Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nothing Like Reading a Good Book

Molly the Cat rubs her face from front cover to back cover of Under a Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes, rather than just one edge of the book. That's how much she is enjoys Mayes' memoir, too.  I'm taking my time with it, savoring a section or two with breakfast. I may have mentioned this before: Mayes has been inspiring me to turn the Mama's house into our home.

Since the Mama's spirit soared into the universe last year, I have been reading a lot. The last time I lost myself in the virtual reality of novels, memoirs, and nonfiction was during my school daze. I read so much back then, the Mama would sometimes say to me, "You read too much. You're going to hurt yourself. Go outside."

Today I've got it somewhat balanced. I read and I go outside. Sometimes, I read outside.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Flurried, not Flustered nor Fluttered

I have been randomly reading A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler that has been sitting on my reference bookshelf since 1994, when I purchased it new for a buck, but did not ever crack open until a few months ago. All these years I missed out on the amusing dry wit of Fowler, along with possibly learning when to use some words appropriately sooner. More than likely I bought this book because it was on a list of must-have reference books for writers. Who knows how many times I've thought about selling Fowler's book or donating it to a thrift shop.  I'm glad I didn't.

This morning I read the entry for flurried, flustered, and fluttered. The word fluttered is usually used to describe a timid person who suddenly must deal with a crisis. Fowler did not seem to have much confidence with fluttered individuals. As for the word flustered, Fowler stated that a person so overwhelmed with multiple emotions she can't begin to express herself is best depicted as being flustered.

According to Fowler, the word flurried is appropriate for characterizing a person who has several tasks to take care of and allows each task to distract her from doing any of the others.  That word fits me well.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Villa Mia

I'm reading Under the Tuscan Sun right now. This is my third start (maybe fourth) in the last 10 years or so. I enjoyed the movie so I bought the book when I saw it on the "buy 3, get one free" table at a bookstore. 

I finally got to a point that I don't recall having read. This morning I learned that the fig flower resides inside the fruit and a certain kind of wasp burrows itself inside the fig to lay its eggs. If it doesn't succeed, that's okay, it has at least pollinated the flower. If larvae has been deposited, ooh-la-la! According to Wikipedia (yup, I had to learn more), a mature male mates with a female then proceeds to peck its way out of the fig so that all the females can escape. The male, now wingless and, no doubt, quite spent promptly dies. May he forever rest in joyful peace knowing that he did his job well.

Frances Mayes is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun. For those who never read the book or saw the movie, Mayes wrote about her experiences restoring a villa in Tuscany during her summer months off from teaching in San Francisco. So far, she has romanticized creating a vision from abandoned chaos; eating simple, but elegant, Italian fare outdoors; respecting old and abandoned trees still bearing delicious fruit; removing thick, gnarly tree roots from under stone walls; discovering old-time wells; and, yes, even hiding in bed as a thunderstorm lingers over her villa. I'm not even a third way through the book.

While I was reading about the figs and Mayes' discovery that some of the trees on her property produce the oh so expensive pine nuts, I glanced up now and then to the view of the backyard. Bright blue sky . . . new cedar (or is it redwood?) fence . . . the branches and leaves of the apple trees, lemon tree, avocado trees, and pink geraniums dancing with the light wind . . . the swaying of the chimes, Slinky, and other things hanging from the apple tree by the patio. . . . I'm living my own version of recreating a villa in Tuscany.  Magnifico!

P.S. That's not my view from this morning. It's what I would see if I looked sideways as I stood in the view that I saw through the sliding door window this morning.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017



Cool word, huh?

I learned it this morning in the novel I'm currently reading, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  Zetabetical. Google coughed up 39 results of the word, its earliest use in 2003.

In the novel, the protagonist, Eleanor,  organized the tins on her kitchen shelf in zetabetical oder.

Tins? The novel is set in Glasgow.

Zetabetical. From the statement, I take the word to mean alphabetical in reverse order. You know, starting with Z. It wasn't easy for me going backwards, as you can tell in my picture. Giggle.

Today marks the last day for the current ABC Wednesday team. Thank you Roger, Leslie, Joyce, Gattina, Di, Melody, Pheno, and Troy!

