Thursday, June 11, 2020

spring reading list

I'm late getting my reviews published. Only four this quarter but the first one was 530 pages (I was sure it was much longer than that but it had small type closely spaced).

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – a multigenerational historical fiction of a Korean family. In the early 1900's, Hoonie and his wife Yangjin decided to take in boarders in their small fishing village. In 1910 Japan annexed Korea and life changed again and took in even more boarders. Hoonie dies leaving his wife and their only daughter to run the boarding house. When Sunja is a teenager she succumbs to the attentions of a rich Korean merchant and when she becomes pregnant she discovers he is already married and refuses to be his mistress. When a christian minister comes to the boarding house, he falls ill and is nursed back to health by Sunja and Yangjin. To repay this debt he marries Sunja and adopts the child she is carrying. Isak and Sunja move to Osaka where Isak has a position waiting for his at a church and he and Sunja move in with his brother and sister-in-law. The story follows Isek and Sunja and then their two sons Noa (whose father helps the family behind the scenes) and Mozasu and then Mozasu's son Solomon. It's a good story, entertaining, but there's no real finish. The story just ends.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran – Claire is the world's greatest detective, also the most expensive, also the most esoteric. When the nephew of a well known and liked ex-DA in New Orleans hires Claire to find out what happened to his uncle who has gone missing during Katrina, she returns to New Orleans where she was mentored by the then most brilliant PI, Constance until her death/murder. Claire reconnects with her old life and hits the streets and the street people to find out what happened to Vic Willing, or rather to determine how he had met his death because, obviously, he is dead. Her investigation leads her to think she knows who the murderer is until she realizes the clues are a distraction and plan to protect the real killer, one of the victims of Vic's dark side. She does solve the mystery among a lot of memories of her growing up with her two best friends from whence the only mystery she has never been able to solve comes and memories of her time with Constance. It's a good read and a look into the horror that was Katrina.

And then the library closed so I rummaged through the box of books our neighbor passed on to us but either I had already read them or I don't care for the author or they were serious romance and while I'm far from a prude I just don't care to read blow by blow kiss by kiss lick by lick depictions of sex. I finally settled on a collection of four short stories by Stephen King. Which took me weeks to read, some nights only half a page before I fell asleep. I could have gone over to my sister's house because she has a lot of books I haven't read but I didn't. Clearing that fence just wiped me out.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King – the first story was the longest about a small time farmer who murders his wife because she wants to sell an adjacent plot of land that she inherited to a pig farming conglomerate instead of allowing her husband to farm it and he enlists the aid of their 14 year old son in the murder and cover up and things go south from there. The second story is about an author that writes a fluff detective series who is invited to give a reading at a library and the shortcut home she is encouraged to use by the librarian. On the way home she rounds a curve only to encounter building debris with nails and gets a flat tire. She pulls over to the parking lot of a deserted little store and soon enough a guy comes along and asks if she needs help. Instead of changing her tire, he rapes her, beats her, throttles her, and stuffs her into a culvert with two other decaying bodies and leaves her for dead. Only she doesn't die and sets out to get her revenge. The third story is about a man who is dying of cancer and drives past a place in the road where vendors often set up, sees a guy sitting there with a card table and an umbrella for shade, and stops. Elvid sells extensions, in this case an extension of life but in order for Elvid to take away the bad from one person he has to give it to another. Who do you hate, he asks Streeter. The answer is, my best friend. The forth story is about a woman with a good marriage of 25 years and two grown children starting to have success in their lives and one day her husband is out of town to look at a coin collection for their little side business when the batteries die in I forget what device so she goes out to the garage to get new ones and stumbles on a box that is sticking out from under a counter and so she discovers a hiding place and in that hiding place is a box she gave her husband several years ago and in that box are three pieces of identification belonging to a woman who's name rings a bell. Darce does an internet search and yep, the name belongs to the most recent victim of a serial killer. Her husband figures out that she has discovered his secret and she plays along until one day the perfect opportunity arises. Then there's an afterword where King tells us what inspired these stories and then finally one more very short one. In this one, a husband is trying to be very quiet so as not to disturb his sleeping wife who has been deathly ill. For a few days the other residents on the floor of his building have been complaining to the superintendent about a horrible smell which they conclude is a dead rat in the adjacent empty apartment however no rat is found and now they want access to his apartment. The first one was a bit long and a bit repetitive about the rats but overall the stories were satisfying.

The Dutch House by Anne Patchett – Danny Conroy is 8 and his sister Maeve Conroy is 15 when their father Cyril brings Andrea to the Dutch House, so called because the wealthy couple who built the house were Dutch, for the first time. The last VanHoebeek died leaving no descendents and Cyril bought the house, all contents intact including the VanHoebeeks clothing, for his wife Elna as a surprise when Maeve was very young. Elna hates the over the top opulence of the house, she thought they were poor so the house was a surprise indeed and she had wanted to be a nun and devote her life to helping the downtrodden. She leaves for longer and longer times during mercy missions and finally, when Danny is two, she leaves and never comes back. And so Danny and Maeve grow up wealthy in the Dutch House with their distant father and the housekeeper Sandy and the cook Jocelyn leaving Maeve to raise her younger brother. Their lives change dramatically when their father marries Andrea and she and her two girls Norma and Bright move in. After Cyril dies suddenly of a heart attack, Andrea who had had the entire estate put in her name, throws Danny out and Maeve who had moved out the previous year fetches her brother as they are thrown into poverty, depending on one another as they have always done. But the Dutch House still has a hold on them and they find themselves far too often sitting in the car across the street while they dissect the past or plan the future. It's a good story and well written as it spans 5 decades and in the end they are all, Maeve, Danny, Elna, Sandy, Jocelyn, Andrea, and Norma, drawn back together. I enjoyed this one, in fact it engaged me immediately, but then I like Anne Patchett.


  1. Ooh - I see a couple I need to check out - heading to add them to my "want to read" list...

    Also, I used to EAT UP all those sex scenes, but once I got into my 30s I started mostly skimming them. I don't read books with that much sex anymore because I find it BORING. Ha!

  2. I like Patchett a lot too. I'm looking forward to reading that one.
    I've read the Stephen King stories. Can barely remember them. I saw "Pachinko" in my library's audio book offerings. Maybe I'll give it a try.
    "Clare DeWitt" sounds so familiar but I don't think I've read any of those books. Hmmm...

  3. I tried Pachinko a while back but lost interest after about fifteen hundred pages, well it seemed that way, just in cident following incident, shapeless. But I did give it a fair try.

    I didn't know The Dutch House was Ann Patchett, now I need to look for it.

    And a new detective? Hmmmm.

    Thanks for the reviews.

  4. I'm embarrassed to say that I Love Books but mostly just the ones with Beautiful Images! *LOL*

  5. I haven't read any Stephen King in years but I loved his books when I was younger. I should try that short-story collection, maybe. I think we have it in our library.


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