This week was a really good reading week for me. I read a bunch of books and liked every one. I realized that I’m really happy with my reading month this month. I’m reading at a slower pace than I have the past three or four years, but I am really enjoying the books that I read. This week I read a new book in a series I’ve been seriously anticipating, a horror novel that caught my eye at the library, a gem I found on a list of Kindle deals, and a history book to prep for my kids schooling. So, let’s get started:
The first book I read this week is the sixteenth Inspector Armand Gamache novel. This book takes place during a trip to Paris. Armand and Reine-Marie are in Paris awaiting the birth of a new grandchild. In fact, the whole family is there, including Armand’s godfather Stephen. After a family dinner, Stephen is struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run, something the police initially consider an accident despite the fact that Armand and Reine-Marie immediately confirm as intentional. The question: Who would intentionally attempt to kill Stephen? Why? The answer isn’t so simple since Stephen has made a lot of enemies in his life.
I’m more than a little biased, but this novel was perfection. It’s my favorite book that I have read in the series in a few books, and I loved that we got a picture of Armand’s relationship with his son, Daniel. This is a story where Gamache’s character is completely tangled up in the mystery, and those are probably my favorite mysteries in this collection.
I also loved that the book was set in Paris. I love the setting and characters of Three Pines, but sometimes those characters get to feel a little stale. (I especially get exhausted with her obsession with Clara Morrow.) Taking the characters out of their natural setting adds freshness into a formula that keeps it from getting stale. I really savored this book.
The next book I finished reading was the horror novel, Devolution. A small community was massacred by, as best as can be told, sasquatches in the days following a volcanic eruption at Mount Rainier. The story, told through the journals of one of the community residents, as well as interviews with park rangers and others, attempts to reconstruct what happened in the community and who was really doing the killing.
I love these faux documentary style books, and I love horror, so I was primed to really enjoy this book. The fact that it is a Bigfoot novel is really just something that makes it a little more exciting. There were times when I would have liked to have seen two journals of perspectives from inside the community, but this ended up being a really good book. Everything started out as a normal utopian commune type story, but as you guys know, communes always go bad in every kind of novel that they’re ever in.
This book needs a lot of trigger warnings. There’s gore and violence. There are monsters. There’s infighting within the community and banding together to deal with an outside threat. Such an interesting and fun read!
The next book I read, 59 Memory Lane, is a British women’s fiction novel that I picked up on kindle deals primarily because Ruth Hogan blurbed it. The premise is: May Roosevere is 110-years-old. She is a feisty old lady, and she intends to live to read 111. She has some secrets and needs some memories to do it. Her next door neighbor Julia has plenty of memories, in the form of family letters and love letters sent back and forth between her and her late husband. May and Julia have never been friends, but when they are paired together in a new “adopt-a-granny” program that their village establishes, life gives them a new chance to become friends.
The plot is much expansive and involves a good many more characters than I am describing here. Julia’s granddaughter is a main character. There’s a young widower that lives near Julia and May. There are other really interesting characters in the community. There’s a whole cast of past characters as well through the letters of Julia’s family and a mystery of a missing ring. There’s a touch of paranormal/magical realism. There is really just a lot going on.
This was a story that I didn’t think I’d get into at the beginning because I didn’t think it was as well written as some of the stuff I had read recently. However, as the story picked up, I really had a hard time putting it down. My only real complaint is that I felt like the story wrapped up too quickly. There were a lot of conclusions that could have been fleshed out more (especially in the historical mystery), and there were several plot lines that were left open. Upon finishing it, I found that there’s a brand-new sequel, and it looks like the main premise surrounds one of the mysteries I wanted more answers on, so I was kind of excited about, and I plan to read the sequel sometime in the next few months.
The last book I read this week is a book I read to preview for my teenagers for history. Hiroshima is a piece of journalism that follows six survivors of the atomic bomb in the weeks and months following the bombing. The author goes back forty years later and follows up to find out how each survivor ends up. At that point, some had passed away and others were still living, but all had had their lives marked forever by the bombing. This book also provides some perspective on what wartime and the time immediately after the war looked like in Japan, and how the Japanese handled the large number of damaged survivors.
This book was fascinating and heartbreaking. There are times when so much death and sickness is going on that it is hard to feel sympathy for any one death or injury when presented with it. Sometimes, I think the numbing happens to us to protect us from the emotional scarring of too much pain. The book is beautifully done, and emotive without ever being sentimental. Hersey definitely writes with a reporter’s eye.
As a teacher, I think both my son and daughter will appreciate this book. My daughter doesn’t like war or gore, but I think the emotive aspects of connecting with each of these people and their stories will really appeal to her. The most difficult aspect for my teens will probably be keeping track of each individual story. There are six stories and the names are difficult to remember. I plan to alleviate that pain by having them keep a running character description going for each of the main people in the book. I think that’s probably the most helpful way for them to attack it.
So, those are the books for this week. Have you read any of them? Do you have any good recommendations for me based on these books?
My current reads are Katherine Center’s What You Wish For, Jenny Colgan’s 500 Miles from You, and Charlie Lovett’s Escaping Dreamland. I’m more than a little excited about all of them, and I’m actually about 1/3 of the way through the Katherine Center book, so hopefully I’ll have all of them finished by next week’s wrap-up 🙂