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Finish Line 2011 > Jude's 50 Books for 2011

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message 1: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 06, 2011 03:32AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 1: Genesis by Karin Slaughter

My husband brought me this for Christmas. It has the character Sara Linton who works in A&E at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital when Anna who has been hit by a car is brought in. While Sara treats Anna, Special Agent Will Trent searches the scene near where the girl was hit, and makes a shocking discovery – an underground torture chamber from which not one but apparently two prisoners have escaped.

It is not long before the body of this second captive is discovered, and another woman is snatched before the her terrified young son. Will and his partner Faith Mitchell try to stop the killer before he takes any more lives, particularly in the knowledge that he prefers to hunt in pairs.

I enjoyed Will and Sara's tentative start of a relationship - it's believable. I felt that they were strongest characters.

This was hard to put down because I wanted to know who the torturer was. Further into the story I did guess - which both delights and saddens me (I love that I can work it out, but hate that the author has allowed me to work it out before the last page).

I'm not sure if I will read another of her books - perhaps it just to find out if Will and Sara's relationship develops. I haven't kept the book, took it to the second hand shop to swap for another book - Number 2 of the year.

message 2: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 06, 2011 03:37AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 2: Alice Hartley's Happiness by Phillipa Gregory

Found this in the second hand shop. Its a good fast read (only took me five hours during the Christmas holidays - nothing else happened that day)

Alice Hartley no longer has the interest of her pompous husband, the adulterous professor. Despite her efforts, she still leaves him cold.

As she faces this truth, she meets Michael, a young student with an excessive libido. In Michael, Alice discovers an endless supply of all she has sought: revenge, sex and a large house suitable for conversion.

It doesn't took long for the house to be filled with women joyfully casting off the shackles of their oppression. Narrow-minded neigbours and the law can't wait to stop the joy.

I enjoyed the twist about Michael's Aunty. Still own this book, in fact I think that I will put it in the box at my Book Club.

message 3: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 06, 2011 03:53AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 3: Black Swan Rising by Lee Caroll

Garet Jones is an artisan with money troubles in New York. She wanders into an odd little antique shop to get out of the rain. This is the start of where she begins to discover who she really is, who her mother was and what really shaped her family.

It is the interesting and dangerous faerie creatures that live under the radar in her city that gives this tale interest. I enjoyed that the authors made traditional faerie characters like Oberon and Puck into contemporary characters.

The beginning drew me in, but then I found that it started to drag in the middle. I finished it because I needed to know what happens.

I haven't keep it but donated it to the library. Teenage girls would probably enjoy it more than me. Don't know if I would bother reading a sequel if one comes out (I might have to find out about the bottle of "water").

message 4: by Mekerei (last edited Aug 04, 2011 12:41AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 4: Requiem
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Deborah Jones, rookie reporter on the "Miami Herald", is determined to discover the truth about William Craig, an 82-year-old Scot and Second World War hero who is on death row for killing a senator's son who raped his granddaughter. Although Deborah admires the old man, her interest in the case and her resolve to save Craig from execution is personal as much as professional. She understands the revenge he took because she has been the victim of white date rape. Deborah exposes the blackmail and corruption that lay at the heart of Craig's trial. As she unearths a conspiracy involving the embittered senator, a right-wing governor and a Florida mafia boss, she inevitably becomes a target for those who would kill to protect their secrets.

Found this book in the bargain bin. It is a short, fast and easy read. Requiem has all the ingredients of a "sizzler"; corruption, politics, soap opera, racism, terrorism and sexism. But it doesn't quite work.

There are many instances that don't gel:
- Why aren't other journalists interested in Craig's story?
- Why does Deborah's boss want her to keep her investigation of Craig's trial a secret?
- Why is her ex-boyfriend (a FBI agent) assigned as one of her body guards?