Next week, a new round begins under Melody, the new ABCW administer, and her team at a new address. For the next ABCW round, I shall go through the alphabet writing about movies I've seen. Yup.

I've almost forgot. Click here to check out more Z themed posts.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Sloth Who Likes to Read

"Stop reading," ordered the Mama. "Go outside."

I'd probably been lying on the bed reading for three or four hours that sunny summer weekend afternoon. I was probably 12 years old.

That's what the Mama got for buying me a bed with a bookcase headboard. It was packed full with paperback books that I purchased from the monthly Scholastic book catalog during the school year. Three or four dollars bought me a lot of books back then. I shall always be grateful the Mama and the Daddy let me buy so many, and for leaving me alone to read the books over and over most of the time.

Reading was my favorite thing to do in summer, followed by riding bicycles, watching movies, and eating. Except for the bicycle riding, I seem to have slipped back into my once-upon-a-time summer routine. I'm not getting much done, I admit. And, yes, my clothes are feeling snug. Again.

I really do need to urge me to step outside and do something. There's still time today to water the flowers in the backyard, or pick up all the apples and lemons that have dropped off the trees, or rake the leaves, or put everything back in the shed, or . . . .

Maybe I'll take my book outside with me as incentive. After each thing I finish, I can read a chapter.

Yeah, right.

I'm a grown-up. First things, first. But, that could be reading.

Silly me, thinking I can bribe or shame myself into doing things.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Pass to Read

Yesterday, as I was weeding out stuff I've been storing for decades, I found a hallway pass that was made out to me in my last semester of high school. The pass allowed me to go sit outside on the Senior Class benches to read my book. Yes, you read that right—a pass to read!

My first period was Reading, an English elective. I loved that class. We read novels and plays of our choice in class and wrote book reports about what we read. Without that class, I doubt I would've ever read such classics as Babbitt, Our Town, Death of a Salesman, The Jungle, Winnie the Pooh, and Rabbit, Run.

I don't know what it's like today, but 45 years ago when a high school senior already had her credits locked in for graduation, life was a picnic. Just as long as she didn't do something stupid, nor get caught for doing something stupid.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Anne's Creator!

Did you see the Google doodle today?  It honors L.M. Montgomery, the author of the Anne of Green Gable series and many other books. Today is Ms. Montgomery's birthday. She would've been 141 years young. A baby compared to Methuselah.

Anne of Green Gables was one of the books that Mrs. Patterson, my fifth grade teacher, read to us after lunch to settle us down. It instantly became one of my favorite stories. I didn't want to be Anne, but I did want to be like her: imaginative, creative, kindhearted, mischievous, spunky, intelligent, open, and spiritual. I  learned to appreciate nature through Anne's adventures, as well as to recognize when I had met a kindred spirit.

I don't know much about L.M. Montgomery. Only today did I learn that L.M. stands for Lucy Maud. A nice solid friendly name. Reading this brief biography, I learned how Ms. Montgomery's life somewhat parallels Anne's life.

Going to Prince Edward Island is still one of the places I want to see.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cool Stuff!

It's not my birthday.

It feels like it though.  

Today, the Husband and I drove over to Freedom to buy food for Molly the Cat. Our task was done quicker than we estimated, so we headed down the road to Watsonville to visit the art store and bookshop before lunch.

I'd only planned to buy a couple of new colored pencils at Wild Rose's Artists' Supplies and Custom Framing, but you know how it goes. I checked out the shop's art paper. Marbled paper. Oooooh. Wavy, corrugated paper. Gotta have that. Small rectangle-shaped suede paper. 25 cents, sold! My plan is to make masks. Yup.

At Crossroads Books, I bought a mystery called Shaking in Her Flip-Flops. Can't go wrong with a title like that.  Another neat thing about the book is that it's written by Joyce Oroz, an author who lives in nearby Aromas. The Husband and I also decided to purchase a copy of The 2016 Farmer's Almanac. That's always fun reading.

To top off getting all this cool stuff, we found a new yummy place for lunch—Imura Japanese Restaurant. Not only does it serve delightful sushi but awesomilicious Korean dishes. I've been missing Korean food.

