. A lot. However this book was only ok for me. The characters, for the most part were unlikable. The main character, John, went out of his way to be rude to people who only showed up in the book for him to be rude to. He was so flip in other parts of the book (and at all times) that when he declared his undying love for his ex-wife I didn't believe it. The ex, Susan, was fairly unlikable too. How can she desperately love her husband but have an affair then kill her lover because he won't take her away with him, then go back to desperately loving her husband? I didn't get her at all. Scenes seemed to go on and on. I think that much of the middle of the book could have been pared down. It didn't get really good till near the end of the book at the funeral of Ethel Allen. Things went uphill from there, story wise.

I did like the history woven through the book. Learning about the Gold Coast on Long Island was interesting. Some of John's remarks were funny, however the asides to Miss Manners (or whoever) wore thin after awhile. The ending was exciting and scary. I liked John's mother. She was a quirky character and I would have liked to read more scenes with her. All in all it wasn't a great read for me.

Nelson DeMille
You Tube (hear about The Gate House and tour a 1919 Gold Coast mansion)

100+Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele
Colorful Reading Challenge

This book-21 hours & 5 min.
Total - 86 hrs & 45 min

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Briar King by Greg Keyes

About the book: Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the skasloi lords freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land - and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power in seduction. The king's woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight - all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber. At the heart
of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family, upon whom the fate of her world may depend.

Quote: "The Briar King has always been here," Sir Symen whispered. "Before the Hegemony, before the Warlock Wars, even before the mighty Scaosen themselves, he was here. Ages turn, and he sleeps. When his sleep is troubled enough, he wakes."
Why this book? I have read a couple of Keye's other books and when I saw this one free for the Kindle I got it.

My thoughts: I have greatly enjoyed books by Keyes in the past so thought I would enjoy this. It is good epic fantasy, I did enjoy it. This book had me from the start and i just kept turning pages. The setting of this story, the world called Everon, was well built. There were many characters but I had no trouble keeping them straight. My favorite was Aspar, the goodhearted woodsman. I wanted to like Neil (the pure hearted lancelot figure) more than I did. It was full of politics, backstabbing, battles, fights, adventure and twists and turns and a little romance. There were even a few funny lines. Of course the story doesn't end at the end of this book so I have already purchased the next book in this series: The Charnel Prince. I'm anxious to see if Charles, the "saint touched" son might bring more to the story. Or maybe his companion (keeper,) the jester Hound Hat, might be more than he seems. How does Anne get back home after the attempt on her life? What of the evil Robert come back from the dead? I gotta know!
The formatting for the Kindle left some to be desired. The thing that bothered me most was that there were no breaks between paragraphs when the scenes were shifting. It was unsettling.

Plot Summary & spoilers at Wikipedia
Interview with the author

100+ Reading Challenge
E Book Challenge
What's In A Name Challenge
Opposites Attract Challenge

Pages read in 2010:
This book - 608
Total - 4392

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer

About the book: Arthur Dent's accidental association with that wholly remarkable book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has not been entirely without incident. Arthur has finally made it home to Earth, but that does not mean he has escaped his fate.
Arthur's chances of getting his hands on a decent cuppa have evaporated rapidly, along with all the world's oceans. For no sooner has he touched down on the planet Earth than he finds out that it is about to be blown up ... again.
And Another Thing... is the rather unexpected, but very welcome, sixth installment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone's favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese.

Quote: Wowbagger's mood shifted from polite boredom to impolite boredom.

"You tried to pick up a friend of mine."
"Pick up? Whit kind of pick up?"
"You know the kind where you lift something off the ground?"
"Well, not that kind."

Why this book: I loved all the Hitchhiker books so I couldn't resist getting this one.

My Thoughts: Colfer did a great job with Adam's characters. The story was outlandish and amusing. I did think that there were too many footnotes, but some of the most amusing lines were found there. I'm glad I read (listened to) it, but if you haven't read any of the Hitchhiker books, I think you would be better off reading them first. I liked Simon Jones performance, I think hearing his characterizations added a lot to my enjoyment.

At Wikipedia
Review & 2 YouTube video interviews of the author.

100+ Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge 2010
Monthly Mixer Mele

Hours listened in 2010:
This CD - 10 1/2 hours
Total - 65 hrs & 40 min.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding

From the back: When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab in the morgue - in a stranger's body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there - her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night she and the two other members of her Triad were star bounty hunters, mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures lining in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three
of them their lives but also convinced the city's other Hunters that Evy was a traitor - and she can't even remember what it was.

Now she's a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice - and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days Evy will die again - but this time there's no second chance.

