Sunday 29 March 2020

Parting Shot

Finished March 11
Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay, narrated by Jim Meskimen and James Babson

This is another tale set in Promise Falls, a year after the horrible incident. The story follows a couple of plot lines. Cal Weave, private investigator, is called in to protect a young man, JeremyPilford, who has been convicted of killing a girl while drunk. Jeremy has been given probation, but part of his defence was that he was mollycoddled as a child and thus a nickname for him has emerged, Big Baby. Cal isn't sure at first about accepting the case, and after an incident when he was followed, he has decided to take the Jeremy away and not tell others where they are. He starts getting to know Jeremy and asking him about the accident, and suspicions arise in him about the truth of Jeremy's guilt.
Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth has been given an odd case. A young man, Brian Gaffney, left a bar one night, and woke up in the bar parking lot a couple of days later, not remembering anything about what has happened to him. He does however, have a large tattoo on his back. As Barry follows up Brian's actions before his memory loss, he finds that his own son may be a witness to what happened to Brian. But his son is already feeling low after having to move back home after losing his job, and their relationship is a bit tenuous. When the case is escalated, first through a missing person, and then through a murder, Barry is sure there is more going on that it first seems. He is reminded of a past case of revenge against someone that was a vigilante act.
Great plot and characters, as usual for Barclay.

The Rumor

Finished March 10
The Rumor by Lesley Kara

This suspense novel follows Joanna, a single mom and real estate agent, in a seaside American town. Joanna is in a relationship with her son's father, a journalist, although he lives in the city near her. Her son is a little more susceptible to teasing as he is mixed race. Joanna moved to this town to be close to her mother, who helps out with child care. She is still in the early stages of finding friends, but is part of a book club, and sometimes talks to the other mothers at school pickup. As the book begins, she overhears a rumor that a woman may be living in their community, a woman who served time for killing a small child when she was only a child herself. Joanna mentions the rumor at book club, and it seems to take off. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Michael is working on the story, and proposes coming to live with her and their son for a while as he tracks the story.
This book shows how a rumor can spread, creating suspicion and distrust and actions that people may regret later. Joanna is a woman fairly new to town, wanting to fit in and using whatever comes to mind to make connections. She is well meaning, but doesn't always think through her actions. Michael is a little more fact-oriented here and acts as a mediating voice. This was an interesting and unsettling story.

Saturday 28 March 2020

The Lost Husband

Finished March 7
The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

This heartwarming book follows Libby Moran as she starts a new life. Two years ago, Libby lost her husband Danny in an accident. The accident also injured her daughter Abby, who now walks with a slight limp. Shortly after that Libby moved in with her mom, with the two kids, Abby and Tank sleeping in the guest room, and Abby on the couch. Her mother bristles with resentment and makes Libby feel even worse than she does already. So when a letter comes from her mother's sister, Libby's Aunt Jean, offering a place to live on her farm in exchange for the farm work that Jean is no longer physically able to do, Libby jumps at it.
Her mother immediately tries to dissuade her, which doesn't make sense to Libby as she knows her mother doesn't want them in her apartment. Libby moves quickly, and finds her aunt Jean different than she expected, and the farm something she can get used to.
As Libby drives with the kids into town, she nearly runs down a woman at an intersection, and the woman offers to help Libby find her lost husband, hence the title of the book. As Libby grows to know more about her and her situation, she makes a friend as well.
This is a book about loss, but also hope. The chance to make a fresh start, as Libby does on her aunt's goat farm, and to learn more about her past as well.

A Princess of Roumania

Finished March 2
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park

This fantasy story has elements of magic realism in it. Miranda Popescu was adopted from an orphanage in Bucharest by an American couple, and grew up in Massachusetts. Now a teenager, she has only a couple of close friends, Peter and Andromeda.
What Miranda doesn't know is that she is actually an important player in a struggle for power that exists between the old dynasty that led the country of Roumania, the Baroness Nicola Ceausescu who has had power and struggles to keep it now that her husband has died, and the German man of power who hold Miranda's mother in a remote tower.
As Miranda's aunt Aegypta looks to contact her through dreams and visions, Miranda is set upon by Ceausescu's men who try to capture her and take her to the woman they are loyal to.
As Peter and Andromeda try to protect Miranda, they also become involved, and it seems that at least one of them has inherited this role of protector through lineage and loyalty to Miranda's family.
This is a story of dreams, visions, magic, strange events, time travel, and change.
Miranda is a girl who doesn't really understand what she is meant to do, and as she struggles to find her way, she makes mistakes that put her and those she cares about in peril.
She journeys far and into strange places, and meets strange people.
This is the first book in a series.

