Picky Reader – 15

God on a Harley by Joan Brady.  This is the second Joan Brady book I’ve read, and maybe ? it’s the first she had published.  It’s a short and simple spiritual fable.  Even if you’re fairly far along on your own spiritual journey, there might be some reminders for you within its pages.  Bleedout was the first book of hers I read which I highly recommended in a previous Picky Reader blog. 

Lying with Strangers by James Grippando.  As you might know from previous Picky Reader posts, James Grippando is now my go-to guy for suspense.  I do believe I’ve raved and recommended the other books of his I’ve read.  Lying with Strangers, however, is not my favorite.  It started off well enough with a sympathetic character, Peyton, who is a pediatric resident, hard-working and dedicated.  Though she doesn’t realize it, she is being stalked.  Then comes Peyton’s husband, an attorney named Kevin, who’s feeling left out of Peyton’s busy life and seeks companionship elsewhere.  A lot of extraneous stuff seems to be thrown into the middle of this book and it seemed to me to be either choppily written or choppily edited.  I often felt like I was being lead somewhere and then met with a closed door for reasons that escaped me at the time and didn’t make sense to me later when whatever was behind the closed door was revealed.  Manipulation of this sort to create suspense doesn’t work for me.  It just annoys me.  But…I continued reading anyway, even though a lot of the middle of the book irritated me.  One of the first things a romance author learns is not to use a simple misunderstanding to create conflict between characters.  Peyton and Kevin couldn’t seem to communicate with each other and maybe if I’d had more insight into their characters I’d have understood why they had so much difficulty.  But I didn’t, and so I thought they were sort of ridiculous and immature.  As I often do with characters such as these, I wanted to shout, “Grow up!” at them.  I guessed one of the villains of the piece which always makes me want to pat myself on the back.  As for a recommendation, I’d say yes to Lying with Strangers, but more from an analytic point of view than for reading enjoyment.  I am always interested in how a suspense author sews a work together and it has to be truly horribly written to make me not read through to the end.  Even with my problems with the middle of the book, there was enough there at the beginning and at the end to make it worth my while.

The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley.  For one thing this book makes me want to visit Wales.  It’s set in Cardiff, which the author makes sound a bit like the adverse weather capital of the world, but her descriptions of the weather and the surroundings are so beautifully written I want to see it for myself.  I’m trying to put my finger on what made this book so engaging, since it centers around a rather self-absorbed character named Kate Flynn who tends to leave romantic/sexual destruction wherever she goes.  And yet she’s redeemed, I suppose, by the fact that she’s given up her successful academic life in London to return to Cardiff to care for her aging, ailing mother in the formerly grand but now crumbling home of her childhood.  Kate is one of those individuals who seems to have great impact on everyone she comes into contact with.  She draws others to her, yet attempts to keep them at an emotional distance.  The opposite of Kate is David, her best friend’s brother who is a stolid, potentially boring family man whose family seems to be coming apart at the seams.  The Master Bedroom offers an absorbing look at the lives and passions of both these characters as well as David’s teenage son Jamie.