Book Archive | My
- (5/31) Julia's Mother by William Bonadio, MD.
- Short book recounting some of the tragic cases Dr. Bonadio has
seen during his career as an ER doctor at a pediatric hospital. While
there wasn't a single happy story in the bunch, Dr. Bonadio still manages
to convey a sense of hope and the importance of life and love. The
lessons he learned during these experiences are ones we could all benefit
from. I only recommend this book for people who don't have children,
- (5/30) The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner.
- Retired literary agent Joe Allston spends his days glumly
assessing his failing health and, essentially, "just killing time until
time gets around to killing [him]." When he receives a postcard from an
old friend, it inspires him to dig out his journals from the trip he and
his wife took to the Netherlands 20 years earlier (where they met the old
friend). His wife, upon seeing the journals, persuades Joe to read them
aloud to her and together they relive the mysteries and sadness they
encountered during that trip. Stegner is a masterful writer whose
language not only tells a good story but makes you forget a million times
over that the characters you are meeting exist only on paper. I not only
recommend this novel, but everything else Stegner has ever written,
including the things I have yet to read.
- (5/28) Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling.
- Adventurous coming-of-age novel about a young spoiled boy
named Harvey who falls off the luxury liner he and his mother were
crossing the ocean on and is rescued from a watery grave by a shipful of
fishermen. When the captain of the fishing boat tells Harvey they'll
return him to New York after they've finished their fishing for the
season, about 4 months away, Harvey realizes he'd better shape up or ship
out. The dialogue is a bit difficult to follow, as the sailors all speak
in a heavily accented English, but the story makes the language barrier
well worth overcoming. Recommended!
- (5/26) More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon.
- Hannah Gray, an elderly woman, returns to the house she
summered in as a young woman and decides to tell us the story of the
summer she spent falling in love and being terrorized by a ghost. Her
story is separated by the story of a family who lived on the island across
from Hannah's old summer house over 100 years prior to that fateful
summer. The love story is intense and unforgettable, the ghost story is
scary as hell, and the connection between Hannah's ghost and the old
island family that slowly emerges as the stories progress will totally
surprise you. I could not put this down once I picked it up. It's
- (5/25) Death from the Woods by Brigitte Aubert. (translated
from the French)
- This book is SO GREAT! It's the story of a series of murders
in a small French town, told by a woman who is a quadriplegic, blind mute.
One day, the woman (Elise) is sitting in her wheelchair in the park
waiting for her nurse to return from a shopping trip when a little girl
comes up to her and starts talking to her. Elise soon realizes the little
girl has witnessed at least one of the murders going on in the town (all
of little boys) and seems to know who the killer was, though she won't
say. The little girl and her two parents quickly befriend Elise (who
communicates by raising her one moving part -- her right index finger --
to signify a "yes" answer to a question) and they start spending a great
deal of time together. Elise is soon very caught up in the murders -- the
little girl confesses more and more to her and Elise knows she definitely
knows exactly who the killer is and is protecting him. But the murderer
knows this too and must be afraid that Elise has deduced his identity
because suddenly Elise is becoming the victim of a series of assaults.
This book was FABULOUS. Elise is a funny and brilliant character, like
Miss Marple except 40 years younger, and her narration is fast-paced and
enthralling. The story is extremely suspenseful and then end had so many
twists to it, I couldn't bear putting it down until I'd finished the very
last page. Very highly, highly recommended!
- (5/21) The Hearse You Came In On by Tim Cockey.
- Hearse-driver Hitchcock is placidly enjoying life in
"solemnly chaperoning the dead into their graves and pretty much otherwise
minding my own business," when Carolyn James appears at the mortuary to
inquire how much her own burial would cost. The next day, Carolyn
reappears, but she isn't saying much now: suicide by asphyxiation has a
way of eliminating small talk. The only problem is that Carolyn the Client
is not the same woman as Carolyn the Cost-Conscious Consumer. When Hitch
decides to pursue the shifting-identity issue, he meets Kate Zabriskie, a
cop who wanted to protect Carolyn from a vicious boyfriend by faking her
death; unfortunately, it seems Carolyn decided to play for real. Intent on
proving that Carolyn's suicide was murder, Kate quickly embroils Hitch in
a tangle of political blackmail and police corruption. This was a very
well written and extremely funny mystery. Recommended!
