What Else I’m Reading

I read a lot of books I don’t review for various reasons. This is where I record everything else I read and add a short opinion. When you see big time gaps, that just means I’m focused on books to review.

February, 2019: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about a college professor/researcher on the spectrum and a girl he helps to find her biological father through DNA analysis.

January, 2020: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente.

Disappointing sequel to a children’s book I really liked. The title gives you an overview of the plot.

January, 2020: Demon Crown by James Rollins.

I couldn’t wait to finish this thriller about killer wasps. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I started wishing some of the regular characters I’m supposed to root for would die. Not good.

January, 2020: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann.

A story that should be told about the rampant murder of Osage natives to gain their oil wealth. But I had a hard time getting past Grann’s prose, which is weird because I loved his The Lost City of Z.

January. 2020: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin

Excellent sci-fi about a physicist from a world where all are equal and without possessions who travels to the planet his people came from where power and wealth are for only a few.

December, 2019: The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem.

Fascinating novel about a white boy in a neighborhood where everyone else is a person of color. His best friend is black but their relationship is complicated by the real world of the 70s.

November, 2019: Setting Free the Bears by John Irving.

Great first novel by this exceptional author. Much more complex (and disturbing) than his more recent books. Set in Austria in the 1960s but with many flashbacks to WWII.

November, 2019: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Wonderful book about a butler with long years of service in one of England’s grand estates who takes a small road trip and reflects on his past. Intensely moving but also quite funny and a joy to read.

November, 2019: Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons.

This fantastic graphic novel is as complex and rich as any traditional book. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years but wanted to read it before watching the new TV series.

November, 2019: Subterranean by James Rollins.

Hugely disappointing thriller that takes place miles below Antartica and includes a number of bizarre creatures that evolved from monotremes. The required “nefarious forces” angle is exceptionally weak.

November, 2019: Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

Thoughtful and fantastical book about a person who lives hundreds of years and changes from a man to a woman. Impressive writing though I got a bit bogged down in the final third.

October, 2019: Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Interesting book about a Kenyan refugee (undocumented and would be killed if sent away) and the English couple who she hopes will help her. Touching but unsatisfying.

October, 2019: Who Murdered Chaucer? by Terry Jones, Robert Yeager, Alan Fletcher, Terry Dolan, and Juliette Dor.

Fascinating if rather long-winded look at the times of Richard II, his usurper Henry IV, religious turmoil and how it affected Chaucer and his last writings.

October, 2019: Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz.

Long on description and inner musings, short on plot; Koontz’s Odd Thomas series is losing steam fast. Think I’ll skip the next one…and any that might follow.

September, 2019: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

This was a re-read (book club selection) and even better than the first time. This post-apocalyptic novel focuses on human connections instead of destruction and cruelty. Brilliant, sensitive, smart.

September, 2019: Zuckerman Unbound by Philip Roth.

In his typical semi-autobiographical fashion Roth explores the aftermath of the publishing of Portnoy’s Complaint (here called Carnovsky). It’s funny, tragic, thoughtful, outrageous, and amazing.

September, 2019: 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz.

A horror thriller heavy on gross descriptions, light on everything else. Maybe because it had 21 different point-of-view characters, a possible world record.

September, 2019: The Lake of Learning by Steve Berry and M. J. Rose.

Novella focused on love interest Cassiopeia from Berry’s Cotton Malone series. It’s still in his typical thriller mode and worked nicely until a rushed ending that didn’t make much sense.

September, 2019: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead.

Excellent novel set in an alternative universe where all-important Elevator Inspectors fall into two camps: Intuitionists and Empiricists. Surprisingly funny for a book about race, politics, and morality.

September, 2019: Dragon Teeth by Michael Chrichton.

I don’t really approve of posthumous publications but read this one because it’s built around the real-world rivalry between two fossil hunters. Entertaining, but not as good as nonfiction.

August, 2019: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

An exceptionally good fantasy! Strong female protagonists and a coherent plot with great dangers and a terrific ending. And it all came from the fairy tale about spinning straw into gold (there is no straw in this story however).

August, 2019: A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mizra.

Interesting novel that gives insight into the practices of adherent Muslims in America and how this can create family clashes  when children change to fit larger communities.

July, 2019: Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett.

Humorous Disc World sci-fi by the master. This one was built around soccer, but this non-sports person still loved it.

July, 2019: A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

Women and children are captured by Japanese during WWII and marched all over Malay yet Shute manages to make it boring. The second half, about reviving a dying town in the Australia outback, is ever worse.

June, 2019: The Complete Horowitz Horror by Anthony Horowitz.

A collection of YA horror stories with the amusing/disturbing twists one associates with The Twilight Zone or 50s sci-fi. Great fun.

June, 2019: Jazz by Toni Morrison.

Excellent book that is as complex and alluring as jazz music. Set largely in 1920s Harlem, it also goes back to 1880s; with various narrators who bring different perspectives to the same events.

June, 2019: Die for You by Lisa Unger.

Gripping suspense thriller with a dense plot (and subplots) and a nice psychological component. I’ll try Unger again.

June, 2019: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.

Beautiful prose, but I knew everything that would happen so early in this book I was impatient with both the 1939 story of children stolen from their family by Georgia Tann (a real person, BTW), and the present day story of a woman trying to solve a mystery.

May, 2019: Noir by Christopher Moore.

Comedic noir book set in 1947 with lots of fun jargon and all the cultural/racial/misogynist tropes you expect from the era and genre.

April, 2019: The Castle of Kings by Oliver Potzsch.

Overly long tale of a deep secret and a peasant uprising in more-or-less Germany in 1524. Can’t recommend but didn’t hate it.

April, 2019: Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

I avoid how-to/self-help books and bought this one by accident–a lucky accident as it turns out. It was all about collaboration in writing and was exactly the positive influence I needed.

April, 2019: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.

I almost quit this book after two chapters but was told the depressing atmosphere that prevailed would change. It did. This story of a young woman of the Akha hill tribe, in remote China is compelling at times and repelling at others. But I learned a lot about tea, which was interesting.

March, 2019: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemison.

Excellent conclusion to the sci-fi trilogy, all three of which won Hugos.

March, 2019: The Obelisk Gate by N. K.  Jemison.

The middle entry in the Broken Earth series and so compelling I immediately moved on to the final book of this great Sci Fi series. She’s created an amazing world.

February, 2019: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Excellent book about love (unrequited and otherwise), mental illness, and books. It didn’t end the way I wanted but it ended the way it should.

February, 2019: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin.

Great sci-fi book, the first in her Broken Earth series, featuring a finely detailed and intriguing world and powerful characters. I’ve already ordered the other two books

February, 2019: City of Illusions by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Interesting sci-fi by a master of the genre. A man with no memory is taken in by a kind family but eventually leaves  to discover who he is. Will what he discovers be truth…or fiction.

January, 2019: The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald.

I was horrified by the conniving selfishness of the title character in this children’s book, though I enjoyed the portrayal of life in rural 1890s Utah. Fortunately (spoiler alert), he reformed in the end.

January, 2019: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer.

This delightful non-fiction book acts as a guide to the 14th century, with information on what people wear, eat, how they travel, legal matters, and more. It’s written with a lively sense of humor and it’s quite nice to read a history that focuses on regular people instead of royalty.

January, 2019: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling.

Fun guide to the magical beasts in the Harry Potter universe. The New Scamander introduction is particularly amusing.

January, 2019: Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant.

