Thursday, February 06, 2014

a whole bunch of reading

Got a playlist going while I write, a playlist called "Sleepyhead"... just started it, and its playing "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye

Books!  I managed to get through 28 books last year.  And here are the 17 books that are not in my Top Ten.. and then one that I considered the worst book of the year--that's a separate post altogether.

(next song: "Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars)

First... the re-reads:

"Under the Dome" by Stephen King... because the mini-series was coming on TV in June 2013, I decided in May that it was a good idea to go back through this behemoth of a book.  And it was just as good--maybe better--the second time around... all about a town who gets cut off from the rest of the world when an actual dome encapsulates the town.  Its as much about town politics as it is a supernatural tale.

"Kingdom Keepers" by Ridley Pearson... if you are a Disney fan, you need to read this book.  What happens when the lights go down on the Magic Kingdom late at night?  This book, that's what.  Including what you always suspected about the dolls in "...its a small world"
(next song: "Cups" by Anna Kendrick, the radio friendly version)
(bathroom break)
(next song: "Just the Two of Us" by Will Smith, ft Stevie Wonder)

Next... the Crime Stories

I'm a fan of crime non-fiction, notably really bad crimes and such.  I know, that probably makes me a creeper, so be it.  I am addicted to Investigative Discovery, and darn if I won't watch a 2 hour Dateline special if it comes on... even taping the last part of the show if I have to leave before I find out if they found the dude guilty.  Anyway, I finally read a book by Ann Rule, who is a very famous crime non-fiction writer... and I discovered Kathryn Casey.  So I read these:

"Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors" by Ann Rule... a selection of crimes and murders from all over the country, notably focused on the terrible murder of Susan Powell in Utah, then the subsequent murder/suicide of the kids at the hands of father Josh Powell.   Horrific.  Great storytelling, hard to stomach.

Kathryn Casey focuses on crimes based in Texas... I read six books by her this year... the first three are just so-so... they are "A Warrant to Kill", about Susan White, who is terrorized by a local policeman named Kent McGowan... "She Wanted It All", about Celeste Beard, a manipulative wretch of a woman who does whatever she can to get her way--this was my least favorite, as you end up not caring about anybody in the this true story... and "Die My Love", which has a title suited for a Fabio cover, but is about Fred Jablin, who's wife decided she wanted him dead to get her kids back.

(next song: "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds)

The three that I loved, though, are "Deadly Little Secrets", concerning minister Matt Baker who turns out to be a really, really bad dude, especially to his beautiful wife Kari...

"Shattered", where a high school coach named David Temple brutally murders his wife Belinda--but there's so much more to the story than that.

And my favorite of the bunch, "A Descent Into Hell", the story of dating couple Colton Pitonyak and Jennifer Cave, two students at the University of Texas, who seemed headed to a life long marriage... until one of them ended up in the bathtub.  Murdered.  With no head. 

(next song: "Someday Soon" by Suzy Bogguss)

Here's three more fiction books I consumed in 2013, that aren't in my Top Ten (but some were close)

"A Time To Kill" by John Grisham... I can't remember if I read this in college, but I'm guessing no, so I re-read it.  Its great.  A little black girl is sexually assaulted and raped by a couple of white rednecks in a southern Mississippi town full of racism, and her daddy kills the suspects.  And is on trial for murder... enter Jake Brigance, a white dude who faces all odds to see if justice will prevail... its gripping, its great and an actual "page-turner"

"The Racketeer" by John Grisham... for some reason, I end up reading everything he puts out, and I read this within a week of its release.  Told from a first person narrative, its pretty good, but lags in the middle.  I honestly don't remember a lot about it, as it was the second book I read in all of 2013, but it will satisfy Grisham fans.

(next song: "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crowe Medicine Show... there are very few names cooler for a band than that)

"Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn" by Ridley Pearson... picking up where the first book left off, we have our group of kids, the Kingdom Keepers, who protect the Disney Parks from the forces of the villains that want to take over.  Takes place primarily in Animal Kingdom, and a good read for Disney fans.

And here are the four non-fiction books that aren't in my Top Ten...

"John Adams" by David McCullough... Masterful.  This is a masterpiece of literature, and any history buff will need to read it (then follow it up with the superior "1776")... from early childhood to death, this book takes you through the life of the man who would be president and a key member of our early government.  Plus, did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a pretentious d-bag?  Yep.  Didn't make my Top Ten because it is looooooooong... there are parts that you have to slog through.  The tense moments, the confrontations and war stories make up for it, but still.

"EntreLeadership" by Dave Ramsey... A great lesson in running a business told in Dave's humor and style.  Funny, educated and worth a read.  Didn't make my Top Ten only because I'm not in a leadership position that this book speaks to... well, not yet. 

(next song:  "Holy Roar" by Christy Nockel and Passion)

"Melissa Explains It All" by Melissa Joan Hart... I really wanted to like this book.  But I just didn't. Instead of a great narrative on how she got started, and great stories from behind the scenes, its just one anecdote after another, not spending nearly enough time in the projects she's know for, like "Clarissa Explains It All" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch".  There is a lot of name dropping, and a list of drugs she did, and guys she kissed... and that's pretty much it.  Meh.

"Devil's Knot" by Mara Leveritt... A great account from start to (almost) finish of the West Memphis Three (who's story is also told one of my favorite films of 2012, "West of Memphis"), three teens who were sentenced for the murder of three little boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in the 90s.  Leveritt tries to be unbiased, but you can tell how strongly she feels about the botched police work and who she thinks should be considered as suspects.  The book ends in 2001, and this didn't make my Top  Ten, only because between 2001 and 2010, a heckuva lot of stuff happened, including the WM3 getting released from prison...

So that's it for these books.  Tomorrow, the worst book I read in 2013, and then my Top Ten Favorite Books of 2013. 

(songs that play while I'm editing: "Godspeed" by The Dixie Chicks... "Sunday in the South" by Shenendoah... "Fool For You" by Nichole Nordeman... "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5... "Good Enough" by Sarah McLachlan... "Must Be Doing Something Right" by Billy Currington)

(4,050 words written in #15KWordsinFeb... 15,950 to go)

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