So, you see, buying cool stuff and eating Korean food have me feeling like it's my birthday. Happy smiles all around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Book Reviews for My 2015 Reading Challenge

I love reading books. Writing book reviews, not so much. I tell myself it's good for me to write them for my 2015 Reading Challenge. Discipline and all that. Of which, I have been finding the time to read for pleasure more regularly. Yay! for that. Boo! though, as a couple of the books I've read don't fit any category. This may mean another level of discipline—finding books that do match the challenge categories. I'll think about it.

Anyway, today, I give you four reviews. Just so you and the FCC know: Should you click on the Amazon links and happen to purchase anything there, Amazon may reward me with a bit of change.

A book with magic

As I read The Game by Laurie R. King, I traveled back to the Flapper Age, wandering around India with 60-ish Sherlock Holmes and his much younger wife Mary Russell.  The couple was sent there by Mycroft, brother of Sherlock, to find the 50-ish missing spy Kim O'Hara, the once-upon-a-time young boy about whom Rudyard Kipling wrote.  Sherlock and Mary disguise themselves as traveling Beduoins, who do a little magic show wherever they stop. Along the way, they are "adopted" by a young boy who helps them complete their mission. They eventually head to an Indian kingdom bordering Afghanistan that is ruled by a rather eccentric and cruel man who has ideas of taking over all of India.

The Game is the seventh of 13 titles in King's Russell and Holmes suspense series. This is the third one that I've read and it won't be the last. I just love how Sherlock and Mary roll their eyes as people fawn over Sherlock and ask about the stories that Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Watson wrote about him. I've never been interested in reading the Tales of Sherlock Holmes, even after enjoying the movies with Robert Downey, Jr. and watching the TV series Elementary every week. But, after finishing The Game, I now want to read Doyle's books.

A book based entirely on its cover 

Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal! by Dan Gautman is a fun, quick and easy read. It ought to be as it's the level between an easy reader and a middle school book. This book is part of Gautman's My Wierd School series, in which each title features one of the adults working at Ella Mentry School. Don't you just love the name of that school?

Mrs. Kormel is an Ella Mentry School bus driver who has her own secret language. When kids get on her bus, she greets them with "Bingle boo!" and when kids stand on their seats, Mrs. Kormel shouts at them to "Limpus kidoodle!" and they do.

The story is about the day that Mrs. Kormel and the kids go pick up a new kid somewhere off their normal route to school. Do they ever make it to school on time for show and tell, the math quiz, lunch, or the stuff after lunch?

A book from your childhood

Why did I let so many decades go by before reading Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue by Maurice Sendak? I love this very short tale that cuts to the chase so quickly, vividly, and, yes, enchantingly. The story is not unlike Aesop's The Boy Who Cried Wolf. That's all I'm saying.

A Memoir

I thought Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan was a novel when I checked it out at my local library. A few pages in, I realized it was a memoir. Corrigan has breast cancer and to her surprise she can only find comfort in her mom. She's surprised because Corrigan had one of those classic love-hate mom-daughter relationships when she was young. Corrigan tells us about that relationship and how she came to realize how much she was like her mother when she worked as a nanny as a young woman in Australia. Corrigan wrote about her memories with humor and love.

A book set in a different country

The Vanishing Thief is the first book in Kate Parker's series A Victorian Bookshop Mystery. I enjoyed it so much that after I finished it, I promptly searched the web for the next title, which ought to be in my mailbox in the next 10 business days.

The story is set in the latter years of the Victorian age in London. Georgia Fenchurch, the main character, owns a bookstore that she inherited from her parents who were murdered over 10 years ago. Georgia has vowed to find her parents murderer and, wouldn't you know it, after 10 years, she has sighted the murderer on a bus. Finding her parents' murderer is the subplot.

The main plot is finding a missing man who has managed to mingle with the upper class even though he is not. Georgia does her investigation as part of a secret group called the Archivist Society, which is known both by the London police force and the well-to-do. There are an interesting bunch of twists and turns to the tale, including the fact that the missing man has been blackmailing several upper class families. There is also a handsome duke who may have abducted the missing man and who is attracted to Georgia and she to him. He reminds me of the Beast in the Beauty and the Beast. Maybe they'll kiss in the next book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Gone" for the Day

Does anyone put up a "Gone Fishing" sign anymore?

