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Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

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Blood, Bones & Butter is NY chef Gabrielle Hamilton's autobiography and it's a life anchored by food. She learns from her French mother a respect for fresh, local ingredients and a disdain for waste. From her father, especially, she gets an appreciation for sharing food with friends and family. Her virtual abandonment by her parents leads to her first job--working with food. As the story unfolds her independent industrious nature becomes more apparent. I liked her writing style even when occasionally I didn't care for her. But I learned that she expects more from herself than others. And in the end I am in awe of her honesty.I don't, as some do, see this as a great "foodie" book. Don't expect tons of cooking tips or insider notes on restaurants. I would recommend it to enthusiastic readers of that wave of books set in Tuscany. But essentially this book is about Hamilton. And like her or not, she's not boring.
Rain Gods: A Novel

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Great plot and characters for an audiobook! And Will Patton's narration was spot on; I loved the way he differentiated his tone and accent for various characters and had a baseline sound for the omniscient third person narrator (I hope that is clear.)I like Burke's other series but Sheriff Hackberry Holland is tempting me to step out on Dave Roubicheaux.The detail and humor of the characters reminded me of Elmore Leonard's work. I also got a hint of Cormac McCarthy in some of the plotting and descriptions of landscapes and such.Both my husband and I enjoyed listening to this book together and we are already looking for another in this series.
Sharp Objects: A Novel

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While major papers are busy with a spate of political scandals, Camille is assigned a story that could invigorate her B-team Chicago newspaper and her fledgling career. It seems there's a serial killer in Wind Gap which happens to be her rural Missouri hometown. Her job is complicated by the resentment she experiences from Wind Gap residents and by her mysterious alienation from her own family.Sharp Objects was a quick and compelling read and took several turns I could never have anticipated. I can't say that I recognized much of the author's vision of smalltown Missouri - the landscape or its inhabitants. But that actually made it more interesting. I'm interested to read Gillian Flynn's next novel, Dark Places. It takes place near where I grew up and it will be fun to see if it seems more familiar.
Water for Elephants

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Water for Elephants is the colorful tale of a well-educated young man who runs away with the circus. I was drawn in immediately learning of how he ended up at that point. In the epilogue the author details the careful research she did and the real events she drew on in writing her novel. I'd be surprised if anyone could predict the ending.
In the Woods

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Loved the backstory of the detectives on the case. A few tantalizing loose ends there, and elsewhere (wink, wink, say no more, say no more). A solid who-dun-it that left me guessing until the last 50 pages. Can't wait to get my books out of storage (moving) to get on to the next one by this author. 
Imperfect Birds: A Novel

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Rosie is entering her senior year of high school carrying her parents hopes for a scholarship driven college career. She's been secretly overstepping typical behavior boundaries leaving clues that are picked up by everyone but her mother for a painfully long time. This, to me, was the best section of the novel. I thought the author accurately captured the angst of the teen rebel and the mania of a dangerous drug user.I was not so impressed with the last part of the novel--the healing, so to speak. It seemed to me the author ran out of gas. I expected more.
The Drop

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Harry Bosch investigates a fresh case and a cold one. The results and the journey there were surprising. I especially enjoyed Harry's ruminations about his "golden years" in law enforcement and in his personal life. And, his interactions with his daughter as she enters adulthood showed his tenderness and humility. I don't think Harry should be allowed to retire. Look what happened to Morse.
So Much for That: A Novel

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This is a tale of duty. Shep gives up his dream for everyone else, and is happy to do so. Until a shocking act by his best friend sets him free. I liked this novel and was particular pleased by the resolution. I will read more of Shriver's work.The large number of characters and the way they passed in and out reminded me of a Richard Russo novel. The only weakness I saw in So Much For That was that some of the characters seemed to exist only to advance the plot or to push a political point. They didn't really seem to have natural places in the story or among the other characters. So Much For That translated well to audiobook form despite the large number of characters. I give a lot of credit to the reader Dan John Miller who have quite a range of vocal expression.
Back of Beyond

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Cody Hoyt, a policeman in Montana, tracks suspect(s) to Yellowstone to solve the murder of his AA sponsor and to find out if and why his son is being stalked. This was a tight mystery with only one minor stretch of credibility (after committing a showy and heinous murder, would you stick around to use the victim's computer to do something you could do from any laptop or cellphone?) Other than that my husband and I thought this novel was terrific. I learned through an interview that the author's background is in promotion of travel in the Wyoming/Montana area. My husband and I plan to seek out another C J Box title hoping to get even more of a sense of the area.
In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother's Unceasing Quest for the Truth

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I was disappointed. It was a mountain of dry facts with insufficient payoff. A well-written enough story but poorly chosen perhaps.
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