Saturday 27 May 2023

What I’ve been reading in May

This has been a bumper month for reading!

Another library book came home with me this month.  Transient Desires by Donna Leon.

Two badly injured American girls are found left on the paving outside of a hospital.  CCTV cameras only show that a boat pulled up by the entrance and two men drag the girls to the entrance then quickly abandon them to make their get away via the canal.  

This book is another of the Commissario Brunetti mysteries and in this book he finds himself dealing with a type of crime that he has never encountered before.  Why didn't the men stay with the girls until hospital staff arrive?  This can only mean that it was not an innocent accident and after identifying one of the men, it is obvious that there is more to this than meets the eye.  The uncle of the identified man is rumoured to be involved in more sinister crimes which are outside the normal jurisdiction of Brunetti. 

If I hadn't read others from this series, I don't think I would have considered reading more of the Brunetti books.  It was a cleverly thought out plot and I still enjoyed the aspects of Venetian living that the author includes but not, in my opinion, as good as the other two that I have read from this series.  The ending was somewhat abrupt and I didn't feel that there was a proper conclusion, unless this was the intention of the author to show that things aren't always cut and dried.

Our book club choice this month was The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E Reichert

Al is a works as a restaurant critic for a Milwaukee newspaper.  Well known for his somewhat scathing and honest reviews, he books a table at Luella's restaurant under his pen name A W Wodyski.  The owner of Luella's, Lou Johnson is having one of the worst days of her life.  Hoping to surprise her fiancee with a delicious breakfast of Coconut Cake, she unwittingly walks in on him in what seems to be a compromising position with an intern.  She returns to the restaurant where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.  Unfortunately this is the evening that A W Wodyski is dining there.  He writes a brutal review which sends Lou's restaurant into a tailspin and very soon it seems that she will have no alternative but to close.

The day that the review is published, Al and Lou meet in a pub where Lou is drowning her sorrows.  They start talking and Al tells her that he is originally from England and thinking of moving on as he is not enamoured with Milwaukee.  Lou wants to prove to him that Milwaukee needs a second chance and she will show him the real heart of the city.  She shows him all her favourite places and he gradually falls in love not only with Milwaukee but Lou herself. From the start they decide not to talk about where they work or what they do and you wonder what will happen when Lou inevitably discovers that Al is the person responsible for the downfall of her business.  

There are no big surprises at the end of this book but it was a good read, the characters were good - except for Devlin - and it's made me want to visit Milwaukee for all the food festivals!

Next up was another library book - another of the Chief Inspector Gamache series of books.  Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny.

The book begins with Garmache receiving a letter asking him to go to an abandoned farmhouse just outside of Three Pines.  When he arrives, he discovers that a stranger has named him and two others executors of her will.  None of them are aware of knowing her and are puzzled as to how they were chosen.

Armand is also at this time suspended from the force and under investigation for the 
way in which a previous drug related crime was handled which has ended with very dangerous illegal drugs going missing.

The way in which the author combined the two storylines was cleverly done.  I hadn't read the book which details the situation regarding the missing drugs, but it wasn't too difficult to piece together what had happened.  I do enjoy the Three Pines series and it's good to know that there are still several that I haven't read yet.  Apparently this is the book that nearly didn't get written as the author had based the main character on her husband.  When he died it seemed too hard for her to continue writing stories but thankfully she has found the strength to maintain his presence through the character of Garmache.  

Next up is The Bedroom Window by KL Slater.  I first heard about this from Gail's blog and thought it sounded my kind of book.

The story revolves around Lottie, her husband Neil and son Arbie who move to Yorkshire to start a new life.  Lottie had to give up her job to become Neil's carer after an accident at work rendered him temporarily disabled.  Now he has recovered he leaps at the chance of a new job managing the estate at Seaspray.

All seems too good to be true until Lottie becomes suspicious of the couple who own Seaspray.  They say they have never had children but Lottie thinks that she has seen a shadowy character in the windows of the house in the evenings.  No one is ever allowed into the house. The previous occupants of the cottage left under suspicious circumstances and Lottie feels sure that they too believed that their employers were hiding something.

This was definitely a 'page turner' and cleverly merged Lottie's back story with current events.  There were definitely a few twists as the story reached its conclusion.  One of those books that made me want to keep reading just one chapter more!

The next book I downloaded was Thrown by Sara Cox. I enjoy her book review to programme so thought I would try her own book.

I wanted a nice light, easy read to take into hospital and this definitely fitted the bill.  I had a lot of reading time that day and I read nearly all of it by the time I was discharged! 

The story revolves around a group of neighbours who live in the same housing estate who don't really know each other very well.  A new pottery class held in the local community centre provides the perfect opportunity for them to try their hand at a new skill while forging new friendships.  Sara weaves interesting storylines for each character as some unlikely friendships evolve. A little predictable in places but an enjoyable read.


Barbara Eads said...

Wow! Your reading has been quite prolific this month!! Many of those sound pretty good. I'll have to add them to my list. Thanks, I like your book reviews

Patio Postcards said...

You have done a lot of reading this month. Books are a wonderful escape IMO. I've read Kingdom of The Blind - actually all of Louise's books. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll see if our library as a couple of them. :)

Gail Is This Mutton? said...

The coconut cake book sounds interesting but how strange that a couple wouldn't talk about their jobs (obviously it would spoil the plot if the had). Glad you enjoyed The Bedroom Window!

Ruth said...

You had me at Coconut Cake! :)

Susanne said...

I enjoyed The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. While I immediately got the "You've Got Mail" vibes from this book, the author did a good job of moving the story forward and not making me impatient for the resolution. She did establish all the characters as individual and interesting too. While I am not necessarily pushed to want to visit Milwaukee any time soon, I am definitely interested in getting some local or not too distant food festivals on our summer schedule. I listened to the audiobook, so I'll have to search for whether there was a recipe for that cake included in the printed books. said...

It took me the full month to read Coconut Cake and I finished on the last day of May. It got off to a slow start for me but once Al and Lou started exploring Milwaukee, I became more interested in the story. Would like to try making the cake. I love coconut everything!!

Thought The Bedroom Window sounded interesting, too. Not sure if I put it on the consideration list for April but read reviews and thought I would like it. Thank you for sharing your review. Will add it to my to-read list.

I started the book club's June book and it is entertaining so far. Hope it will be a good read.