Friday, October 16, 2009

Recommendations from Judie

It seems that I’ve been reading novels lately that start with a fatal car accident and then go off in interesting directions from there. Here are three very different but equally entertaining titles that I recently finished.

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline
Alison is driving home from a friend’s book publishing party in New York City when she has an accident which leaves a boy dead. Although she didn’t cause the accident, she’s haunted by guilt and finds her husband Charlie strangely unsupportive and distant. As the novel evolves, the story of her marriage and her author friend’s marriage bounces back and forth in time, revealing a complicated past and present.

Life Without Summer by Lynne Reeves Griffin
Writer Tessa is consumed with grief when her daughter Abby, who was playing outside at her preschool, is killed by a hit and run driver. In an effort to cope with her pain, she starts meeting with a therapist whose journal entries intertwine with the ones written by Tessa and tell the parallel story of her family struggles. As the two stories evolve, the bond between the women grows and their lives become defined by the search for the guilty driver.

Blame by Michelle Huneven
History professor Patsy MacLemoore is convicted of hitting a mother and daughter in her driveway while driving drunk and is sent to jail. The book follows her struggle to come to terms with her terrible guilt and to rebuild her life after serving a 2-year sentence. The ordeal and the commitment to sobriety make Patsy a kinder and more thoughtful person who works hard to be good and create a more meaningful life.
Michelle Huneven's website.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recommendations from Julie

The Song is You by Megan Abbott
Ken Bruen calls her books "a wrenching poetic noir vision of loss and regret" and I think that's a perfect description. You get caught up with the characters weaving their way through messes possibly of their own making. They may be characters that you normally wouldn't like, but the world in the novel is so corrupt that many of the characters feel like victims, and therefore worthy of sympathy. Megan Abbott is definitely the new queen of noir.

The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey
A former felon who has gone legit is hounded by his former partner-in-crime to do another job. Sakey grabbed me with the last paragraph of the 1st chapter and he didn't let go until I had finished the book. Very suspenseful!

Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale
Mark Twain meets Elmore Leonard in this folksy, funny, East Texas mystery revolving around King Arthur, king of the chili cook-offs and gay-biker infighting. The town is a little safer with Hap, his buddy Leonard and with a little help from out-of-town p.i. Jim Bob around to deal with the unsavories. A fun read!