Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Murderous Procession

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

This is book 4 of the series The Mistress of the Art of Death.

Adelia Aquilar is from Sicily but forced to remain in England by King Henry II. She is a 12th century anatomist who was requisitioned by Henry Plantagenet to solve a series of murders. Once the case was solved, Henry decided Adelia was much too useful to him to allow her to return to Italy so she has been forced to build a life in England.

Now, Henry is requiring that she accompany his daughter, Joanna, as she travels to Sicily to marry William II King of Sicily. Adelia is thrilled to be returning home but Henry is holding her daughter hostage to ensure her return. Adelia must also help Henry keep a mythical treasure from his scheming sons while a madman stalks her, determined to end her life as she ended the life of his lover over two years ago.

I really enjoy these books. Franklin seems to do a great deal of research regarding the politics of the day but also where medicine was at the time. I'm wondering how many more books are to come since she has come to a point in history when the Church really took over medicine and everything became much more conservative in both England (especially after the death of Henry II) and Italy.

Grave Secret

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

This is the latest book in the Harper Connelly series. These book have been all about the same but this one tied up some mysteries in the personal life of Harper and Tolliver. The ending was tied up really neat and really fast. I felt a little like a guest who had over-stayed their welcome and was being shoved out the door. The way it ended also made me wonder if Harris is going to continue this series or if she's done. If you've read the others, read this one.


Blink:The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

This book delves into what is behind the decisions we make. It looks at studies pitting snap decisions against the long, drawn out decisions we make. We learn when we can trust our immediate "gut reactions" and when it might not be the best choice.

Malcolm Gladwell does a good job combining the findings of numerous studies and putting them together with text that is easy and enjoyable to read and understand. This book will definitely make you think about how you think - and why you think it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Good Year

A Good Year by Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle is the original escapist author. The basic theme of all his books is that of an Englishman who travels to the south of France and decides to stay.

In A Good Year, the main character Max finds himself the recipient of his Uncle's property in Provence on the same day that he quits his high stress finance job in London. His best friend loans him the funds he needs to make his way to Provence and "see what he can see" so to speak.

The movie staring Russell Crowe was similar but not the same as the book. I enjoyed both alternative story lines - which is not always the case.

This is a fun, fast read that will having you dreaming of small chateaus and vineyards in the sunny south of France.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Now You See Her

Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Based on the information that I have received from my sister, the writer, here's how I think this went.
James Patterson had the jist of an idea for a book and he gave that info to up-and-coming writer Michael Ledwidge who wrote the book.  Ledwidge may have called/emailed Patterson for suggestions about some twist or turn in the story line and Patterson would have read the story and given his final stamp of approval before it went to the editor/publisher but Ledwidge probably did most of the leg work (or finger work as the case may be).

This is a mystery/thriller that spans almost 20 years.  It is the tale of a woman who found herself in an unthinkable situation.  She is seemingly saved by the man who becomes her husband.  She is naive and young and swallows every line he feeds her.  Later she realizes this and chastises herself as she makes plans to save herself.

Years later, she must confess the truth of her past and finally reap the violence that has waited for her all these years.  Whether she will survive and be able to keep the life she has built are the questions looming in her mind.

An Ice Cold Grave

An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

This is book 3 in the Harper Connelly series.

Harper is hired by the sheriff of a small town in North Carolina to help search for several missing young men.

When Harper locates the burial site of the six locals and two others, she is overwhelmed by the horror and violence she feels from their corpses.  Dealing with her first case of a serial killer, she and Tolliver are sucked into the drama and intrigue that getting too close to the truth will bring.  Meanwhile, they are dealing with their own drama and emotions and finally come to a decision that they can both agree upon.

Again, even though the crimes described are horrific, the writing is not so graphic that it becomes difficult to read.  Harris is able to portray the scene without getting so detailed that I feel all creepy.  She keeps it light and fun.  It would be nice if she would quit giving us Harper and Tolliver's back-story (it's a series people, start at the beginning!) but I suppose she feels the need since some people will just pick up a book in the middle of the series and start from there.

Grave Surprise

Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

This is book 2 in the Harper Connelly series and I think I'll keep reading them.

In this book, Harper is using her unusual ability to locate dead bodies and identify their means of death when she encounters an unexpected corpse buried above an expected corpse.

Harper and her manager/step brother Tolliver are pulled into a family drama that they would like to avoid.

This book is a fun, twisty easy read.  It's a murder mystery that is no where near as gruesome as many I've read in the past few years.