I think it's a good idea to check out now and then. So, I'm posting my sign. Hopefully, I'll get some good reading done. See ya tomorrow.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading for Fun 2011

"Don't read so much," the mama said to me, standing in my doorway. "You'll go crazy."

She said that to me a long time ago when as a kid I had again lain too long on my bed reading yet another book. I'm sure what she meant was something like "Go play outdoors!" Did I lay my book down and go outside? I doubt it.

Since the husband and I moved to Hollister seven summers ago, I haven't done much book reading for fun. Most of my reading has been research for work. I want to change that in 2011. The last few days, I've been pulling books from the bookshelves and the various book piles throughout the house. Those plus the ones I got for my last birthday come up to 70 books.

Soooooo, I shall be reading 70 books in 2011. It's not so bad though. About a third of them are children's books, which is still one of my favorite types of books to read. To see my list of 70, please click here.

To make my reading quest even more fun, as well as to help motivate me, I shall participate in reading challenges sponsored by reading-loving bloggers. I'll be doing individual posts about the different challenges, tout de suite. Until then, have a listen to Claude Bolling performing "Just One of Those Things." No connection at all to my reading list. I just like the song and Mr. Bolling.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Result: The All Things Alcott Challenge

Back in November, I signed up for the All Things Alcott Challenge.  Because it was during the last six weeks on the challenge, my goal would be to read one book by or about Louisa May Alcott. I'm sorry to say that I didn't make my objective.  I read the Wikipedia article about Ms. Alcott's life and read one short story, "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving."

The Wikipedia article about Ms. Alcott is a great introduction to her fascinating life.  Here are five facts about her:
  • Ms. Alcott was born on her father's birthday. Her father was Amos Bronson Alcott, one of the founders of American Transcendentalism.
  • One of Ms. Alcott's teachers was Henry David Thoreau, author of Civil Disobedience.
  • She wrote novels that Wikipedia describes as "passionate, fiery novels and sensational stories," which perhaps would be categorized today as Chick Lit.
  • The character "Laurie" in Little Women may have been based on Ladislas Wisniewski, a young Polish man she met on one of her travels through Europe. According to some Alcott fans and experts, he was Ms. Alcott's romantic affair.
  • Ms. Alcott was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.
Some of Ms. Alcott's works can be read for free online. You can find "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving" here.  I am amazed that I hadn't ever read it before. It's the kind of old-fashioned story that should've made it into the elementary school textbooks that I read for English classes.

"An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving" was  a delightful story about a poor family who made do gratefully with what they had and dropped everything to take care of important matters. The story opens with the mother and her children preparing pies and such for the next day's Thanksgiving meal. Then word comes that the mother's mother has taken deathly ill. She and the father head off immediately, leaving the two older children, in their early teens, in charge of the six younger ones. The next day, the children decide to go ahead and make the Thanksgiving meal so that it's ready for their father when he returns home. Never having cooked a fancy meal on their own is the challenge. Also weaved into the tale is a bit of fright in the form of a bear. The ending is a surprise for everyone in the story, and for the reader.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

L is for Luxury

"L" is today's letter.
Click here
for other "L" posts.
I'm rolling in luxury.

Well, I shall be next week.

The husband indulged me with a gift certificate for books for my birthday. That is my favorite kind of present. Thank you, sweet husband!

This year, I took my time selecting the books that would be lined up to be read in the coming year. I wandered around a bookstore first, checked out several book blogs, and glanced at a few book lists. Here's what I finally chose (If you want to hear today's Christmas song as you read about the books, scroll down and click on the video first):

A Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow. This is the 17th novel about Kate Shugak, a private detective in Alaska, who has a homestead in a national park. In this story she investigates the murder of a roustabout who works for a company that wants to open one of the largest gold mines in the state.

Locked In by Marcia Muller. The author's Sharon McCone series has been around since the late 1970s. It's one of my favorites. Sharon is a private detective in San Francisco. The summary states that Sharon was shot and now lays in a hospital bed unable to move or speak, but her mind is conscious.

Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle. The first title of a mystery series, the story is also set in San Francisco. The protagonist is a bookbinder. A mystery, female protagonist, bookbinder, and San Francisco. What's not to like? Hope I do.

