My first thought as I finished “M is for Malice” was, sure, the mystery solved, but I’m still not a big fan of the genre. That fact is a good thing because, holy Toledo, she wrote A LOT of these, and I just don’t have the time to add that much fiction to my must read dream list.
That being said, I did enjoy the book. It was not a bad book, and I don’t mean that in a “not good, either” kind of way. It was great! It felt classic with a twist. And a strong female protagonist, that isn’t one of those “I hate men” kind? Yes, please.
Kinsey is a down-to-earth, intelligent, independent (and vulnerable) woman that I really connected with. She jumped off the page as someone I could be great friends with. And the more I read, the more I loved her. We had a lot of common.
Like I said in my first post about this book, my cousin introduced me to it as something her and her mother (one of my favorite “instant like” people) used to read a lot of. I was hesitant to pick it up at first. I’m not a fan of mysteries and most modern novels leave me wishing I had spent the time in a classic. “Hold the phone,” I thought. If this is a character one that my (much loved) aunt and cousin loved, wouldn’t it be likely that I’d love them too?
Now I’m sitting here wishing I could ask my aunt what she loved about the books so much. Stupid mortality.
My final thoughts on this book are these: great book, loved Kinsey, loved the progression of the story (although I immediately knew who really did it when that character entered, I was just reading on to find out how and why). Loved that it was set in Southern California, along with all the description of the weather and beaches, etc. I loved Kinsey’s complicated relationship with Dietz and wanted to know more, hoping it would grow and mature.
There were parts of the book that felt superfluous, descriptions of things that I didn’t feel made the story move forward or give me insight. They were colorful and enjoyable, but extra. And the story and characters are simple and straightforward. I craved more depth, more twist, more discovery of their souls. This felt like tv, which I love, but I wanted more.
I liked it. I’m glad I read it. And I’m looking forward to reading some of the fan fiction my cousin is dreaming up. Maybe I’ll post some here if she’ll let me!
M is For Malice is completely new to me. Believe it or not, my dear reader, I had never heard of Sue Grafton until my cousin mentioned her.
Cousin…that’s what you call your uncle’s ex-wife’s daughter, right? My family can get a tad convoluted. We don’t care. If you’re my parents age, you’re an aunt or uncle. If you’re my age, you’re a cousin. That’s how we roll!
The story goes like this, my cousin messaged me about wanting to write some fan fiction about a certain character from a series of books that I’ve never read by an author I’d never heard of. We thought maybe we could help each other out by having someone to be accountable to, but I’m not going to be much help if I don’t know anything about the character.
Time for some research!
I know from some exploration that M is for Malice is not the first book in this series, but I’ve also read the books stand alone, so it doesn’t really matter where you start and since she mentioned she had started with this one, so will I.
One caveat, I’m not a big fan of murder mysteries, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them. This past year, I have stumbled across two other books in this genre and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. The first was “Prayer for the Dead” by David Wiltse (1991) and it said it was a “thriller” but felt more like a murder mystery/detective story to me. And the second was “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler (1939), THE original classic. And I have yet to watch the movie of that one…bad me! I promise to get that on my watch list ASAP! I had forgotten about it until just now.
Look a chicken!
I’m curious how this book will compare to the others I’ve read. Published in 1996, with a female author and protagonist, I’m sure it will be different. But how? And what about the era? The Big Sleep was written in 1939 and the characters were gorgeous, very much reflecting the time they were written in. Prayer for the Dead was also written in the 90’s but with an all-male cast with a male point of view. Will I “connect” with this book more because of its female perspective? I’m excited to find out.
In fact, I think I’ll start reading right now!
Have you read “M is For Malice” in the past, or any of Sue Grafton’s other books? What did you think? Inquiring minds want to know!
Big news, my friends! This morning, as I was watering the yard just as the sun rose up over the horizon, I felt cool. I know! It’s so exciting! Fall is coming! The wind blowing across the desert from the south felt cool and damp, bringing up a few goosebumps as I put some water on my poor lilacs. Look at these things!
They just don’t like the summer heat. In the early spring, they get beautifully green and full of leaves and then burst into gorgeous purple bloom, filling my yard with their perfume, but as the summer wears on, they burn up in the harsh sun. I have them on the east side of my house, along a wall so that by 1pm they are in the shade, but no matter how much water I put on them, they still burn up. It’s tragic.
This time of year, with a little bit of monsoon moisture in the air, they start to come back, but I’m thinking about giving up on them. They require so much water and some seasonal attention, bloom only once for about a week, and then they are gone. Maybe I should find them a new home.
