Friday, January 31, 2020

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

From the outside, Adrian Wolfe has carved out a successful life.  Now middle aged, he has built a successful architectural firm.  He has five wonderful children.  He has two ex-wives and married a third time.  Susie was his first wife, right out of college.  They had Luke and Kat but then Adrian met and married Claire, leaving Susie and the children behind.  Claire and he had three children, but once again Adrian left wife and children behind when he met and married Maya.  They are all one big happy family,  taking vacations together and socializing. 

As the novel opens, Adrian is grieving.  Maya has been dead for a year after stepping in front of a bus late one night while intoxicated.  There's no reason she should have done so and her death is a bit of a mystery.  Even more mysterious is the woman who comes into Adrian's life in answer to an ad he places to give away his cat.  She comes to his apartment then disappears but is seen more than coincidentally later around his children.  It turns out she has given him a false name and story so who is she and what does she want?

It becomes clear that Adrian's life is a fairy tale existence only for him.  The children, far from being well-adjusted and okay with his desertion are foundering.  Luke is doing nothing with his life despite his early promise.  Kat is overweight and can't stop eating.  Otis is missing school and the younger children just want Adrian to move back home.  Things take a sinister turn when Luke finds a folder on the computer full of emails meant to drive Maya away.  Was she hounded to death and who was responsible for the campaign of hate?

Lisa Jewell has written a suspense novel that slowly unfolds the story of a self-involved man who blindly follows his desires through life and doesn't understand the consequences of his decisions.  It is a treatise on broken families and having experienced this heartbreak in my own family, it hits home about the inevitable hit on a child's self-esteem to have a parent leave for someone else.  Readers will be furious with Adrian and wonder how it takes him so long to see the damage he trails behind him.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Booksie's Shelves, January 29, 2020

The first month of January in this new decade is about over.  We haven't really had much winter this year and no snow.  My daffodils are up and think it is spring so I hope we don't get a blast of artic air.  I've been doing the round of doctors for annual visits and have seen so many that I think I might be keeping the medical profession going on my own.  January has been a stellar reading month for me this year and I've finished fourteen books and probably will finish one more.  I decided I wanted to read more Australian fiction so bought an order of Aussie books that are now here.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  Unbreakable, Melissa Seal, mystery, sent by publisher
2.  The Winters, Lisa Gabriele, thriller, sent by publisher
3.  Alligator Candy, David Kushnor, true crime, purchased
4.  Courting Mr. Lincoln, Louis Bayard, literary fiction, sent by publisher
5.  Riders In The Chariot, Patrick White, literary fiction, purchased
6.  Jack Maggs, Peter Carey, literary fiction, purchased
7.  The Swan Book, Alexis Wright, literary fiction, purchased
8.  More Than Words, Jill Santopolo, literary fiction, sent by publisher
9.  Dust And Shadows, Lyndsay Faye, mystery, purchased
10.  Midnight, Kevin Egan, thriller, purchased
11.  The Good People, Hannah Kent, literary fiction, purchased
12.  The Lewis And Clark Expedition, Gary Moulton, nonfiction, purchased
13.  The Girl With The Louding Voice, Abi Dare, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Hawksweed Prophecy, Irena Brignull, fantasy, hardback
2.  Just One Evil Act, Elizabeth George, mystery, hardback
3.  The Beginner's Goodbye, Anne Tyler, literary fiction, hardback
4.  In The Cold Cold Ground, Adrian McKinty, mystery, audio
5.  Chase Darkness With Me, Billy Jensen, true crime, audio
6.  Rattle, Fiona Cummings, mystery, Kindle Fire
7.  The 71/2 Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton, mystery, Kindle Fire

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Circle by Dave Eggers

When Mae's friend helps her get a job at the Circle, she can't believe her luck.  She was working in a dead end job at a utility where she was bored to tears.  The Circle is everyone's dream job.  The best and brightest work there and the pay and benefits show that.  The campus has everything anyone could want, with exercise facilities, world class restaurants, dormitories for those who need to stay over and lectures and demonstrations of all that is new and noteworthy in the world. 

The Circle uses data to solve problems and it seems there are no problems it cannot solve.  Need to cut crime?  Saturate the area with tons of cameras.  Need to cure an intractable disease?  Network all those who suffer from it and the data collected can fuel cures. 

