Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Round-Up: It's Easy Like Sunday Morning


I read in June, it's just that most of it was light and easy. Oh well, I refuse to be embarrassed. So here we go...

Faithful Place
This is the third in the series by Tana French---and it might be my favorite. I don't know if you remember, but this series of police novels is set in Dublin. The main characters of the books are police officers in the murder squad. Each novel takes a secondary character from a previous book and pushes him or her into the pole position ( that I'm thinking about it, it's what Louise Erdrich does, too.) In this novel, undercover detective Frank Mackey returns to his old neighborhood, a place he has not been back to since he was 19. On that night, Frank was planning to run away with his girlfriend. She never appeared at their meeting place, and he, like everyone else, assumes that she ran off to London on her own. Now, her body has been found and he must solve her murder almost 20 years after she went missing. This is just a great stories: well-written with a rip-roaring plot, but still with plenty of emotional heft.

Succubus Heat
This book was made all the sweeter by the brilliance of the Kindle borrow. I loved it, of course. I might be ready to borrow the next one soon! Not to overthink the whole thing, but how did you feel about her and Seth finally doing the deed? As soon as her "powers" were lifted, I knew exactly what was going to happen. I guess all that sexual tension must have it's day, but I don't know. The truth is, I never found Seth that interesting as a character. In real life, I like a good guy. In books, I like them a little more edgy. Although, I guess he's been corrupted by the cheating, so we'll see how that goes. More on the good guy/bad boy continuum below.

Lord of the Flies
We read this in high school (I even pulled the cover image that I remember), although I can't remember exactly when. Want to help me out there, memory girl?

I'm teaching the book over the summer in a course called "Freshman Prep." In the course, they have the opportunity to read the summer book in a classroom setting rather than being completely on their own. I'm quite enjoying teaching the book. I've never taught it before, so it's different and interesting. It's very rich with it's syntax, imagery, and symbolism. There is *so* much to talk about. But, holy shit, this book is FAR more terrifying and scary as an adult. Is the beast in all of us? I don't know, but this book sure makes a convincing case for the savagery of human nature.

Sizzling Sixteen and Smokin' Seventeen
At least a million years ago, I started reading a screwball comedy/mystery series about a New Jersey bounty hunter named Stephanie Plum. Stephanie is a total screw-up as a bounty hunter. She's not too good at her job, but it pays the bills. The books are full of zany and hilarious supporting characters: the crazy grandmother, the slimy boss, the ex-prostitute sidekick.

Stephanie also has romantic entanglements with 2 very different men. One is Joe Morelli, a guy she's known since high school. He's a good guy and Stephanie loves him, but the idea of commitment to Joe and all that it would entail (big family wedding, lots of babies, etc) is just too much for Stephanie. She values her independence and fears that something will be missing if she settles down with Joe. The other man in her life is Ranger, ex-special forces and her bounty hunter mentor. Ranger is a real mystery. He loves her, but in his own way, and he's perhaps a little too comfortable walking on the dark side. (I'm a Ranger fan. Morelli just seems sort of boring. Kind of like Seth from the Succubus series.)

The stories are peppered with fairly flimsy plots, but they are so full of humor and laughs that I always looked forward to the next one. Through the first 10 or so books, Evanovich did a pretty good job at advancing Stephanie through life's challenges: she was learning to be a better bounty hunter, figuring out how to juggle the demands of her conservative Jersey family, and believably torn between Morelli and Ranger. But then the books just started to drag on and seem the same (sort of what's happening with Sookie)...all the plots were the same, there was no movement towards one man or another, the jokes were stale. I was starting to get bored.

After 15, I thought I'd just give up. 16 came out last summer, and I thought of a brilliant plan: I'd wait a year until 17 came out, and then go back to reading one a year...but at the paperback rather than the hardcover price! This week, while Darius and Kazi were watching Cars 2 in the movie theater, I downloaded 16 and started reading. (Yes, this is how I pass time in bad kid movies. I read on my phone.) Turned out a few years off was just what I needed: Stephanie felt fresh again and I enjoyed the book. Even though I logically realize that the problems with it are still there, it had been long enough to make them fun again. I went ahead and downloaded 17 when I was done with 16. They were the perfect summer reads. A very satisfying end to a month's worth of light, frothy reading.


1 comment:

  1. Succubus: Of course, I figured she would do Seth as soon as she could. I see your point about him, although I *do* like a "nice guy" (even in books)... mostly, I just don't see a ton of chemistry between them. But I did feel a bit heart-broken for them both about the effect that it had on him. I remember thinking, "Oh, NO!" when it happened.

    Hrm... when did we read Lord of the Flies? My memory might fail us here. I have a vague notion of reading it Freshman year -- would that have been too advanced for our class that year? I'll have to think about that more. I do remember it being creepy as f*ck, so I may have blocked it out.

    Love the Stephanie Plum review -- these books have been on my periphery for a long time, but I've never picked one up. Perhaps I will now!