Final Sail by Elaine Viets
(NAL Hardcover, 2012 272 pages)
Final Sail is the 11th book in the Dead-End Job Mystery series by Elaine Viets. In this book, Helen Hawthorne and her husband, Phil Sagemont, are private investigators that have started their own firm called Coronado Investigations. In Final Sail, the husband and wife team are working two cases. The first case involves a gold digger who may have poisoned her elderly husband for his money. The second case involves a private yacht and emerald smuggling.
Elaine Viets has held many dead-end jobs and uses those experiences in her novels. Viets has been a telemarketer, dress store clerk, babysitter, and even a weed puller. For Final Sail, Viets did research on working on a private yacht. Viets real life experience and extensive research make Helen Hawthorne a more realistic and sympathetic heroine.
Final Sail is a fun, fast read. In the background, Final Sail continues a plot point involving Helen’s ex-husband and her nephew that has been brewing for the last few novels. I hope the next novel in this series will resolve this mystery. I’ll be looking forward to reading the 12th novel in the Dead End Job Mystery series.
A Wanted Man by Lee Child
(Delacorte Press, 2012, 405 pages)
Jack Reacher, a former military cop, is hitch-hiking on a country road in Nebraska. He is picked up by a car with two men and a woman. All three are middle-aged and dressed in black pants and blue denim shirts. The men talk much more than the woman. Reacher realizes something is off about the trio after a few minor slip-ups he noticed. As they continue on their journey to Chicago, they start to run into police roadblocks on the interstate.
Back in a small town in Nebraska, a victim was found stabbed to death. His fingerprints were found in the FBI system and they matched an employee from The U.S. Department of State. The small town sheriff and FBI agents are trying to sort out the events encircling the murder. Again, Reacher relies on his intelligence and military cop trainings to try to put pieces together. Reacher survives and moves on with his journey to Virginia. The story is far-fetched in some parts. I still enjoyed the suspense, the developments and the unpredictable ending.
America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert
(Grand Central Publishing, 2012, 240 pages)
I watched The Colbert Report regularly before we cancelled cable a few years ago. I enjoyed his show. This book is equally provocative and entertaining. America Again has 10 chapters accompanied with pictures, sidebars and silly footnotes. Colbert tackles economic and social issues like jobs, healthcare, justice, Wall Street, presidential elections, and much more. I enjoyed his bizarre explanations, cynical commentaries and ridiculous conclusions at the end of each chapter. I had many laugh-out-loud moments. You’ll love the book if you are a Colbert fan. Here are two UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES from chapter 6 “Elections”:
England: In this supposed democracy, Queen Elizabeth has managed to win every election since 1952. Plus, at any time, Parliament can pass a resolution of “no confidence” and dissolve the government. May I remind you, this was also the plot of the most boring Star Wars.
Canada: With their laws mandating use of both French and English, candidates are forced to both kiss babies and French kiss babies. No, thanks.
Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser
(W.W. Norton and Company, 2012, 272 pages)
I finished this book in two days – primarily because the nature of the writing is easy to breeze through, but also because the book takes place in the area where I grew up in Michigan so it was fun to read about. The story revolves around a man named David who moved away from Detroit to live in Colorado. His father reaches out to him because David’s mother is battling dementia and his father needs him around to help. Around the same time David comes home he sees in the newspaper that his former high school girlfriend, Natalie, and her half-brother, Dirk, were murdered in Detroit. He feels compelled to reach out to her family and reconnects with her younger sister, Carolyn. They surprise each other when they realize there’s a mutual attraction.
David eventually commits to moving back to Detroit – he feels good about starting over where he came from. Things are complicated with Carolyn because she’s married and lives with her husband and child in California. The death of Dirk and Natalie remains a mystery and the book has chapters that offer flashbacks from 12 years ago when Dirk worked as an undercover FBI agent who was trying to clean up Detroit’s drug problem. There are some obvious connections but the story held my interest in spite of them.
This was an enjoyable mystery that I think would be a great travel/beach read. You’ll especially appreciate the book if you’re from around the Detroit area – you want to see this city reconnect with its former glory. It’s already made considerably progress…
Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell by Anne Edwards
(Ticknor & Fields, 1983, 369 pages)
Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell by Anne Edwards is the biography of Margaret “Peggy” Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1900. Mitchell grew up on stories about Atlanta before, during, and after the Civil War. Mitchell loved listening to and telling the stories about the War. These stories along with extensive research allowed her to write her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gone with the Wind.
In Road to Tara, Anne Edwards follows Mitchell’s life from her birth in 1900 until her death in 1949. Along the way, Edwards details facts in Mitchell’s life that probably provided the characters and plots in Gone with the Wind. For example, Margaret Mitchell was married twice. Her first husband had many similarities to one of the main characters of her book, Rhett Butler. The plantation, Tara, was modeled after her grandmother’s Fitzgerald plantation.
Road to Tara is an interesting look at the beginning of the 19th century as well as the story of Margaret Mitchell. Anne Edwards was inspired to write about Margaret Mitchell because she had previously written a biography about Vivien Leigh, the actress who played Scarlett in the movie version of Gone with the Wind. I recommend this book to those who like to read biographies or who are fans of Gone with the Wind.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
(Penguin, 2007, 450 pages)
I’d been wanting to read this book for ages and I’m so glad I finally picked it up! This was such an informative and engaging read – I’ll definitely read more of Pollan in the future. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma Pollan follows three different routes for food to make it to the table for dinner. The routes are: industrial, pastoral, and personal. These can otherwise be read as: factory farming, organic food, and hunting/gathering. The depth in which Pollan addresses the way we go about acquiring the food we eat is pretty impressive. It’s amazing to think of the lengths we go not to think about where our food comes from…
I think my favorite section was the pastoral/organic one – it resonated with me the most. I appreciated that Pollan didn’t spend too much time looking at the dark side of factory farms – the goal wasn’t to horrify, but rather inform the reader on what’s going on from a natural/scientific perspective. I think about food in a different light now and while I haven’t made any drastic changes yet (some are a little pricey) I have made a few small ones that I feel good about.
If you’re interested in food, quality nonfiction writing, and/or are interested in learning more about how your food gets to your plate I highly recommend this book. It was the winner of the James Beard Award and was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of their ten best books of the year.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2011, 576 pages)
Beatrice is a part of a futuristic society set in Chicago were everyone is divided into five different factions depending on their values and since Beatrice is 16-years-old, she must choose the faction she will dedicate her life to. The factions, Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), Amity (peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and Beatrice’s faction she grew up with Abnegation (selfless), all live different lifestyles and have different jobs to keep the society working and peaceful. Beatrice is torn on which faction to choose because if she leaves Abnegation, she will most likely never be welcomed into her family again. But Beatrice has never felt fully a part of Abnegation. Before the choosing ceremony Beatrice learns a dangerous secret about herself that she must keep hidden, but if used in the right way she might save everyone.
I don’t want to give too much about the plot line away but I thought this was a great read. The story line reminded me of a mix between The Hunger Games and The Giver. It was a really interesting idea and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the trilogy and see how the story turns out.