Category Archives: Short Reviews

What I’ve been reading…

I know, it has been a while.  Work, life and a broken laptop.  What else can I say.   I did manage to get through the TBR Double Dog Dare and read 24 books, not quite as many as I had hoped.  Once again, James has inspired me to continue plowing through the piles of unread books I have sitting on shelves and stacked in corners.

I am getting ready for another camping trip with the children and another season of hanging out at the beach, introducing folks to the rich diversity of animals that live in Puget Sound.  I’m not sure what the summer will bring.

As for what I have been reading:

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow WilsonAlif_

Grove Press, New York, 2012

Borrowed from my public library.

A surprising combination of middle-eastern fantasy and cyberpunk.  The story takes place in an unnamed country whose government is turning into an ultra-high level security state.  Internet activists are finding ways to expose corruption and abuse.  The backlash is all too familiar. Alif, a talented hacker, find himself running from state security and dealing with creatures he cannot believe exist.

Filled with djinn, demons and a land only accessible by magic,  layered with high-tech and folklore, this was a fun read.

The Antagonist by Lynn Coadycoady

Knopf, New York, 2013

Borrowed from my library.

I’ve read Lynn Coady before and was impressed.  When this novel was short-listed for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller prize and I learned it was being published in the US, I put it on my hold list at the library.

The Antagonist is “quirky” and only an author with Coady’s skill and daring can pull this kind of thing off.  When Gordon Rankin, known as Rank, picks up a novel written by Adam, an old college friend and discovers it seems to be a thinly veiled fiction about his life he grows irate.  In a series of emails, he rants at Adam and, through those rants,  slowly unburies his own memories and untwists his own story.  Again, as in her collection of short stories, Coady creates a rough, crude and intimidating character that I couldn’t help liking.  I love how this women writes.  The Antagonist will be in my top ten books of 2013.

I’ve also just finished Home by Toni Morrison and Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran.  That one has me anxiously awaiting the second book in this mystery series, Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway, due out in June.

Enough for now.  What have you read lately that really grabbed you?

Advertisements

18 Comments

Filed under Bookish, Books, Short Reviews, Thoughts

The Dark Side….

I’ve been reading a bit on the dark side lately.  One book was a true crime book, one a mystery by a favorite French author and the last is being called a “breakthrough” novel by an American author known for dark, twisted tales.

People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman by Richard Lloyd Parry.  From my TBR pile.

I read about this one in the British press a while back and was so intrigued I ordered it from the Book Depository.    The story of the disappearance and murder of of Lucie Blackman, a twenty-one year old British citizen and  former flight attendant, was front page news in Japan and around the world.  The solving of that crime is a tale built of a combination of incompetence, willful ignorance and cultural crossed wires.

Richard Parry is a bureau chief for the Times of London, based in Tokyo.  He has written a masterful book.

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, translated from the French by Sian Reynolds.  Borrowed from my local library.

I’ve been enamored of Northern European mystery authors for a while.  Henning Mankell, Sjöwall and Wahlöö, Karen Fossem, Arnaldur Indridason.  I could go on.  When I discovered Fred Vargas several years ago I was  delighted by her novels and didn’t understand why she hadn’t become an international phenomenon.

Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his team of quirky detectives get handed all kinds of bizarre cases. The newest one involves a grotesquely mutilated murder victim.  If this series intrigues you I’d suggest starting with the first book, The Chalk Circle Man, which was translated into English after several of the others.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Borrowed from my local library.

I read Flynn’s earlier works and was surprised at myself for enjoying them so.  Sharp Objects and Dark Places are both deal with dark themes, violence, dysfunctional families, serial killers.  Gone Girl is the story of a marriage gone wrong, and then some.  Flynn’s portrayal of her protagonists, and the lengths they go to creating and compartmentalizing their different personas, is nothing short of amazing.

All Flynn’s books take serious jabs at the media, celebrity and American pop culture, which is fascinating because she work  as a reporter for Entertainment Weekly for 10 years.

Have you read any books on the dark side lately?

20 Comments

Filed under Murder, Mystery, Short Reviews, Thoughts