Friday, September 09, 2016

A Great Reckoning

by Louise Penny

I love this book!  And this series!  Every time I start to read a new Louise Penny novel I feet the warmth of coming home, of settling in, and covering up in a favorite quilt.  Penny's fabulous story-telling, complex characters, excellent mysteries makes that happen for me.  I know that I'm in for another wonderful adventure with dear, old friends.

Louise is better at character development than any author I have read.  Each person is real, with flaws and strenghts. And I love each of them like family.  Whoa!  There was a character or two in this book that I didn't love, or even like, but they taught me well the dangers of taking the road to power and manipulation. Louise introduces us to four new young characters in this book that I hope we will meet again.

A Great Reckoning is probably the most suspenseful of the series.  I caught myself holding my breath several times through the last half of the book, hoping one of my favorite characters was not the murderer.  There was an underlying theme of maps and the roads people choose to take in life.  I feared one of my favorite characters may have made some decisions that, as the results started lining up, would have led down the wrong path.

All of Penny's books are mysteries but they are also excellent literary fiction.  As I mentioned above one theme in this book is diverging roads.  Every book has a theme and she introduced this one with a map discovered behind an old wall and then she skillfully and subtly slants the light to show different views of that thems. All of this is done with her careful and masterful use of language.  I am always delighted and often surprised with how gifted she is with the use of language.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Flight of Dreams

by Ariel Lawhon

This is my favorite book of the year, so far.  Lawhon uses the known facts of the tragedy of the Hindenburg and then tells a plausible story of what may have happened during the flight across the Atlantic.  I was kept guessing who the person was that didn't want to see the Hindenburg return to Germany.

I had always thought, probably because I was once told, that the demise of the Hindenburg was due to an electrical charge between the landing pole and the dirigible, but Lawhon offers another possibility.

My recommendation:  Read this book if you get a chance.

Monday, January 11, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

by Elizabeth Strout

I have mixed feelings about this book.   When I initially finished reading I felt let down by how much of the story wasn't told but on further reflection I began to think the restraint was on purpose.

Lucy Barton went in the hospital for a simple appendix operation but three weeks later she is still in the hospital with an undiagnosed illness.  During that time her mother visits for five days. Lucy hasn't seen or talked to her mother in years.  The book's setting is those five days in 1980 when her mother came to visit her.

As her mother shares mundane gossip from their hometown, Lucy remembers scenes of extreme poverty and times of neglect and abuse.

The more I think about this book, the more powerful is its hold on me.  I have great admiration for the author.

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts and feelings about it?  Did you like it?  Why or why not?


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beside Myself

by Ann Morgan

Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother's favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.
Until they decide to swap places--just for fun, and just for one day--and Ellie refuses to switch back. 
This book knocked the wind right out of me.  It was like falling from a tree and landing flat on your back.  I'm still trying to catch my breath.

Not always a pleasant reading experience, but definitely a powerful one.  Hats off to Ms. Morgan for capturing the feeling of loss of self and the spiraling descent into mental illness. Told from Helen's perspective,  I appreciated that towards the end of the book the author gave the reader a glimpse into Ellie's life as well.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ashley Bell

by Dean Koontz

I don't even know what to say about this book.  I'm a big fan of Dean Koontz and some of his books.  In this one Koontz delves into the mind of a coma patient who is fighting an internal battle with forces of evil.  And yet the battle is totally internal.

I thought about this book for weeks afterward, which is a marker of a good book.  I don't know that I enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed some of his others.  My favorites are From the Corner of His Eye and Odd Thomas.  Ashley Bell didn't make it on the list, probably because of the strong sci-fi theme.