1. Sara Blaedel, Only One Life (trans. Erik J. Macki and Tara F. Chace
2. Jacqueline Park, The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi
3. Elly Griffiths, The House at Sea's End
4. Aurélie Valognes, Mémé dans les Orties
5. Donato Carrisi, The Whisperer (trans. Shaun Whiteside)
6. Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins
7. Isabel Vincent, Dinner with Edward. Charming memoir about Vincent's friendship with an elderly widow still grieving deeply for his wife. Much of the friendship -- which sustained both Vincent through a marriage break-up and adjustment to life in a new city and Edward through his mourning -- was built around the weekly dinners he would cook for her. Wisdom wrapped in the sustenance of good food. . .
8. Peter Robinson, Sleeping in the Ground,
9. Lee Child, The Midnight Line
10. Edward St. Aubyn, Never Mind
11. Edward St. Aubyn, Bad News
12. Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
13. Val McDermid, Insidious Intent
14. Edward St. Aubyn, Some Hope
15. Edward St. Aubyn, Mother's Milk
16. Peter May, Extraordinary People
17. George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
18. Keigo Higashino, The Devotion of Suspect X (translator, Alexander O. Smith)
19. Ali Smith, Winter
20. Sara Baume, A Line Made by Walking
21. Gary Paul Nabhan, Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves: An American Naturalist in Italy-- I haven't finished this one yet -- I've been reading it aloud to Paul on road trips or as he cooks dinner.
22. Bernard McLaverty, A Midwinter Break
23. Thomas Perry, A String of Beads I love this mystery series featuring Jane Whitfield, who draws deeply on her Seneca heritage to help worthy candidates "disappear" into new lives. She does something a bit different in this last novel which I recommend -- but first, if you haven't, consider starting with the first in the series, Vanishing Act
24. Liane Moriarty, Truly Madly Guilty Paul brought this home from the library, and I enjoyed it as a quick read which, while light and entertaining, managed to plumb some depths about marriage and parenthood and the tough tug a mother faces in order to sustain a career or to continue as an artist. . .
25. Georges Simenon, Maigret et la Vielle Dame But she was so sweet, that dear old woman. . . hmmmm. Some lovely, nostalgic-but-not-too French-beach-towns here, Maigret remembering his youth. . .
26. Carol Matthews, Minerva's Owl: The Bereavement Phase of My Marriage
27. Elly Griffiths, A Room Full of Bones, a Ruth Galloway mystery
28. Edward St. Aubyn, At Last Last in the Patrick Melrose series, set at the funeral of Melrose's mother, and there's a fairly satisfying -- redemptive, even? -- ending to the series -- which we might have expected or hoped for, given that the narrative throughout mirrored St. Aubyn's personal life fairly closely and the writer is, after all, writing past the trauma. . .
29. Roz Chast, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant Chast's graphic memoir about caring for difficult, colourful, creative and brilliant parents in all their cranky and eccentric infirmity and memory loss. . . at huge expense to her family life and her work. . .
30. Elizabeth George, The Punishment She Deserves I always enjoy a Havers focus in these Lynley novels, and this one is very good. She's forced into close supervision by the Inspector with whom her protector Linley has a history, and this adds an interesting tension to the plot. Plus the notion of Havers tap-dancing? Really, you need to read this if you're up to date on your Elizabeth George mysteries, or start at the beginning of the series (lucky you!) if you're not.
31. Leila Slimane, Chanson Douce Okay, I was quickly skeptical when I started reading this -- published and on best-seller lists in English as The Perfect Nanny. I knew the book being packaged as thriller of the Gone Girl sort had won the Prix Goncourt, but besides the sensational packaging, the first chapter or so seemed to me to be pointing a finger at the guilt of career women who consign their children to others' care. But it's so much more than this, a real indictment of a social divide that allows both fathers and mothers alike to blur the line between family and employee, ignoring the real costs of the relationship, generally paid by the employee. . . Absolutely thought-provoking and compelling.
32. Michael Connelly, Two Kinds of Truth (a Harry Bosch mystery) I'm a Harry Bosch fan from way back, but not so much interested in his "Lincoln Lawyer" series -- this novel brings the half-brothers together and it was okay, but I'm finding Bosch a bit flat these days, to be honest. Much less development of, and focus on, his troubled personality, his knowledge of music, his relationship with his daughter than in the earlier books, and I guess character's always what draws me into a mystery.
