Monday, December 4, 2017

summer and fall reading list

I would have published my book list from the summer at the end of August but there was a hurricane and a flood and well, stuff happened. 

Turbo Twenty Three by Janet Evanovich – the continuing saga of Stephanie Plum with more bounty hunts, more Lulu, more Morelli, and more Ranger with ice cream.

The Twelve Lives Of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti – a coming of age story intermingled with a thriller, Hawley and Loo, his beloved daughter, were vagabonds, rarely staying in one place for more than a year and sometimes far less. Sometimes they just lived in their truck. Loo's mother Lily died when she was an infant, drowned in a lake, and Hawley raised their daughter. Every time Hawley moved them, trying to keep his past from catching up to them, they would leave everything that couldn't fit in one suitcase each behind and would disappear overnight. When Loo was 12, Hawley decided it was time to settle down and try to give Loo a normal life. They returned to Lily's hometown, Olympus, Massachusetts on the coast where Hawley found work as a fisherman. Their first stop was Loo's grandmother's house. Hawley went to the door while Loo stayed in the truck and watched while her grandmother slammed the door in Hawley's face. Life was not easy for Loo in Olympus. She had no social skills and was soon ostracized as was her father. Eventually they settled in to a sort of acceptance and one day she found herself at her grandmother's door where she learned some things that caused her to question the story her father had told her about her mother's death and she sets out to discover the truth. Sam Hawley has been shot 12 times. Interspersed in Loo's story are the bullet stories, slowly revealing Hawley's and Lily's past. When Loo is 17, that past catches up to them. An excellent story very well written.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – another in the FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast series. Pendergast is relaxing in his manse in NY when the rare occurrence of the doorbell ringing brings Constance Green, his ward, to the door to discover the body of one of Pendergast's twin sons, the evil Alban. During the autopsy, a rare piece of turquoise is discovered in Alban's stomach leading Pendergast into a trap that poisons him. During the investigation of Alban's murder and another seemingly unconnected murder at the museum, Pendergast is confronted with his family's past from which much of his wealth flowed, a past that was responsible for the deaths of many people and is responsible for the acts of revenge now being taken against him. It's a race to see if his attacker can be identified and dealt with and a cure found before Pendergast succumbs to the very poison that set these wheels in motion generations ago.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins – Nel Abbott's body is pulled from the river, from the Drowning Pool, a place that has claimed troublesome women all the way back to the witch hunts. A few months earlier 15 year old Katie Townsend committed suicide and was also pulled from the river, her pockets and her backpack filled with stones. Katie was Nel's daughter Lena's best friend. Nel's estranged sister, Jules, leaves London and returns to the Mill House, the vacation house on the river of their childhood where her sister and niece now live, a place of bad memories and secrets from her childhood she fled from and swore never to return to, in order to make sense of Nel's apparent suicide and to parent the niece she has never met. Nel had always been obsessed with the Drowning Pool and the women who entered it either voluntarily or otherwise and her digging through the stories of those women dredged up secrets other people in town thought best left alone. The book is two stories, the explanation revealed for the suicide of Katie, a popular beautiful teen with no apparent worries, as the investigation into Nel's drowning proceeds, and that of Nel and the secrets that lead to her death and of Jules who finally learns too late that her hatred of her older sister was born of a misunderstanding and not a truth.

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – a seemingly simple case of a wine collection theft and a seemingly unrelated murder in this New England coastal town reveals a larger historical mystery that Pendergast, with Constance's help, solves while ignoring the clues of another mystery that Constance unearthed. With the town and Pendergast relaxing in the aftermath of the case, a mutant humanoid goes on a killing spree in town while Constance decides to continue the investigation on her own. Belatedly Pendergast realizes his mistake and rushes to save Constance from the mortal danger she has unknowingly put herself in. In the end, Pendergast goes missing, Constance returns to her subterranean domain, and an old enemy returns.

The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – and now I am caught up on the Pendergast novels. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is wounded and feared drowned in the last final confrontation at the end of the previous book. Constance has retreated to her private sub-basement quarters to come to terms with his death and what if means for her future. Proctor, Pendergast's butler, chauffeur, body guard, right hand man, charged with Constance's safety, is caught off guard and knocked out. He regains consciousness just in time to see Constance being kidnapped by Diogenes, Pendergast's enemy and younger brother and all round evil serial killer whom everyone thought had died when Constance pushed him into a volcano. Proctor grabs his 'bug-out' bag and gives chase, a long wild goose chase that gets him out of the mansion. With Proctor gone, Diogenes, who has had a change of heart, sets out to woo Constance back and win her love and trust and raise their son. Meanwhile, Pendergast had been picked up out of the ocean and held captive by a smuggler boat who decide to ransom him back to the FBI, a plan that doesn't work out so well for them and Pendergast returns to the mansion to find Proctor missing and Constance packed up and gone as she had finally agreed to go with Diogenes to his private island to live. Pendergast sets out to discover where they are and to rescue Constance.