If you haven't got anything else to read, this is okay. This is going to the second hand shop, it’s not a keeper.

message 5: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 07, 2011 02:59AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 5: Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Adam, a climatologist is in London for a job interview. A sexual indiscretion has thrown a spanner into his marriage and his academic career. After the interview he meets Philip Wang while dining alone. Wang leaves his briefcase in the restaurant. When Adam tries to return it to him, he finds Wang alive but with a bread knife in him. Adam does what everyone should know what not to do – remove the knife. Wang then dies and Adam’s finger prints are on the knife.

Things go from bad to worse for Adam. It is this journey of a clever but stupid man, who decides to “drop off the face of the earth”. How do you do this in 21st century London? No technology – no cell phone, no eftpos card and no contact with your old life.
It is a tale of an innocent man, why was Phillip Wang killed and how Adam survives and gradually starts to reclaim his life.

This story is readable, highly enjoyable and hard to put down. I don’t think it fits neatly in the thriller category, but it’s not completely a mystery either; maybe a combination of both.

This is a book that I couldn't put down. Another one for the Book Club box.

message 6: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 20, 2011 10:58PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 6: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I made a New Year’s resolution that I would not buy another book until I had finished the pile by the side of my bed, the pile by the side of the reading chair and the pile by the couch until I walked into my favourite book shop (I was waiting for a prescription to be filled and had ten minutes to spare) – fatal!

The cover made me want to read the back, “The Help” it’s such an innocent title. Once I read the first chapter I was hooked.

The Help is set on the 1960s in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. It is a story of many women, but the three main characters are two black maids and one white woman. I was born in New Zealand of Maori and Scottish extraction. I grew up with stories about my aunts being discriminated against. My mum was lighter than her sisters and could go into shops and cinemas and get served; her sisters couldn’t.

I needed to know what happened to these people. They were very real to me. Some people have trouble seeing Skeeter as a well rounded character. I know women who could be Skeeter; women who are protected against things that ain’t so “nice”. And I know people like Hilly. Being light skinned allows people like Hilly to openly state their views; for me the saddest part is they don’t realise that they are racist.

One of the history topics my son studied last year was “The Civil Rights Movement” – perhaps that’s another reason I was drawn to this book.

I really enjoyed reading The Help (I couldn’t put it down!). I probably won’t ever reread it, but I will put it in the box in my reading group.

message 7: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 20, 2011 08:58PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 7: Inside Out by Barry Eisler

Ben Treven, a black ops soldier ends up in a Manila jail after a bar fight ends in a dead Australian soldier. His former commander, Colonel Scott Horton, gets Ben out of prison on one condition – find ninety-two stolen US government tapes and eradicate the rogue soldier is using them to blackmail the government.

Ben Treven is a younger, less experienced version of Lee Child's magnificent Jack Reacher. Eisler has a fast and furious pace with nonstop action. You think you know who the bad guy is, but as the plot unfolds you find you have some sympathy him. The ending is one of my favourite part of the book. In the future Ben and John Rain may join forces. The promise of a tale with these two great characters will be worth waiting for.

This is a timely tale of today’s war issues. A thriller that you can’t put down. If I owned it I would keep it, but had to give it back to the library.

message 8: by Mekerei (last edited Feb 20, 2011 08:58PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 8: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

Set in an ice-age like alt-Earth in the late 1800's. Cat’s (heroine) world has a different history to our. Magic houses lives unhappily alongside local Princes and emerging science. "Cold Mages" dislike and want to suppress scientific discoveries. Local Princes protect these developments when it suits them.

Cat's father was a famous traveler for her clan and wrote some 50 travel journals before he drowned with her mother who was a mysterious figure - seemingly an "Amazon" warrior. Cat has been living with her uncle, aunt and cousins. Bea younger by two months is like her twin sister, while her uncle is the head of the local family clan. Her clan is an old trading house, but is impoverished and acts as spies/mercenaries/enforcers for the powerful.

Cat and Bea are almost 20 - age of majority - they study at a college when a Cold Mages come to enforce a "marriage" made with Cat's house many years ago.

Lots of twists and turns, some unexpected and some out of left field, but they make sense at the end. The ending is actually a beginning – looking forward to the sequel.

