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Showing posts from June, 2015

book review: Murder, D.C.

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The backstory: Neely Tucker's first mystery novel featuring Sully Carter, The Ways of the Dead, was one of my favorite reads last year.

The basics: Murder, D.C. picks up shortly after the events of The Ways of the Dead, and it contains some spoilers from that novel. Here, Billy Ellison, the only son of DC's most influential black family is found dead in Frenchman's Bend, an unsavory part of town with deep historical roots. Veteran journalist and former war correspondent Sully Carter uses his connections to solve the crime and write the story.

My thoughts: Sully Carter is a fascinating and complicated character. Much like Harry Bosch, he's an antihero of sorts. I find myself rooting for him most of the time, but I did wince at him a few times in this novel. I appreciate his complexity because it mimics the mystery itself. A whodunit can seem simple, but murder isn't typically committed in a vaccuum. Knowing who did it is only part of the story. In Murder, D.C., the mu…

book review: The Governor's Wife by Michael Harvey

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The backstory: The Governor's Wife is the fifth novel in Michael Harvey's series featuring Chicago ex-cop and private investigator Michael Kelly. My reviews of the first four mysteries: The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor, The Third Rail, and We All Fall Down.

The basics: Two years ago, Ray Perry, the governor of Illinois, disappeared from a federal courthouse. Chicago PI Michael Kelly has been hired to find him. He doesn't know who his client is, but he agrees to the job, even if he doesn't agree to receive the $250,000 compensation without more information.

My thoughts: Michael Harvey writes smart, fast-paced mysteries that read like thrillers, and The Governor's Wife is no exception. Once again, Chicago's political corruptionis omnipresent, as are Harvey's signature surprises. This case sounds impossible, and yet Kelly pieces together clues relatively quickly. As part of me questioned his success, I was forced to credit Harvey's intentional vagueness--wit…

book review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

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The backstory: Laura Dave is one of my favorite novelists. I've loved all three of her novels: London is the Best City in America, The Divorce Party, and The First Husband. After four years of waiting, I was thrilled to read her latest novel.

The basics: Set in Sebastopol, part of California' Sonoma County wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is the story of the Ford family, told from the perspective of their daughter, Georgia, who is a powerful Los Angeles attorney about to marry a British architect and move to London. Set against the grape harvest and the week before her wedding, each of the Fords, Georgia, her two brothers, and her parents, face challenges in their romantic and professional lives.

My thoughts: Laura Dave is such a smart writer. This novel is part family saga, part drama, part romance, but it's all smart. Through her characters and storylines, Dave imparts immense wisdom about life and love:
"Synchronization, my father would say. This was a very big wor…

book review: The Shore by Sara Taylor

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The backstory: The Shore was longlisted for the 2015 Baileys Prize.

The basics: Stretching from 1876 to 2143, this non-linear novel is the story of generations of a poor family, principally its women, who live on the titular shore of small, isolated, Virginia islands.

My thoughts: I first heard about The Shore when it appeared on several blogger's Baileys Prize prediction lists. The UK cover is very different, and when I saw the U.S. cover, I thought The Shore would be a family beach saga. And it is, but it's as far from WASPs as you can get. When you look closely at the house on the U.S. cover, it's clear the house is dilapidated. The novel opens in 1995, and the first chapter sets the dark tone of this novel beautifully. It's haunting. The second chapter is set in 1933, and slowly a picture of how the family we meet in 1993 came to be.

The concept of this novel is great. I squealed when I saw the table of contents. I love a novel that can be historical fiction, contemp…

Ummm...

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Well, hello there! I'm still here, even if I haven't been around much on the blog (or even Twitter.) I haven't been reading much either. I've been reading lots of books, and I'm even enjoying most of them, but I haven't been spending much time reading, so I'm currently reading about eight different books and most days don't even pick one of them up.But. I think that's about to change. It has changed the past few days, as I so miss reading and talking about books. I'm finding new ways to prioritize reading again. As I've said many times in the almost ten months I've been a mom, "you find what works for you. Then it changes, and you do it again." And we are in the midst of some major changes.

Hawthorne will be ten months old this week. The last month has been quite eventful for him developmentally. He got really good at crawling, so I spend a lot time looking at his butt:

To his credit, he often looks back as though to see if it&…