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.