For the Dead

I am enjoying the Poke Rafferty crime series of Timothy Hallinan more and more with each novel.  The overarching background story of Poke, his wife Rose who is an ex-bar girl,  and Miao, an adopted street child, both unfolds and progresses as that tale moves along,  and they have a continuing circle of friends.  Poke’s main business is travel writing but the streets of Bangkok are filled with crime and Poke has training and experience in that area.

forthedead
For the Dead
by Timothy Hallinan
2014/ crime
read by Victor Bovine 10h 53m
rating:  A+
(#4 in the Poke Rafferty series)

I just finished The Fear Artist last month and it’s a good thing because this tale takes place only a couple months later so the final victims, Treasure and her mother Anna, are still pretty fresh in Poke’s mind along with the traumatic events of the climax of that episode.   Treasure is still in serious condition in a local institution, a hospital of sorts, and mom is still pretty disturbed emotionally.  The actual bad guy cops and their boss seem to have been taken care of,  but that may only be the surface level – there seems to be a higher level to this.  >>>>MORE (no spoilers) >>>> 

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Strong Women?

I recently read two very different novels about young female immigrants – the books were both rereads –my latest reviews:  Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (2009) and Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013).   Both authors are themselves immigrants, from Ireland and Nigeria respectively,  Adichie is young and female while Tóibín is somewhat older and male (which may make no difference).  Brooklyn takes place in Ireland and New York in the 1950s,  Americanah is set in Nigeria, Philadelphia and Baltimore plus a bit in London.
>>>>MORE>>>> 

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Americana (x3)

UnknownAmericana  (x3)
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria/US)
2013/ 496 pages
read by Adjoa Andoh-  17h 28m
rating: 9.5  / contemp.  immigrant fiction
(read and listened)

A reading group decided to read this and although I’ve read it twice (back-to-back in 2013) I decided to try the Audible version as a reminder read.   I’m glad I did – the narrator, Adjoa Andoh,  is new to me and very good.  And as with all really good books, I made several other “discoveries” on this reading.  (So I have upped my rating to a 9.5 – which is incredibly good for me.)

My prior review with no spoilers is at:
https://beckylindroos.wordpress.com/012011-2/2014-2/072013-2/americanah-2/

And there is a “Notes” section (with spoilers) at:
https://beckylindroos.wordpress.com/012011-2/2014-2/072013-2/americanah-2/americanah/

>>>>MORE>>>> 

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Avenue of Mysteries x2

avenueAvenue of Mysteries
by John Irving
2015 / 480 pages
read by Armando Duran  20h 50m
rating:  8.5
(second reading – read and listened)

So I decided to go ahead and read it a second time and I am so glad I did.  There is a lot of very interesting and enjoyable material here – my mind got clouded with the sex and circus tricks.

The frame story is that of the grown Juan Diego, a moderately famous writer who has lived in Iowa for forty years and his trip to Manila, a mission of sorts.  Juan Diego was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and lived there with his sister, mother, a father figure, and various other people until he was fourteen.  The children slept at the home of orphans run by the Jesuits but they spent their days in a shack at the trash dump with other “Lost Children.”
>>>>MORE (no spoilers)>>>> 

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Avenue of Mysteries

avenueAvenue of Mysteries
by John Irving
2015 / 480 pages
read by Armando Duran  20h 50m
rating: 7.5 /  general fiction – humorous

I started listening to the sample and it sounded so good – wonderful – two kids in a dump in Mexico with one teaching himself how to read and the other learning from him – one older extraordinarily intelligent, the younger strangely insightful – and the Catholic church priests take such a loving interest.   I almost bought the Kindle version to go along with the Audible,  but I fortunately scanned a brief review first and –  um … I don’t think so.  It was going to be all I could do to get through the Audible because  it’s Irving up to his usual circus tricks –  sex and love amongst the crippled or elderly, general weirdness, animals, dreams,  and some Catholic bashing. (ho-hum)  >>>>MORE (no spoilers)>>>>

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The Summer Before the War

summerThe Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson
2016 / 498 pages  (ARC – Kindle)
rating: 9.25  /  historical fiction
(With thanks to Random House via Netgalley for the advance reader copy!)

Good read – quite enjoyable but a warning – although it is never explicit,  this book does not pull punches.   For a good chunk of the novel I wanted called it a delightful satire.  Then some real life stuff happens –  difficult situations, hard choices and tragedies.

I first encountered Helen Simonson with her first novel,  Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,  a really delicious fiction I recommended to both my mom and my daughter and probably other folks online,  so I managed to get copy of Simonson’s second novel in  advance reader copy (ARC – from Netgalley)  form.  I’ve never done ARC before – we’ll see how it goes, but at least I’ve got something I’m looking forward to as a starter.

The setting is the small town of Rye in East Sussex England,  during the summer 1914.  These are the years of rising tensions about the wars in the Balkans,  suffragettes in the streets, labor uprisings,the clash between 19th century Victorian ways and new more modern ideas as well as the normal, petty local jealousies.  It’s Imperial England just past its prime and full of ignorance, arrogance, entrenched tradition, class issues and small minds.  >>>>MORE (no spoilers)>>>> 

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The Fear Artist

fearartisThe Fear Artist
by Timothy Hallinan
2012/ 342 pages
read by Victor Bovine – 12h 2m
rating:   A / crime

Poke Rafferty – a travel writer living in Bangkok with his Thai wife, Rose,  and their adopted daughter, Miao.  is in real trouble now because although Poke was minding his own business a man lands in Poke’s arms,  gets shot and dies.  Just before dying the man whispers the words,  “Eleanor,”  “Eckersley”  and “Cheyenne.”   He also drops a laundry ticket which Poke is able to pocket.

The police arrive, haul the dying man away, deny there was a shooting and harass Poke about his papers.  He gets home and tries to get on with his painting, but the police arrive there and this time Poke is taken in and interrogated rather harshly.  Nevertheless, he manages to be released.  During his absence his apartment has been searched and the cops are returning yet again.  This time he escapes out the window and starts living as a fugitive on the streets of Bangkok while looking for answers.   Meanwhile,  Rose and Miaow are up north visiting her relatives to escape the intense rains which threaten to flood the river and city. >>>>MORE (no spoilers)>>>> 

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