How to Crash a Killer Bash by Penny Warner.  Here's another mystery series with a female amateur sleuth set in San Francisco. The protagonist is a party planner.

Last Night Twisted River by John Irving.   From the reviews, this story seems to incorporate many of Irving's "gimmicks" (for a lack of a better term) such as bears.  I haven't read his books in almost a decade, so we shall see if I still think of him as one of my favorite authors.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I didn't know this story is classified as detective fiction. I was just sold on the idea of an 11-year old girl named Flavia de Luce and her eccentric family living in an old country house with an old Victorian chemistry lab that only Flavia likes to enter.

Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out by Lee Goldberg. I miss the "Monk" series on TV. 

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis. A non-fiction book? Uh-huh, and a Pulitzer Prize winner, to boot, about Adams, Washington, Jefferson, and the other people who helped form the United States.

Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause by Jade Sims.  This book provides instructions on making various crafts that are matched to charities for which the crafts can be given.  Craft Hope is an online group that hosts projects throughout the year to help others.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. A few months ago, I watched Sedaris being interviewed by Jon Stewart and was instantly taken by Sedaris' charm and wit. So, of course,  I had to chose a book of his essays.

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien was published in 1939. I'd never heard of it until two days ago when I wandered around the bookstore. The title caught my eye. The story is supposed to be about a college student who writes a novel about a guy who is writing a novel.

Is your head spinning? Are you exhausted from reading all the descriptions. I am.  Too bad I don't have four minds the way cows have four stomachs. I could then really read four books at the same time.

But, wait, I'm not done yet. To add to my list of luxury items are birthday presents from my friends:

Travels with Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford, by Rose Wilder Lane and Helen Dore Boylston.  Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Boylston wrote the Sue Barton, Nurse series. The two women did this road trip in 1926. Thanks Missus Kate!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  The story is about the residents of the island of Guernsey during WWII when the Germans occupied it. The authors tell the story in the form of correspondence between a Guernsey resident and a London writer in 1946. Thanks evil2win!

Oh, and there's one more. Since I was at the bookstore, I decided to buy a birthday gift for myself. He he. I'm now reading Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck. Suzanne owns a doughnut shop in a small town. Very early one morning, as she's opening her shop, someone dumps a body in front of it.  Guess who's going to figure who the killer is?

Books, books, books!  I love the luxury of owning them!

Today's Christmas song is "Sleigh Ride" by Glenn Miller and his orchestra. And, don't forget to swing over to Alphabe-Thursday to read other "L" posts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Reading Challenge

Yes, another reading challenge for me to try.  This one is all about Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. It was one of my favorite stories when I was a teenager.  I identified with Jo, the tomboy, the fun sister, the romantic,  the outspoken one, and the writer. Who didn't?

So, this challenge, the All Things Alcott Challenge.  What's it about? Click on the link to read the details. Essentially, participants decide how many items related to Louisa May Alcott to read, listen to, or watch that they hope to complete by December 31. My goal is the number 1. Between now and then, I will read at least one book by or about Ms. Alcott.

Update of Other Challenges
The 200 sit-up challenge. I finished that last week. Did 200 crunches all in a row. Yep, I did.

Jumping three times daily. That's on hold. My right ankle is now screwed up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Bones of the Barbary Coast

I'm still not reading books for fun regularly like I did before there were blogs, but at least I'm getting back into it. Last night, I finished Craig Ferguson's autobiography and picked up my latest to read from my pile of books yet to read. Really, I shouldn't even be thinking of buying new books or browsing for books at the library. But, I am.

Since I have new book, I'm participating in the weekly book meme called Teaser Tuesday. Basically, you open the book at random and choose two sentences (though some bloggers choose more) to quote. The objective: To provide enough of a tease that others may be interested in reading the book, too.  So, after reading my offering, come join me at Teaser Tuesday to discover possible future reads.

"Bart was right to warn her it wouldn't be easy. The mayhem, the turbulence, the mushrooming growth, the scope and pervasiveness of underworld activity, topped off by the massive disruption of the earthquake and fire: It seemed impossible that they'd ever discover who the wolfman was."
~ Bones of the Barbary Coast
by Daniel Hecht
page 99

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: A Bookish Meme

Yep. I found us—you, dear gentle readers and—another blog hop to check out. This is a fun, short one for all of us book-loving readers. 

