Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eight Books

I've read eight books since I last told you about my reading. I can't seem to quit (not that I want to).

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber is a heartwarming story. I picked up Macomber's Cedar Cove Christmas in December because it was during the time at work after the end of fall semester and before the holidays. I was bored and the library was practically deserted. I enjoyed her storytelling in that book, so I was drawn to Summer on Blossom Street, hoping it would be as pleasant a read. It was. The story revolved around a "knit to quit" class where participants take up knitting to take their minds off some not-good-for-you habit. Each person in the class has a story and Macomber tells them with warmth and compassion. I enjoyed the two books so much that I think I'll read more. They're not heavyweight literature, but she does deal with some serious issues, and I love happy endings.

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White is a sequel to The House on Tradd Street. Our main character is a workaholic real estate agent whose family home is a house on Legare Street in Charleston, SC. Melanie and her mother are both able to sense ghosts and there is a particularly evil one haunting the family home. Melanie and her mother, Ginnette, are also estranged from each other because her mother left Charleston when Melanie was seven with no explanation. Melanie has hated her mother ever since. When Ginnette comes back to town and buys the house on Legare Street, from the no-class people who owned it and who also cared nothing about preserving the historic decor of the house, Melanie is livid. Ginnette, however, senses that the evil ghost is getting stronger and comes back to town to protect Melanie. The two women come to terms in order to fight the ghost and in the process they iron out their differences. I'm hoping White will continue this series, but I also plan to read some of her other novels, the latest of which is On Folly Beach.

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson is a book I won in a giveaway offered by Bridget of The Ravell'd Sleave. Bridget wrote a very good review of the book and if you click here, you'll find that review. This is the story of three young women who leave England in 1928 to sail to India and find new lives. The women go their separate ways but keep in touch, providing us with a view of their lives and their interactions. I enjoyed this novel much more than I expected to, although I DID actually expect to enjoy it. (Thanks, Bridget!)

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear is the second in her Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is a psychologist and private investigator who used to be a combat nurse in World War I. Birds of a Feather takes place in 1930. Maisie is hired to find the missing daughter of a wealthy businessman, but the more she investigates, the more complicated things get. While they are looking into the problem, Maisie's assistant Billy is having problems of his own. I found the novel hard to put down. Winspear's writing is very compelling and I enjoyed the story immensely. I need to get into the next novel in the series and catch up. I'm a little behind in my Maisie Dobbs reading.

I'm really going to miss Robert B. Parker. I have just read his latest two novels (others are scheduled to be published later this year), Split Image, a Jesse Stone story; and The Professional, a Spenser novel. Split Image ends as if Parker knew it was his last Jesse Stone novel, although his obituary in the NY Times said he died of a heart attack at his desk while writing. A couple of unresolved issues got resolved and that was satisfying for me. I won't tell you what these issues are because they don't get fully resolved until the last chapter, so go read the book! Jesse, as usual, doesn't just solve one problem, and he gets some help from Sunny Randall. A body is found in an abandoned car and that leads to a pair of twins married to rich but unsavory bad guys. Jesse's investigation leads him to some very dark corners of organized crime and other badness. Parker's writing is, as usual, very lean with very little description, but you never miss out on any details. Parker is good. Keep your eye on the twins.

The Professional is pure Spenser. An attorney brings him together with four women who want him to stop a man who is blackmailing all of them. It seems this man has a habit of seducing young women married to wealthy older men. Then he gets the bright idea of blackmailing them by threatening to ruin their marriages if they don't pay him off. The women don't have enough personal cash to keep up with demands, so they hire Spenser. Like in any good mystery, the more Spenser digs into the problem the more complex it becomes. Things are going along relatively smoothly until the dead bodies start turning up. The ending is a little sad, but loose ends are tied up as well as they can be.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake was one of those impulse reads, but I ended up very glad I read it. I first heard about this book in a review by Lene of The Seated View. You can read her review here. Lene listened to an audio version and her review at first made me want to skip the book because it sounded too intense. But the book was on the new book display at the library and it kept calling my name. I finally picked it up and started it and I'm glad I did. It was very worthwhile reading. Parts of it were very intense, particularly the scenes in Europe when the Jews were trying to get away from the Nazis. This story takes place right before America entered World War II and Blake's description of the Blitz in London reads as if she had actually experienced it. The other part of the story takes place in the small (fictitious) village of Franklin, MA, on the very tip of Cape Cod. Two women living in Franklin and another woman reporting on the war from Europe are the main characters in the novel. Blake's storytelling kept this from being just another mainstream novel.

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason is the third of his Reykjavik thriller novels. In it a former child star is found stabbed to death in his room in the basement of a large hotel in Reykjavik. Gulli, the victim, is a recently fired (downsized) hotel doorman who also dressed as Santa Claus for the hotel's Christmas party. Our detective, Erlendur, a man with problems of his own (including his drug-addicted daughter), finds suspects everywhere in Reykjavik, and just as you think he's found the killer, another twist in the plot is introduced. If I could read Icelandic, I'd get the original books and read to see if the translator did a good job, which I think he did because I've enjoyed reading each of the Arnaldur books (including Jar City and Silence of the Grave). I'm looking forward to reading the next novel in the series.

Well, I'm exhausted. I need to go home and curl up with a good book.


Genie Smith Bernstein said...

Thanks for the book reviews; am enjoying your blog. Hugs, Genie.

Bridget said...

I'm really glad you enjoyed East of the Sun. I liked The Postmistress too, though I have a couple of friends who didn't even finish it. Go figure.

I *really* need to introduce myself to Maisie Dobbs!

Theresa said...

You could read Icelandic if you didn't spend all your time reading other stuff. Thanks for the reviews, now I'm off to see if they're on audible yet. Remind me why I work in a library again?

Lene Andersen said...

I've heard from another person who didn't like The Postmistress. Seems to be one of those books you either adore or can't stand. Weird.


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