33. Susan Hill, From the Heart. I love Hill's Simon Serrailler series and when I spotted this at the library, I thought I'd give it a try. More "literary" than her mysteries, it's a slim novel that examines the quiet life of a young woman trying to build a life around her love of literature and teaching in a time and place when the options for a lesbian were to keep that sexuality firmly hidden. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, yet gentle, poignant. . .
34. Anna Quindlen, Miller's Valley Bedside or even beach reading that nonetheless explores some social (and political/environmental) issues that deserve attention. I've always liked the way Quindlen, a former journalist, can do this.
35. Danielle Postel-Vinay, Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home I had to return this to the library before I finished it, but I enjoyed skimming it. As much as I admire the French lifestyle, I found the strict definitions of each room's function and decor -- at least as described by this American woman who married a French man and is raising a family with him in France -- more interesting, sometimes even amusing, than aspirational. I can see how this domestic architecture structures a way of life that leads to the satisfactions I note in that country, but I value our own freer arrangements for contemporary daily life. And there's unquestionably a huge influence, in that architecture, of class and of gender. . . .Bourgeois Patriarchy, I'm looking at you ;-)
36. Andrew Battershill, Pillow Okay, this is a stylish and interesting -- hip? -- take on the mystery genre. A parody in which the convoluted panoply of criminals chasing some ancient coins all bear names of French Surrealists. The humour is constant, quick, and clever in this heist-gone-wrong narrative; the misdirected hopes and flailing optimism of the ex-boxer protagonist did endear him to me, somehow, weirdly. . . Finally, I think it was a bit too clever for what I want out of a mystery, but I couldn't help but admire it, and you might too.
37. Elly Griffiths, A Dying Fall Yes, this is the year I decided to read all the Ruth Galloway!
38. Edna O'Brien, The Little Red Chairs Such a moving book, horrifying, loving, hopeful, daunting. . . the outward ripples of war and its horrors. The setting in a small Irish village and its surrounding countryside is beautifully wrought -- O'Brien's a master, of course -- and she was 85 when she wrote this, so all that experience! -- But also the portraits of immigrant life in London. And the main character's groping her way back to some kind of sanity after an unimaginably brutal experience (although O'Brien's writing makes imagine it, and then pulls us back to sanity as well). The book deserves so much more than this disjointed paragraph, but here's a review that will better tell you why you should, or might want to, read it.
39. Elly Griffiths, The Outcast Dead
40. Elizabeth Berg, Talk Before Sleep, I'd forgotten about Elizabeth Berg, but enjoyed a few of her books way back when I'd take them home to read -- "hand-selling research" in my bookstore days. This e-book caught my eye when I checked into the library online while travelling and it made a nice change from mystery novels (a break from what archaeologist Ruth Galloway was up to!) as a piece of light reading still substantive enough to engage. Indeed, if you're too close to the death of a beloved friend, you might find too much substance here, but I loved the gentle treatment of a close friendship between two women in their 30s/early 40s, the way their respectively changing marital status influenced and was influenced by that friendship. The constant movement between sorrow and humour -- some of the latter wry and contained, some of it goofily explosive. The protectiveness, the anger, the care -- not just between the narrator and her dying friend but within a tight sorority of strong women. .
41. Elly Griffiths, The Ghost Fields What can I say? We were travelling, and I needed something to read, and Ruth Galloway (not to mention Nelson and Cathbad and the little girl Ruth conceives in the first book in the series who grows to school-age by the last I've read . . . I've got one more of this to read -- at the library right now waiting for me to pick up -- and I must say I've really enjoyed getting to know Ruth and her friends, co-workers, lovers, daughter. . . . I think you might as well, although you might agree with me that her regular proximity to danger is perhaps becoming a bit strained. . .
42. Elly Griffiths, The Woman in Blue
43. Elly Griffiths, The Chalk Pit
44. Liam Callanan, Paris by the Book
There you go -- I must admit I'm inordinately pleased with myself for adding these few notes to the bare-bones reading listt of what I've read so far this year. Yay, me! I hope my "cheap and cheerful" comments might guide you to pluck a title or two for your summer reading -- let me know if that happens, and perhaps tell us where you're reading these days (some of you, I imagine, might be curled up in an armchair, perhaps by a fire, cozy against the New Zealand or Australian winter outside. Many of you, though, are trying to find some shade or a breeze to cool down, and perhaps there are a few splashes of saltwater rippling the pages of that paperback. . .
Of course we're all eager to compare reading notes, so if you have recommendations, do spill. . . .And in case you haven't already seen it, Sue has another book post up at High Heels in the Wilderness. I think that might be where I first learned of Elly Griffiths' books and I've made a few must-read notes from her latest suggestions.