Feast of Pages

Reading, Living and Loving the Written Word…

And Back to Tudor England We Go… May 25, 2011

Filed under: Books Read,Reviews — kellyg411 @ 12:07 pm

So, late last night I finished reading a book that I had been entranced by, Dissolution by C.J. Sansom.  This is the first in an historical English mystery series featuring attorney Matthew Shardlake, who is an appointed commissioner (read: investigator) on behalf of Lord Thomas Cromwell.  I had gotten wind of these books when I read a review for the fifth book in the series, Heartstone, and thought to myself “damn, I need to read this book!” Alas, when I learned it was part of a series I realized that I must go back and start at the beginning (that’s just how I am).

Dissolution follows Commissioner Shardlake in 1537 to the Scarnsea Monastery in the south of England, where there has been murder and many other ill-gotten things going on, much to the chagrin of Lord Cromwell, who led the reformation.  Initially, Shardlake is there to investigate the brutal murder of the previous Commissioner appointed by Cromwell to investigate the Abbey.  However, as the story progresses, additional murders and intrigue turn up that lead us even deeper into a mystery that has ties back to Anne Boleyn and the false charges levied against her by Cromwell.  I cannot say much more on the storyline, as I do not want to give anything away that could impact your enjoyment of this lovely story.

Ultimately, not only was the excellent mystery part of why I liked this book so much, but also the writing style.  Although the book takes place in the mid-1500’s, it was a breeze to read and fascinating. The storylines and characters were so tightly written and everything occurred for a reason.  I also enjoyed that I did NOT see who was coming as the killer.  I was pretty blown away at how well Sansom did the reveal and the wrap-up.  I will definitely be reading the remainder of this series, and if you’re looking for a good historical mystery, I highly suggest you check this out!

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My Addiction to Serial Killer Books is Beginning to Worry Me…. March 4, 2011

Filed under: Books Read,Off the Shelf Challenge — kellyg411 @ 10:50 am

Anyone who has been following along with my Feast of Pages blog has probably picked up on the fact that, of late, I have really been enjoying reading mysteries and serial killer books.  They are fast-paced, the good ones feature great characters whose storylines you become invested in, and are flat-out enjoyable. I’m not reading them because I think that they are great literature, a la James Joyce.  I KNOW they are not.  I read them because they are fun.  This is an odd concept for many people when reading.  I know quite a few people who are “judgey” about what they read — there are books they flat-out would not be caught reading in public, nor would they ever admit to reading them , ever.  And why? If you are reading anything, at least you are reading.  You are getting your fill through a wonderful medium, and a “low-brow” book is no different than watching E! television for an hour a day.  Or, the Charlie Sheen 20/20 Interview, which I may have watched with rapt attention last night.  So, whatever you choose to read, celebrate! You’re reading! Keep it up!  Now, on to the ongoing reviews of the books I’ve read in 2011, thus far:

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Serial Killers? Check! Books I Own? Check! Off the Shelf Challenge? You got it! March 1, 2011

Filed under: Books Read,Off the Shelf Challenge — kellyg411 @ 11:10 am

Oh, fair readers, I am so sorry to have abandoned you for a while, in my failure to not post about the fascinating books I’ve been reading. I know for so many of you (all 3 who read this blog, if I’m including Patrick, that is) live for my posts, looking to them for guidance and wit.  I have no excuses, other than I’ve been busy (reading), hanging out (as always), and drinking coffee. But alas, I am back with a vengeance.

 

As you all know, this year has been the year of my “Off the Shelf” Challenge, where I am endeavoring to read books that I owned at the start of 2011, and/or had been loaned to me by the start of 2011, all of which were taking up plenty of room on my shelves.  For the most part, the challenge is going quite well, with a few library books peppered in, and a new purchase (or 3) but hey, variety is the spice of life. Now, to the really good stuff, the reviews:

 

Off the Shelf Challenge, Book #4, Vanish by Tess Gerritsen. This book is the 5th in Gerritsen’s series featuring Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles. In some instances, it’s okay to read series books out of order, but that is not the case with Gerritsen. From the first book, her characters’ lives and relationships build and become entangled, giving a great history and background that moves the B and C plots in her books, and oftentimes makes appearances in the main story.