That goes for this cherry tree too. It just can’t take the 115 temps and dry summer sun. It’s a waste of resources. The apple tree doesn’t mind the weather. Now if I can get more than one apple to grow on it! I’ve never been much of a gardener. That’s one of the reasons I love the desert. I can move rocks around, rake out the dead leaves, put some metal sculptures around (in my case, old car parts), and then sit back and enjoy the view. I only run into trouble when I try to grow things that don’t belong out here.
Another step toward a more minimalist lifestyle will include a change in what I deliberately grow in my yard. Things that require a lot of water and maintenance will need to go. I’m reserving water for my shade trees alone. I do love spending time playing out there, but that can be done with a rake and gloves, working around the things that naturally grow here. Besides, it leaves me more time to read!
Speaking of which…
I started and finished “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler in five days! I found it in a disappointing used bookstore in Lake Elsinore a few months ago. It’s a classic! Philp Marlowe, the quintessential private eye. If you’re thinking Humphrey Bogart, you got it. I read the first paragraph to my son and he immediately added it to his own ever growing TBR pile.
Lines like, “…the general look of a man it would pay to get along with.” And “The old man dragged his voice up from the bottom of a well and said,” This book is amazing.
A couple of things though. First of all, it rains an awful lot in Los Angeles in this book. Makes me wonder. Did it rain more in the 1930’s or did Raymond Chandler not know LA that well?
And did he invent this genre? Every private detective movie I’ve ever seen is based on these characters, right down to “Who Killed Roger Rabbit?” If I could go back in time to the 1930’s, would I see snippets of these people in real life? Would a real private detective from that time think this author was completely off his rocker?
The Big Sleep was a simple story but it had wonderful twists. There was more than one moment when I yelled out loud, “I knew it! Dude! What were you thinking?” And yes, I have the movie cued up to watch ASAP.
Have you read “The Big Sleep” or others like it? Do you love those old movies as much as I do? Let me know in the comments!
Picked up “My Name is Asher Lev” from the donate pile because I saw it was written by Chaim Potok. I read The Chosen years ago at a Leadership Education mini-conference and was left with a beautiful impression. What was it about? All I remember is Hasidic Jews in New York, a father/son relationship, and learning that some Jews thought (and still believe) a State of Israel was a bad idea. Maybe I’ll read it again.
I wasn’t sure what to pick up off my WAY over-grown TBR shelf next, but I knew I wanted a novel and something meatier than Stephen King this time. I’m glad my hand was drawn to this one.
From the first page of chapter one:
“So strong words are being written and spoken about me, myths are being generated: I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years.
Well, I am none of those things. And yet, in all honesty, I confess that my accusers are not altogether wrong: I am indeed, in some way, all of those things.
The fact is that gossip, rumors, mythmaking, and news stories are not appropriate vehicles for the communication of nuances of truth, those subtle tonalities that are often the truly crucial elements in a casual chain.”
It grabbed me. “Gossip, rumors, mythmaking, and news stories” seem to be all we have these days. And we are all basing our decisions on them. Decisions about what to do with our bodies, our money, who our enemies are, who should be cast out or kept close. This is the thing that makes me the saddest right now. It’s been a downward spiral for several years, starting long BCB (before covid bullshit, still hoping that catches on).
This is why I’ve shunned social media and online news. This is why I read books, the deep ones, the ones that want to show me something, not just entertain me for a few hours. And this one looks like it’s going to be a winner.
Written in 1972. Hasidic Jews, New York, 1950’s, communists, Stalin, Russians…one hundred pages in and I’ve already teared up, gasped in surprise, and had my heart broken. I can’t wait to hear what happens to him as he gets older. Where does his art take him? Is it a gift from the Master of the Universe or the other one?
PS It’s still blazing hot out here. We’ve seen far too many 115 degree days this summer. But I when I went to bed last night, it was almost dark. That’s a good sign. The seasons do still change. Fall is coming. I just need to wait it out!
“Prayer for the Dead,” a cheap paperback thriller novel? Really, Michelle?
Yep. And what brought my attention to it? The chilling title and it was free. What can I say? I’m easy.
I’m on page 108 and it’s exactly what I thought it would be. Not a bad book, but it’s fairly predictable so far, like watching a Netflix crime drama. It starts off with creepy suspense, there’s some cat and mouse, some sexual tension and release, and, of course, any leads that they find, no matter how obscure, are exactly what they need to catch the bad guy. That last bit is what makes me roll my eyes. I’ve been on the receiving end of police work like that. It’s a sore spot.
