Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter has arrived!!

I picked up my copy of Deathly Hallows this morning. I really hope to not hear/read any spoilers before I get a chance to read the book, however, actually having it in my hands, I had to fight the urge to look in the back of the book! I want to savor the story, yet I'm dying to know what happens.

And good news, Harry Potter is going green! Check out this link to learn how!

Happy Potter reading!

More Summer Reading

I'm waiting for UPS to bring my Harry Potter book, so I thought I'd write up a few quick reviews.

No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews - This is the latest in her Meg Langslow mysteries. I really enjoy these, and Wicket was no exception. Meg and her family are lots of fun, there's an evil developer (always fun in a mystery), Duck plays an important role, and the mystery takes place around an eXtreme croquet tournament played by the cream of Caerphilly society. I would recommend starting with the first, Murder With Peacocks just to get acclimated to the Langslow clan, but you can really start anywhere in the series.

Antiques Roadkill by Barbara Allan - This is the first in a new cozy mystery series (Trash 'N' Treasure), and there was a lot to like. I guess I'm interested in reading the follow-up, Antiques Maul, to see if "she" (the author is actually a pseudonym for a husband and wife team) settles down a bit. The constant asides and parenthetical comments were disruptive, and the heroine isn't all that sympathetic. Well, the story is written in first person, and you learn quickly that she had an affair with a married man, this ended her marriage, and her husband has custody of their son. But you don't learn how she feels about any of that, which is weird, because she vents pretty much any other thought that enters her head, including rants about fashion, architecture, and more. She also turns the narration over to her bipolar mother for ten pages, which is unnecessary and tedious. The mystery was pretty well-done, though I did figure it out, at least partly, which I usually don't do. Some of the humor was very well-done, too, and it was enjoyable to read at times. I guess, pick this up if you're desperate for a new cozy mystery.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin - This is an extraordinary book. It's a YA novel that opens with Liz, an almost-sixteen year old waking up on a boat, with no memory of how she got there. She realizes quickly that she's dead, and the boat is taking her to Elsewhere. (This isn't a spoiler--you can find that out by reading the back of the book.) Read this with a box of tissues handy. It's funny and poignant and beautiful. I don't want to give away any more of the plot, but if the premise sounds at all interesting to you, pick it up. Liz and the supporting cast are wonderfully drawn, and the writing is a delight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Coziest Mystery

I have been re-reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, which I know is lame, but I also read Lean Mean Thirteen, which was really funny. More laugh-out-loud than the last couple, I think. But the new book I've just finished is The Tale of Hilltop Farm by Susan Wittig Albert, the first in her Beatrix Potter mysteries. She's the author of the China Bayles herb shop mysteries (Thyme of Death, et al), which I always liked but haven't read recently. Not sure why. At any rate, Hilltop Farm takes place in 1905, when Beatrix Potter visits the town of Near Sawrey, where she has purchased a farm. Wittig Albert clearly did a lot of research on Potter's life, the time period, and Sawrey, cramming in many, many facts and trivia, which spill over into a Historical Note at the end of the book. This series appears to have everything the coziest mystery needs: talking animals (to each other, not to people), villagers with almost unreadable dialects, small-town intrigue, Victorian details like the woman who (gasp) shows her ankles. I found it utterly charming. If you like your mysteries with exciting twists and turns or pulse-pounding suspense or a focus on the mystery at hand rather than the village gossip, well, this is SO not the series for you. But if you find charming tales of village life with historical background and talking animals to be just the thing for a summer read, pick this one up. It was cuter than cute and so fun I didn't care how thin the mystery was.

I have quite a stack of YA, mystery, and romance novels for the summer, so hopefully I'll be posting more frequently now the Evanovich re-reading is over. Not to mention Harry Potter and Thursday Next reviews coming up in the next week or so!

Carol's Summer reading

I tend to read fluff in the summer. However, I decided to read the top two books that Holly mentioned in her blog that was the Tournament of Books - The Road and Absurdistan. The two books were completely different from each other. The Road was a dark depressing post-apocalypse book. Absurdistan was a satirical novel that definitely had its funny parts, but was absurd in the extreme. The Road was well written - each word in each sentence setting the mood. Although it was a depressing book, I actually enjoyed reading it.

