Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What I've Been Reading: February 2015

I'll admit that I hit a little bit of a lull in my usual reading pace during the February doldrums. Sometimes even the most voracious reader takes a bit of a break--mine was filled with catching up on a couple of TV series (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Broadchurch) and some hand-sewing. Even a librarian cannot live on books alone! That said, I did finish a few titles...

Fear the Darkness, by Becky Masterman. Second in Masterman's Brigid Quinn series (after Rage Against the Dying, which I loved and reviewed here), this new thriller finds retired FBI undercover agent Quinn under siege. After years in the field, Quinn is working hard to try and settle down and be "normal". She's married, has two dogs, and in the wake of her siser-in-law's death after a long illness, she's now taking care of her teenage niece. She even has a best friend. What she can't do, however, is stop being an investigator, and when a grieving mother asks for Quinn's help in determining whether a young boy killed himself or was murdered, Quinn can't say no. It seems that someone may be out to stop her from discovering the truth, though, as Quinn shortly finds herself under attack, and it may be someone very close to her who is trying to do her harm. While not quite as masterful as Masterman's debut, this sophomore effort is still a great thriller, with lots to keep readers guessing. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Descent, by Tim Johnston. A word of caution to readers--if you choose to pick this up (and you should, it's amazing), do yourself a favor. Put aside a couple of hours when you start it, and read the first 100 pages in one shot. I wish I'd done that, because reading it 10-15 pages at a time was very confusing. In any case... Told in four parts by four family members, this literary thriller covers the abduction of eighteen-year-old Caitlin while she's out for a training run in Colorado one morning, accompanied by her younger brother Sean, who was cycling along with her. Sean is badly hurt, Caitlin is abducted, and then the story jumps ahead. Sean recovers physically, then hits the road. Their mother, Angela, tries to go home only to wind up being hospitalized after a nervous breakdown. Their father, Grant, stays close to where Caitlin was abducted and works with local authorities to try and find his daughter. And I haven't given anything away. Truly beautiful and heartbreaking and heart-pounding, all at the same time.

I'd Know You Anywhere, by Laura Lippman. I chanced upon this, having never read Lippman's work before, when browsing for an audiobook for my commute (it's quite nicely done, if you're looking for an audiobook, by the way). Eliza Benedict reinvented herself in high school and has tried not to look back. Now in her thirties, married with two children, she finds her world turned upside down when the reason for the reinvention, a man named Walter Bowman, contacts her from his cell on death row. Twenty years earlier, Bowman kidnapped Eliza during a summer-long spree of serial killings. Eliza, the only girl who survived, is Bowman's only hope of a stay of execution. And Walter may be Eliza's only hope of finally putting her past to rest. Very suspenseful, riveting. Recommended.

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, by Jenny Colgan. And after three suspense/thriller novels in a row, I needed something completely different! Anna Trent was a supervisor in an English chocolate factory. After an accident leaves her jobless and depressed, a dose of serendipity leads her to working for an artisan chocolatier in an elite Paris shop, only to find that her previous experience has left her woefully unprepared for her new position. Anna's learning curve in Paris is steep, from the intricacies of her new job to the language barrier, from making new friends to dealing with the aftermath of her accident. Interwoven is a love story involving Anna's secondary school French teacher and her new boss, which takes place forty years prior. It's sweet and silly, but the bits about the chocolate shop and the beauty of Paris are worth the price of admission--those read like a love letter.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  This is my book club's selection for our March meeting, and I can't help but be impressed by their willingness to try something outside of our "usual" genres. This is a re-read for me, although I first read it in high school, so it's been awhile. If you're more familiar with the movies, I do recommend going back and reading the book--it is so very different! Bilbo Baggins, humble hobbit, finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime, accompanying a band of dwarves as they make their way across Middle Earth to retake their home under the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug who has occupied it for many decades. Along the way they are helped by elves, the wizard Gandalf, the skin-changer Bjorn, and encounter enchanted forests, goblins, spiders, giants, and others, both foe and friend. And, of course, the hobbit has a secret that allows him to make the perfect burglar during their escapades. One of the greatest adventure stories for all ages, and the grandfather of the modern fantasy and science fiction genres today. Without Tolkein, we would not today be enjoying things like Game of Thrones or Doctor Who. Things to think about.

Obsession in Death, by J.D. Robb. The fortieth entry in the pseudonymous Robb's long-running light science fiction(ish) series finds NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas in a tricky spot: Someone is murdering people she knows, and claiming to be doing it for her as her one true friend. Now she and her partner, Detective Peabody, must not only solve the string of very personal, pointed murders (each one comes with a long, Sharpie-written missive from the killer, on a crime-scene wall) but Dallas must also examine everyone in her life with suspicion to determine who among them has been killing in her name. This is, as other series titles, a delightfully quick and fun read.

I know, to a lot of people, six books looks like a lot. But I actually took about a week after Fear the Darkness (which I devoured in about a day and a half) and read nothing, other than the book on CD I listen to during my commute. It felt a little strange, but then I got right back into it! And that makes 13 titles for 2015 thus far.

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