Monday, March 2, 2015

Good Books I Read In 2014 ~ Part 2. And A Short Update.

After driving to L.A. last Wednesday, I drove down the mountain to Bakersfield on Thursday for a medical checkup. I got very emotional as I came out of the radiology lab, saw the empty Jeep, where hubby always was waiting for me before. A beautiful drive though, through the mountain pass. 

The good news about my husband is that he is now maintaining a normal blood pressure without medication. The rest is about the same; he's been moved to the ICU in the liver specialty suite. He's still not awake. I get very frightened when I think about how long this has gone on - since Valentines's day. So I'm not doing so well today. 

Until I can come up with a new post (and catch up on yours), let me share this old draft with you. It's part two of the good books I read in 2014. I hope you enjoy it:

I know this much is true, by Wally Lamb

I love Wally Lamb's humanity and the poignant books he writes. This book tells a pretty disturbing story of the lives of twin boys, one who later becomes a paranoid schizophrenic. His brother, Dominick, narrates the book and touches your heart as he feels the burden of caring for his brother. There's a book within this book, a forgotten manuscript written by the boys' Italian immigrant grandfather. It becomes a big part of the story, as Dominick, the healthy twin, studies it in an attempt to learn more about his family's history.

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

After I finished The Goldfinch, I decided to read The Secret History, Donna Tartt's first novel. I soon realized that I had read it, I guess when it was first published in the 1990s. Even though the characters in this book are just as psychologically damaged (worse, actually) as the ones in The Goldfinch, they are without the whiny self-pity I so didn't like in that book. Instead, I enjoyed this tightly wound mystery a lot.
Clara and Mr Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland 

The story of Clara Driscoll, a professional woman in the late 1800s, who is also an artist. As the head of the women's division at Tiffany's New York studio, Clara conceives of, and designs most of the leaded-glass lamps that became the iconic signature for which Tiffany Studio is still remembered. Clara is never recognized for her artistic contributions and, since Mr. Tiffany does not employ married women, Clara must eventually make a difficult decision. 

I found this to be a very interesting book about the life and struggles of a professional woman a little over 100 years ago. As talented as she was, both as a manager and an artist, Clara had few options. It brought to mind how much we take for granted today.

Children's and YA Books of 2014

The Fault in our Stars, by John Green

A book about teenagers with cancer that somehow helped me deal better with my husband's diagnosis. After all, the boy and girl were so very young......  

A best seller with a movie out, I think nothing more needs to be said. Except that it made me want to read other books by this author. 

Hibbs The Cub with No Clue, by Roland Yeomans

Hibbs came into my life as hungry bears, real live ones, were raiding our trash bins. Falling in love with this clueless, but always hopeful cub, who learns about life while walking through a strange and dangerous valley, I wanted to grab a real cub and hug it. Instead I read on, smiling.

The Butterfly Basket, by C. A. Waldman

I posted an in-depth review of this book about life in our canyon during the Great Depression here. It is a delightful book about a young girl learning about life, nature, traditions, and friendship. 


2014 was a tough year for me, and when life gets difficult I read mysteries, police procedurals (in the great Swedish tradition), and fast moving detective novels. Those of you who are familiar with Kathy Reichs' books can perhaps understand how thrilled I was to come across them.

Once I discovered her books, around October, I spent much of my time reading about the adventures of Dr. Tempe Brennan, a crime- solving forensic anthropologist (also featured in the popular TV show Bones, which I have not seen and don't plan to watch). 

And then there was S, which I began to read and put away after reaching the middle of the book. It is a strange, unpleasant even, read, but intriguing as well. I will definitely get back to it eventually. 

Please click  here if you are interested in checking out Part 1 of the good books I read in 2014.


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