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Reading Across the Country

Reading books one travel week at a time...
Bones are Forever - Finally - another good entry in this series! It's a pity it was less than 300 pages. Hopefully Reichs has gotten her groove back.

Beekeeping for Beginners (Mary Russell #10.5)

Beekeeping for Beginners  - Laurie R. King My main complaint is that it was too short! I would have liked to see Holmes' perspective as he and Russell's relationship deepened and changed. I would welcome an entirely new story in the Russell series with Holmes as the narrator. It would be great to see how he views her as a woman and not as an apprentice or an intelligent young woman.
Broken Harbour - Tana French I love this series.

This story drew me in immediately because the setting of a cookie-cutter new housing development and the struggle of losing a job struck a cord with me. Luckily I have been fortunate and neither my husband nor myself has been laid off - but it is one my greatest fears. Suddenly being jobless with no idea how to pay bills is frightening. And cookie cutter neighborhoods with shoddy workmanship were all too common when we were searching for a home a few years ago.

Scorcher isn't my favorite narrator of the series, but he is a distinct voice and French explores new sides of him that were not evident when he was introduced in the previous novel. I enjoy the new narrator with each book. While I'd like to see what Cassie and Frank are up to - this device makes it feel like I'm shadowing the department and writing an article on the different techniques and personalities of the departments detectives. This device allows French to continue the series while using new voices and keeping it feeling fresh.

I can't wait for the next one!
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) - George R.R. Martin Eh, it was alright. Parts dragged quite a bit. I made the mistake of reading it on my nook - I think it would have been a better read as an actual book (no real basis for that). I'll probably read the next one since all of the background info was given in this book.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)

Darkfever (Fever #1) - Karen Marie Moning A good enough start to a series to make me want to keep reading the books.
Bones to Ashes - Kathy Reichs This book was fairly disappointing. I find that even though I love to read book series, eventually they all start to fall apart. In this latest novel about Temperance Brennan, I found that the developments in her romantic relationships were thrown in for shock factor more than anything else. It was like the author was thinking "How can I make Tempe's personal life more convoluted?". Also, I find that as the books go on, Tempe gets more and more stubborn and irrational. Without giving away the plot/spoilers: she becomes convinced of the guilt of one character late in the book and will not let anything deter her. Even when she admits to herself that things don't add up. I miss the first few books in the series, but I suppose I'll keep reading : )
Baltimore Blues - Laura Lippman A solid introduction to a series. Being newish to the Baltimore area, I really enjoyed the place-dropping approach the author took. I'll pick up the second book to see how the characters develop.
Sing You Home - Jodi Picoult This book was a standard Jodi Picoult book - controversial topic that includes a court case and a twist at the end. While I enjoyed this story more than some of her more recent books, it was not my favorite. The narrative felt very one-sided (even though all three of the main characters shared their points of view). It was clear throughout the book which side Picoult was on and the other side (conservative Christian) was not explored in depth. Also, I got the impression that Zoe wanted a baby and she didn't care who her partner was. The timeline for this book is also unbelieveable. In less than a year Zoe gives birth to a stillborn baby, gets divorced, shacks up with a new lover, and goes to court with her ex-husband over their frozen embryos. I felt bad for Vanessa - she didn't seem to be too keen on having children and just got sucked into Zoe's obsession.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender The plot of this book had a lot of promise. I was hoping the book would be about how Rose learns to live with her ability to taste feelings in food and how she would put the skill to use. However, this ability is more of a curse and throughout the course of the book she seeks peace with factory produced junk food that was not created by a human hand. It makes sense, but at the same time is disappointing because the book would have been much more entertaining if it focused on some type of quest for food prepared with a loving hand. Instead Rose seems defeated by her ability, until the last few chapters.

All of the above could be ignored and the book a much more pleasant experience if it wasn't for Rose's brother Joseph. The inclusion of his strange ability was more of a head scratcher than a subplot. If anything this storyline made me more sympathetic to Rose. She was a girl with an incredible ability in a family where the favored child was antisocial and just plain weird. The book would have much improved if Joseph just went to college.
If You Were Here - Jen Lancaster I was very excited to hear Jen was writing a fiction book (yay)! I love her style and i was happy to find that she's still funny in fiction. Her use of footnotes is hilarious and I'm glad she used them in this novel.

As far as the actual plot - I can relate to the frustration of searching for the perfect home. Although this book reinforces my belief that I'm not cut out for purchasing a fixer upper - this house made the one in The Money Pit look like a weekend project.
The World According to Garp - John Irving I very much enjoy reading John Irving. His characters are realistic, if not likeable. Irving's writing style educates the reader on a character in such a way that you feel like you truly understand their motivations and personality. While the plot of this novel does not quite seem believable - the well-developed characters bring it a sense of authenticity.
A Desirable Residence: A Novel of Love and Real Estate - Madeleine Wickham I really enjoy the Shopaholic series so I was very disappointed with this book. I suppose I was expecting a bit of humor, but the whole thing was a letdown. The plot was predictable and the characters unlikeable. Even though it's almost 300 pages it felt like nothing really happened. The author probably could have used an extra 25-50 pages to cone up with an ending that had more closure, the ending provided seemed rushed.
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb - Melanie Benjamin A book about an arrogant woman who is very selfish in her attempt to gain fame and happiness. I just couldn't like Vinnie, she is not a sympathetic character. I would have been more interested if PT Barnum or Charles Stratton were the narrator.
Naked in Death - J.D. Robb It's hard to believe that in the many years I've been reading Nora Roberts, it's taken me this long to start the "In Death" series. To be honest it was the fact that the same couple had more than one book that turned me off. I like my romances to be new and different each time. But now that I'm on a mystery series kick, I figured it was time. And I was glad I did - I'll definitely pick up the next book soon.
The Salaryman's Wife - Sujata Massey This book is the first in a mystery series set in contemporary (1990s) Japan. This book grabbed my attention in the first few chapters with the murder and the descriptions of Japanese culture. However, the book seemed to drag on and it was difficult to figure out why the main character cared so much about the murdered woman. Or for that matter why she was so set on living in Japan. It seems like the only thing she appreciates about the country is the antiques she collects. I was surprised at the end of the novel when the main character likened herself to other characters who had fallen in love with Japan and wish to remain there.

Overall the mystery was so-so, I figured out who the murderer was about 5 pages before his/her identity was revealed and I don't think there was really many "clues" to the identity before this. I'll probably read the second book, just to see the main character further developed, but if it isn't an improvement on the first novel, I won't continue with the series.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt This book reads like a gossipy history of the Savannah elite of the 1980's. Certain chapters were interesting, but some of Berendt's subjects were dull and made me want to skip around a bit. The description of the houses and the city itself definitely made me interested in visiting - I'm just not sure if I would like to run into most of these people.