Thursday, September 27, 2012

What I've been reading: September 2012

 Would someone like to tell me where the heck September's gone??  I feel as though I blinked and it's nearly over.  Tell me I'm not the only one?

In the midst of blinking, though, there have been some great reads over the course of the month.  Here's what I've been reading the last few weeks.

The Bone Garden, by Tess Gerritsen.  This historical/present day mystery stand-alone by suspense writer Gerritsen was really quite stellar.  Split between present-day and 1830s Boston, the tale begins with a centuries-old murder victim being found in a new home-owner's flower bed and ends with a Ripper-esque serial killer being brought to justice in the 1830s.  Gerritsen, best known for her Rizzoli & Isles suspense series, shows off some of her vast wealth of medical knowledge and also delves into Boston's history and the history of modern medicine, including resurrectionists and early theories on germs and epidemics.  A well-crafted page-turner.  370 pages.

Catherine the Great: portrait of a woman, by Robert K. Massie.  If you'll remember, way back at the beginning of the year, I'd put this on my list of things to read this year.  At long last, I got around to it, and I'm so happy I did!  I have a great admiration for non-fiction authors, and biographers especially, who manage to make facts and dates flow into a very readable narrative.  Perhaps it's my love of fiction talking?  In any case, Massie does a masterful job with his biography of one of Russia's most renowned rulers, Empress Catherine the Great.  He uses letters from various contemporaries interwoven into the narrative to great effect, and shows Catherine as both a ruler and an ordinary human being, wishing for love and acceptance in the midst of court intrigue and political conspiracy.  I cannot say enough good things about this one!  625 pages.

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I've had this one on my "to-read" list for close to a year, and I finally got to this one at long last.  First?  It wasn't what I'd expected.  Told in alternating chapters that span a nine year gap, the narrative is tense and the plot twisted.  An orphan's last chance in foster care before being considered "un-adoptable".  The woman who took her in.  Jumping forward nine years, we see the young woman that orphan has become, and her gift for using flowers in unexpected ways based on the Victorian "language of flowers" taught to her by her last foster mother.  I can't spoil this one for you, but I can say that this was a poignant, enlightening read.  322 pages.

Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell.  I mentioned in a recent post that I've joined the ranks of Downton Abbey fans, and as I'm now waiting for season 3 to air, I took some of my own advice and read the memoir that inspired the series.  You can read my review here.  212 pages.

The Mephisto Club, by Tess Gerritsen.  Rizzoli & Isles make another appearance in my reading list, this time investigating a series of murders with occult overtones that bring them into direct contact with a secret society, the Mephisto Club (short for Mephistopheles, a servant of the Devil in Christopher Marlowe's play, Dr. Faustus).  The club, which investigates instances of evil throughout history, seems to be the killer's target, and by their association, Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles become targets as well.  Gerritsen never disappoints.  355 pages.

 Delusion in Death, by J.D. Robb.  I've been lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Robb's (Nora Roberts) latest Eve Dallas suspense novel, one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I love these, and I make no apologies.  As ever, this is a fast, easy read with some great plot twists.  On an ordinary afternoon, in an ordinary New York City bar (circa 2060), happy hour goes horribly wrong when in the space of twelve minutes, all of the bar patrons fall victim to a powerful chemical cocktail that causes them to turn on one another in a hallucinating, homicidal rage.  In the horrifying aftermath, Dallas and her team must find out who is behind this attack on ordinary citizens, and stop him before he strikes again.  Gripping.  388 pages.

Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: the fascinating history of everything in your closet, by Tim Gunn.  Ok, also on my list of guilty pleasures?  Project Runway.  I love me some Tim Gunn--he's my favorite.  So when he wrote a new book, of course I snagged it.  What I didn't know about Mr. Gunn is that not only has he worked for Liz Claiborne and with Project Runway, but he was also on the faculty at the Parsons The New School of Design for 25 years.  His experience as a teacher lends great tone to this book, which is a lineage through history of the clothing we wear today, from undergarments to shoes and everything in between.  Extremely entertaining.  312 pages.

And that wraps up another month, bringing me closer to the end of this year's reading challenge.  Here are the totals:

September totals:
7 titles
2,584 pages

2012 totals:
59/100 titles = 59%
24,384/50,000 pages = 49%

It's not over til it's over, so check back in with me next month!  In the meantime, I'll have lists of new fiction titles coming out in November for you next week.  Happy reading!

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