Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.
I have been ungodly busy the past few weeks, really since mid-June, with treasurer stuff. Last Friday I announced, very loudly, the I WAS CAUGHT UP! Of course, the mailman brought more checks the next day so my being caught up only lasted a few hours, but at least there is no backlog now.
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower. People who work in the White House — cleaners, cooks, florists, repairpersons — are a close-mouth bunch, intent on keeping the private lives of the First Family private, but there is enough here to make a decent read. The workers clearly loved Bush II’s family more than any other; the Clintons come in for some soft-voiced criticism. 3★
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlepig by Tad Williams. This had been lurking in my Kindle app for years; I finally read it. It is a humorous novella about a being that must join in the judging of people when they die. Cute, enjoyable.
The Daughter of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase. Mystery/suspense. Okay. 3★
Long Bright River by Liz Moore. OMG, this was sooo good! It starts as a police procedural but goes on to be a well-written and deeply moving story of families and origins and the desire to do well — or not. As a person whose future always assumed college and a good job, I found the culture in this book so very, very different from my own. The novel is set in a Philadelphia neighborhood besieged by the opioid crisis and attendant crime. Any number of the secondary characters are addicts or dealers or both, and their view of anyone who tries to better themselves is that they “…think they are better than us.” The main character is a woman police officer with an addicted sister. They were raised by their grandmother, who is a real piece of work. Highly recommend. 5★
Caged by Ellison Cooper. Reading this FBI procedural immediately after Long Bright River made me realize exactly how good the latter was. The writing in Caged is flat, the characters two-dimensional at best, and the plot ordinary. 2★
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. This one was for my book group. I had read it last year, but it was so good that I didn’t mind reading it again. Story is about a spy network in WWI run by a woman, Alice. The main characters are fictional but many of the others were real women who sacrificed so much to help defeat the Germans. Excellent. 4★
The Blackhouse by Peter May. This is the first book of a trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides. Protagonist is a police detective from Edinburgh sent to help investigate a murder on his home island, the Island of Lewis. He must confront his past, having never returned to the island since he left at 18. The descriptions of the landscape and settings are magnificent, but after 200 pages of them I found it difficult to finish the last 250 pages. 3★
The Lewis Man by Peter May. This is the second book in the Lewis trilogy. I am fond of series books, so I was looking forward to this one. But the expansive and lengthy descriptions of the landscape made it move way too slowly for me. The plot gets lost in those descriptions. Book 3 of the trilogy is going back to the library unread. 3★
The North Water by Ian McGuire. This book was far out of my usual reading circle. It is set on a whaling ship in 1859. Said ship sets out from England to kill whales in the seas around Greenland. The whaling industry had been wildly prosperous for the past 20 years, but now whales have become scarce. The author describes every scene so vividly — usually in terms of how it smelled — that the reader is Right.There. The narrative is gruesome and horrible, most of the characters loathsome, but I read it anyway. I really do not know how many stars I should give it; it was well-written but definitely not enjoyable.
The Good Place. I never watched this when it was on TV but picked it up on Netflix, which has the first three seasons. It is an absolutely delightful tongue-in-cheek tale of four people who die and are sent to The Good Place… or is it? I had to wait at least a month to get season four from the library, but it was worth it. 5★
The Night Manager. I found this on Amazon Prime and started watching it because it had Hugh Laurie. (I would listen to him read the phone book.) It is a six-episode miniseries — called Season 1, so there is a possibility of more someday — focusing on bringing down a major arms dealer. Acting is excellent — what else would you expect from Hugh Laurie, Tom Huddleston, and Olivia Coleman, cinematography is magnificent, and the plot gripping. Highly recommend. 5★
Outlander. Smokey is re-watching this from the beginning because he joined me watching it somewhere mid-series. Another excellent watch for all the same reasons as The Night Manager. 5★