Thursday, February 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: What I Was Reading in January, 2015

Nothing like a few snow storms to really shake up a librarian's work schedule! The good news, if there is any, is that snowy days off make for great days to curl up with a good book, and that's just what I've been doing! Apologies for the delay, but here's what I've been reading lately.

A Sudden Light, by Garth Stein. Stein's name should be familiar, as he made a huge impact on readers with his 2008 debut, The Art of Racing in the Rain. He's returned here with some more fiction outside the normal fare, a story of a family full of murderous secrets in a decaying house brimming with ghosts and the truths that must be told. Trevor is 14 in 1990 when he moves with his father back to the family estate, Riddell House, overlooking the Puget Sound--a place his father left decades earlier, intending never to return. It is here that Trevor meets his bewitching aunt Serena and his addled grandfather Samuel, only to watch Serena and his father try to maneuver a resistant Samuel into signing over the rights to the estate grounds to land developers and Samuel himself into an assisted living facility. Everything starts to fall apart, however, as the wishes of long-dead family members are asserted in the unlikeliest of ways. I found this absolutely captivating, equal parts family saga and ghost story. Very highly recommended.

The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty. Moriarty has become a very popular favorite of readers in recent years, and as I really have enjoyed some of her other work (The Hypnotist's Love Story, Big Little Lies), I had to try this one, too. When one woman stumbles across a letter written by her husband, intended to be opened in the event of his death, the secrets it contains shatter not only her own family, but those of two other women in the same small community. Definitely very compelling and readable, but not my favorite--that would be Big Little Lies. But fans should most certainly check it out.

The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion. In this sequel to Simsion's very funny and popular 2013 debut, The Rosie Project, readers rejoin Don and Rosie, now married and living in New York City. However, a new challenge faces them: Rosie is pregnant. Well, this is one of a number of challenges, including an abrupt need to move out of their apartment, trouble with new neighbors, trouble with the law, and a not-very-welcome houseguest. The result for me, unfortunately, was that Rosie as a character gets pretty much lost in the midst of the very fast-paced action. There is very little of the sweetly awkward relationship between Rosie and Don present here, which was much of what I loved about the first book, and I have to say I actually didn't finish the second book.

The Likeness, by Tana French. In keeping with my new-found appreciation of French's work, I picked up the second in the Dublin Murder Squad series, set approximately six months after the end of In the Woods. We find Detective Cassie Maddox still trying to recover, having transferred out of the Murder Squad and in a relationship with fellow Detective Sam O'Neill. It seems she might have been able to move on, except for a call to a crime scene featuring a dead girl who not only looks just like Cassie, but also has a school ID bearing the name Lexie Madison...the name that Cassie used when working undercover years ago. Tensely, brilliantly plotted, I loved every page.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. This is my book club's pick for our February discussion, and I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the group has to say about this one. While it is technically classified as a young adult novel, this has lots of appeal for readers of any age. The story is narrated by Death as he struggles to make sense of the horrors he encountered during World War II. He lights on the story of a young orphan girl in Germany, Liesl, whose abilities to steal books and tell stories help her foster family, the Jewish man they are hiding in their basement, and their neighbors through the war. Sweetly sad, beautiful, deeply moving, startlingly perceptive. This is a book that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. If you're wondering what everyone else in town is reading right now, this is it. Billed as this year's Gone Girl, this novel follows Rachel, a most unreliable narrator, as she tries to reconstruct a night she blacked out due to drink. She's certain, however, that the night in question, something terrible happened. Reporting what she thinks she can remember to the police, however, only seems to cause more harm than good, both for her and everyone else involved. I found myself holding my breath at points, waiting to see what would happen next. Readers who liked Gone Girl should definitely add this to their reading list.

Die Again, by Tess Gerritsen. Eleventh in the Rizzoli & Isles crime thriller series, this novel is just as fresh and entertaining as those that came before. Told in alternating narrative between Millie, London bookseller on African safari holiday slowly going terribly wrong, and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli six years later as she and Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles investigate several grisly homicides which take them into the world of big cats and game hunting. Gripping and fascinating, I could hardly stand to put this down for a minute.

This year, I'm not setting a reading goal. I'm just going to keep a running tally and see what I come up with. Seven so far!

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