Thursday, May 30, 2013

What I've been reading: May 2013

It has been a great spring for reading--cool, rainy, lots of occasions to curl up with a good book.  I've been on a bit of a streak, so here's what I've been reading the last few weeks...

Triptych, by Karin Slaughter.  You know how it is when you find a new-to-you author and you just devour every title you can get your hands on?  That's what I currently have going on with the works of Ms. Slaughter.  In this cross-over between her Will Trent and Grant County series, readers follow Michael Ormewood and Angie Polaski, co-workers, former lovers, and now enemies as they both attempt to catch a killer whose signature crosses the lines of race and class.  And then there's the hapless ex-con trying desperately to keep his nose clean, when he finds himself unexpectedly caught up in the case in the most unlikely ways.  Phenomenal.  I never wanted to put it down.  392 pages

Fractured, by Karin Slaughter.  Still on a roll here.  Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, is called in to aid in the investigation surrounding a murder/kidnapping in one Atlanta's most high-end neighborhoods, Ansley Park.  The abducted girl's mother has killed the intruder, but Trent quickly uncovers clues that turn the whole case upside down.  Slaughter plots so tightly--nothing is left to chance, but readers will never know it until the very last second.  388 pages

Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd.  Rutherfurd's sweeping multi-generational sagas have followed great achievements and catastrophes through history in a variety of settings:  London, Russka, and New York, among others.  In his latest novel, we find ourselves immersed in the magnificent city of Paris, moving seamlessly among centuries from the machinations of Cardinal Richilieu to the invasion of the Nazis, from the glory of Versailles to 1968 student revolt and beyond.  Vast, epic, and captivating.  862 pages

Whiskey Beach, by Nora Roberts.  Roberts has a knack for making her characters fallible, relatable, human.  And while I fully admit that her novels qualify as somewhat fluffy, light reading, I also find it reassuring that I know what I'm going to get sometimes, especially after something weighty and huge like Rutherfurd's Paris.  In Roberts's latest, Boston lawyer Eli has returned to the family house at Whiskey Beach on the North Shore to decompress after an intense year of being accused of (but not arrested for) the murder of his estranged wife.  Bluff House is standing empty when he arrives, but jill-of-all-trades Abra Walsh keeps house and keeps an eye on Eli's well being.  Local history, a series of break-ins and a long-standing vendetta throw them together even as they try to untangle a mystery.  Fun, easy reading. 484 pages

The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.  This is my book club's choice for our June meeting, and while I was initially uncertain about the premise, I ultimately wound up completely enthralled in the stories.  Told in two parts, both contemporary and set in 1915 Syria, the story follows a group of people, Armenian refugees and American relief workers, through the spread of the First World War in Europe and beyond.  Part love story, part tragedy, Bohjalian draws upon his own Armenian history and the stories told by his grandparents for a novel that is so richly detailed and emotionally nuanced, I have a newfound respect for his work.  Brilliant.  299 pages

The Plague & I, by Betty MacDonald.  On the advice of some fellow readers, I made it a priority to find a copy of this book through Interlibrary Loan.  MacDonald, best known as a children's author (including the tales of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle)  in the early half of the 20th century, also wrote several autobiographical works, The Plague & I among them.  This particular work chronicles MacDonald's nine-month stay in the Firlands tuberculosis sanitarium.  I would honestly not have ever thought a non-fiction work about tuberculosis published in 1948 could be funny, but I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly.  Off-beat and surprisingly hilarious.  254 pages

Broken, by Karin Slaughter.  Another crossover between Slaughter's Grant County and Will Trent series, this one finds Trent investigating in a town where the police force is intent on protecting its own, even as he tries to determine how the death of a prisoner and a policewoman's possible role in the former police chief's death might be related.  Really, if you like a good thriller and you haven't read these, you are missing out.  402 pages

Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Fowler.  Who is Zelda Fitzgerald, nee Sayre, other than the wife of the famous, and often infamous, F. Scott Fitzgerald?  Is she the "ungettable" Southern debutante from a wealthy family and a sheltered upbringing?  Is she the wild child with the scandalous bobbed hairdo and flapper fashion sense who parties with members of the Lost Generation, including Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein?  Or is she the fragile woman with the broken brain, spending years in a sanitarium trying to regain her sanity and spirit after so much time spent battling not only her own demons, but those of her husband?  Gorgeous, thoughtful, and compulsively readable.  375 pages

May totals:
8 titles
3,456 pages

Year-to-date totals:
35/75 titles = 46%
13,544/35,000 pages = 39%

Making excellent headway.  How about you?  Read anything share-worthy lately?  Let me know in the comments!

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