Dec 15, 2011

Review: The King of Lies by John Hart

THE KING OF LIES is the first novel of two time Edgar Award winner John Hart  (The Last Child, Down River, Iron House) He is a North Carolina native, who went from defense attorney to novelist, writing crime thrillers based in North Carolina.  

About The Book - (from GoodReads)
Jackson Workman Pickens--known to most as "Work"--mindlessly holds together his disintegrating life: a failing law practice left to him when his father, Ezra, mysteriously disappeared, a distant wife who shares their loveless marriage, and an estranged sister who bore the brunt of their childhood trauma.
And then Ezra's body is discovered.
Set to inherit his father's fortune, Work becomes a prime suspect.  But so does his sister, Jean.  As much as Work's life was overshadowed by his domineering father, Jean's life was nearly destroyed by him. But does that make her capable of a vicious murder?  Fearing the worst, Work launches his own investigation, crossing paths with a power-hungry detective, a string of damning evidence, and the ugly rumors that swirl within his small, moneyed Southern town.
Desperate for the redemption that has eluded him for so many years and stripped of everything he once valued, he fights to save his sister and clear his name--in this poignant and thrilling anatomy of a murder and its ripple effect within a family and a community.

My Thoughts

Its no secret that I am a big fan of John Hart. The first book of his I read was THE LAST CHILD last year and I really enjoyed it. Earlier this year I read IRON HOUSE, his latest and I was blown away. 

THE KING OF LIES doesn't get off to a quick start like IRON HOUSE does, but Hart methodically lays the ground work for what is, I believe, a very good mystery.  The questions surrounding Ezra's disappearance and subsequent discovery of his remains keep the story going and has many paths to travel. The convincing list of suspects and their involvements with the victim creates a believable and engaging story. The fact that the lead detective only wants to focus on Ezra's son, Work, only makes the other suspects more visible, in my opinion.  

I did feel the story dragging a little bit about half-way through.  I was ready for a tempo change and, luckily, soon after after having that thought, things began to happen at a quicker pace and with more excitement.  That said, I was pleased with THE KING OF LIES. I'm happy I took the time to read it and I do plan to read his second novel, DOWN RIVER, at some point as well. 

Having read his three later novels, I have definitely seen the progression of a really great suspense writer. In fact, IRON HOUSE  is one of my top picks of this year. His writing gets more intense and exciting with each book.  Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting his next release. 

Author: John Hart
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Published: 2006
Pages: 320
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library

Dec 11, 2011

Audio Book Review: Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles #1) by Jeffrey Archer

The Clifton Chronicles, the new series by Jeffrey Archer (best selling author of Kane & Abel), beginning with ONLY TIME WILL TELL, is the coming-of-age story of Harry Clifton.  But this is so much more than a coming-of-age tale. It has an unexpected dark side that Archer delivers brilliantly as the story of Harry's life unfolds.

Book Description from Goodreads:
The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again.

As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question, was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, I enjoyed this book so much that it even surprised me!  Sometimes family sagas can be long and drawn out and bordering on boring, but I was pleased to discover that was not the case with ONLY TIME WILL TELL.  The first thing I noticed in listening to this audio was the superb narration of Roger Allam. His smooth, even voice with it's pleasing English accent just makes you want to keep listening. It was perfectly suited for this novel. Allam does most of the narration but the voice of Harry's mother, done by Emelia Fox, was also spot on. 

The way Archer told this story about Harry's young life and into adulthood was different than just telling a straight-forward story. As we drifted from character to character, the story would overlap and that enables the reader to get the whole truth of events and how they really happened. There were many revelations made this way simply from listening to another character's point of view. I really liked this technique and that's what gave me many 'Aha' moments. I didn't find it confusing at all. 

The characters were fantastic and I especially enjoyed Old Jack, the old man living a secluded life at the shipyard who befriends Harry and looks out for him for years. It was an endearing relationship and made the story very special. All of the characters were well developed and with the interesting way Archer told this story, they seemed to constantly be evolving. 

There was a darker side of this story that made it unpredictable. I tend to like books with a darker side and although this wasn't dark like evil dark, it was dark enough to know that at some point everything would be out in the open and it wouldn't be good.  

I loved the way the first book ended and I am really looking forward to the next installment. Since I enjoyed the audio version so much, I believe I will continue with that format. After I finished this book, I felt an empty place and I actually missed hearing Harry's story told by Roger Allam.  

Special thanks to Anna at Diary of an Eccentric for hosting the giveaway with Macmillan Audio that enabled me to experience this story. 

ONLY TIME WILL TELL (Clifton Chronicles #1)
Author:  Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published:  August 30, 2011
Listening Length:  12h 41m
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Source: Giveaway Win from Diary of an Eccentric and Macmillan Audio 

Dec 4, 2011

Changes are Coming!

Happy Sunday to all you Saloners! I have an exciting announcement that I'd like to share with all of you.  In the coming weeks, there will be some big changes coming to Books and Cooks. As my 4th Blogoversary nears (January 8th) I have decided now is the time for me to create my own website and leave Blogger.  I've  been wanting to do this for quite some time, but it seems there's always something happening in my life that takes my attention. I'm hoping to start off the new year with my 'new' blog and I hope you will be there to share it with me.

First and foremost, there will be one major change - Books and Cooks will no longer be the name of the blog. Soon you will see Southern Girl Reads and that, my friends, is me.  I will have my own domain and it will simply be Short, simple and easy to remember. I hope you like it.

The site is up now, however, not much is there as we're just getting started developing the layout and adding components. My good friend and former co-worker, Gerald, at Lane Digital is doing all the hard work and I am simply telling him what I want.  It's all very exciting and I'm hoping it will be done before my Blogoversary. What a great present to myself!

In the meantime, I'll continue posting here, at Books and Cooks and you may see little changes here and there until we switch over to the new site. So please bear with me as I take this huge step - its kind of a learn-as-you-go experience for me.

I'm so blessed to be a part of this wonderful blogging community that has always greeted me with open arms and made me feel like I'm part of a family. Your contnued support and friendship means the world to me and frankly, I would be lost without it. Book bloggers are THE most awesome people and I'm happy and proud to know each of you. I can't wait to share my new endeavor with you and I hope you like the final outcome.

Thanks again for stopping by today and sharing my news with me. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions if you have any! I love input!! Take care and enjoy those books you're reading!

P.S. Remember -