Wednesday, November 28, 2007

#80 - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I just couldn't get into this book. To me, it seemed to forced and contrived. I felt like I was reading a book, rather than being immersed in the story.

I know it's listed on several "great books'' lists, but I personally didn't really care for it.

The story line is dark -- the main character is the daughter of a antique books dealer. She is invited to interview a famous author who is a mysterious recluse. Both women have to face their past and the truth about family secrets.

Setterfield's writing is very good. I just didn't really like the story. But lots and lots of other people have enjoyed this book. It's definitely worth a read so that you can form your own opinion.

#79 - Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu by Lee Goldberg

Yes, you can enjoy the OCD antics of Adrian Monk off the television screen. :) Now there are novels, too!
I really enjoy the Monk television series, and I enjoyed this book as well.
The body of a jogger is discovered in a dog park, missing her left shoe. Soon other murders San Francisco dealing with a serial killer?? Add in the fact that the SFPD officers are out on strike, leaving Monk and a crew of mostly crazy former officers to investigate the case.
This was definitely a fun read, with all of the humor of the television show. :)
50 Book Challenge 2007: 59/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#78 - Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson

Talk about having a bad week. Betsy Taylor gets laid off from her job. She can't get a date. Her stepmother is a pain. And her cat hates her.
Then she gets run over by a car and dies.
The end, right?
Turns out, the group of thugs that mugged her a couple weeks before were....vampires. You guessed it.....Betsy Taylor is Undead and Unwed. Not only that -- she drags herself home from the funeral parlor to find her stepmother has taken all her designer shoes.
Just imagine the look on her Stepmother's face when Betsy shows up to get her shoes back.......
This is the first book in Davidson's Undead series. I loved this book! Humorous and fun, with a splash of the macabre. Very cool! Something fun and different!!
I will definitely be reading more of this series!
50 Book Challenge 2007: 58/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#77 - Bound for Murder by Laura Childs

The third book in Laura Child's Scrapbooking cozy series was just as enjoyable as the first two.

In this 3rd story, Carmela Bartrand is planning a big wedding party for a friend. Things go astray when the bridegroom is murdered. The bride asks Bertrand to solve the case, so once again she's sleuthing, at the risk of her own life.

Definitely another good book with that New Orleans feel to it. Her husband's family is still portrayed as the totally snobbish, rude wealthy sort. But in this book, Childs' main character finally starts standing up for herself, at least a little bit. I'm looking forward to reading the next book just to see if Carmela gets more bold.

If you like cozy mysteries, this series is definitely enjoyable.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 57/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#76 - Photo Finished by Laura Childs

This is the second book in Laura Childs Scrapbooking cozy series.
Carmela Bertrand is hosting a "Crop til you Drop'' all night scrapbooking session at her store in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The night is cut short when a nearby store owner is discovered dead in the alley behind Bertrand's shop. He's been stabbed by a scissors (kinda melodramatic isn't it?? Carmela has to act fast to find out who the killer is....could it be one of her own customers??
This book was an enjoyable read. It's nice to sip hot tea on a crisp fall evening and read a good cozy mystery. No gore. Nothing too scary. Just a murder with some sort of kitsch thrown in for good measure. :)
I still have a real problem with the way the main character lets her estranged husband's family walk all over her. It's like she has great strength for solving murder cases, but she doesn't have enough backbone to stand up to really mean people??? Doesn't make much sense to me...but other than that I'm enjoying this series.
50 Book Challenge 2007: 56/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#75 - Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs

Carmela Bertrand owns a popular scrapbook shop in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Recently separated from her upper class husband, she moves into an apartment behind a tourist-trap voodoo shop and busies herself with running her shop. But, of course, her plans are interupted by a murder.
Laura Childs injects this story with a healthy dose of New Orleans spice -- mardi gras, the French quarter, southern hospitality, and southern-style murder.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. Some of the plot points seemed a bit over melodramatic though. For instance, Carmela is a very outspoken, independent woman....but she allows her husband's family to be completely over-the-top rude and nasty to her. At times, it seemed like one of those melodramas where you Boo and Hiss the bad guys and wait for them to tie the poor heroine to the train tracks. To me, someone of Carmela's personality would tell her estranged husband's family to shut their pie
50 Book Challenge 2007: 55/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#74 - Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke

This is the third book in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson cozy murder mystery series.

As usual, the book is a fun cozy to read, and also includes several yummy recipes.

In this 3rd book, a rude and obnoxious cooking show host is murdered in Hannah's shop. One of Hannah's close friends is the number one suspect in the case, so Hannah jumps in to clear her friend's name.

