Category Archives: reading

Getting Hooked By a Mystery Series

Harlan Coben’s first two Myron Bolitar novels.

Like my #1 son, I love to read. I’ve been flipping fascinatingly through pages since the age of four when my older sister Fran taught me how letters formed words, which begat sentences and then books.

But unlike #1, who beat me in learning to read by a year, I don’t have time to sit with a book glued to my face whenever possible (where “whenever possible” = not on the computer). Instead, I usually limit my reading of novels to when I go out to eat lunch solo. Which is why it can take me a long time to finish a book.

Books three and four

For the last year, my favorite choice of lunchtime reading material has been Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. If you’re a fan of the mystery genre, you need to check out Coben’s novels. There are nine Bolitar books so far; the first one debuted in 1995, just like my #2 son!

As I noted in a previous blog post, my friend Diane, my nice neighborhood crack book dealer, got me hooked on the Coben books, just like she did with the Janet Evanovich series. I waited about a year before reading “Deal Breaker” and then wondered why I had put off becoming part of Bolitar’s world.

Coben is a master at writing thrillers: His plots are intriguing, his characters are compelling, his writing is tight and humorous. I’ll be reading one of his books several chapters at a time, depending on how slowly I’m eating lunch. Until all of a sudden I’m nearing the end of the book, and Coben has me hooked! I just can’t wait to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how Bolitar, who is part sports agent and part detective, solves the mystery.

Books five and six (the one I'm currently reading)

I’ve steadily made my way through Coben’s first five Bolitar novels. I’m currently reading number six, “Darkest Fear.” It’s so good and so compelling that I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to bring it inside from its temporary home in my Honda Pilot and become comatose with it on the couch as I gobble up and enjoy every sentence.

But I won’t (well, until I near the end), because there still are three more Bolitar books to read. Plus, Coben has written eight stand-alone (non-Myron) mysteries as well. I’m set for my lunchtime reading for a long time!

Movie review: Not Enough Half-Blood Prince

The sixth Harry Potter book

The sixth Harry Potter book

Potterphiles like myself know two basic truths: First, the seven books penned by the brilliant J.K. Rowling are a tremendous read. And, second, the movies are a sad, sad substitute for the books.

The latest case in point? The recently released “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which our family saw Wednesday afternoon.

Sidebar: Normally, we only go to the theater before noon on weekends, the better to take advantage of the $5 pricing. However, the Mister and the #2 son were going to be at a disc golf tournament all weekend, so we made an exception for Harry. We were too anxious to wait!

Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy utter the Unbreakable Vow in front of the horribly sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange.

Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy utter the Unbreakable Vow in front of the horribly sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange.

We all liked the movie, especially all the humor, but for the #1 son and I, we couldn’t help but lament what was left out from the book. The filmmakers concentrated too much on the romantic relationships in the movie at the expense of action and important events. I understand that the movie has to appeal to the millions who haven’t read the book, especially teenagers, but it was so ridiculous that there was hardly any information about the half-blood prince. Snape admitted to Harry that he, in fact, was the prince, but it was almost a throwaway line. There was no storyline about how Snape got to be called the HBP.

The young Tom Riddle and Dumbledore

The young Tom Riddle and Dumbledore

We did find out a bit about Voldemort’s past as Tom Riddle, who was creepily played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.

Sidebar: Does that “Fiennes” sound familiar? Young Hero is the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays the adult Voldermort!

Ginny, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron before a quidditch match

Ginny, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron before a quidditch match

The filmmakers really grabbed the Golden Snitch when they originally cast Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermoine). The three have grown into their roles and have become fine actors. In fact, everyone in the cast makes this movie so watchable and enjoyable.

There's still no love lost between Harry and Draco.

There's still no love lost between Harry and Draco.

The one actor who was especially sensational in “HP and the HBP” was Tom Felton, who plays Draco. Even though I have a hard time believing that Voldemort would trust a student to kill a gifted wizard like Dumbledore, Draco’s inner turmoil about having to complete such an onerous task was palpable. You could just tell his heart wasn’t in it.

Despite not being at Draco’s hand, Dumbledore’s death was just heartbreaking. Although I knew it was going to happen, it still made me cry. Such a sad moment for Harry in a short lifetime filled with sad moments.

As disappointing as it was for the movie not to include Dumbledore’s funeral, I did really like the wand tribute by the Hogwarts’ students and staff that erased the dark mark from the sky. Tons of emotion during that scene. The end of the movie set up the final films very nicely. Look for me to be intrigued by movies #7 and #8 but also to be disappointed. I have no doubt that Potterphile truth #2 will hold true: Those movies will be a sad, sad substitute for the book version of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

But I already can’t wait to see them!