A Siege of Bitterns

A Siege of Bitterns (Birder Murder Mystery #1)A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m probably over-rating this, but I think it’s a mystery series with some real potential. The author (and the detective inspector) both have an encyclopedic knowledge of birds that goes beyond your casual backyard bird watcher like me, but it’s what attracted me to read this book. There were wonderful descriptions of the marsh and habitat. I would have liked a little more back-story on what makes our inspector so brooding. Characterization, in general, was a little lacking, but in a series, this has room to grow and develop. The plot was complex enough with plenty of possible suspects. I picked out the murderer very early on, but I think it was just luck, not a failure of the book.

Book description: Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds. Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune’s most promising theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder only complicates matters. To unravel this mystery, Jejeune must deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues, and his own insecurities. In the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casualties.

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Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not sure I should even offer a review, since I decided not to finish this book. Made it 126 pages. It was hilariously funny for about 30 pages, and after that it just seemed sad. Her zany, random train of thought – at times brilliant and at other times just silly – reminded me of Robin Williams. Is it the mental illness that drives this kind of manic humor? Or is it the other way around?

This was a book club read that I didn’t get in time to read for the meeting. Now it has a hold waiting for it and I can’t renew, so back to the library it goes. I could re-request it, but I don’t think I want to. Sooooooo many other books waiting to be read.

This would be a great book to dabble in now and then for 30 minutes. But to sit and read cover to cover requires too much energy. It’s like trying to keep up with a dog that is constantly saying “Squirrel!”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the structure of this book – as we piece together what happened through a variety of written correspondence. I loved the character of Bee, and her relationship with Bernadette. The social satire was very funny. I would have given this 5 stars until it went off the rails about two-thirds through the book. At that point, the evolving situation became a bit too absurd to be funny, and Bernadette’s POV began to overshadow Bee’s. The overall takeaway seems to be “Don’t believe anything you think you know about anybody.” The ending was too big a shift for me, and didn’t resolve any of the heavier issues that still face the family. Perhaps that hints at a sequel?

Book description: Bernadette is a frightfully intelligent wife and mother whose intense allergy to Seattle specifically, and to people in general, has driven her to hire a virtual assistant in India to execute even her most basic tasks. Then her daughter, Bee, insists on a family trip to Antarctica as her reward for getting perfect grades in middle school, and Bernadette is faced with the daunting prospect of actual human interaction. On the verge of a breakdown, Bernadette vanishes, leaving her Microsoft-guru husband, a horde of angry parents, and questioning police officers to pick up the pieces. Desperate to find her mother, Bee probes her emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence, conjuring out of those shards a portrait of a woman she never knew before–and a secret that could explain everything.

Audiobook narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite.