Friday, July 07, 2006

Bookworm's Yada-yada: May & June

Better late than never, eh?

1. Snowbound, by Christina Bartolomeo. Chick-lit, with the typical plot line: dump unappreciative old guy, get makeover, snag new guy who's way better than the old guy. Better written than most in the genre, and she went to my husband's alma mater, Dickinson College, but I doubt this one'll be nominated for the Booker Prize.

2-4. First three Kate Martinelli mysteries, Laurie King. Good mystery series set in L.A. The first and third were especially good; the second one not quite up to their calibre.

5. The Cutter Incident, by Paul Offit. Here's another hometown connection: the author's wife is one my kids' pediatricians. The first half of the book is a fascinating description of the American polio epidemic and the search for a vaccine. My parents' generation talks of how frightening the polio scares were -- how swimming pools were closed, the paranoia that took over and the images of tiny children strapped into iron lungs when they couldn't breathe for themselves. The desperate desire to find a vaccine backfired when certain faulty doses injected children with live, active polio virus, causing children and adults to contract the disease as a direct result of the vaccinations. Underscores the need to continue developing safe vaccines, but left me a little unsatisfied as to exactly what our society ought to do to achieve that without jeopardizing safety. The end crosses over into an anti-lawsuit polemic that tries to sneak medical malpractice (as opposed to holding the manufacturer of a product, such as a vaccine, liable for damage caused by that product) reform into the debate; this is, in my opinion, a completely separate issue.

6. Our Town, by Cynthia Carr. Nonfiction account of a writer's quest to find out what really happened in 1930, the night two black residents of her hometown were lynched. She juxtaposes the background of the lynching and an account of the KKK in Indiana with her own personal quest to find out about her grandfather's life, including more about his membership in the KKK. Gets a bit long-winded at times.

7. The Lost Night, by Rachel Howard. This was a very quick & engrossing read, the memoir of a San Francisco writer who sought to learn more about the murder of her father. Howard was ten when her dad was stabbed to death, and didn't begin talking about her father's death until she began writing as an adult. It's not so much a whodunit as it is a daughter's attempt to come to grips with the effect this tragic event had on her life and personality. Excellent.

8. The Minotaur, by Barbara Vine. Typically well-written and creepy mystery set in England.

8 comments:

Charity said...

Hey, thanks for the update! I was missing your progress in May... it's always great to hear what other people are reading, and I love it when you help me discover a new author. I'm currently reading Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde, and really enjoyed the previous books, as well :-)

Kirsti said...

I loved the Kate Martinelli books, probably more so than the "Mary Russell" series she also wrote. Apparently there's a new one on the way too. I'll now have to go investigate that Barbara Vine... Thanks for the update.

Donna said...

I, on the other hand, prefer the "Sherlock and Mary Russell" series. Had the priviledge of hearing Laurie King speak and wow! not much she can't do -

DianeInChico said...

I like King's Mary Russell series better too, and I liked her "Keeping Watch" and wish it was the beginning of a series.

Currently I'm reading the newest Kate Martinelli mystery, "The Art of Detection". It's fun to read about San Francisco, my city of birth :-)

PS: love your blog....

Carol said...

Well, lovely Selma turned me on to Laurie King so I have her to thank.

kmkatt said...

Thanks for the Barbara Vine Minotaur recommendation. I just opened another browser window and requested it from my library. Ruth Rendell is such a talented writer, but I have found that I cannot read the books she publishes under her own name -- they are just too creepy (and I am not easily creeped out) -- but I can read the ones published under the Vine nom de plume. Have you read The Butcher's Boy? It's excellent.

Ann said...

Thanks for the review of _The Cutter Incident_. I have more than a few polio books languishing on my nightstand -- I'm interested in public health and disability writing -- and now I'll add one more to that pile! Kathryn Black's _In the Shadow of Polio_ is another good read on the subject.

Steph said...

Love Laurie King....Folly is one of my faves by her....