Pluto is a microscopic town in the Mississippi Delta. Englishman Richard Grant bought an expansive home nearby, surrounded by wetlands and flat fields. His book documents his encounters with the local wildlife, his helpful neighbors,  and the peculiarities of racism in a community where blacks and whites have had close relationships for generation. It’s a delight to read.

November, 2018: The Seventh Plague by James Rollins.

An exceptionally un-thrilling thriller with far more exposition than action and one of the most convoluted plots I’ve encountered. So why did I finish it? Good question.

October, 2018: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger.

Well-written though rather predictable Christian mystery set in a small Ohio town. It is a summer of deaths that impact a preacher’s family, all as seen through the eyes of his middle child, a precocious boy of around 12.

September, 2018: What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell.

It’s bad when you know whodunit in a mystery as soon as the character is introduced. Even worse that you recognize the future twist almost a soon. The book did move at a nice clip but it as really disappointing not to be proven wrong in my early, early guesses.

September, 20218: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett.

Early-ish Discworld outing that plays around with the witches from “that Scottish Play” in a story about destiny and self-determination. Lots of fun to read. Love Pratchett.

July, 2018: The Dry by Jane Harper.

Very good murder mystery set in a small Australia outback town during an extreme drought. A cop who once lived there is drawn back again by a recent triple murder. A suspicious death in the past threatens the cop’s present.

May, 2018: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.

This coming-of-age story benefitted from being set in the 1970s Alaska wilderness. Alaska was the starring character, the human ones were a knot of dysfunction and pain.

April, 2018: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Exceptionally sad book about the things family members neglect to tell each other. However, it was also exceptionally good. Read it.

April, 2018: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

A group of “arty” teens grow up. Nicely written and worth reading but there was just a tad too much time jumping for my taste.

March, 2018: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.

An enjoyable companion book to the glorious Time after Time. However, the ending caught me off guard and irritated me. After a couple of days of thinking about it I will doubtless change my mind. It follows the brother that the heroine of the prior book tried so hard to save.

March, 2018: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach.

Forbidden romance set during Netherland’s tulip frenzy of the 1600s. So unbelievable it reads more like a farce. Some nice language, though.

March, 2018: Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker

Quirky memoire written in the form of letters to various men who influenced her life (including some she’s never met). Interesting and reveals much about this actress.

February, 2018: Planet of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Another of the Hainish books — different planet but with one race of people coming from the planet below. Le Guin’s world building is fascinating. I particularly enjoyed how words had evolved, like Thiatr for theater. A quick, enjoyable read.

February, 2018: Rocannon’s World by Ursula K. Le Guin.

I’ll be reading a lot of Le Guin this year — all her Hainish sci-fi novels and stories. Figured if The Library of America felt it was important to keep her work in print, I should check it out. This first book did not disappoint — beautifully written, emotionally rich, and a creatively imagined world.

February, 2018: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

Really slow mystery since the center third of the book was back story for the eponymous detective. Centered around WWI. There were some interesting touches but the plot plodded.

December, 2017: Evelyn, After by  Victoria Helen Stone.

Ugh. Complacent woman discovers her husband is having an affair and becomes obsessed to the nth degree with the expected results.

December, 2017: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth.

Excellent novel by an American master centered on a romance between two people from highly different social circles and how that shapes every phase of their relationship.

December, 2017: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

Hysterical yet oddly moving story of a man who always seems to lose — at love, life, and everything. Hornby’s insights on how men think (or don’t) are spot on. All the musical references were also spot on for boomers and gen x.

December, 2017: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

Psychological thriller that was fairly interesting, except for one major plot flaw. A reader might not notice it, but the main character would have immediately — not ten years later.

November, 2017: The Color of Water by James McBride.

Beautiful tribute by a black man to his white mother (throughout his upbringing she claimed to be light-skinned). Her story and his are told in parallel. Both are amazing.

November, 2017: The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child.

Thriller spun around a secret room in a research institute where people are going crazy. The hints were so heavy I found myself irritated the protagonist didn’t get them. Strictly okay.

October, 2017: The Preservationist by David Maine

What a delightful surprise! This retelling of Noah/Noe and his ark is thoughtful and thought provoking. While it doesn’t really stray from the Biblical version, it does enhance that story with  “hows” and “whys.” I knew nothing about Maine. Now I want to read more.

October, 2017: Rabbit Run by John Updike.

Brilliantly written novel by an American literary giant, but you won’t like the title character one bit. First he runs away from his pregnant wife and toddler, then runs roughshod over others. Just know that before you start and enjoy the writing.

September, 2018: Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré.

First book I’ve read by him. He is a fantastic writer, though the plot got a bit bogged down in the middle. Suspect I don’t know enough about spy things to “get” everything, but still enjoyed it.

September, 2017: The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving.

Part heartbreaker, part joyful, this older Irving book was excellent. It follows a family whose father decides to turn an old school into a hotel and what happens afterwards.

August, 2017: The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø.

Interesting Harry Hole mystery that bounces between Norwegians serving in the German WWII army and 2000.

August, 2017: What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire.

I’ve enjoyed Maguire’s adult books (Wicked, Confessions of a Wicked Stepsister, etc.) so thought I’d try one of his young adult efforts. While the story-within-a-story was entertaining (about a tooth fairy), the surrounding tale was dark and disturbing.

June, 2017: The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollin.

DNA, varieties of early man — these are subjects I’m actually interested in, but this science/political thriller simply throws too much at you. Not Rollins’ best effort.

April, 2017: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.

This book club choice about hiding Jews from the Nazis during WWII just left me cold. Possibly I’ve read too many of the genre. The author was inspired by the priest holes architects created during Elizabeth I’s reign. I wish he’d written about those instead.

April, 2017: Dreams of a Dead Boy by Alan Pomroy.

Rather disjointed story by a writer who does know how to turn a clever phrase. It’s about a shallow man who agrees to be killed and brought back to life only to find hell is exceedingly hellish.

April, 2017: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

Short story collection by a master writer that includes tales of fabulist, fantasy, horror, and more. Highly enjoyable, especially the “American” Gods novella.

April, 2017: A Death in the Family by James Agee.

Brilliant classic about the death of a young father and it’s impact on his family. Exceptionally thoughtful and beautifully written. Semi-autobiographical.

April, 2017: The Secret Order by Steve Berry.

I’ve been increasingly disappointed in Berry’s thrillers, which I used to love. This one is built around yet another Constitutional loophole. And gold. Boring.

March, 2017: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

Not my favorite Austen, but still very worthwhile reading. A poor relation is raised at her uncle’s estate, where she greatly feels her lower position. Then love gets in the air.

March, 2017: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

Brilliant, heart-breaking novel focusing on a household of lonely people during the Nepalese insurgency of the late 1980s. Explores themes of belonging, expectations, and — especially — coping with loss.

March, 2017: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.

Delightful Americana travelogue written in 1060.It’s interesting to see how America — and traveling in general — have changed over the ensuing years.

February, 2017: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

Man turns into a giant nasty bug. A classic in 20th century literature. Surprisingly funny but then it gets you thinking. At barely 60 pages, it almost qualifies as a short story. Not sure I had a good translation, however.

January, 2017: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor.

An elderly widow intends to marry, causing panic in his middle-aged children. However, the book almost entirely looks back at what shaped the characters and how they could learn to forget, forgive, and accept the past. Brilliantly written.