The Miracle At Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith – next in the series, the further adventures of Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and Mr. Matekoni featuring a bed, a successful unsuccessful search for an unknown relative, and a failed miracle.

The Hard Way by Lee Child – a Jack Reacher novel, the first I've read. I wouldn't have ordinarily selected this but I had finished my book, it was the weekend and the library was closed, and Marc had finished it. So the commander of his private little mercenary army of dishonorably discharged ex-military men in NYC hires Reacher to find the man/men who kidnapped his wife and step-child after the first ransom demand of $1 million. Turns out 5 years previous the same thing happened only that wife didn't survive. Reacher teams up with the ex-FBI agent who was on that case and together they put 2 and 2 together and realize that this was an escape attempt by the wife and step-daughter but not before he tells Lane, the violently deranged commander, where they are. The showdown happens in the English countryside.

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child - Jeremy Logan, enigmologist and investigator of things not easily explained, is engaging in a retreat to finish his scholarly monograph but is quickly drawn into the investigation of the recent murders in the Adirondack Mountains by his old college friend, now a Ranger there in the national forest. Three hikers, over a period of as many months, have been horribly murdered in the wild remote forest, their bodies literally torn apart while the rumors in this small isolated community swirl around strange things. It doesn't help that all the murders take place during the full moon.

Here ends the summer quarter of books. Into the fall quarter, it took me six weeks to read one book...

The Songcatcher by Sharon McCrumb – an interesting tale based on the life of the author's Scottish forbear, and his descendents, who was kidnapped in 1759 off a beach when he was 9 and pressed into service on a ship. During his 10 years on the ship he heard and learned a mournful song that was passed down through the generations of his family. The story jumps from the past to the present and back again, told through the perspectives of several people, to the current generation, folksinger Lark McCourry, estranged from her dying father, who barely remembers hearing the song as a child and is on a quest to find someone in her home community who knows it. A fairly good tale but a bit contrived I thought when Lark's plane crashes and when she calls the 911 operator, she tasks him with finding the song while the searchers try to find her.

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar – very short book with large type and generous spacing, really a novella tricked out to look like a novel. Twelve year old Gwendy, determined to slim down and lose her unwanted nickname, climbs the 'suicide stairs' every day to the top of Castle Rock. One day there is a man sitting on a nearby bench who calls to her. He has something for her, a button box or rather, a box with buttons and the minute she lays eyes on it she knows it is hers. This lever gives out treats, this lever gives out silver dollars, the red button will give her whatever she wants, the various colored buttons have other purposes and then there's the black button. Gwendy pushes the lever that gives treats, a chocolate in the shape of an animal, and immediately her life and the life of her parents improves. The button box is not just a device to improve Gwendy's life. It proves to be a terrible responsibility.

The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz – this author, with the blessing of Stieg Larrson's family, has continued the Millennium series. Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, hacks the NSA and discovers a plot and cooperation with cybercriminals. A prominent Swedish scientist is murdered for his research while his savant autistic son watches shortly before Mikael Blomkvist arrives for an interview and both Lisbeth and Mikael are drawn into the tangled web of cyber-theft and murder.


  1. Do you take notes to remember all of this?

    1. I write my synopsis/review right after I finish the book.

  2. Wow, that's like a box of Christmas chocolate's. I hope they make The Girl in the Spider's Web into a movie!

  3. You've reminded me that I need to make more time for reading.

  4. Ellen! Take a look at this -- photo restoration for Harvey victims: I wasn't sure if I could link on your blog, but you can copy and paste to get the info. Ten photos per household, one appointment (in the Houston Heights) this coming weekend.

  5. I will have to check out the Douglas Treston series

  6. Dang it - the two books I want to read are on hold. I'm still making my way through the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books & I'm caught up on Stephanie Plum & Pendergast. Have you read The Dry? Set in Australia - a murder/suicide of a family takes place, or is that what it is? Very good!


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.