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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Review: Shoot From the Lip by Leann Sweeney

Shoot from the Lip (Yellow Rose Mystery #4)
rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #4 of the Yellow Rose Mysteries. I found this to be one of the best books of a good series.

From Leann Sweeney’s website:

Even though Texas heiress Abby Rose was born with a silver iced-tea spoon in her mouth, she’s seen plenty of hard-luck stories in her work as an adoption PI. But consulting on a lifestyle makeover show will introduce her to an alternative–and deadly–reality …

I like Abby, her boyfriend Jeff, and her sister Kate. I “know” them from previous books, and the fact Kate and Jeff were both acting out of character was part of what made this book interesting. Luckily Abby was completely herself, and was able to get to the heart of the mystery.

In this book, we were introduced to Emma, a strong young woman raising her younger siblings. She was a good, solid character that I enjoyed getting to know. We also had a variety of entertaining secondary characters that made me laugh (or wince) while moving the plot along.

I cared about the mystery in this book, and about the process of finding the answers. Strangely, the details of who-dun-it didn’t really worry me that much.

I did have some quibbles with the book– although I enjoyed seeing Kate and Jeff outside their usual selves, I think Kate was a little too far out of character. I found some of the plot developments predictable. But overall, I enjoyed the book.

The big question for me with book 4 of any series is whether it would make sense to start here, or should a new reader start at the beginning.

This book stands on its own plot-wise, but you’ll miss out on some interesting character development if you skip the earlier books. If you think there is a chance you’ll want to read all of the books, I’d suggest starting at book 1. 2 is the weakest of the series, followed by 3. I still enjoyed both. Read them for the character development if they sound interesting, skip them if they don’t.

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Posted by on June 30, 2009 in books, reviews

 

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View From Monday

On Mondays, I join J. Kaye’s Book Blog in looking back at what I’ve read over the last week and forward at what I plan to read in the next one.

Although I spent a lot of time reading from last Monday through Thursday, I didn’t get more books than usual finished.  Next week will be even lighter.

Looking back

I’ve been listening to

Middlesex (Paperback) by Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. At 21 hours long, I could have finished 2 other audiobooks in that time!  Very compelling, interesting reading.  When I started, I had to have time in large chunks to be able to follow the story, but once I was into it, I can handle interruptions as well as I usually can, allowing me to finish.

My on-paper reading this week started with my Book Club L Book,

Interred with Their Bones (Paperback) by Jennifer Lee CarrellInterred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell. It was a great romp through Shakespeare’s work as well as the lore about Shakespeare’s life and the grand question of who actually wrote the plays.  As with any big adventure, some suspension of disbelief was necessary, but there was one question I couldn’t get past.

After that, I snuck in

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum, #15) by Janet Evanovich Finger Lickin’ Fifteen (Stephanie Plum, #15) by Janet Evanovich.  This was very typical of the books of this series.  On the one hand, I read it quickly and enjoyed it, but when I was done, I had a “haven’t I been here before?” feeling.  It was kind of like eating junk food.  Fun while it lasts, but not really satisfying.

The Black Dahlia (Paperback) by James Ellroy I then got going (just barely) with my next book for Book Club M, The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.  I’m not far in yet, so I don’t have much of an opinion. I need to have it read by next Monday, we are discussing it then.

Looking forward

Coming up once I finish that, I have  The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand and then  One Scream Away by Kate Brady, both for blog tours coming up soon.  On audio, I have the next Yellow Rose mystery, Pushing Up Bluebonnets by Leanne Sweeney, loaded up (from NetLibrary) on my MP3 player, although there are other options lurking there as well.   This week is very busy with (reading incompatible) family stuff (of the fun variety), so I don’t know how much reading of any sort I’ll get done.  That’s OK, I’ll still be having fun.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2009 in books, summary

 

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Jane Austen Challenge

everythingausten2OK, I think I’m going to join in with the Everything Austen Challenge at Stephanie’s Written Word!

I’d been avoiding it for two reasons:

  1. I don’t want to get caught up in challenges.
  2. I did a complete re-read of Jan Austen relatively recently.

All of the reviews I’ve been reading of fun tie-in books have won me over.  I’ll read some of those, watch a couple of movies, maybe pick an Austen book to re-read…

The challenge: The Everything Austen Challenge will run for six months (July 1, 2009 – January 1, 2010)! All you need to do is pick out what six Austen-themed things you want to finish to complete the challenge.

I’m not quite ready to commit yet, but here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Austenland by Shannon Hale
  2. Lost in Austen: Create your own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster
  3. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
  4. Watch Emma (again)
  5. Watch Sense & Sensibility (again)
  6. Watch Lost in Austen
  7. Re-reread one of Jane Austen’s novels

Yup, that’s already more than 6, and there are other possibilities I’m considering!  I’m looking forward to the challenge, and to discussing it with everyone else that is in on it!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2009 in blogging, books, challenge

 

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Review: Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Interred with Their BonesRating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a hugely fun chase through Shakespeare’s work and Shakespeare’s lore, including the question of who wrote the works which bear Shakespeare’s name.