 

 

Vanish starts with the arrival of a Jane Doe corpse at the Boston ME’s office. Dr. Isles, working late, goes back into the fridge to check on another cadaver, and realizes that Jane Doe is alive. From that moment on, the book is a fast-paced run to find out who this woman is, how she ended up presumed dead in the morgue, and why numerous dangerous (and high up) people are after her. And if that wasn’t enough action for you, dear reader, Detective Rizzoli has just had her first baby (a little girl), and she and her FBI agent husband are leading the charge into the investigation of Jane Doe. I read this book in about 2 1/2 days, and couldn’t put it down. It was a fast-paced thriller (though Gerritsen’s books usually are) and I immediately loaned it out to my bestie during the February snowmageddon that hit Chicago. Yes, that is how good this book is, that I braved going outside into the snowstorm to meet my friend and hand off this book.

 

Off the Shelf Challenge Book #5, The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen.  In case you hadn’t noticed, I enjoy a certain theme with many of my books these days — serial killers, strong female characters, and fast-paced (but excellent) reads.

 

 

The Mephisto Club (TMC) is the 6th book in the Rizzoli/Isles series. The book opens on a cold and snowy Christmas Eve (ironically, I read this during the snowstorm), when a woman is found viciously murdered and dismembered in her home. The police are quickly able to identify her, but have a little bit more trouble with the symbols left at the murder scene. The action quickly introduces us to The Mephisto Club, a group of elite, eccentric scholars dedicated to the belief that evil in truly exists in this world, and presumably fighting it. As the story unfolds, Maura gets drawn deeper into the world of TMC and ultimately becomes the target of the killer. I personally found the mix of an academic club that traced the origins and historical associations of “evil” to be a great component to the book.  It kept me turning the pages and the ending proved to be fascinating. I can only hope that Gerritsen, in future books, heads back to this story to do some more exploring with it. Yes. It was THAT good.

 

If you haven’t read Gerritsen yet, start with The Surgeon and keep going. You will not regret it!

 

 

 

Off the Shelf Challenge, Book One… January 17, 2011

Filed under: Books Read,Reviews — kellyg411 @ 7:19 pm

Just days ago I decided to participate in the “Off the Shelf” reading challenge for 2011, wherein I will endeavour to read more of the books that I already own, as opposed to only the new book that I buy or library books.  Thus far, the challenge has been a SMASHING SUCCESS! Yes, that is right, since I have announced my participation in the challenge, I’ve only read books that I own….er, mostly because I have only read 1 book in the 4 days since I started this.  Thus, I give you….

Off the Shelf Challenge, Book Uno….Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs.

The cover of the book can be a *little* scary when you catch a glance of it in the middle of the night after staying up WAY too late reading about serial killers.  However, it was an excellent read, which will become apparent as you continue to read this review.

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Forensic anthropologist Temperance “Tempe” Brennan of the Laboratoire de Medicine Legale in Montreal makes a triumphant second appearance in Reichs’s powerful followup to her bestselling debut, Deja Dead. The novel opens atmospherically in a frigid church graveyard as Tempe labors to exhume the century-old remains of a nun so that the Church can posthumously declare her a saint. But the bones aren’t where they’re supposed to be according to the graveyard map, and there’s something suspicious about them when they do turn up. Tempe’s caseload multiplies as a house fire proves to be a horrific instance of arson and a university teaching assistant who’s recently joined a cult goes missing. The three seemingly individual events begin to braid together, as the doings with the doomsday cult draw Tempe to North Carolina. As in Deja Dead, Reichs, herself a forensic anthropologist, renders comprehensively and believably the cool, tense intelligence of her heroine. A North Carolina native who consults in Montreal only a few months of the year, Tempe still hasn’t acclimated to the bone-chilling Northern cold, and if she’s come to expect the misogynist attitudes of some of the Canadian officials, she still bristles at them. Also well presented are Tempe’s refreshing compassion in the face of relentless autopsies, her ability to describe a corpse with judiciously graphic detail and her penchant for revealing the art behind the science on such matters as the preservation of a corpse’s teeth. Reichs’s first novel, which won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel of 1997, was compared justifiably to the Kay Scarpetta novels of Patricia Cornwell. Soon, Cornwell’s novels may be compared to Reichs’s. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title