Will keep until I own all the books in the series, then I will decide what to do with it.

message 9: by Mekerei (last edited Mar 02, 2011 11:33PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Book 9: Blood Count by Robert Goddard
Thirteen years Edward Hammond performed a life saving operation on a Dragan Gazi. Gazi and his wolves (what his men called themselves) slaughtered thousands in the Balkan civil wars. In the present day Gazi is in The Hague standing trial for war crimes.

Gazi's daughter blackmail Edward into contacting Marco Piravani; Gazi's Italian financier. Marco is lying low. Edward's pursuit of Marco takes across Europe.

Edward has to face the decisions he made 13 years ago, and decide whether he can face the decisions he has to make now.

As in past books Robert Goddard is the master of "twist". You think you know what's going to happen, but I've never got it "spot-on". This is why Goddard is one of the best suspense writers I know.

message 10: by Mekerei (last edited Mar 09, 2011 12:36AM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments

Book 10: The Secret Lives of Dresses

 The Secret Lives of Dresses

Dora’s parents were killed when she was a child. She was brought up by her grandmother, Mimi, who runs a vintage dress shop.

She attends a college where she majors in liberal studies and works in a coffee shop. She has a ‘thing’ for her boss, but is really just living life.

She gets a call that her grandmother is in hospital in her home town of Forsyth, North Carolina. She gets in her car and drives home.

As a child Dora played “dress up” with the clothes in Mimi’s shop, but as a young adult she wouldn’t wear any of them.

Dora decides to keep the dress store open while Mimi is in hospital. She now has to wear vintage clothing. While working in the store she meets Mimi’s friends and her gets reacquainted with her relatives. Dora is surprised that Mimi has given some dresses a “secret life” – a story about the dress. These are given to the customer that purchases the dress.

This story is about how Dora finds herself; how she was fighting herself / Mimi and the regrets she has. It is a story of a young girl growing into a young women.

I loved it. It evokes many emotions; sadness, hope, excitement, rage and delight.

Erin writes a blog; dressaday – check it out. She is a lexicographer who founded No wonder her story is able to evoke so many emotions.

message 11: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 05, 2011 02:59PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 11: Agent X / Last Chance to Die

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Steve Vail, ex-FBI, now a bricklayer wants to spend a romantic New Years Eve with Kate Bannon, Assistant Director of the FBI. But of course it’s not to be. It seems that no matter where these two go – it’s all action.

The FBI is approached by a Russian intelligence officer; $250,000 for each traitor. Unfortunately he called back to Moscow and Steve and Kate have to use the clues left to track these traitors. The clues are cryptic and as soon as they unearth a traitor, they are killed before they can be questioned.

This book is frantic, the plot is complex and Steve Vail gives Jack Reacher a run for his money. If you haven’t read Noah Boyd’s first book – The Bricklayer – DO IT. This book is not dependant of the first, but helps to keep the timeline in place and if you are as anal as me, you like to read author’s book in the sequence in which they are written.

In New Zealand this book is known as “Last Chance to Die”

message 12: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 05, 2011 02:59PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 12: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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I love Pride and Prejudice and struggled to read this. Didn't enjoy it at ALL (okay just the first three chapters then lost all interest).

I have to agree with Alana's review "It really is a clever idea -- maintaining the actual text of Pride and Prejudice and simply inserting another storyline..." and that "The best plan is to read the first two or three chapters, and then call it a day."

Zombies and the Bennett girls just don't go together in my world.

I don't think I'll be reading anymore mashups. Alana summed it up brilliantly

"In the end, it's a clever idea, but that is all."

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Mekerei wrote: "Book 11: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I love Pride and Prejudice and struggled to read this. Didn't enjoy it at ALL (okay just the first three chapters then lost all interest).

I have to agree..."

