Tuesday, May 29, 2012

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

This is the twenty-second book in Grafton’s Alphabet series.  She writes them slowly, averaging a book every two years. She wanted to avoid falling into a “cookie-cutter” syndrome, and strives to make each book both distinct and memorable.  The problem is that if the reader reads one right after another, like I found myself doing, they can’t help but blend into each other, so that I found myself running into characters halfway through the book that I was supposed to be familiar with but I couldn’t keep it straight in my mind who they were and what their significance was for the plot. 

Each story is a procedural mystery, solved by Kinsey Millhone, the 30-something divorced female private eye from Santa Teresa, California.  At a certain point in the series, Grafton started to change her story structures.  Grafton began to give sub-characters chapters that traced their stories from their point of view.  For some books this device worked pretty well, giving us greater insight into the motives and struggles of both the victims and the perpetrators. 

 For V is for Vengeance, the undercover world of big-time shoplifting is slowly revealed to us, first through small players all the way up to the head, who has inherited this enterprise from his father.  Kinsey, who we like because of her quirks (like being crazy for Quarter Pounders with Cheese) and her human side (like falling for the wrong guy now and again), is hired to look into the so-called suicide of a shoplifter.  Her fianc√© can’t believe she would have killed herself and also can’t believe the extent of her criminal involvement.  

We like Kinsey because she is committed, and having a client decide she is off the case is often not the final say for her.  It doesn’t mean that her principles are that ironclad, it’s just that she doesn’t like getting pushed aside.  Usually Grafton does a good job of creating secondary characters with certain habits or ways of looking at things that make them apt to slide over the line from legal to illegal.  The head boss of the shoplifting operation is presented as a good guy despite what he does – we learn about his mean dad and psychotic brother as though these family members somehow forced him into his lifestyle.  He looks terrific (compared to them) and it doesn’t hurt that he’s good-looking and incredibly rich to boot.  Although this side plot of the thief with the heart of gold isn’t quite believable, overall the book delivers, detailing the crime all around us and the nitty gritty that we all go through in order to get somewhere.  

Grafton makes the case with Kinsey that having a pretty little guesthouse, with a great friend as your landlord right on the premises, all in beautiful by the sea Santa Teresa, may not be a ticket to happiness but comes close to contentment.  So, write on Grafton! 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Books by the Yard; or, I Have So Many Great Ideas for Books That I Just Can't Write Them All Myself, by Keir Graff | Booklist Online

When I read the article posted on Booklist's website (link below), I was a relieved to learn that I am not the only person in America who is starting to get annoyed by all the big-name authors who keep churning out so many books in such a short amount of time that it seems far-fetched that they could have spent much time actually writing them...

Trends in Crime Fiction Series: Books by the Yard; or, I Have So Many Great Ideas for Books That I Just Can't Write Them All Myself, by Keir Graff | Booklist Online

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 Lariat List

The 2012 Lariat List is now available. This list is for adult books and are chosen for the fact that they are that are "a pleasure to read." Give some of these a try, and let us know if you agree with the individuals that chose them. There is also a bibliography of these books available in the library. Happy reading!

FIC & AD FIC ABBOTT                                              Adrenaline

CIA Operative Sam Capra is on the run—his pregnant wife kidnapped, and his London office obliterated. I one terrifying moment, he loses everything. Branded a murderer and traitor, he begins a desperate search for the truth.

FIC ABRAMSON                          Unsaid

A veterinarian and animal activist, Helena continues to care about the friends and animals she loves even after her death. Unable to move one, she observes their grief and struggles as they learn to live without her.

FIC BAKER                                                          Sisters of the Sari

A touching and funny introduction to the traditional culture of Southern India, seen through the friendship of wealthy Canadian CEO Kiria Langdon, and former slave-turned-housekeeper, Santoshi.

FIC, AD FIC, & LP FIC BROOKS      Caleb’s Crossing

This engaging portrait of early colonial America explores the secret friendship between Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, and Bethiam, the headstrong daughter of a minister.

SF CLINE                                                             Ready Player One

A love song to all things geek. In 2044, teenager Wade lives and competes in a virtual reality contest for the world’s greatest fortune. Living through his avatar, he discovers reality.

