Saturday, March 2, 2013

winter reading list

This is probably my shortest list since I've been doing this.

Empire by Orson Scott Card – a left vs right political thriller about the possibility/probability of another civil war. Secret OPs army-heart-and-soul Major Rueben Malich has been tasked with finding holes in the defense of the President of the United States and turns his plan over to his White House contact. When his plan is used by terrorists to kill the far-right President, the SecDef, and the Speaker of the House and the Vice President is killed in a car accident at the same time, Malich and his team try to find out who the traitors are before he can be arrested for treason. Two days later, a far left group called the Progressive Restoration invades and takes over New York City with superior weaponry and calls for the rest of America to accept them as the legal government. The new President and his staff and Major Malich and his strike force team tread careful ground while trying to locate the 'nest' of the of the traitors without sparking another violent civil war. It's a pretty good story but then I like Orson Scott Card. He's an excellent story teller.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver – a young woman, at 28 wife and mother of two young children, drops her kids off at her mother-in-law's and sets out up the mountain in eastern Tennessee to meet a man and before she gets to her destination, she sees something that stops her in her tracks and turns her back towards home. She is not sure what she has seen as she left her glasses behind in a fit of vanity but she knows it means something. Dellarobia, who was pregnant and wed at 17, lost the baby but stayed in the marriage because she had no where else to go. Father dead, mother in hospice, her dreams of college crushed, she settled into an uneasy life on a sheep farm with her husband and in-laws and eventually a son and daughter. When her father-in-law becomes determined to sell off the stand of forest to pay a debt, she convinces them to just go and look at it first, there might be something there that they don't know about. Grudgingly her husband and in-laws climb the mountain to inspect the stand of trees and are astonished to see that the monarchs have chosen their woods to overwinter in instead of their usual destination in Mexico, an event so astounding that when the general public and scientists find out, it eventually changes everybody's lives. An introspective read that I enjoyed a lot.

I can't remember the title or author! - (I returned the book to the library before I wrote down the pertinent info) An American construction company doing business in China is nearing completion of a prestigious sky scraper when their Chinese national employee in charge of 'greasing the wheels' of commerce is kidnapped along with his American bodyguard. Bribery is illegal in the PRC as are investigations by non-Chinese so an American with a military background turned importer and a Chinese national forensic accountant are hired to find the books and the the two men before they are killed. A good story with a twist at the end.

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman - Tom, an Australian survivor of WWI returns home and into the service of lighthouse keepers in order to keep his ghosts at bay. He meets a young woman nearly 10 years his junior in the small town from which the lighthouse, many miles out to sea on an island of its own, is provisioned. They marry and she goes to live with her husband on the small island where they will be isolated for two years. A couple of weeks after Isabell's third miscarriage, this one carried for 7 months, a boat with a dead man and a live infant washes ashore. Isabel takes the baby to her breast and Tom cannot bring himself to deprive her of the infant and so does not report the incident, as duty and conscience demands, and knowing that nothing good will come of this, he buries the body on the island. When they take the nearly two year old child to the mainland they learn who she is and that the mother is alive and bereft. It's another two years before the inevitable happens. This is a story of human tragedy for everyone involved. I had to put it down at one point because I could see no good ending. It does end better than I expected but still sad. Well written.

The Thieves Of Legend by Richard Doetsch – a thriller and a race against time. An American Colonel of mixed heritage and his evil twin are both after an ancient Chinese book and the puzzle boxes and a fabled island and the poison/antidote called Dragon's Breath/Phoenix's Tears, one to protect the world, the other to infect his enemies. To that end, one of the brothers kidnaps two international 'cat' burglars that prey on the super rich, who have given it up to live lives of normalcy, but each is coerced into stealing something of great value that is held in the most secure of places in order to save the other's life. The items they are to steal are the keys to finding the island and getting the antidote for the poison before time runs out.

Five Miles South Of Peculiar by Angela Hunt - The homestead, built by their grandfather and which has housed every generation of Caldwells since is destined to become the property of the county by the terms of Old Man Caldwell's will and that time is coming, only 7 years away.  The two Caldwell women living in the house are surprised by the visit of their other sister who returns home after she realizes her 30 + year singing career in NY was over due to botched throat surgery.  The twins, Darlene and Carlene, have been separated since high school and are reunited, none too happily as far as Darlene is concerned, on their 50th birthday.  There is a lot of baggage in this family and hostility and jealousy and resistance to change.  But change is coming for everyone.  It seemed a little stiff to me in places but it's generally a nice little tale.

The Wheel Of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – Another Pendergast novel. FBI agent Pendergast and his ward Constance have retreated to a remote Tibetan monastery hidden high in the Himalayas to study and rest when the lama reveals to Pendergast that a very dangerous and evil artifact that had been hidden away for 1,000 years has been stolen. Pendergast is tasked with finding and returning the object before it's evil can be unleashed on the world. He tracks the object and the unknown person now in possession of it to London and the maiden voyage of the largest and most glamorous ocean liner ever built. It's a journey of 7 days and on the first evening a maid goes crazy and gouges out her eyes. The next morning a woman is reported as missing and it is discovered that she has gone overboard. The second night another woman goes missing and then a murdered woman is found the third night. Panic and pandemonium among the guests and crew starts to rise as the captain refuses to make for the nearest port, intent on continuing to New York. Then things go from bad to worse. Even the unflappable Pendergast is compromised. It's a good read but then I enjoy these two authors and the tales of Aloysius Pendergast.


  1. Good grief, there are so many books out there to keep track of these days! I bet you could figure out the author and title of that Chinese one with a bit of Googling.

    I bought "Flight Behavior" -- it's in my stack too!

  2. I've read something else by Orson Scott Card in the past year, a scifi classic...what WAS it? Light Between Oceans is one that I've toyed with adding to my Nook, but it does seem tragic, & I don't know if I'm up to it.

  3. The only writer I know - and enjoy reading - is Kingsolver.
    It always amazes me how we seem to read different sets of authors on each side of the pond.

    I expect you don’t know many of the currently favourite literary writers in the UK or any other English speaking country like South Africa or India.


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