Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Live To Read

One of my favourite tees is this one given to me by my friends who know how much I love to read. It is a Literary Threads (TM) tee shirt (go to their website [] to see more designs) which they got at the Tucson Festival of Books.
These same friends read and then pass on to me books they think I would enjoy. One of these was Robert MacNeil's Wordstruck. The book is a memoir about MacNeil's love of words and language. When his co-anchor of the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, Jim Lehrer, read the manuscript, he said, "You should call it Wordstruck because that is what you were."
MacNeil's reply: "Wordstruck is exactly what I was - and still am: crazy about the sound of words, the look of words, the taste of words, the feeling for words on the tongue and in the mind." In this preface of his memoir, he perfectly described the way I feel about words. Small wonder I was/am enchanted by his book. His love affair with words began the same as mine - with our mothers reading to us until we were old enough to read.

Emily and Einstein, a novel of second chances, by Linda Francis Lee, is one of those books I pick up because I find the cover appealing then check out after reading the blurb on the dust jacket: "Emily and her husband, Sandy Portman, seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan's famous Dakota building. Then one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident. The funeral isn't even over before Emily learns she's on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. Even worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies.
Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was...all the while feeling that somehow he isn't really gone. Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein."
I almost did not read this book just because of the much used formulaic "husband dies and wife discovers his secrets". But I did. It is a cute book. I kept thinking it had been made into a movie. Isn't there a movie where the husband dies and comes back as a dog? For me, the relationship between Emily and her sister and the one between the sisters and their mother was the meat of this novel.

Last month I wrote about discovering Brian Freeman. Did I say, "Wow!" about his writing? Of the four books our library has of his, two were available when I took The Bone House back. As it turns out, they are numbers one and three featuring Lieutenant Jonathan Stride of the Duluth, Minnesota Police Department.
In number one, Immoral, we meet Stride and his partner, Maggie Bei. Fourteen months have passed since they were called in on the missing person case of teenage girl. Now a second teen girl has disappeared: "He felt it again. Deja vu. It was an ugly memory."
In book three, Stalked, Maggie Bei's husband is murdered and she is the prime suspect. Stride knows she is innocent, but he is banned from the case. The detective put in charge is just as certain Maggie is guilty and doesn't look any further.
Freeman is a master of psychological suspense - as much so as that other author I like, English novelist, Minette Walters. I love mysteries I can't figure out before the end of the book. And I like the Duluth setting because I have been there and along the North Shore and across the Blatnik Bridge (Duluth-Superior High Bridge) which makes it possible for me to "see" as well as read the book.

Kate Atkinson was the other new author I found last month. Case Histories is the first of the Jackson Brodie series. Jackson, formerly a policeman and now a private detective, has three seemingly unrelated cases. As he tries to unravel these disparate case histories, he begins to realize everything is connected.
Atkinson's books have been made into a six-part television series starring Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie. Oh, how I hope this BBC drama makes it to America!

Blood Orange Brewing is Laura Child's seventh 'Tea Shoppe Mystery'. I haven't been able to read all of the series, but read all our library has. I enjoy reading about the different teas, savories and pastries as much as I enjoy Theodosia Browning's solving of murders. These are mysteries I can figure out before the ending. I think of them as being in the Jessica Fletcher, Murder, She Wrote category. (While granddaughter, Dominique, was here, she made the Southern Cuppa Cuppa Cake from the recipe in the back of the book. It was good.)

The final book is also a mystery. Part of the mystery is how it got into my book bag. I don't know if I picked it up to see what it was about and forgot to put it down, or whether it was a book someone brought back and was on the check in-check out desk and the librarian thought it was one I meant to check out. Anyway, I was surprised to find it in my book bag when I got home, but read it anyway mostly because it was an Iowa author and Iowa setting.

Ledges by Michael Frederick is set in Des Moines in 1959. The protagonist is twelve-year-old Ben, who along with his sister Pam and divorced mother, Michelle, move to a farm near Ledges State Park when Michelle becomes involved with the rich farm owner, Irving, 'Dutch', Beal.
Pam longs for her absent father, Michelle is mesmerized by the security she envisions with the much older Dutch and Ben goes along because he wants his mom to be happy.
Instead of the proverbial evil step-mother of fairy tales, we get the evil step-father who is abusive and cruel. Ultimately, the children have to fight to stay alive.
Even though the book is not very well edited, the story line and locale were interesting enough to keep me reading. Now my visiting thirteen-year-old grandson has picked up the book. I might post an addendum to this blog to record his review of Ledges.

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