I’ve long decided that the idea of me ever being caught up on reviews is kind of hopeless. But now I find myself wondering the opposite – is it possible that I will eventually become so far behind on reviews that readers won’t even know which July I am referring to without further explanation?? Only time will tell.
At any rate, Happy New Year!! And here are some books I read back when it was a million degrees out and super muggy.
Nightwork by Nora Roberts – 4*
Continuing my July Roberts binge, I also picked up her latest novel. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one, and even though I, personally, enjoyed it, I can understand why a lot of people didn’t. It’s really more of a story about the main character, Harry Booth, than it is about romance or suspense – which is a bit of a departure from most of the Roberts books I’ve read. The story starts with Harry as a small boy. His single mother has cancer and can only work irregularly so they struggle to make ends meet. Harry starts stealing, and, as he grows into adulthood, becomes a con artist and a professional thief. Despite Harry’s job, this story was slow, and the heists never felt particularly pulse-pounding. Personally, I liked Harry as a character, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the various places he lived and worked (especially New Orleans), so I enjoyed the book. But both the romance and the suspense are on the slow side, so this one probably isn’t for everyone.
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym – 4*
I read this one as a buddy read with a group on Litsy. It definitely wasn’t a book that I would have picked up on my own, but I ended up enjoying it, especially at the chapter-a-day pace. It’s not a particularly fast-paced read, a story of an older spinster just after WWII. It’s an interesting look at a specific layer of British society, one of a generation of women whose potential husbands were slaughtered on the battlefields. I ended up liking Mildred and sympathizing with her quiet, industrious life, where most of her work was taken for granted. I was a little let down by the ending, which felt rather sitcom-like, where everyone just ends up exactly where they started, but overall while this wasn’t a new favorite that I see myself reading time and again, I found to be an engaging, quiet novel.
A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery – 4*
It had been probably 15-20 years since my last reread of this one. It was never one of my favorite Mongomery’s growing up, but I appreciated it a lot more now than I did when I was in my early 20s, finding several of the storylines a bit more sympathetic. There are a lot of characters here and a lot of threads (hence the title), so there are definitely stories within this one that I prefer to others. The Sams were never my favorites before or now, and it does make me sad that their weird racism bit is the what comprises the final pages of this book, considering that the rest of the novel is old-fashioned but pleasantly so. This isn’t where I would start with Montgomery’s books, and it’s definitely more adult than many of her other novels, but there are plenty of enjoyable characters and interesting motivations here. This was an especially fun one to read with the Kindred Spirits group on Litsy as there is a lot to discuss!!
Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin – 3.5*
I really enjoy Margolin’s legal thrillers. This one wasn’t my favorite, but it still kept me turning the pages. Ami is a single mother and struggling attorney. She rents out the apartment above her garage for extra income, and her latest tenant seems like a regular, kind man a little older than herself. But when he goes berserk at her son’s baseball game and almost kills someone with his bare hands, Ami sees an entirely different side of him. Now in prison, he shares an almost unbelievable story with her, about a secret group of trained killers, hired by the government entirely off the books and headed up by a famous general who is now running for president. His story is corroborated by the General’s own daughter, Vanessa – who had a mental breakdown in her past and spent time in a mental hospital, meaning that now no one takes her accusations very seriously. Margolin does a great job of presenting information against the General that makes you think Carl and Vanessa are right, followed by the General explaining away everything in a perfectly reasonable manner, leaving you convinced that Carl (a Vietnam vet) and Vanessa are actually just paranoid and delusional, pitiable individuals who need help. However, this did mean that book was slightly repetitive at times, especially when we would hear about something from Carl’s view, than Vanessa’s, then the General’s. And towards the end of the book there is a big courtroom scene where everything is summed up in far too much detail – like, I literally just read the book?? I don’t need an entire chapter-long synopsis! However, I genuinely didn’t know who to believe up until the ending, so, a good one-time read, but not my new favorite by this author.
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan – 4*
The final book in the Percy Jackson series wrapped everything up nicely. On the whole, while I enjoyed the series just fine, it didn’t really reach out and grab me. There are various spinoff and other related series, but I don’t see myself picking up any of the others.