Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fiction Favorites 2006-08

Here are some of my favorite picks in fiction from 2006-current date... remember these are just my favorites... (also if I have listed books in other posts they may not be included on this list).

But I have to admit my very favorite book from  the past few years was written by a first time author. It is the only book that I gave five stars too - it is  beautifully written. 

Setterfield, Diane
The Thirteenth Tale*****beautifully written, the language flows like starlight, enchanting the reader, keeping her awake, enthralled as she & the narrator search for the truth behind the famous, reclusive writer Vida Winter’s personal story. What is the truth of the feral twins, an overgrown garden a ghost child, a governess, a medical experiment gone awry and Margaret the narrator’s search for the promised “truth” as her own story is told from the pages of this cloying tale.
If you like The Da Vinci Code, books with templars, biblical mysteries, historical legends...
Assensi. Matilde The Last Cato***1/2 (Dante, the true cross & Vatican mysteries)

McGowan, Kathleen
The Expected One****(interesting twist on the Mary Magdalene story/history, thought provoking, while the writing was not the very best, the story more than compensated for it – seems to be the first in a potential series—also seems to be based on some experiences of the author).

White, Jack Knights of the Black and White****(well researched & well written, fascinating history, novelized account of the Templars (#1 in the series), can’t wait for the next 1 – has concise reasons for not becoming a Christian (how this was a hoax on the world by the church leaders), should instead believe in God and not a church ) Whyte, Jack
Standard of Honor**** Book 2 in his series of Templars novels chronicling the crusades - another well written, interesting book.

Young, Robyn
Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar***(a young boy, his quest to become a knight, a secret group w/in the Templars, & a look at the Holy Land and crusades through Muslim and Christian eyes – some excellent history inc. the rivalries between the Knights of St. John (Hospitallers) and Templars., and about the Mamluks)

 Historical Fiction

Maxwell, Robin,
Mademoiselle Boleyn**** Intriguing, well paced, historical novel about the early life of Anne Boleyn in the French court. It traces the history of Anne and her sister Mary who are sent by their ambitious and calculating father across the Channel…What happens to them, the interactions with other historical figures, Anne’s first glimpses of the political and social implications of sex and her education about court life and intrigues provides the basis for her later life in the court of Henry VIII. Well researched and fascinating – a must for English history, Tudor fans.

Denny, Anne
Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen**** refutes “bad” history in many previous works and lays a case for a new look at this woman. Interesting, especially if you like Tudor history.

Bennett, Vanora
Portrait of an Unknown Woman: A novel ****As a ward of Sir Thomas More, Meg Giggs is schooled as few women (or indeed men) are in the 1600’s. With her tender heart, interest in healing and family ties Meg and the More household face many interesting times during the reign of Henry VIII. More’s appointment to the King will impact the entire household, including Meg’s love life, paternal respect, faith, passion and sense of right and wrong. When Hans Holbein the painter comes to do a series of portraits that seem to show much more than intended – the artist may very well change her life in ways she never dreamed. A great period piece with interesting historical tidbits and some fun suppositions too boot.

May, Antoinette
Pilate’s Wife*** well written, interesting semi-historical perspective on the wife of Pilate - many things you never knew about the time period- fascinating look at religion and culture of the time.

Iggulden, Conn
Genghis: Birth of an Empire **** fascinating historical novel about the beginnings of this man and his formative years – always a great read from this author. Gehghis Lords of the Bow***1/2


Thor, Brad BlowBack***1/2(well written thriller bioterrorism w/ quite a twist) and  Takedown*** (another well written thriller)

Hosp, David, Da
rk Harbor ***(a lawyer, Boston serial killer, the mob & a mystery)

Reilly, Matthew,
7 Deadly Wonders***(the capstone for the pyramid)

Holland, Thomas
One Drop of Blood***(one of the more unusual book plotlines I have read over the past few years involving Vietnam/Civil Rights linked murder, small Arkansas town, id’ing soldier remains, FBI, etc. well written, twists in plotline, a little weak toward end but well developed characters)

King, Tabitha & McDowell, Michael
Candles Burning*** (odd, but a great mystery, thriller, hard to explain but great reading –about Calley’s dad being horribly murdered and her odd life)

Archer, Jeffrey A Prisoner Of Birth**** Sentenced for a crime he did not commit, a young London mechanic befriends his cellmates and they in turn help him seek justice during the many plot twists and turns of this latest Archer novel. Throw in lying barristers, sleezy actors, a priceless stamp collection, two young lovers, a passionate defense attorney and you have the making for a book you’ll want to sit and just keep reading well pat bedtime. Hard to put down and with characters that are both real and entertaining.

