March 21st, 2010


Books #18-23

18) The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne (Chick-Lit, 416 pages)
Wonderful! Delightful! Charming! I enjoyed this just as much as I had her Little Lady Agency books. I had loads of fun reading how Betsy revitalized the school and trying to solve the mystery of her parentage at the same time. 4/5

19) The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Mystery, 297 pages)
This was the first Christie I've ever read, and overall, I liked it. My brain loved the story and the plot twists throughout that made me keep questioning my assumptions. Nicely done mystery. However, I was annoyed by John Hasting, who I thought was arrogant, impulsive, and useless... Too bad he was the narrator. I'll keep reading through the Poirot series and hope that Hastings becomes less tiresome. 3.5/5

20) Soulless by Gail Carriger (Steampunk Fantasy, 357 pages)
Amazingly quirky romantic steampunk fluff! This was a very fun read with some original musings on what makes the supernatural supernatural. Amusing characters, great descriptions, and a charming heroine with plenty of spunk. The only thing that I didn't like was the schizophrenic POV shifts, but easily ignored after a while in favor of the story. Kudos! 4/5

21) Walking Dead by C.E. Murphy (Urban Fantasy, 416 pages)
This is the fourth and latest book in Murphy's Walker Papers series, about a reluctant half-Native American, half-Irish shaman cop. I honestly would I probably liked this better if I had read this in larger chunks. Instead, I set this aside for days at a time, and had trouble remembering who characters were when they reappeared. Though the fact that I was able to put this book down and not think about it for days does say something about it, I guess.

This book was par for the course for this series. Fun and entertaining urban fantasy; nothing too special, but good commuting book. While I like the background characters more than Joanne, who honestly needs to be fleshed out a lot more, I appreciate that Murphy doesn't make Joanne into this all-powerful uberchick (like some other urban fantasy authors have down with their heroines) that save the day singlehandedly. 3.5/5

22) Parade of Shadows by Gloria Whelan (Young Adult/Historical Fiction, 304 pages)
This was a bit if a disappointment. I had expected more of an adventure/quest story given the description. Instead, I had a coming of age story -- which I have no objections to, per se. I've read another book by Whalen before and liked it. But I had a hard time getting into Parade of Shadows. I didn't like the narrator much, and found her to be childish, impractical, and whiny -- which, I guess, is what a teenager is, so I can't fault Whalen too much for that characterization. The narrative also dragged in spots. I think I might have enjoyed the book better if I had a better sense of what it was supposed to be. 3.5/5

23) The Lost Slayer by Christopher Golden (Media Tie-In/Fantasy, 573 pages)
A Buffy: the Vampire Slayer novelization. Christopher Golden is one of the better media tie-in authors out there. Good story, good grasp of the characters. But it seemed like I was getting hit over the head with the message of the book. 3.5/5
  • cat63

Book 21 for 2010

The Amber Trail by Natascha Scott-Stokes. 195 pages

I started reading this aloud to Rob, but he got bored with it after a few chapters. I elected to continue reading it on my own. Given that it's taken me nearly three months to finish it, I think it's fairly obvious which one of us was the more sensible!

It's not that it's a badly written book. I've read far worse things in that respect, both in terms of technique and author's voice. What irritated me deeply about this book was that I felt the author had pulled a massive bait-and-switch on her readers.

The book is advertised as an attempt to trace, by bicycle, the route taken by the ancient amber traders from the Baltic to the Aegean, and indeed that's how it begins. What wasn't evident at the beginning is that the author and her husband attempted this journey during the war in the former Yugoslavia and almost inevitably the book is derailed into an examination of the geopolitical history of the region.

Now, this too is a perfectly worthy and interesting subject. But. It's not the one I signed up for, and there's no hint in the book's blurb that this is actually what it's about.

I can understand the author having been blindsided on the trip itself, and finding that her focus had shifted -  that's fair enough and could happen to anybody. What's not on though, is that the book's blurb gives no hint of this. Probably the publisher's fault rather than the author's but still deceptive and annoying.

This one's going back to Bookmooch, but with a copy of this review attached so that the next person to read it isn't fooled as I was.

Books 26 - 29 / 100

26. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 
               I've finally read this!  It was a great book, of course, but I knew I'd like it cause I like Steinbeck's style.  Also, I love books about social justice and solidarity.  While reading it, I was thinking a lot about what was written in the introduction, about people protesting the novel as being incendiary and "red."  How interesting that whenever someone writes about the exploitation of poor people he or she is labelled as being Communist!

27. Iphigenia Among the Tauri - Euripides
          A play taking place after Electra and Orestes.  Turns out Iphigenia wasn't sacrificed, but just spirited away by a goddess!  Tricksy goddesses.

28. Fantastic Mr. Fox - Roald Dahl
           An O.K. children's book about....a fantastic fox.  I didn't think it was one of Dahl's best, but maybe I'd like it if I were 20 years younger.

29. Anthem - Ayn Rand
            A novella about a dystopian future where the group is more important than the individual, where there is no 'I", "my", or "mine", and the greatest sin is to think or feel something that the rest of the group doesn't.  Pretty creepy, of course, but I'm far more creeped out by Rand's philosophy.  I think people taking Objectivism seriously is far more of a threat than Socialism or Communist.   Particularly since I know far more people who agree with Objectivism, and none of the die-hard Socialists I know are in any position of power.

Book 11-13

Book : 11 The Valley of Fear - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Crime Fiction

Plot: Sherlock recieves a warning from someone close to Professor Moriarty that a crime is about to occur. When he discovers that John Douglas' murder is being investigated by Lestrade, he thinks the warning perhaps arrived too late. becomes ever more complicated.

* ~ * ~ *

Book : 12 His Last Bow - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Crime Fiction

Plot: A short collection of different stories mostly written by Dr.Watson about his friend Sherlock's crime solving. One is written "by" the great man, Sherlock himself.

* ~ * ~ *

Book : 13 The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Crime Fiction

Plot: More short stories surrounding the crime solving efforts of Sherlock Holmes.

My thoughts: Well, as you can see (both here and in the list so far) I've been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes lately. Actually, I've just finished reading ALL of the Sherlock Holmes stuff in existence, a feat which has taken me nearly 3 months. I must say that they are as good as the movie and yet completely different. I loved the couple of stories that are written from Sherlock's POV and generally enjoyed the way the characters systematically debunked things.

Rating: stars (out of 5)

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

(And the year is 22% gone...which means I am ahead of schedule)

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Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 15: Dead as a Doornail

Dead as a Doornail (reread)
Charlaine Harris
Fiction; mystery; paranormal romance
295 pages
When Sookie's brother Jason's eyes start to change, she knows he's about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population-and Jason's new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who's behind the attacks, unless the killer decides to find her first.

I really liked this book because I am really interested in the Were community. I remember not liking this book as much the first time I read them because I was too fixated on the vampire community, but now I really enjoy reading about what other supernatural beings are in this series, not just the vampires. I really love Quinn and it has been a while since I read the next two books, so I can't remember what happens and so I cannot wait to find out!

***Next read: I am still reading Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris and am also about to start Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.