Good Grief by Lolly WInston

I’m sure a lot of us hear “Good Grief” and expect it to be followed by “Charlie Brown”, but that is not what this is about.  I picked it up from the library today and read it right away.

Wonderful book, but please read armed with a box of tissues.  Unexpectedly poignant.  The reader connects instantly with Sophie and follow her “one step forwards, two steps back” journey out of grief and into life after tragedy.  I haven’t cried so much while reading in a long time.  The different ways grief impacts people are shown quite realistically, through Sophie, her mother-in-law Marion, and her grief support group cohorts.  I loved how this was not a smooth journey for Sophie, there were major setbacks along the way, just like in the real world and that the rewards or progress often came from unexpected places.

My only teeny, tiny issue with the book was I wasn’t happy about the resolution of the Drew part of the story line, but ehhh, that might just be me.  Overall, a painfully accurate portrayal of the grieving process and a message that it is a process and therefore at some point, when it is right for you and only when it is right for you, you’ll come out the other side of it.

A excerpt from early in the book:

“Lately, life requires so much self-discipline.  While most people have a to-do list, I have a to-don’t list.  Don’t eat Oreos until your gums bleed.  Don’t sleep in your clothes.  Don’t grab the produce boy’s teenage wrists and sob.”

Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart

 

I have heard so much about this series, that I am really glad that I finally read it.  I like the setting and the theme of the book.  Having a bookshop is a dream of mine, so this really appealed to me.  The character of Max is outstanding.  He draws you in on his own, even though it seems as though he is intended to be the sidekick to Annie, our protagonist, he definitely overshadows her.  The mystery was well crafted.  Being a “locked room” type of mystery, you had a limited list of suspects from the start.  From that you could eliminate Max and Annie whittling down the list further.  The book was written in 1987 and so the discussion of the writer’s technology at it related to the mystery  was really quite funny to look back on now.

The issue I had, and I think this is just a personal problem for me ;p ,  was the name dropping of other authors and their books.  It is constant throughout the book, even when they drink coffee there are references to the mugs with authors and books on them.  I just found that this pulled me out of the story each time.  If  I didn’t remember a particular book or author, I needed to google it to find out about it.  I think this is just me and the fact that I can’t stand not remembering something and having the technology at my fingertips makes it easy to look it up. It really was disruptive for me and made the book take much longer than it should have.

I probably will try another in the series to see if this decreases in subsequent books because everything else was very good.  Interestingly, I just read another mystery that used the same device, A Killer Read, and it bothered me just as much in that book.

Teaser Tuesday

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

“I started to run.  A dark figure stepped into the path in front of me.”

from:  Awakening by S.J. Bolton

What about yours?

Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert

 

This is book 1 of the very well established, 21 books, China Bayles series.  It has often been recommended to me based on other books that I enjoy.

Very quick read, pacing of the mystery is not a problem.  I loved the theme, the idea of an Herbal Remedies shop owner as the sleuth.  I just kept getting pulled out of the story by the “feminist manifesto” type comments and asides.  I didn’t like many of the characters and the attitude towards mothers/motherhood was so negative; it was big turn off for me.  The male characters were stereotypes and you feel the animosity towards them and men in general.  China’s boyfriend, a college professor, is considered good for a “booty call” and not much else, because “horror of horrors”, he has a child he is taking responsibility for.  Despite the pro-feminist slant of the book, the irony is that the “feminist model” characters don’t seem particularly happy or content, with the possible exception of Ruby who just seems ….out in left field, following her “Path” (with a capitol P, no less).

I really didn’t like the fact that China colluded with her friends to destroy evidence, just to suit their own purposes.

This book didn’t work for me and I won’t be reading more in the series.

 

 

The Hanging by Lotte and Soren Hammer

 

I will admit that I basically gave up and skimmed to the end of this book.  I really do enjoy Nordic crime fiction but this just did not work for me on a number of levels.

The characters were not fully developed and seemed rather flat to me.  This, however, was not the main problem.  The writers are a Danish brother and sister and I’m assuming they are not native English speakers.  I do not know if they wrote the book in English or simply had a sub-par translator.  The dialogue was often stilted and not natural at all.  There was odd phrasing and strange idioms, all things a competent translator would have ironed out.  These oddities kept pulling me out of the story and  ultimately made it not work for me.

I will also say that this book was less a crime thriller and more of a political statement on the  child abuse laws, regulation of pedophiles and vigilantism, but it didn’t really do that either, at least not to the extent that I came away with a good grasp of what was happening with their laws or public policies.

To give a shortened version, the book opens with a harrowing scene of children finding men’s mutilated bodies hanging in the gym of their school.  Very early on we meet the “lead” culprit and then discover that the victims were all pedophiles and this was an organized effort by a group to punish them and draw attention to the issue of child abuse.  The book then meanders on from that point with the reader already knowing basically “who did it” and why and the rest of it was some issues with the press, concerns of a lack of public support for punishing the killers, and police procedural drills.

Disappointing read.

 

Sundays in Bed with…Paradise Fields by Katie Fforde

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This is a meme hosted by Midnightbookgirl.com found here.  I hope this is running this week, I just have gotten used to looking forward to doing it.

Feeling very decadent this morning as I actually did not get up and go run or the gym as scheduled, this compounded by the bad diet choices yesterday is not a good thing:(  But I did get much reading done 🙂

Yesterday I read two amazing thrillers by S.J. Bolton see posts here and here, that led me to change up the pace this morning by reading the very lovely Katie Fforde’s very lovely book Paradise Fields.

I have read several of Katie Fforde’s books and have enjoyed them all.  This one was no exception, the main character Nel is a widow kept busy by the needs of 3 children, 2 in university and one about to go and her dogs and her “good works” on behalf of a children’s hospice and organizing a farmer’s market, all in addition to keeping up with a nice group of friends and a rather unexciting boyfriend.  When the hospice’s future becomes uncertain, Nel rises to the challenge.

I love how the author draws her characters, they are so real, so ordinary, you can picture sitting at the kitchen table with them and having a chat.  Nel isn’t perfect, she doesn’t leave the house perfectly turned out to run errands, she doesn’t keep her pets off the furniture, she doesn’t turn out a 3 course meal for 10 and then immediately hop up and do all the dishes by hand, in short she lives an “every woman” life.  As a reader, I felt immersed in Nel’s life and her concerns.

Very good romance with enough tension about how things will turn out to keep me turning the pages.  I highly recommend this book to romance readers.

Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton

 

Could not put this book down!!  Fresh off of Dead Scared also by S.J. Bolton I started this and read it straight through.  Not part of the Lacey Flint series, this was the author’s debut stand alone novel.

Chilling thriller in which the sense of dread builds exponentially.  The twists and turns leave you scared to death for Tora Hamilton.  Red herrings are plentiful and DS Dana Tulloch even makes mention of the term, which was quite clever.  Tora, the protagonist a surgeon and Dana, a police officer are well crafted, likable characters, as are the others in the book.

The setting of the Shetland Islands adds so much to the story, that it is almost another character, in the style of Ann Cleeves or Elly Griffiths.  The sense of isolation on the islands is made  even more eerie by the hints and warnings of the danger that faces Tora.  The story is based on some particularly gruesome historic legends from the Shetland Islands and that historic piece is incorporated believably with the modern story.

Having read two other books by this author, I continue to be impressed.  I am especially impressed by the range exhibited by her.  All her books I have read so far have been thriller/mystery types, however the characters are very distinct, the settings are varied and the plots are very dissimilar.   A great read!  I have one more book out from the library by this author and I am tempted to start it right away.