Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

I've been terrible about keeping up with this lately. I keep forgetting when it's Wednesday, and also, I've had a terrible run with books lately. I've started quite a few and returned them without finishing, so hit me with good book suggestions. I'm desperate!

In the Unlikely Event
I love Judy Blume and this book was really no exception. This book is set in a New Jersey town in the 1950s. During my Miri's 15th year, a succession of airplanes fall from the sky, causing panic and fear amongst her hometown. I struggled with this book at first because it is told from the perspective of so many characters, and I had a difficult time connecting them. Then I just started looking at their connection to the plane crashes and that made it much easier. Although I would call Miri the main character or the main focus, this book was full of interesting characters and plot lines. It was definitely an engaging story and since it was based on the plane crashes of Judy Blume's own youth, I had to wonder how much of it was personal versus fictional.

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
Ahh, the book that caused much anger. If you haven't yet read it, my suggestion is this: Read it. Remind yourself that it was never edited and that it is not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Enjoy it for what it is. What it is: a coming of age for Jean Louise. The realization that her father is not the perfect, larger-than-life man she thought he was. The realization that even though people can recognize change as a good thing, they can still be resistant to it. An engaging story set during the Civil Rights era south. I loved this book. It worked. It did not change my view of Atticus Finch, rather it made him more human. I breezed through this in one day because I had to finish it, but I will definitely be revisiting it.

The Book of Speculation: A Novel
Simon Watson has a storied family history. He lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His sister, Enola, rarely keeps in contact, making her living reading tarot cards with a traveling carnival. Simon's parents are long dead, his mother one of many women in a line of "mermaids," women who make their living holding their breath for an unbelievably long time in carnival shows. One day, a book arrives on Simon's doorstep, from an antique bookseller who purchased it in a speculation lot. The bookseller believes that the book relates to Simon's family, and as Simon begins to read, he realizes that it not only relates to his family, but tells a dire warning of the women in his family who can hold their breath, yet all seem to drown on July 24. As July 24 draws near, Simon races against time and superstition to save his sister. This book flipped back and forth between the book Simon received and the actual events going on in Simon's life. This was one of the rare books where I was just as enthralled in both ends of the story--the past and the present. The author did an amazing job seamlessly weaving it together and allowing me to suspend my disbelief and just follow the story. I loved this book.

UnDivided (Unwind Dystology)
The final book in the UnWind dystology. Like the rest of the books, it is told from multiple perspectives and interspersed with real life newspaper and magazine articles. In this book, the world set forth in Unwind is beginning to unravel, as teenagers and others are standing up against unwinding. It's no longer seen as a solution by all. Connor and Risa still play major roles but both have matured throughout the novels and play a different role than they did in the beginning. Ultimately, I felt this worked well as a conclusion. I was miffed in book three that it wasn't done, but I can now better understand the lead-in to the last book and it was a well-done ending.

Finders Keepers: A Novel
This is part of the Mr. Mercedes series, which Stephen King purports to be a hard boiled detective series. Because there are possibly some elements of supernatural in here, I couldn't quite buy the hard boiled detective aspect, but it's Stephen King so it still works. Morris Bellamy is angry because his favorite literary character sold out. So angry that years after the books have been published, he tracks down the author and kills him. In the process, he discovers a treasure of unpublished books (and a safe full of cash), which he hides just before being locked away for another crimes. Years later, a young boy discovers both the books and the cash. Unsurprisingly, Morris is released from prison and comes back to claim what is rightfully his. Bill Hodges, Jerome Robinson and Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes are, of course, in the mix and out to stop Morris. This was an easy, enjoyable read.

The Last Pilot: A Novel
Jim Harrison is a US Air Force test pilot. He spends his days rocketing into the sky, at speeds most of it can barely imagine. When America enters the space race, Jim passes up the chance to be an astronaut to welcome his miracle daughter Florence to the world. As Florence grows, life becomes blissfully routine--until tragedy hits and the foundation Jim had built his life upon is shaken to the very core. What follows beyond is the incomparable pain that life can bring and how it can ruin even the strongest of us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

I have so many library requests stalled right now. I can't wait until they all come in at once, probably on my first day of school.

The Well: A Novel
As the novel begins, Ruth Ardingly reveals that she's under house arrest at her farm, called The Well. As bits of the story trickle out, it seems that most of England is under a drought. Water is restricted, farms are dying, except for Ruth's lush property where it rains, the ponds are full, and everything thrives. The story goes between Ruth's present and the past, as it trickles out that many people--good and bad--were attracted to The Well, almost like a pilgrimage. In the midst of this, lies Ruth, her husband Mark (forced to leave the city after beating child pornography charges but not beating the shame of being accused), her daughter Angie an on-again, off-again drug addict, her grandson Lucien, and a group of women called the Sisters. There were parts of this novel that seemed a little too long and winding to me, but overall, the author weaved a haunting story of the ties that bind and how easily they can be broken.

