Read Any Good Books?

I (Clare) a number of years ago started keeping an annotated list of books I have read. I Stack of Books shared the list with my book club and then friends asked for it and on and on. I have continued to update my list. Here are the books I have read the last little while. Click here for the entire list. Books I have read You will notice that I really like murder mysteries but read almost all genres.
Feel free to share the title of a good book with me. Thanks. Happy Reading

February 2015

  • The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi – a truly terrific read that moves between present day Kabul and the main character’s great grandmother. Treatment of women is so upsetting. Lots of real thugs in Kabul. Feel like there is no hope for Afghanistan.
  • 5 murder mysteries by Ann Cleeves – Set in Northumberland England featuring Inspector Ramsay. The main character, Ramsay, is not well developed but the stories are all very good. The Baby Snatcher; Killjoy, A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy, A Lesson in Dying, and Murder in My Backyard. Super easy reads – short and engaging.
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. How did this win the Booker prize? The writing was truly terribly – starting paragraphs with He. Cannot figure out who is talking. Shifts between first and third person. So sloppy I was shocked. Do NOT recommend it.
  • The King’s Curse by Phillipa Gregory – this is the book that started my interest in the Tudors. Interesting perspective on Henry VIII. Historical fiction. Learned some. Not too deep but interesting.
  • Growing Up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler – Interesting read. Definitely am not becoming Amish – learned about different branches of the Amish, some of their practices. Book should have continued for the rest of the author’s life. Felt incomplete.
  • Without You There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite – By Suki Kim – I totally loved this book. The author was masquerading as a missionary with a group of missionaries who were masquerading as teachers. It tells about her time teaching in North Korea. Totally fascinating. It really shows how the government totally controls all info and the minds of the population. And people are so poor. Written recently. Author is a journalist originally from South Korea.
  • Adult Onset by Ann Marie Macdonald – I think this author only has one good book in her and she has written it. I read ½ the book and said that’s enough. Silly, silly, silly characters.
  • books by Thrity Umrigar: The Space Between Us; The Story Hour;
  • The Space Between Us – set in contemporary Bombay, story of 2 women – 1 rich and 1 poor (her servant) – really shows how the caste system is still in place – so many twists and turns in the book – really interesting
  • The Story Hour – set in New England – story of a poor Indian woman (new immigrant) who tries to commit suicide and her friendship with her psychiatrist – black woman – parts of it were very good – a bit frustrating and implausible. I got very cross with the psychiatrist because she knows better.
  • The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster – seems like I am only person who does not know about Foster. This is her 26th Good psychological thriller. A psychiatrist is haunted by what she did as a child. Really good read. Lots of twists and turns. Characters well developed.
  • Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming – Yes that Alan Cumming – actor from The Good Wife, Cabaret … Book is totally awesome. His childhood was sooo grim. Tells story of his abusive father and how he survived. This is a must read. Well written, a bit of mystery, engaging.
  • The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah – I love Poirot and I was reluctant to read this book. I felt that no one but Agatha Christie could write a Poirot murder mystery. I was wrong. Book was terrific. Great story. Perfectly captured Poirot. Cannot wait for the next book by Hannah.
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs. This is the most, most, most gripping book. Robert Peace, dirt poor in Newark – totally brilliant, gets a scholarship to Yale, gets high marks and ends up back on the streets of the projects in Newark. And he dies tragically. The author was Peace’s room mate at Yale. As a white woman, I know I do not get it (about race) but this book gave me an insight into poverty. Peace “got out” in one way but psychologically could not. One of the best books ever – but sad!! And you will be perplexed by the bad choices Peace keeps making.
  • Hardball: A V.I. Warshawki Novel by Sara Peretsky – To think this series is going strong Not worth the effort to even describe how bad this book is – writing poor, character ridiculous, plot painful – read ½ and thought Huh! Who would read this shlop?
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (A.K.A. J. K Rowling) – totally loved it. Just as good as her first as Galbraith – loved the characters, loved the story …. Hope the third one is coming soon.
  • Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason – so bad not worth the time to describe how bad it is.
  • The Marco Effect” A Department Q Novel – Jussi Adler-Olsen – I love, love, love this series. Truly fab murder mysteries. Set in Copenhagen. Totally love the characters and the stories are great. Read them in order of publication.
  • The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook – Not my usual read. Set in postwar East Germany. I could only get through ½ of it. Characters were not plausible. Story and history interesting but the characters were just not real.
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell – Typical Gladwell. If you like Gladwell you will love this one. I did.
  • The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny. I truly love these murder mysteries. Have to ration them out.
  • A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George- For those who like Inspector Lynley murder mysteries.
  • The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud – not nearly as good as her early writings. Not worth it.
  • 3 books by Sarah Addison Allen – The Sugar Queen, Lost Lake, Garden Spells – normally I do not like novels with fantasy elements but these 3 are soooo good. Allen is a great writer and the fantasy elements work. Stories are all good.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Taft – how did this win the Pulitzer Prize? Totally dreadful book. Wordy, plot does not make sense, implausible … Absolutely painful. Read ¾ of it and then my friend told me that the last ¼ is even more ridiculous so I stopped. (He was so frustrated with the book, he threw it across the room. And he is not prone to violence – a total sweetie.)


