FINALLY, I am sitting down to work on the fifth issue of Buncha Books. I have 15 books that need to be reviewed and one more that I'm sure will be done before I finish reviewing the 15. I think what I will do is try to cover eight books in this issue and then do another issue ASAP (next week if I can) to cover the other seven. After that, I need to set a few goals for myself, those being
1) Review the damn book IMMEDIATELY. It's not like it takes that long. Hell it takes more time when I wait to do it, because then I forget what the book was about and have to skim a little to jog my memory.
2) Compile my reviews once each month for a Buncha Books issue.
Sounds doable, no? Of course it does. Unless you are a MASTER procrastinator. In which case it is an excellent PLAN, the trouble comes with the EXECUTION of the plan. So we'll see how it goes. Anyway. Moving on...
If you want to take a look at past issues of Buncha Books, check out the labels section over in the right sidebar and click "Buncha Books". When I figure out how to make a link that acts like the label thing, I will include it in all my Buncha Books posts, but for now, viewing past issues will require a little scroll-and-click work. There are other book reviews too, that are not included in any of the Buncha Books issues. Those can be found by clicking the label "book review". All righty then. Moving on yet again...
Oh, wait, one more thing. I am adding a rating system. Instead of stars, I will rate up to five picklebottoms. You can read the explanation of the ratings system here.
Really moving on this time...
The first book I am covering in this issue is The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. This is a work of historical fiction written from the point of view of Mary Boleyn, the sister of the famous Anne Boleyn, about life in the royal court during the reign of Henry VIII. I do not enjoy historical fiction. In fact, I avoid it whenever possible. I firmly believe that "historical fiction" is another way of saying "boring." I think an equivalent phrase for "That movie bored me to tears." is "Sitting through that film was like reading historical fiction." Are you sufficiently convinced of my standpoint on historical fiction? OK, then, I'll proceed.
I only decided to try this novel because someone who promised me that she hated historical fiction said she LOVED this book and that I should read it. So I read it. And I LOVED it. It was interesting and fascinating and drew me right in. No, I have not changed my thoughts on historical fiction IN GENERAL, but I hear that this book has a sequel. If that is true, I MAY read it at some point. After I read the 937 (only a slight exaggeration) books piled next to my dresser in my TBR stack. In conclusion, this book gets my recommendation. Which we all know the author has been waiting for. What's a bestseller and a movie? Pfft. Nothing until Fiona gives it some picklebottoms. Let's see, I think I'll give it 4 1/2 picklebottoms.
Next up is a book I found on the shelf of the cottage where we stayed on vacation this summer. It is Codes of Betrayal by Dorothy Uhnak. This novel is about a man who is a police officer and the grandson of a notorious mobster. When his son is gunned down, the man falls into his old gambling addiction, loses his wife, becomes desperate and commits a crime to pay off his debts. Unfortunately, he stumbles into an FBI sting operation. To avoid jail, he must become an inside man in his grandfather's organization. He becomes a double agent of sorts. As he slowly finds out what really happened the day his son died, his commitment to his efforts wavers. Does he bring down his grandfather's organized crime syndicate or do his allegiances switch? Does his grandfather figure out what he's really up to?
I had never previously read anything by this author. I'm glad I found this on the shelf, because I enjoyed it. I recommend this novel and give it 4 picklebottoms.
Now I'm going to do a three-for-one. I picked up the first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money by Janet Evanovich on the bargain table at either Barnes and Noble or Borders, I don't remember which. Anyway, it was a quick, easy and fun read, so I Bookmooched some others in the series. So far I've read the first three: One for the Money, Two for the Dough and Three to Get Deadly.
Basically they are about a down-on-her-luck Jersey girl who needs a job, so she goes to work for her uncle, who is a kinky bail bondsman. So she becomes the world's most unlikely bounty hunter with a handsome policeman she's known since childhood, Joe Morelli, as her antagonist/love interest. In One for the Money, Stephanie is actually after Joe, who has skipped out his bail while trying to figure out who framed him for murder. In the process, she gets mixed up with a psychotic professional boxer. In Two for the Dough, Stephanie is after Joe's cousin, who shot and killed his best friend.
In Three to Get Deadly, she must track down the beloved owner of a local candy shop. All three were pretty good reads, funny and with some interesting characters, particularly Stephanie's gun- and funeral-loving grandmother. You either have a grandmother like her or you wish you did. These are great lying out on the beach or next to the pool books. They each get 3 1/2 picklebottoms.
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst was about a mother and daughter who sign on to do a reality show that's like "The Amazing Race" combined with a scavenger hunt. The mother made the decision to do the show because she and her daughter had grown so far apart that when her daughter gave birth to a baby one night, the mother had not even been aware that her daughter was pregnant. There are other interesting couples involved as well. There are two brothers, one who has a very ill son and becomes friendly with the mother. There is an uber-religious (how do you do an umlaut?) married couple who had met while going through some program to make them not gay, which of course they still were, but what better way to prove to the world they weren't than entering into a heterosexual union? There are two child stars who have faded from the limelight and want to regain some of their old notoriety. There are a few other duos as well, but I can't recall them at the moment, since it's been a while since I've read this book. Anyway, when I first picked up this book, I wasn't sure it would be my cup of tea. I'm not sure WHY exactly I thought that, but I was wishy-washy on even reading it. I'm so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too. It gets 4 picklebottoms.
Next up is Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge. Now I love James Patterson because I have kids. "What does one have to do with the other?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. James Patterson's books have REALLY SHORT CHAPTERS. This means that often I can read an ENTIRE chapter between eruptions of sibling rivalry. That alone would make me like his books, but they are also GOOD. Beach Road is about a lawyer, Tom, who goes back to the area where he grew up. There isn't much going on there, so he doesn't get a lot of work. One night, two of Tom's best friends are killed and a young black high school basketball star is accused and arrested. Tom believes the boy is innocent and endures the wrath of his whole town, his friends, his family and his dead friends' families when he decides to represent the boy. This is a really good read and delivers a SHOCKING twist at the end. Four picklebottoms.
Our last review in this issue is The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Apparently, this is the seventh in a series featuring Agent Pendergast. I, however, was not aware of this series or my OCD would have NEVER allowed me to read the seventh book before reading the preceding six. Luckily, this book stood alone quite well, though I am interested to learn more about the background of Agent Pendergast and his brother. In this novel, Agent Pendergast is in prison for a crime for which he was framed by his brother. There is a group planning his escape. In the meantime, at the New York Museum of Natural History, a bag of dust, at first thought to be a possible anthrax attack, is determined to be what remains of the museum's stolen collection of precious diamonds, which results in some very bad publicity for the museum. In a timely turn of events, a mysterious benefactor donates a large sum of money to be used to open an ancient Egyptian tomb exhibit. Strange things begin to occur surrounding the exhibit.
I enjoyed this novel and I think that I will pick up the preceding novels in the series to read after I read the books that are currently in my TBR pile. (My husband has kindly requested that I not buy any more books until it is no longer possible for the pile to fall over and bury small children.) So I will award it 4 picklebottoms.