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
Ani, formally known as TifAni, has it all. A successful career with a woman's magazine, a fiancĂ© who comes from old money, a diet that is going to make her as thin as Kate Middleton on her wedding day, but she can't escape her past. The story fluctuates between present day Ani and TifAni (known as Finny) in high school. Ani's high school days make up part of the insecure adult she is now, as her story of bullying, violence and revenge slowly trickles out. Through all of this, it was also somewhat tricky to tell if Ani was truly a reliable narrator--or whether she was really giving the whole truth. The book is peppered with hints about something that happened to Ani at her prestigious high school, Bradley. Whatever it was is so big that Ani is taking part in a documentary about the incident, despite the misgivings of her fiancĂ©. As Ani comes closer to facing the past, parts of her present self begin to unravel. I enjoyed this book at the value of what it was… an interesting, somewhat twisted mystery with a few tough subjects thrown in between. There were some plot holes and questions left unanswered, but it kept me interested.

Await Your Reply: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)
This is the kind of book that builds up three different people. At first, you're not sure how their lives interact, but then it slowly becomes clear. At the heart of the novel is Miles and his twin, Hayden. Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen, Hayden has escaped institutionalization and Miles is desperate to find him. Along the way, Miles follows a trail of broken lives discarded by his brother. In the midst of this, 19 year old Lucy has escaped her boring midwest town with her history teacher, George, who promises her a life of money and happiness--and she's inclined to believe him because after all, how else could a teacher afford a Maserati? Finally, there's Ryan and his dad, Jay. Ryan fakes his death to follow a money-making scheme with Jay, leaving his family to believe he committed suicide. This is a book with many threads, but the author managed to tie them all together at the end--with a finish that left me questioning what was real and what was imagined.

The Shadow of Your Smile
Sometimes I read books because I can read them and not think. Mary Higgins Clark always offers a book that I know will keep me engaged without having to put forth too much brainpower. Olivia Morrow is dying. In her possession is a document that will prove that her cousin Catherine, a nun in the running for sainthood, gave birth to a child at age 17 and that child is heir to a considerable fortune. As she mulls over what to do with this information, it becomes clear that there are many forces willing to go to all ends to bury this information along with Olivia.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I Read Wednesday

I fell down the vacation rabbit hole last week and forgot what day of the week it was most days, but I'm back to reality now.

Color Blind (A Dr. Jenna Ramey Novel)
Dr. Jenna Ramey has synesthesia, a condition that causes her brain to see colors in place of feelings or emotions. As an FBI psychologist, this helps her to break cases or find new clues. In this particular case, a mass murderer has asked specifically to speak to Jenna--claiming to know information about her from her mother, a woman locked in prison herself for committing atrocious crimes. As far as crime novels go, this followed much of the same pattern, with the exception of Jenna's synesthesia which created an interesting twist. The characters were well-developed, and this was a good, easy summer read.

Double Vision (A Dr. Jenna Ramey Novel Book 2)
This is the second book in the above series. Like in the first book, Jenna uses her synesthesia to help her solve crimes. Her intuition, among other things, help with her work. In this instance, she's tasked with finding an UNSUB whose kill pattern is to shoot people three times. As the case unravels, Dr. Ramey discovers that her UNSUB is specifically drawn to the number three and at the heart of it all, lies a little girl who has a knack for numbers and is closely connected to the case. This was a good mystery novel. Sometimes a little too predictable, but still an interesting read.

Disclaimer: A Novel
Although this didn't set me totally on edge, this was still a pretty good psychological thriller. Catherine finds a novel in a pile in her new house, one she doesn't remember purchasing. As she flips through, she realizes this book is about her. Her by other name, but still a dark part of her past she wishes to forget, one her husband knows nothing about. Catherine becomes obsessed with the author of the book, intent on discovering why he wants to ruin her life, to the point that it begins to entirely unravel her life. As the novel unfolds, you find that there is more to Catherine's dark secret that she wants to admit and that the admission of it will change her life and those around her forever.

The Water Knife: A novel
In a somewhat dystopian but also somewhat realistic future, the American Southwest is devoid of water. Phoenix is a dying city. No water, dust storms and very little law. Angel works for Catherine Case, the woman who basically owns the Colorado River, and aims to own as much water as she can. Lucy is a journalist, drawn into watching Phoenix die and unable to leave before her inside scoop ends. Maria is a migrant hoping to cross the border to the north, where she's heard grass is green and you don't have to pay $6/liter for water. The three find themselves linked as their world becomes more violent and dangerous by the day. I liked this book, but I struggled to find redeeming qualities in all but one of the characters. But then, maybe this is what you have to do to survive in their world?

What are you reading?