2014 in Books (Part 1)

My book reading goal for 2014 was 24 books. Apparently that was one of those “lofty” goals I mentioned in the last post. But something is better than nothing, and ten books read is better than zero books read. So here is the first installment of my 2014 book list.

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Why did you choose this book?
I loved the title! And I bought it with a Barnes & Noble gift card that I got for Christmas in 2013 so I thought it was an appropriate choice for my first book of 2014.

What is your three-sentence synopsis?
A surprise attack at a murder scene leaves one of Chief Detective Carl Mørck’s assistants dead, the other paralyzed, and the detective himself scarred physically and emotionally. Returning to work after medical leave, the brilliant but highly abrasive Mørck discovers he’s been transferred to the newly established Department Q. As the sole detective assigned to review “unsolved cases deserving special scrutiny”, Carl Mørck intends to do nothing more in his new basement office than mark the days til retirement, but the case files of a young politician who disappeared without a trace five years ago prove too tempting to resist.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Assad, an immigrant from the Middle East who is assigned to be Detective Mørck’s assistant after pestering Mørck’s supervisor every day for a month. Assad steals every scene he is in, and his undaunted fascination with anything related to police work perfectly counters Mørck’s cynical apathy.

What is one thing you would change in this book?
The R-rated language. While I think the language used by some of the characters is realistic and not necessarily gratuitous, I know there are readers who will skip this book for that reason, and I wish everyone who enjoys mysteries could experience this brilliant mystery thriller.

What does the book do really well?
The book effectively shows how the trauma of the shooting affected Mørck, even as he denies that anything is wrong. I was also impressed that it provides a plausible explanation for the outlandish captivity that Merete Lynnggaard finds herself in. The book definitely builds compelling suspense!

Would you read something else by this author? Why or why not?
I would like to read the sequel to this book to see more of Carl and Assad’s relationship and to see if Carl grows as a character (or remains as stagnant as Christie’s Poirot). I’d also like to see how Adler-Olsen plots another thriller.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Why did you choose this book?
I wanted the try a new author. The cover caught my eye and the prologue piqued my interest.

What is your three-sentence synopsis?
Midwife Amy Lang and Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland have several things in common: a dedication to serving others in their professions, an attraction for each other, a love of the ocean and North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and the grief of losing a sibling in the Atlantic waves. What Amy doesn’t know is that they also share a niece, the daughter of her brother Ben and Curtis’ sister Gina. But Curtis isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and Amy’s obsession with proving that her brother’s death wasn’t an accident threatens more than just her own relationships and professional dreams.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Edith, Curtis’ aunt, who’s confidence in who she is and the life she creates for herself inspires me.

What is one this you would change about the book?
The ending! Ugh! Some of the people had to act very out of character in order to achieve the happy ending which made me disbelieve the whole scenario that the mystery is based on. And yes, this is romance mystery, so yes, I knew the story would have a Hollywood ending, but the last chapter was so full of cheese and syrup that it was nauseating.

What did the book do really well?
The book’s easy prose painted clear and lovely scenes with characters that were distinct from each other, which made it a light, fun read (until the end).

Would you read something else by this author? Why or why not?
Probably not, which is disappointing because I enjoyed experiencing Hope Beach and it’s community so vividly and this book is part of a series of novels set in the same place, but ending was so off-putting that I think I’ll visit elsewhere for a vacation-via-book experience.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Zen Attitude by Sujata Massey

Why did you choose this book?
Other than myth and fairy tales, I’ve never read any story based in Japan and a mystery set in modern Tokyo would let me “visit” a new place.

What is your three-sentence synopsis?
Rei Shimura, a Japanese-American antiques dealer, thinks that the worst thing about taking the commission to find an ancient tansu for one of her regular clients is that she missed out on a free vacation to Thailand with her boyfriend and ended up over-paying for the piece. But that was before Rei discovered that the antique was a fake and had to admit her failure to her client. Still, even that turned out to be a piece of cake compared to figuring out what the burglars who ransacked the knock-off tansu (and the rest of her apartment) were looking for and why the police think she’s mixed up in a murder.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Jun Kuroi, a car salesman; I was surprised by him.

What is one this you would change about the book?
The relationship between Rei and her boyfriend Hugh. Come on, people! If you are able run your own business (Rei) and work for an international firm (Hugh), then you should be able to have a mature conversation with each other rather than these “Hide me–I don’t want to see him” antics that are usually relegated to junior high school relationships.

What did the book do really well?
It provides an interesting glimpse of modern life in a different culture. The mystery was decently plotted as well.

Would you read something else by this author? Why or why not?
I would not read another book with Rei Shimura as a character; I don’t have the patience for the needless drama that she creates for herself. I might read another book by Sujata Massey if it featured different characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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About ChainThree

I am a daughter, sister, wife and aunt who has always loved a good yarn.
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