Summer Reading

Early summer roared into the Wood River Valley on a plethora of electrical storms and one tornado warning. Fortunately, rain and hail accompanied the searing flashes of light, the timpani of sound, and the slate-colored, monstrous clouds—perfect foils for Gerry’s camera. After a wet spring and even some snow, we thought it would never warm up, but it has.

While waiting for summer hiking, I have spent time reading. I know many of you read as well because you have sent me emails and texts about my books, MOONSHADOWS and BASQUE MOON. Many of you know that BASQUE MOON won the WILLA Literary Award for historical fiction from Women Writing the West. I have news of my next book, so keep reading.

Now for book recommendations:

Michael Ondaatje continues to be one of my favorite writers. His newest, WARLIGHT, is set just after World War II, and is a tale of two children, would-be gangsters, secret water pathways, and a devoted but mysterious mother, all set in London. This book reminded me  of THE CAT’S TABLE, another book by Michael that I thoroughly enjoyed. Try both!

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT by Walter Tevis, spins the story of a young girl prodigy at chess. This is one of the best books I have read this year. I am not a chess player, but I found myself learning quite a bit about the game and the chess world, while holding my breath at the tension and excitement of a chess game!

Two of my favorite mystery writers have new books out: Anne Hillerman’s CAVE OF BONES and Jaqueline Winspear’s TO DIE BUT ONCE. The former continues the adventures of Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito in Navajo land. Maisie Dobbs solves a mystery while British soldiers are being evacuated from Dunkirk on a flotilla of boats during WWII.

For those of you in the Northwest, I recommend two books by members of Women Writing the West:  MAUREEN by Mary Trimble, a story about a woman who answers an ad to help manage a ranch in Eastern Washington, and HOMETOWN MURDERS by Carol Crigger, set around Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The protagonist in this book is an Iraqi veteran working in the sheriff’s department near my old stomping grounds in Coeur d’Alene.

Other books I’ve enjoyed:  AFTER NIGHTFALL by A.J. Banner, an exciting domestic thriller, due out in August 2019. PIANO TIDE by Kathleen Dean Moore—a lovely book set in Alaska. WHAT GOLD BUYS by Ann Parker, the continuation of her Leadville series. THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE by Randall Platt.

I do love non-fiction and have been absorbed in several this spring: Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin held my interest, especially as I have been working on the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve application and implementation. (Check it out on Google!) Code Girls, The Untold Story of the American Women Codebreakers in WWII by Liz Mandy describes the amazing accomplishments of women during the war. And if you haven’t read Hidden Figures yet, even if you’ve seen the movie, do read it. Gathering from the Grasslands by Linda Hasselstrom won several prizes already this year. Linda’s journal following a year on her ranch in South Dakota is beautifully written and fascinating in its story of life on the prairie.

I happened on the memoir of Ruth Gruber, a journalist in pre-WWII in Germany, Ahead of Time, in an ebook sale. I am now looking for other books by Ruth, this one was so fascinating. And finally, Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman, took me into the lives of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and their achievements on the Supreme Court and their support for women’s rights. (Even as I write, the Supreme Court is now undoing some of those advancements.) As a lawyer, I particularly found the discussion of some of the lawsuits and court rulings fascinating.  The details of both women’s lives added to the pleasure of this book.

My last recommendation is Atlas of a Lost World by Craig Childs speculating on how people came across from Asia to Alaska and their possible routes to the rest of the Americas, by coast and/or by breaks in the huge ice sheets covering the northern portions. He explored some of the possibilities and backed up his plausible theories by information from other sources, including findings by others of weapons, utensils and artifacts, including mammoth and mastodon bones and stones dated to tens of thousands of years ago. He even scouted out some of the possibilities himself—a modern day explorer who writes with verve and lyricism.

A few others to consider:  No Time to Spare by Ursula K. LeGuin. After the Stroke by May Sarton. Home Below Hell’s Canyon by Grace Jordan (an oldie, but so worth the time to read). These should get you through the summer, and then some!

BOOK NEWS: I have just signed a contract with Five Star Publishing for my third Nellie Burns and Moonshine mystery, MOONSCAPE. Their adventures continue at Craters of the Moon in Idaho in 1923. Sheriff Azgo, Nellie, Moonshine, and Rosy seek to solve the mystery of the disappearance of three people in the lava fields. They discover what might be a religious cult and its deadly purpose amidst the caves and spatter cones in this strange and  menacing geologic anomaly. Current publication date is August 2019. Yes, I know–a long time from now.  In the meantime, I am working on a fourth mystery set in the mines of North Idaho, an area I wrote about in my non-fiction memoir of place: The Good Times Are All Gone Now: Life, Death and Rebirth in an Idaho Mining Town (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009). If you liked my mysteries, I would so appreciate a short review on both Amazon and Goodreads. Every review helps and will keep my books coming.


PERSONAL NEWS: Gerry and I just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. We have collaborated on books and on life, sharing love, fun, skiing, adventures, sorrow, and such wonderful travels and times together. We are going for the gold!


Summer Reading — 6 Comments

  1. I too love Ondatje and am happy to know he has a new book out. Enjoying “Other Minds” about octopus/aliens, deep sea consciousness..elemental.

  2. Thanks for the list. I can’t get a hold of a library copy of Warlight and may have to buy it. For the record, the other book about kids is “Cat’s Table”. Just finished Divisadero which one reviewer described as a loosely connected series of stories. I loved each one and hated the fact that he didn’t pull the pieces together.

    Grant by Ron Chernow is worth reading but wait for the paper back which is due out in September. The hard back is too heavy. I have a couple of mysteries set in French wine country for you. See you soon.

    • Thank you for the correction, Ed. I changed the blog to reflect the correct book title. Glad you liked the list. I have Warlight if you want to borrow when you get here. I tried to find the French wine country books at our library and couldn’t. See you soon!

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