Saturday 14 March 2020

Spinster Kang

Finished February 29
Spinster Kang by Zöe Roy

Kang is a Chinese immigrant woman living in Toronto. She works at Tim Horton's while she waits for her classes to start. Kang came to Canada for a new start. When she was much younger, back in China, her older sister was raped, and Kang has found herself unable to trust men. She has resigned herself to not having a relationship, but the stigma of such a thing in China is big, and reflects on her family as well.
Kang is planning to be a teacher. She finds a place to live as a housekeeper for an older woman Tania, and begins to make friends. As she adjusts to a new culture, learns about the people that she gets closer to, and about her own family's past.
This is a novel of personal discovery, of growth and of hope.
I liked Kang and how she found a way even when barriers appeared in her life. I also liked how her story and Tania's story intersected in interesting ways.
Written by a Chinese immigrant to Canada, this book reads realistically and the plot pulls you along.
I enjoyed it.

Saturday 7 March 2020

The Prince and the Pilgrim

Finished February 25
The Prince and the Pilgrim by Mary Stewart

This book is set mostly in medieval England in the time of King Arthur.
Alice is a young woman whose mother died when she was born and whose father has made repeated pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to a shrine in Tours. While in Tours the two find themselves involved in a coup and they help someone make their way out to safety.
Alexander is a young man whose mother escaped with him from a threat from a family member. As he grew to be a man, it wasn't until an unexpected meeting with someone from that past that his mother apprised him of his parentage and the revenge she expected him to some day enact. But he felt an urge to make a move more immediately and sets out on a quest. The quest leads him to a court where he finds himself drawn to a powerful woman, but still trying to return to his quest.
At one point, the paths of Alice and Alexander cross, and both of the lives improve.
I enjoyed this story, but didn't find the depth of many of her other books that I've read. I did like the strength and intelligence of Alice and how she held her own, even in a the time she lived in.

You Do You

Finished February 22
You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You've Got to Get What You Want by Sarah Knight

This is Knight's third book about taking control of you own life. I've read her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. This book starts with an orientation exercise.
The first main section of the books talks about the Dos and Don'ts that society puts forward and Knight goes through them and shows how they aren't necessarily true. Covered here are "Don't Be Selfish", "Do Your Best", "Don't Be Difficult", "Do Be a Team Player", and "Don't Quit Your Day Job". The next section does the same with Wills and Won'ts: "You Will Change Your Mind", "You Won't Get Anywhere with that Attitude", "You Will Regret That", "You Won't Get a Good Job if You Don't Go to College", and "You Will Never Live That Down".
The third section deals with Shoulds and Shouldn'ts: "You Should Always Put Family First", "You Shouldn't Act So Crazy", "You Should Smile More", "You Shouldn't Eat That", and "You Should Check Your Ego at the Door."
Throughout the book, Knight talks about how to interact with those that declaim these statements to you in expectation that you will conform. She talks about how to look inward and check your own motivations and plans and make decisions that make sense for you. Some of them may fit into others' expectations, but they may not. Either is okay. The main thing is that you should think about how your decisions affect others, and that you should do what's right for you as long as you aren't causing harm to others. You will be judged by others, and perhaps even by yourselves, but that is not harm.
Her advice is good. Look at things realistically, but not with society as the judge. If someone is telling you that some decision is wrong for you, think about what led you to that decision and about how no one knows what is right for you better than you do.
This is a book to read slowly and refer back to when you need to.

13th Canadian Reading Challenge March Roundup

Sorry this is late going up.
Post your reviews for March here