Thursday, March 31, 2011

Middle Sister's March 2011 Books

March turns out to have been a fairly productive month for me, book-wise, even if the books weren't extremely entertaining. So here we go:

  • The Lord is My Shepherd: The Psalm 23 Mysteries by Debbie Viguie Okay, let me tall you off the bat:  Psalm 23 doesn't show up at all in this cosy Christian mystery. I'm not a big CF fan, but Lent started in mid-March, I was thinking maybe this would be a way to test the subgenre; I gave it a shot. I'd have to grade this book a C+. It was way too gory for a cosy mystery, and although there were not pages of descriptions dripping blood, most cosy readers are not thrilled to read about mass murders, like the entire Passover dinner of 12 people being murdered. Cindy, the main character, was very flat and uninteresting, but the rabbi was more fleshed out, and he'd make a better protagonist. The MO for the murder is more original than most cosy mysteries, and the denouement more harsh than one would expect in the genre. I might read another in the series.
  • Girls to the Rescue, Book 1:Tales of Clever, Courageous Girls from Around the World by Bruce Lansky While some stories in the collection are a modern uptake on classic folk tales designed to give the heroines more spunk for today's girls, other entries are original stories. Some stories are better than others, some more inspiring than others, some more exasperating than others (China? Unicorns?). I think I'd have been bored by these if I were a tween reader. Did I really just use the word tween? C+ for effort
  • Murder in the Gunroom by H. Beam Piper Pretty good mystery set in 1950s New England, with way more information on antique guns than I ever wanted to read about. Mostly male characters, as was the norm in the noir of the era, although at least one female character was portrayed as strong and intelligent. She's not in it much, though. But our hero, Jeff, is not overly macho or Bogie-esque, so this feminist reader was not put off by the masculine vibe the book gives off. B
  • The Prefect's Uncle by P. G. Wodehouse It's Wodehouse, it's funny, it's about cricket. Enough said. Even knowing nothing about cricket (and there is a lot of writing about cricket in this story) this story is still funny as Wodehousian dilemmas and disasters abound. Inspired me to suggest Bertram as my friend's new puppy's name. A
  • Sketches of Church History by James Craigie Robertson COE interpretation of the first 1500 years of the church, but since COE and RC share that history, it was another attempt to undertake some Lenten-related reading; well, some sort of Lenten-related reading. Anyway, interesting-enough tidbits on early church figures and saints, the Anglican point of view only became apparent in the last few hundred years the book covers. Given its publication date in the late nineteenth century, it was not as anti-Papist as it could have been. C
  • Ian Rutledge Mysterious Profiles # 24 by Charles Todd Novella-length promo about the creation of the Ian Rutledge mystery series, the mother-and-son team who write the series together, and short descriptions of each entry in the series to date. Solidified my desire to finally Make Mr. Rutledge's acquaintance. B
  • Antiques Roadkill: A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery by Barbara Allan Another book written by a team, in this case, Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. I've read a couple of his mysteries and they were enjoyable. This wasn't. Brandy is an unsympathetic character (poor baby, reduced to one pair of Manolo Blahnicks--who are these people that worship shoe designers? I love shoes, and I think this is just weird. Sex and the City is over, people, this is the recession era.), unrepentent about her one-night stand yet furious the offended wife told Brandy's ex-husband about it. Shallow and self-centered. Mean to her mother. Vivian is eccentric, maybe starting to become a little senile, but nothing she said or did made me think she was as mentally unstable as the book kept insisting she was, and there was no excuse for the bad mouthing of their mother that Brandy and Peggy Sue continually did. And is the reader supposed to believe that Brandy knows anything about antiques? The tips were stupid (anyone who doesn't know not to try to wipe up dog pee be stepping on the paper towel in their bare feet deserves to do so--this is an antiques tip?) and could have been written by an 8-year-old who knows nothing about antiques. I could have faked it better, and I know nothing about antiques. I solved the mystery by the second murder and I don't even try to solve the mysteries I read. However, the chapter titles were very funny and clearly show someone, somewhere in this mess, has some talent. Constant references to the diabetic dog, but not one mention of Brandy giving the dog insulin shots (yes, I had a diabetic cat for 7.5 years, I know how you take care of a diabetic pet, and leaving extra water for it is not enough.). Throwing meth labs and interstate drug dealing into the latter third of the book seemed like a half-hearted attempt to put some edge on a cosy. Cosies don't need edge; they need a plot and characters the readers like. Will pass on the rest of the series. Unless the authors dump Brandy and focus on Vivian as the amateur detective--now that would be fun and worth reading. D

Friday, March 4, 2011

Big Sis' February Reads

First, YAY, Little Sis!  Glad you were able to take some time to read for pleasure last month!!!

And here are my February reads...

Tick Tock, by James Patterson and Michale Ledwidge - First of all, I love the Michael Bennett series of books.  I love the idea that he's widowed (sad though that is) with 10 adopted children and a young Irish nanny named Mary Catherine.  I like the recurring grandfather priest who seems to have an opinion on everything.  I love the potential tension between Michael and Mary Catherine and I like how it almost came to fruition in this book.  The authors developed a great bad guy in this story, and the way it turned out was a bit of a twist.  The back story of the bullies out on the island was good, too, although perhaps their way of dealing with the bullies might not be the most ideal lesson to teach your children...  Fun!

The Inner Circle, by Brad Meltzer - I've read several books by this author, and they were all located in the political arena of Washington, DC.  This one topped them all 'cause it included books in the US archives, an old historical book seemingly belonging to George Washington, a possible psychic twist, and a bad buy I didn't really expect would be the bad guy!

The Secret Soldier, by Alex Berenson - I started reading these John Wells novels a few years ago.  Sometimes I find them a bit difficult to follow - this one, for instance, although well-written as they all are, was tough because I really don't know anything about the history of Saudi Arabia and the terrorists and wars this country has been through.  So I find myself reading the story and wondering if this particular fact is based on history or if this is part of the fiction that is the storyline...  It still makes for an exciting read, though, if you're into spies and current terrorist history.

I started Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman:  From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels in February and will have that review in March's Big Sis' Reads.  Ree is the author of the blog "The Pioneer Woman" and I love her!  She started her love story on the blog, but enough of her readers wanted the whole story so she put it into romance novel form, and the rest is history, as they say!  Take a look at her blog - if you haven't read it, it runs the gamut from her life on an Oklahoma ranch to homeschooling to photography to cooking: she is also the creator of "Tasty Kitchen," a great cooking blog.  The "Confessions" tab is her everyday.  She's a great writer!  More next month!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Book Contribution!

Ha, I actually finished a book last month! I read "The Woodcutter" by Reginald Hill, due out this August. (hee hee advance read!) I don't want to divulge too much prior to on sale, but I have to say it's hard to decide whether to like or dislike the characters, it was quite a story. Now that I share a home with a "woodcutter" of my own, the was the very first novel I have come across to feature a protagonist with this most dangerous profession. There are parts, though, that do seem distinctly British -- although, P, they are coffee drinkers in this novel, not tea!