Sunday, April 28, 2013

Middle Sister's April 2013 Books

Despite a crazy work schedule and a writing assignment and final exams to grade, I did manage to get four books read this month.

  • Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black The latest in the Aimee Leduc mystery series set in Paris. These are not cosies, with grim stories and gory murders. This one is no different, except that we get to spend a lot of time listening in to Aimee as she struggles with finding out more about her mother while trying to solve the murder of an elderly gentleman whose Modigliani painting has vanished. Was I surprised by who her mother was? No. Did I enjoy the murder and mystery? Partly. Grim murders always depress me, but I enjoy art mysteries, and despite the Lenin-Modigliani connection (I have no idea if such a connection ever existed, but Black creates a realistic connection between the two), I enjoyed this one. Did I enjoy the last page? No. Most definitely not. I don't want to ruin the book for any who might pick it up, but not being a fan of long story arcs and fictional soap operas, the last page ruined an otherwise engrossing book for me. (NetGalley ARC on my Kindle)
  • Death of a Kingfisher by M. C. Beaton Count me among those who will confess to a slight fictional crush on Hamish MacBeth. And while I haven't read all 27 books that preceded this one, you don't have to in order to enjoy these cosy police procedurals (now there's a contradiction in terms) set in a tiny town in Scotland. The murdered bodies were strewn about and quite numerous in this one, and Ms. Beaton is not afraid to let bad children be bad. A visit to Lochdubh is always a pleasant excursion. Well, as long as you're not one of the victims. Two of my favorite in one book--mysteries and birding--of course I enjoyed it. (Audiobook)
  • Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley Yes, I wish I were Flavia de Luce, all grown up. This is the latest in the erudite series starring a chemistry-loving pre-teen English girl, her older sisters (they don't get along) and widowed father (very eccentric), living in a rambling old mansion in 1950s England. This may be the best mystery series to have been published in the past 10 years. Even if you didn't love Nancy Drew as a child (Flavia is no Nancy Drew, trust me), or cosy mysteries, you cannot help but enjoy a series that is so well-written, so finely drawn, so, well, smart. You'll learn a little bit about chemistry, too. Who wouldn't enjoy, sure as shandygaff, the rollicking good time a book with Flavia ensures? (NetGalley ARC on my Kindle)
  • Brush with Death by Karen MacInerney The latest in the Gray Whale Inn mystery series. As usual, Ms. MacInerney's physical descriptions are wonderful--the winter snow and ice numbing the bones, the sparkling clothes worn by one regular character, all are well written and draw the reader in. And she's not afraid to kill off a recurring character, which is refreshing (albeit sad). But my enjoyment of a pleasant-enough story was marred by the terrible Kindle formatting and even worse editing. Missing quotation marks and hyphens, and spaces inserted where they don't belong, pale beside egregious errors like a secondary character whose name changes (Zelda is called Vivian, and it's not a mistake on the part of the speaker); Natalie muses how glad she is she made a spare lasagna the month before that she can serve surprise guests, and the next page muses how glad she is she made a spare lasagna the week before. I've not noticed Midnight Ink Press having this many obvious errors in any of the other books they've published, but when someone who's just reading for fun and escape (like me) notices the mistakes, they have to be prolific and obvious. (NetGalley ARC on my Kindle)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Li'l Sis has 2nd April Read!

Go figure! Stockpiling reviews for work, I just read Dream with Little Angels by Michael Hiebert. A trade original, it's not on sale until July.  This is a great Southern mystery; it made me remember how cool it was to be a kid (way back when) and did hit home with its focus on family and friendship.  But there's a very disturbing mystery behind the warm southern autumn; I'm not giving the whole plot away, so I have to wait until July to elaborate. But I love reading new authors! This book will be in our great reading program at work, so look for it in your grocery this summer!


