Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Looking back - September's reads, 2013

Only 4 of these books contain links to reviews but I will eventually review those that were extra special.  It's going to take me a while to catch up.

99. True Spies by Shana Galen - I passed this book on to my new best buddy and she is now trying to figure out how to get her hands on everything Shana Galen has written!  Love it when that happens.  True Spies is loosely based on the movie True Lies, this time a romantic spy novel about a married couple working things out during the Regency period in England.

100. Help for the Haunted by John Searles - I think what you're most likely to hear about Help for the Haunted is, "Well, it wasn't quite what I expected." That's what I said and I've read similar sentiments, elsewhere.  It's mildly creepy - nothing nightmare-inducing - and yes, not exactly what you might anticipate given the description. But, Help for the Haunted is a solid read.  I enjoyed it.

101. Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean - A good, old-fashioned thriller that kept me entertained and helped me cool off a bit when our summer was refusing to end. 

102. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis - A rare YA, harsh but pitch-perfect in its characterization, pacing and tone.  Several friends I recommended this book to have already read it and they all gave it 5 stars.  

103. Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You by Mardy Grothe - A book on word play of the type used in the title.  Fascinating and my copy is heavy with Post-its but it's the kind of book best taken in small doses.

104. The Buccaneering Book of Pirates by S. Pirotta and M. Robertson - I chose not to review this book because I thought the stories were unsatisfying, but there's much to love about The Buccaneering Book of Pirates.  It comes with a 4-foot pop-up pirate with little pop-up things on his outfit and the illustrations are marvelous.  It's better to look at than read, in other words.  And, if you're in desperate need of a pop-up pirate, there you go. Halloween is just around the corner.

105. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri - I'm embarrassed to admit that The Lowland was my first Lahiri.  It won't be the last.  I do have a couple of her books in my personal library.  I thought the writing was beautiful but it did suffer from a sagging middle and followed a literary pattern I find annoying:  tragedy, a little hope, disaster, suffering, more bad things, and an everything comes together, mostly-upbeat ending.  A few more flashes of hope would have been welcome, earlier on, but still an excellent book.  Love Lahiri's touch.  Her writing is absolutely breathtaking.

106. On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle - I've had this book for years and when I was losing heart over the loss of our kitten, I went through one of those pick-up, flip through, put down phases.  Nothing, nothing, nothing was grabbing me.  So, I decided to do some unpacking and found On What Grounds, a cozy mystery that's more about characters and coffee than murder.  Such a pleasant read. There are recipes and we whipped up one of them for fun (a coffee liqueur, cream and vodka drink . . . I required some watering down with real coffee, but it was great).  

107. Clumsy Duck - Britta Tekentrup - Oh, oh, this one I'll have to actually post about!  I'm skipping the rest of the books I haven't reviewed, above, but Clumsy Duck is so cute!  It's a children's picture book: a duck who is discouraged about his clumsiness is nudged by a friend to keep trying things till she finds what she does well.  Loved this book.  Here's a link to the description of Clumsy Duck at the Sterling Books website.

108. American Museum of Natural History ABC Animals (no author listed) - An oversized children's board book, also by Sterling, in ABC Animals you get the usual "big letter, associated image" but the animals shown are not necessarily common -- some are, but there was one animal whose name I didn't even know how to pronounce.  Each entry also contains a little blurb/factoid about the animal in smaller print, below its name, as well.  Colorful photos, bright pages and some unique animals make it a special find.

109. Paperboy by Tony Macaulay - Another one I must review when I find the time.  Tony Macaulay was a paperboy in Belfast during "the Troubles" ("What an understatement -- you'd think it was a time of stomach aches or something equally mild," said my migraine doctor, when I told him about what I was reading).  Macaulay does an excellent job of staying in the perspective of his younger self, giving you a good look at what it was like to be a child just trying to get around while people were shooting at each other, hijacking and blowing up buses and building walls between sides.  I highly recommend Paperboy and would appreciate any suggestions for further reading. I really don't know much about Ireland's "Troubles," although I learned a little bit from this wonderful memoir.

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  1. Wow! You read ALL THE BOOKS in September. Sad to see Help for the Haunted wasn't more creepy.

    1. It was a pretty good month considering the fact that I had a melt-down in the middle. :) Help for the Haunted was still a good read, even if not as creepy as expected. I definitely recommend it.

  2. Glad to hear the Lahiri book was a good read. I've only read Interpreter of Maladies which I do recommend and I really want to read this one!

    1. I was very impressed with the Lahiri - the gorgeous writing more than the story itself. Yay, glad you recommend Interpreter of Maladies. I'm pretty sure that one is one of the titles I already own.

  3. I keep meaning to give On What Grounds a try. I know Nan (Letters From a Hill Farm) is a big fan of that series.

  4. I just added the Tony MacAulay book to my amazon list. It looks very good, and like you, I don't know enough (other than a rudimentary knowledge) of the Troubles, and how people got through it living side by side. What it must have done to them. So yes.

    I read Ice Station Zero many years ago - I read most of his books as a teenager, and really enjoyed them. The sad thing about getting into my 50's is that books I read that long ago, I've mostly forgotten (except for my favourites that I've reread) so now I am contemplating rereading all the Mary Stewart, Alistair MacLean, and Agatha Christies that I read back then.

    1. I absolutely loved Paperboy, Susan. Will try to whip out a real review, soon, although it will still be short. It was absolutely fascinating (and very entertaining).

      Ice Station Zebra is my first Alistair MacLean, as far as I know. I wasn't really into thrillers during those days, although my dad was and I would love to be able to ask him if he read any by MacLean. Yeah, I've gone back and read a few of the titles I read when I was younger but I need to read more. It's really quite interesting to see how your impressions change. Desiree by Anne Marie Selinko used to be one of my favorite books but it didn't hold up quite as well on my most recent reread.


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