SEVEN February Mini Reviews
This month I have seven quick reviews in a variety of genres from nonfiction to thrillers. Hope you find some of the info helpful in choosing your next good read!
Lethal White (#4 Strike) by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Published 2018, 656 pages
I've enjoyed the previous installments of this series, but this book didn't quite do it for me. It was WAY too long, much too wordy (SO many extraneous 50cent words and drawn out descriptions). The mystery part was complex with lots of moving parts -actually two events that twined together eventually, but it wasn't actually very engaging. I enjoy Strike's crusty, gruff personality but feel like Robin should develop a bit of a spine. Their relationship continues to flirt with attraction, so stay tuned.
All in all, an average read that could have benefited from some major editing. See review for Career of Evil #3 here.
I listened to this very long book and the narrator was good, changing up the voicing for the various characters.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Published 2003, 247 pages
An interesting and informative dissection of living a creative life. Tharp brings in tons of personal anecdotes as would be expected, but also references many, many other big names in other creative endeavors. I particularly liked that for almost every tip or suggestion she made to improve a creative life, she starts with how she uses it but ties in almost every other creative outlet from cooking to painting to music or writing. This is no fluffy, cliche-filled book, but a substantive discussion and break down of creativity and how to develop actions that might increase access to it. Naturally, if you're interested or involved in music or dance you'll likely find more help than say, an author. But. There's enough of general interest too.
I found the writing a little dry sometimes and when she was too long-winded about a particular dance or problem she tried to resolve, I just skimmed that part. While some of the practices she suggests are not anything I will actually do, I did find a number of aha moments and will endeavor to work them into my creative life.
Red Road by Roger Wheatley
Published Nov. 2020, 357 pages
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It didn't have a ground breaking plot line, but it did have evocative storytelling and a great main character in Tom, an ex-cop trying to start over. I found Tom's character and most of the supporting characters well detailed with enough personality to help make them memorable. Jane Harper has also written a mystery set in the Australian outback, and like her novel, this one is very evocative of the harsh, remote environment and heat and bugs and critters!
The mystery centers around a missing Aboriginal teen (therefore the cops aren't much interested in looking for him) which then leads Tom to become involved which then leads to discovery of a substantial drug ring working in the area. Good tension and action throughout without being really an "action" story. Definitely recommended! I received a free ARC from #BookSirens and the opinions are my own.
Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer
Published 2019, 288 pages
This mediocre book might get that designation because it wasn't what I was expecting/hoping for. I wanted to feel the excitement of this exotic race. Instead I got lots of the author's inner musings about her personality, her family, etc. The info about the race was brief considered in the totality of the book. There were some comments about the weather, some 'poetic' scenery descriptions and lots of pony descriptions. Somehow I found it lacking. I guess I wanted more race drama, more of her actual race experience and less personal ruminations. Didn't love the writing style - felt a bit forced.
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
Published 2013, 391 pages
A book about determination, survival in outrageously difficult circumstances, perseverance, loyalty, dedication and so much more. Told in two timelines, 1942 when there are 3 crashes in Greenland within a 10 day period, and 2012 chronicling efforts to retrieve the remains of the men lost. I listened to this book and occasionally lost track of which men were from which plane (identified by call numbers) and which rescuers were pilots/dog-sledders, ship captains, etc. Zuckoff does provide background on each of the downed men, enough to make you realize they were real people with real lives, but not in a way to emotionally connect with them.
However, he DID do an excellent job of painting the landscape of Greenland, the harsh weather conditions, and the hardships the men faced. A few were rescued 'early' before the winter fully set in, others didn't make it, and a few survived the cruelest of winter conditions. The current day chapters about mounting a search-and-find mission were mildly interesting - trying to get funding and get the military on board. I preferred the historical chapters. All in all, a well written, fascinating slice of history brought to life.
The Law of Innocence #6 Haller by Michael Connelly
Genre: Legal Drama
Published Nov 2020, 400 pages
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It's an actual legal drama with excellent courtroom action, which seems to be more and more rare. It's peopled with strong characters, has a strong mystery that he and his team have to solve because this time he's the client - he's been arrested for murder with special circumstances. The cops find a dead body in the trunk of his car when he's pulled over for a traffic stop. Oops. This book is a straightforward mystery, not particularly twisty, yet kept me engaged throughout. It works perfectly well as a standalone book - Harry Bosch (his other detective series) makes a brief appearance, but doesn't play a significant role.
Toward the end of the book, talk of a 'mysterious virus' from China and masks begin to show up - great timeframe context.
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Genre: Historical Fiction (SciFi?)
Published 2018, 220 pages
I came across this book thanks to Mel at Strong Sense of Place podcast (which I love). She was right on in her recommendation of this book. Translated from French, it's set in Paris - in 2017 AND 1954. This small gem is charming and engaging, a simple story, simply told. Four strangers in Paris share a bottle of 1954 wine and the next morning find themselves in 1954. I didn't know whether to classify this as sci-fi (time travel) or historical fiction due to more than half the book being set in 1954. I decided the historical element was stronger than the time travel one. Ultimately this is a story evocative of Paris in days gone past, a little miracle, and unexpected friendships. A feel-good book all the way, it would be a pleasant way to pass a weekend.
Hopefully there's a book or two here that pique your interest. Let me know if you've read any and what you thought. Or, how about giving me a suggestion of something new to read?