Friday, September 21, 2007


Okay so I finally settled on a book. :-) I think because it was a short one, I knew I wouldn't have to invest too much time in it. A silly little ditty entitled The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. I'm not entirely sure how to describe this book. It is short at 131 pages. The story is about a bunch of pirates who come across Charles Darwin and together they try to save Darwin's brother, Erasmus from an undesirable fate. The Pirates pose as scientists to "fit in" with Darwin's crowd. The whole thing is quite a yarn. The pirates are all incredibly stupid while thinking they are incredibly smart. And everything is very tongue in cheek. I enjoyed it for a short read. It was a bit too silly I think. But if you're looking for something light-hearted about pirates this would be your book.

And in sticking with the ship theme, my shipwreck book is available at the library and waiting for me to pick it up so I'll hopefully be reporting on that one soon.

Happy first day of Fall today!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Same Old, Same Old

With the end of summer, reruns should be over, too, but I have just finished books in two of my favorite mystery series. I say "same old, same old" even thought they're new books because I've posted about these series before.

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews: The latest in the Meg Langslow series, and a very fun read. The first in the series is Murder With Peacocks. I usually just say how fun this series is, which I'll do again, but maybe I'll try to add something new this time! Meg is a blacksmith with a huge extended family. Her parents are a hoot. Her mother is very proper, while her father, a doctor, loves murder mystery novels and relishes the chance to be involved in a real investigation. Her brother, Rob, is a law student without much interest in practicing law (boy, can I identify!). The family lives in a small Virginia town. The mysteries are fun, but the characters are what make this series stand out from the crowd of cozy mysteries. Meg's dry wit and exasperated tolerance of her crazy family manages to make her appealing rather than unsympathetic and complaining. There's obviously a lot of love behind her good-natured comments about her family. In Murder With Peacocks, she meets university theater professor Michael, and it doesn't take a sleuth to see he'll be an important character in later books. Murder With Peacocks introduces Meg and the Langslow clan. The much put-upon Meg is involved in three weddings--her brother, her friend Eileen, and her mother's. Each bride is more demanding and exacting than the last, and poor single Meg runs errands and puts out fires all over the place.

Puss N Cahoots by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown: Sneaky Pie co-writes this series with her human companion, the fabulous Rita Mae Brown. The first in the series is Wish You Were Here, which introduces Crozet, Virginia postmistress Harry and her small brood of intelligent animals. Mrs. Murphy, a tiger cat, and Tucker, a Corgi, along with numerous other Crozet animals (wild and domestic), really solve the crimes here, trying to steer the humans to the root of the mystery. Yes, the animals talk to one another, and that could be really cloying and irritating, but it's not, at least to me. They add a fun dimension to Crozet life and the usual whodunit cozy. There's a companion cookbook, Sneaky Pie's Cookbook for Mystery Lovers, that includes Mrs. Hoggendobber's Orange Cinnamon Buns, thank goodness. They're amazing :) The latest book wasn't necessarily the best, but having followed the human and animal antics for many years, I enjoyed it anyway.

Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson: I can't really summarize this one too much without giving away things that happen in earlier books, so I'll talk about the series instead. The first is Catering To Nobody, which introduces Goldy, a caterer who recently escaped from an abusive marriage to John Richard Korman (the Jerk) with her son Arch (poor kid--naming him Arch? No wonder he's such a brat). Goldy caters the wake for Arch's former teacher and special friend. Her former father-in-law keels over dead, and Detective Tom Schulz shuts her business down until the investigation is complete. This gives Goldy the incentive to nose around on her own. Each book includes recipes (from Sweet Revenge, I just made the Pina Colada Muffins, which were YUMMY), and several are all-time favorites of mine. I like Goldy, and despite some annoyances in the books, I enjoy the series. The cooking talk is fun, Aspen Meadow is fun, and Goldy's nosing around is entertaining (even as you sometimes roll your eyes at her extreme nosiness). Edited to add: Something Davidson said in Sweet Revenge sort of changed my perspective on this series a bit. While reading these (and re-reading), I've been guilty of muttering, "Oh, just get OVER it already" in regard to Goldy's whining about her ex-husband. In Sweet Revenge, she says something about how it's easy to SAY "get over it" but it's not easy to DO. And that really resonated with me. She was married to an abusive philanderer for seven years, in constant fear for her safety and her son's, and she found the courage to get a divorce. Of course it's not so simple that she can just get over it as soon as the papers are signed. Davidson went to a lot of trouble to develop a complex heroine in a conventional genre, and I think Goldy's words are a smack at the critics who want Goldy to just get over it. Anyway, I have sort of a new appreciation for these now.

