Monday, March 1, 2021

winter reading list

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – another book I considered a couple of times before I checked it out. The story takes place in India where 9 year old Jai lives with his 13 year old sister Dunu and their parents in a slum settlement that has sprung up outside the Bhoot Bazaar and the hi-rise apartments and condos where the wealthy live and where many of the residents of the 'basti' work. Jai spends his days at school or the bazaar or watching TV, especially detective and police shows so when one of their classmates goes missing and the police, who can't be bothered with the problems of the basti residents, do nothing Jai decides he and his friends Pari and Faiz will investigate and solve the case. Only as more and more children go missing tensions increase, children are not allowed to leave their homes, and the Muslim residents are blamed, it's not until Jai's sister Dunu goes missing that the community finally bands together and enlists the aid of the son of the leader of the neighborhood and his underlings and the pack of children and their guardian that 'pick' the rubbish ground that the truth and extent of the kidnappings finally comes out. It's not a happy story and there is no happy ending.

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich – the further adventures of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, and her sidekick Lula and the two hot ass men who claim her. This one was mostly about Grandma Mazer who married a mobster on a whim and 45 minutes later he keels over from a heart attack. His mobster buddies are sure Jimmy handed off 'the keys' to Grandma (he didn't) and Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger are hard pressed to protect her.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – Nora, who backed away from everything she was good at, competitive swimming, member of a band, marriage, education, etc, on the verge of becoming successful at it, finds herself in a life in which nothing good has happened, she has no friends, her only living family, her brother, isn't speaking to her, she is constantly unhappy, her cat dies, and she loses her dead end job and decides she has no life worth living and no one to care if it ends and she takes an overdose of pills and passes out and wakes up in the midnight library. The library is full of books, each book being a life she would have lived if she had made a different choice at any point in her root life and she now has the opportunity to undo the regrets of her life and see where those different choices would have taken her. When she finds the life she wants to live, she can live it, otherwise as soon as it becomes disappointing she finds herself back in the midnight library hovering between her root life and real death. After endless forays she discovers some truths about herself, foremost that she does not want to die. She learns that things are not what we see but rather our perceptions of it and perceptions can change.

Fortune And Glory (Tantalizing Twenty-Seven) by Janet Evanovich – the latest in the Stephanie Plum series and the sequel to Twisted Twenty-Six. Stephanie and Grandma Mazer set out to find the location of the Laz-y Boys' treasure that the keys are supposed to unlock in between hunting down and re-bonding small time and big time criminals while trying not to to get kidnapped and tortured along the way. Sidekick Lula and a guy named Potts who has decided he needs to be Stephanie's bodyguard assist. A record number of cars are destroyed and Ranger steps in when Stephanie and Morelli take a break in their relationship.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton – This is essentially a murder mystery, it could also be considered an historical novel as it takes place in the mid 1600s on an United East India Company cargo ship except the author plays loose with the actual history of the time and also the details regarding an Indiaman galleon. The ship is laden with spices as well as secret cargo, commoners as passengers and nobles; the regional governor, his wife, daughter, mistress and her two sons and a few attendants. Also on board is prisoner Sammy Pipps, a popular and well known detective, and his bodyguard Arent. As the ship is being boarded, a man dressed as a leper leaps up onto some crates and issues doom to the ship and all on it and then bursts into flames. When the mainsail is unfurled it bears the sign of a demon, Old Tom. With Pipps in a cell, it is up to Arent and the Governor's wife Sara to discover who is the threat and prevent the destruction of the ship and everyone on it before the three predicted unholy miracles come to pass. As superstition starts to take over the ship, dead bodies start to pile up, the unholy miracles are performed, a mutiny ensues and the ship grounds itself on jagged rocks during the fighting and is torn in half with the survivors barely making it to an island. It's a good story that I enjoyed so I'm not going to tell you more except that the ending is surprising, or was to me.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea – another murder mystery. A year ago two students were murdered at an abandoned faculty boarding house on the grounds of Westmont Prep, an exclusive private high school, during what was to be an initiation of 6 juniors into the secret Man In The Mirror club. The evidence pointed to a teacher who attempted suicide in order to avoid arrest but only succeeded in becoming brain dead. In the year since 3 of the surviving 5 teens committed suicide at the abandoned house. There are several storylines that alternate...the unknown person reading from his journal about how he killed his brother and father, the students who were invited to join the secret club leading up to the night in question, a year later the crime writer and blogger competing with another blogger investigating the old murders and the newer suicides, and the psychologist and his dead case investigator girlfriend who were approached by the original detective to review the case. I thought I had figured out who the murderer was twice, wrong both times.

