Monday, June 4, 2012

My Summer Reads

Like many of you, I’m never without a book to read. One might say I'm a book addict. To keep withdrawal symptoms at bay, I have unread books stashed all over the house plus two Kindles and an iPad ready to roll. Here are a few of the books I’ve been reading this summer:

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown   

Written in plural first person—all three sisters are telling the story—the book was initially a challenge for me. Darn it, I wanted to know precisely who was telling the story! But once I became accustomed to the plural point of view, I was drawn up in the story of the three adult sisters, each with a unique problem, descending upon the family home when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. The eccentric father of Bianca, Roselyn and Cordelia is a professor of Shakespeare in a small college town and speaks to his family in obscure Shakespearean couplets, open to interpretation. Back home, the three sisters struggle to escape from their old familiar roles and resolve their problems. Although I didn’t read the book in one sitting, I was glad I persevered. It had a satisfying, hopeful ending.

The Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver    

I discovered mystery writer Jeffrey Deaver last winter and have been gobbling up his books ever since. This book features one of my favorite characters, Kathryn Dance. Dance is an agent for the California Bureau of Investigation and known as “the human lie detector.” She’s a kinesics expert, trained in the art of reading people’s body language and facial expressions. Set on the Monterrey Peninsula, this case involves a killer who leaves roadside crosses before the murder takes place. The main suspect is teenager Travis Brigham, a young man who prefers the synthetic world of gaming to the real world in which he is the victim of ridicule and bullying. But, like all of Deaver’s books, there are many twists and turns before the mystery is solved. Deaver handles the story with skill, intricately weaving together Dance’s professional and private life. If you like a good mystery, this one’s for you.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (spoiler alert)

Okay, if you’re bubbling over with joy and happiness and would like to dial it down a notch, this book will do the job. In fact, it might send you spiraling into depression. Not much of a recommendation, is it? The main character, Tassie Keltjin, tells the story and, I swear, she made me crazy. It’s like she didn’t know which thread to pick up and see through until the end. The book received rave reviews so maybe I just didn’t get it. First, we have college student Tassie hiring on as a nanny for a dysfunctional couple who adopt a bi-racial two-year-old. Tassie and the child bond. Big time. It’s beautiful. It’s touching. Then, the child is removed from the home. Does Tassie mourn? Who knows? We don’t hear about the kid from that point on. She also has a relationship with a guy who turns out to be a Jihadist. The third plot element involves herer younger brother, Robert, who desperately needs her advice. She ignores his email. He joins the military and is killed by a roadside bomb. At his funeral, she climbs in the coffin with him. Oh, please! So, if you’re into a meandering plot with bizarre twists, go for it. That said, Moore does write lovely, lyrical prose. It may be worth reading for that alone.

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