Saturday, October 31, 2015

My October Reads, 2015

Seven books read in October, three 3's, a 3.5, two 4.5's and that promised 5 I mentioned at the end of my September reads review.
When Preston and I went to Corning to visit some of the favorite places of his childhood, the public library was one of those places. It was nice to be back in the library where I spent so many hours before moving to Creston. I couldn't help but browse the new books shelves and there was one of my favorite authors, Adriana Trigiani! I had wondered before that day if there was any way I could still have a Corning Library card even though I'd moved so I decided to ask. Could I? And what would it cost? I could. And it didn't cost anything. Yay! The Trigiani came home with me as well as the Lowell.

All The Stars In The Heavens is the story of Loretta Young and Clark Gable and the affair they began during the filming of The Call of the Wild. By the time Loretta discovered she was pregnant the affair was already over. Besides, Clark was still married. Ms. Young decided to hide the pregnancy, have the baby and later adopt the little girl whom she named Mary Judith; to be called Judy.
There were insights into old Hollywood as well as Young & Gable, but I did not enjoy this book as much as I usually enjoy reading Trigiani. The book reminded me of another recent read by Kate Alcott, A Touch of Stardust which was about Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. There were many similarities which made me wonder about the timing of the two books. This is one of my 3.0 ratings.

Elizabeth Lowell is a new author for me. Perfect Touch is set in and near Jackson, WY. It is a romance/mystery. Art dealer/designer testifies for a ranch owner over some paintings his former step-mother and half brother are fighting him for. Writing was okay but seemed like any other book of this genre; nothing special about it. I gave it a 3.0.

As a rule I adore Alexander McCall Smith's books about Isabel Dalhousie. The Novel Habit of Happiness is the 10th book in this series. I have always liked Isabel's philosophizing and amateur sleuthing what she refers to as her interferences but for some reason this book just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'm tiring of the character or perhaps the author is? This one is the third of the 3.0's.

Before leaving on our trip I went to the Creston Friends of the Library book sale and stocked up on some books to take with me. That way I didn't have to worry about damaging or losing a library book during our time away. Pictured are four of those I bought.

William Kent Krueger is a favorite author of mine for his Cork O'Conner series, though I also like his stand alone books of which The Devil's Bed is one. Most of Krueger's stories are set in Minnesota, as is this one.
FLOTUS (First lady of the United States) Kate Dixon returns to Stillwater to be with her father (a former V.P. of the U.S.) after he is injured in an accident. Secret service agent Bo Thorsen suspects the accident was part of a trap to lure Kate home and then to kill both her and her father.
In-fighting among the various agents and departments charged with protecting the two leads to more problems for Bo. Then he is set-up as the murderer of his own boss and has to operate undercover and on his own to catch the real culprit. Rated 3.5.
Krueger is a fine mystery writer. I am happy to discover Corning library has a complete set of his Cork O'Conner series which I will now read my way through completing the ones Creston library doesn't have.

Josephine Tey was a Scottish author I had heard of but never read. At the aforementioned book sale I saw a half dozen books by her, all of them the Scribner paperback versions in pristine condition. I picked out two that sounded good: The Franchise Affair published in 1949 and Brat Farrar Copyright 1950. I can't help but think that as I was learning to read these marvelous mysteries were being published. Josephine Tey was the pseudonym of Elizabeth MacKintosh, considered one of the great mystery writers of all time. She died in 1952.
 Alan Grant was a series regular. The Scotland Yard Inspector does appear in The Franchise Affair though he is not the one to solve the crime a mother-daughter pair is accused of.
Brat Farrar is a stand alone book about a young man tempted into posing as someone long thought to be dead in order to claim an inheritance and estate.
Both these books were lovely mystery reads and I gave them both a 4.5 rating. Oh how I wish I had purchased all those Tey books at that book sale!

Ta-Da! At the bottom of the pile my highest rated book - the first 5.0 I've given since February - Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, also purchased at the book sale. Even though our library still has this novel on its shelves, I'm so glad I bought this copy. You see, I purchased a highlighter pen just so I can re-read this book and mark all the beautiful passages therein. Something I hardly ever do. (Usually I just write down significant passages or share them on Facebook.)
I had just started this book before we left on our trip. So confident was I that I would finish it in my usual two to three days that I took three other books along with me. (I didn't get to any of them. I was savoring this one book instead of gulping it.)
When I did finally get to the last pages shortly before we got home, I said, "Bud, just so you know, I'm going to cry." I don't think it was even the story-line(s) (this is a novel within a novel, within a novel [one of them science fiction]). Perhaps it was because it was the story of two sisters, one whom dies at a young age. Mostly I think it was because of the beautiful prose.
"Wild geese fly south, creaking like anguished hinges; along the river-bank the candles of the sumacs burn dull red. It's the first week of October. Season of woollen garments taken out of mothballs; of nocturnal mists and dew and slippery front steps, and late-blooming slugs; of snap-dragons having one last fling." Imagine reading that passage the first week in October and seeing sumacs along the roadsides, many with their candles the color of old blood.

The narrator of the book is an old woman remembering the days of her youth and that of her sister. It is told by weaving the three stories together and going back and forth in time. One of the final passages is especially significant today, All Hallows' Eve: "You'll knock. I'll hear you. I'll shuffle down the hallway. I'll open the door. My heart will flutter. I'll invite you in. You'll enter. I wouldn't recommend it to a young girl, crossing the threshold of a place like mine, with a person like me inside it -- an old woman living alone in a fossilized cottage, with hair like burning spiderwebs and a weedy garden full of God knows what. There's a whiff of brimstone about such creatures: you may even be a little frightened of me. But you'll also be a little reckless, like all the women in our family, and so you'll come in anyway."

5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 - This book is going to be so yellow from all the high-lighting.

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