Catching Up

My reading has slowed down a bit because I picked a couple of lengthy tomes last month that I’m still working on. I will post about those when I finish them. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ve recently read:

 66. The Night Gardener
by George Pelecanos
Pelecanos is in my top 2 favorite mystery writers (Walter Mosley being the other) and I am never disappointed with his work. In The Night Gardener, a teenager is found dead in a community garden and the crime is reminiscent of a series of similar ones that took place in the same manner around 20 years earlier.  And while the crime at the center of the novel is important, the main focus is on the three policemen working the case.  All were around when the original crimes occurred and recognize that this could be related.  Their lives have since taken them in different directions, but this morbid trip down memory lane rejuvenates them somewhat.  As always with Pelecanos, the city of D.C. is a major character as well. I will read anything this dude writes.

 67. What a Westmoreland Wants
by Brenda Jackson
Another must-read author for me when I want a really well-written romance book.  Callum Austell is a ranch owner from Australia, here in America to help a friend run his own ranch. He falls in love with his friends little sister and waits three years to let her know how he feels by offering her the opportunity to decorate his newly built home.  Oh, and the house is in Australia. Callum hopes that by getting her on his turf he can convince her to take him seriously.

 68. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
by Danielle Evans
That title alone is awesome. Need I say more? Magnificently well-written books like this are the reason that I’m beginning to really like short story collections. With the exception of one or two, most of these stories focus on young African-American or mixed-race women who are struggling with their current or past realities.  In one, a mixed-race teen who is sent to spend the summer in the South with her White grandmother is faced head-on with issues of race and family.  In another, two young girls sneaking out to the club with fake i.d.’s make radically different decisions that affect the outcome of their night.  I loved that each of these stories are not wrapped up with a pretty bow and they can easily stand alone as novel when fleshed out. Treat yourself to this book.

 69.  Twice the Temptation
by Rochelle Alers
In the latest in The Eatons series,  Denise Eaton is faced with the abrupt news that the rent on the building that houses the day-care center she worked to hard to open is being raised to a level that she can’t afford.  The company that is her new landlord is owned by her ex-boyfriend from college who offers her a deal to pose as his girlfriend for the summer in exchange for keeping the rent affordable. It’s all a part of Rhett Ferrell’s revenge plot to pay her back for breaking up with him and dating his sworn enemy.

70.  The Style Checklist:  The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials For You
by Lloyd Boston
Although you wouldn’t guess it by seeing me in my work “uniform” every day, I read a lot about fashion.  There are a lot of books out there to help to build your wardrobe, but none as well thought out or comprehensive as this one.  Boston gives you timeless essentials to help you get dressed for all occasions and even shows you how to mix and match and add in more trendier options when they arise.  The best thing about this book is that you can pick it up again in 10 years and the clothes and accessories will still be relevant.  Loved it!

24. The Turnaround

by George Pelecanos

started 5/13 finished 5/23

With the exception of Tallahassee, Florida, I have only lived in major cities (see previous post) so I assume that every city has its own language and dialect. When I am especially homesick for D.C., I watch The Wire (because there really hasn’t been a tv show based in the nation’s capital with African-American actors since 227). The accent of Black people in Maryland is very distinct – “ar” is pronounced as “er”, “oo” is pronounced “ew”. If you watch The Wire, take note of the character Prop Joe – I swoon when I hear him talk.
I get the same feeling when I read any work by George Pelecanos (a sometime producer and writer for The Wire). He captures the voices of all of the residents of Washington, DC so expertly I feel like I am at home. The Turnaround, his latest book (to be published in August 2008) is a slight departure from his usual gritty, noir tales. Six teenagers are involved in a racially motivated crime that changes all of their lives. It is now 35 years later and one of the men is out of jail and looking for revenge and compensation, while another reaches out for reconciliation. Told against the backdrop of the Iraq war, this novel further illustrates the way that Pelecanos (in all of his books) is able to show the commonalities of the different types of people who inhabit my favorite city.