Quote: The hound pounced, its massive body on a collision course with mine. I tucked and rolled without waiting, counting on the hound's speed to carry its mass over me. Heavy feet hit the pavement. I came up and fired.

Why this book?: This was an impulse buy. I had it ans wanted to read it.

My Thoughts: Evy is another tough as nails Urban Fantasy heroine. But there was nothing ho hum or the same ole same ole about this book. The characters were fresh and new, the situations were intriguing and the world well built and unique. I didn't like that the Hunters didn't seem to work well together. When Evy finally remembers what happened to her, it was pretty horrible, not reading for the faint hearted. This was a page turner that I couldn't put down. I will be reading the next book in this series.

At B & N

The author

100+ Reading Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele

Total Pages in 2010:
This book - 405
Total - 3784

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Book description: The sole survivors of a devastating ship wreck, Alec Ramsey and The Black Stallion must learn to rely on each other to survive. As a strong bond develops between them, Alec gains the trust of the magnicficant beast and eventually The Black allows Alec to ride. Finally, they are rescued, but will Alec and the Black be allowed to stay together?
Quote: The Black was drinking from the spring. His large body too was beginning to show signs of starvation. Alec no longer felt any fear of him. The stallion raised his proud head and looked at the boy. Then he turned and trotted off. His mane, long and flowing, whipped in the wind. His whistle filled the air.

Why this book: I have owned this book for over 40 years. I first read it when I was around 10 years old and several times there after. I'm rereading it now for the Flashback Challenge.
My Thoughts: While re-reading this book I could still see what attracted me to it as a child. What a wonderful fantasy, a young boy befriends and tames a wild stallion on a desert island then trains it to race. Then wins a race against two of the greatest (fictional) racing horses of the time. I dreamed of owning a horse after reading this book and much of the rest of the series. A dream that did come true for me.

It is old fashioned, written in short sentences with lots of exclamation marks to help make sure you don't miss the exciting parts. Alec is unfailingly polite, as is most everyone else here. I couldn't help but love it this time through. I think it is a good read for anyone who loves horses, a great book for children. No review necessary by concerned parents. Get it!

Official Website
At Wikipedia
Complete list - series
>On Facebook

100+ Reading Challenge
Flashback Challenge 2010
Monthly Mixer Mele
Colorful Reading Challenge
Decades Challenge 2010

Pages Read in 2010:
This book - 274
Total - 3379

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Three Miss Margarets by Louise Shaffer

About the book: Miss Peggy, Dr. Maggie, and Miss Li'l Bit, friends and confidantes for nearly a lifetime, find it funny and bewildering that they have become icons in Charles Valley, Georgia. Little does the rest of the town know that beneath the irreproachable facades of its three doyennes lies an explosive decades-old secret that is about to be revealed.

Thirty-odd years ago the three Miss Margarets did something extraordinary, clandestine, and very illegal. Although haunted by the night that changed their lives, they believe that their crime was simply a matter of righting an egregious wrong. But when a stranger's arrival in town and a tragic death opened the floodgates of memory. their loyalty, friendship, and honor are tested in ways they could never have imagined.
Quote: "Yes ma'am. I guess we southerners do take our history real serious. And Miss Li'l Bit, well, like I said, she's the real thing."

Well, "the real thing" was lying like a lump under her blankets, wearing the skirt and blouse she'd put on yesterday morning, her support hose and her second best pair of Natural Bridge Oxfords. Here her admirers would be shocked. And if they knew what else she'd done in her time.... But she wasn't going to think about that.

Why this book you might ask: This book was loaned to me to read by a friend who liked it a lot.

My thoughts: She was right! It was wonderful. I loved getting to know the three Miss Margarets and the other characters as well. This book, that spans three generations, was full of southern charm, mixed with friendship, murder, mystery, race relations, betrayal and loyalty. A vow of secrecy concerning a crime committed over thirty years ago, was made to protect people loved by the three. The story is revealed in layers, going back and forth in time. In each layer you learn more about each character, their relationships and the heart of their secret. It was not hard to follow, as I have found other books that go back and forth. By the end of the book the one person left who felt hurt by the Three Miss M's actions forgives them. I will be reading the sequel. Get it and read it!
100+ Reading Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele
Pages Read in 2010:
This book -306

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Book Description:
The wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University are renowned for many things—wisdom, magic, and their love of teatime—but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. And so when Lord Ventinari, the city's benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university revive an erstwhile tradition and once again put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff, the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary. To begin with, they have to figure out just what it is that makes this sport—soccer with a bit of rugby thrown in—so popular with Ankh-Morporkians of all ages and social strata. Then they have to learn how to play it. Oh, and on top of that, they must win a football match without using magic.
Meanwhile, Trev (a handsome street urchin and a right good kicker) falls hard for kitchen maid Juliet (beautiful, dim, and perhaps the greatest fashion model there ever was), and Juliet's best pal, UU night cook Glenda (homely, sensible, and a baker of jolly good pies) befriends the mysterious Mr. Nutt (about whom no one knows very much, including Mr. Nutt, which is worrisome . . .). As the big match approaches, these four lives are entangled and changed forever. Because the thing about football—the most important thing about football­—is that it is never just about football.

