Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 2013 Reading List

The tenth month - eleven books read - the majority of them rated 3.0 including: Two by new to me writer Sue Ann Jaffarian - Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail. I really liked Jaffarian's plus size, para-legal at her day job, amateur sleuth the rest of the time, plucky Odelia Grey. I would read more of these mysteries but unfortunately our library only has these two.

An older Kate Shugak mystery, #11, The Singing of the Dead by Dana Stabenow was donated recently by a patron who had gotten a copy signed by the author. I was happy to have this gap filled even if it was out of order. It answered a few questions about the ongoing life of Kate.

The second Lucinda Riley book at our library (see last month's list) also rated a 3. The Girl On The Cliff is set in Ireland and you know how I like books about Ireland. A good story that spans one hundred years of shared history between two families.

The final 3.0 - Lauren Willig's The Ashford Affair. English aristocratic family takes in poor cousin when she is left orphaned. She grows up as a sister to her cousin. Set in early 1900's Kenya and late 1900's New York. The story is told in flashbacks by the grandmother and present time by the granddaughter.

I may already have commented about how surprised and pleased I was at receiving an e-mail from the author thanking me for a review I had written about his first book after I had read it a little over a year ago. (August 6, 2012). B.K. Showalter commented in the e-mail that he had two new books out. I checked and our library had them. Doomsday Marbles is an anecdotal collection of stories about his grade school days. I rated it 2.0. Chasing Crinolines relates his four years in high school, culminating with graduation in 1955. I got such a hoot out of this book - couldn't read it without imagining my older brother's high school days and antics. Showalter apparently grew up just across the border in NW Missouri. He has given his town a fictitious name - I would love to know which town it really was, but even parsing out clues I couldn't decide the location. I rated this one 2.5, probably because I related to it a little more.

Three reads garnered 3.5 ratings: Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs was recommended to me a few years ago by friend, Kristina. It wasn't until this summer I found a copy a the local book store. The story covers sixty years of the life of Louis Charles Lynch (Lucy) and his friends. There were times the book moved a little slow, but I loved the ending: "Don't even the best and most fortunate of lives hint at other possibilities, at a different kind of sweetness, yes, bitterness, too? Isn't this why we can't help feeling cheated, even when we know we haven't been?"

The other 3.5's are by one of my newest favorite authors, Chris Bohjalian - both have war as a backdrop. In The Sandcastle Girls, the author writes as a woman delving into her Armenian grandparents' pasts. History buff that I am, how had I never learned about the 1915 genocide of the Armenians in Syria? At times hard to read about the atrocities, but excellently written.

Which is also true for his Skeletons at the Feast about the last six months of WWII in Poland and Germany as refugees try to make their way westward to the lines of the allies before being overtaken by the Russian army.

Finally, my highest rated book for this month - 4.5 - another one by Chris Bohjalian:

The Double Bind. This was one of those books which, when I got to the end. I exclaimed, "Oh my gawd, you can't believe how this book ends!" A double bind is defined as an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other." The perfect title for this perfect read.

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