The meetings are on hiatus but the blog carries on

One of the nice things about a blog is that since we don’t all have to be any place at the same time, it can continue through the summer.  But let’s change the focus since we don’t have a subject until October.  Let’s just talk about what we’re reading.

This week I read two books and am starting another one.

ImageThe first is a mystery by Peter Lovesey The Tooth Tattoo.  He has a list of awards a page long and a widely varied set of titles and themes.  This one – while there are bodies around – is set in Bath England and most of the book centers on a chamber music quartet and the music being played.  Not being a musician, I have no idea whether he got it right (if there are musicians out there, let me know) but it sounds authentic and I enjoyed the book.

Also read Claire Messud’s latest – The Woman Upstairs.  In spite of her great reviews, this is an author I don’t seem to get.  I was disappointed in her previous title – The Emperor’s Children and I didn’t love this one although it has an interesting  theme – how much of another person’s life is an artist entitled to use to make their art and is it possible to be a great artist without being totally self centered.  But – if you have read this and really liked it, tell me what I am missing.Image

ImageJust starting Elizabeth Berg’s latest – Tapestry of Fortunes.  When I was at the book store and she lived in Natick, we had several delightful events with her.  Haven’t read her latest few but since Elizabeth has always written from her life, early pages of this one make it appear that she is in a more spiritual mood.

So what’s on your nightstand?

18 thoughts on “The meetings are on hiatus but the blog carries on

  1. Just finished The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino – if you like mysteries, give this Japanese author a shot. A very different plot and I bet you won’t guess the ending.

  2. Come on – I know I am not the only one reading. What’s good? or conversely – what’s not worth the time. Currently working on The Orphan Master by Jean Zimmerman. Billed as an historical mystery – set in New Amsterdam in the 1600’s – so far we have missing kids and lots of interesting information about what life was like in the small colony that became New York.

    • replying to my own post because while I found the history really interesting, the crimes are truly gruesome – those who can’t stomach cannibalism should skip this one.

  3. When Hallie Ephron was at the library recently I asked her what she was seeing to review that she liked (she does the mystery/thriller reviews in the Sunday Globe.) She mentioned reading the latest Walter Mosley and I said that I had always found his books somewhat difficult to get into. She recommended The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey which I just finished and it is quite good although not what I usually expect from Mosley. It’s the story of a 90ish year old man who is at the beginning of dementia and his efforts to finish one last task.

  4. Got Katherine Hall Page’s most recent book The body in the Piazza when she was at the library last month and finally found the perfect rainy day to read it. This one is set in Italy at a cooking school that takes you around to all the markets and while there are lots of Agatha Christie type observations of the other people in the class and a diabolical plot to swarth, it’s really all about Italy and the food. If you’ve been there, you’ll enjoy the nostalgia. If you haven’t, it will have you ready to pack.

  5. Brian McGrory – the editor of the Boston Globe and former columnist – is also a mystery author. Strangled is his 4th with a character who works on a Boston newspaper (where do they get their ideas?). The premise of this one is that the Boston Strangler wasn’t Albert DeSalvo and that the real strangler is still at large and back at work. I liked the character (although his Walter MItty fantasies on responses got a bit cloying – the only thing missing was tapockita tapockita) but found the plot a bit unlikely. Which may just be my naiveté. In general an interesting read. You could spend your beach time in a worse way.

  6. Getting ready to re-read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Really liked it first time around – a look at how we perceive and use “war heroes” – from the point of view of a young soldier

  7. Just finished the latest Jo Nesbo. If you aren’t familiar with his thriller series, it is a police procedural set in Norway with a typical Scandinavian police officer (at least typical in the books coming out of that region)- lonely, reckless and alcoholic. Harry Hole is a brilliant police officer who stays on the force only because of his brilliance and the support of his boss – who at the beginning of this book has taken another job and is replaced with a no-nonsense officer who expects Harry to be a problem. This case involves him with the Salvation Army which in Norway sounds a bit like a cult. Title is The Redeemer and it has some challenging structural bits at the beginning but it’s worth staying with it.

  8. OK – so you find a mystery series you like and you figure – when you need a quick read – that you can count on the author to be fairly consistent. Doesn’t always work. Sometimes – Jan Burke and Harlan Coban being prime examples – authors who have been writing pleasant books suddenly take a big step up to serious books and you are pleasantly surprised. Other times, not so much. Archer Mayor is a New England author that I generally really enjoy. His character Joe Gunther is a Vermont police officer – smart, human, and interesting. His cases showcase the lovely Vermont countryside and give you an interesting look at mid-size city police work. So when I picked up The Disposable Man I thought I knew what I was getting. This one, however, reads as if Mayor read a Lee Childs and decided that if Jack Reacher could do it so could Joe. Rival Russian gangs, car chases, machine guns, grenades, and a fairly incoherent plot. So while I would recommend this author, this might be one of his titles that you skip.