I'm glad to see that someone felt the same way about this book as I did. After reading several raving reviews about it, I was getting a little annoyed. Yes, it was a cute idea. I hated the execution and I felt like it dumbed down the original text a bit.

message 14: by Mekerei (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments Like you I read those "rave" reviews and thought that I should give it a try. BIG disappointment - call me a purest, but classic literature shouldn't be "mashed up"; just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

message 15: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 05, 2011 03:44PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 13: The Heir of Night

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The author, Helen Lowe writes traditional epic fantasy.

The Heir of Night takes place on a world called Haarth with the Derai people. The Derai have come from the stars and have fought the Darkswarm for eternity. The past has a firm hold on the present.

In the north, the House of Night stands against the Darkswarm. The House of Night is one of the nine Derai Houses, which guard the Shield-wall of Night. They are tasked with keeping the Darkswarm behind the Wall. This is a tale of two young people who have to learn who they are before they can their people.

Malian is Heir to the House of Night; her destiny is to become a champion. Kalan of the House of Blood is a young man who has old powers. He lives with the priests and has been shaped by their propheries.
The House of Night is attacked. Malian and Kalan flee into the Old Keep, which has been shunned by the people because they think it's haunted. The further they go into the Old Keep the more they learn about ancient secrets and old magic and become changed by these secrets.

The powerful beginning is a prelude for things to come. Helen Lowe's descriptions are thorough and exquisite. She writes easily about the places, people and history of the Derai. This allows the reader to easily immerse themselves in the rich fantasy world of Haarth.

Much of the old powers have been lost to the people of The Night. A tragic event divided the people and they will have to pay the price for their ignorance and negligence.

The Heir of Night is the first book of The Wall of Night series. It introduces the places and characters and establishes a solid foundation for the forthcoming books. I am looking forward to The Gathering of the Lost.

message 16: by Ann A (new)

Ann A (readerann) | 775 comments Mekerei wrote: "Book 12: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I absolutely agree with the comments here. I thought at first the book was kind of fun, but then lost interest and struggled to finish it.

message 17: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 21, 2011 07:10PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 14: The Dragon Keeper
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I have just discovered Robin Hobb. I don’t know why I haven’t read her before. The only real reason I can think of it that the covers never “spoke to me”, so I left them on the shelf. Thank goodness for the bargain bin at the airport the other day when I needed a new book.

Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, a Tangle of Serpents came from the sea. Fighting their way up the Rain Wild River; the first in generations to make the journey to the cocooning grounds. Many died along the way. The creatures which emerge from the cocoons are a not the powerful, shining dragons of old. They are stunted and deformed, some do not even have wings; others seem witless.

People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. Thymara is born with black claws and other mutations. She should have been “exposed” at birth, but her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him.

Eventually the dragons (who cannot care for themselves) are seen as a danger and a burden to the people of the Rain Wilds. However other people are still fascinated by them. This story brings together Thymara, Leftrin (captain of the liveship, Tarman) and Bingtown Trader, Alise Finbok (who has made it her life's work to study all there is to know of dragons).

Far upriver lies the legendary Elderling city of Kelsingra; the dragons true home. But they cannot get there on their own. They will need a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers to help them.

This book is part one of a trilogy. In reality this book sets the stage and only starts to get exciting at the end. But it is doesn’t detract from the tale. Robin Hobb’s writing is such that you want – NEED to know what happens next. The stage is set ...

message 18: by Mekerei (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 15: I Am Number Four
I Am Number Four

The first pages grabbed me and I knew that I had to read this story. I like the way that you wanted to know why this boy was living a shallow life, a life that just skims along the top of the ocean and never dips below the surface until he became John Smith and had moved to Paradise (yes cheesy, but don’t let that stop you reading a great read).

Number Four (or John Smith, as we know him) is an alien, who along with eight other Garde (they have special powers) and nine Cepan (they do not have special powers) escaped from their home planet Lorien as their people were being wiped out by the Mogadorians. The Lorien elders cast a spell on the Garde children, ensuring that the Mogadorians could only kill them in order of 1 – 9. Which gives us to the tagline: “Three are dead. I am Number Four.”