My synopsis — This is the second book in the Dr. Temperance Brennan series.  I was first introduced to this character via Emily Deschanael and the TV show, Bones. The books, though, are completely different from the television series, so if you are worried about crossover, don’t. As expected in most mysteries, Tempe is confronted with multiple homicides within the first few chapters of the book.  Reichs adds in some spice, danger, cults, multi-national crime sprees, a nun dead more than 100 years, and the beginning of what I am hoping is a torrid love affair with a fellow police investigator in later books. Honestly, if I said anything more, I’d be giving away too much plot. So much of the enjoyment of this book was how everything unfolded and meshed together.

My biggest complaint about Reichs’ first book in the series, Deja Dead, was that she was far too heavy on the forensic and anthropological explanations of things (I’m talking pages upon pages, at times) and I found myself skimming those.  In this book, she seems to have reached a good compromise between including just the right amount of forensic information and anthropological history to enable the reader to follow where Tempe is going and how her mind is piecing together the evidence.

The story in this book also moved at a fast pace and kept me on the hook.  I stayed up way past my self-imposed bedtime on at least two occasions reading this book and trying to figure out what was going on.  I am definitely looking forward to reading the third book in the series, which I already own, and can include in the Off the Shelf Challenge.

If you are looking for a new mystery series, I highly suggest picking up a Kathy Reichs book and giving it a whirl. Her books are well-thought out and have compelling characters that keep you drawn in.

 

Oh Barbara Kingsolver….you’re my new Babs! August 11, 2010

Filed under: Books Read,Reviews — kellyg411 @ 2:33 pm

After preparing a lengthy review of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna the other day, I hit the “save draft” button, walked away to make myself some dinner, and was going to come back to it so that I could finish my edits. When I returned to my post, lo and behold, damn WordPress ate my entire thing, except for the first sentence, despite having both the “auto save” feature AND my having clicked “safe draft.” I will admit, I was quite upset about this technological turn of events, but now that I have grieved for my lost post, I feel comfortable attempting to reconstruct the review, to the best of my ability.

I must also apologize for not having posted anything for a while on this blog. Now, this is not simply because I have started another blog that has been getting attention, Fat Girl No More. Rather, it actually took me about 2 weeks to read The Lacuna! Shocking, I know, for someone who usually polishes off 2 books per week and listens to a book a week in the car while commuting. Anywho, my review shall now commence! (more…)

 

One Serial Killer After Another…Tess Gerritsen, I’m a Fan! July 21, 2010

Filed under: Books Read,Reviews — kellyg411 @ 8:05 pm

I have to admit right up front that up until recently, I’ve not been what you might call a “fan” of mysteries and serial killer books.  However, in the past few years I’ve also found that I can enjoy a fast-paced, well-written mystery (so long as it is not obvious who killed the victim within the first three chapters). My chief complaint with the mysteries that I seemed to pick up was that they were always formulaic, written poorly, lacked character development, and were so easy to figure out that I knew “who did it” within the first 50 pages. Well that’s just no fun for me as a reader!

Then, last summer, I read Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and my interest in the genre of mystery was renewed. I plowed through those books, finishing the series in January after my beloved bought me the third copy from Ireland…..and was left wanting more. Well, Larsson’s dead and I had yet to find anything else to replace him, so I started asking around and taking suggestions in my hunt for another good thriller. (more…)

 

Cathleen Schine, You’ve Disappointed Me! July 14, 2010

Filed under: Books Read,Reviews — kellyg411 @ 11:29 pm
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I was at my local library last week browsing the new arrival books and was excited to see Cathleen Schine’s “The Three Weissmanns of Westport.” Schine is one of many authors whose books I’ve read for years and I am usually first in line to buy her newest one upon its release.  I hadn’t yet gotten this and was praising my lucky stars that I was able to get it free from the library.   (more…)