Books Read in 2009
of Broad by Pat Conroy
This is a story of lifelong friendships
and the ups and downs involved. I mean REAL ups and downs including
child abuse, hurricanes, murder, suicide, terminal illness, infidelity,
religious vocations, fortunes made and lost, Hollywood fame, and all sorts
of fun things, but told in a way that story teller Conroy has mastered.
My one complaint about this book is that part of
it takes place in San Francisco, a house around the corner from where I
spent the first 18 years of my life. Conroy paints such vivid pictures of
locations in his books that it made me angry that he got it so terribly
WRONG. He talks about the steep slope up Union Street to North Beach
when, in fact, from where he is supposed to be starting it's a gentle
slope DOWN Union Street to North Beach. It's a minor point in the
story, but I kept fussing about it all the time he was writing about San
The Copper Bracelet
by Jeffery Deaver, Gayle Lynds, David Hewson, Jim Fusilli and a
bunch of other guys
"I think something else is going on here," a
character says before the end of the book. Never was a truer word
This book proves that not only
do too many cooks spoil the broth, but too many authors does not a great
book make. This was a free download from Audible.com (and does not,
apparently have a print version). Each chapter is written by a different
author, consequently there are so many plot lines and so many characters
it's like trying to follow a Russian novel. Just when you think you know
who is the bad guy, there is a badder guy. Just when you know who is the
hero, s/he is killed. The travel and convenient meetings are also as
implausible as a Dan Brown novel. It seems that everybody is tailing
everybody and will the bad guy (whoever it really is) succeed in throwing
the world into total chaos? The addition of the innocent daughter of one
of the characters is reminiscent of the first three seasons of "24."
Yeah, I stuck through to the end
but I wouldn't do it again.
by Diana Gabaldon
I've been reading this book for a very long time. Gabaldon does not write
short books (this one is 1059 pages long!) But I couldn't put it down.
This is Book 3 in the 6-book Outlander series. In this book
Claire takes her daughter Brianna (a lovely name) to Scotland to break it
to her that her real father was the 18th century Jamie Frasier, a fact
Bree finds impossible to believe until research proves it for her beyond a
shadow of a doubt.
Claire's 20th century husband
Frank has died by the start of this book, and Claire has been working as a
physician while raising the child she and Jamie conceived in the 18th
century. When Claire discovers that Jamie did not die in the
battle of Culloden, she makes the decision to go back through the standing
stones and see if she can find him.
She does, of course (or there
wouldn't be 3 more books!) and the couple has many adventures that perhaps
aren't quite as compelling as those in Book 2, but nonetheless
engrossing. Twenty-years later their passion seems more intense (I think
Gabaldon writes with more explicit passion with each passing book), and
their various sesparations and reunions make for mad passionate sexual
romps, in addition to all the history woven into the story, which climaxes
(literally and figuratively) running from pirates in the West Indes.
Claire seems to have more perils than Pauline.
But of course the closer I got
to the end of the book, the more compelled I was to order Book 4, so I
think my reading for the start of 2010 is already decided!
Amber by Diana Gabaldon
I read the first of the "Outlander" series years and years ago and when it
finished, started this, the second book, but could never get into it.
However, when Audible.com had a sale I was able to get it pretty cheap and
have been listening to it in the car for weeks now, finally finishing the
last two hours this morning. This continuation of the story of Claire
Randall, the woman who slipped through some standing stones in the late
1940s and finds herself in the Scottish highlands of the 1700s, and the
Scottish chieftan, Jamie Frasier, whom she meets and marries, carries the
couple to France and intimacy with "Bonnie Prince Charlie," who is trying
to recapture England for the Scots. There is a lot of history about the
Jacobite rebellion and the slaughter at Culloden field all interwoven with
the love and passion between Claire and Jamie.
Without giving away any of the
plot, let me just say that when you get to the last sentence, you will be
very happy if you already have Book 3 of the series, "Voyager" on
your shelf! Fortunately I have it both on my shelf--and in my Kindle.
