Last Few Reads…

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero wins my award for the most crushingly disappointing read of the year.  I was so excited to get this book and waited a while on my library waiting list.  Perhaps that was the issue, anticipation built this up to be something that it just couldn’t live up to?

The premise is that a group of “meddling kids”  grew up and are now a group of adults with serious issues which all revolve around an unresolved final case.  They (minus one plus the grandpup of the original dog) head back to town to face their demons head on.

There is much to like here, characters named Nancy Hardy, the town is **Blyton Hills, a river named Zoinx, a group of  kids and a big dog, etc.  Homages to almost every kid’s mystery or crime solving/adventure show and book you can remember make for very nostalgic reading.  But, then there is the rest of it, the grammar, the style of writing, the uneven pacing,  and the odd lexicon (perhaps it is supposed to be cool and I’m just not cool enough to get it).  All of this makes for an unenjoyable and ultimately disappointing read.

The Storm is the second book in the duology called The Rain.  This is a YA apocalyptic book, which is not my usual genre at all.  The Storm picks up where H20 left off, water can kill you based on the fallout from an asteroid that was destroyed in space and  Ruby still wants to find her dad.  She has been living off scavenging and trying to learn survival skills by heading to the library.  She’s learned a fabulous amount about identifying clouds, a good survival skill in a world in which the rain can kill.  This book revisits some previous characters and the military base and there is a big reveal about Ruby, so I won’t say more about the plot.

What I will say is that the strength of this book and the previous one in the series is the voice of Ruby.  The character feels authentic, she talks and thinks about things the way a young teen would.  She is not some perfect heroine, who is beautiful, a genius, and  a martial arts master.  She is a kid, sometimes bratty, sometimes irrational, in a crappy situation making the best of it, using the problem solving skills she has.  I would recommend this series, especially for fans of apocalypse fiction.

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is a book I read about on a blog somewhere and thought would be an interesting read.  It is not so much an etiquette book (although that is in here), rather it is about civility or the lack thereof, and the cultural changes in the last ten years or so.  The impact of technology on manners and societal expectations is examined, as are behaviors that can either escalate or de-escalate social interactions.  While I don’t agree with every word, I do find that there are lots of  anecdotes, some very funny, and  bits of research cited, which come together for an entertaining and at times thought-provoking read.

A Pinch of Snuff by Reginald Hill is the 5th book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series on which the TV show was based.  Pascoe gets asked to look into a Porn film that may, in fact, be a snuff film and from there the case becomes a tangled web, involving porn, social clubs, an underage girl, an unwanted pregnancy, a rampaging father and a pair of old ladies, who may not be what they seem.  Dalziel is not as prominent in this book, as Pascoe is run ragged from one place to the next on his orders, trying to untangle the connections, solve the crimes, and figure out how much is “movie magic” and how much is real.  This was not my favorite in the series, but I did find it an interesting snapshot of 1970s attitudes towards women, porn, unwanted pregnancy, etc.  I will continue with the series because I do like the characters and their relationship.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a book I reread, more skimming than anything, recently as a true crime read for a book club.  The book is famous for introducing a new style of nonfiction, the novelization.  It follows a crime in which an entire family is killed in their remote farm.  The crime captured the imagination and in equal measure horrified the American public.

I read the book originally back in the mid-1970s and I remember liking it a great deal at the time and  it inspired me to go on reading more true crime, such as Helter Skelter and The Executioner’s Song.  Rereading it now, I find myself much more skeptical about the veracity of Capote’s accounts and found the writing tedious in pacing at times. Nonetheless, the book has earned its place as a groundbreaking classic and I don’t regret reading it.




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