This is more of a six week reading wrap up than what I’ve read in the last week, but the majority of this reading has taken place in the first two weeks of Christmas break. Since I just ordered the 17 required books for next semester, this is probably the last fun reading I get for a while. So far this break has been full of murder and mayhem, and I don’t think it will change in the few remaining days.
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd- This young adult book set in Ireland during the height of “the Troubles” took me more than a month to finish, mostly because of interruptions, but also the book never made me want to jump in and read for long periods of time. The story was interesting but I guess not compelling or fast moving. Fergus, a young man studying for his college entrance exams, finds a mummified young girl while digging peat with his uncle. This mystery of who the girl in the bog is unfolds in the middle of Fergus’ imprisoned older brother’s hunger strike, Fergus’ exams and his first experience with love.
I’ve listened to three audio books in the last couple months, which actually doubles my lifelong audiobook total. I had checked all three out of the library for the long hours in the car going to NCTE and back, but the conversation in my carload was brisk enough we never needed the distraction.
Dark of the Moon by John Sandford- This is the first book in the Virgil Flowers series. I had read it several years ago but since Virgil is one of my book boyfriends, I revisit these books occasionally. My two girls and I listened to this book on a 22-hour drive to Pennsylvania and back over Thanksgiving break and they both enjoyed the story. (I don’t know that most parents would find it entirely “appropriate” for most 12-year-olds but it’s no worse than her steady Netflix diet of Bones and Criminal Minds.) Minnesota BCA detective Flowers is called in to help solve three homicides in a sleepy town. The motive for the murders goes back decades and the book takes enough twists and turns on the road to solving the crime that I didn’t remember who actually did it.
The Wave by Walter Mosley- I call this book science fiction light, which is a genre I don’t usually almost never read, but I love Walter Mosley books so I thought I’d give it a try. I found myself longing for Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill the entire time I listened to this story. Errol Porter’s father comes back from the grave with knowledge of a secret tar-like substance that links together a whole bunch of reanimated people who are supposedly peaceful but the U.S. government wants to eradicate anyway.
The Whole Truth by David Baldacci- A new, coerced into service, secret agent/social ops/hitman character, A Shaw, is out to save the world from evil forces- both American and foreign in this fast-paced thriller. The story is typical Baldacci action packed, the narrator is good with voices but I could do without the cheesy background music.
Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell- Now I remember why I quit reading her books and the Kay Scarpetta series in particular. This book is all preface for the next book in the series. Long time nemesis Carrie Gresham is back but she never really makes an appearance in this book, just messes with everyone’s life. None of the original characters, Kay, Lucy, Marino, Benton, are likeable or competent anymore and the story has been done better by other writers.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith- I forgot that Robert Galbraith is really JK Rowling when I checked this book out of the library. I’ve read one of the other Cormoran Strike novels but I’m not really a JK Rowling fan, aside from appreciated how many non-readers she coerced into finishing books. This story was pretty good but I thought the book was too long. The suspect list could have been shortened a bit, as well as the number of pages. I had a hard time believing that one person could know that many people capable of sending body parts through mail, even if your career is putting criminals behind bars.
The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman- I enjoyed this story of a foster girl made good in spite of her terrible childhood but why did Kellerman keep making references to his other crime fighting psychologist, Alex Delaware? He had no real tie to this book and doesn’t make an appearance but Grace Blades throws in strange references to him throughout the book. The story stands on its own without Delaware and yes, Jonathan, I am aware of your other book series.
The Best Short Stories of 2014– collection edited by Jennifer Egan- Some of the included stories I read previously in the New Yorker, which seems to be over represented in this collection, but there are several outstanding pieces of short fiction. My favorites are: Nicole Cullen’s “Long Tom Lookout” which originally appeared in the Idaho Review and “Charity” by Charles Baxter which was first published in McSweeney’s.
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds- This is the story of a teenage boy, Matt Miller, who just lost his mom to cancer and might lose his dad. He starts working at the local funeral home to help with the household bills and to eavesdrop on funerals trying to make sense of his loss. He also meets a girl, named appropriately, Love. This book is full Jason Reynolds’ unique voice and fun style, even though, once again, the subject matter is tough and important.