It is entertaining, I’ll say that. And since I’m already reading two informational books that I’m trying to digest slowly, this will help give me a break between the more difficult reads. I don’t have to think much about this book. It’s the one to read for half an hour with my coffee. It’ll wake me up before I get to the meat, an appetizer.
I don’t think there will be many posts about this book in the coming days. I haven’t underlined or starred a single sentence. I have made the occasional comment about its crime drama similarities and the obvious, the good guy shares some of the same mental traps as the bad guy, hints.
I’ll keep reading it though. Maybe there will be a surprising twist to it?
Do you read novels for fun? I usually read horror, like King or Koontz, when I’m in the mood for entertainment. Horror/thriller novels are fun reads, scarier and more suspenseful in print than on the screen almost every time. Have you read Prayer for the Dead or anything else by David Wiltse? I’d never heard of either until I saw it in the free pile. I honestly just loved the cover. It reminded me of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Jeez…that reminds me. I read that when I was in high school and it terrified me. I should read it again!
My latest “New Read” is another used book I picked up on a whim. Why did I snatch up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak from the free used book pile? Let me count the ways!
I vaguely recall it being a movie.
It has “book” in the title.
When I choose a new book to read, I usually try to write a few words before I even read the first pages, but I was on a writing hiatus and refused to open my laptop until today. I started reading it over the weekend, so I’m pretty far into it at the moment.
On page four, the note “already hooked” is penciled in. I am. Death is the narrator. Make that reason #4 to read it. And the language. I’m melting! Here are a few examples:
“After a collection of minutes, the smoke exhausted itself.”
“…each person stood and played with the quietness of it.”
“…the passengers slid out of it as if from a torn package.”
Holy. Wow. There are more. And it isn’t overdone, flowery stuff. Those words are put together in a way that creates an image in your mind instantly, the way perfect fiction should. I wonder, though, how they will create that in the movie. Will is just show you with actual pictures? I don’t think it will be the same.
And, yes, I know, movies never are the same, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. They are someone else’s interpretation of the words in visual form, much like the words I write here are mine in the form of my own words.
Side note: I don’t think watching a movie that is exactly like the book would be interesting. In fact, I know it wouldn’t. When I see that a show I’m watching is based on a book, I usually go running for the book to see if I can get another point of view on the story, or more details. But these shows, a limited series of a dozen hour-long segments or more instead of a two-hour movie, follow the book so closely that there is no need to read the book. It’s redundant. The Last Kingdom comes to mind.
Further side note: I love that. I’m completely enamored with this new TV format, streaming services producing a limited series based on a book or period of history. It’s freaking awesome. We recently binge-watched Versailles and loved every minute of it. No, it’s not completely historically accurate, but it’s fun to watch and then look up things and read more, find out what really happened. It’s like a springboard to create the interest needed to search out more information.
There was a new War & Peace that came out recently that was so awesome that I was excited to share it with my non-reader family. We enjoyed a story together, with me filling in some of the details that were missing from the show.
Anyhow, is it strange to read a book wondering how they will create the same feeling in a movie? I’m excited to find out, but I’m trying not to rush through reading it.
As per usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak? Have you seen the movie? Would you like to read it along with me? Jump over to Thriftbooks.com and pick up a copy. And don’t forget to leave me a comment!
Oooooohh…Nazi story! I’m always ready for Nazi stories, mostly because my boys are big WWII history buffs and it gives me something to say, “Hey guys! Look at this!” or “Is this true?” They know everything.
The Plot Against America is an alternative history, so it will be extra fun. I’m hoping it’s not one of those stories about how if we had just done this one thing differently, everything would have been so much better. Or a story about why it was right to get involved and save the day like we did because the U.S. was so completely innocent and anti-Nazi party right from the start.
History looks so simple from the present. We can look back at the moves that were made with the information that we have right now and think we could have done it better or worse. But the truth is that we can’t possibly know. There are just too many variables. The results of each choice change the next group of choices in ways we can’t predict.
I picked up the book, started to read the back cover, as usually do only to be reminded of the The Man in the High Castle. I loved that show, but I don’t think this book will be all crazy sci-fi. It sounds like it might be more politically based. What would have happened if we had a different president and didn’t join the Allies to fight against Hitler?
This is another book picked out from the great book redistribution event last year. I didn’t know anything about it other than what’s on the cover. A quick internet search as revealed that it was made into an HBO mini-series last year…that I’ve never heard of. So much to watch that never comes across my Netflix “suggested for you” feed.
And so many apparently famous authors that I’ve never heard of! I was just reading about Philip Roth and found a “scathing” biography about him. It sounds damn racy and I’m thinking of adding that to my wishlist. I think I’ll read this book first though. If I like it, I’ll read another one by him and then the biography.
