Sunday, June 30, 2019

Booksie's Shelves, June 30, 2019

It's halfway through the reading year!  So far, I've read 59 books this year.  My goal is 125 so I'll have to get busy to meet that.  My reading took a hit about six weeks ago when my husband retired.  He goes, goes, goes all day and doesn't understand that I usually spend a couple of hours just sitting and reading.  The other hit to my reading is an enjoyable one, being Nana Sandie.  We had the two grand girls for a week, next week my son and all four kids are coming and two weeks later, the two grandsons will be at Camp Nana and Papa.  I'm usually so tired by the end of the day that I fall into bed without getting my reading time.

I hadn't been getting that many books in the mail lately, but for some reason, this week was very different.  I got seven books in two days and six the week or so before.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  A Good Neighborhood, Therese Anne Fowler, literary fiction, won in contest
2.  How To Read A Book, Kwame Alexander, children's literature, sent by publisher
3.  The Nanny, Gilly Macmillan, suspense, sent by publisher
4.  Out Of Darkness, Shining Light, Petina Gappah, literary fiction, won in contest
5.  Tell Me Who We Were, Kate McQuade, literary fiction, sent by publisher
6.  After The Flood, Kassandra Montag, literary fiction, sent by publisher
7.  Eagle And Crane, Suzanne Rindell, historical fiction, sent by publisher
8.  Grand Union, Zadie Smith, anthology, won in contest
9.  The Dearly Beloved, Cara Wall, literary fiction, sent by publisher
10.  Protect The Prince, Jennifer Estep, fantasy, sent by publisher
11.  Home For Erring And Outcast Girls, Julie Kibler, historical fiction, won in contest
12.  Dominicana, Angie Cruz, literary fiction, won in contest
13.  The Orphan's Song, Lauren Kate, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Eye Of The World, Robert Jordan, audio
2.  The Witch Elm, Tana French, hardback
3.  The Sentence Is Death, Anthony Horowitz, hardback
4.  Quichotte, Salman Rushdie, Kindle Fire
5.  The Flight Attendant, Chris Bojalian, Kindle Fire
6.  Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, hardback
7.  Mostly Void, Partially Stars, Joseph Fink/Jeffrey Cranor, paperback
8.  All That's Dead, Stuart MacBride, Kindle Fire

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Lost And Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

Helen Clapp is one of the most prominent figures in physics; her work on five-dimensional time has garnered her fame and a tenured professorship at MIT.  In addition to her scholarly work, she has written a series of books about various physics topics aimed at the more popular market that has brought her more notoriety and money.  Helen is single but has an eight-year old son named Jack; a son she had herself through a donor program.  She doesn't have a romantic interest at the moment; her best friend, former lover and co-worker has moved to Texas to work on the supercollider there.

As the novel opens, Helen receives word that her best friend, Charlie (short for Charlotte) has died.  Charlies had lupus and has chosen to end her own life rather than wait for the indignities that would come with a protracted end of life.  Helen isn't sure how she feels about this as she and Charlie had lost touch a bit in the last years as life got busy for each of them and Charlie and her family were in California rather than the East Coast.

Now, Helen has to deal with several issues.  There is the grief she feels for the loss of Charlie.  Charlie's husband and daughter are in Massachusetts with Charlie's parents for a while and then come to stay in the apartment Helen rents out.  Her former lover also returns to her area, but with a fiance/wife firmly in tow.  Helen is left to work out what her life has meant to this point and where she wants to go in the future.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Buried On The Fens by Joy Ellis

Detective Nikki Galena and her team are investigating two murders in their area.  The first was the vicious murder of a prominent local businesswoman; a brutal murder with no real clues left behind.  While investigating that, the team gets a report of another body found but this one is much different.  While getting ready to renovate the local church, a body is discovered in the graveyard.  This burial was unauthorized and the body is about thirty years old.

