Sunday, August 28, 2016
summer reading list
I used to read a book a week or more. Now it seems if I get one read a month I'm doing good.
In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Nora receives an invitation to her ex-best friend Clare's 'hen' party whom she hasn't seen or communicated with in 10 years. Nora transferred to another school after she and her boyfriend broke up and she tried to put that past behind her. She reluctantly agrees to go with Nina, the only person she kept up with from school days, also invited. Nora, or Lee as she was known in school, and Nina arrive at a remote glass house for the weekend to be met by Flo, Clare's new bestie, who has arranged the weekend party. When Nora finally asks Clare why she was invited to the party but not to the wedding, Clare tells her it's because she wanted to tell Lee/Nora herself that the groom is Lee/Nora's long lost boyfriend whom Nora has never gotten over. Next thing, Nora is waking up in the hospital battered and bruised and with no memory of the past 24 hours which slowly comes back to her. James has been murdered and the police suspect Nora. The shooting was an accident Nora remembers, they were all clustered in a group with Flo holding the shotgun which was supposed to have not been loaded, fearful of the intruder coming up the stairs. Or was it? And why did James come out there unannounced in the middle of the night? And who was setting her up? Nora escapes from the hospital and returns to the glass house to try and recover the last bit of memory where she is followed and confronted by Clare, also bruised and battered and away from the hospital. We learn the secret Nora has been keeping about the break-up with James and who the murderer is and why. It was stupid, a stretch of a motive. I was enjoying the story well enough until the end.
Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz – I like Dean Koontz or I used to. It seems to me though that lately he can spin a good yarn but has trouble finishing it, bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion and I feel like he could have done a little bit better on this one. The story was good enough, kept me engaged though towards the end it felt a bit repetitive. Bibi Blair, young author of one published book, suffers weakness in her left side and goes to the hospital to learn she has incurable brain cancer. The next day or so, a stranger comes into her room with a dog and Bibi is miraculously cured. When she returns home, her delighted parents send over a masseuse and dabbler in the occult who uses her powers to find out why Bibi was spared from the cancer. The answer was to save a life and the person whose life she is to save is Ashley Bell. This is no easy task as the Wrong People have her prisoner and intend to kill her. Bibi sets out to find and rescue Ashley only to be constantly sidetracked by her own deep secret that she has hidden from herself since she was 6 years old. Bibi finally comes face to face with Ashley's captor who is not exactly who he seems to be. Like I said, it's a good story that kept me engaged. I just wish it had ended better.
The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson - This is two story lines that run intertwined with each other. They sort of intersect in that each storyline has a character that sort of senses the other storyline even though they are separated by possibly 150 years in time. Mary and Graham, bereaved of their two young daughters in a random act of fate trying to make sense of continued life without them and 14 year old Eliza and her siblings, the little kiddies, and their relationship with James, a laborer on her father's farm who turns out to be a con man and a serial killer. We know how Eliza's story ends as the book begins with the almost end of her story. So Mary and Graham move into a new house to try for a new start after the murders of their girls, the house that Eliza and her family lived in 150 years previous. Mary is uneasy there at first as she keeps seeing children and a red haired man in the garden while Graham is preoccupied with his troubled daughter from a previous marriage. They become friends with another couple in the village and Mary is pursued by Eddie, the husband. Eventually, a skeleton is discovered buried in the shed at the back of the garden, an event that starts Mary's emergence from the fog of grief. I kept expecting the storylines to merge in some sort of supernatural way but I got to the end of the book without it ever happening. I was more interested in Eliza's storyline than Mary's. Mary had an annoying habit of answering every statement, opinion, or question with a question.
The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer - I didn't realize when I checked this and the previous book out that they were so similar in some ways. Both are about the loss of a child and both are written using alternating storylines. Beth, single mom who's ex-husband has settled down with another woman, and her 8 year old daughter go to a storytelling festival and get separated in the fog that drifts in just as Carmel hides and then goes into one of her fugues where time changes and she can't move. (It occurred to me that these were probably petit mals though it was never alluded to in the story.) She has a talent unknown to her or anyone else, she can heal people. Her talent hasn't gone completely unnoticed though and she is abducted by a man who has been watching her. One storyline deals with the mother and her search for her daughter and her sorrow and self blame and her life and how she finally starts to pick up the pieces of a life again and the other storyline is of Carmel and what has happened to her and the life she eventually leads as an itinerant healer on the revival circuit in America and how all that comes to an end. Carmel and her mother are eventually reunited though it is nearly six years later and the last page of the book.