November 2019 Book Reviews

Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just having a reaction to the whole “genre” discussion that has become way too much a part of my life. As I read this book I knew what was going to happen. I knew who would betray who, who would rescue who else. Oh, there were some surprises. But nothing made this book hard to put down. Miller is a good writer, no glitches there. I just didn’t find this book all that exciting. A divorced couple, Mark and Eva, their two daughters, Eva’s new husband and their subsequent son…how the daughters deal with the loss of their father, and step-father. I think one problem is Miller flicks back and forth between characters, Eva, Mark and Daisy…and we never become very invested in anyone’s story. Rate: 3.0

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes. I picked this book up in Flourchild’s Bakery, in Abiquiu, New Mexico. A wonderful place, with fantastic bread and the best chicken pot pie I have ever tasted. They offer shelves of books for the borrowing. I had just finished the last of the six books I brought on my trip, so my timing was perfect. This story is a police mystery, with Lou Smith and the major crimes unit involved in the renewal of an old case. Ten years prior a fifteen year old girl had vanished while her family was on holiday in Greece unexpectedly turns up back in her hometown of Brimstone. A well written drama, with chapters from the point-of-view of various key characters. Rate: 3.9

Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman. What better place to catch up on Tony Hillerman than New Mexico. For those who don’t know this author, here is a brief bio: “Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children’s books, and nonfiction works.” Coyote Waits was fun for me to read just before I left my six week retreat in New Mexico and headed back toward California because I drove through the area where the story takes place. For me it is always exciting to see things when the story is fresh in my mind. This mystery about Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn involves a murder, of course, and many ancient tales which tie neatly into the action. Rate: 4.0 (but remember, it’s genre and a series)

Finding Moon by Tony Hillerman. So this was the other book I grabbed off the shelf in the Abiquiu Bakery, with the idea of reading about New Mexico while in New Mexico…but this is one of the Tony Hillerman books that isn’t about Jim Chee! Instead, we have Moon Matias as our hero…off to Vietnam during the spring of 1975 when all hell is breaking loose, on a mission to find the infant daughter of his brother (who is dead.)…it was a good book in spite of not being about New Mexico. Rate: 3.5

The Spectators by Jennifer du Bois. One of my favorite authors, I am always happy when she completes a new book. This one tackles a heartbreaking subject from an inside point-of-view…duBois is one of those authors that can take you so deep inside the character, she is the perfect example of how good writers can move you into someone’s life in a way you savor for the emotional connections. The three main characters in this story weave the past and present into a complex tale of social justice and more. Mattie Miller, talk show host, Cel, Mattie’s young publicist and Semi, a past lover, all play a critical role in this novel. Rate: 4.5

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Another by the author of “A Man Called Ove” it took me a bit to get into this tale of a small town completely dictated by HOCKEY. Yes, the ice hockey club is critical to the well being of a failing town in the middle of nowhere. I did think there were some errors in translation in this story, as certain details were inconsistent. The story just didn’t grab me, and even the “trauma/crisis” wasn’t surprising. But suddenly, for the final third of the book I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late finishing. I won’t give you any spoilers, but I did end up liking the book. Rate: 3.5

Key for my personal rating system:

5.0 – A book I will never forget, will quote, will tell everyone I know they MUST read it.

4.0 – An excellent book, but doesn’t quite make the best books of all time list.

3.0 – A recommendation, good read, decently written

2.0 – Some redeeming qualities, I finished it, but I’m not likely to seek out more by the author

1.0 – Don’t waste your time.