Monday, September 30, 2013

September 2013 Reading List

As soon as the 'new books' list came out in August, I put my name on the wait list for several of them including Louise Penny's 9th Inspector Gamache mystery, How The Light Gets In. I just couldn't wait for a month or two to read this book.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." (Leonard Cohen) is the epigram which begins the only book I'm rating 4.5 this month. Not only does Gamache have a murder to solve, there's also the investigation into what appears to be a suicide. I love the way Penny melds all her divergent plot strings together. I am disquieted by the ending of this tale, however, Chief Inspector Gamache has tendered his resignation and retired. Tell me it isn't so.

Robert Galbraith's debut novel, The Cuckoo's Calling first caught my attention because an early review I read likened his writing to a favorite author of mine, Kate Atkinson. The review was good, suggesting that for a first book, Galbraith had done well. I put it on my 'want to read' list and hoped our library would get it.
Then it was leaked that the actual author was J.K. Rowling which guaranteed more people would be clambering to read the book and our library would be getting a copy. I enjoyed the mystery, but wouldn't say it is as good as one of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries. I rated it 4.0. Will Robert Galbraith be writing any more books featuring P.I. Cormoran Strike?

I liked Elizabeth Strout's  Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge , and I liked her next book The Burgess Boys also set in New England. This story is about family - how young lives are affected by the early, tragic death of the father. The two boys both leave their hometown and become lawyers in NYC - with differing degrees of success. The daughter stays home, marries, has a son, divorces and seldom sees her brothers. But when her son is charged with a hate crime, the family unites. Strout's characterizations are exceptional. Rating 4.0.

A tale of WWII which spans the years of during and fifty years later is engaging reading in Lucinda Riley's The Lavender Garden. A young English woman whose husband is stationed in North Africa decides to join the cause as a file clerk in London rather than sit out the war in Yorkshire. Because her mother was French and she speaks the language fluently, she is tapped by SOE and sent undercover to aid the French Resistance. Fifty years later her part in the war is brought to light when her grandson and the daughter of the man she helped during the war meet.
Lucinda Riley is a new author for me. I liked the book because I like reading about the WWII era. She's a good writer. I will read the other book of hers our library has. Rated this one 3.5.

The covers of Beth Hoffman's books catch my eye; the stories draw me in. Having read her first novel, Saving Ceecee Honeycutt, and liking the premise of a young girl who 'saves' old furniture from beside the road, reading Looking for Me was an easy decision.
I really liked the first part of the book as Teddi Overman discovers her life's passion in turning other people's castoffs into restored antiques and opens her own shop in Charleston, but I felt the last half of the book kind of bogged down. Still it was a good read and I'm giving it a 3.0.

I've been a fan of Dorothea Benton Frank since reading her first novel, Sullivan's Island. Now that my friend Ellen (Sullivan) is retiring, I hope she has time to read it and other Low Country novels by this author.
The Last Original Wife, Leslie, is the only original, first wife among her husband's cronies. She feels like a misfit when the three couples go on a golfing holiday to Scotland. Les just can't get along with the new, young, blond, trophy wives.
Eventually Les decides to leave her demanding, unappreciative husband of thirty years before he leaves her. She returns to her childhood home, Charleston, to spend time with her brother and think things through. Rated 3.0

Another 3.0 this month was Emilie Richards Somewhere Between Luck and Trust. I've read several of her Shenandoah Valley quilt series as well as her Happiness Key books. This book is one in her new Goddesses Anonymous series. A group of women join together to give a young female a new start when she leaves prison.

The third of what I thought was a trilogy earned a 2.5 - Karen White's The Strangers on Montagu Street. I liked the first couple of these Tradd Street mysteries, but they are very formulaic. There is a fourth one coming out in January. I may or may not read it.

Finally, a surprising 2.5 for one of my favorite authors, Dana Stabenow. The twentieth book in her Kate Shugak series, which I've been reading my way through and enjoying, just didn't quite measure up to her usual writing. Bad Blood  is a bit of a modern Romeo and Juliet set in the Alaska wilderness. Two communities, across the river from one another, just can't get along. It probably didn't help that both Kate and her faithful half-wolf companion, Mutt, are shot at the end of the book. Fade to black.

So many of the books I've read lately are set in Charleston, S.C. It is an area I've long been fascinated by. If everything goes right and we get to take a trip to the Gulf Coast to visit my niece next winter, I'm hoping to extend the route from Florida up to South Carolina before turning back toward home. Perhaps then I will understand what it is about Charleston that makes it so popular as the background for so many novels.

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