Middle Sister's March 2013 Books

The Alpine Xanadu by Mary Daheim  I prefer Daheim's other mystery series to this one, but thought maybe it was time I revisited Alpine. I almost wish I hadn't. I'd forgotten how annoying some of the characters are, how the author doesn't explain relationships or introduce people, assuming the reader will remember from previous books who everyone is, their history, and everything that makes characters leap from the page and become someone you care about. If you like a long-running soap opera with a little murder thrown in, you'll enjoy this series. If you like a clever or unusual crime, enough backstory to keep characters and their relationships and histories straight, this may not be the series for you. (NetGalley)

Crochet One Skein Wonders by Judith Durant and Edie Eckman Lovely crochet pattern book for one skein, quick projects. Unique arrangement by yarn weight, not pattern type, which I loved, as sometimes you don't want to search through an entire book to find a pattern for that sport weight yarn in your hand. Great little projects, lovely photographs, nice layout--all crocheters will want this book. (NetGalley)

Glimpses of the Moon by Edmund Crispin You know that Gervase Fen is one of my fictional crushes, so of course I'm over the moon to see him back in print. Late Golden Age of Mystery series with the most erudite amateur detective (an Oxford don) and some of the funniest, laugh-out-loud scenes ever put to page in a mystery. Who else can incorporate the words stridulating and paynimry and pleonasm and scybalum in a mystery? Who else can write sentences like ""She wallowed in Routh's respectfulness like a hippopotamus in a mud-bank?" This is the last of series, so if you've never read Crispin, start with the first and make your way through all nine stories. You will not regret it. And you, too, will become a FenFan. (NetGalley)

A Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim Charming short novel that will be enjoyed by all lovers of gardens and books. I adore that she calls her husband the Man of Wrath and yet so clearly loves him and is loved and respected in return. "Books have their idiosyncrasies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and time in which they are read suits them." "What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden." If you can read this in a beautiful garden, so much the better. (Kindle)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Li'l Sis' April Read-So Far!

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Whoa! Had to write about this one.  It takes "Hot for Teacher" to a whole new level.
As mentioned on Amazon, the lead character recounts her "seduction" of a 14-year old student. Yes, 14!!
To quote some adjectives on Amazon, as I do not want to give this away (it goes on sale 7/2)--she is "remorseless..Psycho-esque...monstrously misplaced..."
Now, I am 40-something, and can understand the attraction an older woman may have for a younger man....that is, a younger MAN, not a BOY!  This book is to me so controversial, bringing a new, horrific perspective to the world of fiction.  I've even told my contact that sent me the proof, I don't know how the author could have delved into this character and come out unscathed.  Not for the younger reader for sure!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Big Sis' March Books 2013

Well, two books.  That's it.  This whole "my husband is laid up and bored out of his skull" thing has really put a damper on my reading time...  I'm spending an awful lot of time entertaining him when I'm home.  He's not one for entertaining himself.  (PS:  That is something that should have been disclosed pre-marriage!  LOL!)

The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult - This wasn't what I expected, it was much more historical than previous books.  It takes place now, but flashes back to the Holocaust for a large part of the book.  Sage is a baker, and she works the night shift because she feels safer in the dark.  She was in a car accident that disfigured her face, and ultimately killed her mom.  She feels started at and noticed during the day, so she tends to work at night and only see a few people during the day.  The owner of the bakery is an ex-nun, which becomes important later in the book.  A bakery customer becomes friends with Sage and eventually asks her to help him die, in reparation, in part, for all he did as an SS officer during WWII.  Sage struggles with this request, which forces her to learn more about her grandmother's life as a survivor.  The ending was expected, with a twist...

True Love, Jude Deveraux (Kindle edition, via netgalley.com) - So glad I didn't pay full price for the book, but it was certainly worth "free."  It takes place on Nantucket, with a recent architectural graduate falling for a famous architect who, it turns out, has strong ties to her mom and dad, ties she knows nothing about until much later in the book.  If you like ghost stories and love stories, it's okay.

Six Years, Harlan Coben - I'm 1/2 way through this book and will have my review in April...