Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I was reading: April 2013

Pardon me while I play catch-up here, after last week, which was the week that never stopped!  There have been so many amazing books coming out lately, I've been in a bit of a reading frenzy.  We should all have such problems, right?  So let me fill you in on some of the great titles I've been reading.

The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout.  This was one that I was extremely excited about, and Strout (who won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge), as always, did not disappoint in the slightest.   Brothers Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their small Maine hometown as soon as they could.  Both bound and separated by the freak accident that killed their father when they were small, their relationship as adults is difficult at best.  Jim, now a sleek corporate lawyer, is critical and chronically frustrated with his younger, big-hearted brother.  Bob, a Legal Aid attorney, idolizes his older brother and takes the constant criticism in stride.  But when a family crisis draws them back to their hometown, long-held secrets begin to surface that will change their relationship, and their lives, forever.  Powerful, poignant, and beautifully written--this would be an amazing choice if you're looking for a title to discuss for your book club, too.  Strout does it again.  320 pages

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson.  You already know how much I loved this--I couldn't keep it to myself!    529 pages

Widow's Tears, by Susan Wittig Albert.  I don't normally read many mystery series, but this was one I got hooked on years ago.  This latest installment of the China Bayles series was slow to pick up momentum, but once it got underway it was compulsively readable and quite a bit different from most of the rest of the series.  China's loyal sidekick, Ruby, gets a call from an old childhood friend, who has a real estate problem of the supernatural sort, and is convinced Ruby is the only one who can help.  Ruby's not quite so sure, but can't say no to one of her oldest friends.  Hurricanes, history, and hauntings are not Albert's normal fare, but she does an admirable job.  If you're looking to start the series, it's best to begin with the first title, Thyme of Death.  292 pages

Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Masterman.  Seriously one of the best thrillers I've read in years.  A fresh new voice to the genre, and one I can't wait to read more from.  You can read my review here.  PS--the audio version is pretty epic, too.  320 pages

The Accursed, by Joyce Carol Oates.  I'll admit that I found this a little challenging to get into.  I haven't read much of Oates' work, and her style is a little quirky.  I'm glad I forged ahead, though, as this was really spectacular.  In early 20th century Princeton, a curse descends, only affecting the wealthiest families and causing, among other things, the disappearance of a young bride.  When her brother sets out to find her, he encounters some of the towns most formidable figures, including Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair.  This is an especial must for history buffs.  669 pages

Undone, by Karin Slaughter.  We all have lists of authors or titles we've been meaning to read.  Karin Slaughter had been on my list for much too long, so when I saw some titles available on Overdrive, I downloaded it to my Kindle.  Now I'm partly sad that I waited so long, and mostly overjoyed that now I have a new-to-me author to read through, because it was phenomenal!  When a tortured young woman enters the trauma center of an Atlanta hospital, Dr. Sara Linton is thrust into a desperate police investigation with Special Agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. Though guarding their own wounds and their own secrets, Sara, Will, and Faith find that they are all that stand between a madman and his next victim.  Slaughter has a real gift for adding detail and nuance to her characters, making them fallible, real, and extremely relatable--highly recommended.  436 pages

The Good House, by Ann Leary.  Hildy Good, descendent of a Salem witch, may or may not be an alcoholic.  Her daughters certainly seemed sure she was, and so she went and did her 28 days to get them off her back.  Now she spends her days as sober realtor in her sleepy hometown on Boston's North Shore and her long evenings drinking alone, lest anyone find out she's drinking.  Lonely, she finds a friend in new neighbor Rebecca McAllister, who's also feeling a little lonely and out of her element.  They share gossip, and wine, and secrets, but Rebecca isn't welcomed by all of the community, and finds herself the target of gossip, and worse.  Hildy starts out trying to protect her new friend, but ultimately finds herself scrambling to cover her own ass.  The Good House is outrageous, funny, and hugely entertaining, and Leary proves that famous husband, Denis Leary, isn't the only witty one in the family.  304 pages

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  This is a re-read for my May book club.  You can read my original review here. 322 pages

April totals:
8 titles
3,192 pages

Year-to-date totals:
27/75 titles =  36%
10,088/35,000 pages = 29%

Still in need of a few more longer novels, but I'm in good shape to reach my reading goals by the end of the year.  Anyone else have a reading challenge?  I'd love to hear about it!

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