Monday, January 21, 2008

January Reads

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Rating: 3.5
A post-apocalyptic book in which all of Earth is gray and ash, and survivors have to be wary of each other. A father and son take to the road in order to survive. Many have found the ending to be uplifting, and it is, to some extent. The writing is sparse, but beautiful. Yet, in the end, I found this to be the most depressing book I've ever read.

A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill (first in the series)
Protagonists: Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe
Setting: Yorkshire
Rating: 4.0
A small-town female fatale is found dead inside her home, clubbed to death. Was it her husband, at home with a concussion? It could be anyone, really, since, as Pascoe tells Dalziel: "I didn't know the lady as well as you, sir, but she seems in all particulars to have been a pretty clubbable woman." Although the first in what is now a 23-book series, Dalziel and Pascoe are already fully formed.

The Man Who Invented Florida by Randy Wayne White (third in the series)
Protagonist: Marion "Doc" Ford
Setting: Sanibel Island and Mango Island (Everglades), Fla.
Rating: 3.0
The weakest of the three books I've read so far, as there's hardly a mystery in this one. This book involves a crazy scheme by Doc's uncle, from whom Doc has been estranged. I might have given up on this book, but White does write some great passages about Florida. When he writes about a dolphin giving birth, you wish you had been there to see it in person.

The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill
Protagonist: Insp. Simon Serrailler
Setting: Lafferton, England
Rating: 4.7
Hill's book are slow-moving, drawing portraits of Serrailler and his family, as well as the victim's family. In this one, Serrailler is in Venice when he's abruptly called home for a family emergency. Back home, a young boy is kidnapped, and Serrailler, already back home early, jumps into the case. I like Hill's books because she never gives you the expected -- which a mystery writer should do, but many don't succeed as does Hill.

Miami Blues by Charles Willeford (first in the series)
Protagonist: Det. Hoke Moseley
Setting: Miami, Fla., 1980s
Rating: 4.3
Just out of jail, "Junior" flies into Miami from California, unintentionally kills a Hare Krishna at the airport and then, coincidentally, ends up moving in with the Krishna's sister. When Moseley grows suspicious, Junior starts to go after the detective himself. While hard-boiled is not my usual fare, Willeford really nails down my hometown in the '80s. The quirky characters and situations are a plus. I'll definitely spend more time with Moseley in Miami.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (audio)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (audio)
Protagonist: Harry Potter
Setting: Hogswarts and the non-muggle world
Rating: 5.0
The final two books in this fantastic series. Enough has been written about this series, which I'm sure is destined to become a classic. But I'll say that Rowling's story-telling is so masterful (and Jim Dale so wonderful as the audiobook narrator) that I became a little Potter-addicted, toward the end. I couldn't wait to get in my car and drive, so I could hear what happened next!

Rating system:
5.0: Wow!
4.0: Pretty good
3.0: Mediocre to good
2.0: Pretty Bad
DNF: Did not finish

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