A blog about living in New Jersey, trying to write fiction, taking pictures, watching bad reality TV, and obsessing about other people's dogs.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
4 book recap
I read fiction almost every day. I don't read for that long; maybe 15 minutes before I turn out the light at night, but I read fast and in comes cases, I skim even faster, especially if the book is one I don't have a high interest in, but I still want to know how it comes out. You can pick a spot on a page and get a sense of where the scene is--okay, he's still talking to the sister, and then skip over the next few paragraphs until you find another scene change and orient yourself that way. I've raced through a few books this way--usually when the library return deadline is looming and I don't want to check it out again.
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout.
Not to be confused with the movie, The Fabulous Baker Boys. There are no pianos or torch singers in this book. This is a story of fractured siblings, twins and an older brother who has had God-like success as a lawyer. The twins, Sara and Bob are sad sacks; Sara is divorced with a kid whose in trouble with the law and her twin is a good-natured by disorganized and alcoholic not famous lawyer who is also divorced. The oldest brother Jim seems to have it all, this beautiful wife, a great career, and he's well-known for a famous defense, lots of money, lots of success. But there's also a secret that he's been keeping since he was a kid, one that he eventually tells and it changes everything. How's that for suspenseful? I didn't like this book as much as Amy and Isabelle and definitely not more than Olive Kitteredge. There was a subplot about the troubled teen and the Somalian community that I wasn't really drawn to, and the characters weren't that interesting--not really--they seemed not as fully drawn as players from her other books, though you could make the argument that this one formative moment form their childhoods defines their lives and personalities.
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves.
I don't quite remember this book much at all though I guess it's part of a series of stories that take place on Shetland Island. In this book, a young girl is found murdered in the snow and there's some slightly mentally challenged guy who is the first suspect because he was accused years ago for another girl murder and plus, he kept her hair ribbons. The detective, Jimmy Perez, must investigate with the help of the Shetland Island version of the higher up police, and the woman who has found the body also tries to unravel the case. There's a boy involved, of course, and he begins the motive for the murder. The previous murder (from years before) is also solved, but turns out to be unrelated. Writing was good in this one, but my attention span was fractured as there were a lot of main characters and interwoven story lines. The author was prone to misdirection, wanting you to believe it was the soft-touch guy who did it, but then keeping it open ended. I don't think I'll read the others in the series.
To Sir Henry with Love by Julia Quinn
This is my shameful read, because it's a romance paperback. My only defense in reading this at all is that it was on the Princeton Public Library shelf as a summer read. It's sort of your typical romance novel, where the plot centers around two strangers who are forced to marry, find that they are very attracted to each other, and consummate the marriage only after 253 pages of heated foreplay. In this case, the heroine is opinionated and outspoken and, of course, the man loves this about her. She is, of course, a 26 year old spinster, and she marries Sir Phillip without knowing much about him (they are forced to marry because someone catches them kissing), and then discovers that he has been manipulating her to hide a family secret. However, doesn't much matter, because they end up totally loving one another. The writing isn't bad, and, unlike most romance novels, the dialogue attempts to be funny, so it's not a total lose. This was another one I skimmed, mostly for the "good parts."
Bury This by Andrea Portes. I read this in about a day and a half. This is not me bragging, it was just a quick read. Short chapters, lots of scenes, easy to skim, and I confess, I raced through the last 50 pages or so, not because I was dying to know who done it, but because I couldn't quite give up on it, but I was not involved enough to slow down. The story is similar to Raven Black; a young girl, Beth, is killed and no one knows who did it. Twenty-five years pass, and then a bunch of college kids decide to make a documentary about it for a film class. In the process, the cop who first investigated the case, realizes that he missed some things and begins reinvestigating. The style is rapid fire, with lots of fragments and quick scenes. The balance of past and present is somewhat skewed--for a while, we're moving back and forth between the past and the present, and then there is a good portion of the book where we're only being filled in on the past. The novel involves long-term incest and gang rape for that age old motive, jealousy and revenge.
Next up: Rooms by Lauren Oliver. And any recommendations you might have?