From the publisher’s website:

On the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. But before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead . . . murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father. Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, high-stakes treasure hunt.

From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and decipher a tantalizing string of clues, hidden in the words of Shakespeare, that may unlock literary history’s greatest secret.

This book was exactly what it set out to be. Cryptic clues! Obscure References! Chases! Near Escapes!

I know enough about Shakespeare that most of the references in the book rang a bell, but not enough that I could say if any of the conclusions they drew from the clues actually made sense. They all sounded good to me  in the context of this book, though.

I enjoyed Kate’s character, other than one problem I’ll talk about below.  I particularly liked the inner journey she took as she reevaluated her relationship with her ex-mentor, and what it meant for Kate’s pace in academia.  I’m hoping to meet Kate again in a future book.

With any book of this sort, you have to suspend disbelief. Mostly, this isn’t a problem for me.

I did have one issue with this book, that still bothers me after finishing it. Once people continue to be murdered, why does Kate believe her new allies over the police? She realizes at various points that the police will believe it isn’t her if she talks to them then, and she realizes everyone she is talking to about her quest is being killed, but she still doesn’t bring in the police!  It seems out of character. Then again, it is only a book.

I read this book for one of my book clubs.  We had a good, but not great, discussion of it, which ran for 45 minutes of the hour I plan for our discussions to run.  Part of that was that we all had real life issues to talk about, but part of it was that we had trouble with how to get into this book to discuss it.   If you had even one real Shakespeare aficionado, I think it would be a hugely fun conversation.

I mentioned my pet peeve about the book above.  In spite of the fact we all enjoyed the book (and I think everyone did), we each had something different that bothered us, which amused me.

In summary– a fun read, a good (but not great) book club choice.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2009 in Book Club, books, L, reviews

 

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Audiobooks for a family road trip

Don't worry, we'll be safer than this!

Don't worry, we'll be safer than this!

I’m planning ahead for our family road trip this summer, and am looking for audiobooks the whole family (mom, dad, 11 year old girl) would enjoy.

I think Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (my review) by Gary D. Schmidt might have been a good choice, but I just listened to it, and I didn’t like it enough to listen to it again yet.

My daughter mentioned The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.  She started listening to it on a school field trip, and thinks we all might like it.  She reminded me I’d suggested The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett for a previous trip.

I asked on Twitter, to give our family a wider range of choices.

@SuziQoregon suggested The Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – (read by Jim Dale).

@booksandmovies mentioned the Harry Potter books, as well as the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, as read by Tim Curry.

@bookaliciouspam also suggested the Harry Potter books, as well as the  Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage.

@BrendaCopeland recommended The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This was on my “want to read” list, but unfortunately, I can’t find the audiobook on-line. Audible says they’ll get back to me on when it will be available again within 7-10 days. I’m not sure my attention span is that long.

@notruthless suggested Holes by Louis Sachar or Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

@yondalla suggested Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis or Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

Now I have to see what my family wants. Any more suggestions? Leave me a comment.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2009 in books

 

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Review: The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked up this book up after hearing the author talk briefly at a Kepler’s Books book club event.  It was set locally and was about the relationships between a group of women.  Since I enjoy character driven books, I was interested enough to take a further look.

This synopsis is from Meg Waite Clayton’s website:

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship

When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes—ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another’s support and encouragement, they begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, as The Wednesday Sisters welcomes readers to experience, along with its heroines, the power of dreaming big.

What I liked best about the book was how I could relate to the characters. I could relate to Frankie in her situation to a wife at home while her husband rides the roller coaster of a Silicon Valley startup. With Brett, it was being the nerdy one in a group of non-technical women. With Ally, it was wanting so badly to feel like I belong. The 5 women were all drawn in such detail, and were such distinct characters, that I think most adult women will find something to relate to in one or more of them.

I also really enjoyed watching them move through a different era.The narrator reflected back on the differences between then and now, and I appreciated the perspective.

There were other aspects of the book that didn’t work as well. Although it engaged my brain, my interest, and my sympathy, it never quite engaged my heart. Something (that I can’t identify) about the writing kept me at a distance from what should have been very emotional events.

This would make a great book club book for a club that likes tie themselves in with their reading– to use their lives to get insight into the book and vice versa. I think many book clubs would find it worth discussing.

All in all, I found it a very good read, and I will be interested in reading other books by this author.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2009 in books, reviews

 

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Book Shots: curled up with a good book

Curled up with a good book

Curled up with a good book

See my previous Book Shots:

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2009 in Book Shot

 

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