Thursday, April 1, 2010

Middle Sister's March Reads

Snake in the Glass, by Sarah Atwell Read it because it takes place during the real life Gem and Mineral Show here in my adopted hometown. It sounds as if the author has actually visited the Old Pueblo, but must not have gone anywhere else, as her ideas of driving distances are way off. Mediocre mystery, none-too-memorable characters. Made me crave nachos, since that's all her characters seemed to eat.

Cheerful by Request by Edna Ferber Short story collection by the acerbic Miss Ferber, not all end cheerfully as the title implies, but all are very well written, as one would expect. Loved finding her OOP titles online.

Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson One of my all-time favorite books, it had to be the first book I read to inaugurate my new Kindle (named Fred after Mr. Benson). I reread this every year (along with the other 4 in the Mapp and Lucia series--too bitingly funny).

St. Patrick's Day Murder by Leslie Meier Thought I'd love the Maine setting, but there's little atmosphere in this novel. I wish I liked this better, but the brain balls were the last straw in a weak story.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett My favorite book when I was little; read for my book group's March/April selection. Happily, just as magical when read as an adult, and probably the unconscious inspiration for my desire to live in a beautiful garden and my love of nature.

Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts Fascinating look at the first 4 First Ladies of the US, with a focus on Abigail and Louisa Adams and Dolley Madison. Extensive quotes from their own letters make this absolutely fascinating reading for history lovers.

The Case for Books by Robert Dalton Reprinted essays re: the Google Books project and the future of print books originally published in the New York Review of Books. I agree with some of the bibliophile's arguments, but take exception to his cavalier dismissal of the high cost of keeping books in a safe, air conditioned environment. With first hand knowledge of the cost of curation fees and the curation emergency we are having out here (no space, no money), the reality is that as nice as it would be to save every book, it will not realistically happen. Interesting information on the history of books and the science of the study of books.

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (Sorry, Big Sister--don't take offense at the following.) The first third was better than I'd expected; the second two-thirds were worse than I'd expected. No surprise here how he chose to depict God, although I suppose some must have been shocked. Theologians have been studying and arguing and contemplating the essence of God for two thousand years, yet Young doesn't seem to have any background in any of that. I know it's a novel, it's fiction, but he has no idea of the concept of the Trinity, which is at the heart of Christianity (reference here his questioning God re: the hierarchy between the Trinity). Less than mediocre theology, it read like Religion Lite (although perhaps that's what some want). Unsatisfying ending.

The Albert Gate Mystery by Louis Tracy OOP 1904 mystery downloaded onto Fred from, this Sherlock Holmesian barrister/detective story was so enjoyable I downloaded all Tracy's other books. Surprisingly strong secondary female character who is written sympathetically, and gets to be the one who takes a bullet intended for someone else (in fact, the only bullet in the story). Locked room murder mystery with stolen diamonds, and trips to Paris and Palermo--perfect for lovers of the Golden Age of Mystery.

Lady Susan by Jane Austen I had no idea there were other Austen publications beyond the Big Six. Novella written in the form of letters, Lady Susan is not your typical Austen heroine, but the Austen humor is already well honed in this early effort.

The Camp Fire Girls at Camp Keewaydin by Hildegard G. Frey I've loved children's series since a child (blame Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls), and the plethora of them available now online for downloading is making me one happy camper (pun intended). Typical early 20th century girls story with moral at the end, but definitely above par for this genre when it comes to descriptions of nature.


  1. No offense taken.
    But you're the only person I know who's read the book and not liked it.
    Oh, well, I won't share my favorites with you anymore - don't want to waste your time. You could be reading what you like instead...

  2. Just not my style, that's all, but I bet you knew that before you gave it to me. It's good for me to change my normal reading material and try something new, so I don't consider it a wasted read. But I can't lie and rave about it. And I admit the set-up was better than I'd expected. The author made me feel what that bereaved father was going through. I think the author just bit off too much than he could chew theologically, and since that was what the majority of the book dealt with, I found it too simplistic.

    Perhaps if you're floudering in your own ideas of spirituality and religion, this might be a book that helps you on your journey. But I'm not, and this is not my idea of God. Oh, not the way God was pictured--I have no problem of thinking of God as a black woman or a creature with two green heads covered in polka dots. But trying to explain why bad things happen to believing people is very difficult, and I don't think the author did a good job of that.

    This is part of the 'years of expanding my reading horizons because my brain is turning to mush' New Year's resolution of last year, which is why I joined that Internet book club in 2009. I would never have read Anna Karenina otherwise. Nor would I have read The God of Small Things years ago if my friend S hadn't loved it. I didn't, but then again, just a matter of taste. I did think that book was well written, but I don't like books where bad things happen to children.