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- (7/31) Dark Road Home by Karen Harper.
- Pretty bad novel about attorney Brooke Benton (yuck!) who
flees the big city (she's being stalked by a maniac who's mad she got a
killer off) and moves to Amish country. Not long after she's there, a
big truck runs into a buggy full of Amish teens and then flees the scene.
The teens all die and Brooke takes over the investigation. All the while,
she's swooning over Daniel, a studly Amish guy, and crying a lot. Pretty
badly written, not that entertaining, and a little bit patronizing about
the Amish, but it takes a lot more than that to get me to put down a book
once I've started it. Maybe it's a pride thing. I honestly can't explain
why I bothered reading past page 35.
- (7/29) What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies.
- Satirical and engrossing story narrated by two angels about
the life of a famous art collector name Francis Cornish. Cornish is a
pretty lovable character, though a bit naive, and the writing is funny and
smooth. Reminded me a little bit of Wouk, though I can't put my finger on
why, exactly. Very good.
- (7/26) Wasted by Marya
- Memoir of the 23-year old author's lifetime of struggle
against anorexia and bulemia. I think most women will find this book very
difficult to read.
- (7/25) Light in August by William Faulkner.
- Been wondering where I've been lately? I've been reading
Faulkner! This happens to me every summer, actually; I get the itch to
read something masterful and difficult and amazing and I pull down a
Faulkner novel and spend a good week or so reading and thinking and
wishing I'd gotten that Master's degree in English after all. This one is
one of the most action-packed of the Faulkner novels. It's got premarital
sex! It's lynchings! It's got decapitations and housefires! All
Faulkner's novels are about the Civil War and what it did to the South,
even though very few of them are actually ABOUT the Civil War and what it
did to the South. For example, this one is about a dauntless woman named
Lena Grove, who walks from Arkansas to Mississippi in search of the father
of her unborn child; and a man named Joe Christmas who thinks he is part
negro (though he really has no proof of this) and is consumed by self-hate
because of it. If you've never read any Faulkner, this isn't a bad place
to begin. But it's long -- you might be better off starting with "As
I Lay Dying" instead (it's about the Civil War and what it did to the
South -- ha ha).
- (7/19) The Sculptress by Minette
- Walters second novel (after The Ice
House) is as enjoyable as her
first. In this one, a journalist named
Rosalind Leigh is pressured into accepting a commision to write a book
about the infamous Olive Martin. When she discovers Martin may have been
framed for the murders she is serving time for (a gruesome double-murder
of her sister and mother), she befriends a cop who was involved with the
original case and the two of them begin to dig for the truth. Not as
complex as The Ice House, but still a lot of fun.
- (7/17) Hannibal by Thomas Harris.
- Everything you've heard about this book is completely true.
It's one of the worst books I've ever slogged my way through. It reminded
me of a book written from a movie -- it reads like it's written by someone
who watched the film version of "The Silence of the Lambs" 30 times and
then wrote a sequel to it. There's so much scene-dropping from the
original (and it mostly felt like scene-dropping from the movie, not the
book), that it was almost pathetic. Each reference to a scene from
"Silence" was out of place in "Hannibal." It felt like a constant
reminder, like Harris knew his latest story about Lector was crap and
wanted to make sure we remembered he'd done it well at least once
before. I read the first 250 pages and was embarrassed for Harris. I
skimmed the last 250 pages and hoped Harris was embarrassed for himself.
Skip it -- don't bother with it. It's trite, stupid, and just plain old
boring. And it deserves it's own genre:
- (7/13) The Lost Tribe by Mark Lee.
- Terrific novel about a journalist in a fictional war-torn
African country who hooks up with a missionary (and a couple of
anthropologists and native Africans) to go up to the north and try to find
a tribe believed to be one of the legendary Lost Tribes of Israel. The
missionary is completely fixated on finding the tribe, though he does stop
to dig a few wells for people, because he thinks they possess secret
wisdom that will restore his troubled belief in God. But when the search
for the elusive tribe draws the group into the hostile Northern District,
the journalist (an ex-seminary student himself) must find a way to balance
the missionary's increasingly
apocalyptic vision with his own changing perception of both the world
around him and his own faith. Very well-written. Loved it.
- (7/12) Midwives by Chris Bohjalian.
- I've been really delinquent this month about reading, partly
because I got cable last Friday. However, the novelty has already worn
off, so I should be back on track soon. This book has been sitting on my
shelf for a few months now and I finally got to it over the weekend. It's
about a midwife on trial for the death of one of her patients. On an icy
snowy night, midwife Sybil Danforth was attending the labor of her
patient, Charlotte. It was a difficult labor and when it became clear
something was wrong, Sybil tried to get Charlotte to the car. But the
roads were so icy, she knew she could never make it to the hospital, so
she continued to try to help Charlotte deliver. Suddenly, Charlotte had a
spasm and became unconscious. Sybil was convinced she had died from a
stroke and after being unsuccessful with CPR, cut open her belly to save
the child. But was Charlotte really dead before Sybil sliced her open?
An interesting look at both the legal system and the practice of
midwifery. It's also a coming-of-age tale, since the whole book is
written in first-person narrative form, being told by Sybil's 14 year old
daughter. Recommended, but if you're pregnant right now, I'd wait until
later to read this one.
- (7/8) The Sabbathday River by Jean Hanff Korelitz.
- Naomi Roth--divorced, liberal, feminist, and
Jewish--is very much an outsider in Goddard, New
Hampshire, though she's lived there for nine
years and manages a crafts cooperative that employs
many local women. When Naomi finds the
body of a murdered newborn floating in the river, the
town's normal atmosphere of suspicion
intensifies as gossip begins to swirl around its
Jezebel, Heather Pratt, who has previously borne a
child by a married man. The district attorney extracts
a tainted confession from Heather that she
gave birth to a new baby by her now-estranged lover
and left it for dead. Meanwhile, Naomi finds a
second dead newborn in a pond, leading to a charge of
not one murder but two--though Heather
insists that she had only one baby and that it was
stillborn. A furious Naomi convinces Judith
Newman, a fellow New Yorker and lawyer new to Goddard,
to take on Heather's defense. Very well-written and fast-paced, despite
the fact it's pretty long. I was actually GLAD it was long -- I didn't
want it to end! Highly recommended!
- (7/6) Privileged To Kill by Steven F. Havill.
- Part of a series featuring Undersheriff Bill Gastner and set
in New Mexico. In this one, a young girl's body is discovered beneath the
bleachers at the local high school football field a day after a strange
traveller has riden his old bike into town. While many immediately
suspect he is the killer, Gastner has his doubts. His investigation leads
him to a string of deaths that appear to be connected and that go back
several years. I really like the Undersheriff's character and will be
looking for the others in this series.
- (7/4) Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.
- Taylor and her 6-year-old adopted Cherokee daughter Turtle go
on the run when a Cherokee lawyer finds out Taylor adopted the girl
without the permission of the tribe (Taylor is a white woman who found the
girl beaten and abandoned three years ago). Ultimately, Taylor has to
decide whether it's better for Turtle to stay with her (and on the lam) or
to go back to Oklahoma and try to work things out with the tribe. A story
of difficult decisions. Very good.
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