The body is identified as a man from the village of Quentin Eaudyke, a man missing for twenty years and a man hated by his neighbors.  Gerald Hammond, the victim, was suspected of being the man who terrorized and abused several local children, and then was later suspected of killing and hiding the boy of his own child, a daughter.  No one cared when he went missing and it was assumed he drowned and his body washed out to sea.  Now the story is revealed that he was himself murdered and hidden away.

As the investigation proceeds, the businesswoman was found to be a member of a local private club, one made up of women who came together both for business networking and because they were lesbians.  The group was kept under the radar due to the prejudice gay women still encountered.  The daughter of a member is the next woman to be murdered and the police become focused on the club.  As they investigate, the two murder inquiries start to blend and it becomes apparent that the same person is involved in both.  Apparently, the murdered is not through and it becomes a race against time.  Will the police solve the case before more murders occur?

This is the seventh novel in the Nikki Galena series.  Galena has mellowed over time, having put to rest many of her own personal demons.  She has built a strong team who work well together and whose talents merge nicely.  Readers will enjoy watching the team solve another case and the interplay between the team members.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

This extensive collection brings together all the stories of Flannery O'Connor.  Those who follow literature are familiar with her name and possibly her story.  She was born and raised in Georgia; her life spanning from the late 1920's to the mid 1960-s.  She got her MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop where she made connections such as Robert Penn Warren and Andrew Lytle, who was the editor of the Sewanee Review, an important showcase for literature.  After she was diagnosed with the lupus that killed her father, she moved back to Georgia where she lived and worked until her death. 

O'Connor is known for her short stories and readers will be familiar with the titles of many of these such as A Good Man Is Hard To Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge  and The Lame Shall Enter First.  The central issue of O'Connor's life was her Catholic faith and the stories are based in that although they are not overtly religious.  Instead, they are a reflection of the way humanity was perceived by O'Connor and then twisted to an extreme to make a point.  The characters are often grotesque and rarely does anything positive or even stable happen to them.  Instead, the stories tend to end on a negative note where hopes are dashed and everything is doomed.  They focus on the worst in human nature and racism and evil are a major focus.

O'Connor is considered an important writer and I'm glad to have finally gotten around to reading her work.  However, I was surprised to find that I didn't care for them much if at all.  I'm a very optimistic person and reading such negative work that constantly focuses on racial epitaphs and assuming a common viewpoint that other races are less than the ones in power gets overwhelming quickly.  Every story ends on a negative note and this collection took me many weeks to read as I had to have spacing between the stories.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon gives readers an alternative history in this novel.  The premise is that in 1948, countries around the world designated areas specifically for Jewish refugees.  The United States's Jewish portion is Sitka, Alaska, and the refugees have been there for several decades.  Now, due to bureaucratic red tape, the program has been discontinued and the Yiddish community will lose their lands in two months.  There is much dismay and families are planning their futures; many relocating to other countries.

Meyer Landsman is making no plans.  He is a policeman in a department that will be out of business in two months.  His superiors only want him to close his open cases, no matter how or if the right solution has been found.  Meyer is a natural detective but he's been on a low for several years since his wife, Bina, left him.  Now he spends his days drinking and doing as little as he can.

But perhaps its time for a change.  A man is killer; shot in the same hotel where Meyer has been living.  Although Landsman is told not to worry too much about it, he is offended that the man, for whom he has a fellow feeling, would not get justice.  As he works the case, he realizes that the victim is a famous man within the Yiddish community.  The son of the most powerful rabbi, he was considered a genius and miracle worker as a boy.  The pressure was too great and he ran away, ending his life as an addict in a run down hotel.  Landsman wants something better for him.

The case gets more complicated.  Landsman gets a new boss to oversee the shutdown of the department, and horror of horrors, it is his ex-wife.  His partner, who is his cousin, is Berko, a large half Indian, half Jewish man who just wants to get along.  Landsman uncovers layers of intrigue in the Yiddish community with a group of fanatics who want to reclaim their hero to help them take back Jerusalem.  Can Landsman bring justice in this last case?

