Wednesday, November 14, 2012
1. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
All three of you who actually read my book reviews have probably noticed that I love a good mystery. I mean, I love them. I also love anything (anything) set in the turn of the 20th century in England. So a novel about a mystery involving Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, set in the early 1900's and in England? Yeah. I'm gonna be all over that. This story bounces back and forth between a mystery concerning Doyle and into the present day and a member of the illustrious Baker Street Irregulars (sort of the literary version of Trekkies) who is trying to solve a mystery about what happened to Doyle's long-lost diary. Based on actual events, this book hit all the right spots. Murder, intrigue, deduction -- just great. I was actually sorry for it to end.
2. Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte & Sherri Browning Erwin
I've always been a little more Team Bronte than Team Austen (I know- gasp!, right?). As much as I love Elizabeth Bennett, I think I prefer Jane Eyre. She's just a little darker, a little edgier. I've always thought that Jane Eyre was a spooky story on its own, and this version, which adds vampires, zombies, and werewolves into the mix, is a fun diversion. I love that Erwin stuck to the original story and just added some hilarious plot twists -- like Helen Burns coming back as a zombie, Bertha not only being nutzo, but also a werewolf, etc. My only small gripe is that sometimes the language doesn't quite fit in with the original writing. Bronte didn't use a bunch of contractions, and when it's the "new" story, Erwin uses too many of them. But all in all, this made me laugh out loud several times at the witty storyline changes. Fun reading.
3. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
My dad told me this was an amazing book a few years ago, and it's been sitting in my "to read" pile until this month. I was fascinated throughout the book by Lee Strobel's exhaustive journey towards literally proving beyond a shadow of a doubt (in my opinion, anyway) Christ's existence and deity. Strobel came to Christ in 1981, after years of atheism. He was a celebrated Chicago editor and journalist (Yale educated to boot), who had a hard time just accepting that Christ really was the Messiah, so he set out to prove that He wasn't. In the course of his investigation, he proved the exact opposite. This book is perfect for "thinkers" -- for both skeptics of Christianity and Christians who are struggling with doubt.
4. All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
Mary Downing Hahn was my favorite ghost story writer when I was a kid, and since October is the month of all things spooky, Amazon was selling her books for $1.99 apiece. I racked up. This book (about a haunted bed and breakfast) is definitely, without a doubt, for kids, but I still loved it. It transported me back to around 1989, when I would devour her books in the back of our motor home. And then, of course, I'd be afraid to go to sleep at night. In the best way.
5. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
This was my first Laura Lippman book, and it won't be the last. She writes a great, taut mystery. This story, about two young girls who went missing in the 70's only for one to resurface almost 30 years later, is completely gripping. Lippman does a wonderful job fleshing out each character's storyline without boring the reader with unnecessary details. By the end of the book, I actually cared about what happened to each person. There was also a great twist that surprised me, and I love when that happens.
6. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
I read a bunch of Agatha Christie in high school, but a few of them escaped me. This mystery, which introduces the amateur sleuths Tommy and Tuppence, was just utterly charming. I found myself thinking I'd figured it all out about ten times, only to doubt myself again and again. And of course, I turned out to be wrong. Christie is famous for her red herring writing, and she usually gets me. I've heard that Agatha Christie herself was a pretty fascinating person, so I'm looking forward to reading more about her, too.
7. Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
This was my first Hahn book, and it scared the junk out of me. Seriously. It really is the first book I can remember reading and needing to sleep with the light on afterwards. Even as an adult, there are some chilling moments (when Helen tries to drag Heather into the pond with her, promising her that "there are mermaids down here" - shudder), and I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading the book. I did sleep without the lamp this time, though.
8. The Final Reckoning by Sam Bourne
When I bought this book, I didn't realize it was about the Holocaust. I tend to shy away from books on that subject, mainly because they're so sad. This one was no exception, but at least this one was about some Jewish people who kicked major butt and got big, satisfying revenge on some awful Nazis. The story begins with an old man from London being mistaken for a terrorist at the United Nations, and subsequently being killed. A former UN lawyer is hired to go and "make nice" with the man's daughter, but then realizes that maybe the old man wasn't as innocent as everyone originally thought. And of course, the lawyer falls hard for the daughter (which is my only gripe with the story -- the love story seemed a bit forced). But the ending left me feeling triumphant, and I'll check out some more of Bourne's work.
9. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
This is the first time readers were introduced to the little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and I have to say - he gives Sherlock Holmes a run for his money. In fact, Poirot and Holmes are almost polar opposites in personality - Poirot is boisterous and highly emotional, while Holmes is removed and analytical - but their methods are really pretty much the same, down to the bumbling Watson-esque sidekicks. And again, I didn't figure out who the murderer was until Christie revealed it in the last chapter. Thwarted again.
Posted by Amanda at 7:00 AM