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:
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!
I’ve always been fascinated by England, all things British and the royalty too. Those who know me are probably already geeked for the party I will be throwing for Kate and Will’s wedding, with full on finger sandwiches and Princess Di memorabilia. Of late, Patrick and I have been watching “The Tudors,” using our lack of cable television as an opportunity to get caught up on all the shows we didn’t watch while we were watching stupid shit like The Amazing Race. Which, of course, led me to my third book in the “Off the Shelf” challenge, The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory.
Now, before all my history buff readers get their panties in a knot (CK, this means you), I KNOW that these are not historically accurate books, but I just LOVE them. Gregory has the ability to write a fictional accounting of history that weaves in enough of what actually happened to satisfy the historically curious in me, while adding in just enough fiction to keep me up late at night reading. Not only that, she portrayed Katherine of Aragon for who she really was–a total badass, a woman far ahead of her time, whose intelligence and machinations kept her alive in an era when she could easily have been tossed aside in a matter of seconds.
If you’re at all interested in the Tudors and the first of Henry’s 6 wives, from a “fictional” accounting, of course, I suggest picking up The Constant Princess.