The Lost Symbol
by Dan Brown
Gilbert & Sullivan operettas always have "or" titles..."HMS Pinafore,
or The Lass Who Loved a Sailor," "Pirates of Penzance or The
Slave of Duty," etc. If "The Lost Symbol" were to have an "or" title, it
would have to be "things are seldom what they seem."
Once again poor Robert Langdon
has many very long hours ahead of him which will involve a great
conflagration, death, chases--many, many chases, torture, and enough
hidden mysteries to make your head spin. I predict an influx of visitors
to Washington, D.C., each clasping copies of this latest page-turner.
Did I like it? Let me say that
it was at my doorstep when I got home from a meeting at 6:30 on Tuesday
night and I finished the last page at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon. I forgot
to eat. I sat up much too late reading. It is definitely a page-turner
and you won't be able to put it down once you get to the last quarter of
Along the way you will learn
more about the Freemasons and Ancient Mysteries than you can possibly
absorb (what incredible research this man does!) and you will learn how
crucial to understanding the book this work from the dome of the U.S.
If you enjoyed "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons,"
don't read reviews. Just buy the book and prepare yourself for another
Dan Brown roller coaster ride! If you hated the earlier two books, don't
bother; you won't like this one either.
by Stephanie Meyer
Finished...at last finished. I have finished the "Twilight"
series. Book 4 wasn't as bad as people had told me, and "vampire sex,"
which had been the brass ring people held in front of me to keep me
reading, was downright boring. However, that said, the resolution of the
Jacob-Bella-Edward triangle, about which I had really bad feelings,
resolved in a way that made me very, very happy. And Bella's dad,
Charlie, wins the prize for the "la-la-la I can't hear you with my fingers
in my ears" parent of the century. I know more about vampire powers than
I ever wanted to know, but even with all their powers, they still need to
hire a gangster from time to time.
This whole series was pretty
silly but, as I keep saying, it was written not for 66 year old women, but
for 14 year old girls.
A Good Year
by Peter Mayle
After getting back from Europe, I really wanted to read Mayle's "A Year in
Provence," but it wasn't available for the Kindle, so I ended up picking
up this fictional story of Max Skinner, who thinks he's got it made at a
financial office in London, but who unexpectedly loses his job and finds
himself out of work, out of a car, out of money and out of hope. In the
nick of time comes a letter from the attorney handling his uncle's estate
that he has inherited a vineyard in the south of France, and the house
that is attached. His friend loans him the money to travel to Provence to
check things out.
This was a delightful voyage of
discovery peppered with unforgettable characters, some nefarious, some
not. It gives a good picture of the life in a small French town, and
takes the reader into the world of French wines. A review I read said "It
is a light, funny and charming novel to be read between two heavy, serious
and demanding books," which is precisely what I was looking
for--and it filled the bill nicely.
by Dean Koontz
In the "Afterword" to this book, Koontz says that he feels this is his
best book and that he may some day write another book as good, he'll never
write one better. I haven't read a lot of Koontz, but I have to
admit this one stands head and shoulders among the ones I have
Travis Cornell encounters a dog
while walking in the woods. The dog attaches itself to Travis and it soon
becomes clear that this is no ordinary dog. In fact, it is an escapee
from a government lab which has created this highly intelligent animal
which can think and communicate with humans. But the problem is that the
dog (and its evil counterpart, "The Outsider," developed as a killing
animal) are being hunted by both the government and a vicious hit man.
And The Outsider is also out to kill the dog, whom he hates. Travis names
the dog Einstein and the two of them befriend a shy, lonely woman and,
having learned Einstein's background (the dog learns to read and spell)
they find a place they feel is a safe place to hide out.
The story keeps the reader on
the edge of her seat. The ending doesn't quite match the build up and I
felt there was a completely wasted subplot line, but the finale was quite
by Michael Connelly
This is the sixth Harry Bosch book. Harry is assigned to investigate the
murder of high profile black attorney Howard Elias, who is murdered along
with a local house cleaner, while riding the Angels Flight funicular
railway in downtown Los Angeles, just as Elias was about to start trying a
case that was certain to shake up the Los Angeles police department.
