Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Summer Girls

Fiction by Mary Alice Monroe.

This was nice light read about three half-sisters who visit their grandmother at her beach house in South Carolina.

I enjoyed reading it. It's the beginning of a series, apparently, but I'm not sure if I'll follow up with the next book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

In this exciting story, Alex makes a discovery after her parent's death: she has a sister she had never known about before. Her lawyer offers to find the girl for her, but warns that she may not like what he finds....

I also read recently by this author: Missing Child, I See You

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird

Fiction by A.J. Pearce.

I loved this book! Just an adorable Plucky Gal in 1940's Britain Story. The only problem I had was the cover; I may be unfairly prejudiced against this particular shade of mustard, however. I would  have used a black and white photo with red accents I think.

But I digress.

This is apparently the author's first novel. I really enjoyed it!

Friday, October 26, 2018

I See You

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

At the beginning of this story, Hannah and Adam are pretending to be Anna and Alan, a regular couple. They are living "off the grid" in a crowded city, trying to make ends meet on small salaries at jobs they can find without references.

But then their secret identities are compromised by a chance event, and the reason they are hiding may get blown wide open!

This was an exciting thriller with several surprises.

I also read recently by this author: Missing Child

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Social Creature

Fiction by Tara Isabella Burton

Lavinia is New York girl on hiatus from Yale with a magnetic personality and an allowance from her parents. She is also rather a terrible person. Louise, her new best friend, is also pretty awful, but, being rather less fun and much poorer, she has to hide it more.

Their friendship is kind of a recipe for disaster, but, like the proverbial train wreck you can't look away from, it makes kind of a fascinating read as long as you don't mind how rotten these characters all are.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Shape of Snakes

Fiction by Minette Walters,

I recently read a new book by this author that I really liked (see The Last Hours) and I wanted to read some of her other novels. I knew that the author's previous books had been different from the new one; the new story was historical fiction and Minette Walters was apparently previously known for mystery fiction. So I didn't expect this novel to be like the other one... but still...

This book was really different from what I expected. The main character, who for some reason has no first name given, is suffering from a full-on case of Hell-Bent Syndrome.* I mean, she is so DETERMINED to find the person responsible for a murder that everyone thinks is an accident that she spends over TWENTY YEARS on the case. Seriously.

Usually I don't really care for Hell-Bent Syndrome (Short definition: when a character is so wrapped up in solving a mystery that ain't none of their business that they drive everyone insane, often including the reader) but in this case, it was just part of her back story. She'd been obsessed so long that it almost made sense.

But the plot and the resolution were not as absorbing as I'd hoped. Maybe the problem was how very miserable everyone in the story was. I didn't much like any of them.

Still, It was a pretty good mystery, and I was surprised to learn who the killer really was.

*Hell-Bent Syndrome

(See Come Home by Lisa Scottoline)

This is where the protagonist spends the majority of the book Hell-Bent on solving/getting to the root of whatever the problem of the story is (to the exclusion of everything else in his/her life), while EVERYONE else tells him/her to STOP IT. Many times this path involves the main character getting (or coming perilously close to being) fired, evicted, divorced, disowned, and/or bankrupted, all in pursuit of the elusive TRUTH that he/she is SURE is about to be found.

In real life, this would land our friend the protagonist straight in the looney bin. Think about it: When EVERYONE else's version of reality is the polar opposite of yours, that is called, "You're crazy, dude." (In layman's terms.) But not in the world of the Thriller Novel.

In the Thriller Novel, the sufferer of Hell-Bent syndrome is inexplicably and against all odds proven right in the end, and gets to say "I told you so!" to all the nay-sayers in his/her life who thought he/she was nuts. And then he/she magically recovers everything lost during the downward-spiral portion of the story, like the proverbial country song played backwards. ("You get your wife back, your truck back, your job back...")

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Missing Child

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

Caitlin has a secret from her past that she doesn't want her husband to know, but when their six-year-old son disappears, it starts to come out!

This was an exciting thriller with a surprise ending.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead

Subtitled: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America
Nonfiction by Laurie Kaye Abraham.

Published in 1994, this story of the "failure of health care in urban America" is a bit out of date. Still, I doubt the health care system of 2018 is any better, to be honest.

There are so many factors involved in health care legislation that I wonder if it's even possible to "fix" it at this point. The health insurance system alone (both public and private) is a money and power giant that I don't see caving anytime soon to being streamlined or regulated.

So in a way, reading this book was kind of a waste of my time, if we are talking about finding a way to actually solve this huge problem that's been growing for oh-these-many-years. In general, this is why I dislike "political" books: they spend pages and pages on The Problem without ever offering a viable solution.

But what interested me in picking up this book in the first place was the story of a family. The author followed a specific "poor" family in Chicago with chronic health problems (the husband had kidney failure, the old grandmother had uncontrolled diabetes, the father was also disabled, and the poor woman who had to take care of all of them was raising three kids) and reported on how they personally navigated the convoluted setup of public health care. So I was interested in learning about these people and their lives.

The thing that struck me while reading this was, although the Health Care System is a problem I can't by any means solve, or even really understand, it was individual people who really made a difference in this family's lives. There was mentioned one doctor, one social worker, and one intern in the sea of health care workers that this family had to deal with who genuinely tried to connect and care as best they could. And interestingly, these were described as religious people, including an Orthodox Jew and Catholic nun.

So I'm taking that as inspiration when face with The Unsolvable: just to do what I can to care and connect with people.

I'm pretty sure that's not the point the author intended, but...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mrs. Pollifax Pursued

Fiction by Dorothy Gilman.

This is book number eleven in the Mrs. Pollifax series; I just found it at the library book sale and remembered how I'd enjoyed the Mrs. Pollifax books in the past. I got the next couple of books in the series to read too.

These are fun mysteries about an old lady who goes to work for the CIA, with her only (seeming) advantage being that she is last type of person one would expect might be a spy. Start with book #1 if you are interested, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.

I also read by this author: Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Fiction by Caroline Kepnes.
This was a dark thriller that was a little TOO dark for me.

The plot was compelling and the characters well-written, but I didn't like them at all. It's pretty obvious from the beginning, so I don't think it's a spoiler to say this a stalker story. It's written from the point of view of the psycho-predator-guy, so the reader gets way into his head (again, a little TOO dark), but it's hard to identify with him, or even with his victim(s).

It's a good enough book, but I didn't really like it. Still, I can't give a thumbs-down if it kept my attention so... well...

I also read recently by this author: Providence

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Peril at End House

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

This book, first published in 1932, was next on my list of Agatha Christie's mysteries in order. On b&, it is listed as #8 in the Hercule Poirot series. I guess at this point Mrs. Christie had decided that she was stuck with continuing to write the Poirot character, after her attempt to retire him in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

This is one of her best Poirot stories, in my opinion, because he takes so long to arrive at the solution to the mystery. (In most books he seems to have everything figured out right away, and spends most of the book sneering at everyone for not knowing the answers.)

I have previously read this book, recently enough to be able remember who the murderer was before I was halfway finished, but the story is still very good.

I recently read by this author: The Sittaford Mystery

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Secrets She Keeps

Fiction by Michael Robotham,
This story is told through the points of view of two London women, both expecting a baby around the same time. Meg is a mummy blogger with two young children and a "perfect" home and husband. Agatha is a supermarket stock girl who idolizes Meg and her family. The reader can tell there is something wrong about Agatha's interest in Meg, but the plot twists are pretty surprising!

I won't give anything away; just read it! Great book!