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Sunday, April 09, 2006

April reading

Tan, Amy. Saving Fish from Drowning. Not typical Amy Tan and not my favorite by any means. The "note to the reader" at the beginning details Tan's intriguing involvement with the subject matter...when circumstances (serendipity, synchronicity) led Tan to look for shelter from a summer storm in the "American Society for Psychical Research." The "note" hooked me, but much of the novel was slow and less than scintillating. The premise, however, had promise. :)

Harris, C.S. What Angels Fear. Set in Regency England, this novel is billed as historical suspense. Nothing earthshaking, but a fun read.

Karon, Jan. At Home in Mitford. My aunt gave me seven of the Mitford novels, and I started reading with some trepidation, but quickly found that I enjoyed them. They are a bit "Pollyanna-ish," but right now that is the sort of thing my life can use. Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, and the residents of Mitford have a number of low key adventures, strong community feeling, and a religious outlook that is refreshing.

Karon, Jan. A Light in the Window. The second in the series that continues the stories of the various inhabitants of this small North Carolina town.

Vine, Barbara. Minotaur. Although very early on I suspected what the problem with John must be, I would not have known, say, ten years ago. The novel takes place in the 1960's and the diagnosis would have understandably been more difficult at the time--although it was first diagnosed (or labeled) in the 1940's, I believe. Alternately called a disorder, syndrome, and disease, there are more cases now. I don't want to reveal the disorder, but it truly is fascinating and on the rise.

Robinson, Peter. Aftermath. Another Alan Banks. Of course, I enjoyed it, even if some of this one was particularly difficult.

McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. The dialogue is sometimes difficult to follow, but the story is intense. Llewelyn Moss stumbles across the scene of a drug murder in the desert and decides to take the money. The violence that ensues is perhaps typical of the drug world, but sends Sheriff Bell into frequent ponderings about the state of society. McCarthy drives home the fact that the dealers are not the only ones responsible for all of the problems created by drugs and drug dealing. There is a market that will be exploited, and those who provide the market are also to blame. I really liked Sheriff Bell, and he is from another time when violence was not as commonplace as now. He is the old man who struggles to understand societal changes that have transformed the country in his lifetime.

McCarthy has won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. I read All the Pretty Horses years ago, but this first book by McCarthy I've read since then.

Furst, Alan. Dark Voyage. A novel that could easily pass as historical reality so skillfully is the story told. "In the first nineteen months of European war, from September , 1939, to March of 1941, the island nation of Britain and her allies lost, to U-boat, air, and sea attack, to mines and maritime disaster, one thousand, five hundred and ninety-six merchant vessels." In April, 1941, the captain of a Dutch freighter is recruited for clandestine activities by the Intelligence Dept. of the British Navy. One word used on the jacket to describe this novel is "authentic." It sure felt that way to me.

Wood, Lee. Kingdom of Lies. I enjoyed this mystery; the first I've read by this author.

Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Stillroom Maid. Enjoyed this light little mystery featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth. I've read a couple of these, and I've found Barron's Austen a bit of a stretch, but fun reads.

McKillip, Patricia A. Od Magic. Fantasy novel. Felt rushed. Pretty much the way I would feel if I had to write a novel: keep it moving and get it finished . As a reader, however, I don't want to feel rushed.

Willig, Lauren. The Masque of the Black Tulip. Why I finished this one is a conundrum. I started not to even list it. My standards for escape literature are not very high, but this one failed to meet my ridiculously low standards...which doesn't explain why I bothered to finish.