Have you read The Plot Against America? Did you know about the mini-series or Philip Roth? Am I just that clueless, or are there just so many things to know about that it’s inevitable that many things fall through the cracks of awareness?
Go over and get the book at Thriftbooks.com if you want to read it with me and tell me what you think!
I grabbed The Green Mile off the big library redistribution pile simply because it was King, and The Green Mile was one of my favorite movies. I love this edition because it has “Soon to be a major motion picture!” on the cover. The movie came out in 1999 and the book form came out in 1997. Twenty year old paperback. Win!
I have a goal in my life…to read every book Stephen King wrote. No, not really. I was a huge fan of him in high school and college, but the more of them that I read, the more I feel like many of his books are wonderful but a little predictable. They are comfort stories.
Here’s something I learned from reading both of the introductions. (I know…who does that?) The book was originally a series of shorter books which he wrote as they were published. He didn’t know where the story would take him when the first one was published. I’m imagining writing for THAT kind of deadline and getting nauseous. That’s a rare author that can do that. And the story ended up great! Surprise!
In the introduction, he talked about how Charles Dickens did the same thing but the story lasted years and how he used to read serial stories in The Saturday Evening Post.
“…I liked it because the end of each episode made the reader an almost equal participant with the writer – you had a whole week to try to figure out the next twist of the snake. Also, one read and experienced these stories more intensely, it seemed to me, because they were rationed. You couldn’t gulp, even if you wanted to (and if the story was good, you did).”
It reminds me of why you don’t ration things. It makes people want more of it, even if it’s not good, healthy, or productive. Telling others (or yourself) that you can only have a little makes it scarce and something to hoard. Your brain goes into active collecting mode regardless of how it makes you feel. Crazy.
One of the things I didn’t do with my kids was limit foods that most would call treats. All of the food was in reach and available. I made what I called “healthy” snacks just as easy and available as candy and cookies and over time they learned on their own when not to binge and when to indulge.
This book was written before we could binge watch tv shows. I’ve found the same level of satisfaction there as well. Shows that were fine to watch one episode a week were terrible tv when watched back-to-back for hours one Sunday afternoon. And then there are shows that I can’t get enough of, ones that feed my soul instead of waste my time.
I’m wondering what this book will be? I can’t know if it would have been better to read it one book at a time as it was published, or can I? Probably won’t. I know myself. I tend to be a page flipper and rush to get to the end so that I know what happens. If I deem it worthy, I read it again for more depth.
We shall see. I do know that I’ll be watching the movie after I finish reading this, if I can find it on Netflix. Probably won’t. They never have the movie I’m looking for when I’m looking for it.
If you want to read it with me, go pick it up at Thriftbooks.com and let me know what you think in the comments!
Every parent experiences the empty nest at some point, I know this. But what if we didn’t have to tuck it all down and experience it alone? Vulnerability in the midst of struggle is not my specialty, but sometimes I feel that my saying something might be just what someone else needs.
“And this, he decides, is what a good-by should be. Not a period, but an ellipsis, a statement trailing off, until someone is there to pick it up.”
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Goodbyes are so hard. The end of a chapter, the turning of the page. I loved this ellipsis analogy. I often use those, and my son tries to tell me I’m doing it wrong. “It’s not a pause, Mom!” I know but…I like it that way! Think about it.
“That time always ends a second before you’re ready. That life is the minutes you want minus one.”
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Yes, it does. I’m going through a big one of these right now. My youngest child has gone off to University in another state. I’m officially retired from everyday Mom-ing.
I have an empty nest.
Everyone knows that once you’re a mom, you’re always a mom. We have an amazingly close relationship. I never experienced that “teenage” stuff, where they shut themselves off from me. I know they’ll always be texting, sending me pictures, and coming back to visit as often as they can.
But… (I did it again)
I’m alone here all day now. And when my husband is done working, we’re alone all evening and all night. And when I get up in the morning, there’s no reason to keep quiet. I can do what I want at any time of day. The TV isn’t on unless I’m watching it. No one is playing music in the middle of the night. No one interrupts what I’m doing. It’s so damn boring.
I’ll admit that I was excited to retire. We have three kids. When the first one left, we relaxed. There was a bit more space in the house. When the second one left, we were happy. There he goes! Two down, one to go! We looked forward to the youngest taking off. If all three of our kids were out in the world taking care of themselves, we were off the hook. We did it. Done! Children are a huge, long-term commitment. It’s incredibly stressful.
But… (he he he)
It’s so quiet. And then…I’m choking up again as I write…can’t we have one more day? One more drive into the city? One more dinner? One more, “Guys! WTF? Can you not?!”
