Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Reading: a Summer trilogy, Books about Bookstores, turn back the clock a decade or two and more...

Summer Reading So Far

I have been remiss in writing a summer reading post this year.  My intentions were good, as usual, but the last few hot days have served as a reminder that I can’t ignore.  I always start with a summer/beach trilogy and Mary Alice Monroe’s Low Country Summer Trilogy is just right.  When the first book, Summer Girls, ended with a cliff-hanger, I was anxious to see how the second book, Summer Wind, would start.  Well, it started the next day.  No flashbacks or explanations, the action picked up right where it ended.  The last book, Summer’s End, ties up the loose ends and almost everyone lives happily ever after.  
Next, several staff members were excited about Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller.  I was a little reluctant after Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June.  Really, how many good books can you expect about bookstores? The Bookseller surpassed my expectations and returned me to an earlier time in the 1960s. 

To turn the clock back one more decade,  Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event  takes us back to the early 1950s in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Three plane crashes and many deaths brought the city to a standstill.  You couldn’t live in Elizabeth without knowing someone who had suffered a loss or been somehow impacted by the tragic accidents.  Newark Airport was closed during the investigations.  In the Unlikely Event offers a precisely cut slice of life in 1950s Elizabeth in the same way that Blume’s Wifey offered a slice of Plainfield in the 1970s. 
Many people know that TheGuernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my favorite books.  I  found  it so charming that I couldn’t decide if I had high expectations or no expectations for The Truth According to Usby Annie Barrows, co-author of TGL&PPS.  Once again I was speeding back in American history and, this time, I landed in the late 1930s.  The characters are as quirky as the small town is pretentious. The federal government is busy employing people through the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to move the economy forward at the same time a local factory is squashing any attempts to unionize.  I enjoyed the fictionalized history lesson; I enjoyed the main characters; I laughed when appropriate; I pondered the mysterious fire at the factory; I enjoyed the parts of the story told by letters to people we never met; and, I sympathized with any and all affairs of the heart.  However, I was more confused than charmed by the story as a whole.  Although my praise is so faint it may disappear from  the screen, I am glad I finished the book.  
Although I never want summer to end, I am looking forward to The Girl in the Spider Web (David Lagercrantz continuing for Stieg Larsson) and The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks).  Fall always brings books to remind us that lazy reading is over and it’s time to get serious again.
- S. Bakos

Friday, July 17, 2015

If You Like PBS Mysteries, Read the Books

'In a Dry Season

If you like the PBS television show 'DCI Banks,' read the series it is based on by Peter Robinson. 'In a Dry Season' is the tenth in the series and the first I've read. Alan Banks has been relegated to boring desk jobs for insubordination and is assigned to a cold case when a skeleton is found in an abandoned village which is revealed when the summer drought dries up the reservoir that had covered the town for fifty years. The book alternates between the story of the village during WWII and the current investigation into what appears to have been an unreported murder there. This book is a great depiction of the deprivations and tragedies of WWII in the U.K., interwoven with a believable present-day police procedural. The suspense lasts until the last chapter.
Recommended for fans of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series and Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series.' This was first posted February 19, 2014

BHPL owns the following titles in the DCI Banks series, shelved in Mysteries under the author's name, MYS Robinson:
Abatoir Blues
Bad Boy 
Children of the Revolution
Close to Home
Friend of the Devil
Piece of my Heart
Playing with Fire
Watching the Dark

BHPL owns seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series based on the the Peter Robinson books: DCI BANKS, shelved with the DVD's under 'DCI'