While Bosch is dealing with old and new enemies, a failing marriage, a
high profile case with the attendant media attention, secrets of the
deceased, additional murders, a memorable Dominatrix, and the ongoing
tension between various branches of law enforcement, he gradually begins
to unravel the threads which may help him solve this case.
by Stephanie Meyer
Book 3 of the "Twilight" series, which
has as long a life as a vampire. The plot of this book can easily be
summed up as: Overly long chat about werewolf history, animosity between
vampires and werewolves, Edward is so gorgeous, Jake is my friend so why
is he attacking me?, Overly long chat about vampire history, Edward is so
gorgeous, but I miss Jake, uneasy vampire-werewolf truce because everybody
wants to kill Bella, Edward is so gorgeous so I must do whatever he says,
everybody still wants to kill Bella, except Edward, who wants to marry her
and Jake who wants to make love to her. Still no sex.
Can I really take another book
in this interminable series? Do I want to quit after investing time to
read three whole books?
Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
At 35 Ryan Perry has it all--he's wealthy beyond imagination through and
Internet social networking site he created (hmmm...facebook?), he has a
gorgeous girlfriend and the world is his oyster. They he learns he's
suffering from cardiomyopathy and must undergo a heart transplant--but
will he live long enough to find a donor. As one of the richest men in
the world, he can afford just about anything, so by pulling a few strings,
he is able to make it to the top of the donor list and receive a new
heart. However, things rapidly spiral out of control and seem to enter
the world of mysticism, but in the end all, with one strange exception,
seems to have been logically explained. I've heard Dean Koontz books are
either very bad or very good. This was was pretty good. I haven't read
one of his books in a very long time, so I enjoyed it.
by Stephanie Meyer
I have to keep reminding myself that I need to read this book with the eye
and emotions of a 14 year old girl. The vampires have left the Pacific
Northwest because Edward was afraid he was putting Bella at risk, but her
heart is broken and she sinks into a deep depression. Now the thing that
most of us, I'm sure, would do when our vampire boyfriend dumps us is to
take up with the nearest werewolf family. What is it about the
Pacific Northwest? Anyway, the bulk of this second in the Twilight
series concerns her growing friendship with the werewolves and then a
misunderstanding brings the vampires back into her life again.
14 year old girl...I need to be
a 14 year old girl..... Two more books to go in the series.
Master of the
Game by Sidney Shelton
I picked this book up off the shelf of the hotel in Siena because I was
too lazy to go upstairs to get my iTouch. It's the sort of book I used to
read all the time and haven't read in a while, all about rich people and
power and sex and betrayal and all that sort of stuff. I doubt I'd read
anything else by Shelton, but this one was pretty good and I managed to
finish it in a day and a half.
by Stephanie Meyer
Everyone is talking about this series of vampire books for adolescents and
several on our France/Italy trip had read it. In fact, Jeri was reading
it when we arrived in Paris. I had to find out what all the fuss is
It helps to read this as a 14
year old girl, if you can put yourself in that mindset. There are parts
which are pretty simplistic and formulaic and make you want to roll your
eyes, but the thing really hangs together and becomes a damn good tale.
So good that I immediately came home from the trip and ordered the next
three books for my iTouch. (They tell me the sex doesn't come until the
Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer &
I picked this book up to read on our trip to France and Italy and
discovered that many in our group either had read it or were reading it.
What a charming little book. It is the correspondence (started in 1946)
among writer Juliet Ashton and her friends, publisher, and various members
of the aforementioned society on Guernsey. The friendships which develop
and the investigation that Juliet does uncover a chapter of World War II
that few, I'm sure, had any idea about. In due course, Juliet travels to
Guernsey to interview the residents personally and the trip will change
her life in ways she never dreamed.
This is a short book, and a
quick read, but highly recommended.
by Michael Connelly
It's kind of scary to think that I have read the just-released Connelly
book. Am I going to run out of thrillers by Michael Connelly soon?
