Thursday, May 31, 2007

May Reads

I know I don't have enough data points to make any sweeping statements about averages, but it seems like six books a month is a reasonable estimate. On a good weekend, I can read a book in a day. So that's a minimum of four books a month. Certainly seems that I can find the time to read two more in a month.

This month, I stuck to mysteries. It just worked out that way. Writer-me is interested in learning more about plotting and you can't beat mysteries for that.

"The Power of Three" - Laura Lippman

Summary: Josie, Perri, and Kat were best friends from third grade until their senior year in high school, when Perri became withdrawn and moody. On the final day of school, one of them brings a gun and after a confrontation in the bathroom, one girl is dead and two are wounded, one seriously. How did it all go so wrong.

Grade: A+

Reason: Yes, my love affair with Laura Lippman continues. I think I've exhausted her supply of stand-alone books and I'm wary of blundering into the middle of her Tess Monaghan series. I love Lippman's style, which is very visual and compelling. She creates vivid characters and puts them in interesting situations.

"The Survivors Club" - Lisa Gardiner

Summary: The three women came together for support as victims of the same rapist. When that rapist is killed walking into the courthouse for his trial, they quickly become the main suspects in his murder.

Grade: A

Reason: Strong characters in a well-written plot with enough twists to keep you guessing for a good while.

"Dead Past"- Beverly Connor

Summary: Diane Fallon, head of the crime lab in a small southern town, must tackle her most difficult case yet. A meth lab explodes in a house, killing 30 college kids who were there for a party. Diane and her team must sift through the evidence to try to determine who was involved. As they work, their suspects start to get murdered.

Grade: D

Reason: I bought this book as part of a 3 for 2 deal at the airport bookstore. I don't think it was even my scroungy third choice - the summary, first page, and the fact that this is the woman's fourth book suckered me in. The writing was stiff and stilted with too many irrelevant details stuffed in for good measure. The characters don't even rise to the level of cardboard cutouts. I know - why did I keep reading? Because it's her fourth book, I kept expecting it to get better. I was so wrong.

"The Caller" - Alex Barclay

Summary: Detective Joe Lucchesi is back in NYC, where he and his family are trying to put their lives back together after a distressing year in Ireland in which they were stalked by a killer. In NY, things aren't much better as Joe becomes the lead investigator on a vicious murder case.

Grade: A

Summary: The first 30 pages or so were rough to read. The writing and the story seemed a bit jerky, like they weren't quite oiled yet. But then the story hits its stride and I didn't want to put the book down. The characters are what make this book - the plot seems like it might have a few holes, but I wo uld have to re-read it to be sure. It might have just been that I was rushing to find out what was going to happen.

"Alone" - Lisa Gardiner

Summary: Police sniper Bobby Dodge is involved in what looks like a righteous shooting - a domestic disturbance in which a husband was about to shoot his wife. But were things really as they seemed? The father of the dead husband, a powerful judge, believes that the shooting was staged by his son's vindictive wife and he will stop at nothing to prove his case.

Grade: A

Reason: In a way, this book could have been ruined for me. I inadvertantly read "Hide" first, which also features Bobby Dodge and a few other characters from "Alone." Unfortunately, "Hide" also reveals all of the plot twists in the previous book. But the writing was so good and the story so compelling, I was able to put aside what I knew and just enjoy the ride.

"Sunstroke" - Jesse Kellerman

Summary: Gloria Mendez, a 36 year old woman, has nutured a crush on her boss Carl, a soft-spoken man 20 years her senior. When Carl vanishes on a trip to Mexico, Gloria feels that she must unravel the mystery.

Grade: A+

Reason: I resisted reading this book for at least a year because I was suspicious, as Jesse's parents are Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, both bestselling authors. (I've read pretty much every Jonathan Kellerman book out there - Faye's stuff is not really my thing.) I'm so glad I stumbled across the book in the library. I can't say enough good things about the book - the imagery and the character development are especially fantastic. The plot has a lot of momentum and I really want to read the book again to figure out how the author manages to maintain momentum when his character is just thinking.


At 1 June 2007 at 02:22, Blogger laurie said...

ok, you like juvenile fiction, right? because you want to write it yourself?

here are some recommendations:

anything by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, especially "greensleeves," which i read over and over and over again. lots of wisdom in that book, for all of us.

"witch of the glen" by sally watson, or anything else by sally watson.

i read that one over and over again, too.

i read only four books this month. but "the judgment of paris" took me a long time.

At 8 June 2007 at 16:58, Blogger stwidgie said...

Oooh, mysteries. Having opted for linguistics instead of literature, I don't feel too guilty about liking mysteries or rating stories strongly on plot. (Sort of goes along with
- "I just bought a new truck!"
- "Oh! What color is it?")
Because I'm compulsive enough to prefer reading series in order, I set up a page on my website to help me when I'm at the library: "What's the next book in that mystery series?"

Oh, and my favorite author for young people is Joan Aiken. I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase as a child and have followed the characters over the years, right up to her posthumously published conclusion to the series a couple years back. I'm reading one of hers right now, The way to write for children

Completely apart from these: Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson. Surmounting the obstacles to keeping journals.


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