December, 2016: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

Probably the perfect bookclub book — thoughtful but not too challenging. A retired Englishman gets a letter from an old friend and decides on a whim to walk across the country to deliver his response.

December, 2016: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Brilliant literary book. An aged preacher writes to impart knowledge and wisdom to his  son when he is a man. Thoughtful and surprisingly engaging for something with very little plot.

December, 2016: The Stars Like Dust by Isaac Asimov.

Old 60s sci fi from the master, but not my favorite. Interesting enough but nowhere near as intriguing as his Foundation series and others I could name.

December, 2016: The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett.

So much better than the Patchett I read last August (scroll to see). The widow of a gay magician (it’s complicated) discovers he had a family in Nebraska. Meeting them changes her life.

December, 2016: Personal by Lee Child.

Another great Jack Reacher adventure, with snipers seemingly aiming for world leaders. Don’t see the movies, read the books.

November, 2016: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss.

Strictly for fans of the author’s Kingkiller Chronicles, this charming novella chronicles a week in the life of Auri, the mysterious young woman who lives in the extensive areas beneath the University.

November, 2016: The Obsidian Chamber by Preston and Child.

Solid entry in the Agent Pendergast thriller series. Evil brother Diogenes returns and butler Proctor gets to see some action. Fun.

November, 2016: Beale Street Dynasty by Preston Lauterbach.

Highly informative but not very well written, this nonfiction book showcases the close relationship between politics and sin (gambling, brothels, bars) in Memphis as well as  the rise of one rich and powerful black family.

October, 2016: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

The second in his entertaining fantasy trilogy: The Kingkiller Chronicles. This one came out five years ago. Still waiting on the third. Grrr. Is he another George R. R. Martin?

September, 2016: The Human Stain by Philip Roth.

An absolutely brilliant novel by an American master. Every page is to be savored. You’ll be pondering questions of identity, belonging, academia, power — just read it and enrich your life.

September, 2016: Make Me by Lee Child.

Typical, highly-enjoyable Jack Reacher outing.Just be getting off the train because a town’s name interests him, he’s neck deep in trouble, and involved with a women who is not in distress but can take care of herself. Gotta love Lee Child.

September, 2016: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.

Imagine Jane Austen’s Emma, only more down in the dirt. That’s basically an accurate description have this very entertaining comedy. Written in the 1930s, it’s set in the “near future,” so some things might strike you odd (like the telephone with a view screen).

August, 2016: Taft by Ann Patchett.

Very disappointing book from the author of an all-time personal favorite (Bel Canto). Set in my home town of Memphis, it had a strange mix of accuracy and major errors. But it’s the bland and rather pointless story that really let me down.

July, 2016: A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E. L. Konigsburg.

Sassy YA historical novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Actually quite enjoyable. Published in 1973, I suspect it would be consider too adult now — more’s the shame.

July, 2016: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Well written and highly interesting fantasy — the first of a trilogy. Enjoyed it so much I’ve already ordered the second book. The plot: a very bright young man has a knack for magical thinking but suffers many setbacks.

June, 2016: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

This is supposedly a “feel good” book, but I was mainly irritated by how aged it portrayed the 59-year-old Ove (who was very strong and robust) and the false impressions if gave of modern Sweden (it was written by a Swede, btw). Ove and his contemporaries should have been at least 20 years older and the story set 30 years in the past, otherwise little made sense.

May, 2016: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

Everything I disdain in a “book club” book: flat characters, suspect motivations, lots of platitudes. Of course it was hugely popular. In 1964 Georgia, young teen rescues her imprisoned nanny and runs away from abusive father. Winds up living with wise African-American bee keepers.

May, 2016: The River King by Alice Hoffman.

Typical lushly written and sadly romantic Hoffman novel. Her descriptions of nature always win me over. This one takes place at an exclusive boarding school on the banks of a river, involving both students, teachers, and townies in its dramas.

April, 2016: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

Slim, charming book about the Queen of England and her introduction to — and later addiction to — the joys of reading.

March, 2016: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.

Thoroughly enjoyed the first Christie mystery I’ve read since childhood. Having since seen David Suchet’s superb portrayals of Hercule Poirot made this read all the more enjoyable. I need to add more Christie to my “must read” list.

February, 2016: Crimson Shore by Preston and Child.

Another enjoyable Agent Pendergast thriller, with the required almost-supernatural elements. This one did take a surprising turn two-third through; almost like two books in one.

January, 2016: Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Memoire focused on a 1100 backpack along the Pacific Crest Trail, taken 20 years ago by the grief-stricken and self-destructive author in hopes of finding herself. I couldn’t get past her idiocy at every turn.

January, 2016: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Parallel tales of a woman who hides her scars, internal and external, and her grandmother, suffering terribly under the Nazis. Nicely done though often a brutal read.

December, 2015: 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith.

Originally written as a daily serial for a Scottish newspaper, it suffers a mite from those limitations (length of chapters and required number) but still features this enjoyable author’s charm. Set in modern Edinburgh.

December, 2015: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde.

Older child/young adult fantasy in an alternate universe United Kingdom. Alternate universes of this nature are a Fforde specialty and this one has waning magic, and a single living dragon that is predicted to die.

November, 2015: Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell.

Interesting portrait of an upper-class housewife of the 1930s and beyond, revealed through a series of short vignettes. A very well done, classic read.

October, 2015: Euphoria by Lily King.

Inspired by the field work of Margaret Mead but has nothing to do with her besides a setting in Papua/New Guinea. Sort of a romantic triangle. Not very good.

October, 2015: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

Enjoyed the supporting characters, especially the pharmacist, but this classic novel about a woman with overly-romantic ideals and the trouble that got her into was rather disappointing.

September, 2015: Innocence by Dean Koontz

There wasn’t much of the old Koontz horror in this one. It was practically mushy, though I did like the story twist towards the end.

September, 2015: The Martian by Andy Weir.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and a great read whether you like science/science fiction or not. A real page turner and a wonderful lead character.

July, 2015: Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Sequel to The Bean Trees. Solid Kingsolver, however I wasn’t happy with the characters actions throughout. Nice writing, though.

July, 2015: The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory.

Another historical novel featuring an aristocratic woman in the Tudor era, Margaret Pole. It started strong, but when the wheel of fortune turned it really bogged down.

June, 2015: The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke.

I believe Burke has written around 20 of these Dave Robicheaux mysteries, set in the bayou country of Louisianna. This is the first one I’ve read. I’ll read more.

June, 2015: Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child.

Best thriller yet by Child writing alone. A strange creature is found in Arctic Alaska by climate change researchers working at a largely mothballed military facility. Chaos ensues.

April, 2015: Dust by Hugh Howey.

Satisfying conclusion to the Silo trilogy. This one picks up at about the midpoint of the first book but from a totally different perspective.

April, 2015: The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry.

Another fun Cotton Malone thriller, this one focusing on the possibility the amendment allowing income tax is invalid and non-payment of a Revolutionary War debt.

April, 2015: Shift by Hugh Howey.

Second in his Silo trilogy, this is actually a prequel to Wool, and every bit as intriguing. I waited too long to read the second book. Moving on to the third immediately.

March, 2015: Dr. Sleep by Stephen King.

Actually an audio good for a very long drive. Best audio read I’ve ever heard, not to mention a darn good story.

March, 2015: The Bat by Jo Nesbø.

First of the Harry Hole mysteries. Seems strand to start a Norwegian detective series in Australia, but the book works well.