Of course, in order to collect the enormous amount of data needed for breakthroughs, some things have to be sacrificed.  Things like privacy.  Things like ever being disconnected from social media.  Things like having anything secret or doing anything that isn't open to public view and comment.  Things like working crushing amount of hours and having to meet performance goals that are in the 98th percentile with constant feedback and the pressure of doing whatever it takes to push the rate upward, always upward.

As Mae gets more entrenched in the culture, she faces issues she didn't expect.  She has to decide whether to retain friendships and family outside the Circle.  She has to determine if love can be a part of her life.  She has to decide what is more important, the goals of the Circle or her former life.  Which will she choose?

Eggers has written a novel that asks important questions about the data driven environment we seem to be moving toward.  There are benefits to be derived from the collection and analysis of massive amounts of data but what about personal privacy?  Unfortunately, the book often makes these points in a heavy handed manner but they are ideas that are important to consider.  This book is recommended for readers of science fiction. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Black Country by Alex Grecian

Inspector Walter Day and his Murder Squad are called to a small mining community.  A man, his wife and their smallest child have disappeared, leaving behind the three older children.  The three left behind are the children of a first marriage while the disappeared child is the child of the second.  Where have these people gone?  The innkeeper's daughter has made a horrifying discovery; a human eyeball plucked from its socket.  Is it related?

Day isn't keen on being out of town.  His wife is about to have their first child and he is consumed with worry about becoming a father and whether she will survive childbirth with a healthy child.  Survival isn't a given in 1890's England and there is cause to worry. 

The town itself is another cause for worry.  Day and his Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith have arrived in a setting rife with superstitions and rumors.  There seem to be few people around and little evidence that anyone is worried about the missing inhabitants.  The local policeman has called in Scotland Yard but he has few ideas about how to help.  There is a schoolteacher who is helping with the children of the missing family but outside of her, no one seems concerned or that interested in finding what has happened. 

This is the second mystery in the Murder Squad series.  For readers who enjoy the Victorian time period, this mystery is full of the flavor of Dickens with some murder and mayhem thrown in.  Day and Hammersmith are interesting characters; their loyalty to each other and to pursuing justice is evident.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

How The Dead Speak by Val McDermid

As the novel opens, things have changed for Detective Carol Jordan and profiler Tony Hill.  They are not working together for the police.  Instead, Carol has left the force due to the way her last case ended in violence and Tony is in prison.  They are not in contact as Tony has told her he doesn't want to see her again until she takes steps to work on her issues.

But crime goes on.  A discovery of over forty bodies has been made at a former orphanage run by the Catholic Church, specifically by an order of nuns.  Are these young girls' bodies the result of abuse and murder or are they just deaths that were not registered?  While investigating the deaths, Carol's former team makes another discovery.  Eight more bodies, this time more recent and of young men, are found in the caretaker's garden.  There is not much question that these more recent bodies are murders.  Are the two sets of bodies related?  Has the same killer been working for years or are there two separate murderers?

Carol, in the meantime, continues reconstructing her life away from the police.  She has converted a barn into her new home, doing all the work herself.  As she casts about for her next task, she gets caught up in two investigations.  The first is one she doesn't want to do: helping Tony's mother locate the man who stole all her money.  The second may become her new job; investigating the case of a man who may have been wrongfully convicted.

Tony is also casting about for his next steps.  He is doing a radio program from within the prison for other inmates,  attempting to help them improve their lives through meditation.  He is also interested in starting literacy programs for those prisoners who cannot read.  Outside of that, he is working on writing a book he has promised his publisher for years.

This is a departure from the Hill/Jordan novels the reader is familiar with.  It is the eleventh novel in the series.  While the others follow one specific case and are full of police procedure and twisted criminals that Tony Hill's talents can uncover, this novel is more of an exploration of the relationship between the two protagonists and where their relationship may lead in the future.  It will be interesting to see where McDermid plans to take this series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Goat's Tale by P.J. Hetherhouse

Gruff is a goatherder's son.  Bright and ambitious, he has been awarded a scholarship to the school where noble's sons are educated.  It's a great opportunity but he has no friends there as many of the scholarship boys quickly leave and the wealthy students ignore those who are not.  But spending his days herding goats, Gruff is used to loneliness.

His life changes forever when the big race comes up.  It is understood that the king's son will win the competition but Gruff is not willing to roll over and let the prince win.  He competes at his best and wins the competition.  This doesn't go over well with the king and soon Gruff is given an assignment.

