Books I am reading

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When Molly Met Cameron

What Nora Knew is a fun romp through romance. Molly is nearing 40, divorced, and a writer, working for an on-line magazine EyeSpy. She is dating a bland man that she can rely on but who does not set her heart palpitating. She has been such a failure at love, that she has decided that there is no such thing as a "soul mate" or "true love", But she sees it all around her and can't figure out why love doesn't come her way.
If you love Nora Ephron movies (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seatle, etc...) you will enjoy the razzle-dazzle repartee' through the New York City love-scape. It is not an in-depth character study. But it is a fast-paced, fun look at love. Enjoyable, it is worth the time if you are looking for a witty diversion for your reading choice.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wives of the Bomb

I received a review copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for publishing a review. I have no connection to the publisher or the author. This is my true perspective.

The Wives of Los Alamos: A Novel by TaraShea Nesbit

This is not so much a novel as it is a catalogue about the experiences and feelings and perspectives of the wives of the scientists that lived in secret isolation while they built the atomic bomb. I have a small personal interest since the pastor of my church in the early 70's was a graduate student who worked on this project. His PhD thesis was so highly classified that his review committee was not permitted to read it, and therefore, he never received his PhD.
The information is interesting, enlightening, and part of our national story that needs to be preserved. This book was not my cup of tea because it wasn't a narrative. It told a story in what felt like a fairly impersonal, at times choppy, manner. I would have preferred a more traditional novel. I am interested in character development more than a list of facts and feelings. Some are calling this book ground-breaking, and the use of the "collective we" perspective innovating. So I want to emphasize that my disappointment is not echoed by all previewers.
I kept thinking about how I would have felt if I had been in the wives' shoes. I love the southwest, but I have visited for 20 years before buying our retirement home in AZ. If I were in my mid-20's, with small children, and no friends or family near me, I would have found that very painful. Add the secrecy and the deprivation living conditions, I am sure I would have struggled to remain loyal to the project or my husband. No matter what your perspective on the creation of the atomic bomb, the sacrifices made by the scientists and families was strenuous and deserves attention.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Flavia de Luce

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel

This is the 6th book in the Flavia de Luce series. Flavia is an 11 year old, eccentric, genius chemist. She lives with her father and two sisters in the family estate owned by her mother, Harriet, who disappeared in Tibet 10 years earlier, while on a mission draped in mystery.
This book opens as Harriet's remains are returned to the crumbling estate. Her body was found frozen in the Himalayas in Tibet. And now the government is bring her home, including Winston Churchill. Flavia cannot imagine what her mother had been doing when she died that would warrant the former prime minister to be involved.
As the family is moving from the train platform to the waiting limo, a tall stranger falls from the platform and is crushed by a train. As Flavia reaches his body, he whispers a strange message that makes no sense to her. "The Gamekeeper is in danger."
Flavia retreats to her beloved uncle's chemistry lab, that has been her refuge as far back as she can remember. She is initially focused on finding a way to bring her mother back to life. Flavia has finagled to stand vigil with her mother in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep so that she can be alone to try her idea for reviving Harriet. In preparation she opens the coffin, and sees her mother for the first time in her memory. She reaches inside her mother's frozen coat and discovers an oilcloth wallet containing her will. Then she hears a commotion in the hallway outside her mother's room. She hides her items under the catafalque holding her mother, and sneaks out through the door into her father's bedroom.  Agents from the Home Office take over the vigil, and Flavia can no longer gain access to her mother's body.
To go any further with the plot outline would ruin the story for those who haven't yet read the book.
I am a huge Flavia de Luce fan and hope others will enjoy these well written, creative and often funny adventures of Flavia. But The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is a huge departure from the previous 5 books. This story is much darker with excruciating sadness. This is not the Flavia without a care in the world trying to find useful ways to exercise her genius curiosity. This book explains many family secrets only hinted at in previous books. It ties up loose ends. It feels as if it is the end of an era, and possibly the end of the series. I sincerely hope that Mr. Bradley will continue the series with new adventures as Flavia grows and matures. But if he doesn't, it has been a grand journey!
Though this book can probably stand alone, the richness of the characters will be lost if you haven't read the series. Start at the beginning and work up to this 6th installment. For those who have read the earlier books, wild horses won't keep them away from this book.