Friday, December 16, 2011

Best of 2011 Countdown: #9


The Informationist
Taylor Stevens

Enter the only thriller on my list! This book makes my list for several reasons but first and foremost it makes my list because it re-invigorated my love of thrillers  (and I really was sort of done with this genre).

Here is what you need to know about Vanessa Michael Munroe.

Taylor Stevens
1. She can kick your ass. Don’t test her; trust me.
2. She is smarter than you.
3. She’s hotter than you. [No one's hotter than me! Right?  RIGHT???]
4. She’s dark, she’s a loner, she’s damaged…just my type. [Why Gianna loves me...and I spurn her.]
5. She speaks over 20 languages. Told you she is smarter than you.  

Vanessa Munroe can get you the information you need… if you can pay. The daughter of a millionaire has been missing for several years and Munroe is hired to find out what happened to her. The coolest thing about The Informationist is the exotic places it takes you--Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea among others [Perfect for a family vacation!].  Munroe is an expert of infiltrating cultures, of fitting in and moving without being noticed (until she is noticed and then things go bad).  The plot is intricate, incredibly fast paced, and has several holy crap moments (lets just say Munroe’s weapon of choice is a knife). If you love Lee Child or Stieg Larsson you will not be able to put this book down. And yes, you will casting the movie in your head too.

The Informationist is available in paperback and the sequel, called The Innocent, is due on December 27th. I am just starting The Innocent now so look for another blog on this Taylor Stevens series soon. 

Chinaberry Sidewalks
Rodney Crowell

Gianna has already included this book on her list, so there are two votes of approval for you.  Here's what you need to know.  Did you read and like Mary Karr's The Liars Club or Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle?  Then you need to read Chinaberry Sidewalks.  Actually, I'm going to say it--Rodney Crowell's book is BETTER than The Glass Castle.  Set aside that Crowell is a singer.  I loved this book and it should be painfully obvious to anyone who knows me that I'm not a music person.  My favorite song was in The Muppet Movie for crying out loud.  Focus on the fact that Crowell is a simply brilliant writer.

Rodney Crowell performing at
BookPeople in Austin
The story of Rodney Crowell's working class upbringing in Houston and East Texas is filled with humor, love, violence, and insanity, hard drinkers and religious extremists.  It's the sort of rearing that a some kids never survive.  He encounters hurricanes in a house filled with holes, guns and fights. Crowell does survive, though, and salvation mostly comes through music.  As a 12 year-old he was playing drums in a honky tonk.  And here's where you should consider Crowell's career.  He's a genius songwriter and that genius shows through in his prose.  That genius landed him in Nashville and led to a terrific career with such luminaries as Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash.

I like this book so much I've made it my favorite nonfiction book of 2011.  I guarantee its genius.  Read it.

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