Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Book Reviews – the January Edition


I hit the ground running in January. I actually read 6 books, but I’m not listing one of them here (it was a re-read of an old Nora Roberts book because I needed some comfort food for my brain).
 
 
1. Seventy Seven Clocks (Bryant & May, the Peculiar Crimes Unit #3) by Christopher Fowler. ★★★★ A mysterious stranger in outlandish Edwardian garb defaces a painting in the National Gallery. Then a guest at the exclusive Savoy Hotel is fatally bitten by what appears to be a marshland snake. An outbreak of increasingly bizarre crimes has hit London — and, fittingly, come to the attention of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Art vandalism, an exploding suspect, pornography, rat poison, Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, secret societies...and not a single suspect in sight. The killer they're chasing has a dark history, a habit of staying hidden, and time itself on his side. Detectives John May and Arthur Bryant may have finally met their match, and this time they're really working against the clock... 
 
The Bug Says: Bryant and May are two very different men, which makes their partnership fun for the reader. The first book in the series takes place in “present day” when the detectives are much older. The next two are flashbacks to former cases. This one takes place in 1973 & that in itself was very entertaining – I loved reading about the fashions and attitudes. And the mystery in this one is excellent – I would never in a million years have figured out the villain!
 
2. The Silent Corner (Jane Hawk #1), by Dean Koontz. ★★★★ “I very much need to be dead.” These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for—but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demand: find the truth, no matter what.
 
People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important—so terrifying—that they will exterminate anyone in their way.
 
But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless—and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.
 
The Bug Says: This was a different kind of Koontz book – no aliens, no supernatural situations, just pure human evil. It was excellent! I’m a little nervous about what will happen in the next book, but this one was quite satisfactory.
 
3. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. ★★★★ Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere. 

 
The Bug Says: I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the book itself, or the author narrating the book. I seem to be drawn to books where hapless men find themselves in situations where they need to be heroes. This is in contrast to the books about women that I prefer – I want women to be strong protagonists. So, hapless man, strong woman, quest to right a wrong – count me in! This book was written in 1996 & there’s apparently going to be a sequel, of sorts.
 
4. The Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi. ★★★★★ Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith, and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanain immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
 
The Bug Says: This books moves back and forth between present day and the events that lead up to all the tragedy in Gifty’s life. Her remembrances of her evangelical church aren’t the same as mine (they were Pentecostal), but her questions about God do remind me of my own questions. This book was so deep that I think I need to read it again!
 
5. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (Agatha Raisin #6), by M.C. Beaton. ★★★ Agatha travels to Cyprus, only to contend with her estranged fiance, an egregious group of truly terrible tourists, and a string of murders...
 
The Bug Says: This is the book I was listening to in that picture where I was rolling my eyes last week. Agatha just needs to quit chasing after her neighbor (she followed him to Cyprus for heaven’s sake, when she knew he just wanted to get away from her). The mysteries are interesting, but I do get tired of the high school drama from a woman in her 50s. Also, the narrator makes all the women (except the vicar’s wife) sound like harridans. That said, I’m already reading the 7th book in the series. Ha!
 
I’m currently reading three books – the first one in a new detective series, the aforementioned Agatha Raisin, and The Queen’s Gambit. In fact, I need to get off of this computer & get to reading. I was going to ask if you’d read anything good lately, but really I do not need to be adding any books to my list. (But tell me anyway J).

13 comments:

  1. I love Neil Gaiman so I'll be looking for that book. and I read the last Jane Hawk book, not knowing it was part of a series though I figured it out when it kept referring to things in previous books. I thought I would look for the others but I already know how it all ends.

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    1. I hate it when I accidentally read a later book in a series (unless I don't like it).

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  2. Well, thanks for clearing up the mystery about the rolling-eye photo. I probably won't take on Agatha Raisin. We do have that Yaa Gyasi book in our library, as well as the Gaiman, but I haven't read either one.

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    1. Yeah, ole' Agatha would NOT be your cup of tea - ha!

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  3. I've read similar books to the C. Fowler - by Kay Hooper, "Bishop Special Crimes Unit". I'll have to look for the other Fowler books too.

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    1. I'll have to check out Kay Hooper - in some distant future when I've run out of things to read :)

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    2. OK - I went to look at the first one and I swear I've read it before. Must have been before I started using Goodreads to track my books (it was published in 2000). If it's what I remember, I really liked it!

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  4. I'm now more than halfway through the third (and final, thank gawd) volume of John Dos Passos' trilogy "USA".

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  5. Used to read a lot of Koontz until he seemed to hit a rut for me. May have to look up this novel.

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    1. Yeah - he's been hit or miss with me in the past too. This one was so different from his usual, but I really liked it!

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  6. Have you read anything by Henning Mankell?

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    1. Yes! I've read the first Kurt Wallander book. Thanks for reminding me about him - I need to get the next book in the series.

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear what you have to say!

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