I loved John, he is what I want in a main character and he has some amazing gifts. Sarah was what a nice girl should be, beautiful, charming and caring without being too unrealistic. The relationship between Sarah and John was too predictable (but I guess it is YA genre and girls love this type of relationship ie Bella and Edward). The minor characters were well written and there were some developments that I didn’t see coming. I think the minor characters made the story.

The story is fast paced with great battle scenes. Sometimes I found the story wanting; predictable relationship between John and Sarah; cheesiness of “names” and stereotype description of characters (Sarah, Sam and Mark), but they are NOT stereotypes, just their initial description.

These are picky details and “I Am Number Four” is a good novel. I forget that I’m not the intended audience. It’s written for young adults, just like Percy Jackson, Ender’s Game and Eragon.

I can’t wait for the next book, “The Power of Six”.

message 19: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 21, 2011 09:16PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 16: Skinny Dip
Skinny Dip

”Philandering doesn't pay, but in Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, it does provide a hilarious homicidal romp. In Hiassen's Florida wilderness realm, no bad deed is left uncompounded: After wayward husband Chaz Perrone attempts to exterminate his attractive heiress wife, Joey, he becomes a hit target himself. Fast-paced and funny."

Skinny Dip starts with Joey alone and naked in the Atlantic Ocean, lucky to survive the fall from the ship, cursing her husband, and wondering he didn’t just divorce her. After a fortunate encounter with a bale of Jamaican pot to keep her afloat and she is pulled from the water by Mick Stranahan. She doesn’t call the police she decides to get even by haunting her husband.

I loved the use of humour, and the many minor characters. My favourite is Tool. Tool is large, extremely hairy, stupid guy. He steals crosses from accident scenes and plants them outside his trailer. He has constant pain due to a bullet lodged in his butt crack and he sneaks into nursing homes to steal narcotic pain patches from its elderly patients.

Skinny Dip is a lite read and really enforces the quote “Hell has no wrath like a woman scorned”. We learn that there can be a happy ending for the good guys, but not for the hapless Chaz Perrone.

message 20: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 21, 2011 11:04PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 17: Eat Pray Love
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" In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion.".

At first I liked the idea of the 108 beads, 36 beads per theme, but found that they started to drag and became dull and monotonous.

The first 36 beads deals with the eat theme in Italy were enjoyable. Elizabeth seemed to have joy in her when she writes about Italy. The next 36 in India, pray were dreary and I had to force myself to read them (I think I must have been reading a different book to the reviewers). Finally love in Indonesia was a relief and I managed to finish the last 36 beads and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I found this story to be a me, me, me story, the obsession with herself the hardest part to sallow. All people at some stage in their life wonder is this is all? For a journalist I felt she could written this story in a more captivating style.

message 21: by Mekerei (last edited Apr 21, 2011 11:43PM) (new)

Mekerei | 204 comments
Book 18: A Reliable Wife
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”Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt - a passionate man with his own dark secrets - has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights andRebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis."

This was how men found wives at the start of last century. The thought of replying to an ad, going to a strange town and an unknown man and starting your new life with them is such a foreign concept to us today. The story begins with Truitt waiting impatiently at a train station for his future wife to arrive. When a beautiful woman gets off the train Truitt is outraged because she doesn't match the picture of the "plain" woman he was expecting. To “stop the gossips” he takes her back to his house. This hooked me, I needed to know why Catherine wasn't the woman she was pretending to be.

This is one of the best novels I have read this year. I love how Goolrick unfolds this story. I started it late last night (started up reading until 2.00 am) and finished it today. It had me spell bound. The characters are complex. The main characters, Truitt, Catherine and Antonio have a lot of baggage, and were damaged and flawed. I loved their stories because they were so sordid and sad, but I found I didn't like Catherine, but understood her actions.

A Reliable Wife is Robert Goolrick's first novel and it’s a powerful story. The themes aren't unique to this novel, but they are told with a new eye. There are many twists and turns which make for riveting reading. I look forward to reading more by him.

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