MYS, AD MYS, & LP MYS CONNELLY     The Fifth Witness

 An engaging courtroom thriller set against the backdrop of the current foreclosure crisis. Mickey  Haller delivers the defense of his career on behalf of an unstable client accused of murdering her loan  officer.


SF COREY                                                 Leviathan Wakes
When Jim Holden discovers an abandoned ship in the rings of Saturn, the mystery he finds will hurtle the  entire solar system towards all-out war. A fresh take on space opera.

FIC  & AD FIC DIFFENBA           The Language of Flowers
Bearing the scars of the foster care system and now homeless, Victoria communicates in the mutable language of yellow roses, thistle, and hazel. Searching for a way to heal her troubled past, she finds her home in flowers.

FIC FELDMAN                                            Next to Love
What happened after the sailor kissed the girl? This finely wrought story of three women and their families examines American society during and after World War II.

FIC HARBACH                                    Art of Fielding
Midwestern college baseball player, Henry Skrimshander, seems destined for the major leagues, but when a routine throw goes disastrously off-course, the fates of five people are upended. A moving meditation on desire and what happens when you succeed or fail to get what you want.

FIC HARRIGAN                                           Remember Ben Clayton
This compelling tale sweeps from the days of the Comanche in Texas to the devastating battlefields of World War I. A Texas rancher struggles with how to make peace with the wartime death of his son, and his quest for the perfect memorial will unravel the lives of everyone involved.

FIC & AD FIC HART                             Iron House
A professional killer attempts to extricate himself from a ferocious crime syndicate who is using his family as  leverage. Raised in a barbaric orphanage, Michael returns to Iron House to put the ghosts of his past to rest. A            well-crafted thriller with heart.

 FIC, AD FIC, & LP FIC HOFFMAN                      The Red Garden
Three hundred years of history unfold through interwoven short stories, revealing the magic of place and community in small-town Massachusetts.

FIC & AD FIC JONES                       Silver Sparrow
Sisters, secrets, and deception devastate two African-American families in 1980s Atlanta. A lyrical narrative richly depicts the complexities of these flawed yet sympathetic characters.

FIC & AD FIC JORDAN                                   When She Woke
Hannah’s skin has been dyed red by the state of Texas as punishment for having an abortion. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile society.

FIC & LP FIC MAYHEW                 The Dry Grass of August
Thirteen-year-old Jubie struggles with adolescence, racial segregation, and her parents failing marriage with the support of Mary, the family’s African American maid. A brilliant, heart-felt snapshot of the Jim Crow South.

FIC MCNEAL                                                 To Be Sung Underwater
An unflinching look at how the choices we make shape our lives, how regret can make us come undone, and how second chances aren’t always what you imagine. 

FIC, AD FIC, & LP FIC MORGENST       Night Circus
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves, only open at night. A bewitching love story, magicians Celia and Marco are bound from childhood in a fierce competition. Who will triumph in this exquisite world of shifting illusions?

MYS RANKIN                                             The Complaints
Malcolm Fox, a detective working for Internal Affairs, or “The Complaints,” performs the unenviable task of investigating his fellow officers. He discovers hidden agendas with far-reaching consequences in this Edinburgh police procedural. 

FIC, AD FIC, & LP FIC SIMON          The Story of Beautiful Girl
The emotional and life-affirming story of Lynnie, a developmentally impaired girl placed in a deplorable institution at a young age. Forced to give up her newborn, Lynnie entrusts her child to Martha, a retired school teacher. This extraordinary love story gives us a window into a world that few have glimpsed.

FIC SONES                                                             
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: A Novel about Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem
Written entirely in verse, this “coming of middle age” story follows Holly, facing fifty and menopause with humor and wit. Mixing in a quirky aging mother, a teenager about to leave home, and a husband who may be unfaithful, what you get is a hilarious caper that tells it like it is.

FIC WALDMAN                      The Submission
Controversy erupts when a Muslim architect wins a  design contest for a 9/11 memorial in New York City. A novel that raises more questions than it answers.

FIC & LP FIC WATSON                               Before I Go to Sleep
Who do you trust to tell you who you are? Every morning Christine wakes with no memory or recognition of her face in the mirror. She discovers her own journal with the chilling warning: don’t trust Ben. A taut psychological thriller.