Books 44 – 46 – Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a book my mother read a couple of years ago. She recommended it highly and a copy is in my house. Then I saw it was available as an audio download from the library. Flavia is an 11-year-old girl in England. Her mother has died, her father is rather broken and her two older sisters are completely horrid. Flavia is a scientist with an actual laboratory in the house. And she solves mysteries.
The audio narrative is good, the mysteries don’t suck and Flavia is charming. So I read two more in the series. By the second book, the mystery was still pretty good but the sibling rivalry with her sisters had run thin so I hope it peters out in the next couple of books. And Flavia vs. the police department is at least funny, if not entirely believable.
Book 47 – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
This was a pick for my book club, and I really enjoyed it. Oscar is nerd. Lives in New York with his mother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, and sister. There is a multiple point of view thing going on, even as the narrator is a semi-interested outsider. I remember three things that we talked about: first that there are plenty of times that Spanish phraseology crept into the text. I understood enough to appreciate them, but not everyone in the group felt the same. Second: Oscar’s mother seems like a horrible, horrible person for most of the book, until you reach the piece from her perspective. I had wished that perspective came earlier in the book, but I concede that might’ve wrecked the effect. Third: between this and The Time of the Butterflies, the DR seems like a really frightening place.
I’ll be looking for this author again.
Books 48 and 49 – Those first two Gillian Flynn books
I am not sure if Gillian Flynn is so wildly popular everywhere, or if Chicago has embraced a native author, but people are rabid over her stuff. Dark Places and Sharp Objects were packaged as a two-in-one for download from the library, so I went for it.
Dark Places is right. The plot involved a young woman whose brother had been convicted, partially on her testimony, of murdering her mother and two sisters when she was…five or so. Twenty five years later (and still convinced that he did it) she is short of cash and accepts “assignments” from a cultish sort of group looking for evidence to exonerate him. The solution was..odd, but good enough and the ride was great.
Sharp Objects had me going for awhile. And mad about it, too. Two young girls have gone missing in the heroine’s hometown. As she is a reporter, she is sent to cover it. Oh, and her sister died when she was young, she has a very young half sister and had a cutting problem so bad that there are words carved into every inch of her body. The solution seemed terribly obvious, but there was just enough of an even more sick twist at the end.
Interesting (to me) note: When I first rated these on GoodReads, I had Sharp Objects at four stars and Dark Places at three. With the passage of time, however, Dark Places seems like it was the better book.
Book 50 – Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin
A sort of historical fiction from the point of view of the girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland. Apparently the story was taken from a whole lot of gossip about Lewis Carroll. It was engaging at the time, but I am already over it.
Book 51 – The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
A lady recommended this to me at a Project Linus gathering, and it was available in audio from the library. It is mostly a coming of age novel, masquerading as a baseball novel. It was a slow burn but the tension built to the point that I had to quit the audio because the narrator was too slow and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I checked out a hard copy to finish it.
Without giving anything away, one thing I remember is rooting for every. single. character. to get what he or she wanted. I loved that.
Book 52 – I Suck at Girls, by Justin Halpern
The Sh*t My Dad Says guy writes a book that is exactly what the title says. I don’t remember the exact exchange, but there was one where I was listening and walking down the street and laughing out loud like a crazy person. I an not-able-to-breathe way. And I played it over and over again.
Book 53 – One more Deborah Knott book, by Margaret Maron
It was called Three Day Town. You know you are running out of ideas when you have your characters from one series meeting the characters from your other series. But it was fun.
OK, I am tired of this already. I think I have about a dozen more to go. Later.