It’s been six weeks since I wrote my previous book post. I’ve really been tearing through the titles since then. I’ve read so many, in fact, that my Books to Read Shelf is completely empty for the first time in over five years. I clearly need to get to a bookstore. I also need to write a post so that the backlog of titles doesn’t get too overwhelming. Here we go:
The Unmapped Sea–Maryrose Wood
This is the fifth book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. I wish it was the last. The new illustrator is far inferior to the original one, the Incorrigibles are no longer incorrigible, and the numerous mysteries surrounding the children and their governess are getting solved at a snail’s pace. Just finish the dang thing, Maryrose…and with a lot more Nutsawoo. The squirrel is your best character.
This is the author’s fourth book in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. Ace Atkins continues to handle the series better than Mr. Parker did in the years immediately prior to his death. This fine addition to the collection has Spenser investigating a small town judge with a reputation for sending kids to a private island jail for the slightest offenses. Make a fake Twitter account for your principal? Go to jail! This kind of dishonorable behavior riles Spenser, Hawk, Susan, Rita, and me. I had trouble putting this one down as I really wanted to get to the part where Spenser busted up the crooked judge and his backers.
The Martini Shot: A Novella and Stories–George Pelecanos
George Pelecanos was once one of my favorite authors. For reasons I can’t recall, I stopped reading his crime novels around 2004. Well, I was in Port Townsend a few months ago and saw this collection of stories for sale at a sad little bookstore and bought it to give the shop some business. As far as pity purchases go, this was a good one. There wasn’t a single dud in the collection and George Pelecanos killed off all the characters who used the phrase “just sayin”. That’s the way it should be.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz–L. Frank Baum
I bought this book as a souvenir at a charming shop in San Francisco called The Booksmith. I liked the feel of the green leatherette cover and the look of the flying monkey on the spine. The story itself was good, but I must admit to being shocked at how many creatures the Tin Woodman killed with his ax. There must’ve been at least forty. They definitely left that out of the movie adaptation.
Missing Person–Patrick Modiano
This one is about an amnesiac wandering around postwar Paris trying to discover his real name and piece together his true identity. Despite working at a detective agency, he’s not a very good investigator. He fails to look in the most obvious places and repeatedly sabotages his own investigation. He instead latches on to the most unlikely “clues” and imagines himself as characters in the stories he’s told. I read this book on my front porch on two unseasonably cool mornings. I honestly don’t remember how it ended. I think I may have rushed through it to get to the next book.
Finders Keepers–Stephen King
This is a sequel of sorts to last year’s Mr. Mercedes. This one has an obsessed fan stealing a reclusive author’s unpublished works. The criminal buries the manuscripts in a trunk, but decades go by before he can return and dig them up. A few of the characters from Mr. Mercedes show up once the action makes it to the present day, but you don’t need to have read that book to understand what’s going on in Finders Keepers. If you read and enjoyed Mr. Mercedes, though, you should definitely read this one.
The Jewels of Paradise–Donna Leon
This is the author’s first detective story that doesn’t feature Commissario Guido Brunetti. Had Brunetti been around, he probably would’ve suggested that Caterina Pellegrini take everything out of the trunk and see if there were any jewels in there instead of hanging out at the library all day doing research. This was a pretty darn boring book, but I’m happy to admit that it ended well.
The Judges of the Secret Court–David Stacton
Did you know that four people were executed in connection with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? I’m not even talking about John Wilkes Booth (who died in a shootout); I’m talking about his supposed conspirators. I had no idea. David Stacton’s novel about Lincoln’s assassination and the political and legal aftermath was a revelation to me that managed to fill in some embarrassing gaps in my education. It also happened to be a very exciting, well-written book that I managed to zip through in about two days. I’d highly recommend this one to fans of historical fiction or to people interested in the Civil War.
Can’t and Won’t: Stories–Lydia Davis
This is the author’s first book of new short stories since The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis came out in 2009. The Collected Stories was one of my favorite books that year, and Can’t and Won’t is just as fun and original. My favorite stories were “The Language of the Telephone Company”, “I’m Pretty Comfortable, But I Could Be a Little More Comfortable”, and the series of complaint letter stories. I love a good complaint letter.
The Hollow Land–Jane Gardam
I bought this one just because I liked the cover art. The book is a collection of related stories (or maybe it’s a novel divided up into story-like chapters) about two families in rural England and their relationship over the course of a few decades. The first family lives in the countryside year-round while the second family is from London and rents a nearby house for the holidays. I liked this one enough that I’m going to seriously consider reading Jane Gardam’s more famous Old Filth trilogy.
New York Drawings–Adrian Tomine
Scenes From an Impending Marriage–Adrian Tomine
I like Adrian Tomine’s drawing far more than I like his writing, so his collection of artwork from The New Yorker was far more interesting to me than his little book of marriage-related comics. I got both of these from the library…along with this last one.
George Sprott: (1894-1975)–Seth
I liked Seth’s It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, but this book about the life of an arctic explorer/TV host never really got off the ground for me. I think I’d get more out of it if I read it a second time, but that’s probably not going to happen as I already returned it to the library. I had to take it inside as the book was far too wide to fit in the book drop.
I’m currently reading three books: Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, a gigantic Drawn & Quarterly anthology, and Ron McLarty’s The Memory of Running.