Jack McEvoy, last seen in "The
Poet," has been downsized from The Los Angeles Times but he
decides that he wants to go out in style and wants to investigate one last
crime and make it his definitive murdere story. He gets more than he
bargained for when he investigates the brutal rape and murder of an exotic
dancer and ends up wondering if the kid who confessed to the crime is
guilty after all. The investigation teams him up again with FBI agent
Rachel Walling and sparks fly once again for the pair as they work to
unravel the crime. Another great book by Connelly.
Oregon by Jae
The year is 1851. Luke Hamilton, a decorated war veteran, is keeping a
dark secret that, if revealed, would change life forever. Nora Macauley,
thrown out of her family for being pregnant with an out of wedlock child
is trying to raise her daughter while working in a brothel. Luke wants
to join a wagon train to Oregon and raise horses. Luke and Nora enter
into a marriage of convenience and set off across the country in a wagon
train, while Luke works to keep the dark secret and Nora tries to
understand this strange person she has married. Along the way, Luke
teaches Nora about self respect and Nora teaches Luke about love.
This is not the best written
book in the world, but the story kept me reading and you definitely gain
an appreciation for the hardships encountered in trying to move 2000 miles
by wagon train...it's amazing this country ever got settled at all.
A Darkness More
than Night by Michael Connelly
You can really zip through these books when you can "read" them
electronically while you're doing something else. The hero of this book
is, again, former FBI agent Terry McCaleb, who recovered from his heart
surgery and living a quiet life on Catalina Island with his wife and new
baby. But he's asked to help analyze some photos of a crime scene on
which the police had come to a dead end. McCaleb discovers some
inconsistencies and can't help himself from getting involved.
His inquiries bring him in
contact with Harry Bosch, working the trial of his own case on the murder
of a Hollywood starlet. As the two men compare notes, McCaleb begins to
get a terrible sinking feeling that Bosch just may be the killer in his
Before the book ends, I
guarantee you will have checked out the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch.
And, as with all of Connelly's books, you won't be able to put it down
(or, in my case, turn it off!)
by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
I've read a lot of James Patterson books and, other than his "fantasy"
books, this is by far the most implausible. And yet I didn't do anything
for two days until I'd finished it.
NY police officer Lauren
Stillwell decides to surprise her husband by meeting him in town for a
special lunch. The surprise is hers, however, when she finds him walking
into a swanky hotel with a lovely blonde on his arm. Her imagination
works overtime as she imagines his affair with the blonde and, in revenge,
she decides to flirt with a fellow police officer. They have an innocent
"no strings attached" fling and on the night when Lauren decides to let
things go to the next level, she watches him leave the apartment to get a
special snack for both of them after their liaison and, in horror, sees
him brutally attacked.
You won't believe where this
already unbelievable beginning takes Lauren or where it ends up. You'll
roll your eyes a lot while reading the book, because nothing
happens logically, but, as I said, you won't be able to put it down.
by Michael Connelly
I've found a new thing to do during the day, rather than watch TV reruns
of shows I know by heart...listening to an audio book. I'd started this
in the car, but got so engrossed, I used it to keep myself on the
treadmill and then just transferred it to a speaker in the family room.
Amazing how much cleaning I got done!
Anyway, another Connelly
gripper. Former top man at the FBI, Terry McCaleb retired because of
heart problems necessitating a heart transplant. Turns out the heart came
from a murder victim, Terry Rivers, killed during a grocery store
robbery. Graciela Rivers, tracks him down and asks him to help find her
sister's killer. Naturally during investigation he uncovers more than a
simple grocery store robbery, the police and the feds are angry with him
for butting in, his doctor fires him as a patient and after everything is
solved, it's never really solved. All typical Connelly, but it never
The First Family
by David Baldacci
Well, I have beel absolutely glued to this book since I started
it. What a gripper! The niece of the First Lady is kidnapped and her
mother killed. At times it almost seems like a keystone cops operation
(an unfunny version), with the FBI, police and Secret Service all holding
turf wars over who gets to know what. Sean King and Michele Maxwell, two
former Secret Service agents get involved because Sean is an old friend of
the first Lady, having gotten her husband out of an embarrassing scrape
before, and she asks him to investigate privately. Somewhere in the
middle, Michele's mother is murdered in a side story that has nothing to
do with the main plot, but is one of the many twists and turns this story
takes. I have to admit that the final chapters had me wondering what
really went on in the Clinton White House.
