Saturday, June 30, 2012

Middle Sis' June 2012 Books

Well, a large part of my recreational time in June was spent reading The Mill on the Floss, which I am still only two-thirds through. My book group begins another title tomorrow (Thomas Hardy), so I may or may not finish this one. Well written, some interesting characters, but interminable. I feel terribly guilty at not having finished it. I have no idea why I can't.

I did spend some time monitoring a county crew this month, so I had a chance to get a lot of fast reading in on my down time (Mill was on my Kindle, which is not excruciating heat friendly). Forthwith:
  1. It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. How to declutter. I am happy to say that according to his quiz, I am one of those few who are not buried under clutter. But I do have some closets that need to be cleaned out and some bad housekeeping habits I need to break, so this very fast read may not (hopefully) have been in vain. (library hardcover)
  2. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo. Very fast, fairly engaging read. This reader wanted to smack the heroine upside the head after about the fifth time she said that Austen's books had led her to believe that everyone has their happy ending (I'm not sure what Jane Austen she read; the one I've read had plenty of characters fail to have happy endings.). I had a whole page of detailed notes or comments. My dog ate it. Just as well, I guess. Printed on nice paper and very few typos. Good beach read, even if I read it sitting on a bucket on the side of a broken sewer line. Oh, glamorous life. (present from Lil' Sis)
  3. P Is for Peril by Sue Grafton. Kinsey Milhone in yet another mystery where she's not sure she likes the people who have hired her. Interesting twist at the end that I really didn't see coming. As with every alphabet title, recommended. (extremely old galley from Big Sis)
  4. The Spirit Woman by Margaret Coel. Mystery and murder surrounding academics trying to determine when Sacagawea really died. A long-lost memoir could re-write modern history, and make or break academic careers, but someone is willing to kill to keep them from coming to light. Interesting main character is a priest on a Native reservation. He's assisted in his investigation by the only female Native lawyer on the res. It was a relief to see a priest depicted as a decent, honest person, with foibles, but not the devil incarnate. Well written and gripping, but I was completely depressed because every single female character in this book is physically abused by her husband or boyfriend, every single one. Read this just as the congressional inquiry into rapes on reservations was in the news, so it was timely. Not much has changed, sadly. (library discarded book sale paperback)
  5.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Big Sis gave me the whole ebook edition series for my birthday, which is wonderful as I never made it past book 4 when taking the books out from the library. So I'm beginning at the beginning, and am going to try to read one every month or so. Obviously great, but I did see one glaring error: muggle is never defined. They are talking about Draco's snide comments about students who are only half-wizards, and then Harry uses the word 'muggle' but it had never been introduced before, so how did he know that word? I finally will catch up with the rest of the universe. (ebook)
  6. Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss. Shawls, my dear gentle readers, are very hot in the knitting and crocheting world right now. Very hot. And let me tell you why--they are super fun to make. I myself have made about 6 or 7 in the past year. This book is a nice addition to the other shawl pattern books out there, but I caution other knitters: there are quite a few cowls and skinny scarves in here, title aside. Some of her patterns are gorgeous and have unique shapes, but there are no crescent-shaped shawls, which are particularly capsaicinesque right now. Big props given for listing the weight and kind of yarn used for each shawl at the back of the book, so that substitutions can be made. Nice variety of shawls from simple to complex should make this interesting for any shawl addict. Gorgeous photos; one model in particular is stunningly gorgeous. (NetGalley galley).
  7. Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor. Only a die-hard knitter would happily read a book about nothing but various methods to cast on and bind off. And boy, was this knitter happy to find this book! Ms. Bestor included some techniques I'd never heard of before. Mucho big props given for telling the knitter when each particular method would work best. Nice photos demonstrating all the steps to each cast on and bind off technique. This book immediately went onto my Amazon wish list. I have other knitting basics book, but they all only have 1 or 2, at most, cast on techniques, and just the standard bind off method. I want this book, badly. (NetGalley galley)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Big Sis' Reads - May 2012

Here we go...  the last of my Kindle reads for a while...

What Doesn't Kill You, by Iris Johansen (Kindle Edition) - Not my favorite in recent years, this one was about Catherine Ling, Eve Duncan's new friend.  It's about her relationship with Hu Chang and John Gallo (Eve's ex lover), and I thought that would hold my interest, but, eh...  So-so...  I was disappointed.  It was still a good read, but it just wasn't good enough, not up to Ms. Johansen's usual...

A Brewing Storm, by Richard Castle (Kindle Edition) - "Part 1 of the Derrick Storm Trilogy" - "A Derrick Storm Short" - One of those special Kindle stories, specifically written to offer readers something in between books, this was okay, much better, say, than the Cherry Adair short I reviewed a few months ago...  Richard Castle did a much better job with this "short" than the other few I've read.  Derrick comes out of early retirement to solve a high-profile kidnapping, along with April Showers....  Yes, Derrick STORM and APRIL SHOWERS.  Despite that, it was still a fun read!

