Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Drop by Michael Connelly

Mystery

Detective Bosch has been a part of the cold case division for a short time. He knows he doesn't have too long left in his career, as he's already back from retirement and can only stay a maximum of 5 more years on the force. He has a young partner, Detective Chu, and a bunch of cold cases to get through. When a hit comes back on DNA, but for someone that would have been a child at the time of the crime, Bosch and Chu are asked to investigate. This comes at the exact same day that ex-Deputy Chief Irvin Irving learns that his son has committed suicide. Irving is now a councilman and against the police department after being ousted. He's never been a fan of Bosch, but Bosch is requested specifically from Irving to investigate his son's death.

Now with two cases, Bosch buckles down. Is the Irving death really a suicide or was there a third party involved? Any why was the blood of a child found at a murder scene? The two cases take Bosch and Chu all over. A new female love interest is introduced and there's already ups and downs in that relationship.

Every Bosch book I've read captures your interest right away and holds you the entire time. I really enjoy Maddie and how her youth allows her to see different things than her dad does. This different perspective and her interest in the police force will make her a very interesting character in the future and she's already starting to impact some of what her dad does.

This is another great book in the Bosch series. Looking forward to reading the next one.

First Line: "Christmas came once a month in the Open-Unsolved Unit."

Rating:
(4/5)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Postmistress

Fiction

Iris is the postmaster in Massachusetts during WWII. She takes her job very seriously, as she is entrusted with delivering messages of life to mothers, sons, and lovers during war time. She falls for Henry, who every day goes up to the top of the tallest building looking for German U-boats in the harbour. In the same town are newlyweds Emma and Dr Trask. When the doctor is called to deliver a child and loses the mother, he blames himself. He needs to make up for the loss he feels he caused and decides to head over to England, after hearing a report from reporter Frankie Bard about the bombings over there.

Most of the characters reside in the USA but we have the reporting from Frankie Bard on what's happening in Europe and a little bit from Dr. Trask. Dr. Trask is really just a vessel for his wife's story, her concern for him, and her interactions with Iris over how they think he is doing. Frankie has some heartbreaking stories to tell of her travels in Europe, but they are so detached from the other characters in the book that they're almost like a completely separate story.

The Postmistress is the title of the book and supposedly the centre of the book, but she herself complains during the novel that it's not 'postmistress' it's 'postmaster', so why the hell is the book called 'postmistress'? Unfortunately this book offers nothing unique from most other WWII books to make it stand out. It has a disjointed story with a weak ending and isn't something I'd recommend.

First Line: "It began, as it often does, with a woman putting her ducks in a row."

Rating:
(2.5/5)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Historical Fiction

In late 19th century Mexico, Teresa is born an unknown father and mother known as the hummingbird. Her mother abandons her with her aunt quickly and Teresa questions who her family is. She makes friends with the local healer and midwife Huila. Huila takes Teresa under her wing, recognizing something special in this girl. Teresa's aunt eventually abandons her as well, and Teresa is taken in by Huila, who works in the household of Don Tomas, which ends up being Teresa's real father.

Life is tough during this time. There are dangers from many different sources. Teresa witnesses these dangers as she grows up and knows that she wants to care for people, same as Huila does. She learns how to bring children in the world and finds that she can take pain away from the mothers as they give birth. Huila tries to nurture these skills in Teresa.

Mexico itself becomes a character as the country, its landscape, and its people provide the perfect backdrop to the magical nature of Teresita and her healing powers. There are some supernatural elements that lost me a little, but eventually brought me back on board to the story. It's obvious that Urrea, who at the end states he believes Teresa is in relation to him, has done an incredible amount of research for this project. His passion for his homeland and the history flows off the page. Even when there were hiccups in the story for me, this passion kept me glued to the story.

First Line: "On the cool October morning when Cayetana Chavez brought her baby to light, it was the start of that season in Sinloa when the humid torments of summer finally gave way to the breezes and falling leaves, and small red birds skittered through the corrals, and the dogs grew new coats."

Rating:
(4/5)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Historical Fiction

During the seventeenth century of Amsterdam, the tulip craze was at an all time high. People were buying and selling bulbs without even seeing them. Many were getting rich but some were losing everything.

Cornelis and his young wife Sophie decide to get their portrait painted by artist Jan van Loos. As soon as Sophia sees him, she falls in love with him. Jan tells her she must leave her husband and live with him. The two hatch a scheme that involve tulips and the pregnant servant Maria.

