The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Title: The Complaints (Malcolm Fox Series #1), Author: Ian Rankin The Complaints.  Finished audio 1-14-20, 4/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Peter Forbes.

Book 1 in the Malcom Fox series

Nobody likes The Complaints–they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as “The Dark Side,” and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship, frustrating problems about which he cannot seem to do anything.   from Goodreads

Fox is a good cop who investigates bad cops, so imagine his surprise when someone turns the table and suddenly he’s on the wrong side.  He finds himself sympathetic to the suspected and at the same time goes too far in helping his sister, enough so that he is the one under suspicion.  Fox brings a sense of good even when you aren’t sure he’s doing the right thing, you trust him but you’re not sure why.  Maybe some of the trust you feel is because of his relationships with his father and sister.  Both relationships strain for different reasons and yet Fox never wavers in his attitude toward them.  A good solid read for lovers of Scottish mysteries or police procedurals.

I picked up this book at our library sale because it was Ian Rankin (my most read author last year) and the book was in brand new condition.  I started it thinking it was a standalone.  Turns out it’s the first of a new character who will eventually share books with Rankin’s other series with John Rebus.  I’ll probably read more with Rebus first because he has more books before the two characters meet, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it connected to a series I already love.

I recommend anything that Rankin writes 🙂

Hands Up and a Quick Question for author Stephen Clark

Hands Up by Stephen   Clark Hands Up. Finished 1-12-2020, fiction, 272 pages, pub. 2019

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.   from Goodreads

Police shooting unarmed men of color is a hot button issue and it is dealt with here in a measured way while still telling the story of what happens after the shooting.  How do the parents and family have the strength to go on camera?  How do the protests get organized?  How is pressure applied to get an indictment?  And what if the policeman, while guilty, is also a victim of things out of his control?

The story is told from three different perspectives and I think this worked extremely well.  The sister, who was close to her brother, lashes out in anger.  The absent father comes home to redeem himself.  The police officer, whose complicated experience with racial issues leaves him drowning in guilt and alcohol.  I found sympathy, lost sympathy and fought incredulity at different parts in the book.

The character that made the most sense to me was Kelly, the wayward street hustler who returns home under threat of his life even while burying his own son.  His family, especially his daughter Jade, don’t want him there and he struggles to get out of the homeless shelter.  When he does find a way to make himself useful you begin to worry if he can really change.  His daughter doesn’t think so even as her mother considers bringing him back into the family.

It was an interesting story with a lot of moving parts.

Quick Question for author Stephen Clark.  I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with the author (who sent me a copy of his book) and I asked him one question I’m sharing with you.  I think we can all relate to his last statement 🙂

 What was your favorite book of 2019?

Most of the books I read last year were published in prior years, such as The Firm and The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. The most recently published book I read was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, which was released in 2018. And boy was it good! There was also a documentary on Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos. I’m currently reading Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which was published in 2019. But I’m not finished yet. However, the book I enjoyed reading the most in 2019 was, far and away, The Smack by Richard Lange. Superb crime novel published in 2017. He’s also one of my favorite authors. Sorry for the long answer. But when it comes to books, I usually don’t have short responses. 😂

This Week – Back to School

Fave pic

IMG_E3174 Learning to roller skate with Dad.

Highlights of the week 

IMG_3193 Our book group met and discussed The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and there was so much to discuss.

We enjoyed Gage’s last few days of winter break. We took him roller skating for only second time.  And then he and I got to spend Monday just palling around shopping and eating and taking walks and it was really nice.

Finished this week The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson reviewed it here.

Currently Reading Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues… Liars' Legacy Hands Up

Currently listening  The Complaints

Library Book Sale Finds (There are advantages to being one who sorts the donations.  I get first pick!)  IMG_E3202

Movies watched  Secret in Their Eyes Poster

Plans for the weekend

We have dinner plans with old neighbors so Gage gets spend time with Emi. She’s in 8th grade and both of her older sisters babysat Gage when he was a baby. Time flies!

I’m linking up with the Sunday Salon this week.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Author: Kim Michele Richardson The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.  Finished 1-8-19, 4.75/5 stars, historical fiction, 308 pages, pub. 2019

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.    from Goodreads

Oh, I loved this book.  As I started reading about the blue people I did a Google search and this painting of the Fugates, the real-life family that settled in the Kentucky hills…Related image Martin Fugate came over from France and started his own blue family.  The story’s main character is based as a descendant of this family.  Cussy Mary, or Bluet, was also one of the Book Women of the Pack Horse Library Project…Related image a travelling group of women who rode their horses to the people who lived in the hills.  This was a project that came about from Roosevelt’s New Deal and the WPA and was meant to bring literacy to the Appalachian Mountains.  Both of these aspects of the story will have you doing more research after you finish the book and make it perfect for book club discussion.  We read this for my book group this month and it was well-liked by all.

