Friday, September 30, 2016

September Book List

September turned out to be a busy reading month - 14 books in all.

Charlaine Harris' Night Shift is the 3rd in her Midnight Texas series and my favorite of these so far. The usual cast of quirky characters appear. Fun read. 3.5 rating.

Salley Vickers is a new to me author. I really enjoyed The Cleaner of Chartres and gave it a 4.0 rating. I would definitely read more books by this author. And, by the way, another French book!

Alexander McCall Smith is a very talented author. In Chance Developments. a book of short stories, he has taken actual vintage photos and imagined a story to go along with the pictures, Another 4.0

As previously mentioned, I am reading my way through the Tess Gerritsen books. Bloodstream is one of her stand alone novels. A 4.0. All of her stories are very well-crafted and really hold my attention. This one about a bacteria which may have entered teens' bodies while swimming in a lake and which has changed their personalities for the worse. Creepy.

Gravity is another stand alone of Gerritsen's. I only gave this a 3.0, probably because I didn't like the idea of astronauts and scientists being stranded in outer space. (I thought the movie by the same name might have been based on this book, but it wasn't - the book came much earlier.) Again, deadly viruses, bacteria and parasites were involved. Too scary to realize that no matter how much hand washing, cough covering, etc. one can still be exposed to something deadly that we can't see, taste or smell.

Another of her stand alones, Life Support, set in a small, suburban, Boston area hospital where an ER doctor is the first to realize there's something weird going on in the elderly population. Turns out there are some unethical professionals experimenting with hormones to prolong the lives of wealthy patients. Rated 4.0.

A Paris Affair by Tatiana De Rosnay was a disappointment compared to her other novels. This slender little volume is mostly stories about spouses being unfaithful. Rated it 2.0

Beatriz Williams is another new author. I loved A Certain Age set in 1920's NYC during the Jazz Age. Perfectly crafted story of those changing times including secrets, a murder or two and not knowing how things were going to turn out until the very end. Another 4.0.

Tana French is my new favorite mystery author. I love her Dublin Murder Squad stories. Each book features a different squad member. Faithful Place is all about Frank Mackey and how he got out of the Dublin slums by becoming a cop. He has had nothing to do with his crazy family for twenty years but the discovery of a suitcase in the walls of a building being revitalized spins him right back into the neighborhood of his youth and into the family dysfunction. Excellent writer. A 5.0.

As is Broken Harbor the next in French's series. This time the main character is Mick 'Scorcher' Kennedy - the top detective that Frank Mackey had trouble with in the previous book. I love the way French can make us sympathetic to the character we disliked in the previous book. What looks like an easy solve for Kennedy and his rookie partner gets complicated when too many small things can't be explained. This is one I didn't have figured out before the end. French's character development, pacing, and story unfolding are tops! 5.0. 

The final four are all from the Corning Library which seems to be ahead of the Creston Library in getting the kind of new books I like.

Another new to me author of mysteries, Karin Slaughter. I found her The Kept Woman finely crafted and very absorbing. This police procedure novel is about highly paid star athletes and their entourages. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the dirty cops are on the take. Rated 4.0.

The Wonder is by the author of Room Emma Donoghue. This novel is not as intense, but still very good. Set in 1800's Ireland, one of the first nurses trained by Florence Nightingale is called upon to observe a young girl who supposedly has not eaten anything in four months yet remains healthy. People are beginning to proclaim it a miracle with the Catholic Church getting involved. But once round-the-clock observation begins, the girl does become deathly ill. The nurse tries to get her to eat, but she refuses. Nice ending. Another 4.0

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (another new author) is one of those books that is so hard to read, but impossible to put down. This is an excellent book about the underground railroad, the slaves who used it to escape to freedom and the conductors along the way who helped them. I say 'hard to read' because I cannot imagine how one part of society believes they have the right to own and use others. Of course today's headlines remind me that we have not come as far toward equality as we think. Brilliantly written; a 4.0.

Louise Penny's 12th Inspector Gamache mystery, A Great Reckoning, is another 5.0 for me. These just keep getting better. The good inspector has come out of retirement to take over the command of the Surete Academy responsible for the training of new police cadets. It is the one area where corruption still reigns and it's his job to rid the Academy of the unethical instructors. Penny's writing is so smart and deep. I hardly ever figure out the 'who(s)'. I love the complexity of these mysteries and especially the poetic references.

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