I'm a huge fan of Michael Chabon and have read several of his  novels.   This novel won the 2008 Huge Award for Best Novel, due to its alternative history setting.  It can also be read as a mystery in the noir category, or for the exploration of Jewish culture.  The reader will cheer on Landsman as he fights for justice against all odds.  This book is recommended for literary fiction as well as mystery and sci fi readers.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

Moon is a shape shifter.  For many years, he has wandered solitary, never finding anyone else like himself.  He has lived with various communities over the years but always ends up sent away as he doesn't fit in.  He can fly and the creatures called The Fell also fly so many communities push away anyone they suspect could be part of that despicable, war-mongering crowd.

As the novel opens, Moon has once again been pushed out of a community.  The woman he lived with saw him shifting shapes one night and poisons him, rendering him unconscious so that the warriors of the tribe can gather and chain him up in the forest.  As he tries to determine what to do, he is suddenly rescued by a large flying creature.  Stone is a shape shifter as well and he is the first creature like Moon that Moon has ever met.  Stone can fill in some of the holes in Moon's understanding of his background and invites him to come with him to his clan.

Moon agrees but when he arrives, is not sure he made the right decision.  He is amazed and pleased to find so many other creatures like him but all is not rosy.  He has arrived just as the colony is facing a threat to their very existence; The Fell have discovered them and will soon try to destroy them as they have so many other communities.  Even within the colony, there are those who welcome Moon and those who adamantly do not; jealous of the attention he is given by the queens of the colony.  What will the future bring for Moon?

This is the first book of the Raksura series by Wells.  She has created a fearsome enemy in The Fell, a tribe that seems to delight in nothing but violence and indiscriminate killing.  Moon is a character clouded in mystery as he lost his family as a youngster and doesn't know his own history or that of his people.  The reader will be inclined to read further to determine what happens in this new world.  This book is recommended for fantasy/sci fi readers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sunday Silence by Nicci French

Dr. Frieda Klein is a psychologist.  Her gifts have helped many people, including the police in several crime investigations but there is a huge segment of the police who consider her a fraud.  Freida was mixed up in the hunt for a serial killer, Dean Reeve seven years ago.  The police believe that Dean died at the end of that investigation.  Freida knows he didn't but can't convince those who think she is just imagining that he is still alive.

For seven years, Freida has felt Dean in the shadows, watching over her and occasionally protecting her.  It seems that he has decided that no one can harm her except himself, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to assert his superiority.  Now, a body has been discovered under the floorboards of Freida's house.  It is the body of a police officer who believed her and was tracking Dean down. 

As the weeks go on, it appears that Dean is tipping over into hostility.  Freida is still not personally attacked, but those around her she cares about are targeted.  Her niece, her sister-in-law, her mentor and friend, a former student, an immigrant and his son, all feel the wrath of the unseen monster.  Yet as the weeks go on, it appears that this may not be Dean's work at all.  Does he have a copycat or a rival?

This is the seventh Freida Klein novel and the suspense that characterizes the series is in top form in this edition.  Freida must decide how to catch the killer in the shadows and what she must do in order to protect those she loves.  The reader will go along on the nerve-wracking journey that surrounds Freida and cheer her on as she fights back against the evil surrounding her.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Joe Talbert is not crazy about the English assignment he's been given.  It's a semester long assignment and he has to write a memoir of someone's life.  Joe has enough on his plate.  Money is desperately tight so he is always scrimping and saving so that he can afford college on his own, working nights as a bouncer in a bar and never knowing when he will get called back home.  Home is an erratic mother who is promiscuous and a partier, who will go out of town with a boyfriend and leave Joe's autistic brother, Jeremy, to fend for himself.

But an assignment is an assignment so he heads to a local nursing home to interview his subject.  He has been given Carl Iverson.  Joe is shocked to find out that Carl has just been released from prison after many years as he is in the last stages of cancer and the state has decided he can die in the nursing home.  He was imprisoned for raping and killing a young teenage girl.  Joe is loath to meet him but finds him not as intimidating as he feared.  Instead he is a sick old man but one who, as Joe delves into his story, may be innocent of the crime he has served his life in jail for.