This is an enjoyable cozy mystery, but I hope that something happens to enhance the character development in subsequent books in this series. Something exciting has to happen soon, or the books are going to start getting a little stale. Hannah needs to choose between her two love interests, or there needs to be some excitement/changes within the main characters of the stories, or the mystery and the cookie recipes just aren't going to carry along the sweetness of this series any longer. But, that's just my opinion....

50 Book Challenge 2007: 54/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#73 - Ghost of a Chance by Yasmine Galenorn

This is the first book in Yasmine Galenorn's Chintz n' China cozy series. The main character, Emerald O'Brien, owns a tea room where she serves up tea and tarot readings for her customers. She can communicate with the dead, and ends up being a Private Eye for the Dead.
In this first book, the ghost of an acquaintance shows up at her bedside in the middle of the night asking for help in solving her own murder.
For me, this book was a really cool twist on the cozy genre. I enjoyed the story. The supernatural aspects made it interesting.
I will definitely be reading other books in this series.
50 Book Challenge 2007: 53/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#72 - South Carolina Ghosts from the Coast to the Mountains by Nancy Roberts

This was another late night read that I really enjoyed. We live about 30 minutes from the SC border, so there were tales in this book from places I know. Kinda cool! :)

This collection by Roberts is a mix of ghost stories and historical lore. It was a light read, and very enjoyable. Nothing really unpredictable....pretty much variations on classic stories, but a fun read!

50 Book Challenge 2007: 52/50 -- Over My Goal!!

#71 - The Cold Cold Hand by James Burchill

Fall is the perfect season for reading Ghost stories! I curled up with this book on a cold October night with a cup of hot tea, and enjoyed some southern-style ghost stories. :)
The stories were really nothing new....but classic ghost tales never grow old, do they??
Definitely an enjoyable read for anyone who likes a scary ghostie yarn!
50 Book Challenge 2007: 51/50 -- Over My Goal!!

1001 Books to Read Before You Die -- 2008 Challenge

I surpassed my goal to read 50 books this year by quite a few -- I still have multiple reviews to post before I know the exact total. I'm wayyy behind on posting! But I have until Dec 31st to finalize the 2007 list....still have some time to get it done.

For 2008, my goal is to read books from Dr. Peter Boxall's list "1001 Books to read before you die''. Here's a link to the list.

So far, from the list I've read a few:

93. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (reviewed on this blog)
180. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
241. Contact by Carl Sagan
274. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
293. The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
303. The World According to Garp - John Irving
312. The Shining - Stephen King
320. Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
379. The Godfather - Mario Puzo
408. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
456. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
464. Henderson The Rain King - Saul Bellow
494. Lord of the Rings Triology - JRR Tolkein
496. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokav
508. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
520. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
521. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemmingway
522. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
547. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
564. Animal Farm - George Orwell
603. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
610. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkein
619. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
695. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
699. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
704. Billy Budd, Foretopman - Herman Melville
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arther Conan Doyle
789. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
790. War of the Worlds - HG Wells
791. The Invisible Man - HG Wells
794. Dracula - Bram Stoker
820. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
821. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy
825. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
829. The Death of Ivan Ilych - Leo Tolstoy
831. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
853. Middlemarch - George Eliot
863. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
890. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
895. The House of Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne
896. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
897. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
898. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
902. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
904. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
911. The Pit and the Pendulum - Edgar Allan Poe
913. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
916. The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan Poe
918. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
931. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
933. Persuasion - Jane Austen
936. Emma - Jane Austen
937. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
938. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
940. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
983. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
987. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
991. The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
992. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
1001. Aesop's Fables

And a few I have on my bookshelf waiting to be read:

19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
72. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
236. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
667. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
767. The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
880. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
979. Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded - Samuel Richardson

Monday, November 12, 2007

#70 - The Accidental Florist by Jill Churchill

This is the 16th book in the Jane Jeffry series by Jill Churchill. I was really looking forward to reading this book as I have enjoyed the rest of the series. But, this book was a disappointment.

The mystery element in this book was nearly non-existent. The writing was poor quality, and the story seemed contrived and trite.

It's almost like Jill Churchill didn't even write this book.

The main portion of the story is about Jane finally marrying her long time fiance, Mel Van Dyne. The mystery takes a back seat to wedding planning, and Jane taking a women's safety course. The story included strangely melodramatic tension with her future MIL, and weird discourses on safety and even a page dedicated to clumping cat litter and how to clean out a cat "bin.''

A very strange, odd and disappointing end (??) to an otherwise great mystery series.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 50/50