I'm now reading The Tale of Holly How, #2 in Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter series.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Land of Indecision

Okay, I'm not sure if I'm just not in a reading mood lately, just can't find the right book for my mood, or what my problem is. I just can't settle on anything. As I've mentioned, I've enjoyed the No. 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith. He's written quite a few other books as well so I thought I might try out his newer Isabel Dalhousie series. The first book is The Sunday Philosophy Club. I forced myself to read about half of it and just could not continue to waste my time. I was bored to tears. I guess the characters weren't likable enough to me to want to see how it turned out.

Then I moved on to The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julavits. It was reviewed in my Bookmarks magazine awhile back and I thought it sounded interesting. Again, I'm about 75 pages into it and I'm debating whether to keep going. The characters again are not that appealing to me (at least not yet) and the tone of voices switches between characters in a way I find annoying. I usually must finish a book once I've started it. But lately, I feel like there are too many good books out there to waste my time with something I don't really want to read.

So what to read then? Hmm.....maybe another Jodi Picoult? I'm also waiting for a book I requested from the library, Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett. It's historical nonfiction about two different shipwrecks on Auckland Island south of New Zealand. One crew fights with each other and only 3 survive, the other crew manages to all survive for more than two years. It sounded sort of interesting to me. I'll give a full report if and when I read it. ;-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

more summer reading

Inkspell: I have a big complaint about this, the second Inkworld book by Cornelia Funke: I have to wait a year for the third! This book was excellent, but not a quick read. Apparently, it wasn't a planned sequel, which makes sense. Inkheart had kind of wrapped everything up, but there was plenty left to explore and Inkspell explores it well, and ends on a huge cliffhanger. If you enjoyed the first (which I certainly recommend reading if you haven't), you'll probably enjoy this one as well. But wait until next summer or so to read it, because Inkdeath comes out in September 2008. I believe these are being made into films. I sort of wonder if that's what made her decide to write sequels. The love of books, the sense of adventure, and the well-imagined world that made the first book so enjoyable are all present here.

Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton: The editing is atrocious (numerous typos include "doe" instead of "does"), and the author is fond of more exciting dialogue tags (people are always "declaring," "enthusing," and (I have no idea what this even means) "tweaking" their lines, which is really annoying, and worse, often used incorrectly. The same weird tag is often used multiple times, including "tweaked" twice within a page.) The heroine takes an instant and somewhat bizarre dislike to a guy in the story, telegraphing that he's destined to be a love interest in future books, and the reasoning is thin (he has the same height and hair color as her ex-boyfriend). All that said, there was something likeable about the heroine and the book in general. Kelly learns to knit as she and the knitting circle work through the clues to the real killer, and that's sort of fun (although who on earth ties knots in their knitting? Deliberately?). There's a recipe for cinnamon rolls at the end, but I already have two excellent ones and I'm not sure I buy lemon cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls. The two knitting patterns are on huge needles, as befits Kelly's extreme beginner status (although, I never liked those and started on 8s), so I won't be doing those any time soon. Does anyone look good in a tank top knit on size 15 needles? Maybe a total twig who needs to look a little more plump. Despite the annoying things about this book, I sort of liked the town and the knitting shop, and I think I might pick up the next one to see if the series gets better.

In Deep Voodoo by Stephanie Bond: This is mystery/romance and a fun, quick summer read. The heroine is really dumb. I don't think she's meant to be portrayed that way, but I found myself muttering, "What are you thinking, Penny?" about 97 times during the book. Penny's ex-husband, who lives in her painstakingly restored Victorian house with his new bimbo (who paints Penny's pride and joy pink, of all things), dies, stabbed through the heart, shortly after Penny stabs a voodoo doll at her divorce party. Penny's stupidity is annoying, and her love interest implausible, but something about this book was fun, so I'll probably pick up the next one. I think the fun is in the town of Mojo, Louisiana and its colorful inhabitants.

I have a ton of books to read right now. I have new mysteries from Rita Mae Brown, Diane Mott Davidson, and Donna Andrews. I want to read the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper before they ruin it with the movie. On the juvenile fiction front, I also have several Eva Ibbotsen books (I've loved all of hers I've read), Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke, and a few Harry Potter knockoffs I thought I'd try. What's everybody else reading?