30 November 2011

What I am Reading: November 2011

My sleeping pattern is still off as I get over the jet-lag and try to get the house in order We came back with the usual pile of clothing swag (18 pairs of socks for $8.99! and so on) and I am working through re-packing the summer clothes, getting rid of the fall clothes (because it's definitely winter time) and the rain clothes and boots, and moving clothing downward: hand-me-down (thanks to my nieces), Big Sister to Little Sister move-downs, give to friends, give to charity, recycle. It's still pretty chaotic, but I also unpacked six bags, three carry-ons, a stroller (makes Disney so much easier! just to lug stuff around, and then if the evening goes late), two car-seats and two children's backpacks. I'm still working at it all, but it's been proceeding and I'm hoping to get back to a post or two this month.
  1. Infernal Affairs (1996) by Jane Heller: A re-read before it goes back to mom. This reminds me a bit of several books that I must have read in the 90s- divorced woman selling her soul to the devil for a spiffy new body and success. Barbara is a broker in South Florida's Banyon Beach and when this book was written, brokers (or as they are known in Germany, maklers) really did seem to have made deals with the devil (the succeeding years of crashes may have been the devil losing a few rounds). Frothy, light and fun: I enjoyed it.
  2. The Best Years of Flying: a memoir of Howard Hughes & TWA (2011)by Dee Merian: This is a review copy (ARC) that I got in 2011, although the publication date from Headline Books is 2010. This was an interesting book to me, as my aunt was an early flight attendant and I recently scanned some of her collection of photos and was amazed by Europe in the mid-60s (Trevi Fountain empty- cousin dipping her feet in it!). I am also enjoying the new series Pan Am, which although as sexist and racist as the period actually was, is interesting to me. This book is just a bit earlier (late 50's) and the writer is discussing a bit of her time as a flight attendant. It needed more editing: simple issues like noticing that Tony Bennett is not Toni, and so on. It is also a bit facile. But I enjoyed it, because I am always amused reading about that time period and about NY in that period (which she is stationed in when she flies internationally). I could have enjoyed it much more, if the author had been more reflective or more interested in bothe the time and the countries she was discussing, though.
  3. Water Song (A retelling of "The Frog Prince") (2006) by Suzanne Weyn: I brought this with me from the US, with several other modern re-tellings of fairy-tales, and I am finally getting around to reading it so that I can add it to my discard/donate/sell pile: I don't want to keep it. Yes, a "modern" re-telling of the cited tale, set during WWI. A slightly interesting look at the historical period, with heroine Emma Pennington trapped behind the lines in Belgium. An American, New Orleans native who has volunteered for the British is gassed and, with his skin peeling and his eyes bulging, looks froggish. But there is really no fantasy at all in this story. A bit of the occult, as Jack dreams of his mother, a magic woman. But although I enjoyed the bit of history, it didn't grab me enough to make me want to keep it.
  4. Murder by the Glass (2006) by Michele Scott: It's not a good sign when I prefer the recipes to the mystery. Set in the Napa Valley, with protagonist Nikki Sands working at Malveaux Estate. I love wine, I love Napa, but this just didn't interest me.
  5. The Riesling Retribution (2009) by Ellen Crosby: Whereas this was an interesting mystery. Because plot and characterization matter.
  6. A Dead Man out of Mind (1994) by Kate Charles: I didn't much like the last David Middleton-Brown book I read, but this one was better, with more interesting characterization, less emphasis on a prior problematic relationship, and the ecclesiastical detail was a bit more interesting to me. The relationship between David and Lucy Kingsley (an artist) is developing and more interesting.
  7. Stamped Out (2008) by Terri Thayer: First in the "A Stamping Sisters Mystery" series. April Butchert, rubber stamp and restoration expert, returns to her home town to work with her father and resolves open mysteries from her departure years before. Recovering from a failed marriage and sabotaged career her work is interrupted when a body is found. A good start.
  8. Moving is Murder (2006) by Sara Rosett: A first "Mom Zone" mystery. Protagonist Ellie is a military wife and mom, moving to a new posting with her airman husband. Moving and organizational tips are scattered throughout, in keeping with the theme and the reality that military families move constantly. A neighbor who was against development is found dead and all the suspects are her husband, Mitch's, co-workers. Well written and enjoyable.
  9. The Christmas Garden Affair (2002)by Ann Ripley: It's been a while since I have read a mystery featuring PBS garden host and detective Louise Eldridge, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy her and Ms. Ripley's writing. Interesting story, warm characters, and intriguing mystery with good research. Louise's show is being upstaged by a bumptious and risque British upstart, when Bunny (of "Bunny in the Garden") is poisoned at a conference featuring the First Lady. Secret Service involvement, a smattering of Stasi spy, and plenty of interesting suspects made this a great read.

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