February, 2015: Esio Trot by Roald Dahl.

Charming little love story with nary a child in it but a large quantity of tortoises.

February, 2015: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.

Yet another fictionalized account of a woman in love with a famous man, in this case Frank Lloyd Wright. It never turns out well for them. Particularly in this case.

January, 2015: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl.

Very disappointing Dahl sequel to Chocolate Factory. All over the place. Maybe it had too many adults? ha ha

January, 2015: Winter of the World by Ken Follett.

The second in his Century Trilogy, this one focuses on WWII. It’s just too long and disjointed, making it hard to care much about the characters. The first volume was better.

December, 2014: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

Introduces a lot of characters at first but you soon sort them out. Almost a thriller, but with a much more feminine slant — relationships and secrets rather than weapons and double crosses. I liked it.

December, 2014: Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Intriguing Agent Pendergast thriller revolving around an ancestor’s ill gotten gains from a poisonous patent medicine. Nice entry in the series, especially since it brings you back to the museum where it all started. Have no idea what the name refers to.

November, 2014: George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Outrageously hysterical book, but don’t allow around impressionable kids. George mixes up everything (including many toxins) he finds in the house in hopes of making a medicine to make his obnoxious Granny change. She does, and how!

November, 2014: Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Mr. Fox outwits farmers in this cut Dahl classic. Liked it better than the movie.

October, 2014: The BFG by Roald Dahl

BFG = Big Friendly Giant. Not my favorite Dahl, though I did enjoy all the made up words. I guess I didn’t like the idea of giants eating up people. It’s certainly typical Dahl fun.

October, 2014: Rose Madder by Stephen King.

Much older King nail-biter. He’s one writer that has just gotten better over the years. Very tense book about woman escaping a beyond-abusive husband. Good for the genre, but King has gone beyond genre good now.

October, 2014: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

Who would think a book about four would-be-suicides who meet at the top of a London block tower intent on ending it all could be so engaging, funny, and thoughtful? Hornby. A wonderful read.

October, 2014: Mary Coin by Marisa Silver.

Interesting story based largely on the reality behind a Depression Era photo of a woman and her children by Dorothea Lange. Something about changing the names but very little else bothered me, however.

October, 2014: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley.

Another delightful Flavia de Luce mystery novel for all ages. This one struggled a bit to keep its wry sense of humor due to the sad primary plot line. But, it certainly set you up for the next installment.

October, 2014: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell.

Religion-inspired thriller with the addition of vampires! Good ones (they’re Catholic priests) and bad ones. Frankly it was a hoot and very readable but crazy over the top.

September, 2014: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard.

Fascinating account of Teddy Roosevelt’s almost fatal journey down an unexplored tributary of the Amazon. A worthy read.

September, 2014: The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

Good book club book about Anne Morrow Lindburgh, wife of Lucky Lindy. I do get a little annoyed with novelizations of a true person written in the first person, however. But that’s just me.

August, 2014: The Eye of God by James Rollins.

This thriller felt over-long; plus the connection between an ancient cross and runaway asteroids felt forced. I usually like Rollins better than this outing. Found myself doing a lot of skimming, which is not my reading style.

August, 2014: The Gospel of Judas by Simon Mawer.

I knew zero about this book. What a delight! Complex, engaging, thoughtful, well-written — I can’t say enough good about it. While there is the discovery of an ancient scroll, this book is as much about betrayals in love and life as well as faith. I will be looking for more Mawer. Immediately.

August, 2014: After You’ve Gone by Jeffrey Lent.

I absolutely loved Lent’s first two novels, this one not so much. Set mostly between the two wars, it follows a widower who leaves New England for Amsterdam and meets a new love. It hops around in time relentlessly and it’s hard to care much about the main character, he feels so distant.

July, 2014: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham.

One of the great novels of the 20th century, it’s dense and full of musings about faith, friendship, passion, art, and beauty. While many seem to focus on the central character’s obsession with an uninterested waitress, it’s so much more than that.

July, 2014: The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry.

Thriller built around the idea of states seceding from the Union and Mormon legends. Rather disturbing in some respects and traditional hero Cotton Malone is not at his fictional best.

June, 2014: The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston.

Thriller about a sentient computer program. I’ve read this type of thing several times and, while this does present a different spin, it’s still hard to engage with a plot revolving around a computer program, no matter how personable. That said, I did read it in two days.

June, 2014: The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier.

Really insipid and predictable book. I pretty much just scanned the last third to see if I was right. I was. Hard to believe this author is the same one who wrote Girl with a Pearl Earring. Disappointing in every way.

June, 2014: Death of an Expert Witness by P. D. James.

She’s a brilliant mystery writer. This outing is no exception.

June, 2014: Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen.

What a romp! Great fun in this twisted story about environmentalists, property development, and corrupt politicians in Florida. Plus an endearing labrador retriever. Very enjoyable.

June, 2014: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

Popular book club book inspired by actual efforts to relocate orphaned city kids to the country. Split between 1927ish and 1992, following two different young women. The older story is far more interesting.

June, 2014: On Beauty by Zadie Smith.

Inter-racial marriage and children, infidelity, and intellectualism are all examined in this strong book. What you take from it will depend on what you bring to it. Smith is one heck of a writer.

June, 2014: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

Nice Patchett outing (I like her a lot). Woman goes to investigate a mysterious death and a missing scientist in the Amazon jungle. Focuses on decisions about having children/career in a very nice, rather subtle way.

June, 2014: Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz.

It’s been ages since I’ve read any Koontz, though I have several in waiting. Really enjoyed this 1993 one about a mystery writer who is suddenly attacked by a look-alike who claims the writer stole his life. Also enjoyed the Star Trek references big time.

May, 2014: The Witches by Roald Dahl.

Best Dahl yet. Loved how the little boy was just fine with being turned into a (talking) mouse — it had certain advantages. His grandmother was cool with it, too. Funny, engaging, and lessons to be learned.

May, 2014: Lush Life by Richard Price.

Great writing. Felt like real people doing real things — human in their motives and confused responses. Have never read Price before. My loss until now.

April, 2014: Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.

Historical fiction set in 14th century Barcelona is interesting but not nearly as engaging as Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum or Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth — two other novels set around the building of a cathedral.

April, 2014: Blood Line by James Rollins.

Are Rollin’s thrillers getting even more action packed or am I just getting more bored with explosions? Still fun to read, however. And, I will continue to read him.

April, 2014: The Twits by Roald Dahl.

Continued my Dahl journey with this slim volume where very anthropomorphic animals rain down revenge on the terrible Twits. Super silly fun.

April, 2014: Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart.

While much raunchier than I like my books, this satire was certainly fascinating. The opposite of politically correct, pretty much everything is attacked. With a former Soviet bloc country (imaginary) undergoing a civil war for all the wrong reasons, it was also timely.

April, 2014: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.

Who would guess that a book about three presidential assassinations (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley) could be entertaining as well as informative. Vowell is a cheeky character with a definite point of view. She doesn’t just research, she visits, too. Part travelogue, part history, part ruminations, and all delightful

March, 2014: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

This was the Dahl novel I remembered best, largely thanks to two movie versions. It was nice to return to the original, which is less preachy and more outrageous.

March, 2014: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

Continuing the journey through Dahl’s outrageous collection of children’s books. A giant peach rolls over James’ horrific aunts and he is off on an adventure with giant insects.

March, 2014: Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.

