Sunday, March 31, 2013
March 2013 Reading List
At the end of four months I'm averaging reading eleven books a month - 44 books with the last four of March pictured above.
Taylor Caldwell's Bright Flows The River is an old paperback I've had around forever and finally decided to read. It was published in 1978 and is the story of a man at war with himself - trying to decide what life is really about - love or money. I alternated between thinking this book was full of truths to thinking it was full of baloney. I especially did not like the way women were portrayed. One passage which stood out was a reference to how the haves in our country were already trying to do away with the middle class as early as 1920 - making us a nation of rich or poor with few in-betweens. I am giving this novel a 2.0 and passing it on to anyone who might want to read it.
Three more Charles Todd books are on this month's list An Impartial Witness - a Bess Crawford Mystery and two Ian Rutledge Mysteries, The Red Door and Proof of Guilt. As I've said before, I really like this mother/son writing team and their WWI era mysteries. I'm rating each of the three a solid 3.5.
Dana Stabenow makes the list with two more books: Better To Rest, one of her Liam Campbell series, which I am only giving a 2.0. It is one of her earlier books and either she hadn't honed her writing skills yet or I didn't care for the character. The second book is one of her few stand alones: Blindfold Game. This is a modern day terrorist plot read worth a 3.0. Not as interesting to me as her Kate Shugak novels, but still well written and interesting.
What The Cat Saw is a cute little Carolyn Hart mystery. Nela is grieving the loss of her fiance and her job as an investigative reporter. She volunteers to fill in at her sister Chloe's workplace while Chloe and her boyfriend take a fabulous trip he has won. She also agrees to stay at the home of a recently deceased fellow employee in order to take care of her cat. The first time she looks into the cat's eyes, she 'hears' the cat tell her the woman's death wasn't an accident, it was murder. From there on it is a matter of solving the murder as well as several acts of vandalism at the workplace. I gave it a cute 2.5.
The First Warm Evening Of The Year by Jamie M. Saul has the most attractive cover - the kind that makes you want to read the book. It is a picture of an Adirondack chair setting on a dock with a canoe tied next to it in the lake and a setting sun casting its glow over all. The cover is more attractive than the story. I gave it a 2.0.
Kelly O'Connor McNees also earned a 2.0 for In Need Of A Good Wife - A book about a woman who decides to earn some money and a new life for herself by playing matchmaker between young women in New York and men on the lawless plains of Nebraska. It was a good enough read. I liked the concept and the era for the setting, I just felt like it could have been better.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson is a book I probably would not have read if a friend hadn't told me it was what she was currently reading and enjoying. I am so glad she told me about this lovely English novel of an unlikely love between a staid conservative and a younger foreign shopkeeper. Simonson's elegantly dry sense of humor made this aging romance doubly delightful. I rated it 3.5 after reading, but have decided on second thought to up that to a 4.0.
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini each have their own series of mystery books. Together they have written The Bughouse Affair, a historical mystery set in 1890's San Francisco featuring Sabina, a former Pinkerton operative, and Quincannon, ex-secret service agent, who have opened a detective agency. She is on the trail of a pickpocket while he is after a housebreaker targeting the homes of the wealthy. When their two cases intersect enter a visiting sleuth from London - a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. 2.5 is as high as I'm going on this book, but our library does have some of Muller's Sharon McCone series. I am going to give them a try.
Paula Brackston's second novel, The Winter Witch, reminds me of Mary Sharratt's Daughters of the Witching Hill which I really liked. Give me a book set in Scotland, Ireland, England or Wales, as this one is, about oulden tymes, spells and witches and I'll read it. 3.0.
Finally - a 5.0!! I can't say enough about The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. And I don't want to say too much about it because I would not want to spoil the ending of this superb novel - Morton's fourth. I have read her first three which are all wonderful, but his has to be her best so far.
The novel moves from the early 40's when Dorothy Smitham is a young woman during the WWII blitz of London to the end of her life when she is 90. She is the secret keeper, but it is up to her daughter, Laurel, to unravel the mystery of Dorothy's life before she dies. This is absolutely one of the best books I've read.