Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Book List

Another month of reading twelve books - this time helped by the fact two of those were 'junior' books and others were 'quick little reads'. This month of reading was almost evenly divided by 3.5's and 4.0's.

We'll begin with the last book read this month (finished this morning) and one of the five 3.5 ratings.

Devil May Care was published May 28, 2008 to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth. The book came to my attention ten days ago on the 63rd birthday of its author, Sebastian Faulks, via my daily reading of The Writer's Almanac. Our library had the book, so I added it to my 'next trip to the library' list. The computer there said it was 'in' but I couldn't find it on the shelf under Fic/Fau. I finally located in under Fic/Fle. Really? The author is Faulks regardless if the writing under the title says "writing as Ian Fleming". Faulks was chosen by Fleming's estate to write the novel for the centenary birth date, but the novel was still written by Faulks, not Fleming.

I digress. I found the book to be wanting through the first half or two-thirds. I attained my age of majority reading and loving the REAL James Bond (Fleming's books) and to paraphrase Senator Lloyd Benson: "I knew Jack Kennedy. Senator, you're no Jack....." well, you get the idea.
However, I found myself really into the full James Bond experience during the last third or so of the novel. Yes, I ended up craving a martini; "Shaken, not stirred."

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini was another 3.5 and another one of those 'Christmas' books released just before the holidays last fall. I've read this author before and like her writing. This book combined two story lines - the writing of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War (later turned into the song) which was interspersed with a modern day story about a church youth choir director as she readied her group for their Christmas program. Both story lines were interesting.

Elizabeth George Speare's Calico Captive, also a 3.5, was one of the junior books I read. I intended to check out her Newberry award winner, but it wasn't in. Calico Captive is set during the French and Indian Wars in 1754. An English family living near Charleston, NH, is attacked and taken captive during an Indian raid. They are sold to the French in Montreal and held for ransom. This was an interesting tale based on the 50 year old oral memories of the wife/mother taken during the raid, but told in the book from the standpoint of one of the young daughters.

Death of A Nurse is #33 in the Hamish Macbeth series by M. C. Beaton. It follows the usual pattern of village policeman solving a murder under the noses of his uppity superiors all the while lamenting his lack of a girlfriend. Again, a cute little mystery series and another 3.5.

Tess Gerritsen is well-known for her Rizzoli and Isles series. The Surgeon is one of her earlier books which features Rizzoli just coming up the ranks in the detective bureau before her partnership with Isles. For a fast-paced, murder mystery, these books are good reading. 3.5

Now, for the seven 4.0's beginning with another junior book. I mentioned Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday on Facebook April 12 and my friend, Kristina, knowing I appreciated the Ramona series, asked if I had read Cleary's Newbery Medal winner. I had not, so it went on my list. It only took a couple hours for me to read Dear Mr. Henshaw, the 1984 Newbery Medal winner, but it was a very thoughtful book about a young boy and his divorced parents. When he and his mother move to a new town, he has trouble fitting in at his new school. He misses his father and his dog. He has no friends. A class assignment to write a letter to his favorite author becomes a way (through journaling) for him to begin understanding himself. He finally makes friends as well as peace with his parents' divorce and his father's absence. (Both physical and psychological.)

The Sea Keeper's Daugters is another one of those books listed under 'Religion and Spirituality' that I resist reading. But once again, I find that Lisa Wingate is an author I can read and enjoy. First, this book is set on the Outer Banks, an area I love to read about. Second it relates back to the Depression Era Federal Writer's Project, part of the WPA, and the Melungeon people of North Carolina's Appalachians and their possible connection to the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
At times it seemed the author had too many threads going, but she did a good job of  pulling them all together. I love learning history in such an enjoyable fashion. 4.0

Sue Miller is an author who expertly examines deep feelings and thoughts and the differences between men and women and the way they think, feel and express their emotions. The Lake Shore Limited  is not only the title of the book, it is the name of the play within the book and the vehicle the playwright uses to deal with the 9-11 death of her boyfriend. It shows how even the happiest of relationships between a couple can hold feelings of discontent and hunger for a different life. 4.0

Lois Battle is an author I enjoy. Her novel War Brides is about women who meet their husbands when the men are stationed in Australia during WWII and the different lives these women lead when they come to America - their expectations and disappointments. The author is the daughter of an Australian war bride and is depicted as a young child in the book. 4.0

Dark Corners is Ruth Rendell's last book. She died last year at age 85. She has been one of my favorite psychological thriller writers. When an author inherits his father's house in an expensive area of London, he decides to rent out the upper floor to have an income while he writes his next book.
He rents to the first person to answer his ad without checking references. The roomer soon finds a way, through blackmail, to take over the author's life and house. The homeowner sees murder as his only way out of the quagmire. 4.0. I will miss having new reads by this author.

Kristin Gore is a new author for me. Her book, Sweet Jiminy. was one of those 'hard to put down' mystery novels while at the same time being hard to read because of the subject matter.
Jiminy is a young Chicago attorney who decides life in the fast lane isn't for her after all. She flees to her Grandmother's home in rural Mississippi to regroup and try to decide what to do next.
She learns there was another Jiminy before her - the daughter of her grandmother's housekeeper. That Jiminy and her father were murdered some forty years previously during a civil rights hate crime.
Jiminy decides to solve the cold case and runs into the same attitudes from forty years ago. Even though I remember the early days of the Civil Rights movement and the atrocities of that time, it was hard to believe that the kinds of things Gore writes about actually happened. (And still do.) 4.0.

It has been awhile since a book "kept me on the edge of my seat". Jacquelyn Mitchard is a new author for me. Still Summer is the first book of hers I've read - but it won't be the last!
Four best friends from high school plan to get together again after twenty years with just occasional visits. They decide to take a Caribbean sailing trip, relax and catch up with one another's lives. When one of the women can't go, the 19-year-old daughter of one of the others takes her place. It's just the four women and the two male co-owners of the trimaran sailboat.
When bad weather separates the men from their boat and leaves the women adrift without power or sails, things go from bad to worse. They drift far off their expected course and have no luck hailing any passing ships. Food supplies dwindle and then they are boarded by pirates!
Honestly, this book had me on edge. It is superbly written and I will be reading more by this author. 4.0.

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