Something in the Water

Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick – Something in the Water – has me wondering when she will produce it for viewing. Catherine Steadman’s book has all the elements of a great series – exotic settings, unreliable characters, and plot twists favoring the female leads.

I listened to Steadman’s British tones reading the book for Audible and it was hard to not keep going into the night. The “something in the water” was not what I had expected and the hints of espionage and financial fraud added to the suspense.

Erin, a documentary producer, and Mark, an out of work hedge fund expert, go off on their honeymoon to Bora Bora. Mark, an expert diver, convinces Erin to overcome her fears to experience the beautiful underwater world. His cavalier comments about the sharks in the water had me suspicious, but what they find leads the adventure into murky waters as each plot twist combines danger and a new life for both.

Great fun to listen to.

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Summer Books – Not All Are Beach Reads

With the help of my friends, I found a list of easy books to capture my attention.

9780062562647  Carol Goodman, one of my favorite Gothic mystery writers, always adds a literary flavor to her stories as she maintains the suspense.  Her latest book – The Other Mother – had me reading through the night.  Daphne Marist and Laurel Hobbes, new mothers suffering from post-partum depression, meet in a support group and become best friends.  As Goodman develops the tale, I wasn’t sure which one had been murdered, if one had assumed the other’s identity, or even if there were really two women.  It’s a gripping page-turner and so much fun to read.

518SwKZGkdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Joanna Trollope’s modern version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is easier to follow if you know the original story, and Janeites may know Austen’s novels well enough to predict exactly what will happen next.  Whether or not you are familiar with the plot (from Austen’s book or the movie with Emma Thomspon), this updated story  will make you want to read to the happy ending of Trollope’s version.

contentAfter avoiding her books for so long, I finally read the first in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels – Still Life.  I enjoyed it more than I had expected. In Still Life, Penny establishes the setting in Three Pines. Her description of this fictional town near Montreal made me want to book a flight to find it.  Gamache is introduced as the brilliant investigator who speaks fluent French as well as Cambridge educated English, and he starts each investigation with a croissant and a coffee – a civilized approach to murder.

Next on my agenda are two easy reads: a paperback I found buried in my stash – To Capture What We Cannot Keep – a nineteenth century romance by Scottish writer Beatrice Colin – set in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower construction; and Mary Alice Munroe’s beach read – appropriately titled Beach House Reunion.

Waiting in the wings:

  1. William Trevor’s Last Stories
  2. Frances Mayes’ Women in Sunight
  3. Madeleine Miller’s Circe

A great start to the summer…

It Happened in Monterey

I miss chatting with bookstore owners who are avid readers. With only one independent bookstore on the island (BookEnds in Kailua) and a perfunctory Barnes and Noble at the mall, the pickings are slim in Hawaii. On a recent trip to the Monterey Peninsula, I found four independent bookstores within a five mile radius, and with booksellers happy to share their favorites. Of course, I could not get out of a store without buying a book or two.  img_4298

At Bookworks in Pacific Grove, I found two books: an older (2012) Donna Leon mystery I had not read, with my favorite sleuth, Commissario Guido Brunetti – “Beastly Things,” and Joanna Trollope’s “Sense and Sensibility” (2013), her modernized version of the Jane Austen classic.

At Old Capitol Books in Monterey, I found myself scanning the stacks of old used books, some rare editions, checking off those I had read. Looking for favorite authors, I found an Amy Bloom book I had not read (at least I don’t remember reading it) – “Lucky Us.”

In Pilgrim’s Way, the charming bookstore connected to a garden in Carmel, I decided on “The Green Thoreau” and Scottish author Beatrice Colin’s “To Capture What We Cannot Keep.”

Chatting with the proprietor led me to another independent bookstore not far away – River House Books. There I found the first of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books – “Still Life” – recommended by a good friend, and Amy Bloom’s new book – “White Houses.” The bookseller commisserated about “Manhattan Beach” – like me, she had not been able to finish it – but I plan to try again. And her recommendation for the best page-turner she had read recently – “The Dry” – went to the top of my to-read list.

With this stack, Laura Lippman’s “Sunburn” on my iPhone and Navin’s “Only Child” on audible, I am ready for a long flight – unless, of course, the movie selection has an Oscar nominee to distract me.

Favorite Authors

When I read Kristin Hannah’s list of favorite authors in this Sunday’s New York Times “By the Book,”  I could relate to some of her picks.  I too look for books by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, Donna Tartt, Haruki Murakami, Anne Tyler, Amor Towles, and Yaa Gyasi, but I would add Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Carol Goodman, with children’a authors Natalie Babbitt, Lois Lowry, and Kate DiCamillo for good measure.

If you are looking for a good book try one of these:  (click the title for my review)

 

Another author I am exploring and reading now:

0062250876   Bernard Cornwell’s Fools and Mortals  (the story of the first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – as related by William Shakespeare’s estranged younger brother)

 

Cyber Monday Book Shopping

213xNxmerry-christmas-tag.png.pagespeed.ic.LX8pIjf0tHI went a little crazy yesterday.  With all those discounts, free shipping, remarkable book titles, gift wrapping – I could not resist.  Books are one size fits all and no worries about gluten or sugar-free horrors.  The only other item I could think of as a good gift would be coffee, but not everyone likes coffee – so I sent that to myself.

Some say the Cyber Monday discounts will continue through December, and sometimes get better, but I don’t want to think about that.  I’m done.

Tempting books to buy for Christmas gifts:

b5874f4185a54f46986b5caa2797aa33 This is a real book: ” illustrated guide to more than 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare, and seminal books and handwritten manuscripts ever produced, with discussions of their purpose, features, and creators.”

ea369a9975c541baafee4380916ccbd2For arm chair travelers and those who have been everywhere: “an illustrated account of human movement, travel, exploration, and scientific discovery…”  from the Smithsonian.

bc9626bdb13e4fa9a0a502d90f3a391aRecipes – sounds like fun for someone else’s kids.

9781594204876   Best to read it before someone makes a musical out of it.

01923a9e-b5ae-4635-97c1-c36b74be0a9c  For all your friends reminiscing about another time: “If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her “charming” (Kirkus), behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this!”