Thursday, November 29, 2012

What I've been reading: November 2012

Somehow, amidst all the hurricanes, snowstorms, and holiday shenanigans, I managed to carve out some reading time.  Although, come to think of it, it's easy to find time to read if you've lost power for two days and are trapped in your house by a 40 foot pine tree, amirite?  The first three titles in November's list were read during that bit of fun.

Ice Cold, by Tess Gerritsen.  You know what they say about good intentions, right?  It's just those intentions, to be spontaneous, in particular, that land Boston medical examiner Maura Isles in an abandoned village in the middle of nowhere, stranded with fellow travelers in the midst of a snowstorm.  Bad goes to worse as injury, isolation, and some creepy goings-on have the group scared for their lives.  Meanwhile, Jane Rizzoli has received word that Maura's charred remains were found in a car wreck.  Maura was supposed to be at a conference, so what would she be doing in the mountains, miles away?  Rizzoli is determined to find out.  Suspense at its finest, Gerritsen never disappoints.  322 pages.

Mallory's Oracle, by Carol O'Connell.  I did mention I'd be back to start this series from the beginning, and here we are at long last.  Kathleen Mallory, former street kid, was adopted and raised by a kind NYPD sergeant and his wife, eventually joining the force herself.  Unorthodox and volatile, she is a force to be reckoned with when her beloved father is murdered.  While she is officially barred from investigating, unofficially, she is determined to see justice done.  Twisted and chock-full of red herrings, this is a great mystery.  286 pages.

NW, by Zadie Smith.  I cannot tell a lie: this is not an easy book, and it is not for everyone.  This is a seedier side of the London we see in the media.  Leah, Nathan, Natalie and Felix are all residents of London's NW, who have grown up together in a council estate in Caldwell and are now trying to find themselves as adults.  Appearances may be deceiving, and in most cases, usually are.  Those who seem a success in one story are hopeless in another.  Smith's storytelling style is uniquely poetic, and takes a bit of work to get into, but in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it.  If you find the narrative hard, I highly recommend the audiobook.  401 pages.

Heft, by Liz Moore.  Relationships of the most tenuous kind are at the sweetly sad heart of this novel.  An adult man, abandoned by his father and smothered by his mother, is now a shut in.  A teenaged sports star hides his home life and pretends to fit in with the other kids in his school.  How these two people are connected is thready at best, but their stories are so poignant and engrossing, one can't help but root for them.  Surprisingly moving.  352 pages.

The Silent Girl, by Tess Gerritsen.  I'm nearly caught up with the series, and I'm a bit sad about that, but that just means there's more time for reading other things, right?  In this installment, a nameless woman is found dead on a rooftop in Boston's Chinatown, and Rizzoli's gut instinct tells her they're not dealing with an average homicide.  True to her instinct, the case takes Rizzoli and Isles back more than twenty years, through the streets of Chinatown, and following leads that tie into a series of disappearances that have gone unsolved for decades.  Beautifully crafted suspense, as always.  315 pages.

Madness, by Marya Hornbacher.  This latest non-fiction work from Hornbacher, author of memoir Wasted and novel The Center of Winter, chronicles her life with Type 1 rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that did not come until she was 24.  Told in Hornbacher's wry, raw voice, this is a story of desperation and hope, as she tries repeatedly to self-medicate in order to cope with her violent mood swings before finally finding her way to treatment.  Even then, she describes the balancing act of a life and marriage when the disorder is always at the edges of her vision.  Eye opening and thought provoking.  320 pages.

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver.  You can read my review here.  Short answer?  I loved it.   433 pages.

The Song Reader, by Lisa Tucker.  Ever had a song that you just couldn't get out of your head?  What if that song was the key to unlocking what you really felt, and that someone could give you advice based on it?  Mary Beth can give that advice, and she's always right.  Her little sister Leanne is in awe of her, as is most of the town.  But when Mary Beth makes a mistake, half the town turns against their small family, and it's up to younger sister Leanne to decipher the meanings.  Read this one for the book club, and I was pleasantly surprised with it.  Looking forward to discussing it, too!  306 pages.

The reading challenge statistics:

November totals:

9 titles
2,420 pages

Year-to-date totals:

73/100 titles = 73%
28,670/50,000 pages = 57%

I'm going to make an effort to finish strong for the year, and then reassess the challenge for next year.  Anyone interested in doing one, too?

I'll be back next week with titles to look forward to in the New Year.  In the meantime, happy reading!

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