I've also read several other books recommended by the bloggers here - Peter and the Starcatchers, which lead me to Peter and the Shadow Thieves and then Dave Barry's novel, Risky Business. I've also read several of the Thursday series by Jasper Fforde. Of course, to satisfy my summer urge for fluff, I just finished Smitten and Hot Stuff by Janet Evanovich. I'm now reading a couple of mysteries - one that is a part of the Dead End Job series, called Murder with Reservations by Elaine Viets.

I also read How to be Good by Nick Hornby - another book recommended by AllisonMarieCat. I have to admit I didn't find it that entertaining. I thought it was just too sad and depressing - too many people trying to find something worthwhile in life and not really getting anywhere. Maybe it was just too realistic in a bizarre sort of way.

One book I would highly recommend if you want to laugh is Lamb: The Bible according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend by Christopher Moore. I've read all of Moore's books starting with The Stupidest Angel which was a Christmas gift from Holly. Moore is a bit out there with his werewolves and walking dead and lust lizards, but he is entertaining.

I also read all of the Harry Potter books in the last few months. I hadn't read them before, although I've enjoyed the movies. So, I decided to read them in preparation for book 7 this weekend. I'm on the waitlist at the library - 115 out of 341. I'm hoping it will go fast!

For the Love of Pets

Now, I'm not much of a pet person. We currently are not responsible for any living beings other than our kids. I had a cat growing up, and my dad had a dog. I am much more of cat person. In fact, maybe someday if I can ever convince myself I will actually like cleaning up cat hair from everywhere, we will get a cat. I am not a dog person. At ALL. I never have been. Okay, are you wondering why I'm going on about pets?

Our book club pick for July is Marley and Me by John Grogan. I am little more than halfway through it and I am enjoying it! When it was announced this would be our book, I was not particularly excited and thought I would not be able to relate being the dog non-lover that I am. However, I am really enjoying. Perhaps its that I am amused by the dog's antics and thankful that I am not a dog owner. Obviously, its safe to say this memoir will be enjoyed by everyone, dog lovers and non-lovers alike!

On the same note, just to give cats an equal opportunity on this blog. Several years ago, I read My Cat Spit McGee by Willie Morris. I really loved this book as well. It's a sweet tale of how a dog lover turned into a cat lover. The author also wrote My Dog Skip. For anyone who is a pet lover or enjoys animal memoirs, I recommend these two books as well.

Summer Reading

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have been reading, just no time to post. Until now! Let's see. I started Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. "Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those character abducts them and tries to force him into service." This kind of reminds me of a Jasper Fforde for kids, but I only got about 50 pages into the the book before I returned it to the library. Not for a lack of interest. It's a fairly long book and I think I was overwhelmed with too many fun books to read this summer. I think this book will be more of a winter book for me. I see it as more of a curl up with a blanket and a nice cup of cocoa type book. Funke has planned a trilogy with the second one, Inkspell, already out. Both books have received excellent reviews. Inkheart: The Movie is in production now, and it seems the third book in the trilogy, Inkdeath will be out January 2008. She also has a number of other juvenile fiction books out that all sound very good. So to those mourning the end of the Harry Potter books, perhaps you might be mildly satisfied with Funke.

I enjoyed another Alexander McCall Smith No. 1 Ladies Detective Series book, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. I believe its number 6 in the series. I seem to like reading these books in the summer. In fact, I think I've read all of them in the summer. Perhaps its the African setting. It's hot there, its hot here. Who knows. I enjoyed this installment and am looking forward to getting to Blue Shoes and Happiness before the summer is over.

Although I was unable to attend, our book club pick for June was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Allison reviewed this book earlier in the year and loved it. I was a little more reserved with my feelings. For the first half of the book, all I could think about was Flowers in the Attic. I'm not sure why. It just felt that way to me. Not that that's a bad thing. I loved Flowers in the Attic as a teenager. I did enjoy it a bit more in the second half once I started figuring out where the story was going. This one was just a little difficult for me to get into. I was told the book club all loved it though. So perhaps I was just a bit to hard on this book. It was well written and the characters very developed.