I was surprised at how many issues were in the book.  These two I already mentioned plus discrimination, how little control over their own lives women had, the start of the unions in the coal mines, aggressive medical experimentation, and loving who you are.  Too much?  Nope.  Somehow the characters managed to shine through and what wonderful characters they were!  Richardson did an expert job of creating characters I’m going to remember and educating me, and encouraging me to educate myself.  I may have even shed a tear or two.  Bluet is one of my favorite characters in quite a while.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

Reading with Gage

A few books that Gage and I have read together in the past week have stuck with me.  I sort the donations to our library friends group 2-3 times a week.  Over the weekend I discovered this Dav Pilkey early classic and it both freaked me out and filled me with a certainty that my 9 year old would think it was hilarious.  I was correct on both counts.

Kat Kong Kat Kong by Dave Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame) is a ‘live’ picture book first published in 1993. 

There is so much humor in the short dialog and so much disturbing cat and mouse imagery that it’s hard not to find this a cult classic.  I brought it home for Gage and on a whim looked it up and it’s a 4.1 in Accelerated Reader so he can actually take a quiz on this at school this week, lololol.

We also read another forgotten classic…

The Magic Finger The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, illustrated by

This is notable for a few reasons.  First published in 1966, the story, while about a girl who could do amazing and magical feats with her finger, centered around the question of whether it’s okay to hunt animals.  “I can’t stand hunting.  I just can’t stand it.  It doesn’t seem right to me that men and boys should kill animals just for the fun they get out of it.”  The family that we spend the most time with has two vegetarians for this very reason and  this year they added a third for health reasons.  Gage, only conscious of things that he has a vested interest in, has latched onto these lines the few times we’ve read it.  And he’s been asking if Jason or I plan on going vegetarian this year (he’s all about those challenges).  These are good discussions to have.  The story tidies itself up in a predictable, but satisfying way… if you side with the hunted.  The actual magic finger raises more questions than it answers which is a bit problematic, but still a lot of fun.

We’ve read other books this week, but these have been my favorites.

 

This Week (or is it last week?)

I’d like to have these posted on Saturday, but even with me getting up at 6 in the morning it obviously didn’t happen yesterday.

Fave pic

IMG_3127 On Monday Gage and I tried a local restaurant that had so many choices for him.  We shared this plate of gluten-free fries (so much harder to come by than you think) and then he ordered a hamburger, but he could have had a gluten AND dairy free pizza and any number of other sandwiches.  Can you tell how excited I am about this?

Highlights of the week

Having Gage home from school and Jason taking lots of time off at the end of the year and two days this week.  I don’t remember Jason ever taking this much time off (with breaks to deal with clients as needed).  Lots of being at home as a family is always a good thing.

Gage had a day (6 1/2 hours) at Lego camp.  Followed by a day with 2 different play dates totaling 5 1/2 hours.  That’s after starting the week with a bowling/arcade morning with a group of 6 boys.  I’m not sure how interested he is in going back to school on Tuesday.

Also, I started a new year of challenges.  This month I start getting up at 6 every day.

Could’ve been better

I’ve got no complaints about the start of this decade.  Oh wait!  It’s the 5th and I haven’t finished a book!  It’s probably all that family time I’m so happy about 🙂

Currently reading

Liars' Legacy Hands Up Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues…

Currently listening

The Complaints

Received in the mail

Title: Stay, Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde (a win from Vicki at I’d Rather Be At The Beach)

 

Movies watched

Self/less DVD Release Date | Redbox, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon

Plans for the rest of weekend

Not sure what we’ll be up to when Gage gets back from Grandma’s house.

What about you?

I’m linking up with theSunday Salonthis week.

 

 

 

First Book of the Year

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Every year Sheila hosts First book over at her blogBook Journey and I’ve participated for quite a few years. Before Sheila started hosting this event I never much thought about what my first book of the year, and now the decade, would be.  I decided to go with an ARC I received from an author I’ve met a few times and email with occasionally.  She’s authentically refreshing.  It’s a sequel and was released yesterday.  I hope to carve out some some to start reading today.  IMG_E3102 Liars’ Legacy – A Jack and Jill Thriller by Taylor Stevens continues the story of brother and sister assassins who took down the leader of the global network at the end of the first book.  Now the government is after them as they try to make their way out of the country to meet their high profile Russian father for the first time.

Later today head over to Sheila’s to see what everyone else is starting the year reading.  What are you reading today?