The first book of Follett’s much anticipated Century Trilogy historical fiction opus focuses on WWI and various English, Americans, Russians, and Germans involved. It’s really long but the retelling of the diplomacy/politics (and lack thereof) before and after the fighting is both fascinating and disturbing.

March, 2014: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Highly predictable young adult novel about kids with cancer. Made me teary quite a few times, but the writing was far too clever and insightful to be the dialogue of two sick teens in love.

February, 2014: Lottery by Patricia Wood.

A mentally challenged man wins the lottery. His evil half-brothers scheme to get control of him and his winnings. I really hated this book club selection, but according to Amazon most people loved it.

February, 2014: Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

The start of my plan to read/reread all Dahl’s evil and wild children’s books. Danny’s dad loves poaching pheasants and Danny has a plan to steal them all for his beloved dad. Only Dahl can get away with this.

February, 2014: Sixkill by Robert B. Parker.

The last Spencer novel Parker wrote. Just as witty and wonderful as them all. fortunately for me there are still a few very old ones I have yet to enjoy.

January, 2014: The Man Who Wasn’t There by Pat Barker.

Interesting Booker Prize winner featuring a 12-year-old boy who desperately wants information about his father and images a film starring him. Reads like a ghost story.

January, 2014: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson.

The final installment in the trilogy. Started off quite slow then really started moving. Had a satisfying ending, despite the fact that…. Well, read it yourself.

December, 2013: Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo.

Beautifully written and somewhat melancholy story of the reserved son of a corner grocer, his wilder friend, and the women who loves them both. It follows their lives from youth to their sixties, with passages old and new working together to unfold the story. Russo is one heck of a writer.

November, 2013: Horns by Joe Hill.

A man wakes up after a major drinking binge with horns growing out of his head. He soon discovers he can also hear people’s thoughts and encourage them to do evil things. He learns everyone believes he killed his girlfriend a year ago. Alternately funny and heart-breaking and a really good read.

November, 2013: Our Gang by Philip Roth.

Very funny satire that is clearly inspired by the Nixon era. Completely outrageous and still great fun, though you might need to be “of a certain age” to fully enjoy it.

November, 2013: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.

Recurrent Roth character, Kilgore Trout, stars in this one. His sci-fi stories are taken as truth by a car dealer who is going insane. An excellent Vonnegut effort.

November, 2013: Painted Ladies by Robert B. Parker.

One of the last Spencer (private eye) books written by Parker. It was bittersweet. Loved it (as usual) sad that my Parker fixes were coming to an end. As usual: pithy, witty, succinct dialogue, and highlights of Boston. Plus a good crime, involving art and the Holocaust.

October, 2013: The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan.

Very enjoyable Tan outing, once again pairing a modern Chinese-American girl with old-world Chinese values. This one includes a lot about ghosts (not the scary kind) and past lives; and has a lively sense of humor.

October, 2013: The Affair by Lee Child.

This is the one where he leaves the army. However, the female sheriff that is his local counterpart in the solving or several murders doesn’t seem like much. Still enjoyable Child writing.

September, 2013: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson.

The second in a very enjoyable fantasy trilogy that actual features a woman in the main role — one with almost super-human powers at that. You don’t need to read the previous Mistborn, but why miss out on the fun?

July, 2013: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child.

Not a very thrilling thriller. I don’t quite get how Child can be half of my favorite thriller-writing team and the books he does alone are so… not. This one involved looking for the tomb of the pharaoh who unified ancient Egypt. There is a curse involved, of course.

July, 2013: The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbrø.

The third of  these excellent, gritty murder mysteries featuring the alcoholic detective Harry Hole. Nesbrø writes taut, complex, and riveting murders.

July, 2013: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

Very engaging fantasy where some people can assimilate metal in their bodies to heighten senses and abilities. The bet part is it features a woman as it’s lead! It also has some parallels to current society, with the haves looking down on the havenots.

July, 2013: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

I had no idea this was non-ficiton until I reached the notes at the end. It read like a wonderful novel and is that much better for being true. Inspiring, heart-breaking, simply wonderful. Best book-club selection ever.

May, 2013: Queen Isabella by Alison Weir.

An in-depth history of one of England’s most notorious queens. Or was she? She did take a lover and overthrow her husband, Edward II, but there were extenuating circumstances, to say the least. Fascinating but very detailed.

May, 2013: The Enemy by Lee Child.

This one predates Child’s other Jack Reacher thrillers. The future loner is still in the Army. However, Reacher is as independent, smart, and fierce as usual. Plus, you get a feel as to how he and the military didn’t quite mesh.

April, 2013: Serena by Ron Rash.

Nicely written, but who wants to read about two totally evil, soulless lumber barons? I don’t get the many favorable reviews it has received at all.

April, 2013: Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley.

Another thoroughly enjoyable Flavia de Luce murder mystery. The 11-year-old prodigy and lover of chemistry bicycles her way from clue to trouble to solving the murder once again in 1950 rural England. It’s one for all ages.

April, 2013: Boomsday by Christopher Buckley.

Buckley’s political comedies are a blast no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. This one is about a proposed solution to Social Security money problems — Voluntary Transitioning (otherwise knows as suicide). Very, very funny.

March, 2013: The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport.

I had a hard time warming up to this Civil War romance. Too much fighting gore and the lovers just weren’t believable. However, I loved the third main character — Johnny Tom, a Chinese immigrant fighting for the Union. He made it all worthwhile.

February, 2013: Medieval Lives by Terry Jones (and Alan Ereira).

Yes, it’s the Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, but this is a serious book  It will change your perception of these centuries tremendously, from the status of women to the true nature of knights. Highly readable, too

January, 2013: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.

Charming tale of a resourceful 12-year-old who will remind readers of Alice and Dorothy but is also uniquely her own. A delight to read with some very imaginative characters — like a person made all of soap and a faithful flying jeweled key.

January, 2013: Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

Interesting book about 1880s New York society and an inconvenient love between a run-away wife and an engaged man.  Everything is very subtle. Wharton really communicates the era and the restricted lives of the people then.

January, 2013: Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

An admission officer at Princeton is left by her long-time, live-in boyfriend and loses it. Way too long with most of the book dedicated to observations about the admissions process instead of plot or character development.

December, 2012: Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Another Agent Pendergast thriller that kept the pages turning. However, I’m getting a bit tired of the continuing story thread through the last few books. Hopefully this winds it up, but I suspect not. This one featured Nazis in Brazil.

November, 2012: The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire.

Leaving behind his interesting takes on childhood classics, Maguire’s millennial tale brings a light touch to very serious subjects like religious differences and AIDS. It’s a delight to read.

November, 2012: Death Comes to Pemberly by P. D. James.

I love James’ mysteries and who doesn’t like Jane Austen? However, somehow I was not enchanted by this “sequel” to Pride and Prejudice wrapped around a murder. Why do I feel like the fault is solely mine?

November, 2012: Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Wiener.

Enjoyable little mystery about a bored suburban housewife who decides to investigate a local murder on her own. Light and fun.

November, 2012: The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian.

I really liked this book at the beginning then the main character just wore me out. The blurb called it a “medical thriller.” I would call it a star-crossed romance involving a self-absorbed man (that irritating main character).

October, 2012: One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde.

A huge disappointment from a writer I usually love. This book was very short on plot and very long on the workings of BookWorld.

