Tuesday, January 24, 2012

November Books (Yes, seriously)

Another in the Simon Serailler mystery series. In this episode, Simon is on a far-flung Scottish island after a high-profile case when he's called back to the cathedral town of Lafferton to solve the murders of two prostitutes. The strength of this series is not, for me, Simon himself--who I'm never quite certain that I even like. But I adore his sister, Cat, who in this book is dealing with the aftermath of tragedy and who herself is caught up unexpectedly in the murder investiagtion. I will keep reading, so I must not dislike Simon too much.

Ten years after his 12-year-old daughter went missing, Tom is overjoyed to have her home. But she is not so happy and when she refuses to testify against the man who took her, Tom throws himself into finding out why. I liked the premise but hated much of the execution. For a treatise on how a long-term abductee copes with returning to a previous world, I much preferred ROOM by Emma Donoghue.

JUDAS CHILD/Carol O'Connell/A
Fifteen years ago, a local priest was convicted of kidnapping and killing Rouge Kendall's twin sister. Now Kendall, a local cop, is caught up in the kidnapping of two local girls--Gwen and Sadie. Is it the same killer? Could the priest be actually innocent? And if so, who has the girls and can they find them before at least one of them is killed in a ritual slaying? Dumbfoundingly beautiful, especially when O'Connell goes inside Gwen's point of view. I loved this book, but it isn't easy.

The travel writer walks the coastline of Great Britain in the 1980s, musing on how the sea has defined the nation and how the coastlines have changed in both shape and usage over centuries. Theroux is a little too superior for my taste--a little too caustic--and I would definitely recommend Bill Bryson's NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND over this book as a look at Great Britain. The most interesting parts of this book were the time-specific elements--he walked the coasts during the Falkland Islands War and his time in Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles, was particularly searing.

Once upon a time, Jennifer Joyner was married, working in television, and miserably hiding her eating addiction. Her memoir eventually leads up to her decision to have gastric-bypass, but the bulk of the book deals with the internal pain and outer humiliations of obesity. I think almost every woman has felt at least part of what she has, and thus can relate.

For twelve years, Chester Morton has been gone and presumed dead--presumed, that is, by everyone except his mother who has used her money and connections to keep the case in the public eye. Except now Chester's body has been found hanging from a billboard--and he hasn't been dead as long as twelve years. Gregor Demarkian resents being called to this case because of personal problems at home, but he conducts his usual concise and closed-mouthed investigation. Haddam's strength is not only Demarkian, but her use of multiple viewpoints. A good entry in the series.

A FEAST FOR CROWS/George R.R. Martin/A-
Fourth in Martin's GAME OF THRONES series, this book follows half of the usual characters (the other half show up in the just-published Book Five, covering much of the same time period). Westeros is nearing ruin as Cersei Lannister plots against everyone in sight, except her child-king song. Sam, a brother of the Nightwatch, is sent across the sea to escort a baby and an old man out of danger. Arya is also across the sea, trying to pretend she no longer exists. And her sister, Sansa, is still being used by men who tell her almost nothing. Martin can't go wrong---except in taking too long between books.

Maye is delighted to leave the Phoenix heat behind for the lushness of a small college town in Washington. What she didn't anticipate was how hard it would be to make friends. With the subtitle: "A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble", you know what to expect from Notaro's first novel. Ridiculous situations, misunderstandings galore, and lots and lots of laughter. I read this through the night of our storn when the trees were falling across our driveway and it took my mind right off of all that. It also warned me to watch out for new friends who want to give me a bath and then chant with me around a bonfire.

TURN OF MIND/Alice LaPlante/B-
Retired orthopedic surgeon Jennifer White is in the grip of early-onset dementia. Her husband is dead, she doesn't always recognize her children, and her best friend has just been murdered. The police have questions for Jennifer, but how is she supposed to answer when she can't even remember Amanda is dead? I wanted to like this more than I did. The reason I didn't is Jennifer herself--I didn't like her. I felt sorry for her, but the more I learned about her, the less I cared about her deterioration.

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