what I’m reading

Quick takes on books I’ve read recently.

[asa book]0061351504[/asa] There are a couple authors who I read automatically, even though I have not loved every book, and in fact, have really disliked some of them. Jodi Picoult is one example, and so is Ann Tyler. I can name two books of Tyler’s I really disliked, and far more that I think are wonderful.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes contemporary romance that usually works for me, and sometimes REALLY works for me. I think I like her Ain’t She Sweet best of all her novels (but stay away from the audio; there are some real issues with the way the reader handles the main male character). What I Did for Love was a good read, quick, amusing, with an interesting hero and a lot of good secondary characters.

[asa book]0981608728[/asa] A World I Never Made is Lepore’s first novel, and he’s off to a great start. This story centers around Pat Nolan, who comes to Paris to identify the body of his daughter, who committed suicide. Except the dead woman is not his daughter, and despite their rocky relationship, he recognizes immediately that his real daughter is in trouble somewhere, and he has got to find her. He teams up with a French detective, and off they go. This novel is tightly plotted with tension that rises steadily, interesting settings and really creepy bad guys. The one problem I could identify was a sense that sdome developments happened too quickly and raise doubts that undermine the willing suspension of disbelief. Another twenty five pages would have given him time and space to explore some of the personal relationships in more depth, which would have solved the problem. But then maybe you’ll disagree.  The story moves back and forth between France and Morocco.
[asa book]0821777777[/asa] Jo Goodman is a well established writer of historical romance, some set in the old west and this one,  If His Kiss is Wicked, set in Regency England. Emmalyn Hathaway lost her parents at a young age and came to live with her uncle, a famous painter, and her cousin Marisol, who is very pretty and very given to indulging her whims, especially when it comes to men. In trying to help Marisol out of a bad situation, Emma is attacked, abducted, and badly beaten.  Thie trauma of this has made her afraid to leave the house and worse still, she believes it was her cousin who was the target, and she is still in danger.  Emmalyn goes to Restell Gardner, who comes from money but choses to live a different life as a solver of problems. An early Sherlock Holmes type, idiosyncratic but very self-aware and intuitive both. Restell isn’t so sure that Emmalyn wasn’t the target.

I liked this novel for its lovely twisty characterization of Emmalyn, who lives a kind of intellectual double life that is slowly revealed.  The fact that the mystery sometimes overshadows the romance might be a problem for some, but it seemed to me that the narrative benefitted.  Restell and Emmalyn do have a lot of chemistry and very engaging conversations (one of my favorite things in a good romance), but if you’re looking for mindless entertainment, this book is not for you.

[asa book]0385342373[/asa] I have been waiting a long time for Margaret Lawrence to come out with a new historical.  Her earlier series set in post-revolutionary Maine  (beginning with Hearts and Bones and ending with The Ice Weaver) are books I still return to. Strong, engaging female characters are at the heart of the Hannah Trevor novels, and the story is told in many voices, by means of court testimony, witness statements, Hannah’s notes and writings, and the narrator. So I wanted to love Roanoke, but I had some problems with it.

By no means do I expect an author to always write the same book, and in theory I had no problem with the idea that this novel was set in an earlier period (the Elizabethan) and had men as its central characters.  But there’s something out of balance. The plot swings back and forth between England and the new colony of Roanoke, which establishes a choppy rhythm that might have worked better if the narrator hadn’t been one step removed from the main character, Gabriel North.

If I can come up with a more cohesive essay on the issues I see in this novel, I will write a full length review.

[asa book]0061128899[/asa] This is what I’m currently reading, and so far I’m very caughtu p in the story.