October, 2012: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

Ugh. I quit about a third through. It is the fourth and final in a fantasy series. The first was nice, the second just OK, but the third was supposed to be the last so I chose to suffer through it only to discover — there would be a 4th. I don’t understand how this young man manages to get worse with each book. Who needs a multi-page description of a sword fight that is strictly a practice with a friend?

September, 2012: The 13-1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers.

A Baron Munchausen/Dr. Seuss mash up probably aimed at junior readers, though it weighs in at 700 pages. Entertaining, but far too long.

September, 2012: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld.

The sequel to Leviathan, there’s not as much action in this steam-punk fantasy for young adults but I’ll still be reading the final installment.

July, 2012: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Interesting — particularly the nine-year-old central character with all his behavioral quirks. But ultimately, I got irritated that none of the characters were honest with each other. But that is a personal issue of mine. Most people, I suspect, would really like this book.

May, 2012: Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky.

I found it a little far fetched that two totally Caucasian-looking people would give birth to a child with unmistakably African features. Once I got past that, I did appreciate the conversations about race, relationships, and status. This was a book club selection and probably a good one for that milieu.

April, 2012: Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde.

The fifth in a series where the literary world and the real world (though not quite like our real world) have points of interaction. This outing had particularly confusing descriptions of aspects of BookWorld but I enjoyed it anyway. There are just so many funny little bits to keep you amused. So, yes, I will be reading the sixth in the series soon.

March, 2012: Atoms and Evil by Robert Bloch.

A collection of short sci-fi stories published in 1962. This is my husband’s book and I kept it in the car to read when I arrived at meetings too early or had to wait for a train. Often it was hard to put down. Each story ended with a twist. I particularly enjoyed anticipating what that would be.

March, 2012: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I avoided reading this even though it was highly recommended. Most people find it horrific — kids basically raising themselves in the severe poverty inflicted upon them by the careless (mom) and alcoholic (dad) parents of the author. I was inspired by the self-sufficiency and even the freedom of the kids. A very good memoir — which is not a genre I care for much. Very glad I read the book below first, even though this one was published first.

March, 2012: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.

A semi-nonfictional book about the author’s grandmother. She was some character: traveled alone on her horse for several months to a distant teaching job as a teen; broke horses as a kid; had a small bootlegging business; ran a ranch; and did it all her way. An amazing story about a remarkable woman of incredible strength, though sometimes those traits seemed misapplied to me.

February, 2012: Crumbtown by Joe Connelly.

I really tried with this one — actually got about 60 pages from the end and just didn’t want to read any more. You could call it a black comedy but it’s really kind of a mess. Basically a new TV series is  based on the exploits of a group of bank robbers. Their loser leader is released from prison as a consultant and decides to rob the real money being used in the acted robbery. This description sounds much better than the reality.

February, 2012: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

Supposedly a young adult book, this wonderful read can be easily enjoyed by adults. Set in WWII rural Germany, a girl is left by her mother with foster parents. Fierce and fascinating, she learns to read and then cannot resist stealing books; but there is so much more to this book. Incredibly good.

January, 2012: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley.

Another engaging, amusing, and thoroughly diverting Flavia de Luce mystery. These are just wonderful. Read them yourself, read them to your kids, or give them to your kids (I would say age eight and up — depending on the kid) to read themselves.

January, 2012: Room by Emma Donoghue.

Really, really good book about an abducted and imprisoned woman and the son she bears (we come in as he turns five) — how they live in a single room, how they plot an escape, and how they cope with the aftermath. A lot to think about. No wonder this one is getting so many kuddos.

December, 2011: The Breaker by Minette Walters.

Another intriguing mystery by a writer that really likes to throw a bunch of red herrings at you. This one was full of sleazy people, which might put a lot of folks off.

December, 2011: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.

Excellent almost-true book (real person and family stories about her) that grabbed me from the beginning and was a pleasure to read on every page. I might just have to read Glass Castle now. Best book club selection in ages!

December, 2011: Worth Dying For by Lee Child.

Another enjoyable Jack Reacher thriller. But I did figure out what was being “shipped’ pretty early.

November, 2011: The Shape of Snakes by Minette Walters.

Very complex and interesting mystery. Loved the way the story kept changing as new facts were revealed. I’ll read Waters again for sure.

November, 2011: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.

Another book club selection which I found to be totally unbelievable: An Irish orphan girl is raised as an indentured servant by slaves and later the owner’s son wants to marry her? Not likely. And not even well written.

October, 2011: Ice Limit by James Rollins.

From my closet of oldies I haven’t read yet. This one was written before Rollin’s regular Delta Force team. And, boy, is the Delta Force in this one truly evil. He sure had to change that around! Fast paced thriller. Actually, a little too much. It needed some breaths.

October, 2011: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.

Farming in the muddy Delta, sharecropping, and rampant racism. Some really good character development but I do have problems reading about such bald-faced hatred. Which is probably a good thing.

September, 2011: The Devil Colony by James Rollins.

Either I’m tiring of the thriller genre or the writers are getting tired. I enjoyed this one but it didn’t pull me through like I expected. I still find some of the truths in Rollins’ books more frightening than his fiction.

September, 2011: The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman.

Very nicely written book with a lot of content worth thinking about long after you’ve finished. However, it is really, really not a happy read. But then what do you expect from a child prostitute and grave robber saga set against a cholera epidemic?

August, 2011: Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Another thoroughly enjoyable Agent Pendergast thriller. Unfortunately for new readers, their books are getting more and more where you really have to read them in order to fully enjoy them. Especially this one, which only semi-ends.

August, 2011: The Sticklepath Strangler by Michael Jecks.

Interesting medieval murder mystery but not intriguing enough to get me to read the other book I have by this author. But maybe I was still all sour from the book below that I read right before this one.

August, 2011: Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler.

Ugh. I do like thrillers and am willing to suspend quite a bit of belief to get into the story, but this one was so far over the top it was ludicrous. How many times in one book can the hero save thousands of lives? It seems four isn’t too many for Cussler. And Cussler’s descriptions of people’s eyes was really kind of creepy.

July, 2011: The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.

Purportedly about the burning of the Venice opera house and it’s aftermath, most of this book recounts various conversations, scandals, and other goings on in that city. It was a delight! You can’t make up stuff this good.

July, 2011: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson.

A book club selection. It was a quick and interesting read, but I just couldn’t buy into the idea that an army colonel who designed weapons would ever have married a hippy dippy woman 10 years younger. The story of this totally dysfunctional family is told through the eyes of their daughter, as a child and a woman in labor.

June, 2011: Barrel Fever by David Sedaris.

An older collection that mainly consists of fictional stories instead of drawing from his own life. Still entertaining, but I still prefer his wonderfully wry take on reality over his forays into a made up world.

June, 2011: The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry.

Another fun read from one of my fave thriller writers. This is his first set on American soil, but it’s just as engaging as the others. Plus, a learned something factual about early American history I’d never heard an inkling about before.

June, 2011: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin.

I LOVE these books (see below). When #5 comes out I’ll post a regular write up. I can’t believe I’ll have to wait till July 12 to get it. And then what? I’m already seeing rats on the wall.

June, 2011: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.

These are totally addictive (see below).

May, 2011:  A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin.

Yep, going to have to read them all (see below).

May, 2011: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

I just loved this initial volume in a series of seven books. This epic fantasy reminds my of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, except everyone is human (so far). I’m afraid I’m going to have to read them all. Now.

May, 2011: Everyman by Philip Roth.

