Friday, December 31, 2010

My 2010 Reading List

2010 was a great year for fiction. I read 29 books, discovered a new favorite author, and enjoyed excellent stories. Below are my rankings and links if I reviewed the book on my blog. Let me know if you've read any of these, what you thought, or if you decide to read any.

All-Time Favorite Books (5 out of 5)
The Pawn—Steven James
The Rook—Steven James
The Knight—Steven James
June Bug—Chris Fabry
The Charlatan’s Boy—Jonathan Rogers

Both Recommend and Would Read Again (4.5 out of 5)
Sky Blue—Travis Thrasher
The Mountain Between Us—Charles Martin

Recommend (4 out of 5)
Beyond the Night—Marlo Schalesky
Finding Alice—Melody Carlson
Auralia’s Colors—Jeffrey Overstreet
Cyndere’s Midnight—Jeffrey Overstreet
Stone Cold—David Baldacci
By Reason of Insanity—Randy Singer
Broken Angel—Sigmund Brouwer

Fun, Intriguing, or Thought Provoking (3.5 out of 5)
The Hunted—Mike Dellosso
Scream—Mike Dellosso
Darlington Woods—Mike Dellosso
Ghostwriter—Travis Thrasher

Liked, But Irritated or Unmoved (3 out of 5)
Adelaide Piper—Beth Webb Hart
The Second Thief—Travis Thrasher
Love, Charleston—Beth Webb Hart
The God Cookie—Geoffrey Wood
Almost Heaven—Chris Fabry
Flight of Shadows—Sigmund Brouwer
Possession—Rene Gutteridge

An Average Book (2.5 out of 5)
Nobody—Creston Mapes

Didn't Meet My Expectations (2 out of 5)
The Lovely Bones—Alice Sebold

Waste of Time (1.5 out of 5)
The Long Trail Home—Stephen Bly
The Master Sniper—Stephen Hunter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

THE CHARLATAN'S BOY by Jonathan Rogers

Whoop! Ladies and gents, this is the tale of two uglies - the selfish heart of a huckster named Floyd who separates gullibles from their coin and Grady, an orphan known as the ugliest boy in the world. Together, they run a popular scam convincing folks that Grady is a mythical creature known as a feechie. And for only a copper, villagers can have a looksee at a genuine, real-live he-feechie. Yet when the townspeople stop believing in feechies, Floyd and Grady have to move on to other flimflams until they decide to pull off the greatest hustle of their lives - The Great Feechie Scare.

In The Charlatan's Boy, Rogers captures the longing soul of a boy. Who is Grady? And where does he belong? Weaving this magical tale through the fantastical country of Corenwald, Rogers takes the reader on a wild adventure into the lives of comical characters and into a community of hucksters, hoaxes, and heroes.

More than a great book, this is a fun book. The Charlatan's Boy engaged my heart and tickled my ears as Grady gives a firsthand account of his life in the feechie trade. Grady's distinct boyish voice makes this story all the better as he uses words like sockdolager, caterwampus, and flusterations. Want a taste? You can read an excerpt from the first chapter.

This story leaves me wanting more from Rogers, and I can't wait to read this book aloud to my children.

5 out of 5.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

POSSESSION by Rene Gutteridge

I remember being glued to the TV in October 2002 when people in the Washington D.C. area were randomly being murdered by snipers. The story was both captivating because of its mystery and level of grief. Thus, when I came across this book that weaved a fictional story through these actual events, I was intrigued.

Vance, a former police officer who worked the D.C. sniper case, leaves the department and travels across the country to escape the past. He hopes this new beginning will help save his marriage and help him move past the horror of October 2002. However, when the men driving the moving van hold Vance's belongings for ransom, Vance senses that something deeper is at work, and it's a dark secret in his past that is hunting him down. Suddenly it's not about his possessions. It's about protecting his family from evil. Murder, mystery, and chaos follow.

Possession kept me turning the pages as I wondered what would happen. I enjoyed the thriller but found myself frustrated that it took so long to reveal the secret in Vance's past. By the time it was revealed, it almost felt like a let down because of all the prior hype. The ending also felt too easy.

Rene Gutteridge's Possession is a story with a great plot line but didn't live up to my expectations.

3 out of 5

I received this book free from Tyndale Publishing as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

FLIGHT OF SHADOWS by Sigmund Brouwer

Sigmund Brouwer's Flight of Shadows picks up where the prequel Broken Angel left off, and although his story is exciting at times, it suffers from the plight of many sequels. Whereas Broken Angel seemed to have a destination and intelligently worked to get there, Flight of Shadows felt like the storyline wandered too much and wasn't as compelling.

Caitlyn has escaped the freedom-squashing land of Appalachia and finds herself in an unfamiliar country ruled by a hierarchical system and city-states reminiscent of ancient Greece. In search of her friends, Caitlyn tries desperately to stay ahead of government agencies, a sinister bounty hunter, and exploratory scientists who are desperately seeking her DNA to reveal the mysteries behind her wings and life-giving blood. She is befriended by Razor, an illusionist she's not sure she can trust but whom she needs to rely on if she ever wants to find her friends and escape west.

Accepting the truth that history repeats itself, Brouwer does a beautiful job of taking ancient cultures and adopting their societal structures to create a modern world that may not be as far-fetched as it seems. Although I wasn't as drawn to the characters or story this time around, Brouwer makes good on developing speculative fiction that is unique and thought provoking.

If you're curious, you can download the prologue and first chapter.

3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.