Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Maybe Late, But Here Are Middle Sis' November Books

Better late than never, eh?  I spent a lot of time reading The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope for my online reading group, and I'm halfway through it but am not sure I'm going to finish. I hate to admit that, as I always feel compelled to finish a book once I start it. There's so much incessant wallowing over the same thing for dozens of pages, dragging on and on and on... Lizzie refuses to give up the diamonds! Lord Faun is insulted by Frank Greystoke! Lucy Morris is offended by Lord Faun calling Frank Greystone "not a gentleman!" Frank is a weenie and won't tell Lizzie he is engaged to Lucy!  Please. I'm not a big fan of melodrama, so while I appreciate Trollope's sly witticisms and acerbic social commentary, this is all getting on my nerves. Rather than opening the book with great anticipation, I open it with a sigh of resignation.

I've also been reading the brand new "The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival" by Stephen Palumbi and Carolyn Sotka, and I am enjoying it immensely. It's sort of science-light, with the emphasis on the people who helped turn Monterey Bay around, but the history of Euro-American use of the bay for whaling and fishing is interesting and seems well researched. I will finish this one for sure. Lovely pen and ink sketches of the wildlife, and maps--I love books with maps.

So what did I read and actually finish last month?

Drop Dead Divas by Virginia Brown, the second in the Dixie Divas mystery series. I read this back to back with book one, and that may have been a mistake. The book begins the same way as the first novel did, with Bitty again accused of murder. Oh no, I thought, don't make this a habit, Ms. Brown, or I'll stop reading this series, but she quickly extricated Bitty from the circle of suspects, which is good. She also reduced the number of Divas running around, which was confusing in the first book--also good. A couple of little inconsistencies were present: one of the main characters this time around was a member of the Divas in the first book, but Trinket is musing in this second one that she'd be a great addition to the Divas; hopefully, this was straightened out before printing (I was reading a galley). Otherwise, not a bad entry in the series, although do insurance investigators really have access to the same--or better--Internet sources than the police? I hope Trinket gets over thinking her very well adjusted folks are teetering on the brink of dementia just because they want to enjoy their retirement, and will realize that she's seeing them as adults rather than as parents for the first time and it's clearly a shock to her.I hope the mysteries will not always involve an ex-amour of Bitty as that will get old fast. I also hope that Trinket stops babysitting Bitty, as their lawyer's insistence she do so after she, Trinket, was seriously hurt in a car accident made me quite annoyed. I do like how Ms. Brown is letting Trinket and the vet's romance move at an appropriately adult pace, but may I point out that people can tell the difference between bad singing and drowning or choking sounds and no one would burst into a bathroom without knocking? And may I also point out that real women do not engage in cat fights, ever? Very juvenile antics this reader did not appreciate. The scene of Chitling racing away from the lingerie store with a certain item in her mouth--hilarious! I was almost rolling over on the floor with laughter. The mystery is not so mysterious and easy to figure out, but the series does hold promise. I love a main character in her fifties who is active and full of life and vim and vigor.

To Have and To Kill by Mary Jane Clark  Another galley read this month, with murder swirling around a soap opera actress. At first I thought the amateur detectives would be the mother-daughter pair, and I get excited, thinking a unique approach like that would be fun, but the main character is the daughter, Piper, an out-of-work actress dealing with a number of big changes in her life--moving back, hopefully temporarily, into her parent's home in NJ as she can no longer afford to live on her own in NYC, her mother's macular degeneration, and helping out at her mother's bakery may be a slide to abandoning her own career. I liked Piper, I liked her folks, I liked the premise. I hated the tweeting. Do twenty-somethings really wake up and reach to tweet before even visiting the bathroom? If so, I fear for the future. At least the author incorporated the tweeting into the story line because if she hadn't, I'd have decided never to read another in this new series again. I guess I am a Luddite after all. Although I was reading this on my Kindle, would a Luddite do that?  Hopefully the next book will not make use of the same plot device. But it takes place in my old home state, NJ, so that's a plus, the mother-daughter dynamic could go in some wonderful directions, so I recommend this cosy.

The Sisters Grimm, Book 1: The Fairytale Detectives by Michael Buckley What if fairy tale characters were real? And lived in upstate New York? And what would happen if the giants were able to make their way down the beanstalk to wreak havoc as mercenaries for an evil Ever After out to seize power? And what if the only people who can stop them were a delightful Mrs. Grimm and her two granddaughters, descendants of Jacob Grimm, one of the Brothers Grimm? Delightful children's story, the first entry in a series.

Chanticleer: A Thanksgiving Story by Cornelius Mathews (1850)  Feel good slice of mid-nineteenth century life, this short novella will warm the cockles of your heart as it tells the story of the Peabodys and their Thanksgiving reunion. Scmaltzy? A little. Outdated terms? Yup, with a few cringe-inducing depictions of minorities. But the basic message about forgiveness and family love and patriotism still rings true (especially that last, this was a pre-Civil War story with striking parallels to the state of disunion present in the country today), and it was entertaining to read about thanksgiving 160 years before I settled down to my own. 

And that's it. Sad, huh? But my students had their museum assignment that I had to research, write and grade, Mother of Mossy had bronchitis over Thanksgiving, and I spent way too much time with Mr. Trollope. Over 12,000 locations on my Kindle, and a mass market cheesy mystery is maybe 5000-6000 locations. It would be a very thick book I'd be lugging around if not for the magic of Fred my Kindle. Another coworker, after seeing mine and S's (she bought one after seeing mine) has now bought her own, so the Kindle Kult, as Homer calls it, expands. LOL


  1. Mysteries. Yum! Started The Breach by Patrick Lee; couldn't get into it. Abandoned ship. But I am working on kitchen art project. It will take me a while. I was just sitting on the floor trying to set it up and whoa, I am not as young as I used to be. Youch! :o)

  2. Ooh, a kitchen art project. Can't wait to see.

    I bought some felt last year to make a red, brown, and green leafy bough to decorate with. Haven't made it yet, but might next weekend. I even bought stencils to trace!

  3. Very autumnal! I'm going back years into the world of pastels. I used the pencil set you gave me for my sketch. If this comes out I will post it!