Friday, August 19, 2016

IN THE CLEARING by Robert Dugoni [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library New Books shelf, audio book

Description: Detective Tracy Crosswhite helps a friend investigate the suspicious suicide of a high school senior 40 years ago.

Plot:  Tracy investigates the alleged suicide of a Native American girl.  The book has chapters in the present day, and occasionally a chapter set 40 years ago when the incident occurred.  The townspeople seemed to accept that this girl killed herself, and didn't want someone stirring the waters 40 years later, because they were unwilling to learn the truth.

Characterization: All the characters are reasonably well-developed.  At about the 3/4 mark, there was a scene where I didn't remember who someone was, and it took several paragraphs before I remembered.  Otherwise I was able to keep everyone differentiated.

Setting:  Klickitat County, Washington.  Nicely described, I was able to picture every scene.

Other:  The author did a little too much telling and exposition, explaining things instead of dramatizing them.  The book was narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith and she did a very nice job.

Overall:  The book switched to 1976 and back to 2016 easily.  Interesting story.

Grade: B+

Friday, August 12, 2016

EL DEAFO by Cece Bell [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library, e-book

Description:  This is a middle grade memoir in graphic novel format.  The author, Cece, lost her hearing at age 4 from meningitis.  The book describes her efforts to fit in and find friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid.

Plot:  At age 4, Cece has meningitis and loses her hearing.  In kindergarten, she attends a school where all the students have hearing loss.  Then in first grade, she is mainstreamed into a regular school where she reads lips and uses a bulky but effective hearing aid.  She tries to keep up with her studies and make friends.

Characterization: All the characters are drawn as rabbits, which made me think of the series Arthur by Marc Brown.  Arthur is an aardvark, but these rabbits were similar.  I was somewhat disappointed in that the characters weren't as developed as I would have preferred.  I'm not sure whether this is a function of the graphic novel format or not, because this is the only graphic novel I've read.  But I did think the plot moved a bit too fast, it didn't give much time for development.

Setting:  Roanoke Virginia.  Not much description in the text, but it is a graphic novel, so scenes were drawn.

Other:  Newbery Honor Book.  Gives kids an insight into the thoughts of other children who are living with a disability.

Overall:  I enjoyed this story, even tho I'm not the intended demographic.

Grade: B

Friday, August 5, 2016

Robert B. Parker's Slow Burn by Ace Atkins [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library New Books shelf, audio book

Description:  The previous year, a fire at a boarded-up Catholic church killed three firefighters.  Now, at the one-year anniversary, a surviving firefighter not satisfied with the official conclusion asks Boston PI Spenser to investigate.

Plot:  Spenser investigates the church fire at the same time as a series of arson fires plagues the city.  As Spenser gets closer to the truth, the arson fires increase in number and intensity.  The author includes several chapters in the villain's POV, so the reader knows the answer, but it is still interesting to learn how Spenser figures it out.

Characterization:  This appears to be a book written by an author using the characters and setting created by an original author who is now deceased.  Amazon indicates it is book 44 in the series.  There were a few places where characters were not well-developed, like the author expected the reader to know who these people were because they had read previous books.  I haven't read any previous books in this series, so in those places it took a few pages before I figured out what was going on.  Readers who have read the original author's books will presumably know these characters from the previous books.

Setting:  Boston.  Nicely described.

Other:  There was quite a bit of foul language in this book, some of which I don't believe was necessary to the story.  The book was narrated by Joe Mantegna and he was really good.

Overall:  Good story.  It's always interesting when the reader knows who the “bad guys” are, to learn how the main character figures it out.

Grade: B+