He is tasked with making his way to Brightstone and bringing back the Son Of God who rules there.  It is an impossible task and it's clear that he is given the task to get him out of the way.  Gruff is given a partner, a knight whose womanizing has touched a lot of nerves and who also is regarded as best out of the way.  Morrigan is a lighthearted man, a true soldier but one who always sees the best in every situation.  He is a contrast to Gruff who is dour and bitter, determined to make his way and living by a code he refuses to deviate from.  Can they finish their assignment or will it's difficulty lead them to death?

This is the first in what is to be a full round of novels based on the zodiac.  It is also based in Celtic mythology.  The story seems deceptively simple at first but as the reader advances it becomes more impressive and exciting.  Gruff is an interesting character who grows during his trials and learns to make room for others in his rigid world.  This book is recommended for readers of fantasy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Girls In The Picture by Melanie Benjamin

It's hard to imagine but there was a time when there were no movies.  A time when people did not idolize movie stars nor grant them authority to make pronouncements about how we should live our lives, politics, whether or not vaccines are viable or a myriad of other topics.  This novel is set in that time and the exciting birth of the movie industry.

The first movies were short and silent.   Fans were amazed to see anything and there were barely plotlines.  Then over time, writers were hired to develop plots and stories that resonated with the fans.  The first female movie star was Mary Pickford.  She was a little blonde woman who played a young girl with beautiful blonde curls and she was universally loved.  She was the first star and the country was in love with her.

Frances Marion fell into the movie industry when her regular life bored her to tears.  At first she was glad just to be there and did anything and everything.  She had the great luck to meet Mary and they became fast friends.  Eventually Frances found her forte which was writing.  She began to write for Mary and together they made successful movies. 

Both fell in love.  Mary had an early marriage to an actor who womanized and treated her horribly.  But her true love was Douglas Fairbanks, the leading male actor of the time.  Both divorced and their marriage was celebrated around the world.  They built a mansion and were the golden couple of Hollywood.  Frances had two early marriages but found her true love shortly before World War I.  He was a preacher and athlete and they loved each other unreservedly. 

Of course, time moved on and the women were eclipsed by newer stars and writers.  But they were the pioneers.  They fought to establish their vision and they found a way to have power in the man dominated world they lived in.  Although they had a falling out over the years, their friendship is a beacon of women supporting women.  Readers will thrill to their stories as well as discovering a lot about the movie industry's beginnings.  This book is recommended for readers of women's and historical fiction.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Lions Of The West by Robert Morgan

This is Robert Morgan's exhaustive biography of the men who extended the United States from one coast to the other.  They are the architects of the Manifest Destiny concept and fought against Spain, England, France and Mexico to make the vision of a United States that embraced all the land between the coasts a viable one. 

Each man is given a chapter in which his contributions are documented.  Some of these men are famous and every reader will know their name.  Some are less well known or even obscure.  The men include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist and John Quincy Adams.  Their work and accomplishments on the settling of the West are documented but so are their family histories, their marriages, their philosophies and their relationships with the men around them.  While many are famous, many ended their days in poverty or bitterness.  Morgan is unsparing in his assessment of their character, calling them out for shortsightedness or meanness of spirit where appropriate.

Again, most schoolchildren learn about the settling of the East Coast but this book gives a solid foundation on how the country acquired such large parcels of land as Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest.  Sometimes this was through exploration and subsequent books about the richness to be found in various areas.  Often it was through military action.  There were treaties that advanced the acquisitions that needed men skilled in negotiation and diplomacy.  For example, while most know of Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, many fewer know of James K. Polk's role in acquiring Texas and California.  One thing that is interesting is the part in which networking and knowing those in power advanced the roles of these men.  It was a very small group at the top of society and most knew the other members of the club.

This is a thorough treatment of the topic.  The writing style is such that the novelist that Morgan is clearly shines through and the book is very readable.  The emphasis on the various men's personalities and quirks makes them more human and secures them in the reader's memory.  It is an interesting addition to anyone's knowledge about the history of the United States.  This book is recommended for history readers.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

The Thames runs where it will and man does not know its secrets.  One such secret is found one night when a man and a small girl are pulled from the river and brought to an inn.  The local nurse is sent for and she is able to help the man but the girl is beyond hope.  She has gone to another place.  As the body is washed, however, the girl suddenly startles and is alive.  How can this be?  Rita, the nurse, is sure the girl was dead and yet she is breathing and looking around although not talking.  Who can she be?