Extremely thoughtful and somewhat depressing life of a man told with his illnesses as the milestones that shaped him. Roth is an American master. I picked this for a book club read and am a little nervous about its reception. It is not typical book club fair, unfortunately.

May, 2011: Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

Not as enjoyable as his newer books (published 1998) with an ending that went on for far too long. But I still had a good time with it until that point. Like the book below, this one had a lot to do with racism — but over 100 years ago.

May, 2011: Sweet Jiminy by Kristen Gore.

As a Southerner, I think Gore’s image of the racial situation in the Mississippi Delta is off by a decade or two. Sure, there is racism but you don’t get away with threatening behavior anymore like she portrayed. I was underwhelmed.

May, 2011: The Codex by Douglas Preston.

Highly enjoyable thriller that has three brothers working against each other to find a great treasure their father has hidden in a dangerous Honduran jungle — and that’s not the only danger they face. I love Preston’s books. Pure fun.

April, 2011: 61 Hours by Lee Child.

Another engaging Jack Reacher thriller. Surprisingly, this was a book club selection (there are men in this club). And, actually, I think we’ll find much to discuss. Lee Child is solid.

April, 2011: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Lovely book. Wonderful main character and an interesting supporting cast. One of the best book club choices I’ve read in a long time.

April, 2011: Heartstone by C. J. Sansom.

I very much enjoy this author’s Matthew Shardlake mysteries set in Tudor times. This one had a bit too much to do with war for my taste, but otherwise I enjoyed it — as usual.

April, 2011: The Rosetta Key by William Dietrich.

I listened to this historical thriller on a long car trip. I didn’t like it all that much, but it might be due to the audio reader (his voice characterizations were laughable) or just that I was listening as opposed to reading == that rather slows down the pace of a thriller.

March, 2011: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.

I enjoyed this audio book listened to on a long car trip. Set in rural England in the mid 1800s, it dealt with the affairs of a group of “ladies.” Sort of a Jane Austin type of humor. The audio reader did a nice job — even my husband enjoyed this very girly book.

March, 2011: Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I was hugely disappointed when two of my favorite thriller writers turned out this formulaic yawn. Oh, it’s loaded with action and was opted for a movie before publication. And that explains my disappointment right there. Car chases, lots of guns, big visuals, disposable women. Ugh.

March, 2011: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosney.

I know this book is exceedingly popular, but I had a lot of problems with its improbability from the very beginning. If you want to read a book about Holocaust pain that never leaves, pick up Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Worlds better.

February, 2011: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde.

I’m a big fan of Fforde’s Thursday Next novels. Though this Jack Spratt series also combines reality (modern England) with fantasy (nursery rhyme characters are real) it just doesn’t seem to work as well. Or at least this one felt over stuffed and convoluted. I certainly enjoyed The Big Over Easy (about Humpty Dumpty) a lot more.

February, 2011: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

My son brought me this steampunk novel for young adults. It uses the archduke’s assassination which launched WWI (in this case a battle between Clankers — machine folks — and Darwinists — folks who mold animals to act like machines) as the touch point for an alternative history/future/past. The archduke’s son (a Clanker) is on the run and finds his best hope of survival with a group of Darwinists. But (gasp!) this story must be meant to continue. I hate it when that happens.

December, 2010: The Emperor’s Tomb by Steve Berry.

I am a big Steve Berry fan: think Dan Brown-type plots with better writing. This one had a focus on oil and international affairs that made it especially interesting and timely — just like his last book. If you like thrillers, go for Berry. I would leave the one with “Charlemagne” in the title for last. Even though many of them feature Cotton Malone, it’s not vital to read them in order.

December, 2010: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.

Lots of obsession with sex in this hard-to-pigeonhole novel. Unfortunately, after one mind-blowing plot twist mid book, it’s all rather predictable. But it was an interesting read overall. A book club choice.

November, 2010: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

This fantasy romance between a caster (think beautiful witch) and a mortal started off promising but was just overly long and repetitious. Then I discovered it’s one of those “to be continued” books. Not for me.

November, 2010: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

Based on the true story of an English town that isolated itself when visited by the plague in the 1600s, this short novel reveals the fears, heroics, strengths, and weaknesses of people caught up in a terrifying situation, where death could strike on any day — and often does. But this is no downer. It also shows how adversity brings out the resourcefulness and intelligence of one particular young woman.

October, 2010: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

This must be “man’s inhumanity to man” month for me. This retelling of the notorious Salem witch trials shows how petty dislikes can suddenly transform into life and death danger. It’s also the story of how the child Sarah comes to understand and value her family. A very good read indeed, but certainly no bed of thornless roses.

October, 2010: Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor.

This book is absolutely wonderful. It is the tragic story of the Irish during the potato famine, revealed bit by bit as a ship of refugees head for America. Man’s inhumanity to man is the central theme in this beautifully written epic.

September, 2010: Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley.

Another highly witty and imaginative foray into government banalities. Buckley doesn’t take sides in this comic look at Supreme Court approvals, polls, and a controversial presidential election. All because one president vetoes all spending bills and has no intention of running for re-election (of course, no one believes him). Too funny. And no partisanship.

September, 2010: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry.

This book is not for everyone but I loved the philosophical ponderings for the 53=year old concierge and the 12 year old rich girl. I found it fascinating and didn’t mind that it had practically no plot. A very thoughtful book.

August, 2010: Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland.

I only got this book because a book club was going to read it. And then they didn’t and it sat around. I expected a bit of fluff (not that there’s any thing wrong with that) but this book was much more thoughtful than that. I’m sorry the book club dropped it. It would have made a good discussion.

August, 2010: “C” Is for Corpse by Sue Grafton.

I think Grafton’s earlier books are a touch more bawdy than her more recent ones. It’s interesting to see how her writing hs changed.

August, 2010: La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith.

I have read a number of this author’s “No. 1 Ladies Detective agency” books and really enjoyed them. This had the same gentle storytelling I value in those books, but that didn’t work as well for me when the background was WWII instead of more humble concerns. That said, it was a good book. I suspect it’s that old-style English reserve that made it seem emotionally remote.

July, 2010: “B” is for Burglary by Sue Grafton.

I picked up a book with her three first mysteries in it to fill in the gap. Now all I need is C, D, E, and F and the few letters Grafton has left to go. I like that spunky little Kinsey Millhone.

June, 2010: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.

Not near as good as the last effort, mainly because “the girl” spends pretty much the whole book under one restraint or the other. And, let’s face it, she’s who you want to read about. What an amazing character!

June, 2010: Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Didn’t feel quite as tight as their usual, but still enjoyable. Hey, I finished it within 24 hours! And I do adore Agent Pendergast.

May, 2010: A Mind to Murder by P. D. James.

Another great work from the master of literary mysteries. She is such a gift to us all.

May, 2010: Innocent Traitorby Alison Weir.

I wondered if historian Alison Weir could pull off a novel. This one, about the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, shows she has the right stuff. The Tudor tragedy of Lady Jane makes a great story and Weir lets it unfold beautifully.

May, 2010: Breathless by Dean Koontz.

I did not care for this Koontz book. It went all mystical and was kinda stupid to boot. I usually like Koontz, but not this time. Not at all.

June, 2010: Trip Wire by Lee Child.

Another great Jack Reacher book. And Reacher even falls in love in this one. Wow!

April, 2010: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde.

Possibly the best book in the series yet. Fforde’s outrageous mysteries set in an alternate (and very book oriented) universe are always a blast for me.

March, 2010: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

A very special book, but I found it rather depressing. Well worth reading, however.