As Joe starts to suspect that Carl was framed, things begin to happen.  Most of the girl's family and friends still live in town and none of them are pleased that the story is being looked at again.  As Joe gets closer to the truth, he becomes a danger to the true killer.  Will he find out the truth before someone puts an end to him?

This is a debut novel and a very strong one.  Joe is a likeable protagonist; his social conscience and his determination to make the world a better place are strong characteristics.  Joe's love for his brother and his refusal to cast him aside make for a good secondary plotline, as does his budding romance with the girl down the hall.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Bloodshot by Stuart MacBride

Things don't get easier for Aberdeen's Detective Sergeant Logan McRae.  He's working three cases, any of which could drive a sane man mad.  There's the porn star, dropped off at death's door at the hospital where he promptly died.  There's the open and shut case of a pensioner stabbed to death in a robbery by an eight year who leads a shoplifting/robbery gang.  Then there's the case of Robbie Macintyre.

Robbie is the star of the local football club and a media darling.  The tv and papers idolize him for his prowess on the field and his showy lifestyle with his mansion, high end cars and flashy women.  There's only one problem; Aberdeen police are convinced he's the rapist that is targeting women alone at night, each incident getting more vicious.  McRae's girlfriend, Jackie Watson, takes Macintyre down disguised as a potential victim.  But Hissing Sid, Aberdeen's pre-eminant lawyer, gets Macintyre released and expects an apology for the outrage of charging him.

Making matters even worse are McRae's boss.  Detective Inspector Roberta Steel is the talk of the station for her wild ways and inclination to have her subordinates do her job.  With the Macintyre debacle, DI Insch is in disgrace and put under Steel temporarily, not a mood inclined to improve his mood.  McRae is loaned out to Insch, but it's not like Steel is letting him go.  Now he has two demanding DI's to work for.

This is the third novel in the popular Logan McRae series.  The action is fast and furious, coupled with a dark sense of humor typical of Scottish writing.  Logan is a good guy, forever put down by circumstances but finding a way to get his job done regardless of circumstance.  The various plot lines resolve successfully and satisfactorily as the reader ends another tale of Aberdeen policing, eager for the next.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

Edie Beckett is trying to live under the radar, not an easy task when you are the daughter of Lilith Wade.  Lilith is famous for being one of the few female serial killers.  She stabbed six people to death over a period of a few years while Edie and her brother, Dylan, were teenagers.  Everyone knows about Lilith and no one believes Edie didn't know what was going on.  But Edie's father made sure of that.  He knew Lilith had major mental issues so the children lived with him only visiting Lilith when their father thought she was stable. 

A recent tell-all book about Lilith is making her story a big hit again.  Edie works a dead end job as she tries to live her life quietly.  She has had issues with alcohol and is trying to make a go of things.  Secretly, she spends hours tracking the surviving families of Lilith's victims.  Edie isn't sure why she is so obsessed with these people, but they are her major interest in life.

Things take a horrific turn one evening.  Edie meets one of the survivors in a bar; his wife was Lilith's last victim.  Somehow she finds herself heading home with him and spending the night in his apartment.  She leaves early the next morning already regretting the night before.  Imagine her regret and shock when it turns out that he is killed immediately after she leaves and of course Edie is the prime suspect.  She immediately goes underground, determined to find the real killer while the police are searching for her.  Can she overcome her background to save her life?

Kate Moretti has written a suspenseful tale that allows the reader to imagine the life Edie lives as the daughter of an infamous mother.  The reader can't help but pull for Edie, even as she continues to make mistakes that seem to steer her further and further from the normality she craves.  The surrounding characters are interesting as well; the brother who has married and has a child now, the police detective who has a fatherly feeling for Edie and the man who loves her no matter what she does to push him away.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.