Archive for the ‘Theme driven’ Category


A generation ago, Geraldo Rivera shocked the nation by exposing the horrendous living conditions at the infamous Willowbrook School — a state-supported institution for children with mental retardation. Now, Rachel Simon creates a fictional rendition of this heartbreaking subject of vulnerable individuals locked in institutions out of sight of society.

August 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Theme driven

JOY FOR BEGINNERS by Erica Bauermeister

A few years ago, a new phrase burst into our vernacular: “the bucket list,” based on a movie in which two men confront their limitations and prepare a list of things they must do. The list is predictably exotic: skydiving, flying over the North Pole, eating dinner at Chevre d’Or in France.

In JOY FOR BEGINNERS, it’s the women’s turn to enact that list. On an uncharacteristically sunny day in Seattle, six women assemble to celebrate their friend Kate’s clean bill of health from breast cancer. Unbeknownst to them, right before arrival, Kate’s daughter had suggested an exhilarating white water rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. Her friends urge her on and she agrees to go on one condition: that she gets to choose a challenge for each of her friends to overcome.

June 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Reading Guide, Theme driven


Kevin Brockmeier builds his novel, A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD, on a platitude: the dead live on in the memory of the living. The City is a mysterious metropolis that seems to expand by folding in on itself, much like the convoluted corrugations of the brain, in order to accommodate its ever-increasing population. However, this unearthly metastasis notwithstanding, The City isn’t much different than any urban environment found in the living world. People get up, they go to work, they go grocery shopping, and life is still filled with the minor annoyances endemic to city life like “the blasting sound of garbage trucks in the morning, chewing gum on the pavement, and the smell of rotting fish by the river.”

June 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Reading Guide, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Theme driven


C. J. Box’s COLD WIND is set in a part of Wyoming that is beautifully scenic and, in some ways, untamed. When an enemy threatens one of Box’s characters, the prospective victim does not automatically dial 911. He is more likely to take matters into his own hands. The hero, Joe Pickett, is a game warden and devoted family man who values harmony over conflict. Much to Joe’s displeasure, he is caught up in a web of deceit and violence when his wife’s latest stepfather, “multi-millionaire developer and media mogul, Earl Alden,” is shot dead and found hanging from one of his own windmill turbines. Joe’s mother-in-law, Missy Alden is charged with the crime, and although he has no jurisdiction, Joe undertakes his own unofficial investigation out of obligation to his wife and daughters.

May 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, Theme driven, US Northwest, Wild West, y Award Winning Author


Kate Atkinson has written a number of novels that feature ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie: CASE HISTORIES, ONE GOOD TURN, WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, and now the fourth novel, STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. I had read a total of zero novels in the series when I picked up Atkinson’s latest. This is a novel that can be read as a stand-alone, and although there were threads to the other stories, Atkinson’s novel is so very well-written, it’s not essential to begin with the first novel in the series.

STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG is ostensibly a crime novel, but to try and slot this excellent tale into such a neat and ultimately limiting definition is a mistake. While crimes take place, the emphasis is on the crimes that slip silently into simple everyday living: cruelty, casual violence, lying and possibly most importantly–failing to take a moral stand.

March 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Noir, Reading Guide, Sleuths Series, Theme driven, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author


Never one to shy away from sacred cow territory or the ruthless ways in which humans stampede it, T.C. Boyle’s latest wise epic puts ecologists on a restless collision course with agitated animal rights activists. In his vintage style of tackling issues with snarling drama and incendiary humor, Boyle plots a political novel without sending the reader a preachy message, although he comes right up under it.

February 24, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: California, Contemporary, Theme driven, y Award Winning Author