Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Books I Read in 2012

Being active on Goodreads since this past August has inspired me to resolve this year to read and review more books. Here's a list of what I've read -- or listened to on Audible -- over the past five months...

Down RiverDown River by John Hart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Earnest effort that sometimes devolves into purple prose... "the sun was dying in the sky, and I wondered what it would take with it" et al. The story keeps moving along, so I enjoyed it -- but I think I would have liked the written version better than this audio version. The audio version includes an interview with the author, where the interviewer keeps praising his ear for dialog. Yet, in listening to the story instead of reading it, I found the dialog frustrating. In the book, no one ever answers a direct question directly -- or characters often say things that are deliberately cryptic at first. I often found myself in my car shouting at the narrator, "Just answer the question!"

The RacketeerThe Racketeer by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were few surprises for me in this book -- but it delivered what I expected... solid entertainment. A good story, with a main character I rooted for, and excellent narration by J.D. Jackson. As a work of fiction, or literature, I suppose it rightly should be given three stars. There's nothing exceptional here. But as a guilty pleasure, I'd give it five stars... so my final rating splits the difference.

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America ForeverKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very entertaining and informative read. I knocked off a star here because I am rating the audio version of the book, which features Bill O'Reilly as the narrator. He has a very jarring narration style -- as if he were TV pundit! -- but, for me, this took away from the listening experience. "Why is Bill O'Reilly yelling at me?" I kept asking myself. But it certainly made me want to read more about the Civil War and American history.

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin LadenNo Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting read that, rightfully so, honors those who serve our country. The story rings true to me.

Hidden (Bone Secrets, #1)Hidden by Kendra Elliot
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

OK, if the mood is right... I suppose. But it was kind of like an extended episode of the TV show "Criminal Minds," including one-dimensional male characters and relationships based on studies in anthropology rather than real life. Not my best reading choice lately.

American Gods (American Gods, #1)American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since all my previous reviews are 4 stars or more, I thought I'd just comment on a recent read that didn't enthrall me. I'm sorry, I just don't get this one. I know a lot of people love this book (and I can understand that feeling, since this is a noble effort), but I found it rambling in a bad way.

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Green is an astounding writer, associated with "YA" (young adult) readers. Ha. I wish teenagers were this articulate, profound, poetic and wise. I'd give this book 5 stars if I could only suspend disbelief long enough for that extra star. The audible.com version of this book is especially well-read.

A Painted HouseA Painted House by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pleasant surprise. Recommended by my friend Mark Marchand, this book reminded me of "The Glass Castle" -- but that's always been one of my favorites too. Filled with baseball references, a good deal of violence and likable, even admirable, characters. I, in turn, recommend it to you.

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved the first 2/3rds of the book, but then it started to fall flat for me. Still a great all-around read. Makes "The War of the Roses" seem very tame.

The Age of MiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well-written, including some extraordinarily lyrical and poetic passages.