Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Books of 2013 - April

I was just thinking the other day about how mystery and "easy reads" were going to be dominating my May booklist because that's what I have the brain cells to read right now. (Not to mention the time. A nice slim mystery is easy to hold while nursing a baby. A thick biography, such as the one on Calvin Coolidge I am also reading right now, not so much.)

Anyway, that made me think about my April booklist. And then I realized that I had never shared that with you, what with not having the Internet for a couple of weeks and then, yes, with giving birth. That'll really put a kink in your other plans, let me tell you. (She said with a smile. All in good fun, folks. All in good fun.)

So, anyway, without further ado, here are the books I finished in April:

1. A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child. Nonfiction by Mary Churchill Soames. My review on Goodreads:
Quite enjoyable peek into personal life of the Churchill family from the perspective of the youngest Churchill daughter, Mary. Covers the period of time from her birth until her marriage (two years after the end of WW2).

My only quibble is how she refers to her parents: she jumps around from "Mummie and Papa" to "Winston" and "Clementine" pretty much randomly. She also removes herself from some situations with her siblings (older brother Randolph, older sisters Diana and Sarah) by saying things like "his father was upset" when it would make more sense, in my opinion, to say "Our father was upset".

Still, for History buffs and Churchill fans, this is a great book.
2.Proof of Guilt. Fiction by Charles Todd. Series mystery. My Goodreads review:
Not my favorite in the Ian Rutledge series and I've read them all.

The first chapter is irrelevant to the rest of the book. The ending is unsatisfactory. Rutledge spends the entire book driving from one part of England to another. Markham is not fleshed out - last book he was better than Bowles, this book, he's almost as bad. Makes me wonder if this mother-son writing team has a bit of a tug of war over the characters and plots.

In the end, the bad guy is who you expect. Except for, where, exactly is the character who set all these things in motion? Either I missed it or they didn't tie it up.
3. What the Dead Know. Fiction by Laura Lippman. My Goodreads review:
Gripping. One of those stories that grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. I'm not sure why it's so good - I never really loved any of the main characters. The jumping around in time was sometimes effective and sometimes annoying. I don't like books with a lot of swearing but this one had a lot (what do you expect from hard boiled police officers, I guess).

Still, despite the potential drawbacks, it was one of those stories that stays with me and makes me wonder how the author did that, exactly.
4. Home Front Girl. Nonfiction by Joan Wehlen Morrison. My review on Goodreads:
Interesting memoir of a girl growing up in Chicago during the depression and Second World War. (The diary entries shared cover 1937-1942.) Marked as a "teen" book at my library but this book is an enjoyable read for adults too.

The footnotes are basic, presumably for those teens who wouldn't know that "White Cliffs of Dover" was a popular song during the Second World War, and, therefore, kind of annoying instead of helpful. The content is excellent though and Joan Wehlen sounds like someone you'd have loved to have known if you were contemporaries.
5. A Future Arrived. Fiction by Phillip Rock. Third in the trilogy. My Goodreads review:
Not my favorite book in the trilogy, which surprised me because it's my favorite era and location (1930-1940 Britain) for historical fiction. This one just didn't grab me, maybe because the characters are mostly the younger generation. The beginning is a slow build up but the ending is rushed.
6. How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? Nonfiction by Rachel Balducci. Another blog turned book. This one made me laugh out loud. (And a little bit thankful that my family is four girls / one boy instead of five boys / one girl, which is what the author's family has now). Reminiscent of the books by Jean Kerr (and that is high praise). {Goodreads}

7. River of Darkness. Fiction by Rennie Airth. First in a mystery series. My Goodreads review:
Dark, suspenseful. The author makes an interesting choice to let the reader know who the bad guy is fairly early on in the story. The suspense comes from wondering whether the good guy(s) will catch him and who will be the next victim.

Good characters, although rather more than I like to keep up with when reading the first book in a series. I personally could have done without certain depictions of "intimate" scenes, but otherwise I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this book and had trouble putting it down.

Reminiscent of the Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd, but, in many ways, this book was superior, with fewer authorial errors (such as losing track of the POV).
8. The Mysterious Howling. Fiction by Maryrose Wood. First in a series. Polly and I are both really into this series now. (Of which you will hear more in the May books post.) My Goodreads review:
Great tone, interesting characters, and overall a great set up to a new series for "the sort of reader who is not yet old enough to drive but enjoys taking journeys of the imagination nevertheless", as the dust jacket puts it.
9. Humble Orthodoxy. Nonfiction by Joshua Harris. Received this to review and you can find my review post here.

10. What Angels Fear. Fiction by C.S. Harris. My Goodreads review:
Entertaining, well done for a first in a series. Rather more graphic at times than I prefer. I've seen these books compared to the books about Julian Kestrel by Kate Ross. Other than a similar setting (Regency England), I'm not sure there is much reason to compare them.
11. The Blood Dimmed Tide. Fiction by Rennie Airth. Series mystery. My Goodreads review:
Not quite as tense (or graphic) as the first book in the series. Still quite well done with a lot of tension and well placed red herrings.
12. What a Difference a Mom Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Mom Leaves on her Son's Life. Nonfiction by Kevin Leman. My Goodreads review:
Leman's usual style: funny, practical, and real. This was, fittingly, the last book I finished before our first son was born. Hope I can remember the good advice once all the sleep deprivation clears.
Totals for April: 12
Fiction: 7 (almost all series mysteries)
Nonfiction: 5

So, what did you read in April? No, wait, don't tell me. My stacks (there are two now) are already threatening to topple over on Baby Boy and Me.

Book covers in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me but probably won't because Amazon is constantly changing the rules and they haven't had to cut me a payment in many moons now.

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