Quote: "'I would like permission to fetch a note from my mother, sir" Ridcully sighed. "Rincewind, you once informed me, to my everlasting puzzlement, that you never knew your mother because she ran away before you were born. Distinctly remember writing it down in my diary. Would you like another try?" "Permission to go and find my mother?"

He spun around. "Hold the damn thing right he hissed."
"Sorry master," said his temporary apprentice, trying to controll the sliding, finger-crushing monster that every step-ladder becomes at the first opportunity, and often without any opportunity at all.

Why this book you might ask: I love Pratchett's books and this is the newest one. I had no choice.

My thoughts: As usual, this was a fun filled ride in the fantasy Discworld. It's amazing to me that an author who is suffering with Alzheimer's can still produce such a wonderful book. This was not just about football, (or soccer as we call it in the US) it was about finding love, prejudice, finding worth, friendship, bullying, following your dreams, and the interaction of social classes. One of the things I enjoy most in this series is Pratchett's turn of phrase. There were many clever, funny asides here that made me laugh out loud. I listened to this and loved the narration of Stephen Briggs. I'm saving this one to listen to again.

Never Start With the First Discworkd Book
At Wikipedia
Sir Terry Pratchett

Audio CD
Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061868299
ISBN-13: 978-0061868290

100+ Reading Challenge
Terry Pratchett Challenge
Typically British Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele

Audio Hours 2010:
This book - 14 1/2 hrs
2010 total- 55 hrs 10 mts.

Cat Playing Cupid by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

From the Jacket: Love—and murder—is in the air. . . .
It took Joe Grey's human, Clyde, nearly forever to pop the question to Ryan Flannery, and what more romantic time to tie the knot than on Valentine's Day? But dark secrets from the past, uncovered by Joe and his feline pals, threaten to ruin the happy union.
First, a body discovered many miles away reopens a ten-year-old cold case involving a man who disappeared days before his own wedding. The jilted bride is back in town and eager to find the truth . . . or to hide evidence of her own wrongdoing. Trouble is, she's soon involved with Ryan's father, who is house-sitting and preparing meals for Joe Grey while Clyde and Ryan are on their honeymoon.
Then another body is found closer to home on the grounds of a ruined estate, deserted save for a band of unusual feral cats. Around the wrist of the corpse is a bracelet bearing the image of a rearing cat, and the cats discover a rare literary volume hidden nearby that divulges their own secret: their special ability to speak.
But as the police investigate the two murders, located more than five hundred miles apart, only Joe Grey suspects that the crimes are related. It takes a chase from which the tomcat wonders if he'll emerge alive for anyone to hone in on the connection between the murders. Finally, feline perception and cop sense combine to bring a killer to justice in this delightful new tale involving Shirley Rousseau Murphy's three amazing cats.

Quote: But at the greenlaw house Kit wasn't sleeping snuggled down with her humans. She sat wide awake in her tree house, alone in the moonlight, far too energized to sleep. She thought about joy. She thought about all the wonders in the world she hadn't yet seen and smelled and tasted and clawed and leaped over.

Why this book you might ask: I've had this book for awhile and just hadn't gotten to it. Now the Cat Book Challenge is .....well, challenging me to get to some books that have been languishing on my shelf. I don't know why I haven't read this before now, this is one of my favorite series.

My thoughts: I have found all the books in the Joe Grey series to be delightful. With Clyde and Ryan finally getting married (on Valentines Day), Kit worrying about her old friend Sage and wondering if he could he could be her dream tomcat, romance is very much in the air. As usual the cats helped solve a murder, or in this case two murders. I liked the discovery of a old, hidden book of "folktales" that could reveal the secret of the talking cats. Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit, and are not the only cats who can talk and there was quite a fuss about whether to destroy it or not. This was a fun, light, fantasy set in a lovely sounding small town I would like to live in on the coast of California.
If you've never read any of these books, I think you would enjoy meeting Joe, Dulcie and Kit. Their humans, who are wonderful characters, good people, are fun to read about as well.

Joe Grey Mysteries

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (February 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061123978
ISBN-13: 978-0061123979

100+ Reading Challenge
2010 Cat Book Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele

Pages read in 2010:
This book - 354
Total - 2799