Here are some mini-reviews for my latest reads for the 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by The Bookwym's Hoard!
The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #10) by Louise Penny (2014)
In the 10th installment of the series, Armand Gamache has retired from the Homicide Division to Three Pines. Resident Clara Morrow asks Gamache to help find her husband Peter, who failed to return home after a year-long trial separation. Their search takes them deep into the psyches of artists and across Quebec.
I have to admit, this is the first time in the series that I wasn't completely enthralled. Peter Morrow is one of my least favorite characters, so I really wasn't taken with the idea of an entire book centered around finding him. Although the writing was incredible, as always, sometimes the story got a bit too cerebral for me and I found myself skimming. Until the last 40 pages, when a murder mystery came out of nowhere and was quickly solved. And the last chapter left me unexpectedly emotional.
Some other things that helped save the book for me were the descriptions of the Quebec wilderness and the secondary characters that came to the forefront in this installment, Ruth and Myrna. Penny showed a different side of Ruth, and I enjoyed hearing more from Myrna. 3.5 stars
Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon (2014)
This book has been sitting on my shelf for probably two years. For the most part, I've been enjoying the Outlander series, but the books are so long and such a commitment - I'm not going to lie, it took almost two months to read this book.
Like the previous books, there were a lot of storylines going on. It was interesting to read about these characters in the context of the American Revolution. Seeing real historical figures pop up and interact with Jamie and Claire was kind of fun, plus a part of this book takes place in New Jersey, so it was fun to read about places I recognized.
Brianna and Roger have their own issues in the 20th century, namely that they believe someone has kidnapped their son and taken him to the past. This storyline had me on edge; I mean, how would they ever know where and when he was taken to? I really could have done without so much of the character of William, Jamie's illegitimate son, who finally finds out the truth about his parentage. William and his other family members just don't really interest me as much.
Gabaldon's writing is, as always, flowing and easy to read. I think she is quite proud of the fact that Claire is a doctor, but fewer gruesome scenes of medical emergencies would have been better. If I didn't know that Gabaldon was working on the next Outlander story, I would have thought this would make a perfect series ender. 4 stars
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (2012)
Ben needs to get his life back on track after a devastating accident, so he trains for a job as a caregiver. He finds a position with Trev, a young man with muscular dystrophy, and the two end up taking a road trip to visit Trev's father.
It's hard not to feel bad for Ben when you find out what happened to his family, and I was rooting for him in this new job, and friendship, with Trev. It was interesting to see the juxtaposition between Ben and Trev's father, and I could understand why Ben wanted to give Trev's father the benefit of the doubt, even though he left his family after Trev was diagnosed.
I haven't read a lot of road trip books, so this was a nice change for me. The characters they meet along the way fill out the story nicely and add even more heart to the book. I also enjoyed Ben's droll sense of humor as he slowly pulls himself together. This book was made into a movie on Netflix, and since I watched that awhile ago, I read the whole book with Paul Rudd's voice in my head! 4 stars