This has been an unusual month of reading- no theme! I admit that I do sometimes purposely read a series of books with a similar theme. I will link some of those themed months at the bottom for you! I have reviews for you now and books I can recommend.
For this month of June, I read a variety of books that had no common thread- except for being excellent! (By the way, I am working on Beach/Summer books for July!)
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It’s 1969 when the elderly and intoxicated “Sportcoat” weaves his way across the street of the housing projects and approaches the local drug pusher, Deems Clemens. Despite knowing this young man for years, Sportcoat pulls a pistol from his pocket and shoots him at close range with at least 16 witnesses.
What prompted this?
That is the mystery of the book and one that almost everyone talked about.
The morning after the shooting, the daily gathering of retired city workers, flophouse bums, bored housewives, and ex-convicts who congregated in the middle of the projects at the park bench near the flagpole to sip free coffee and salute Old Glory as it was raised to the sky had all kinds of theories about why old Sportcoat did it.
The characters, most of them with nicknames like Sportcoat, are brought to life as the book opens. You will meet the drug pushers, the friends of Deacon, the local Italian mobsters, and the Latinx of the neighborhood. After the shooting police officers investigate, but Sportcoat has disappeared and no one seems to know where he went. This includes the lively members of the Five Ends Baptist Church. Now, throw in the mysterious appearance of large quantities of cheese, a mobster looking for hidden treasure, the missing Christmas Club money, and the unusual way that Sportcoat’s wife died (but continues to visit him and talk to him) and you have a quirky fun book!
And, by the way, all of those things will magically weave together by the end.
Now, I must tell you a little about the writing style. The sentences are long and filled with descriptions that, alone, would be entertaining. String a few of these together, maybe even a whole page, and it becomes a little tedious to read. I found myself a few times, just wishing the author would get to the point.
However, I did keep reading- because I wanted to see what was going to happen to Sportcoat! The book will pull you in and you will be glad when the story meanders its way through solving all the mysteries! 4 stars for this one!
Such a simple story, yet heart-breaking, and a little bit up-lifting, too. It reminded me a lot of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. It had the same quality of sadness, quirky siblings, and unusual relationships. The central character is Macon, a traveling author that writes guide books for tourists. His guide books focus on practicality.
Macon is married to Sarah and their 12-year-old son was killed in a tragic shooting while away at summer camp. Now, Susan has decided to move out of their home. Macon descends into slovenly habits and can’t seem to cope with the sudden changes. His one respite seems to be Edward, his son’s dog. However, Edward behaves atrociously.
Then Macon meets Muriel at a vet’s office. This young, over-eager, talkative woman soon attaches herself to Macon and even begins to train Edward. Muriel was a breath of fresh air, although a little odd. In the meantime, Macon moves into his old childhood home to live with his sister and two brothers. And these three are really odd.
In the middle of this dysfunctional family unit, Macon begins to find his way – perhaps in part because of Muriel and her young son. There were moments of clarity – once Macon found himself examining a comment made by his wife, “After a certain age people just don’t have a choice. You are who I’m with. It’s too late for me to change. I’ve used up too much of my life now.”
So, who will Macon end up with? Muriel or Sarah? I did like this book, but be warned, it does have a tinge of sadness. I did like the way it ended! 4 stars for this one!
It was only after I finished this book that I discovered it was not a newly published one. The afterword of the book, written by the author, explains that this is his favorite of all the books he has written and he was very complimentary of the audio version (that I just listened to).
I frequently search for audiobooks that are highly recommended and this one was on a recent list of best audiobooks ever. I tried it. I loved it!
The story begins with Travis Cornell hiking in the woods and his path is blocked by a golden retriever. The dog will not let him continue hiking. Travis gives up and then takes the dog in. It is obviously a stray and he begins to care for the dog, noticing rather quickly that the dog is smarter than a normal dog. Travis names him Einstein.
Next, we meet Nora, a young woman living alone. She is being stalked by a serial rapist-type man and is going through horrendous treatment from him. One day in a park, Nora is rescued and meets Travis and Einstein. (I am leaving out the details of this encounter!)
As smart as Einstein is, it becomes certain that there is an underlying reason for it. It seems that a government facility nearby was experimenting with creating intelligent animals and Einstein was one of those victims. The animals have escaped and the bad news is, Einstein is the only friendly one. Also, one of those creatures, called the outsider, hates the dog and is intent on catching him, as are the agents from the genetic-altering laboratory and one crazed killer that somehow is part of the story.
I cannot tell you much more than this or ruin the story. I listened to this one and was so glad I did. The narrator was fabulous!
Trust me. Read this one. It is a thriller full of twists and turns and a story of hope- that people will do the right thing. There were moments, near the end, that I was sad- the books you don’t want to end are always the best! FIVE STARS
I normally suggest five books with my review pages- but this month there are three! I read a lot more in June, but a lot of them were just okay. Read my rating system below and you will understand!
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it – usually the way it ended stupidly. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
Book Reviews based on a theme: