Saturday, October 31, 2015

Middle Sister's October Reads

October has been quite wet out here, and there was plenty of bedtime reading, listening to the rain spattering outside and the wind chimes softly tinkling. Ideal reading weather.

Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet I borrowed this book from the library based solely on its cover, I admit it. The description seemed right up my alley--murder in a small English country town, with a priest as the amateur detective. Well, there was a lot to like. There was a plan of the village on the flypaper (I love a book with maps); there were village eccentrics, some of whom I liked and some of whom were slightly annoying; there were some red herrings. But I didn't like our Anglican priest as much as I thought I would. I found it quite jarring when Reverend Max lectured a family on the apparel o their daughter at services. It added nothing to the plot at all, and just served to rile up my feminist sides. "Men need women to help set the boundaries--not the other way around." Excuse me? Men can't control themselves around a little female flesh? How outdated and infuriating an attitude, and since this was fairly early in the book, it didn't set me up to like him more.I didn't find his romance with Awena believable or realistic, nor his relationships with his bishop or the DCI. His bishop calls him in to counsel him against this investigating he's been doing (this is not the first in the series) and then ends the conversation by telling Max he'd better investigate this murder. At first the bishop is worried because Awena is not Anglican and then he's all for them marrying (of course, he doesn't know that she is essentially Wiccan). Which is it? DCI Cotton is a likable fellow, but the dynamics of their friendship pale beside that between Sidney (an Anglican priest) and Geordie (the DCI) in the Grantchester series. Mac/Cotton's relationship is almost a bromance, if I can steal that word from fan fiction circles. If I read another, it will be for the supporting characters, who were more interesting to me than the main characters.As for the murder mystery, interesting, but not necessarily believable in terms of coincidence. (hardcover)

The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Thyroid Disorders by Mario Shugor Factually accurate but offers nothing to the reader who is looking for advice on handling what appear to be endocrine-related symptoms but whose T4 and other values are within normal range. Little discussion of Hashimoto's disease, which is why I wanted to read it. (Kindle)

Lucia and the Diplomatic Incident by Tim Holt Luciaphiles, rejoice. This short story published originally in the Lucia society bulletin is now available as a Kindle short. The main thrust (that Lucia would read Miss Mapp's mail) was not convincing; my Lucia would not stoop so low, but would have guessed what the contents of the letter were from the return address alone. But it was lovely seeing my favorite characters in a new encounter.

Next month: my book club tackles the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, which is quite long and which I started the third week of October.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Big Sis' Reads

Coming soon...

Under construction...

No excuse for the fact I haven't posted in a year!!!

I kept my list of titles so I'll be back with some updates soon - rather than reviewing EVERY book I read, perhaps I'll post the highlights of the time I've been MIA and then once I'm caught up, I'll go back to every book I read...

Opinions, anyone?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Middle Sister's July, August, and September Reads

Well, I have some catching up to do!

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Brillat-Savarin Book club selection. Odd treatise on food and lifestyles, with a couple of prescient observances re: the importance of fresh air and sleep. I just wish my copy included the translations of the French passages.

The Midsummer Crown by Kate Sedley A Roger the Chapman mystery set in medieval England during the tumultuous summer after the death of Edward IV and the accession of Edward V and then Richard III. The author does a great job reconstructing medieval England, and the book is very atmospheric. The mystery is good, with elements of religion and paganism woven into the unsettled political milieu.

A Brisket, A Casket by Delia Rosen Cosy mystery set a Jewish deli in Nashville. I admit I got a little tired of the in-your-face attitude of the main character by page 49, never a good sign. I wanted to like the police protagonist, but when he subtly paid her a compliment on her looks while interrogating her as a suspect, I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room. (Never fear, I love my Kindle way too much to risk it.) I hate it when professionals are made to act little junior-high students.Or when interesting supporting characters and their dialogue, necessary to introduce them to the reader, are belittled by the main character. I stuck it out, even though it was very clear early on who the murderer was, but the final straw was the last paragraph, when Gwen accepted a date with Royce, the annoying guy she turned down for several sentences before saying yes. Pushy men are not acceptable in my book. No means no. So no, I'm not visiting this series again.

Murder a 'La Mode by G. A. McKevett  Fun little mystery that takes place on the set of a medieval times reality show in Texas. Savannah is a fun, endearing character, her supporting cast is equally engaging, and the situation is timely and funny. And I really like the grumpy bear of a detective/probable love interest for Savannah, Dirk. Yea, she didn't act like a 40-year-old woman should act, especially with regard to Lance Roman the model, but the rest of the story was entertaining, so I overlooked that grating element. I will visit this series again.

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper An interesting way to start a story--our heroine's restaurant has failed, so she runs home to lick her wounds. I wanted to like Sophie and her grandmother a little bit more than I did, but I did enjoy the mystery and the whodunnit, which was a neat little twist. The setting in upstate New York is nice, and I'd like a little more atmosphere in the next. Not a resounding home run for the first in a new series, but I see potential and will likely read more of the series.

The Beetle by Richard Marsh Book club selection. Creepy! I am not a horror fan, so what creeps me out may not even cause an eyeflicker in a seasoned fan of the genre. But the general consensus amongst my fellow book club readers was that the creepy atmosphere in this book was excellent, and we all confessed to our skin crawling at times. We also agreed that the ending was a bit unsatisfactory, but we all enjoyed getting to it immensely. I recommend this to anyone who likes horror and wants to explore some of the historical past of the genre.

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie I did enjoy the Grantchester mystery series on Masterpiece on PBS this year, so when I stumbled across this second (or maybe third) book in the series, I wanted to give it a try. Mostly dialogue, but when Mr. Runcie decides to describe a setting, he's very good. The book is composed of several short stories that take place consecutively over several years, so we don't get as much character development of the love story and how Sidney comes to fall in love with his wife, but they are still still easy to read, and were a lovely reminder of my time on Cambridge and my walks and punts on the river Cam to Grantchester.

Oak and Dagger by Dorothy St. James I gave up on this one. I was first irritated that someone working in the White House would not be confused that the latest set of plans she had for the irrigation system was 30 years old. I was further irritated when the murder victim was found, and, after making several allusions to the previous mysteries the heroine had been involved in, she acts like a ninny. Okay, I get the victim is a coworker, I get shock, but I don't get ninniness. By the time we hit the back story of her serial murderer father, which was three irritations later, I decided that this was a cosy-in-disguise, and not a very good one at that. I dislike panning a book, but I can't recommend this one at all. Which is too bad, as the historical tie-in with the First Ladies was a great idea, the dog on the cover was cute, and I've actually been to Washington DC and so could picture some of the setting in my mind.