It turns out that she could be one of several girls who have disappeared.  The Vaughns, wealthy landowners, had a little girl who was kidnapped two years ago.  When the mother sees the little girl, she is sure it is her Amelia returned to her.  But the son of a local farming family claims that it is his daughter; his wife has recently committed suicide and his daughter disappeared although the mother was seen leading her towards the river.  A local charwoman is sure it is Ann, her little sister although the woman is in her forties and unlikely to have a four year old sister.  Some say she is supernatural, the child of the boatman who takes souls across after death.  Who can it be?

As the story unfolds, so do several other stories.  There is the story of the man who saved the girl, a photographer who falls in love with the nurse.  There is the story of the farmer who is the offspring of royalty and a black maid, never fitting into either of his families but who has created a wonderful family of his own.  There is the story of the charwoman and the abuse she has suffered and continues to suffer. 

Diane Setterfield has done a wonderful job of tying all these disparate threads together into a satisfying resolution.  The reader is swept into the watery environment and the rural setting and struggles along with the villagers to discern what has truly occurred.  The novel explores our sense of belonging and the feeling of separateness that many of us experience even surrounded by others.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Storm Prey by John Sandford

It was supposed to be an easy heist.  Some local guys planned to break into the hospital pharmacy and steal their drugs.  It went off as planned except for two things.  The first was that one of the guys got antsy and kicked one of the pharmacists and he died.  The second was that outside the pharmacy, Weather Davenport, Lucas Davenport's surgeon wife, saw the robbery and the face of at least one of the robbers.

From that point, it got complicated.  The original two leaders, local bar owners, now had hired help who could be identified.  They took care of that by hiring a contract killer, Cappy, to eliminate the guys who could be identified.  But that still left Weather as a witness and the gang decided that she must be eliminated as well. 

But Lucas and his friends aren't about to let that happen.  The various police departments involved all owe Lucas and Weather goes nowhere without a police guard and usually several guards.  In the meantime, Cappy and the doctor who helped set the robbery up, got acquainted and realized they were a lot alike, if you count being cold-blooded killers.  Can Lucas find the gang before they kill others and especially can he protect Weather?

This is the twentieth novel in the Lucas Davenport Prey series.  If you like the series, this one is especially interesting.  It's always fun to see how quickly Lucas can put together the clues and how well he understands the predators he spends his life chasing.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World by Jack Weatherford

Who is this man whose name has echoed down the centuries?  Born in the early 1200's as an illiterate, poverty-stricken son of a herdsman, he rose to rule his people and conquer much of the known world.  Khan rose to power within his tribe by killing his half-brother and then finding ways to curry favor with those in power while retreating and hiding from his enemies.  He learned to build alliances and play the political games necessary.

Once he commanded troops, his fame was assured.  Khan was innovative, learning something from every battle.  He adopted methods that worked for his enemies and perfected them.  His fighting men were fast and could move like the wind, rather than being bogged down dependant on supply lines.  This speed allowed him to quickly arrive before enemies could muster their strength and plans of attack.  In victory, he was adamant.  Those he conquered could join him and he took them into his empire and made them equal to his own tribesmen.  Those who opposed him were killed.   These tactics allowed him to quickly conquer and build the mightiest empire seen in years.

But lives were short and what set him apart is that he was so powerful and his ideas so revolutionary that his successors were able to maintain and extend his empire after he was gone.  His grandson, Kublai Khan, managed to conquer China.  Everywhere the Mongols ruled, they integrated cultures; taking the best of each encountered.  They valued learning and skills, trade and laws.  The culture was not cruel for cruelty's sake as so many medieval cultures of other countries were. 

Jack Weatherford has written an engaging history of Genghis Khan and his contributions.  Khan has retained his fascination for us down through the centuries and there is much to study and admire in this man lost in the shadows of time.  This book is recommended for nonfiction history readers.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

Life is precarious in the 1860's for families.  None of the safety nets we rely on today were available and immigrant families in particular suffered.  Life was tenuous and when a parent died or lost work, the entire family was in peril.  That was the case of Anne Muldoon.  When the father of her family died, her mother tried to take up the slack, leaving Anne to raise her sister Dutch and little brother Joe.  But when her mother was injured and had to be hospitalized, society stepped in, put the children in an orphanage and then put then on one of the orphan trains.  Dutch and Joe were adopted but Anne found herself headed back to New York City along with Charlie, another orphan.  Anne was reunited with her mother, only to lose her for good when she remarried, got pregnant and died shortly after childbirth.

