My blogging mojo has been even scarcer than my reading mojo of late. I’ve spent a lot of my free time watching melodramatic cop shows on Netflix instead. Sometimes a problem that’s resolved in 45 minutes really hits the spot.
To try to get back on track, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading and trying to read lately. I’d love to talk more about any of them in the comments.
Actually Read It! (I’ve been having most success with mystery here, too)
Cathy Pegau, Murder on the Last Frontier I enjoyed this historical mystery set on the Alaska frontier in 1919, with a female journalist heroine. I had an interesting Twitter conversation about whether this is a “cozy” and how exactly you’d define this type of mystery.
Lucinda Brant, Deadly Engagement, read by Alex Wyndham Lots of people I know love this Georgian set mystery series. I felt like I was reading about a gang of emo middle-schoolers who are shagging, assaulting, and murdering each other–too over the top for me.
Keigo Higashino, The Devotion of Suspect X, translated Alexander O. Smith Although, as the title suggests, intense emotion is a the heart of this Japanese mystery, the focus is on unraveling the puzzle and I found the style somewhat flat. Clever and engaging, though.
Jo Bannister, Desperate Measures Third in a series featuring Gabriel Ash and Hazel Best. Ash’s wife and sons were kidnapped several years ago, and at the end of the last book there was a cliff-hanger twist in this story. Many more twists in this one before it was resolved. I enjoy the unusual friendship between Ash and Hazel, Ash’s very special dog Patience, and the way Ash begins to overcome trauma. The series could satisfactorily end here, but if there were more, I’d follow these characters further.
Seicho Matsumoto, Inspector Imanishi Investigates, translated by Beth Cary A serendiptous library find, this was originally published in the early 60s. Like many post-war (any war) mysteries I’ve read, it reflects on the ways that war’s disruption allows both individuals and a society to reinvent themselves. An older, fairly traditional detective pursues a case involving the Nouveau group, a collective of young avant garde artists, writers, and musicians engaging with Western culture.
Lucy Parker, Act Like It I might be the last person I know to read this romance. It’s probably my favorite kind–fairly light with fun banter and a core of real emotion. It’s set in the London theatre world, which was believably rendered. The story, with its slowly developing relationship and fade-to-black sex scenes, would fit well in Harlequin’s Romance line. A delightful weekend reading escape.
Have Read at Least Some of It!
Hope Jahren, Lab Girl, read by the author I’m really loving this. Her love for her research, her beautiful descriptions of the natural world, her portrait of her devoted friendship with Bill, who works in her lab. And her Midwestern pronunciation of “root” (to rhyme with foot, more or less). It’s been ages since I heard someone say it that way. Slate’s Audio Book Club captures its charms.
E. F. Benson, Queen Lucia Normally this kind of comedy of manners in which characters spar over who will rule a small village society would be exactly my cup of tea, but right now a story about genteely passive-aggressive social combat is the last thing I need. I know I’ll enjoy this tremendously one day but for now I’ve set it aside.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer I’ve only read a couple of chapters, but I’m loving the voice in this novel of a man divided between cultures and loyalties in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. It won the Pulitzer, among many accolades.
Library Stash, Imagining/Pretending/Hoping I Will Read It!
Svetlana Alexeivitch, Voices from Chernobyl I put this on hold when she won the Nobel; it may have come in at the wrong moment for me.
Peter Lovesey, Upon a Dark Night I usually feel compelled to read series in order, but I’ve had good luck picking up random volumes from the Peter Diamond mysteries from the library shelves.
Catherine M. Roach, Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture and Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, ed. by Jayne Ann Krentz Roach’s book showed up when I was browsing new acquisitions, so I clicked on the subject codes to see what other romance criticism my library had and requested both of these. I’m vaguely thinking of a summer reading project (I have Pamela Regis’ Natural History of the Romance Novel) but may not actually get to it.
If I don’t get off Netflix, I’ll never read any of these!