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The idea is to randomly pick two sentences from a book you are currently reading.  Check it out! Of course, read my offering first, then head over to here.

"Giants and fairies was how he described classical music. He could just as well have been talking about show business."

~ American on Purpose
by Craig Ferguson
page 26

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cozy Mystery Challenge: Book Number Seven

The Moai Murders by Lyn Hamilton is my last entry for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. Hurrah!

Lara McClintoch is an antiques dealer from Toronto, who Lyn Hamilton has made as the main character of her archaeological mystery series. The Moai Murders is the ninth tale in the series. It's the first one I've read.

The story is based on Easter Island or Rapa Nui.  The author sidesteps the mystery of the Easter Island statues, but does weave the history and culture of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, into the plot. Lara and her best friend Moira go to the island after Moira, who just won her bout with cancer, decides to go somewhere that she always wanted to go. Lara goes because Moira has asked her.

Upon arrival at their hotel, the women walk into a lobby full of Rapa Nui enthusiasts who are attending a conference. They decide to sign up for the conference to learn more about the maoi. Almost immediately, they are witnesses to the ugly rivalry between the two Rapa Nui experts. 

Not one, not two, but three of the conference participants die. The local police declare the first death an accident. Lara does not agree and begins investigating. Her boyfriend is a former forensic expert, so she seeks his advice through e-mail. After the second man, who is one of the Rapa Nui experts, is found dead, the police realize that they must be more skeptical. The third participant hangs himself, but Lara is convinced his suicide is connected to the deaths of the others.

Because the conference participants are from English-speaking countries and the police are Chilean and supposedly can't speak English, the police ask Lara to act as their translator/interpreter. In case you didn't know, Easter Island is part of Chile. People from all over the world visit Easter Island for pleasure, business, and research, so it's interesting that the Spanish-speaking police are not proficient in English.

Lara also gets drawn further into the murder investigation when the other Rapa Nui expert, who is married to a local woman, becomes the primary suspect. Lara helps him escape from the police, which then makes her an okay person among the local people. This is an important detail because later on locals will give her important clues.

Halfway through the book, I lost interest in the story. It's a well-written story. Lots of conflict, red herrings, and such. I just didn't like any of the characters. To help me along, I read the last chapter. I was surprised to learn who the murderer was. That was enough for me to go back and continue reading the story to find out why the murderer had such ill will for his victims.

Okay. That's it for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. It did the trick. I'm back to reading for fun. I've already got my next book to read.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cozy Mystery Challenge: Book Number Six

The Dark Tort is part of the Goldy Schulz cozy mystery series written by Diane Mott Davidson (The link takes you to Davidson's website).  It's adventure #13. Davidson has written 15 thus far.

The title is a clever play on words: tort/torte.  The tale opens with Goldy stumbling over a dead body at the law office for which she has been catering the last several months.

At first, Goldy thought the lawyers were playing a joke on her. Pretty sick attorneys, if they were. But, it turns out the law firm is full of dysfunctional people, from the rich head partner to the very uptight office manager to the young paralegal-in-training who was murdered. After many outings of solving murder cases before the cops in her town, Goldy is known for her detective skills as well as for her cooking prowess. So, it's believable for the murdered young lady's mother to ask Goldy to solve the case. The mother thinks that the cops will overlook her daughter's case because they aren't rich enough in the community.

Yes, the theme of "haves" vs. the "have-nots"  runs throughout the story, which takes place near Boulder, Colorado. Another theme is the desire by some to be powerful and to show it through their belongings and positions in life (or their spouses). Are those themes the same? Still another theme is the way people manipulate each other, regardless of class. And, it's not necessarily the attorneys that are doing it all. How does Goldy, who is caught in the middle, deal with it all? One is to cook, and the author lets us, readers, see how cooking is therapy, and part of detective work, for Goldy.

One thing I'll say about Goldy. Her husband, who is a law enforcement officer, is very supportive. Not only does he allow her to look at evidence before the detectives on the case, he cooks gourmet meals for her. I wonder if there really is a guy like that out there?