The No. 1
Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I came to this book via the excellent HBO Series. Mma Precious Ramotswe
was left a lot of cattle when her father died. He intended for her to
sell them and set herself up in a little shop. But this intelligent,
always inquisitive woman has other plans: She wants to become a
detective and sets herself up in a little town in Botswana, a country she
dearly loves. This first book in the series consists of several cases Mma
Ramotswe solves and in the process we learn a lot about the country of
Botswana. It is a gentle, good-humored book, an easy read, and a
delightful companion to the TV series.
by Michael Connelly
Reporter Jack McEvoy's twin brother Sean, a police officer, has committed
suicide. Or at least that what his death has been ruled. But Jack isn't
convinced and as he begins to investigate he discovers a series of
disturbing similarities between his brother's "suicide" and the deaths of
many other police offers, supposedly depressed about cases they were
working. Jack brings his findings to the FBI and gradually the search for
"The Poet," who leaves quotes from Edgar Allen Poe at the scene of the
crime begins to steamroll forward. As with all Connelly books, just when
you think everything is worked out, you realize there is still a lot of
"closure" work to be done and then the plot takes you places you never
anticipated. I will admit that I was in possession of knowledge which
helped me figure out the book's last twist before Connelly intended. But
this was another winner by Connelly.
by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch has been trying to solve the Marie Gesto case for fifteen
years. It haunts him and causes him to come out of retirement to see if
he can't find something new about the case. Then a random traffic stop
brings Raynard Waits to attention. Waits is carrying a sack full of body
parts in his truck. When a hitherto piece of unnoticed evidence in the
Gesto file begins to connect Waits to the Gesto case, Bosch begins to
investigate Waits further. The twists and turns in this book will keep
you on the edge of your seat until Bosch finally puts all the pieces
together and discovers the secret of what happened to Marie Gesto, and
where her body was buried.
Splendid Suns by Kaled Hosseini
The second book by the author of the wonderful "Kite Runner." Where the
first book centered on two boys, this one follows the lives of two girls,
thrown together by tragedy. It also follows the history of Afghanistan
from the fall of the monarchy in 1973 through the turbulent years that
followed, including the oppressive regime of the Taliban (boy, you sure
don't want to be a woman living under Taliban rule!). Though I sometiems
compared this to reading a Russian novel, with so many tribes and rulers
instead of so many names for different characters, the simple story line
held throughout and, like "Kite Runner," it gave a look into a culture
that we rarely have a chance to know.
at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
Michael was Jane's special friend.
They went everywhere together and it was great especially for a lonely
little 8 year old. Michael was her grown-up friend. Her
imaginary friend. Nobody could see him but Jane, but that's how it
is with imaginary friends. He told her that at some point he would
have to leave her, and that she would not remember him when she grew up.
And so, one day, he did leave her to become some other child's imaginary
friend. But Jane never forgot. Her memory of her
relationship with Michael was so strong that she even won a Tony for the
play she wrote about the little girl and her imaginary friend.
And then one day the adult Jane saw Michael
again. And they became friends again. But now everybody could
see him. Even Michael couldn't explain it. What happens when
your childhood imaginary friend becomes your grown up real `friend?
That's the story this non-traditional Patterson book explores. There
may be no killing or mayhem or anything else in it (perhaps the
co-author's influence), but it's a beautiful story.
Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
If you're going to read this book and
"The Brass Verdict," start with this one, not the way I did it. This
is the first book that introduces attorney Mickey Halley, an attorney who
runs his office out of the back seat of his car. Halley is hired by
the wealthy [... Roulet, pronounced "roo-LAY"] to defend him in a charge
of assault and attempted rape on a prostitute. Roulet steadfastly
maintains his innocence but as Halley begins to collect evidence for the
defense he begins to have his doubts. Things dissolve very quickly,
his good friend is murdered and the police thing Halley did it. Then
there is Jose Menendez, whom Halley unsuccessfully defended on a murder
charge, sitting in San Quentin on a life sentence. Are the two cases
connected? This is another book that will keep you on the edge of
your seat from start to finish. I "read" it as an audio book and the
last 40 minutes kept me awake on a drive from midnight to 1 a.m. Who
needs coffee when you have a Connelly book to grip you?
