by Jane Austen
I've been trying to read the books coming up for discussion at the three local book groups, one of them had this listed for the July meeting which I didn't go to, mainly because I couldn't finish this book. I've gotten thru about 100 or so pages and it's just boring as can be, it's just like a Harlequin novel, except in a more flowery stilted style.
Am I missing something here? Is there some payoff if I keep reading? While it somehow get magically better? Or is this just not one of her better books?
I do like the movies of her books and other books from that period, brought to life by actors and with period costumes and sets, they're amazing to watch (and perhaps the condensation to two hours or so helps as well). Just boring as hell to read.
The Brooklyn Follies
by Paul Auster
My mom got this out of the library and I picked it up in her car when I had some time to kill before picking her up. It reminds me of John Irving's books, it's got that same kind of whimsical, almost fantasy, kind of style. But this is well grounded in the main character, Nathan Glass, dying, estranged from his daughter, moving back to Brooklyn on a whim and making a life out of bits and pieces while re-discovering long lost family. It made me laugh and cry and bashed me between the eyes when I least expected it.
The Virgin of Small Plains
It's a good book, parallels events from the main character's HS years with present day and builds up both interest in the characters and suspense in the plot at the same time. I used to read Nancy Pickard's book regularly when she was doing the series about the woman who ran a non-profit foundation in New England, then she moved on to a more humorous set of characters that I just couldn't get into. Her recent series about a non-fiction writer about killers (along the lines of Ann Rule) has been good but not as good as that first series.
This book, however, is as good as her first series, and I like seeing the then-and-now views of the different characters, who changed, who didn't, who grew up and took over their parents' jobs, lives, farms, who moved away and did different things. There's good humorous touches like the parrots crapping in the boots of someone they don't like and it's got a good small town feel to it. It also captures the sense of urgency and recklessness of youth, the ease of falling into crushes and obsessions and the self-centeredness, the "no-one else feels like this and my problems are huge, bigger than anything else in the world" absorption of teenagers.
Shoulder The Sky
by Anne Perry
I keep trying to read this second book of her World War I series but I keep returning it to the library unfinished. The first book in the series was slow and boring and dull and this one is somehow even more so. I guess I'll give up on this series and stick to her 19th century stuff set in England (I couldn't stand her book set in France in the 19th (18th?) century either).
Written by an Icelandic author and set in Reykjavik, it's a bit slow and heavy at times, but still interesting enough, especially for the Icelandic atmosphere, culture and history. There's trivia, things like most Icelanders are known by their first names, they're listed in the phone book by their first names rather than their last names which is a patronymic - the father's name plus son or dottir. There's one character in the book who doesn't have a patronymic last name and the first/last name combination is gender neutral and it's never revealed whether the person is male or female which makes for an intriguing subplot. Other cultural/historical info includes the explanation of the title, "Jar City" and the DNA/genetic project being undertaken there to genetically identify all Icelanders.
Curiosity Killed The Cat Sitter
This is a delightful book, a terrific mix of grittiness and lightness, it works very well. All the characters get fleshed out well, even the incidental pet-sitting clients and their people too and the Florida Keys atmosphere adds a nice touch to the plot line. A very good first book for the author and I'm looking forward to her next one.
S is for Silence
by Sue Grafton
An absolutely brilliant new episode in Kinsey Milhone's case files, a different narrative style and a fascinating case as well fleshed out with a slew of interesting characters. This one leads Kinsey away from home, not far but enough that we get little of her landlord and other chums in Santa Teresa but they're ably replaced by some new friends and the other suspects in her current case. Sue Grafton just keeps writing better and better books the further she gets down the alphabet. I'm dreading the day she gets to Z is for... (although I'm wondering what the full title will be!)
What I Tell You Three Times Is False
by Samuel Holt
Written as if from an autobiographical viewpoint, Samuel Holt is also the hero of the book, an ex-cop turned stereotyped-actor who starred in a TV detective show, now solving crimes. This is the third book in the series, after One of Us Is Wrong and I Know a Trick Worth Two of That. There's also a fourth one, The Fourth Dimension Is Death. The books are unfortunately out of print but they're worth looking up in the library, good fast moving plots, a self-effacing hero with a decent sense of humor.
I see a rumor on Amazon that Samuel Holt is also Donald Westlake and my local library does link them together in their catalog, I think I'll check out some of Westlake's books too.
A Christmas Guest
by Anne Perry
This is by far the best of her Christmas series, focusing on Charlotte Pitt's curmudgeonly grandmama, it both incorporates a very good mystery as well as fleshing out and advancing the character. I'm interested to see if she turns up in any of the future Pitt novels now and how she is portrayed.
A Christmas Visitor
by Anne Perry
The second in her Christmas series, this one focuses on Henry Rathbone around the same time as the Monk series with his son, Oliver Rathbone. The plot line doesn't quite measure up to her usual work but the ending is interesting.