The added plus to Dark Tort is that Davidson gives us recipes for 11 of the dishes that are made by Goldy, her catering assistant, and her husband in the story, including one for a dark torte. 

This is my sixth book for the Cozy Mystery Challenge.  Just one more book to accomplish my goal before the end of the month. Whoo-hoo!

"Then what?" asks the husband.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cozy Mystery Challenge: Book Number Five

Like a Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury was the fifth book I read for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. Some reviewers likened the author's work to that of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I think Banbury's style is her own, with comparison to no one in the mystery genre. She caught my attention immediately when I randomly picked her book at the library.

"I woke up with a hangover and roof tar on my feet and a vague recollection of pacing around up there half the night. . . ." 

That's her first line. Uh-huh.

Jill is the name of the main character. She lives in Los Angeles and works at a used bookstore. For the past few years, she has been running away from the memories of her mother's death. Every so often the author cleverly lets some of those memories enter Jill's mind, and we, the readers, learn that her mom was painfully dying from a terminal disease. Her mom may have asked Jill to help put an end to the misery. With that bit of background, it is understandable why Jill doesn't give straight or truthful answers to questions. It's a good thing when she has to deal with the despicable bad guys, who most people would never have pegged as the bad guys. Isn't that often the case.

What's the plot already? you ask.

One morning, a dwarf comes into the bookstore to sell a pristine copy of a signed Jack London book. Jill buys it for herself. At the end of the day, the guy, now looking all beat up, returns and asks for the book back, willing to give Jill more money. No dice.  Jill has already sold the book. Enter, the dwarf's partner, a huge brute of a bully, who threatens Jill by beating up his partner in front of her. Gulp.  Jill's adventure begins. We, readers, are taken on a treacherous and onerous ride through Los Angeles, to and from Las Vegas, and back to Los Angeles. Most of the ruthless characters turn out to be well-known (fictional, of course) actors. Who are these actors? Why is the book so important? Will Jill ever stop beating herself up emotionally and mentally? You'll need to read the story to find out for yourself.

After reading several pages of the novel, I didn't think it qualified as a cozy mystery. It is definitely edgier than most cozy mysteries, even Sara Paretsky's. But, I wasn't going to stop reading Like a Hole in the Head. I had to know what paces the author would put Jill through and how it would end. I've read so many mysteries, I can usually guess the endings. Banbury's was unguessable.

Is Like a Hole in the Head a cozy mystery? It is, according to Library Thing.  That's good enough for me. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cozy Mystery Challenge #4 Review

Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett is the fourth title of the Booktown Mystery series. It's the first one I've read. I doubt I'll read any of the others. The protagonist, Tricia Miles, is the owner of a mystery bookstore in a small (fictional?) town in New Hampshire. That alone ought to be enough for me to enjoy the series. It's not. 

I don't care too much for Tricia. She doesn't have much confidence in herself, though she was much better about her worth by the end of the book. After all, her husband dumped her because he went off to Colorado to find himself. A reporter guy likes her, almost stalkingly. The police guy who likes her put their relationship on hold because he decided to care for his ex-wife who is being treated for cancer. To add to that, her older sister is a type A author, bookseller, and cook. So, Tricia does have a lot to get herself out from under. I'm just not curious to see how her life progresses in future books.

The plot? The bookstore across the street explodes. The owner is dead. The coppers suspect Tricia's sister's boyfriend, who is the landlord of the building. Tricia, the now professional snoop of the town, tries to prove otherwise. Her suspects include the dead man's elderly mom, who seems to be changing her lifestyle too quickly in Tricia's eyes, and the dead man's secret girlfriend, who works for Tricia's sister. Pshew, that was a mouthful. 

One of the interesting things about this New Hampshire town is that it is home to several independent bookstores and tour buses full of readers come to town to shop at the bookstores. I find that unbelievable even though I like the concept a lot. Maybe there is a place in the world like that. 

Another thing that I liked about this mystery were the recipes at the back of the book. Tricia doesn't cook, but her sister does. There's a pretty tasty-sounding recipe for lemon bars that I want to try. 

So, there you go. Three more books to read by September 30 for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. I think I may just make it.