Friday, July 04, 2008

#102 - North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris

North by Northanger is another in a series of Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries by Carrie Bebris.
Sometimes Bebris' characterizations of Austen's characters seemed a bit harsh, or forced. Darcy seems a bit mean-spirited at times, and Elizabeth comes off as weak-willed and scared of Darcy's family. I really didn't enjoy this book, although I did enjoy the 2 earlier books. Bebris' Darcy mysteries have always pushed a bit past the line of believability when it comes to the P&P characters, and it was just a bit too far this time.
It's not a bad read, if you can stop yourself from constantly wondering if the characters would actually behave the way they do in the story. Just a bit too contrived, in my opinion.

#101 - Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Fool Moon is the 2nd book in the Dresden Files series. Business is still slow for the Chicago based wizard, until a string of incredibly gruesome murders has Dresden helping out the Chicago policeforce.
Could a werewolf be loose in the city??
I enjoy Butcher's books so much! Totally entertaining! It's like Sam Spade + magic = Dresden. Just fun to read!! The television show (short-lived, Thank God!) was hard to watch -- but the books are awesome!
Butcher's stories are a great mix of the old PI style, fantasy and mystery. Definitely worth reading!

#100 - A Charmed Death by Madelyn Alt

This is the 2nd book in this series. Maggie O'Neill is still working at Enchantments, the mysterious and mystical local antique shop. She is just starting to try out her powers as a new witch when a teenager is murdered after visiting the shop.
Maggie uses her powers and intuition to solve the crime.
This is another fun, cozy read by Alt. It's a fun mix of humor and mystery, with a dash of creepy thrown in for extra fun.
This is a light, fun read -- great for a day at the pool or beach!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

#99 - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Imagine the days when the Circus came into town with a big parade and everyone gathered to watch the elephants put up the big tent. This book really gives the reader the feel of the old-time circus. The good feelings -- kids having fun, popcorn, and the excitement of the performances....and the bad side....neglected or mistreated animals, roughnecks, thieves, and the challenges and danger of being a performer.

Gruen's writing pulls you into the circus world and the life of the main character, Jacob Jankowski. Jacob joins the circus after having to leave college without completing his veterinary degree. He's put in charge of the circus menagerie and finds it challenging, especially one elephant named Rosie who just resists being trained to perform.

Most of the time I find myself disappointed when I read a book that came out with as much hype as this one. But, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Let yourself escape to the Big Top -- read this book!!

Gruen has also written another book about relationships with animals called "Riding Lessons and Flying Changes.''

# 98 - Death Match by Matt Forbeck

This is the 3rd book in the Blood Bowl series by Matt Forbeck. It's based on a Games Workshop fantasy football game, which we enjoy playing with our friends.

In this book, Dirk 'Dunk' Hoffnung and the rest of the Bad Bay Hackers are playing the game of their lives to prevent the destruction of of their kingdom. It's rough, it's riotous, it's downright dangerous --- it's definitely Blood Bowl!!!

Forbeck delivers another great Blood Bowl story in this book! There's also a 4th book that has come out: Rumble in the Jungle! I haven't read it yet -- but I definitely will!

#95-#97 - The Plantagenet Series 1-3 by Jean Plaidy

Jean Plaidy is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. The Plantagenet Series has 14 books. These are the first 3 books, spanning the time from Eleanor of Acquitane's marriage to the King of France through the death of Richard the Lionheart.
Plaidy takes history and makes it come alive by portraying her characters as the flawed people that they were. Larger than life historical figures like Eleanor of Acquitane and King Richard often are portrayed as larger than life, rather than as human beings. Plaidy doesn't hide their flaws....she relates their stories without prejudice.
I'm reading Book 4 right now which delves into the treachery of Prince's another enjoyable read!!

# 95 - Pemberly by Emma Tennant

All I can really say about this continuation of Pride and Prejudice is that is was ok.

Tennant tries to stay true to Austen's characterizations, but the plot pretty much falls flat. The story starts a year after Elizabeth marries Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy is upset because they don't have a child yet, and the two families are still grousing over the marriage.

The plot just re-hashed the same problems from the original novel and seemed a bit like a forced sequel.

I've read several continuations of Pride and Prejudice and have yet to find one that I really like, and that seems to be a good re-visit to Austen's characters.

I think my conclusion is really leaning towards the fact that P&P really doesn't need a sequel, and that nobody can really write like Jane Austen.

