Wednesday, 22 November 2017

All Is Not Forgotten

Finished November 5
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker, read by Dylan Baker

This suspense novel takes place in a small affluent town in Connecticut. Jenny Kramer has finally been asked to house party by a boy from school, and she is excited, but when she gets there, he is with another girl. As Jenny drinks too much to drown her feelings, she also makes herself vulnerable, and the resulting assault on her changes many lives.
When Jenny is found and taken to the hospital, her parents agree to a controversial drug that will erase her memories of this night. But while her mind may have forgotten, her body has not, and the outcome is Jenny struggling to find a home for the feelings she has. Jenny's mother has an outwardly perfect life, but is an illusion and as she struggles to hold on to it, to think that everything is back to normal, she finds that it isn't, and she can't deny her past or her true imperfect self any longer. Jenny's dad becomes focused on finding the person who assaulted her daughter, and he spends every minute he can at it, instead of spending time with the family he cares so much about.
The narrator that is telling the story is an unknown at first, and as we come to know who he is, and come to know his connection to the case, professionally and personally, what we know changes, and the story changes.
An interesting novel, but perhaps because of the narrator role, not one I felt as connected to as some other recent suspense reads.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Hinterland

Finished October 31
Hinterland by Caroline Brothers

As the book opens, Aryan, his little brother Kabir, and a number of other refugees are crossing a river from Turkey to Greece in the middle of the night. Aryan and Kabir are from Afghanistan, fleeing to Iran with their mother when one of their older brothers and their father are killed. Now the two boys are on their own, with a plan to get to London, where they believe people are good and human rights are strong, and they will be able to go to school and have a future. Their mantra as they travel is the recitation of capital cities on their route: Kabul-Tehran-Istanbul-Athens-Rome-Paris-London.
Aryan is protective of Kabir, and has befriended another Afghan refugee Hamid, who seems more knowledgeable. But circumstances soon separate the brothers from Hamid, and they are on their own again.
As they move along their route, sometimes stalling for long periods of time and other times moving quickly, the boys meet people who are helpful and people who take advantage of them. They undergo many difficult situations, but never lose sight of their goal.
The author worked as a journalist and saw many of the places the boys cross through herself, talking to refugees, and those trying to help them, and learning of their stories. Many of those stories inform this book, and the truth of those experiences bring this book to life. You can imagine these boys being real, as so many children are undergoing similar experiences.
The book includes an interview with the author and information for further reading on this subject.
A very captivating and worthwhile read.

Heart of the Matter

Finished October 24
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

This novel centers on Tessa Russo and Valerie Anderson. Tessa quit her tenure-track position to stay home and have children. She and Nick now have Ruby, four, and Frank, two. When Tessa made her decision, her mother decreed it was a mistake, that it would create a chasm between her a Nick, opening an opportunity for him to stray for a more interesting woman. Tessa held her tongue from reminding her mother that her parent's divorce came after her mother started back to work. Tessa and Nick have a very close relationship and his job as a plastic surgeon is a demanding one. Her being home provides stability. As the book begins, the couple are out for dinner on their anniversary when Nick gets paged. He is needed at the hospital, and their evening together ends.
Valerie is a single mom to a six-year-old boy, Charlie. At the urging of her brother, Valerie reluctantly agrees that Charlie can go to a sleepover birthday party at the house of a classmate. Her evening of relaxation is abruptly interrupted when Charlie falls into a fire while roasting marshmallows, and is rushed to the hospital.
Nick is the doctor assigned to Charlie's case, and he takes a personal interest in the young boy.
The viewpoint switches back and forth between Tessa and Valerie as their worlds come together and their each deal with something they never imagined for themselves.
The two female characters here are deeply drawn and we see their inner thoughts and struggles to make decisions as the plot unfolds. I enjoyed the read.

Follow Me Down

Finished October 22
Follow Me Down by Julie Hearn

This novel has been sitting on my shelves for a while and it came to the top of a pile when I was doing some reorganizing. The story takes place in East London, where twelve-year-old Tom and his mother have come to visit his grandmother. Tom's been here once before, nearly ten years ago, but he has some memories from that time. One of the things that he remembers is the dark basement and a crack across it, a crack that widens and that allows him to jump it to another time. He remembers a fairy girl named Astra. And now she is calling to him again.
This time when Tom reenters that world, he is nearly a teenager, and mature for his age. He recognizes that Astra is in danger and tries to think of a way to save her. There is a lot going on that Tom doesn't understand, but what he does understand makes him fearful for Astra and his other new friends.
Back in his own time, Tom observes the discomfort between his mother and grandmother. His mother has recently survived a bout with breast cancer and his grandmother seems to be of the school where such things are not discussed. Tom cares deeply for his mother, and knows her regimen and diet, and tries to do what he can to support her. He doesn't want to be here in London and he thinks his mother is facing a losing battle in trying to connect more deeply with his grandmother, but as Tom becomes more involved in Astra's situation, he finds himself needing to stay to see his plan through.
A tale of history and magic, of greed and exploitation, of people just trying to survive despite physical handicaps they have no control over. A fascinating read.