I wasn’t ready. I seriously underestimated how hard an empty nest would be.
Are we ever ready? I don’t think so. We just have to dive in and keep flailing around until we notice we’re swimming.
I’ve hesitated to write about this for several reasons. It’s so fresh. I’m still working through it. I don’t need other people’s crap right now. But it keeps coming back up. A scratch in the record that needs to be dealt with, not ignored. You’ll only keep hearing it every time you get to that part of the music.
The first is, as usual, I don’t want to make my kids feel bad. They are doing nothing wrong by growing up and going out into the world. Pursuing our own path is what we all do. That’s normal and good. While I’d certainly have no problem with them living here forever, I want them to chase their own dreams without worrying that the mother they love so much is having a nervous breakdown. It would defeat the purpose of raising children into adults if they were so afraid to hurt my feelings that they never left home.
The second is that I’m not good at being this vulnerable. While I’m good at telling others what I’ve already been through and worked on, I cringe at the thought of asking for sympathy and help as I need it. I’ve recently come to notice that my culture fosters independence over just about anything else and I’m not sure it’s all that healthy. Stand on your own two feet. Buck up. Don’t be such a baby about it. From childhood and adolescence, into adulthood, marriage, children, and on until we die, we’re encouraged to keep our feelings to ourselves, to deal with our own shit alone.
I’m starting to question the wisdom in that. The times that I have reached out to talk to someone about something I’m going through, I’ve always found that I’m not alone. Life’s stages are common. We all move through them. Amazingly enough, no matter what you’re going through, there are others that have been there, felt that. The key is finding those people, and they’re usually very close by, remaining silent, believing they are alone in the world too.
And the third reason is people’s reaction. I don’t find support when I express my pain, I generally find platitudes, dismissal, or worse…help or sympathy. We’re not trained in supporting others through something difficult. Have you ever felt something so strongly, a feeling you just don’t want to feel and can’t get away from? Have you ever told someone about it and they said, “That’s just life. It’ll be better tomorrow.” Yeah…not helpful. Or worse, “Everyone feels that. You’re being ridiculous.” And “I told you this was coming.”
What do I want? To be completely honest, I’m not sure. Maybe I simply want to be heard and to get a hug. I’d like to hear an affirmation. “This must suck.” Or “I feel that from you.” Maybe even questions like, “What are you going to do?” I also really enjoy hearing other people’s painful stories. “There was a time I felt that way.” Or “I remember when…” I hear that and I think, “Yes. I’m not alone. I’m just one of the humans here. Life does go on.” And then I consider what’s next or cry some more. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I want to wallow in my sadness awhile.
Ultimately, the story continues no matter what happens to any of us. It isn’t a period, end of line, close the book. It’s just…what’s next?
I blogged about “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” when I started reading it back in January. It certainly didn’t take me long to read it all. I couldn’t put it down! Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you don’t have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments when you read it!
“Just like in life, where beautiful moments vanish in a second, and things that ache feel like they stay with us a whole lifetime.”
The 28 Mansions of the Moon by Motaz H Matar
I’m not a romantic, so the first thing I think when I read something like this it, “Of course they do! The things that ache remind us not to do that again!”
Humans are geared, like any animal, to watch for danger signs.
I’m trying to remember who said it, but I remember hearing on a podcast that the good things can happen over and over again. That which will kill you only needs to happen once, so we have an eye for those things. We should anyway. That’s what has kept us alive.
The beautiful moments; the attentive partner, the hot coffee with the perfect amount of Irish whiskey, a taco expertly crafted (that’s meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and then siracha ketchup, for those that are unaware), we can experience them time and time again and get joy from them each time. We don’t need to remember forever the feeling of looking out over Main Street at Disneyland and seeing the castle. We can go see it again! And better yet, forget it and go experience something else, like a perfect score at a trap shoot or bowling game with friends and beer!
The things that ache though, that’s what we need to remember. The grocery store that always has the bad meat that you can’t eat the next day. That freeway that is always packed with cars? Better to remember that and find a new route. That romantic partner that gave you signs he would turn out to be a complete asshole? Yeah…things you should remember and avoid in the future.
If we’re wired this way naturally, if we all keep having the same response to the same phenomena, shouldn’t we consider why? Instead of thinking, “Wow. Humans have some serious flaws,” maybe we could consider how the response may have served us in the past and how we can use it today.
Knowing that we are hardwired to pay closer attention to and hold on to the negative aspects of life can help us sort through and make sense of our feelings. Instead of romanticizing them and crying over it, maybe we can think logically and use this instinct to our advantage.