Thursday, October 27, 2016

What I've Been Reading: October 2016

Well, as expected, with the change of seasons my reading momentum has declined a bit. I'm going to bed a little earlier, I'm watching lots of scary movies, and my hands have been busy with knitting an awful lot of the time! However, I do have a few titles to share with you this month.

The City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin. This final installment of Cronin's The Passage trilogy (following The Passage and The Twelve) is absolutely action-packed and nerve-wrackingly suspenseful. The human population is beginning to recover and expand its territory once more, more than a century after The Twelve and their Many swept across the North American Continent. The threat finally seems to be fading into mere memory. Until Fanning, the Zero, makes his final play against Peter Jackson and his fellow humans. It is up to Amy, the Girl from Nowhere, to be the ultimate good that stands up against Fanning's ultimate evil. I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Scott Brick, and he gave an amazing performance. I highly recommend the series.

The Kept Woman, by Karin Slaughter. A couple of years ago, I happened across a Karin Slaughter novel and was instantly hooked--I read everything she'd written within a few months' time. Now I wait (very impatiently) for each new novel to be published and I must say, this was worth the wait. GBI Agent Will Trent has had a tough life, but after growing up in the foster system and learning to work around a learning disability, he's become a responsible adult. He's an excellent investigator, he has a girlfriend, he even has a dog. There's just one weak spot in his life: his estranged wife, Angie. When she gets in over her head in her line of private security, Will is compelled to help her, if only to unentangle himself from her once and for all. When cases get personal, things always get messy. Fast-paced and well-plotted, this was a great installment to the series.

Blue Labyrinth, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Speaking of series I'm getting caught up on, here I am, only 2 more books away from being caught up with Preson & Childs Special Agent Pendergast series. As the book opens, Pendergast opens his front door to a disturbing, macabre delivery, which prompts him to travel halfway around the world to unearth the truth about who might have been behind the delivery. What he uncovers, as he delves deep into his family's history, is that he is being stalked by a subtle killer, bent on retribution for an ancient transgression. I felt like this installment meandered a bit early on, but it all came together beautifully in the end.

The Free-Range Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I read this using the Trumbull Library's access to OverDrive. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a Canadian knitter and writer who has a long-running popular knitting blog over at Yarn Harlot. This collection of essays and stories recounts knitting horrors and triumphs, the good, the bad and the just plain ugly of a craft practiced by an estimated 60 million Americans. She talks about creativity, the things that make knitters different, and the things (like love of yarn, color, and creation) that bring knitters and crafters of all stripes together. If you're a knitter and you feel misunderstood? Stephanie Pearl-McPhee gets you, I promise.

Knitting Rules!, also by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Subtitled "The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks", this fun read is full of tips, suggestions, and some simple, basic patterns for knitters. Here she also reviews things like different knitting methods (really, there are many different ways to knit as there are knitters, who knew?) and their pros and cons, as well as preferences for the tools of the trade (different kinds of needles, yarns, etc.). If you're a knitter? Fascinating. If you're not? Probably not so much. I also read this via Overdrive.

The Life She Wants, by Robyn Carr. When Emma Shay's perfect life falls apart in the wake of personal tragedy, she moves cross-country to where she was once happy, and where she once had friends. There is, however, the small issue of the decades-long grudge she has been holding against said friends, and that they have held right back. This is the story of one woman's struggle to get her life back on course after a long and painful detour, about the ties of shared history, and about forgiveness and hope. Carr excels at feel-good reads, and this is testament to her talent.

And if you're counting along at home, that's 75 books for the year. I don't really think I can manage 25 books in the next two months... But stranger things have happened!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reading Ahead: November 2016, part 5

November is a month full of gifts for readers. No matter what your reading pleasure, there's something for you. Don't believe me? Read on!

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman is a favorite of mine--her writing style is so beautifully evocative, I can't get enough. Here, she comes back to the present after her recent forays into the past (The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, etc.) with a story about a young woman struggling to define herself in the wake of crisis. Shelby is an ordinary woman, until a tragic accident steals her friend's future, leaving Shelby to walk away with the burden of guilt. Her journey takes her into New York City, where she finds a circle of souls both lost and found, and where she grapples with love, joy, loss, and guilt among them.