Thing by James Herriot
Herriot books are each like reading a book of wonderful animal related
short stories. After a decade-long break following his first few books,
Herriot returned in 1993 with more tales of the life of a veterinarian in
the Yorkshire Dales in the days when farmers were just beginning to trust
electronic gadgets, when TV was something new that wasn't to be trusted.
As always this is populated by a bunch of unique characters. If you
enjoy reading about groping around inside a cow's vagina, this is the book
for you! A gentle, warm, funny read, as are all of Herriot's books.
Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
This is an audio book that I got totally
engrossed in while driving to Santa Barbara, so much so that I spent 2 hrs
the next day just sitting and listening. Basically it's a murder
case. The wife and lover of Hollywood producer, Walter Elliot have
been murdered and Elliot is the prime suspect. Enter attorney Mickey
Halley, who "inherits" the case when his colleague Jerry Vincent is
murdered. Somewhere along the line Connelly's detective Harry Bosch
gets involved with the case too. There are so many twists and turns
in this plot that it will keep you glued to your seat right till the very
end. Just when you think it's over, it isn't and then it isn't again
and even when it seems that everyone has had his or her commuppence, there
is still more to be revealed. This was better than I thought it was
going to be.
Run for Your
Life by James Patterson
My first Kindle book...for my iTouch Kindle. I was surprised at how easy
it was to read electronically. And, like all Patterson books, this was a
gripper. NYPD officer Mike Bennett is on the hunt for a serial killer,
"The Teacher," who seems to kill at random, but a pattern gradually begins
to form. Can recently widowed Bennett find the killer and take care of
his 8 children who all have the stomach flu and seem to be vomiting
throughout the entire book, before The Teacher reaches the peak of his
killing spree. Of course he can--but how is left to the reader to
discover. Good book. If you like Patterson, you'll like this one.
Life and Times
of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
I don't know why it took me so long to get around to finishing
this book. I love Bill Bryson, I am a child of the 50s, what I'd read so
far I was enjoying, yet it took over a year before I finally read it.
What a delight. I remembered just about everything he talked about (and
I'm 5-10 years older than he is). It's a great nostalgic (and funny) look
back at growing up in the 50s. Who knew that 1957 was considered the
"happiest" time in America, if you were white. I very definitely
recommend this book, especially if you are "of a certain age." Or if
you're a younger person who wants know what it was like when your parents
were growing up!
Warned by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
The thing about Patterson's books is that just when you assume you know
that kind of book he writes, he turns around and surprises you. I've read
so many of his detective/thriller type novels that I assumed this was
another one. The story of a photographer, Kristen, in an affair with her
married boss, while working as a nanny for his children. One morning she
comes across a terrible murder at a hotel she passes on her way to work
and, since her main interest is photography and she's never without her
camera, she snaps photos. The weirdness occurs when she develops the film
and it just keeps getting more and more weird as the story progresses.
It's the weirdness that keeps you reading. I couldn't put the book down
and finished it in a day.
by Michael Robotham
You hear about books that "grow on you" the more you read. This was a book
that shrunk on me the more I read. Robotham has great descriptions,
but about midway through the book, I was tired of the endless
descriptions, especially of grimy, disgusting locations. We get it!
Still, it was the story that held my attention. Detective Inspector Victor
Ruiz wakes up in the hospital after being dragged out of the Thames with a
bullet in his leg and no memory of what happened. Through the assistance
of his friend, psychologist Joe O'Loughlin, he gradually begins to put the
pieces back together. It all concerns the kidnapping of 7 year old Mickey
Carlyle three years ago and a ransom demand which was made for her return
three years later. Memories return in bits and pieces as Ruiz chases
clues throughout the city and through the sewers of London. All in all a
good story, but I may not be rushing out to buy more Robotham books in the
Books read in 2008
Books read in 2007
Books read in 2006