Thursday, July 23, 2015

What I read on my summer vacation

Disappointingly, I only completed six books during the ten days of my trip this year.  And while that may seem like a lot, I would like to point out that I'm quite a fast reader, and really wasn't doing much else.  

Oh, and I must mention the wonderfulness of being able to download e-books from the library no matter where I am!

In any case, here they are, in the order I read them, with mini-reviews.

Hooked on Ewe (Scottish Highlands Mystery #2) by Hannah Reed (Berkley Prime Crime mass market paperback, 7  July 2015).

Eden Elliott never thought she'd be so busy living in the "quiet" highlands of Scotland.  Apart from trying to finish her romance novel, and assisting her friend Vicki with her skein-of-the-month club, she's volunteered to help out with the annual sheepdog trials. On top of that, the local police inspector recruits her as a special constable.  

Based in a place I'd love to visit, this charming story is perfect airplane reading.

FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy  of the book.

As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman (Ballantine Books hardcover, 30 June 2015).

Sandy Tremont has built a good life with her family.  Even though her daughter is exhibiting the classic signs of being a difficult teenager, her marriage is happy and her career is successful.  

But one dark, cold winter's night, her safe home is invaded by two escaped prisoners who terrorize her family and expose a past she'd thought was buried forever.  

Milchman is a gifted storyteller, and the story was so absorbing I found myself shivering from the cold while sitting near a beach in July.   

FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the digital galley.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Pocket Books mass market paperback, 16 December 2014).

The story of a linguistics professor who suffers from rapidly progressing early-onset Alzheimer's disease, this was perhaps not the best choice for a vacation read, because it's so heart-wrenching.   

This book affected me deeply.  Not only did I not want to put it down, it through me into a moody funk for the day-and-a-half I was reading it.  All the praise it's received is well-deserved. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased this book.

Cold Mourning (Stonechild & Rouleau #1) by Brenda Chapman (Dundurn Press trade paperback, 10 February 2014).

The first book in a series about a police officer who leaves an isolated northern Ontario village to join a special crimes unit in Ottawa.  Kala Stonechild's first task is to find vanished businessman Tom Underwood in time for him to spend Christmas with his family.  
She must deal with not only with being the only the only female in the unit, but being of First Nations descent, but she's smart and resourceful.

Her supervisor, Jacques Rouleau has to deal with a tough investigation as well as his own boss who wants to get rid of the unit.  

This is a compelling, well-constructed mystery that was perfect for the Canadian part of me.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased this book.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (HMH BFYR hardcover, 3 April 2003).

I found this on a recommended list of books about strong young women.  This young adult story about 16-year-old Mattie Gokey, who helps support her poverty-stricken family upstate New York.

Mattie befriends a young woman who is a guest at the Adirondack hotel where she works. Grace leaves a bundle of letters with her before going on boating trip with her fianc√©, asking Mattie to burn them. When Grace's body is found in the lake, Mattie reads the letters to try to determine what happened.  

Based on a true story, this is not just an intriguing mystery but a realistic portrayal about life and feminism in the early 20th Century.

FTC Full Disclosure: I borrowed this e-book from my local library.

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield (Gallery Books trade paperback, 14 October 2014).

My admiration of Sophie Littlefield's skill as a storyteller grows with every book of hers that I read.  

Here, we meet two mothers whose sons have disappeared from an oil rig they are working on in North Dakota.  Colleen is a well-to-do Bostonian, and Shay is a working class woman from California, but they are both certain that there is something fishy going on.  Nobody from the oil company will speak to them, and the local police say their hands are tied.  

Not just a great mystery, this is a fascinating exploration of the relationship between two very different women.  

(Like As Night Falls and Cold Mourning, this also takes place in the winter, which to me, made it a perfect summer read.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased this book.

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