Anne was left to make her own way.  She became a housemaid in the home of a doctor.  He treated the families but his wife treated female issues and was a midwife.  Over the years, she took Anne as her helper and Anne learned how to birth a baby, what to do afterwards, how to prevent babies and in desperate cases, how to remove a baby before birth.  The problem was that all of that was illegal; contraception and definitely abortion was outside the pale. 

Anne continued her work even with the danger.  By this time, she had married Charlie and the money was good.  But more than anything, Anne could not avoid her pain seeing women sicken and die due to too many babies, lack of care and the general danger of childbirth at that time.  Add in the fact that a woman who became pregnant outside of marriage ruined her entire life and Anne saw the need for someone who would help when the world was crashing around a woman. 

Due to the danger, Anne became known as Madame DeBeausacq in her advertisements in the paper.  She continued to help women and continued to search for her siblings lost in the adoption so many years before.  Forces were in motion to stop her as the papers and especially the self-righteous Anthony Comstock, were determined to bring her down.  Will Anne be able to continue her work?

This novel is based on a true story.  It is difficult for women in this age to understand all the issues and emotions that surrounded pregnancy and childbirth before birth control was readily available or before society was willing to accept unmarried women having children.  The way that Anne was harried her entire life for her willingness to try to make a difference for these women is cruel and vindictive.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Halmey Dz and her partner, Connla, make their living salvaging ships in outer space.  They spend all their time on their ship, sailing vast distances and rarely encountering any other life forms or even gravity.  It's a life that suits Halmey, her only other companions, the ship's artificial intelligence, Singer, and the two cats that travel with the ship.  It's a fairly calm life far from the early stress and disasters that marked her earlier years.

That changes when the crew encounters a huge prize.  It's a ship larger than any they have seen and will take care of their accumulated debts plus give them shipping supplies for the future.  Halmey goes into the ship and discovers a nightmare.  It is a abbatoir where one of the oldest lifeforms in the Synarche, the massive Ativahikas, are killed and rendered down.  Before she can leave the ship, she is infected with a foreign substance under her skin.  The prize is taken from them at the last minute by a pirate ship.

The crew takes shelter at the nearest Synarche outpost where they report the crime.  They are not amused to find the pirate ship there also and soon Halmey meets Zanya Farweather, captain of the pirate crew.  Farweather seems to want something from Halmey although it's unclear if its information or a romantic interest.  Regardless, the crew leaves the outpost having made their report and the acquaintance of the law on the outpost, a giant mantis creature.

As they travel, the substance in Halmey's skin helps them start to navigate and soon they encounter a new part of space and a prize that is full of ancient technology that will take the Synarche light years beyond anything they currently have.  Unfortunately, Farweather has followed them there and soon she and Halmey are trapped on the new prize and it's clear that war has been declared.  Can Halmey and team manage to avoid the pirates and bring home the biggest salvage gain ever?

Elizabeth Bear has written a fascinating space fiction.  The characters are interesting and the relationships between different lifeforms is intriguing.  The novel delves into questions such as what makes life one to be treasured rather than exploited, what are the boundaries of intelligence, is there a true morality that should be held to across species and what is the place of society?  The reader will slowly unpeel the layers that bring these questions into play and hurtle towards an exciting ending.  This book is recommended for science fiction readers.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

Evangeline grows up on a small island off the shore of Southern California.  It is home to a myriad of sea creatures which she loves to learn about and lots of wild areas.  It sounds like an idyllic environment but her life is far from ideal.  Her mother left early, popping in from time to time as she meanders from dream life to dream life, getting Evangeline's hopes up that this time she'll stay but she always leaves again crushing the hope.  Her father is the island weed dealer; getting by on charm and what he makes selling his customized brand of marijuana and the odd jobs he gets on boats.  They live in a series of apartments or houses, sitting for absent owners, taking shelter in lieu of pay, sometimes camping out for months.  It is a very unstable life.

As she grows up, what Evangeline learns best is that everyone betrays you, everyone leaves.  She meets a rich girl whose parents travel a lot and she becomes her best friend.  But later on, they drift apart and she is another in the long list of betrayals.  Evangeline meets and marries Liam but he is gone for long charters as a fisherman and soon there are other woman, another betrayal and perhaps another person who will leave her behind.

