Good Reads vol. 4

Here are a few books that I’ve been reading lately.

Monsieur Pamplemousse Aloft by Michael Bond (Monsieur Pamplemousse #5)

“The fifth in Bond’s series about Aristide Pamplemousse, France’s premier gourmet guide, begins with a mission right up his allee. Once more, however, a fairly simple task grows into an escapade for M. Pamplemousse and Pommes Frites, his smart little dog. They are driving to Port St. Augustin where Aristide is to advise on epicurean treats offered VIPs on a dirigible flying from France to England, reaffirming the entente cordiale signed by the two nations in 1904. Nothing must fail, but M. Pamplemousse senses threats to the great occasion even before arriving in the seacoast town. A group of oddly behaving nuns; a near-fatal fall by Yasmin, the trapeze artist at the local circus; the snubbing from Aristide’s old friend, a British detective; and other events plant suspicions that turn the gastronome into his former self as inspector of police in Paris. The funny, exciting mystery will delight readers who may weep with envy of the feasts that are ordinary fare for M. Pamplemousse and Pommes Frites.”

I’m working my way through a M. Pamplemousse omnibus. This is the fifth in the series, and just as fun as all the others I’ve read. The mystery is a bit unsatisfying, but the humor and ridiculous cast of characters more than make up for it. And of course, you’ve gotta love Pommes Frites 🙂 One side note- It seems like Goodreads and Amazon are getting this one confused with Monsieur Pamplemousse Afloat, which apparently takes place in a vineyard.

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

“Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life–solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism. Ranging from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love, THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope.”

I (mostly) really enjoyed Kostova’s book The Historian.  The Swan Thieves was super slow at times, but it was quite absorbing. Following along with Marlowe as he unravelled Oliver’s backstory kept me interested through the slow bits. His unethical behavior made me cringe at times. I’m a sucker for a good flashback, and this book is full of them. The Swan Thieves seems to be a more polarizing book, at least on Goodreads. Most people loved it or hated it. I actually kind of loved it.

Getting Old is a Disaster by Rita Lakin (Gladdy Gold #5)

“Back from schlepping all over New York City, P.I. Gladdy Gold is happy to be on her Florida turf again. Especially now that she and boyfriend Jack Langford are officially an item. But no sooner has the yenta brigade gotten back to their routine–complete with poolside stretching and kvetching–than a notorious outlaw, a.k.a. the “Grandpa Bandit,” issues Gladdy’s detective agency a direct challenge: Catch me if you can.

The dapper thief has already knocked over six Fort Lauderdale banks, with no end in sight. It’s up to Gladdy and the girls to stop him before he hits the next one. But when a killer hurricane leads to the discovery of a fifty-year-old skeleton, they have to put the bandit on the back burner. With the storm wreaking havoc and a dark mystery swirling around the Lanai Gardens retirement community, Gladdy and the girls are about to confront a ruthless killer determined to bury the past—and them along with it..”

Another fun Gladdy Gold mystery. These are becoming my new mystery comfort food. This one deals with some serious issues though. As the story unfolds, we get a peek into the past of one of Gladdy’s neighbors, a Holocaust survivor. I really like how the author is using a bigger story arc in this series, clearing up things that I’ve been wondering about since the first book. She did the same thing in the fourth book, which I talked about in this post.

Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer by Andrea Lyon

“Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded. Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a chance at redemption.”

This was one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It shines a light on the inequities of the justice system, for both the people accused and the people deciding their fate. Lyon’s stories don’t all have happy endings, but throughout the book there is a theme of hope. I’m so glad she had the opportunity to tell her story in book form, and I’m so glad that I read it.

Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones #3)

I’m not going to put a blurb describing this book because they either a) only talk about the past books/ movies, or b) give away spoilers. Suffice it to say that this Bridget is a completely different Bridget that we all knew and loved from the first two books… or is she? Despite vastly different life circumstances, she is still hilariously self absorbed and accident prone.

I started this in West Virginia, but kept having to put it down. The *big spoiler-y part* was devastating to me and I had to take breaks so as to not ugly cry in public. But it made me laugh a lot, so it wasn’t too traumatizing. No I take it back, it was traumatizing! How could you do that, Helen Fielding??

Setting that aside, I found this book to be a little confusing. The time hopping around felt stilted. I kept trying to do math in my head to figure out how old certain characters were supposed to be at different points. That, and the transparent ending were the only bad points for me. Other than the *big spoiler-y part* Whyyyyyyyy? Ok it’s been a couple of weeks since I read this and I’m clearly still not over it. Read it if you want to laugh and snort drinks up your nose. But be prepared to have your heart broken before you finish the Prologue.

Those are a few of my latest reads. A good portion of November was taken up reading a forever-long biography. I’m taking a break from that one to read some holiday books this month. I’ll try to come back before the end of December to recap those (a lot of them are really short).

*Book blurbs taken from Goodreads and Amazon.

See more natterings about books here.

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