I probably need to get into another series like, as my mother would say, I need a hole in my head, but I've added another to my plate. (Check back tomorrow for a post about the various series I'm reading.) I'd head a lot about the Louise Penny Chief Inspector Gamache series, now on book 11, I believe, especially from Anne Bogel, who loves the books. I'm always up for a good mystery, so I thought I'd try the first book and decide from there. I'm told, again by Anne, that the series doesn't really take off until book 4, which seems like a lot of investment, but after the first book I think I'm willing to wade through a couple lesser titles to get to the really good stuff. Book one, Still Life, is the story of the death of a well-liked elderly woman in the woods of the quaint Quebec town of Three Pines. Was it a hunting accident or was it murder? And if it was murder, which of her neighbors or friends had the motive? This was a simple, straight-forward mystery. There were no real twists or turns, no bombshells, just a couple red herrings. Where Penny shone was not necessarily in the crime aspect of the novel, but in the characters and setting of the novel. The characters felt real, the dialogue wasn't bad, and the pacing was perfect. The book never lagged, but it never sped too fast and left its reader behind. The crime was not grisly, so those who avoid murder mysteries because of blood or gory detail, needn't worry. I was surprised by the amount of swearing; there wasn't a lot, but I was expecting none, and indeed, the plot wouldn't have suffered had there been none. Also, there are a number of crass homosexual jokes told by a gay couple that made me make my "blech" face. Bottom line, though, I liked this one enough to continue with the series, which is a recommendation in itself. My rating: 3 stars.
I don't know how to review Sharon Olds' Odes. I have been reading Sharon Olds for years; she's always been one of my favorite poets. I was expecting a book of odes like Pablo Neruda's famous Odes to Common Things, where he writes about socks and tomatoes. I really should have known better. I think you'll have to check out the table of contents on Amazon to get an idea of exactly what you'll find in this one. As far as I'll go is to tell you these poems are by and large odes to sexual organs, sexual acts, bodily functions, and other unmentionable things. While Olds' poetry has always contained pockets of this kind of poem, here was a whole book of them, one after another. It kind of made me sick to my stomach. I had a hard time appreciating the poems, the skill, or metaphor, because the subject matter was so coarse. To follow up a collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning poems (Stag's Leap) with this was shocking. And that's the thing: I felt like the collection was going for shock value. I didn't like this, and I can't imagine ever rereading it. My rating: 2 stars.
This week I'll continue with:
I'm still loving Four Seasons in Rome. I've had a hard time reading it while listening to the news lately, though, because the news has been so captivating.
I'm liking Counting Sheep, but still hoping for another full-length Calpurnia Tate book soon.
My current audiobook is Rules of Civility, and while it won't overtake my love of A Gentleman in Moscow, I can appreciate that Towles is a masterful writer. His plots are thin, but his characters are robust. He doesn't write about big events, but the books pull you helplessly along anyway.
I've been debating which of the two June reads that I have left would be next, but I think I've decided on Amy Dickinson's Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things.