Honestly, most of the characters are idiots in this book. There were a thousand simpler ways of ditching the old husband than the one they came up with. But of course, without this crazy idea there would be no book. Tulips really only come in to it near the end so I'm also not convinced this is the correct title for the book. It was still enough of a plot to keep me entertained enough to continue reading. It just wasn't the best crafted idea ever as I kept rolling my eyes.
Each chapter starts with a quote, and some chapters are only one page long, making it feel at times that there were more quotes than story.

First Line: "We are eating dinner, my husband and I."

Rating:
(3/5)

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Food Taster by Peter Ebling

Historical Fiction

Ugo has had a tough life. His mother committed suicide so she wouldn't have to die from the plague. His father and brother treated him life garbage until one day he had enough and left. In his travels, he fell in love with a girl and they had a child, Miranda. His wife died in childbirth. They had a small farm that was doing poorly when the Duke happened upon his land. Angry that Ugo's land has disturbed the Duke's hunt, the Duke decides that he must become his new food taster.

Ugo and Miranda move to the Duke's castle and Ugo starts tasting the Duke's food for poison. He finds that he can no longer enjoy his food anymore since he's so worried about dying. Everything he does is to try and keep himself and his daughter safe and alive. This leads to some pretty crazy situations, including getting the Duke's girlfriend killed for thinking and pretending there was poison in his food when there wasn't.

Ugo isn't very smart and doesn't always make the right decision, but he's always trying to do best for his daughter. This includes as she grows up and trying to find the right husband for her. There's a boy in the kitchen that tries to trade Miranda's hand in marriage for information to Ugo about possible poisoning of his dishes.

This was a fun book. Ugo got in to some very unique and troublesome situations. His heart was always in the right place though, he was a pretty likable character.

First Line: "For years after my mother hanged herself, I wished I had been older or stronger so that I could have stopped her."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine

Fiction

Gerald Candless, renown author, dies of a heart attack leaving behind his wife and two grown daughters. The girls, Sarah and Hope, were very close to their dad as he fostered a special relationship with them at the expense of his wife Ursula. As the family comes to term with the loss, we learn how spoiled the two girls are and how miserable Ursula was with her husband.

When Sarah is approached to write a biography of her dad, she accepts. The first thing she does is start looking in to his past only to find that there's nothing to look in to. Gerald Candless does not exist before a certain date and the Gerald Candless of the town her father claimed as his died as a child. Their father assumed this identity. Why? What was he running from?

This book was difficult to get through for two reasons. First, all the characters are either miserable people or pathetic. The girls are complete snobs and never get what's coming to them. The mom could have helped herself but did nothing. The second reason is because there's a whole bunch of unnecessary filler content. Why do we need to know about Hope and her boyfriend or Sara and her boyfriend? There is no substance there and it doesn't really drive the plot forward.

When we finally find out the reason Gerald left his original life, it's a bit of a let down. We are told throughout the book a few times that this reason is not true only to find out it is. The way it was revealed was sort of interesting, but none of the characters ever really find out which was a let down.

First Line: "Not a word to my girls, he had said on the way home from the hospital."

Rating:
(3/5)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas

Fiction/Literature

Ruby is a rebellious teenager who runs away from home in England to visit her grandmother in Cairo. She has basically no relationship with her grandmother, but is desperate to leave and try something new. Showing up on the doorstep of her grandmother, the manservent Mamdooh is none too pleased to see her. She eventually convinces her way in and finds Iris, her grandmother, who is old, ailing, and struggling to remember her past. Ruby offers to help Iris document her history so that it is not forgotten and Iris can't pass that up.

Iris came of age in Cairo during WWII. She fell in love with a soldier and got engaged, working as a secretary to the British government. It was times of high stress but lots of partying and lots of love. People did things quickly for fear that war would wipe out everything.

As Ruby pieces together her grandmother's past, she also finds her own love story in Cairo. She starts to fall for the brother of the taxi driver that took her from the airport to Iris' house. This boy shows her around the city and she starts to love both Cairo and him.

This was a great coming of age story from two different generation's perspective. We learn about Iris' journey to adulthood during the war and we see Ruby's as she grows up in Cairo. Ruby is a believable teenager, starting off a little annoying but coming in to her own. I'm not sure I ever really understand her relationship with her mom, or her mom's relationship with Iris. They tried to flush out the latter in the book but it was a fairly short conversation near the end of the book and not really sufficient for me to understand or believe it.

The event that finally brings everyone together seemed a bit drastic but I guess typical to a coming of age fictional story. I've been having bad luck with books recently, unable to get through a few of them before giving up, so I was happy to be able to easily get through this one.

First Line: "I remember"

Rating:
(3.5/5)