Monday, May 26, 2014

June - December 2002 Reading!

I just found my journal from the summer of 2002 - beginning with cleaning out my house, then on to my trip 'cross country, and into the first days in Tucson.  Wow.

Here are the books I mention:

The Summons
John Grisham
Goodreads rating:  3.63

Quick read, somewhat interesting story - almost feels like "fluff" compared to his early novels, though.  (Two brothers, on a UVa law professor,t he other a 20-year alcohol/drug addict, square off when their stern judge father dies in rural Mississippi.)

Blood Money
Thomas Perry
Jane Whitefield #9
audio book - 8 cassettes (!!)
10.5 hrs.
NEH Library
Goodreads Rating:  4.05

Jane Whitefield, again on the road to hide peoople, is up against every Mafia family in the U. S.   Bernie "the Elephant" has been laundering Mafia money for years, and together they give billions away to charities as they crisscross the U. S.   Well written and avery intersting (though all the Mafia names get confusing.)

Robert B. Parker
Spenser #28
Goodreads rating:  3.83

Bob and Sheila bought this book for Steve, newly published, just before he died.  It was a typical Spenser, lots of words, big print,  philosophical, funny in his self-important way.  The setting is Arizona, but unlike his usual descriptive settings, this one seems hazy.  He collects six "bad guys" from previous novels to aid and abet him in getting rid of the bad element that's taken over the town,  Yes, very typical...but attention-holding.

Three to Get Deadly
Janet Evanovich
Goodreads rating:  4.12

Jersey girl Stephanie Plum, bumbling bounty hunter, is at it again.  Uncle Mo, local ice cream and candy store owner, loved by all, has jumped bond and now drug dealers are showing up dead.  We get to know Ranger a little better, with more side-stepping with Joe Morelli.  Lula, the reformed hooker (who's plenty of laughs herself) is Stephanie's new side-kick.  Fast, funny reading.

Open House
Elizabeth Berg
241 pages
Goodreads rating: 3.64

Good one, with lots of issues that make me sad in this point in my life....Sam's husband leaves her and she's miserable.  Her 11-year old sone is....preadolescent.  Her mother tries to fix her up with men.  She opens up her house to roommate/s to pay the mortgage.  She is engaging and funny.  VERY fast read.  Very good story.  Very satisfying ending.

1st to Die
James Patterson
Women's Murder Club #1
Audio book/ 7 - 1 1/2 hour tapes = 10.5 hours)
Goodreads rating:  4.00

1st in a new murder mystery series about 4 women, a cop, a medical examiner, a DA, and a reporter who call themselves the "Women's Murder Club."  The protagonist is Boxer, the cop, who fights a rare blood disorder as she tries to solve some grizzly bride and groom murders.  Her partner/new lover is killed at the end.

Good in Bed
Jennifer Weiner
Goodreads rating:  3.64

This was a good one!  The ups and downs of a feisty, humorous newspaper writer as she travels from broken love affair through pregnancy and lots of friendships.  Sent it to Laura from Nebraska....

Hugger Mugger
Robert B. Parker
Spenser #27
Audio, 2000
Goodreads rating: 3.78

What looks like horse-killings, then the murder of the patriarch owner of "Three Fillies," a race horse magnate.

Bad Boy
Olivia Goldsmith
Goodreads rating: 3.18

Another fun one - A Seattle newspaper writer turns her male best friend into a "bad boy" to help him attract females.  It workds - in more ways than one!  I sent this one to Laura, too.
City of Names
Kevin Brockmeier
Bear Canyon Library, Sept. 3, 2002
Goodreads rating: 3.44

Fanciful and funny, this story tells of Howie Quackenbush's adventures after he receives a book and map entitled Secret Guide to North Mellwood.  Although the story is really fun, its climax is weak and the reader is left with vague questions, feeling the story hasn't really been wrapped up.

Blue Diary
Alice Hoffman
Goodreads rating: 3.52

Ethan Ford and his wife, Jorrie, have adored each other throughout their 13 years together - until Ethan's past - raping and murdering a 15-year-old - catches up with him.  Details of the supporting characters are intermixed so well that you come to care for them as much as the central figures.  Setting is a small Boston suburb (like Lynnfield or Middleton).  I wonder where Alice Hoffman lives.....

The Same Stuff as Stars
Katherine Paterson
Goodreads rating: 3.82

     Wow, I don't know when I've ever had such mixed feelings about a book!  Every single character other than the protagonist, Angel, are so flawed that it makes the terrific story too unbelievable -- there simply could not be so many troubled people in one person's world!  Even the librarian is physically flawed, so stooped and broken she can't look up at the stars.  Her spirit is the only strength in Angel's life.  I think I could believe Angels's lot - selfish, spoiled mother; incarcerated, careless father; spoiled ADHD brother; helpless, spite-filled great grandmother; even mean, vindictive classmates.....  Paterson kills off the Vietnam-tainted ex-druggie Uncle who teaches her to love the stars.  Big disappointment.  And are we supposed to believe, at the end of the story, that mom reforms and they become one big happy family?
     Angel is perfect, the caregiver, the provider, making sure that all five food groups are recommended, taking care of everyone.  She's 11 years old, six different schools, no one ever to guide her.  She would not be such a responsible girls.  She just wouldn't.
     I cried.  I couldn't put the book down.  But I just can't link it to any kind of true reality.