Tuesday's Child, by Fern Michaels - I still have some connections and this ARC (the actual book is releasing June 26, 2012) was okay.  I used to read a lot of her books, but as I've gotten older, I've been much less interested in historical romances, and much more likely to read a modern day romance.  I liked the idea of a middle aged heroine, since yours truly is rapidly approaching those years herself (isn't it funny that at 51-1/2, I seriously don't consider myself middle-aged!?  But that's a topic for another blog post!), and I liked the plot twist...  Mikaela Aulani is a Hawaiian attorney, getting ready to retire, when all of a sudden, "the case that got away" is back in her lap.  The wife of a 10-year murder victim comes and confesses that HE killed his wife and that Kala's client, convicted and in jail for 10 years, is innocent.  It wrapped up a bit too easily, it really needed another chapter or two of plot, but it was okay.

11th Hour, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - I've spoken before about how impressed I am that Mr. Patterson is giving other up and coming authors a hand...  I LIKED this one!  Lindsay Boxer is pregnant, and she has marital troubles 'til they get better at the end of the book, but I liked the body-less heads in the backyard, the household staff members who are quote obviously suspects, the cool "compound" the suspected bad guy lives in...  Quick and fun read - Mom will love it when I pass it along!

Beautiful Sacrifice, by Elizabeth Lowell - I really thought I was going to pass this one along to Middle Sis - here's the book description, according to amazon.com: 

     According to Maya legend, December 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world as we know it. Is it myth . . . or will their prediction become reality?
     Archaeologist Lina Taylor has devoted her life to studying ancient Maya artifacts, splitting her time between digs in South America and the classroom teaching college students. But the professor's structured, academic life is about to spin out of control. Some extremely valuable and important Maya artifacts have gone missing. Are the culprits fanatics determined to create chaos and usher in annihilation?
     Helping out a friend, former immigration and customs enforcement officer Hunter Johnston is determined to recover the missing pieces and he needs Lina's help. A man used to calling the shots and working alone, he isn't comfortable letting anyone get close, especially a beautiful and brainy woman like Lina. His gift for reading people tells him there's a lot going on below that professional exterior, and he's more than a little curious to probe her depths.
     Burying herself in her work, Lina's had little experience handling men, especially one as fascinating and exasperating as the secretive, headstrong Hunter. A devoted archaeologist, she has the skill to excavate those protective layers all the way to his core.
     But finding the missing artifacts is only the beginning of a mystery that will plunge these unlikely partners into adventure, romance, and danger more thrilling, sensual, and deadly than either of them knows. . . .

BUT, the book, the story, it was disappointing.  Not enough Maya stuff for sis, an okay whodunnit, but not Ms. Lowell's best.  I read a LOT of the book before I cared at all about the characters - I didn't like Lina or Hunter until halfway through the book.  A lesser reader might have given up long before that point...

Vortex, by Cherry Adair - Another in the Cutter Cay series of books, I liked it.  Logan saves Daniela, Daniela helps Logan find the treasure he and his salvage company are looking for, Logan saves her again from her criminal cousins plus other assorted bad guys from her past...  It was a quick and fun read, and you don't have to have read the previous Cutter Bay novels to get it - you would just know Logan's brothers when they're mentioned...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Middle Sister's May Read

Yup, May read. Singular. Not plural. I read one book in May.

Oh, I've been reading. I started "The Mill on the Floss" by George Eliot for my book club on May 1. I'm still reading it. I'm only one-third the way through. Here's the kicker--I like the way Eliot writes, her descriptions of the Dodson sisters is hilarious, and yet the book is moving so slowly, it's like walking though molasses. I've been told by a fellow book club member it will pick up, so I'm plugging away at it. I needed a break over the holiday weekend, however, so I started "Harry Potter" number 1 (thanks, Big Sis!).

But I did read a book loaned by a friend, so here's my impressions of Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan. It's a young adult novel, aimed at the 10-13 crowd. Naomi and her brother live with their great-grandmother in a Gulf Airstream affectionately known as Baby Beluga. When Naomi's mother reappears after many years, family relationships, Naomi's self-confidence, and a journey through emotions as well as Mexico change everything. A delightful, quick read in which the characters wind up in one of my favorite places: Oaxaca, Mexico. Naomi is an unusual girl of unusual talents, and many girls her age would find her a sympathetic role model. I love how the author didn't sugar coat Naomi's mother, or make Naomi blind to her shenanigans. Kids deal very matter-of-factly with things that adults sometimes think it's best to hide from them.