Sunday, August 2, 2015

Reading in July and Crime Fiction Pick of the Month

July was a very good reading month for me. The total was lower but the quality was very high. I  read a total of six books. My usual reading is crime fiction but this month I included a science fiction novel, Under the Dome by Stephen King. This was a huge book, over 1000 pages, but it was well worth the time I spent on it. Review to follow soon.

I also read a combination cookbook / memoir: Sacramental Magic In A Small-town Cafe: Recipes And Stories From Brother Juniper's Cafe by Peter Reinhart. I have had this book a long time, and I cannot remember when or why I bought it, nor why I took so long to read it. The author is very enthusiastic about the recipes developed at the cafe and expresses spirited opinions on the proper way to cook chili and barbecue dishes. I enjoyed it because it covered some of my favorite foods: chili (with beans), barbecue, and cole slaw. Peter and his wife were involved in this effort as part of a religious community, and he also talks about this spiritual element in his cooking and sharing food.

Moving on to the crime fiction books I read this month:

Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott
Skeleton in the Grass by Robert Barnard
Don't Lose Her by Jonathon King
Die with Me by Elena Forbes


I enjoyed every book I read this month and they all had their strong points. But it is very easy to pick a favorite. Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott was a great reading experience, and I am sure it will be on my list of best books I read in 2015.

This is the story of a mother and her daughter and their destructive relationship. The story is told mostly in first person by Christine, daughter of Eve Moran. She tells the story of her mother's mental illness and evil behavior, and her own life as a result of being manipulated by her mother for most of her childhood. The events are set in and around Philadelphia in the 1960s and 1970s. I have never been to the state of Pennsylvania, but I did live through those decades and the depiction of the time period seemed very authentic to me.

In the opening chapters, Eve kills a man and insists on treating it as an accident; and then proceeds to let Christine, at twelve years of age, take the blame. From that point on, Christine relates the background of Eve's problems, how her parents met and married, and how Eve's mental problems and behavior mold Christine's life. Thus this book has elements of crime fiction, but it is primarily a character study and the study of a very dysfunctional family.

The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise. Bloggers link to summary posts for the month, and identify a crime fiction best read of the month. Check out the link here to see the other bloggers' picks.

12 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a great reading month! Concrete Angel is on my list to try.

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    1. That's great, Keishon. I hope you like it.

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  2. Blogger ate my comment, but I will try again:
    Your endorsement of Patti Abbott's book is persuasive (i.e., she moves further up on my "must read" list), and I look forward to your review of the King book. BTW -- Great blog!

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    1. Thanks for trying again, R.T. Blogger does have problems regarding commenting. Patti's book is wonderful, in my opinion.

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  3. You did indeed have a good reading month, Tracy! And I can't blame you one bit for choosing Concrete Angel as your pick of the month. It's an excellent read in my opinion.

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    1. We agree on Concrete Angel, Margot. So many good thing packed into the story.

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  4. Tracy, Patti's book is already on my list and as for the Stephen King tome, it'd have to be a paperback or a hardback. I don't think I can read an ebook that long!

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    1. Prashant, I looked at the ebook of Under the Dome and that is where I saw how the chapters are organized. Which encouraged me to try the book. But I knew I would have to read it in paperback. Boy was it heavy though.

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  5. I really enjoyed Concrete Angel too - I always know it's a good book when I worry about one of the characters even after I'm finished (Christine in this instance). Good pick.

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    1. I agree, Bernadette, the story of Concrete Angel grabs you and gets you involved in the characters.

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  6. Well done on the 1000+ book - not one I'll be trying. I was a bit tempted with the Jonathan King - but I'll stick with what I already have for now. Ditto my other title from Patti Abbott.

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    1. A good month, Col, and I was happy with all the books. Under the Dome was like reading three books.

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