What Became of Her
M. E. Kerr
Goodreads rating: 3.15

"Edgar Tobbit (EC) meets Neal Kraft at a group session ... and their friendship with the niece of an eccentric widow takes a turn-around and thwarts the widow's plans to get revenge on the town where she was mistreated as a young girl."
     At the crux of this story are many characters and the friendship between EC, Neal, and Julie, the niece.  There are so many of Kerr's bizarre and delightful eccentricities - including  Peale, Mrs. Rosalind Slaymaster's partially life-sized leather doll.
     Unfortunately the story zooms and slows with a few too many gaps for passages of time, and not enough full information given to some of the storytelling.  It almost as if the book was abridged by a careless editor.  Couldn't put it down, was M. E. Kerr after all!

Rain Is Not My Indian Name
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Goodreads rating:  3.44

"Tired of staying in seclusion since the death of her best friend, a 14-year old Native American girl takes on a photographic assignment with her local newspaper to cover events at the Native American summer youth camp."  Unfortunately, this was disappointing - never fully convinced the reader what the main focus was!

Winnie Dancing on Her Own
Jennifer Richard Jacobsen
Goodreads rating: 3.82

A really sweet story with a great father-daughter (single parent) relationship.  105 easy pages and large print.  "Winnie is worried when her best friends Zoe and Vanessa enroll her in ballet classes with them, since she would rather go to the library and read like they always do."  Maine author.

Steve Martin
Unabridged audio 2000
Goodreads rating: 341

Mirabelle sells gloves in LA's Neiman Marcus.  This is her story.  It's about relationships - one with Ray Porter, twice her aged; and one with Jeremy, another offbeat personality.  Everyone seems a bit off-kilter and I found this a bit depressing.

Angel on the Square
Gloria Whelan
Goodreads rating: 3.91

This story spans 1913 - 1918 in Russia, following a 12-year-old girl who is companion to the daughters of Czar Nocholas II.  Katya witnesses the revolution from the eyes of the well as through the eyes of her friend, Mischa.  They end up impoverished and the royal family is all kiled or missing during the riese of Lenin and his Bolshevik party.

Carl Hiaasen
Goodreads rating: 3.81

     Funny and clever, but not totally absorbing...the story of a newly transplanted middle schooler in Florida who is assaulted continuously by a bully and solves a mystery about a barefoot-running boy.  In the process, he saves a small colony of tiny burrowing owls from being bulldozed over by a new pancake franchise.  The protagonist, Roy, is not the only narrative we hear - there are also glimpses from the dimwitted-but-well-meaning local cop and the equally dimwitted construction site foreman.

Q is for Quarry
Sue Grafton
Audio ( I bought this cd for the car trip to Maine in Linda's van, and didn't realize until I'd listened to the whole thing (6 hours) that it was abridged.
Goodreads rating:  3.85

     Good story - Kinsey teams up with two semi-retired older cops (Con Dolan and Stacey) to solve the 1969 murder of a Jane Doe in Lompoc, California.  Much of the action takes place just north of Blythe on the Arizona border.

Parvana's Journey (sequel to The Breadwinner)
Deborary Ellis
Goodreads rating: 3.99

Parvana, at 13, has buried her father and is now on the road searching for her family.  Along the way she finds one-legged Asif and baby Hassan, then orphaned Leila.  The setting is Afghanistan in the late 90's, during Taliban rule.  Gripping and sad.

Deep South
Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon #8
Goodreads rating: 3.87

Anna Pigeon arrives at Natchez Trace Parkway to be the head ranger only to find hostility from the other rangers and a grizzly murder of a high school - a trail that goes in many directions.  I particularly enjoyed the look into Anna's personal life and demons.

The Monk Downstairs
Tim Farrington
Goodreads rating: 3.46

Rebecca Martin is a single mother with a 38-year-old surfer-dude ex-husband, when a man who's just left a monastery after 20 years moves into her tiny downstairs apartment in San Francisco.  Michael Christopher is an ordinary guy who drinks, smokes, has a great sense of humor -- and a deep spirituality that he has many questions about.  Their slowly blooming love affair is tender, funny, and totally charming.  There's also a side-story about her mother having a stroke that adds interesting things to think about.

Stand Tall
Joan Bauer
Goodreads rating: 3.66

At 12 years old and in the seventh grade, Tree is over six foot three.  His parents are in the midst of a divorce, his Vietnam Vet electrician grandpa is having a leg amputated, and Tree is always the butt of jokes at school.  This "year in his life" is heartwarming and heart-wrenching - a great characterization and lots ot think about.

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