Rollins, James
Black Order***1/2 Continuing Sigma force novel about NAZI experiments, forward to present day- based on some real life evidence going back to quantum physics, and racing from Mt. Everest, to South Africa, Germany, Copenhagen and DC. Great read!  Judas Strain*** another good read with the Sigma Force and the “Guild” battling over a “plague/bio weapon” that goes back to the time of Marco Polo. Lots of adventure! (as usual with same cast of characters from Black Order and Map of Bones.)

Meltzer, Brad , The Book of Fate ***1/2 well written, intriguing political drama, focused on a post presidential (Masonic) conspiracy going back to an assasination attempt during the former president’s time in office that left the narrator/aide disfigured.

Isles, Greg True Evil**** kill your spouse slowly and it is untraceable – get the $ and the kids. A “rogue” FBI agent is on the case – after her sister extracts a deathbed promise. Another great Isle’s read.

Harris, Thomas
Hannibal Rising***1/2 Well written account of Hannibal the cannibal’s early life and how he “became” the “monster” depicted in Harris’ later books and the films. Much better than the last Harris book of the trilogy. Almost up to The Silence of the Lambs category – but, not quite. Kind of makes yoy understand him – almost more of a psycholgocal novel like a J. Kellerman – but still some gore.

Baldacci, David
Stone Cold **** A continuation of the “Camel Club” characters with honorary member Annabelle Conroy playing a key role over her act of revenge (a con job netting her $40 million from a casino owner), meanwhile revenge of a different kind is being extracted ob former CIA operatives by someone from Stone’s shadowy past. And then we meet Harry Finn a mild mannered suburban dad who dotes on his baseball playing kids – is every thing as it seems here?

Flynn, Vince
Protect and Defend***1/2 Mitch Rapp is back and taking on Iran after what appears to be an inside demolition of their nuclear operation – but which they blame on Israeli and American bombers. It’s a big political and diplomatic tangle and when Irene Kennedy the CIA director goes to secretly meet with her Iranian counterpart she is kidnapped. Rapp can’t tolerate this and you can be sure this book leads the reader through all the twists of turns of another great Flynn thriller.

A Lighter Touch (I dare you not to laugh)

Graham, Laurie,
Gone with the Windsors*** (written as a Maybell's diary – this delightful book is a hilarious, but insightful romp through the courtship of the Duke  (eventually the King of England) and Wallace Warfield Simpson the "woman he loved" during their courtship   period - vastly entertaining! Maybell tells “all” and is absolutely clueless to say the least at what she gives away in her daily “memoirs”)

Strohmeyer, Sarah
The Cinderella Pact *** (fun read about an overweight magazine editor who makes up a british alter ego to get her own column)

Lustbader, Victoria Hidden ***1/2 saga of two families tracing two young men in NYC (1920’s) how they meet and become friends in the Great War and their lives – one from the Jewish Lower East side who struggles to escape his upbringing the other who tries to deal with his expected role as a scion of wealth and privilege.

Crichton, Michael
Next **** Fascinating look at genetics, scarey in part, interesting, looks at ethical dilemmas, animal issues, etc. kind of distracting with newslike articles too

 Jacobs, Kate
The Friday Night Knitting Club***1/2 good read, reminds me of something a book club (women’s) would read and identify with – bonding, various life stages, figuring it all out, mother and mothering issues, romance, lifestyle choices, body issues – it’s all here. I hear it will be or is going to be a movie with Julia Roberts or produced by her company...

 Ginsburg, Debra
Blind Submission***, a new assistant at a literary agency, Angel gets more than she bargained for when a “blind” submission seems to mirror her life – fun read- lots of quirky characters

 Hannah, Kristin
Comfort and Joy*** holiday romance/and a lot like Mark Levy’s book If Only It Were True- (movie was “Just Like Heaven” w/Reese Witherspoon)