Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mid Sis' July Reads

I must say, this technology stuff I'm playing with has definitely upped how many books I read a month. The following were read either on my Kindle Fred, listened to on my iPod Nano, or were DTBs (dead tree books in ebook lingo).
  1. My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1919). What can I say? It's Wodehouse! Laughs a minute. I didn't like the non-Jeeves short stories as much, but still good for a guffaw at how innocents can get caught up in a bungled mess when they just try to help someone out. (Kindle)
  2. Wood Ladies by Percival Gibbon (1913). OOP fairy tale about a girl kidnapped by fairies from her garden. Cute and short, but might scare little ones. (Kindle)
  3. Talking About Detective Fiction by P. D. James (2009). Essays written by Baroness James to detail why we, and she, love detective fiction as much as we do, and structured with an historical slant--beginning with the earliest mysteries and ending mid-century, for the most part. Heavy on classic  British authors, with just two classic American authors mentioned. And I've read most of them! Good on me. (Library DTB)
  4. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883). I never read this as a child because I thought it was boys' fiction and boys had cooties and therefore anything boys read could not possibly be interesting. Avast, me hearties, was I wrong! Lots of fun, a delightful summer read. My online book club selected this for our July/August title, and unanimous agreement is that it's a classic for a reason. Great writing, races along at a merry clip, and enough action to keep even today's jaded readers interested. Now I'm searching for accessible titles by his cousin, Dorothy Stevenson. (Kindle)
  5. Murder on the Marais by Cara Black (1999). Listened to during marathon training. Middling mystery, with the main character almost a bit unbelievable in her Super Sleuth/Super Woman ability to pop her own dislocated shoulder back in, shimmy down a gutter, and hang onto a pole for dear life to keep from plunging several stories to her own death--all within 2 days. It exhausted me just reading it. Makes me wish I knew more about Paris, though, because many references are made to streets which might be real. Wonder if the DTB had a map in it? Interesting thread throughout how modern Europeans have dealt with their Nazi or Nazi-affected pasts. (Nano)
  6. Designed to Die by Chloe Green (2001). Fashion industry mystery that starts off quite funny and would have been much better cut off a chapter early. The motives were fine and worked and would have been a much better fit with the comical mystery subgenre until Green decided to through in a curve ball with money laundering, government agents, fake deaths, and other nonsense in the last chapter. She should have quit while she was ahead. And I can't believe that models eat as much as her model characters do. They were eating all the time! If that were true, they'd weigh the same as normal people if they did. And not believing that breaks the spell over whether or not Green is really knowledgeable about the fashion world and fashion styling as she would want her readers to suspect, or just making it up. (Nano)
  7. The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson (2008). Read to help pump me up for my marathon. Started out with an interesting discussion of the many verbs in English for different styles and kinds of walking. Interesting historical tidbits about marathon walkers in Victorian and Edwardian times who walked for sport and entertainment. Totally fell apart when Nicholson let his own self-imposed "I'm way more cool than you" aspects show through. He couldn't believe working class people could appreciate the beauty and silence of a modern formal garden built in Sheffield to commemorate a soccer tragedy? This working class woman (who visited formal gardens for fun with her family--remember Longwood Gardens, my sisters?) resents that blatant snobbishness. (Library DTB)
  8. Sinister Island by Charles Wadsworth Camp (1915). Extremely atmospheric OOP mystery that takes place on an isolated swampy island down South. Dripping with claustrophobic, dense vegetation, menacing snakes, brutal nineteenth century slave trader/murderer backdrop--I loved it! Will definitely be uploading more to Fred to enjoy. (Kindle)
  9. The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen (1894). Science fiction novella about what happens when the human brain is tampered with to allow a meeting with the Greek god Pan, and the horror that ensues over decades. Totally out of character for me, but I enjoyed it. (Kindle)
  10. Winter's Passage by Julie Kagawa (2010). Teen fantasy novella, a continuation in a series where a half human, half fey (that's fairy to us oldsters) teenaged girl discovers who she is and becomes drawn into the Fae wars. I probably would not have read this as a teen, but if I had, I would have liked it. Not the fey part; that seems a little silly to me. But Kagawa's physical descriptions of different fey worlds is well done; her description of the ice world had me shivering in the 100+ degree heat of the desert summer. (Kindle)
  11. The Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke (2002). Fairly recent (well, this decade anyway) entry into the Hannah Swenson Cookie Jar mystery series. I always want to like these more than I wind up doing by the time I finish. I want to like Hannah; after all, she a curly-haired redhead. And she makes cookies for a living, and I love cookies. And she lives in a quirky town full of eccentric characters in Minnesota, so I get to visit cold and snow and shiver vicariously. The mysteries are even middling as far pace and story go; enough red herrings and potential murderers to keep the murder from being too obvious (although I guessed whodunnit when the character was introduced just because that person seemed so unlikely to be the murderer). But Hannah's vacillating back and forth over Mike the Cop or Norman the Dentist is still going on, despite the ten or twelve entries in the series. There's no spark of romantic tension at all amongst these three, and Fluke isn't able to generate any interest in which man Hannah will wind up with. Just pick one, Hannah, it really doesn't matter which. Cookie recipes included. (Nano)

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