    • Another experience with a much loved author who disappointed me. Val McDermid is a Scottish author – very successful – whose books I have always liked. She had one of her series turned into a successful TV series – The Wire in the Blood. Highly recommended author but this book – Trick of the Dark – isn’t a title I would pass on.

  9. Just finished a short story collection by Jennifer Haigh called News From Heaven. Reminded me a bit of Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout) in that it gives you a picture of a town through stories of some of the people who live there. Her picture is of the Pennsylvania coal town that is gradually dying when the coal mines shut down. Have enjoyed many of her books – Faith, Baker Towers, The Condition, Mrs. Kimble – and liked this one as well. She is a local author – I think she might be a good choice for either a One Book or as part of our book festival.

  10. Had a fun evening last night at Porter Square listening to Craig Johnson talk about his western mystery series featuring Walt Longmire. This book is called A Serpent’s Tooth – the series is what the A&E show Longmire is based on (Mondays at 10). And because I am not good at waiting – I finished the book today. It has – although awful things happen – a lighter tone than some of the others in the series. And the senior citizen Sheriff continues to think he is superman.

  11. Enjoyed The Good Wife by Stewart O’Nan who is a favorite author of mine. He is one of those authors whose titles are often unexpected – ranging from The Speed Queen (a comedy about a woman who is being executed in the morning – unlikely as that seems) to Last Night at the Lobster – which is about the staff of a Red Lobster that is being shut down. I think his real strength is writing – really well – about the everyday concerns and emotions of regular people. The Good Wife is about a young woman married to what she thinks is a good time Charlie who turns out to be overly susceptible to bad influences and is caught in a robbery that turns into a murder. The book follows her throughout her life as she tries to stand by her man and details what that costs her. Wish You Were Here and Emily Alone are family sagas that follow a family as they shut down their long time summer home and the matriarch as she copes with being alone. An author worth checking out.

  12. Found a spot in front of a fan with a book the perfect place to spend a hot hot afternoon. Read Peter Abrahams Nerve Damage and thought it was really good. He is one of my favorite local authors – was at the Library in his Spencer Quinn persona in May talking about his Chet and Bernie series which I love – but Nerve Damage is one of his stand alone thrillers. A sculptor whose wife died 15 years ago finds – at the same time that he discovers that he has a terminal illness – that the story of her death seems to be a lie and he determines to find the truth while he still has time.

  13. Haven’t checked in for a while – not because I haven’t been reading but because I haven’t read anything I was excited about sharing. Not that the books have been terrible – just not new or exciting. Read one of the Mary Russell series by Laurie King – this one late enough in the series that there were characters I hadn’t expected (don’t want to put in a spoiler) and I read one by Ann Cleeves (The Crow Trap) that is in the Vera Stanhope series – there is a good British TV series based on this available on DVD that I have liked watching. One of my book groups discussed Andre Dubus’ final short story collection – Dancing After Hours. He was the father of Andre Dubus III who has been a guest at the library several times – most recently with Richard Russo at our first author festival. Having read the son’s memoir – with much about his father – gives a different perspective to the father’s stories. And finally I read The Mouse Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah which is about a family trying to deal with their child being born with severe brain damage.

  14. Have an author that I am enjoying quite a bit – Jess Walter. Read his book Citizen Vince a bit ago – is a mystery (kind of) where the main character is in witness protection – a scam artist rather than a violent criminal. Lots of humor. Just finished Beautiful Ruins which I liked a lot although it’s hard to give you a summary. Begins in Italy in the 60’s in a really tiny fishing village and winds its way through the filming of Cleopatra, the Edinburgh fringe festival, Hollywood and the current glut of reality TV. Just put The Financial Lives of the Poets on my Nook.

  15. Checking in again because I have a couple of very different books that I have enjoyed. The group today talked about Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – set in NY in the 1930’s among the rich prep school crowd and some who want to be part of that crowd.

    Other one was a mystery by Charlie Lovett – The Bookman’s Tale in which an antiquarian bookseller trying to deal with the death of his beloved wife is presented with what appears to be the “holy grail” of Shakespeare research.

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