Purple Palette for Murder

Finished October 21
Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick

This novel is part of a series featuring Meg Harris, a woman dealing with her own significant issues as she also finds herself being drawn into troubling situations. This is the eighth book in the series, but the first that I've read. The books often take place in the further reaches of our country from Baffin Island to Haida Gwaii. This one takes place mostly in and around Yellowknife.
Meg's stepdaughter Teht'aa has recently got a job with the CBC in Yellowknife, which is also near the reserve that she grew up on as a Dene. Her father wasn't aware of her until fairly recently and has been enjoying the experience of having a daughter. Meg's husband Eric is and was recently elected Grand Chief of the Grand Council of First Nations. One of the reasons he is in Yellowknife was to meet with northern leaders. The other is to console his daughter after a recent romantic breakup.
As the book opens, Meg receives a call letting her know that Eric has been charged with murder, with the victim being Teht'aa's ex-boyfriend. The other bad news is that Teht'aa is in the hospital badly hurt after being beaten and left for dead.
As Meg puts aside her own issues and goes to Yellowknife to fight for her husband and stepdaughter, she finds assistance, both emotional and other from Teht'aa's great-uncle Joe. She can't understand why Eric seems not to want to fight harder for himself, as she knows that he would never do what he is accused of. As Meg pieces together the stories of various people who may be involved, she finds a piece of historic embroidery that may be the key to the truth.
I really enjoyed this book, and not just because of the embroidery! The characters are interesting and complex, and the way the indigenous characters are handled here felt good. I liked the immersion in the setting, and the stories around Meg. A very enjoyable read.

Monday, 23 October 2017

They Found Him Dead

Finished October 20
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer

This mystery novel takes place in the late 1930s at Cliff House, a country house owned by Silas Kane, located on the coast near the town of Portlaw. As the book begins, there is a dinner at the house for Silas' 60th birthday. His business partner Joe Mansell is there along with his wife, his son Paul, his daughter Betty and her husband Clive. Also attending are other Kane relatives: Emily, Silas' mother, who lives at Cliff House, Emily's great-nephew Clement and his wife Rosemary, and Jim, the son of Silas' nephew James who was killed in the Great War. Jim has also brought along his younger stepbrother Timothy Harte, nearly fifteen, to stay for a while. Also attending is Emily's secretary, Miss Patricia Allison. Clement is also a partner in the firm of Kane and Mansell. Young Jim went to Cambridge where he got his Blue for Rugger, and now works at the Treasury. He also continues to play rugger on Saturdays, something the two older Kanes don't really understand. Jim is also in love with Miss Allison and has proposed marriage to her.
When Silas takes his normal evening walk after dinner, it is late, and no one misses him until the next morning. A search discovers his body at the bottom of the cliff, and it is supposed that he has fallen, perhaps due to a heart issue. That is, supposed by all except young Timothy who is sure it is murder. Timothy has a love of drama, American gangsters, and other lurid adventures.
Clement is Silas' heir and since he has familiarity with the company, quickly moves into consideration of a deal with an Australian firm that the Mansell's were in favour of, but that Silas was not. Clement is inclined not to be either, but resolves to take due consideration.
Another player here is Oscar Roberts, a representative for the Australian firm. He is eager to get the deal finalized, but understands that those making the decision must look at all the information.. Particularly as it is the Kanes who will be putting up the money for the deal, and thus taking the biggest risk.
The romance between Patricia and Jim is one of compliments and blushes and proceeds apace. Timothy follows all the action with gusto, coming up with all sorts of scenarios and motives.

Glass Houses

Finished October 17
Glass Houses by Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst

Gamache is now the chief superintendent of the Surete and has been for about a year. The action begins with him in court in the witness box as a witness for the prosecution in a murder trial. As the book begins, you don't know who has been murdered or who is on trial for the murder.
As the book jumps back to a time several months earlier when a strangely robed figure appeared on the green in Three Pines, and works it way forward, you begin to discover the many stories that led to the scene in the courtroom.
This is a story about friendship, about addiction, about corruption, and about organized crime. It shows the importance of planning and of patience. It shows the dangers in taking things, and people, as they appear. This is a complex read, with a lot going on, and the reader sees the beginning and the end.