Friday, November 12, 2010

October Books

A great month for me--just look at all those A+ grades!

The finale in the hot trilogy by the late Stiegg Larsson. It does the job of all good final books--giving us lots of the characters we've come to know, some unexpected choices, and a great trial scene. Journalist Mikael is determined to prove Lisbeth Salander's innocence by exposing the hidden security agency that has been playing with her life since she was born. I recommend the series for those who like their thrillers smart and their main characters balanced between being likable and uncomfortable.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL/Cassandra Clare/A+
Listened to this on CD while driving home from Portland. My first Cassandra Clare, but not--as you will see if you read further--my last. I loved the steampunk edge of the Victorian London setting mixed with demon fighters called Shadowhunters and the mixed race Downworlders. Smart, funny, tense, and the requisite YA forbidden love is handled originally and with characters that you actually think you could meet, not just ones that exist on the written page. The only downside is that this is the first in a new prequel series by Clare and I'm going to have wait to read more. Poor me.

But not too poor, because Clare had three books just waiting for me to devour. And I did devour--all three in a week. This Shadowhunter series is set in contemporary New York (mostly) and features Clary Fray who is not the girl she thought she was. When her mother vanishes and Clary is introduced to the world of demons and Shadowhunters, she is surprised by what she learns--and shocked to find out that she is actually a key player in the breaking storm ahead. And then there's Jace . . . beautiful, deadly, and also not who he thought he was. I loved every second of these books.

BURY YOUR DEAD/Louise Penny/A+
Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete is back, but not in Three Pines and not in the best state of mind. Gamache is recuperating from injuries incurred in a devastating hostage situation and he has locked himself in the walled city of old Quebec to recover. But his recovery is disrupted when a body is found in the basement of the English library--the body of a man who thought the English were hiding the remains of Samuel de Champlain. While Gamache goes back in Canada's history to solve one murder, he sends Jean-Guy to Three Pines to reconsider their last murder, one which ended with a Three Pines resident in prison. Heartbreaking in many senses, but also a redemptive story. I adore Louise Penny and Armand Gamache in equal measures and I hope she keeps writing for many, many years.

I heard Anne Patchett speak this summer (author of BEL CANTO and RUN) and she talked about her friend, Lucy, who died seven years ago. Lucy, a respected and talented poet, wrote a memoir of her experience with childhood cancer. Diagnoed with Ewing's sarcoma at the age of 9, Lucy lost most of one side of her jaw and endured years of treatment afterward--not to mention the dozens of reconstructive surgeries later on. As the mother of a childhood cancer survivor, I found this book difficult to read but absolutely worth it. I wanted to know what it might have been like for my son . . . and though he's only fourteen, I going to ask him to read this. He needs someone who can give him a sense of shared experience. As much as I love him, I didn't walk his path. Grealy did, and she writes it about beautifully.

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