Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I've Been Reading: August 2016

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin. Second in Cronin's The Passage Trilogy, this continues my re-read of the first two books, as the third book, City of Mirrors, has just been released and I felt I needed a refresher before I wrapped up the trilogy. I fully admit to doing these as audiobooks--they are narrated by Scott Brick, and he does an amazing job. The second installment finds our heroes from the first book scattered by their new lives, five years after the close of book one. All seems quiet, too quiet, and while some grieve their losses and others try and build "normal" lives in a post-viral world, both sides in the ultimate battle of good versus evil, human versus viral, seem to be digging deep and preparing for a final battle. Only one side can win. The narrative is fraught with tension and packed with action. If anything, I'm enjoying these even more the second time around.

Forbidden Falls, Angel's Peak, Moonlight Road, Promise Canyon, Wild Man Creek, & Deep in the Valley, all by Robyn Carr. The first five titles are all part of Carr's Virgin River series, which I've been making my way through quite steadily this summer. These are light, fluffy, blend from one into the next quite seamlessly, and are deliciously entertaining. Granted, some are a little stronger than others, but as a whole, these have been a great respite for me this summer, letting me cultivate some reading juju in between some of the bigger, denser, more serious reads on my list. The sixth title is from an earlier series, Grace Valley. It's a little stilted, and I definitely prefer some of Carr's more recent series titles.

Voracious, by Cara Nicoletti. This is a series of vignettes about the author's life in relation to books she has loved, and the food that they have inspired her to create--Nicoletti is a butcher and chef in addition to being a bibliophile, and she absolutely spoke to this librarian's heart. In fact, this is something I don't often say--I have to own this book. I wanted to make every recipe; I want to re-read some of her nostalgic waxings regarding titles we both enjoyed. Truly a delicious read, each chapter is a perfect bite.

The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King. I feel like I must have read this, but digging a little deeper into its origins, it appears I'd missed it altogether--it was originally published in 2005 by the Hard Case Crime imprint, issued in one paperback-only edition. (It went on to inspire the SyFy series Haven, of which I am absolutely a fan.) It was also released in this audiobook format, read brilliantly by Jeffrey DeMunn--his command of the down-east Maine accent truly helps make the story that much more captivating. The premise is this: A young newspaperwoman, working alongside two old-timers who run the small local paper on an island off the coast of Maine, spends an afternoon listening as the men recount what is one of the most well-known (to the locals) best-kept secrets (to everyone else), an unsolved mystery which will puzzle Stephanie, and the reader, long after the telling is through.

Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly. Inspired by real events, this is the story of three brave women whose lives are all connected, across oceans and language barriers, by the atrocities of World War II. Caroline Ferriday, New York socialite and volunteer at the French Consulate, struggles to provide for French orphans even as she waits for word from her French lover who returned to Paris just before Hitler invaded France. Polish teen Kasia Kuzmerick works in the underground resistance movement after Hitler's invasion of Poland, only to find herself in the work camp at Ravensbruck, where she meets German doctor Herta Oberheuser, who very wrongly thought that her assignment among military doctors would be an excellent opportunity for medical advancement. This is a read for those who found hope among the heartbreak in books like Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See.

Swept Away, by Robyn Carr. A rare stand-alone novel from Carr. Jennifer Chaise has made a career of being a professional mistress to powerful older men. After a rough childhood full of uncertainty and poverty, she takes to the lap of luxury right away. Until she believes her current sugar-daddy to be a cold-blooded killer, and runs for her life. She washes up in Boulder City, lops off her blond locks, and reinvents herself as diner waitress Doris, ready to run again at a moments notice. And yet, she discovers she likes her neighbors and coworkers in the little town, and is loathe to give them up, not even when her past comes knocking. It's light and entertaining, but it feels as though it never really got off the ground. Not my favorite.

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