Naked in Death

Naked in Death (In Death #1)Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 stars for the first book of a series is pretty good. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, since I’m not really a fan of romantic suspense. I like a good romance, and I don’t mind sex scenes in general. This book had two explicit scenes, and I could forgive them for telling us something about the emotional state of the characters. I can hope the author has toned it down in later books in the series, but it wasn’t enough to put me off reading more of them. Eve Dallas and Roarke are great characters, and I can see where some of the side characters like Feeney and Dr. Mira might be developed. I thought more of a mystery about whether Roarke was a good guy or a bad guy could have been made. The “who done it” was pretty clear rather early in the book. All in all, I liked the character building and the future setting was nicely done. I could see this being a successful TV series.

Book description: Eve Dallas is a police lieutenant in 2058 New York City hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

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Heart of Darkness

Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this to be brilliantly descriptive and at the same time completely inscrutable. I listened to it on audio and thought perhaps I had missed too much, but on reading some Cliffs Notes, no, I had gotten all the main plot points. Perhaps audio isn’t the best medium for all the subtle imagery. This is the kind of book that rewards slow reading and reflection. It remains to be seen what the ladies in my book club will make of it. Probably I should have given at least 3 stars. Like Pride and Prejudice, it could become 5 stars, given more exposure to it. That is the nature of a lot of classics, I have found, so don’t be put off by my initial reaction. I think I would have much preferred reading this in high school instead of Lord of the Flies.

Book description: River steamboat captain Charles Marlow has set forth on the Congo in Africa to find the enigmatic European trader Mr. Kurtz. Preceded by his reputation as a brilliant emissary of progress, Kurtz has now established himself as a god among the natives in “one of the darkest places on earth.” Marlow suspects something else of Kurtz: he has gone mad. A reflection on corruptive European colonialism and a journey into the nightmare psyche of one of the corrupted, Heart of Darkness is considered one of the most influential works ever written.

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating and true story told in alternating voices. Well researched and the author made only minor historical adjustments to tell her story. Sarah’s stammer got a little tedious in the audio version. That was an addition by the author, and I’m not really sure what the purpose of it was, except to reinforce the idea that Sarah was also “enslaved,” in a way, by a culture that profited from slavery and did not support the advancement of women. The first half of the book rambled and went on a bit too long. The second half was riveting, but the ending left things up in the air. Perhaps there is more to be told that could become a sequel. Certainly we are still a nation shaped by slavery, and we have still not achieved a world without racism and sexism. If nothing else, our current “President” has shown us just how far we still have to go.

Book description: Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.