Nine by Jan Burke ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb16I read my first Jan Burke book over ten years ago and really enjoyed it. Yet, for some strange reason that I still can’t figure out, I never picked up any of her other books until a few months ago, when I read her short story anthology, Eighteen, which I loved so much that it inspired me to write a fresh batch of my own short stories.

I know Burke’s Irene Kelly series is wildly popular, but I’m fickle about series. You get attached. You make (imaginary) friends. Eventually the author takes the characters you know and love down a character arc you can’t forgive, and you lose a loved one. I no longer see the point in entering what is bound to be a tragic relationship doomed from the start.

Nine is one of Burke’s stand alone novels. It seems as though she feels that it’s important for the reader to really know the characters, to understand where they’re coming from and what their motivation is. That may have slowed the pacing in this book a bit. By the end of the book, it didn’t matter at all. If she had sped through the plot instead of building the slow and steady suspense that culminated in a big, breathless climax, it wouldn’t have been the same ride. (And this book is a ride.) 5 stars.

My Top 5 Books of 2015

Despite a 3 month hiatus while moving and fixing up our new house, I read 48 books in 2015. That’s a visit to 48 different worlds, a brief stint spent living 48 different lives, and countless new (if imaginary) friends. This past year, I read novels to broaden my literary horizons, works to learn from, pieces to grow from, and books just for fun. It was incredibly hard to pick my top 5 favorites this year, but here they are:

wpb11). TANA FRENCH – Okay, I know that I’m cheating here, but seriously, if you like mysteries with a twist and you haven’t read anything by French before, you’re missing out. On my grandmother’s recommendation, I read In The Woods at the beginning of the year. I then proceeded to read everything French has written, and she can’t write more fast enough! I highly recommend anything by this author.

wpb2) EIGHTEEN by Jan Burke – This is a collection of 18 short stories by bestselling author Jan Burke. The anthology includes an Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award and Macavity Award winner, an Agatha Award winner, an Edgar Award and an Agatha Award nominee, and the first story ever to feature her popular character, Irene Kelly. I read a Jan Burke book years ago and loved it, yet strangely never picked up another. After reading this book, I will not make that mistake again. This collection spans every color of the mystery rainbow, historical to modern day, professional detective to amateur, and everything in between. This is a must read!

wpb33) GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – I didn’t expect to like this book. I saw the movie first (which I hate and almost never do), but after watching the movie I was really interested in seeing how Flynn had structured the novel. I am so glad that I did! I enjoyed this book on many different levels. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it still seemed fresh. This book delivers!

wpb24) THROUGH A WINDOW by Jane Goodall – I read a number of nonfiction books this year, and was wondering which one to include on this list until I looked back and saw this one. I love Goodall’s writing. I love her subject matter. Put them together and you get a thought provoking, engaging work that reads like fiction and stirs the heart like a Disney movie.

wpb45) THE 6TH EXTINCTION by James Rollins – This was a given. Rollins is returning to his weird science, Michael Crichton-ish early works and I could not be happier. I though that I might eventually outgrow these type of fast paced thrillers, but I’m happy to report that hasn’t happened yet! Take one part heavy science, add a dash of outlandish ideas and a dollop of adventure and you get a recipe that makes this reader very happy.

 

(On a side note, I’ve taken to using a board on Pinterest to keep track of the books I read, and I’ve found that it works really well. This is definitely a habit that I will carry on into 2016. Click the above link to see all of the books on my 2015 reading list.)

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