Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Florabama Ladies' Auxiliary & Sewing Circle

The Florabama Ladies' Auxiliary & Sewing Circle
by Lois Battle
3 stars - just a nice story about some ladies
ALR Green - dog as a minor character

Not my usual fare. In fact, if this were a movie, it'd be a chick flick.

Here's the deal. The Cherished Lady lingerie factory in Florabama, Alabama shuts down and dumps a lot of people out on the street without work. At the same time, Bonnie Cullman, in the process of separating from her husband and having to work for the first time in her charmed life gets a job to run the Displaced Homemakers Program at the local Florabama college.

OK, so you can guess what happens, right? We get to know the ladies, Bonnie does good deeds at work, etc. etc.

The story was a bit light, but the writing was good enough to keep me going. I could relate to all those ladies finding themselves in brand new circumstances when they least expected it. I'm sure it helped that both Bonnie and one of the main Florabama ladies, Ruth, were around my age. Not often you can find a good middle-aged lady story.

At the end of the day, it's just a nice book. I don't have any other word. A nice story about real people without any icky stuff. 

Now then, about that dog. Well, on the cover I see a yellow lab, but in the book, the dog is a little mixed breed puppy. Sigh. The dog doesn't play much of a role and he gets left home alone way too much. Oh well.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Nightmare by Lars Kepler

The Nightmare
by Lars Kepler
translated by Laura A. Wideburg
4 stars - kind of violent and icky, but hard to put down
ALR Blue - no animal characters, just a few dogs as scenery

Detective Inspector Joona Linna is back and he's trying to unravel a complex series of events involving death most horrible. Suicide or homicide? Why? It all starts with a body found on a pleasure boat set adrift. The victim drowned, but how did she wind up in the master suite? Then a suicide,  a man found hanging in his apartment. And what of Penelope Fernandez? Sister of the murdered woman and political activist?

Slowly, but surely, Detective Linna connects the dots, but not before there are more gruesome deaths.

It's a great procedural detective novel with plenty of interesting characters. However, it is icky. While not a fan of overly graphic novels, the writing in Lars Kepler's books is so good that I tore through this quickly. Oh, and by the way, Lars Kepler is really two people. What's up with that? 

Kudos to the translation. Outstanding. 

So, if you're looking for something that will draw you in and distract you from the world for a bit, have at it. The chapters are all very short which means for those of us who get interrupted from reading frequently or who want to read just one more chapter before starting the day, there are stopping points aplenty.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts
Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson
4 stars - well written
ALR Blue - no animals, just lots of bad people

This will be brief as I have stuff to do. That's just the way it goes.

In the Garden of Beasts is the story of William E. Dodd and his family during the time that Dodd was ambassador to Germany (beginning in 1933).

It's a great piece of writing and not as confusing for me as I typically find non-fiction books. The reader sees Germany in the early 30's during Hitler's rise into power and the associated struggles of people trying to make sense of what was going on.

As expected, a lot of denial and optimism that somebody as twisted as Hitler would never succeed in his mission. And of course, the all too human side of things because there is nothing implausible about the responses to what is happening "right under people's noses." By the time things go very badly, well, it's too late. 

It took me longer to read this than it should have. Not because it was a bad book or poorly worded (quite the contrary) but because the topic was so dreadful that my reading time tended to lose some of its allure. In fact, I think I'd rather walk the dog right now than dwell on this any longer.