February, 2010: Light on Snow by Anita Shreve.

A selection of one of my book clubs. Pretty much like a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Certainly a very quick read.

February, 2010: The Genesis Secret by Tom Knox.

I love thrillers with a religious slant and am willing to forgive a lot in that genre. This mess was unforgivable. To think some other writer got their work turned down so this could be published. Oh, and the “secret” is so convoluted and obtuse… aargh! I want those hours back.

January, 2010: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

About to commit blasphemy here — The plot of Hamlet just doesn’t work for me when applied to a family of dog trainers. Sorry, Oprah. It’s a matter of scale: a kingdom vs. a bunch of dogs. The writing was lovely, though. And the dogs rocked.

December, 2009: Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder.

Thriller built around a psycho ex-special force guy and an ambitious salesman. Fun to read as the business orientation is a bit of a twist for the genre.

December, 2009: Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

A really dark children’s book. Every bit as scary as anything the Grimm Brothers collected.

December, 2009: Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler.

A nice mystery but if this is a black comedy, I didn’t get what was amusing, except the notes in the very back.

November, 2009: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

This is the first of Pratchett’s huge Discworld series. It was recommended to me as a fan of Douglas Adams. I did really like it. But don’t know if I want to read 37 more.

October, 2009: Shroud for a Nightingale by P. D. James.

A holiday read. One of her older books but just as enjoyable as any other. James’ Adam Daigliesh is just such a wonderful character. I love his self control.

October, 2009: The Winner by David Baldacci.

A holiday read. And that’s the only reason I finished it — there aren’t too many English books to pick from in rural Spain as replacements. I know you’re supposed to suspend disbelief with this type of book but everyone was unbelievable in this book about a lottery scandal. He’s done better.

October, 2009: The Hard Way by Lee Child.

A holiday read. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books are some of the best in the thriller genre. Of course you know Reacher will prevail against all odds, but it’s fun to see just how it happens.

October, 2009: Cover Her Face by P. D. James.

Good book — what you expect from James. I lov eher use of language as well as her plot lines. Terrible title, however. I’m about to run out of James books to read. A sad day for me.

October, 2009: The Eleventh Victim by Nancy Grace.

I almost quit after page 27. Wish I had. I don’t know Ms. Grace, so that did not influence me. However, with her background as a public prosecutor I’m surprised at the dumb things her public prosecutor character did.

September, 2009: After This by Alice McDermott.

Why haven’t I read her before? Wonderful book. What seems to be snapshots of a family over time actually creates a beautifully nuanced and moving portrait. Catholic-raised boomers will relate even more. Can’t wait to read more McDermott.

September, 2009: The Wedding by Amraan Coovadia.

This book was a delight. Too bad it’s only avalable used now. It’s based on genuine family stories about the author’s grandparents. Think of it as an Indian take on The Taming of the Shrew, only with far less taming. I wish I could insult with the grandeur of Khateja!

August 2009: Utopia by Lincoln Child.

While I love Child’s work with Douglas Preston, I’m not as fond of his solo thrillers. I found two major factors in this book so unbelievable (and I don’t expect much believability from a thriller) it kind of blew the whole thing.

August, 2009: T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton.

Grafton is always enjoyable. I thought this book was one of her better outings. It was written a bit differently and I liked the change.

July, 2009: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P. D. James.

Vintage James (1977). This one does not feature her popular detective Adam Dalgliesh but his spirit pervades the mystery. There’s more danger to her young, female private eye than usual but that certainly doesn’t hurt anything in this fast-paced mystery.

July, 2009: Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman.

Not near as dreamy and sensual as I expect from Hoffman. This one was exceptionally melancholy and hard edged.

July, 2009: P is for Peril by Sue Grafton.

She’s just fun to read. I must admit reading Kinsey Milhone’s adventures is pure escapism. And who doesn’t need that.

July, 2009: In the Woods by Jana French.

A book club book. Some of the writing was like poetry — simply stunning. And the characters were great. But as far as mysteries go, this one fell a little short. All in all, an enjoyable read. I just hate it when the detectives pass by the obvious case-solving clue.

June, 2009: Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I am so hooked on Special Agent Pendergast thrillers I can not let one of these books pass. Thankfully, this one is more “stand alone” than the last several, so it’s easier for anyone to pick up and enjoy. Glad to see the return of old-fashioned zombies instead of the brain-eating kind.

June, 2009: The Last Oracle by James Rollins.

Wow! That was some thriller. Radioactive Russia, ancient predictions, fighting gypsies. What was really scary was how many of the things in it are true — like a deadly radioactive lake right above earthquake faults. Yowza!

May, 2009: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Another book club selection. The title gave me low expectations but I was pleasantly surprised. It was quirkier and fresher than expected for a “book about friendship and love.” At least until it started doing all the things we’ve seen so often (i.e. The Jane Austen Book Club, The Friday Night Knitting Club, etc.). It was fine but I would have really, really liked it if it had stayed true to its beginnings.

May, 2009: Persuader by Lee Child.

Lee Child is a puzzlement to me. When his name comes up, women sigh with passion. However, his Jack Reacher character is a tough loner who avoids connections of any kind. I don’t get the reaction. But Child is arguably one of the strongest thriller writers around. I just don’t know why women love him. Any ideas/

April, 2009: The Camel Club by David Baldacci.

This was a book club choice (an odd one at that). Spy thrillers are not my favorite genre, but Baldacci writes a fast-paced book. I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll make a huge effort to seek out more.

Nov. 27, 2008: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini.

First impression: What! There’s going to be a fourth book! It’s OK but now I feel snookered. And, yes, I read kids books, too. Why not?

Oct. 8, 2008: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

First impression: How embarrassing not to have read this before! Last impression: It’s hard to believe this was written in the early 1920s. It feels timeless. No wonder it’s a must read.

October 1, 2008: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde.

First impression: I’m familiar with Fforde’s alternate universe with its literary oddities and the existence of cloned dodos. I expect to have fun reading! Last impression: I will continue reading Fforde’s Tuesday Next mysteries. Words of warning: A love of literature, the English, and a certain geek factor will help you enjoy these books that defy categorization.

September 10, 2008: World Without End by Ken Follett.

First impression: I expect to like this since I was very impressed with The Pillars of the Earth. But I do wish it wasn’t so heavy — my arms ache when reading it! Last impression: Not good enough to be this long. The protagonists just keep coming up against the same problems over and over.

September 2, 2998: Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.

First impression: I never knew any of this! It’s fascinating. Last impression: Who knew the Pilgrims were as foolish as they were heroic. I’m so glad that now I know the actual history instead of the legend.

August 28, 2008: The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

First impression: Selected by one of my book clubs. I don’t expect much from this “girls behaving supportingly” novel. Final impression: Worse than expected. I just skimmed most of it and wouldn’t have done that if not for the club.

August 10, 2008: Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

First impression: Multiple voices give it a magical feel. Final impression: A beautiful book but I hated the way the love story ended.

August 8, 2008: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz.

First impression: I’m a Koontz fan and especially love his Odd Thomas character. Final impression: Another winner, but it is written in “to be cont’d” style.

August 5, 2008: When You Are Consumed in Flames by David Sedaris.

First impression: I just love David Sedaris. Final impression: I laughed. I cried. His stories do it all for me.

Be Sociable, Share!


    Want to be notified when there is a new post? Sign up to the RSS feeds below
  • Entries


February 2020
« Jan