The Haunting At Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright – this had the potential to be a good story but I just don't care for the author's writing style or the two main characters...Pippa and Chandler and halfway through I was ready to be done. In the early 1900s Bluff River, the winter home of the Bonaventura Circus, Pippa, a newborn infant with a damaged leg, a child of the circus, is left on the owner's doorstep. This has never been hidden from her but also never talked about. Now 19 and promised in marriage to the son of her father's dead partner she is chafing against the silent and obedient girl she was raised to be and longs to be a part of the circus and know who her parents are and why they gave her away. For the past two years she has been getting secret missives from someone who calls himself the Watchman who promises to protect her. She thinks perhaps he is her actual father. Her adoptive father, a mean spirited and cold man who only took in Pippa because his wife was desperate for a child, had ordered her to stay away from the circus grounds. One night she sneaks out to finally meet the Watchman but their meeting is interrupted by the birth of a baby elephant that is injured by it's mother who rejected it and Pippa is drawn even further into circus life and rebellion. But it's not all it seems as there is an undercurrent of evil and rumors of a serial killer. A hundred years later, single mother Chandler and her 7 year old son move to Bluff River to work on a development project for her uncle restoring the old train depot and costume house of the now defunct circus where she encounters stories of murder and hauntings in these buildings, the most recent the disappearance of her landlord's sister Linda several decades past. Chandler is fighting her own demons as well as Lyme disease as she tries to prove to the world that she doesn't need any help and pushes away anyone who tries. There she meets Hank who is determined to solve the mystery of Linda's disappearance which he thinks is connected to the old buildings and the defunct circus and the serial killer. Drawing Chandler into his investigation they stumble on the killer's secret hideaway where he kept mementos of his kills and the skeleton of Linda. The story is told from the perspective of Pippa and Chandler, switching back and forth as the story of Pippa's parentage, the Watchman, and the killer unfolds. For all my complaints about the characters and the author's style, in it's bones it's a good story and we as readers learn the truth that the modern day characters can only guess at.


  1. Interesting books to add to my reading list. Thank you for reviewing them.

  2. The only one I've read of these is The Midnight Library. I liked it a lot.

  3. The most appealing to me is Midnight library, I would make the effort to get that one as well as The Devil and the Dark Water. Thank you, you have saved me a lot of time searching for the next good read!

  4. I'm still waiting for Midnight Library. It's got a huge waiting list. So now I know the gist, can't wait to read it.

    I didn't know evanovich was still writing Plum novels. They're set locally here, on streets I know well and with genuine local names. The Burg where they live is pretty authentically described. Mazur is the name of a multi generational plant nursery here, where, until she retired finally, the great grandmother would serve at the counter and gave me great gardening advice. Not like Plum's grandma though!

  5. I can't believe I'm so behind on the Stephanie Plum books! I haven't read either of those. Better get them on my list. The others sound interesting, but my "to read" list seems to keep growing much faster than I can read!

  6. You got through a lot of books this winter! Thanks for the recommendations - I enjoy mystery books so I will check some of these out. A different book I read was A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler which is short but I could not put it down. The fictional story of a simple man who leads a simple life in the mountains of Germany in the early 20th century. I could not get it out of my mind as I pondered what do we need to survive, why do I have so much crap... it really made me think.

  7. Another Stephanie Plum fan! Yay! I thought 26 was back on form - I'd been a bit phlf about the couple previously. I still have 27 by my bed ready to read but I'm saving it! I have The Midnight Library on my list to procure, but i shall avoid the first one. Can't be doing with depressing stories at the moment.


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