The story moves back and forth in time, slowly showing each layer that makes up Evangeline's life and what shapes her.  The writing is poetic and dreamy, describing horrific events in a way that makes them almost seem normal.  The reader can't help but hope that Evangeline will find a way to capture love as an adult despite her rough start in life.  This is a debut novel and the reader will finish knowing that it is a book they won't soon forget and eagerly awaiting Van Meter's next novel.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Watching The Dark by Peter Robinson

DCI Alan Banks finds himself with a new case as one of his staff, Annie, is about to return from time away due to an injury she received on another case.  In this new one, a DI is found murdered at a rehabilitation clinic reserved for members of the police.  That means this one is personal as it is one of their own.

But things are not that clear cut.  DI Bill Reid had a reputation as a good officer but when the team goes through his belongings, they find pictures that suggest he might have been blackmailed.  That means the Professional Standards team is involved and Banks is given a new team member from that area for his team.  He is not enthusiastic about working with Standards and his relationship with the new team member is iffy.

As the case progresses, another nagging piece is uncovered.  Reid was involved in one of the most famous cold cases in the area.  Six years before, a young woman who went to Estonia on a prenuptial party weekend, disappeared.  She got separated from her other friends and never made it back to the hotel.  Her parents have never given up and are still hoping for answers.  Did Reid have some of those answers and can Banks find out what happened?

This is the twentieth novel in the DCI Alan Banks series.  Banks is displayed with all his faults here; his determination to follow his own clues and work on what he thinks happened rather than what might be assigned as the next steps; his distrust of those outside his familiar team and his willingness to be casually cruel and unfriendly to the new member of the team.  Yet his strengths are also displayed with his determination and resourcefulness high on the list.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark is known in her small North Carolina settlement as 'the Marsh Girl'.  That sounds romantic until you drill down.  What it really means is that her family has drifted away, one by one, until she has been left out in the swamp in a rundown cabin since she was around ten.  She knows how to survive in the wild but it is a day to day survival with lots of hunger, no trust in humanity and loneliness and despair.

Kya only has a few bright spots in her life.  Tate was a friend of her brother before the brother left her life and he befriends Kya also.  Tate is the son of a shrimper and loves the marsh and its inhabitants as much as Kya does.  He teaches her to read and opens the world up for her.  She believes he is her love but he goes off to college and then there is no word from him.  Handsome Chase Andrews is quick to step into the breech.  He is the town star; the former quarterback who is handsome with rich parents.  He isn't a good man and only wants to take advantage of Kya.  They start a love affair but her heart is broken again when she realizes he has other women.

Kya becomes a woman the hard way on her own.  She breaks through the isolation by studying and documenting the lives of the animals and plants around her and her work is accepted for publication.  But when Chase is found dead, suspicion falls on Kya and she finds herself snatched from the marsh and put on trial.  Will she lose her way of life forever?

This was the buzz book of the last year.  It is a debut novel and the writing is luminous in places as the author describes the flora and fauna of the coastal environment.  It is hard to believe that a situation like Kya's could exist but the novel moves the reader along with a suspension of belief that flows.  The reader cannot help but sympathize with Kya and her life.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 In Review on Booksie's Blog

2020 is now here so it's an appropriate time to look back on 2019 and think about my reading life.  I read 121 books this year in the following categories; 50 mystery/thrillers, 19 science fiction/fantasy, 39 literary fiction and 13 nonfiction or anthologies.  I belong to three book clubs with monthly books and I've been trying to read from my own shelves this year.  Here's what I've loved the most in each category:


1.  Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
2.  Knife by Jo Nesbo
3.  The Child Finder by Rene Denfield
4.  The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz
5.  Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Science Fiction/Fantasy

1.  Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
2.  The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
3.  Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
4.  Blackfish City by Sam Miller

Literary Fiction

1.  Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
2.  The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
3.  Milkman by Anna Burns
4.  Night Boat To Tangier by Kevin Barry
5.  4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
6.  Lincoln In The Bardo by George Sanders
7.  In Our Mad And Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
8.  The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
9.  The Luminiaries by Eleanor Catton
10.  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai


1.  Rembrandt's Eyes by Simon Schama
2.  American Predator by Maureen Callahan
3.  Comanche Empire by Pekka Hamalainen

Going forward here are my reading resolutions for 2020:

1.  Read 121 books.  That's 10 a month and should be doable
2.  Finish the Robert Jordan The Wheel Of Time series
3.  Reread The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
4.  Read 3 classics.  I'm thinking Middlemarch, a Dickens and an Austen
5.  Continue to read from my shelves instead of constantly reading the newest titles.

Happy Reading!