Some Reading….

The Good Wife by Stewart O’Nan is a book that I saw featured on a List Challenges list (of course, I can’t remember which one) .Years ago I read another book with the same title by Jane Porter.  Jane Porter’s book was a straight up romance/women’s fiction, this “Good Wife” is not.

Stewart O’Nan’s The Good Wife is about the strength of a marriage that is tested beyond belief.  A pregnant Patty receives a phone call in the middle of the night, not the stereotypical call about an accident or a death, this is a call about her husband’s involvement in a crime, a serious crime.  The book then follows Patty as she and her marriage survive against immense obstacles.  Her husband’s trial, the denial of bail, incarceration, the appeal process, and relocations to prisons hours away from Patty’s home are interspersed with the regular life trials, crappy jobs, living with her mom, and raising a child on her own. Patty endures it all for 28 years.  An excellent depiction of how incarcerations impacts entire families, not just the prisoner.  O’Nan does a very good job of creating sympathtic characters, despite their life choices.

Hear Me by Skye Warren is a dark erotic romance.  A young woman Melody escapes from a sex trafficking ring brutalized and with gaps in her memory.  As she struggles to return to her life and fragments of memory come back, it becomes less and less clear what actually happened to her.  The uncertainty of her recollection and whether or not her memory can be trusted is an interesting plot twist.  The ending was not what I would have liked but perhaps it would work for some.

Pieces of You by Ella Harper tells the story of Lucy and her husband Luke, a young childless couple who have been struggling with infertility and miscarriages for a long period of time.  Luke is injured seriously and is left in a coma while Lucy loses yet another baby.  Secrets become exposed while Lucy sits at Luke side waiting desparately for him to awake.  She is joined in her vigil by Luke’s mother, sister and brother.  Luke’s coma exposes cracks in not only his and Lucy’s relationship, but also in his entire family.  Fine women’s fiction read.

Lynnwood by Thomas Brown is considered British Folk Horror.  It has elements of paganism, psychological horror, primal fears, and  the unreliable narrator.  I have been waiting to read this for quite a while and it was worth the wait.  The book is a fast paced read with a sense of terror that builds up through the story to the ending which is truly horrifying. A single mother and her children, an isolated village, and the coming “hungry season” are how the book opens.  It just gets creepier and darker from then on in .  Lynnwood was not  what I expected, it was even better.  As it started, I felt as though it was some kind of cross between the movies The VIllage and The WIcker man (the original with Edward Woodward) but it really went beyond that.   I would highly recommend this to horror fans.

The Great God Pan and Ladle to the Grave

The Great God Pan has been on my TBR list for awhile as a classic horror book.  The book centers around a brain experiment on a young naive subject.  Her altered brain allows Pan to appear to her and impregnate her.  The child she bears wreaks havoc in London society leaving behind her a string of men who commit suicide.  Themes of paganism, sexuality, boundaries between man and the spiritual world are all present here.  A precursor to modern horror in the likes of Stephen King, however the action occurs off stage and we just see the results of it.  This is somewhere between a short story and a novella in length.  A very good read for fans of horror fiction.

Ladle to the Grave is part of the Soup Lover’s mystery series by Connie Archer.  I really am enjoying this series and this book was no exception.  In this book, a death has occurred and there is some question as to whether it was accidental or not.  Lucky’s grandfather is mixed up in the death due to his gardening and herb gathering hobbies.  Lucky is plunged into the investigation to clear her grandfather’s conscience and his good name.

Entwined with the mystery are Lucky’s budding romance with Elias, Sage and Sophie’s wedding plans, which the entire plan wants to be in on and the ski resort’s expansion plans that include land Sophie has inherited along with her estranged brother.  A second body turns up and the mystery builds.  The story is paced well and flows quickly to a satisfying conclusion.  Highly recommended to readers of cozy mysteries!

Death Drops

This was this month’s read at the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads.  It is a cozy with a theme of natural remedies and naturopathic medicine in general.  Dr. Willow McCade ND inherits her aunt’s herbal remedy shop after the aunt was murdered.  Because she was the heir, Willow finds herself the focus of the police investigation.  She then begins her own investigation with the help of one of the store customers, a disabled policeman.

I liked the natural remedies theme and the mystery was interesting.  I did find the information and the “hard sell” approach push for natural remedies over traditional medicine a little offputting.  Willow has issues with a lot of traditional medicine (except heavy duty painkillers) and she gives unsolicited medical advice without taking patient histories.  I have an interest in natural rememedies but also a strong appreciation for modern medicine.  While I found some of the information interesting, I found that it overwhelmed the mystery itself.  I’m not sure that I would read another in the series.

A Small Death in the Great Glen

This is the current month’s read at the English Kindle Mystery Club at Goodreads.  This book had rather mixed reviews on all the sources I checked.

The book begins with the death of a small boy and the dumping of his body.  In the course of the story, we meet Joanne, a typist at the village newspaper, her children, who knew the dead boy and know something about the boy’s death, McAllister, a newspaper man, Peter, a Polish man about to be married to Chiara, an Italian girl in the village, and a multitude of other characters with their own lives and stories.  The multiple stories incorporate domestic violence, feminism, the treatment of women in 1950s, catholism, corruption, prejudice and intolerance, child abuse and the murder that begins the mystery.

I figured out what the “hoodie crow” was about very early on, but that crime didn’t even seem to be to the main focus of the story.  There were just too many competing storylines and most of them are not mysteries.  I think I would have enjoyed this more if there was less going on and more focus on the mystery and the investigation.

Catching Up on Some Reviews

I have been fitting in some reading but I’ve really been super busy otherwise, so no reviewing to speak of.  These are the handful of books I have read inbetween work and reading Infinite Jest.  Mini reviews:

No One Knows You’re Here was a good read and certainly, as others have noted James Patterson-esque.  The downside is that it was very “busy” with a lot going on with the main character and the storyline.  3 out of 5 stars

Ruin Falls was an excellent read and is second book I have read by Jenny Milchman.  This book explores the theme of “do you every really know someone”.  In this case a wife and mother has to face up to the fact that she doesn’t really know her husband and it could cost her her children.  4 out of 5 stars

Mate 1 & 2 were a bit of fluff, free on Amazon.  You need to suspend your disbelief, probably on par with 50 Shades.  2 out of 5 stars

The Lies that Save Us is a contemporary romantic thriller. I couldn’t really get into the story line or the characters.  2 out of 5 stars.

The Forgotten Girls is a crime novel set in a very exclusive neighborhood.  As the murder is investigated, secrets are revealed involving an old mental hospital, prescription drug abuse, love and friendship among the “ladies that lunch” set.  Seemed to rely too heavily on stereotypical characters.  2 out of 5 stars