Friday, March 4, 2016
winter reading list
Another short list but in my defense, my last (current) book is 870 pages. I was hoping to get it finished before the end of this quarter but, alas, I still have about 170 pages to go.
Code Of Conduct: a thriller by Brad Thor - A formula novel with totally cliched characters male and female alike. Ex super SEAL operative working for a private company with close ties to the government is assigned to go find out what happened to a jungle clinic in the Congo. They find a purged facility and a pit filled with burned bodies. Meanwhile, the Israelis are zeroing in on a prime suspect but even they don't know what he really has planned. Can the good guys figure out who the bad guy is and what he is up to before he carries out his heinous plan? The answer is yes and no. They figure who and what and why but too late for when and where. The plan is launched but fizzles, the bad guy escapes but is caught. It was a good enough quick mindless read.
Church Of Marvels by Leslie Parry – The Church of Marvels is an attraction on Coney Island. Was an attraction on Coney Island. It burned down before the story starts in 1895 killing Friendship Church, the proprietress, and several of the other living attractions, leaving her 17 year old twin daughters alone and bereaved. Belle, the perfectly formed sword swallower and contortionist, disappears with her grief leaving her crooked sister bereft and working alone at another side show with the knife thrower. Eventually Odile receives a letter from her sister Belle and leaves for the Lower East Side of Manhattan to find her following what meager clues she has from the letter. Meanwhile, Sylvan Threadgill, himself abandoned as a child (he thinks as he has no real memories of the time before) and taken in and then orphaned as a young man, who works as a night soiler finds an abandoned baby in a privy. He takes the baby home and sets out to try and find out who might have abandoned her. And then there is Alphie, thrown out of her house at 14 to fall prey to the sex market, who makes her living making the drunks and opium addicts look presentable on their way home, now rescued and married to the local undertaker hoping to keep her secret hidden, who wakes up in the local lunatic asylum with a head wound and no clear memory of how she got there. Odile, Belle, Sylvan, Alphie all have their stories to tell as their lives intersect and their secrets unfold. And at the very end, even Friendship Church's secret is revealed. It's a good story well told with unusual characters from the poorer and seedier side of life.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Andrew McCall Smith – the first in this long series. Mma Ramotswe, upon the death of her father and the sale of his cattle, buys a house and a building, opens a detective agency and sets about to solve the problems of her clients. Set in Botswana, Africa. Quick enjoyable read, I look forward to others in the series.
Among The Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont – This is a story about Jack, a NY artist, and his wife Deb, a ballet instructor for aspiring young women, herself a retired dancer, and their two children 11 year old Kay and 15 year old Simon, and the dissolution of their family. One day a woman delivers a box to the doorman for Deb. When Kay comes home from school, he gives her the box to take up for her mother. Kay looks at the box and decides that since it isn't sealed, just tucked, it would be alright for her to peek. She takes it into her room and inside is all the evidence of a year long affair with another woman, page after page of all the printed out flirtatious and sexually explicit texts between her father and his lover. Kay shows her brother before their mother gets home and when Deb arrives, all hell breaks loose. The kids are hurt and confused as they wait for Jack to come home. Deb, who has known about the affair for months and that it was ended, is now forced to take active control of her life as she tries to decide if she can continue to live with the infidelity now that the kids know. The bulk of the book covers this three week period while Deb takes the kids to a vacation house they co-own with Jack's best friend in order to be able to decide what she wants to do without pressure from Jack. Most of the story isn't really about what Deb is going through so much as the other three others so we read about Jack and Kay and Simon and how they are reacting to the situation. It ends abruptly with two short sections that outline the future, one of which occurs right in the middle of the story.