I’ll Take You There, by Wally Lamb. Lamb is another favorite (truly, November feels like an embarrassment of riches to this reader) whose work I cannot resist. The novel centers on Felix (previously met in Wishin' and Hopin'), a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life: his daughter, his sister, and former beauty-queen who has haunted Felix for decades. Also available in Large Print

Moonglow, by Michael Chabon. Inspired by the stories told by Chabon's own grandfather in the weeks before his passing, this novel is the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies.

The Whole Town’s Talking, by Fannie Flagg. Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. This is the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.  Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reading Ahead: November 2016, part 4

Perhaps a little easy reading or a mystery  (or something that qualifies as both!) is just what you're craving as we (I'm sorry!) start heading into the holiday season. Sure, it's been 80 degrees out the last few days, but that doesn't mean that November isn't just around the corner! In any case, if you're looking to steal away for a little reading to decompress next month, here are a few titles to choose from.

The Award, by Danielle Steel. Gaëlle de Barbet is sixteen years old in 1940 when the German army occupies France and frightening changes begin to occur. She is shocked and powerless when French gendarmes take away her closest friend, Rebekah Feldmann, and her family for deportation to an unknown, ominous fate. The local German military commandant makes Gaëlle’s family estate outside Lyon into his headquarters. Her father and brother are killed by the Germans; her mother fades away into madness. Trusted friends and employees become traitors. And Gaëlle begins a perilous journey with the French Resistance, hoping to save lives to make up for the beloved friend she could do nothing to help. This is a little outside Steel's ordinary comfort zone, but my guess is fans will lap it right up. Also available in Large Print

The Mistletoe Secret, by Richard Paul Evans. I've had readers clamoring for holiday reads for a couple of months already (I'll admit, I'm nowhere near ready), so if you're among them, please add this to your list!
Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. Alex Bartlett feels her pain. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he nurses his own broken heart and slowly falls in love with this mystery woman. He follows a trail of clues she has unwittingly shared and makes his way to the town where she lives. But a discovery he makes upon arrival may change everything for him.

A Christmas Message, by Anne Perry. The year is 1900, and Victor Narraway is giving his wife, Vespasia, an unforgettable Christmas present—a trip to Jerusalem. Vespasia is enchanted by the exotic landscape of Palestine, and charmed by a fellow traveler the Narraways meet at their hotel in Jaffa. But when the man is murdered over a torn piece of ancient parchment he was taking to Jerusalem, Victor and Vespasia risk their lives to finish his mission and deliver the puzzling document to its home. Pursued by a shadowy figure with evil intent, they embark on a dangerous yet ultimately enlightening pilgrimage to the holy city, where the mysterious message on the parchment may finally be revealed.

Turbo Twenty-Three, by Janet Evanovich. Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an eighteen-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body—frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans. As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. It’s going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger... Also available in Large Print.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Reading Ahead: November 2016, part 3

If the coming nip in the air has you craving thrills and adventure, read on!

Cross the Line, by James Patterson. Patterson may be running the risk of publishing faster than his readers can read, but if you're anxiously anticipating the new Alex Cross novel, your wait is nearly over. Shots ring out in the early morning hours in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. When the smoke clears, a prominent police official lies dead, leaving the city's police force scrambling for answers. Under pressure from the mayor, Alex Cross steps into the leadership vacuum to crack the case. But before Cross can make any headway, a brutal crime wave sweeps across the region. The deadly scenes share only one common thread--the victims are all criminals. And the only thing more dangerous than a murderer without a conscience, is a killer who thinks he has justice on his side. As Cross pursues an adversary who has appointed himself judge, jury, and executioner, he must take the law back into his own hands before the city he's sworn to protect descends into utter chaos. Also available in Large Print.

Odessa Sea, by Clive Cussler. Cussler's long-running Dirk Pitt adventure series returns here with an elaborate mystery that just gets deeper as you go. Pitt is in the Black Sea helping to locate a lost Ottoman shipwreck, when he responds to an urgent Mayday from a nearby freighter. When he arrives, however, there are no survivors, just the smell of sulfur on the silent ship. A blast at the stern quickly sinks the ship, nearly taking Pitt with it. The more he searches for the secret of the death ship, the deeper the rabbit hole goes. The Romanov Empire, the Cold War, Ukrainian rebels all collide in what may be the most dangerous challenge in Pitt's career. Also available in Large Print