31 January 2011

What I am reading: January 2011

  1. Right from the Gecko (2007)
  2. Who's Kitten Who (2007) by Cynthia Baxter: Fluffy and vaguely unsatisfying, which is amazing since the protagonist, Amanda Popper, is a DVM and I would usually find that fascinating. However, she is a real ditz and her relationship with her boyfriend (in law school) is tremendously unsatisfying— there's a backflash to her first proposal refusal, after which they move in together (??). Then, after they get engaged, he breaks the engagement because he's annoyed by her involvement in investigating a murder... bah.(DTM)
  3. Dealing in Murder by Elaine Flinn(2003): I enjoyed this book about an antiques dealer who flees Manhattan for Carmel after her ex involves their business in a scam, tremendously. So much that I immediately went online to see what other books were available and to order them. When I saw that there were only three other books after this, Ms Flinn's first (she had been an antiques dealer for many years, according to the jacket copy), I started looking to see why. I was very sad to discover that cancer had taken her. The internet lets us found out many things so quickly: before I might have ordered her books and wondered at the delay in a new novel and then only after many years discovered the reason. I felt as sad as I did after reading my first novel by Laurie Colwin, to discover that there would only be a few more to enjoy.(DTM)
  4. Still as Death by Sarah Stewart Taylor (2006): I found this such a topical read for me, as one of the themes is the difference in how the "revolution" of the 60's and 70's actually resulted in the treatment of women, particularly in academia. I've been reading about that a lot in the past year, particularly in the wake of the Polanski rape and the Assange accusations: in both cases, women I would have considered feminist( that is—believing that women should have the same rights as all other humans) (as well as the usual men who said that they were) came out swinging against the women involved, even though in the case of Polanski, he had been previously convicted (and had confessed). I have just read this interview with Steinem and Hammad which references this discussion of societal change in the late 60's through early 80's and this mystery, which had the continuing thread of what happened to a female undergrad who committed suicide in 1979, really made me think back to my own college days, not so long after this and then to graduate school, where women in my field were considered outre. I felt the writing was a bit awkward and I was unhappy with some of the character development (I hadn't read the previous three in this series), but I was interested enough to check to see if there was a sequel (and to discover that after an auctorial break, there will likely be one next year).(I was also a bit frightened, after reading of Ms. Flinn's sudden death, to become interested in a new author and discover that the characters were left hanging and the action unfinished.)(DTM)
  5. Death with an Ocean View by Nora Charles(2004):This is copyrighted by Noreen Wald, so I would guess the name on the cover is a homage to Nick and Nora Charles. Kate Kennedy retired to a condo in a small town by Boca with her husband, only to lose him to a heart attack at the closing. When real estate skullduggery impacts her community, her one time sister-in-law and she are dragged into the mystery of who killed the activist in their association and Kate is dragged back into participating in life. A little rough, but not bad for what seems to be her first novel.(DTM)
  6. The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly (2006): This is a pseudonym for Cleo Coyle (which is the wife-husband writing team of Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini) some of whose books I vaguely remember enjoying. This is the third book in the series and I know that I read the first some years ago. Pen McClure takes her young son and returns to her aunt and her hometown after the suicide of her husband where she discovers the wisecracking ghost of a noirish PI who was murdered in the 40's in her Aunt's bookshop. (I have a strange longing to reread The Ghost and Mrs Muir.) This story deals with the death of an elderly man who has just consigned a complete and rare set of Poe to her shop for sale when he dies in a suspicious manner. The interest in the set is intense and leads to the discovery of a belief in a treasure which can only be found through solving clues within a complete set. I can see that my apple did not fall far from the tree as I see where my mom has corrected the many grammatical errors in the editing: really, if books from Penguin can't be trusted to know the difference between the nominative and the accusative, no wonder so many Anglophones are losing the distinction. I enjoyed the book, I think it could have used some editing for plot and more for actual grammar and I found that distracting.(DTM)
  7. If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle (2010): Copyright by Kathleen Beaver, so I'll guess that's her real name. Surprisingly interesting book restoration protagonist Brooklyn Wainwright. Wacky parents who raised her on a commune, strangely high number of colonic comments, interesting setting at a book fair in Edinburgh. I should have read the first one, though, because I feel as if I have come into the middle of the story, albeit an interesting one.(DTM)
  8. A Dose of Murder by Lori Avocato (2004): A first novel by a former nurse, the protagonist is herself a burned out nurse who finds a job, through her roommate, as a medical insurance fraud investigator. Very well written first novel, interesting characters introduced and well written. I see she currently has 6 books about Pauline Sokol out and I will be interested in reading the others.--- I went out to see why she had no Sokol book since 2007 and I see she published one on-line and I recommend checking out her website here.(DTM)
  9. oogy by Larry Levin(exp Nov 2010): This is the first of many ARCs I'm going to be reading, although they should all be past their publication dates by now. I need to start clearing out some of the piles of physical books I have hanging around as I continue to attempt to declutter. This is the story of how a man and his family adopt a terribly abused puppy who has been used as bait in a dog ring. Heart-warming as one might expect, touches on the family and how the couple's children, also adopted, feel about the adoption of the pet. Not terribly deep, but I'm a sucker for pet stories so I enjoyed it. (DTArc)
  10. Ah-Choo: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman (exp Sept 2010): I love stories about disease and illness. (Go read The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett– it will blow your socks off). Even though the cold isn't quite in the category of AIDS, Hanta virus or Ebola, it was a fun read and nicely researched. (DTArc)
  11. Jane: A modern retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner (exp Oct 2010): It's been ages and ages since I've read Jane Eyre and although I recognized the story that I remember in this "reboot", it is a much lighter and fluffier and modern re-telling. I don't know if this story can ever really have the baggage and connotations, as told in modern Western society, of what it really would have meant to be Jane, with no real recourse in her life, in patriarchal and stratified Victorian society. This re-telling didn't even attempt to deal with the real issues of class, gender, and morality that the original told so grippingly that I can still remember it after more than 30 years. Still, it was nice and light and YA (with only a tiny bit of non-graphic sex, so YA not children's). I enjoyed it, but it wasn't Brontë. (DTArc)
  12. Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards(2007): The fourth in a series by (I would guess from the copyright) Emily McGee, I just didn't enjoy it. The protagonist is a minister's wife and in this case she is looking for a parishioner who has "disappeared". Lots of plot twists later, including cross-dressing, stripping, a murder and embezzlement, and there's an answer. I just couldn't work up any interest in the characters, so I won't be looking for other books in this series. (DTM)
  13. Matched by Ally Condie (11/10 DTArc):
  14. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (written 1950, enlarged and published as a novel in 1953, my version 2003 with multiple afterwords by the author): These two books got their own post.

The (M) stands for Mobipocket (the generic form of the file that Kindle Reads) as well as AZW and PRC, the other forms readable by Kindle. Let's leave DT as Dead Tree books. (And perhaps I should add M for books borrowed from my mother:).)I think it's clear what percentage of my reading is becoming e-format. The vast majority are also free, either as public domain or as promotional offers through Amazon and the other online sources I frequent. B stands for Baen, the best of the on-line stores by so many orders of magnitude there is no comparison.

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