Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer reading

Thanks for all your kind thoughts about how much we were roasting. The heat has passed so now we can just get back to being plain old 'hot'. The A/C is off and we're managing with ceiling fans and open windows.

Despite the heat, or maybe because of it, it's been a good summer for reading. I have borrowed all my book pictures from all time favorite online book browsing and shopping website.

Years ago, when it first came out, I read Scott Turow's 'Presumed Innocent'. I enjoy a legal thriller and he's written some good ones. When the sequel, 'Innocent', came out I thought it would be good to go back and read the first one again. I gave both books to my husband for Father's Day and read them after he was done. It had been 20 years since the first reading and nothing rang a bell until I hit page 27. It all came back, who committed the murder, why, with what, etc. So I asked my husband if I was right. I was happy to think that I could skip 400 pages and move on to the next book. After all, there are just so many books to read I didn't want to spend the time reading the same book twice if I already knew the ending. He said I was right but that I really needed to read the whole book to reacquaint myself with the characters so the next book would make sense. So, back I went. It was still a good book and I liked the way the ending is revealed. I like a good courtroom drama, which both these books contain.

So, with the first book finished I moved on to the second. I can't say I enjoyed this one, though. In the first book, the main character might be a little bit likable.... just a little bit. By the time the second book rolls around he's NOT. He's still making poor choices, acting like a fool, and, once again, in need of a good defense attorney. Given that none of the characters were anyone I wanted to keep reading about, the second book was mostly a waste of time. The big reveal, at the end, was depressing to top it all off. So, if you have the desire for a good legal thriller, read 'Presumed Innocent' and leave it at that.

Another very enjoyable book is Amy Dickinson's 'The Mighty Queens of Freeville'. Amy is the new Dear Abby of the Chicago Tribune. She's not who writes that column in our local newspaper so I didn't recognize her name. She is, however, from a little town not that far from here. I picked up the book at an independent bookstore in a town about an hour from here because it was featured on a table of local authors. The description caught my attention right away. Amy finds herself in a foreign country with a little girl and no husband. She comes back home to regroup and find a job. She ends up living and working a days drive away from her home town of Freeville. She manages to raise her daughter by herself while maintaining her ties with her family and her old home town. I loved the writing style of this book. I also loved the way Amy didn't wallow in her misfortunes or loneliness. The book wasn't about her struggles to cope, it was just about her life. Life wasn't easy for her, but it wasn't easy for Amy's mother either, so I don't think Amy thought her's was anything dramatic. I find much to admire about a women who doesn't feel the need to wallow in self pity. There was no 'poor me, life is too hard all alone with a daughter to raise' that seem to make some other authors write books and become best sellers. Quite frankly, I'm tired of reading books about how hard it is to function in today's' world, even when you have a spouse, family around to help, money to survive, and good health insurance. (Not that I'm naming any names but I've found myself reading more then one such book lately.)

And finally, I read Elizabeth Berg's newest book: The Last Time I Saw You. Elizabeth Berg has always been one of my favorite authors. I used to say she could tell a good story in just 200 pages. Her last few books haven't been all that good, though. I'm not sure if it's just the topic or the story or what. I've been unable to connect to the characters, or to find the story interesting. While I liked this last one, the characters were shallow and hard to care about. We're introduced to various people as they prepare for their 40th high school reunion. Everyone has a different story with one exception.... they all feel the need to attend their class reunion. Most feel like they left something unfinished when they left school. I think it's an old story. The story of the who fits in, who never fit in, who wishes they'd treated classmates better, who wants to show their classmates that they've succeeded, and so on. It's a pleasant read, with a happy ending, so I didn't not enjoy this book, I just like something a little meatier.

So, there it is. What I've been reading over the last couple weeks. I have a book shelf full and a book or 2 on reserve at the library so keep checking back to see if any of them are worth mentioning.

Until then,

The Queen Bee


  1. Thanks for the book reviews. I need to add to my reading list.

    I read Berg's last book, Home Safe, and found it pretty annoying. Have you read that? I've been having trouble finding fiction that I can really sink my teeth into lately. But I am falling asleep stitching lately, not reading!

  2. The only one of these I've read (well--listened to) was Berg's book. I felt let-down by it--really used to enjoy her earlier novels, but this one was just a soap-opera tied up in a neat bow. (At least to me!!)

    I have "The Cookbook Collector" set aside to take to the beach later this month--hope it keeps me entertained :)