July 26, 2014

  • In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner – Vintage Elizabeth George. Very long but very good if you like Inspector Lynley murder mysteries. Deception on His Mind also by George. Very good.
  • Kwei Quartey murder mysteries – Set in Ghana. So interesting because I learned so much about Ghana – oil reserves, religion, corruption … Three books with the same detective, Darko Dawson, (who I love): Wife of the Gods, Murder at Cape Three Points, and Children of the Street. Read them in order of publication. Death at the Voyager Hotel is a one-off without Inspector Darko. Quartey is a doctor in the US who comes Ghana so he knows the country.
  • The Fashion in the Shrouds by Margery Allingham – J.K. Rowling said Allingham is her favourite murder mystery writer but I found it dated and tedious. (Detective Campion)
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – this is not my usual thing but I loved it. A blind French girl and a German soldier during WWII. VERY interesting and well written.
  • A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks. About corruption and the collapse of the banking system in 2008. Very interesting following about 12 characters. I could not follow all of the stuff on hedge funds but the ending is a true humdinger. Definitely worth the read.
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – contrived and painful murder mystery. Characters were silly and implausible. Not worth it.
  • Buried Angles by Hannah Kent another murder mystery set in the Scandinavian countries. Not worth the read. Painful. No where near the caliber of Jussi Adler-Olsen.
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny – Usual excellent stuff following the murders in Three Pines. I am reading the Inspector Gamache in order and loving every word of every book.
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. I was looking forward to this because I LOVED Loving Frank (Lloyd Wright) by Horan. This one was so painful and embarrassing I could not get through it.
  • The Lemon Grove by Ali Hosseini set in Iraq during US invasion. Really glad I read it because I learned so much. Writing is not top drawer but very informative.
  • Honey Dew by Louise Doughty was a total disappointment. I loved her other books which were taunt and well written. This one was garbage.
  • Hour of the Red God by Richard Crompton is set in Kenya prior to the 2007 elections. Nowhere near the caliber of Quartey novels but I learned a lot about Kenya
  • Buried Rites by Hannah Kent – an absolute MUST read. Tells the story of the last women executed for murder in Iceland in the early 19th HUH you are saying. Trust me it is gripping and you will learn so much about Iceland. I could not put it down
  • Jhumpa Lahiri – Three novels which were all excellent. The Namesake; Interpreter of Maladies; and the Lowland. ALL were superb. The last one did not win the Booker (but should have). All dealing with identity Indo/American. Beautifully written even if the style is unconventional at times. Informative – gets you thinking about issues of identity.
  • The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon – Hyped like crazy on Amazon but it was terrible, trite, not interesting
  • Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. Translated from Dutch. I loved his previous novel, The Dinner which was a real psychological thriller. Summer House is not in that league. Almost all of the characters are despicable and so many loose ends it feels sloppy and I felt used as a reader.
  • Meet me in Malmo by Torquil MacLeod. Sort of a good/interesting murder mystery. Good story. The ending is such a shocker it is worth the read. Not particularly well written- another set in the Scandinavian countries – but fairly interesting.

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