A Christmas Journey
by Anne Perry
The first of her Christmas books, this one illuminates the difficulty of travel in 19th century England while teaching a gentle moral lesson. It features Vespasia when she was younger, an interesting glimpse in the character we've seen only as an older matriachal figure for Thomas and Charlotte Pitt.
Shroud for a Nightingale
by P. D. James
A good book, more focus on the school and the staff and students than on Dalgliesh but that works well here. For an American like me, it's an interesting glimpse in the hierachy of British nursing as well.
John Morgan Wilson writes good books. Peter Duchin name-drops which does not make for a good book. By the end of the first chapter I was so sick of hearing who he hung out with and how he knew Jackie Kennedy and so on and so on, I was ready to throw up. Major disappointment for me, I'll stick to just John Morgan Wilson's solo writing from now on.
by Sue Henry
The Rogues' Game
This is an absolutely marvelous retro mystery, set after WWII, it captures not only the atmosphere of the post-war era but also the topsy-turvy effect of the oil boom in small-town Texas. It's a film-noirish grifter story with larger-than-life characters drawn beautifully by a modern writer. It's a shame that Humphrey Bogart or William Holden or some other wonderful 40s or 50s type movie star isn't around to play these characters in a film of this book. This is the first book by this author and I can't wait for his second one, due out next July 2006.
In Your Face
Just as good as the third one! She's definitely on my must-read list, I hope she keeps writing regularly. She's got a good lead character developed now and I like the direction she's taken with her (you'll have to read the third book to know what I'm talking about). Good settings, great villain, good development of the family and friends involved in this one too. I miss the cat, Maude tho! Since this mostly all takes place in London, the cat's home with Lily's mum.
This is her third book which I accidentally read before the second one and it's terrific, she's improved greatly since her first one, much better pace, tighter plot, characters better fleshed out and much more interesting. Now I'm reading the second one, In Your Face, and it's very good too.
by Scott Turow
Ah, this is much better! Turow's last couple books have been just a bit too down, too depressing, for me to really get into the characters, but this one is good, focusing on Stewart Dubinsky, the journalist seen in previous books and his father, it's starting off really good.
And it just gets better and better! A good pace, a fascinating story, it reminds me a bit of Saving Private Ryan in its portrayal of the war in France after D-Day. I'd rank this so far as one of his very best, as good as my favorite, Pleading Guilty. It may take him three years to write a book, but it's definitely time well-spent.
Finished it today, best damn book I've ever read, I actually cried at the end and I never do that with books, I get involved and all in the characters and the plot but I never get that emotional but this one is simply so brilliant. Truly the best thing he's done and it ranks in my all-time top five books now.
The Secret Portrait
A bit light but still much more interesting than Shadows in Scarlet. It's a kind of pale version of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code tho and getting more repetitious by the moment, oh look villain divides hero and heroine thru trick, they fall for it but eventually figure it out, villain does it again, they fall for it again.
Faced with much better books to read, I've dropped this one, I just don't really care what happens in the end or to the characters.
Ran across this on some list somewhere, figured I'd give one of the older writers a chance as I usually do like older books. And it's quite good, nicely understated, I particularly like the hero's motto, "I never got in trouble for saying too little"! Good group of characters, I like the small town atmosphere with the washed up big city cop, he's honest about what he is and not prone to macho showing off.
Shadows in Scarlet
I enjoyed the first two books of hers that I read, Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust, very much. But yuck, this one is just boring, trite stuff. The most interesting character in the book is the cat who mostly sits on the windowsill. On the other hand, Lucifer's Crown has turned out to be more interesting.
Pretty good, good pace, nice back story on the breakup with the boyfriend and I like the Devon (England) locale, although I could do without her smoking every five pages, it distracted from the momentum of the story.
Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land
by John Crowley
Done in the fashion of the movie of The French Lieutenant's Woman, with the Byron novel in the past paralleling the current day researcher, the current day stuff sucks badly. The researcher is portrayed solely thru her emails with her female lover and her father and it all comes off as very trite and teenager-ish. The Byron novel is far more interesting, although slow going since it's written in the period language and there's not much of a plot there. Having finally finished it, I'm at a loss as to why it's supposed to be the "ghost story" that the three were challenged to write at the Shelleys' villa. There's nothing really ghosty about it, some mild stuff and still no real plot at the end of it all. The footnotes by Ada were almost more interesting than the novel itself. About halfway thru I started skipping all the current day stuff, all the emails and letters set in the present day, boring drivel.
by Stuart Woods
4th in the Orchid series, this one is somewhat better than the other three, at least she's a bit more involved and not constantly handing over her investigation to the FBI. But the other characters, all the men got more attention than poor Holly, she keeps playing second banana to even the (male) villain so I give up on this author, I've had enough of his treating women like second class citizens.
Judgment Calls, Close Case and Missing Justice
The Black Tower
by P. D. James
by Stuart Woods
This one again gives over the main action to someone else, someone male-gendered. This time it's Holly's father which makes it slightly more interesting as he's a good character but still, this author really has a thing about not letting women be in control. And then throwing in his hero from another series just adds to the things-not-to-like.