Thursday, July 18, 2013

More Summer Books for Summer Reading

This is the view from the ferry on the first day of summer.
Sunrise was at 5:15, sunset will be at 9:11. Sunset is 40 seconds earlier than it was a week or so ago.  It is so very  beautiful here in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year.  We have exquisitely long twilights which make me long for walks on the waterfront and for a glass of wine outside.  The skies often look like paintings by Maxfield Parrish.

It's been a little rainy, muggy, and we had our first real summer weather yesterday.  The temperature rose into the 80's and we had to have a glass of beer out in the atrium at the Twilight Exit before going home and grilling up our supper of shucked corn and sausages.

It's supposed to be into the 80's again today, it rained this morning.  I got up EARLY for a Saturday, five am, and drank my coffee standing in the breeze as it came in through the screen doors.  I opened all the windows and the doors and the memory of the cool will be lovely in the warm.

The weeds are thigh high and we've got two tomato plants.  Our hop vine is in distress and I think we can't do hops again.  Heartbreaking to see them grow and then not survive.  The weeds and the strawberry ground cover, however, are healthy and overwhelming everything.  I really want to get out and make the pathway see-able again.  It's kind of just there, a gravel way covered in weeds and volunteers from the yard.

The Crocosmia Lucifer is finally blooming.  I love these plants!  They are so bright and happy and they look like little dragon heads.  My sister gave me buckets of bulbs that she tore out of her yard and they are finally blooming in mine.

Now that it's summer, here are a few great books from the grown-up mystery/suspense shelves:

Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews:  A classic modern spy novel very much in the tradition of John Le Carre'. American CIA agent Nathaniel Nash and Russian spy Domenika Egorova are set on each other to bring each to the other side.  Gritty, fast paced, exciting, the tension between Nash and Egorova is explosive.  She is a graduate of the Sparrow School, a school which trains women to become seductresses, and he handles the CIA's most important Russian mole. Mr. Matthews is an ex-CIA agent and Red Sparrow is chock-full of information only someone in the CIA would know.  I spent a lot of time on the porch reading this- it's a book that you'll want to finish in one long sit.  It also has recipes at the end of each chapter for the food eaten in that chapter.  So GOOD!  Available now. (Simon and Schuster.  $26.99.)

Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen:  It wouldn't be summer without a new Carl Hiaasen mystery, now, would it?  Many of the themes in Bad Monkey are the same as in his other books:  quirky side characters, out-of-sorts on-the-skids main characters, and Floridian weirdness, but that's why we love them!  Andrew Yancy is our hero and he is not having a good year.  He's been dropped through the ranks of the police department and is soon to be let go from the County Sheriff's office.  He is now the current Health Inspector for Miami and there is a human arm in his freezer.  Andrew is certain that if he can just prove the arm is in the freezer due to murder rather than shark ravage, he will be allowed to move out of roach and feces infested restaurant checking and back up into the good life that is Florida police work.  The ick-factor in Bad Monkey is pretty thick, but, again, isn't that why we love Carl?  Available now.  (Knopf.  $26.95.)

Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith:  You've all heard the brouhaha about this book, I'm sure.  It turns out that it was actually written by J. K. Rowling under a pseudonym!  A week before the release of this news, I was in the spare bedroom culling books.  I read the backs, see what kind of book they are (I don't often read religious or business books- I think I will, broaden my views, you know, and then they just sit there in an uneven stack) and then sort into give away and REALLY WILL READ, I PROMISE piles.  I found this one in one of those stacks and thought, "Hmm.  I like mysteries, Fred (my brother-in-law) likes mysteries.  If I like it, I'll send it to him."  Not now, Fred!  Sorry. 

Cuckoo's Calling is GREAT!  Funny, well-written, great characters, great landscape writing...It's all there and makes up one of the best books I've read this last few months (booksellers read a lot so please forgive how many books are on the best books list).  Our hero, Cormoran Strike, is a private investigator who gets chosen to re-open the investigation into the suicide of super-model Lula Landry.  Broke, lacking a leg, an ex-soldier, Cormoran is one of those characters you want more of.  He's smart, thoughtful, besieged by demons and a horrible ex-fiancee but not inclined to feel sorry for himself.  When Lula's brother asks him to look into her death, he is quietly thrilled since it means he can pay his rent and his temporary secretary, Robin Ellacott.

The relationship between Robin, who has always wanted to be a private eye, and Cormoran is well-developed and realistic and I hope there will be more books written about these two.  I would love to know how Ms Rowling did her research for this book as there are so many details about sleuthing, soldiering in Afghanistan, high fashion, back streets of London...she must have done a lot of studying and walking. I want more, dammit!   

I truly loved this book, took a few extra minutes on both sides of lunch to read, got to the ferry early, wished I'd started it on a weekend so I could have read it straight through.  I can't wait for someone else to read it so we can talk about it!  Available now.  (Mulholland Books.  $25.99.)

Okay, that's it for now.  More to come.

(I realize that this post was started weeks ago.  I lost all the content of the original reviews and had to redo them.  I just couldn't work up the energy to do that until now.  It's still summer and it's overcast and cold so, it feels as if no time at all has passed.  Hope you've been reading a lot!)

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