Some stories just aren't meant to have a Part 2.

#94 - A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton

This is the 4th book in a series by Maggie Sefton. I enjoyed the first 3, and the 4th was no exception! It's definitely a light cozy mystery, but I love to knit so it's an enjoyable romp for me!
Kelly Flynn and the other citizens of Fort Conner, Co are preparing for Christmas when a local alpaca rancher is murdered. There's plenty of knitting thrown in with the sleuthing, plus a pattern and a couple recipes tossed in as well.
There are two more books in this series: Dyer Consequences (just published in June 2008), and Fleece Navidad (coming out in September 2008).

#93 - Will Storr versus the Supernatural by Will Storr

This is Will Storr's first book. I tried to enjoy it.....I really did. But I found his writing, and the stories in this book, to be....well.......boring.

Basically, Storr did research on ghost stories and legends, and approached his story telling from a neutral stance. But, the stories themselves just aren't really that interesting.

The cover art was great.....but the rest.....ho hum.

If you like ghost stories, then pass on this one. Just my opinion.....

#92 - Seaside Spectres (NC Haunted Hundred) by Daniel Barefoot

This book is a collection of ghost stories from the coast of North Carolina. I really enjoyed this book because it was neat to read legends and ghost stories from towns and places I recognize.
From civil war history to closer to present day, Daniel Barefoot does a great job of recounting ghostly tales from the coastal counties of NC.
The stories are nothing new, but it's an enjoyable afternoon light read.

#91 - Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman

This book was such an enjoyable read! Herman romps through 500 years of royal mistresses, arranged marriages, illegitimate children, greed, lust, jealousy and ambition.

Many famous mistresses such as Madame du Pompadour and Nell Gwynn are listed by name, with information about how they become a royal mistress and how they kept (or didn't keep) their positions. She also talks about what was expected of a royal mistress, and how pride and ambition helped and hurt them.

Being the king's mistress definitely involved a lot of political power, and the lengths the women were willing to go to retain their position were really surprising.

If you're interested in royal history, scandals and "behind the scenes'' drama, this is definitely a fun read!

#83 - #90 - Temperance Brennan Series 1-8 by Kathy Reichs

Can you tell that I really like this series of books?? :)
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist who works in Charlotte NC and in Ontario Canada. And the main character in her book series (Temperance Brennan) does exactly the same thing! And yes, the television series Bones is an off-shoot of this book series.
I started reading Reichs' books after seeing the television show. But, the character on television and in the books are very different. They share the same name and are both forensic anthropologists, but they have very little else in common.
I like Reichs' writing style, and her plots are quite suspenseful. The science is definitely there as well since Reichs is definitely writing what she knows.
I enjoyed all of these first 8 books in the series. Grave Secrets was probably my least favorite since it had to do with investigating mass graves and genocide. It isn't that it wasn't well-written, it was just a tough subject to read about. Very graphic and disturbing!
There are 3 more books in this series: Break No Bones (9), Bones to Ashes (10) and coming out in August 2008 will be Devil's Bones (11).
This is definitely a great mystery/forensics/crime series!! If you like Bones, you will love this series!

#82 - Ghosts Among Us - by Leslie Rule

I've read several ghost story books by Leslie Rule, but I really didn't care for this one.

There was nothing new or different in it. Mostly it was about her visits to supposed haunted places around the country with "first hand account'' stories. Most were really just repackaged ghost stories that we have all heard before, with a bit of a travel channel feel thrown in for good measure.

I love ghost stories, and these just fell flat for me. There are some great black and white photographs in the book though.

Worth a read if you like ghost stories, but don't expect it to be anything new.

#81 - The Trouble With Magic by Madelyn Alt

This is the first book in a series by Madelyn Alt. The main character, Maggie O'Neill, takes a new job in an antique store, only to discover that her employer is involved in witchcraft.

Magical trouble ensues, of course! The book is an enjoyable mix of mystery and humor. On Maggie's first day of work, her boss Felicity becomes a suspect in the murder of her own sister. Because her shop sells witchcraft related items, everyone in town seems to believe Felicity is a murderer. It's up to Maggie to prove them all wrong!

This is such a fun, enjoyable series. If you need a book to read at the beach, or on a long car trip, this series would definitely be a good choice! Light and fun!

There are 3 other books in this series: A charmed Death, Hex Marks the Spot, and No Rest for the Wiccan.