- (5/18) Animal ER by the Tufts University School of Veterinary
- I used to love reading books like this -- stories about
miraculous animal saves and near-death rescues. However, now that I have
a cat myself, I found these stories to be a lot less enjoyable then they
did before I knew what it was like to worry about your pet incessantly.
So, that's one reason why I don't recommend this book (to pet owners).
However, scares aside, this book is also TERRIBLY written. It's cutsy and
full of typos. The style is (yawn). So, if you're interested in this
kind of thing, you'd be better off looking somewhere else.
- (5/15) Catfish Cafe by Earl Emerson.
- PI Thomas Black, an ex-Seattle cop, is asked by his old
partner, Luther, for help finding Luther's daughter. The daughter had
been driving a car later found turned over in a ditch with a dead body in
the back seat. Did she kill him? Is someone trying to kill her? Is she
already dead? This was an exciting and very well-written mystery. The
tunnel scene at the end had me so riveted I missed my bus stop. Now
that's something! Highly recommended!
- (5/10) Face Down in the Park by Leonard Foglia and David
- Mystery about a man who regains consciousness face down in a
park (hence the title). Not only does he have a nasty head wound, he also
has complete amnesia. When an aerobics instructor comes to his rescue
(reluctantly), the two begin trying to reconstruct his memory. The closer
they get to the truth, the more dangerous things look for both of them.
The problem with this book was that when two writers write one novel, it
comes out clumsy, no matter what they try to do to avoid that. I enjoyed
it, but I probably won't look for their others.
- (5/7) All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills.
- Strange story about a young man who decides to take a short
camping trip before heading off to explore India. However, while he's
camping, the campground's owner asks him if he'd do an odd job in exchange
for the camping fees he owed. Soon that odd job is leading to even ODDER
odd jobs and before he knows it, he's moved in and started working
full-time. But something about the whole thing feels really strange.
First, there's all that green paint. Then there's a convenient death.
This book really held my attention -- in fact, I read it in one sitting --
but I was disappointed in the ending. It almost seemed like Mills
was on a strict deadline and just had to stop working when he got to the
end of it, whether he was done with the story or not. At the same time,
something about the novel's tone makes me wonder if he didn't do that on
purpose just to disappoint the readers. Some kind of satire of contrived
sinister-ness? Hard to say, but I'm definitely intrigued and will
look for his earlier novel, The Restraint of Beasts.
- (5/6) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave
- Memoir about the author's life after both his parents die and
he is left to raise his 8 year-old brother Toph. Beyond that, I'm not
sure how else to describe this book. Eggers' writing is both funny and
tragic, all at the same time. It's also clever, poignant (though I have
no doubts he'd hate to hear that), and, actually, truly what I'd consider
to be a work of staggering genius (clumsy in a brilliant way, is how I
interpret that). Hands down, one of the most remarkable books I've read
in the last 5 years. Very, very highly recommended. But only if you're
under the age of 35.
- (5/4) Son: A Psychopath and His Victims by Jack Olsen.
- Really bizarre and freaky true story about Fred Coe, the sociopathic
rapist who hunted women in Spokane, WA, in the 1980s. The bad news is,
Freddy wasn't the only lunatic in the family and after he was put away for
his crimes, she tries to kill the judge and prosecutor who jailed him!
Despite the fact this usually isn't my favorite genre, I got really hooked
into this book (which was loaned to me by a friend). If you like true
crime, I recommend it. Otherwise, it's kinda icky and I'd avoid it if I
- (5/2) Shooting at Loons by Margaret Maron.
- When Judge Deborah Knott agrees to cover for a judge in Colleton
County, North Carolina, she starts to look forward to a peaceful spell
in the county's town of Beaufort, the site of many happy childhood
summers. However, she's not there for 24 hours before she finds the
bullet-riddled body of a fisherman who was active in the local war among
the pro-status quo natives, who don't want their fishing regulated by the
state. When she finds ANOTHER body, her little idyllic vacation kind of
goes to heck. This was an okay mystery, but it was a little preachy.
Not very well written in some places, either. I haven't decided yet if I
will look for more in the same series.