Sunday, October 30, 2011

BOOK: The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys

The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys, 309 pages

5th Canadian Book Challenge; 2nds Challenge

When I saw that Humphreys' book was being released so soon after I has just finished Coventry, I jumped in line at the library to read her latest book. Alas, to Humphreys credit as a writer but not mine as a reader, this book was quite different. Coventry was England during the wars, this was France in the 1800s. I am clearly an anglophile. I'll be wishing I read this during Paris in July, and I may have enjoyed it more then. Coventry also seemed to have much more action and plot. Perhaps since Reinvention of Love is based on real characters (Victor Hugo, his wife Adele, writer Charles saint-Beuve) Humphreys was committed to actual events and words already spoken by her characters. Also, in the French literary tradition, it seemed to ponder more philosophically about ideas of love and existence. Too bad for this book that after my past two months of mystery and mayhem reading for RIP the lack of active plot was too slow.

I'll try another book by Humphreys and mark this one down as wrong book, wrong time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BOOK: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King,


I decided to spread the King out a bit this month. After each other book I finish, I will read one of his novella/short stories. Each story stands on its own a little better, and I get to extend the King season for the whole month.

After reading Pretty in Ink:
1922, 131 pages
A man who convinces a son to help him kill his wife sees his life fall apart in middle America just before the depression begins. Nice homage to the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, as the narrator is haunted by the rats from the well where he dropped his wife. So, it's creepy, and gross and perfectly King, with characters that allow you to see their hearts, however dark. "Perfectly King" is high praise as I've always loved his writing. He creates characters with layers, and stories that bounce along, and you just don't forget  his books. There have been some duds, but I've really enjoyed his shorter fiction.

After reading The Distant Hours:
Big Driver, 130 pages
At this point, part of what makes a Stephen King story scary, is worrying about how far he will take the plot. He does horrible so well, that I keep imagining what terrible event will happen next to the main character. When a cozy mystery author gets thrust into a decidedly not cozy crime, I kept thinking things would get worse and worse. When Tess decides to take revenge on her rapist, around every corner, and with every decision she takes, I kept thinking it would be worse and worse. As I think about the story, it was very satisfying as King lets her get her revenge. I loved how her cat and her GPS talk to her, or at least, the voice in her head talks back to her in this way.

After reading The Broken Shore:
Fair Extension, 31 pages
A fifty year old with cancer makes a deal with Mr Elvid (even I noticed that!)  to get revenge on his best friend from high school. Revenge is becoming a big theme in these stories. Dave Streeter gets better and his friend's life takes a turn. King is messing with my mind and my expectations of how characters will behave in this story, as he did in Big Driver. I liked it in Big Driver, and was sickened in this one. At least the story was short.

After reading Wonderstruck:
A Good Marriage, 84 pages
How well do you ever really know someone? King takes this premise and runs with it after a wife discovers her husband's secret in the garage.It's the question that everyone asks after a terrible crime is discovered: How could the wife not know? King explores this very idea. Tough reading, but again, King takes the optimistic ending for the characters.

Bonus Story: Under the Weather, 15 pages
You can see the ending coming in this one, plus King drops all kinds of hints, but you still hope this won't end the way you know it will. Young ad-man having trouble concentrating at work, worrying about his wife at home recovering from bronchitis. Spoiler if you highlight the next section: If you've read A Rose for Emily... and that's the end.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BOOK: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, 630 pages

2nds Challenge

After reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and absolutely loving it, I was hoping that Selznick would write another book. Yay! Wonderstruck has been recently released, and I actually bought the hardcover edition. I very seldom buy a hardcover - I'll wait for soft, or borrow from the library, but I knew I would want to keep this book.

There are two parallel stories, one in text and one in pictures. Deafness plays a part in both stories (there are plenty of parallels) and the fact that Rose in the 1920s section was deaf and her story is told in pictures seems perfect - quieter. In the 1970s, Ben is living with his aunt and uncle in Minnesota after his mother died. He never knew, or heard of, his father, and begins to unravel the mystery among his mother's belongings, sending him on a trip to New York City. The two stories eventually meet up in the present day, in a delightful way.

Much of  the story takes place in the American Natural History Museum, and in the Afterward, Selznick acknowledges From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler and challenges readers to find the references to E.L Konigsburg and the book. Cool. The book also contains much about collecting and museums.

Never be put off by the size of Selznick's books. Because so much of them are the wonderful illustrations, it reads very quick. He does such a perfect blend of drawing and story, and I love his charcoal illustration style. Another book please, Mr Selznick.

Monday, October 24, 2011

BOOK: The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple, 445 pages

Book Award Challenge (CWA Gold Dagger 2007 and Ned Kelly Award for Crime Writing); Aussie Author Challenge; 2nds Challenge (read Truth)

Temple has a writing style that takes getting used to, but I quite enjoy it. There are no big descriptions, but the atmosphere is felt. The Australian slang takes getting used to, and I still miss the meaning of tons of words, but I get the idea. It makes me feel like I am in Australia, real Australia. It's rough, and the crime side underbelly, but it feels very real and gritty.

Cashin thought that he knew the answer, delivered to him by some process in the brain that endlessly sifted, sorted and shuffled things heard and read, seen and felt, bits and pieces with no obvious use, just clutter, litter, until the moment when two of them touched, spun and found each other, fitted like hands locking. p 288

This quote is what reading the book was to me - not all clear all the time, but then it coalesces and was a great description of how good detectives figure things out.

Joe Cashin is recovering from a bad incident (eventually somewhat revealed) and sent to a small town, the small town where he grew up. He ends up in the middle of a murder investigation of a local philanthropist. He is in contact with Villani from Victoria (and main character of Truth.) Cashin is hurting, and finding his way in the new locale with his new life. The plot twists and turns (police procedural, so the reader only knows what Cashin discovers) and is a great read. A little violent, and graphic in parts, but gritty and great character development. Plus, Dove, the aboriginal detective from Truth also makes an appearance. I'd love a book with more Dove.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CONTEST: Jodi Picoult Giveaway

Simon and Schuster is having a big Jodi Picoult give-away. It's huge - win a library of her books.

I've only read a couple of her books so far, Nineteen Minutes, Mercy, and My Sister's Keeper. There is a definite uptake on teenagers reading, and I see tons of Jodi Picoult books being carried around the high school I work in. Excellent work, Ms Picoult, keeping young readers reading.

Click on the picture to be taken to the S&S website to enter the contest. It opens on October 18th and closes November 8th. Open only to Canadian residents, sorry. Good luck everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BOOK: Pretty in Ink by Karen E. Olson

Pretty in Ink by Karen E. Olson, 299 pages

RIP 6; Mystery and Suspense Challenge

Finding ways to put amateur sleuths into mysteries can be tricky, and it felt a little forced in this book. Brett Kavanaugh, owner of the classy tattoo shop in Vegas, The Painted Lady, keeps sticking her nose in business that she shouldn't. She has cop for a brother, which gives her some inside information into the crimes. Maybe because I usually read mysteries based on the police point of view, but Brett's continual refusal to help the police, or her complete defiance of answering their questions truthfully, or going her own way, bothered me more in this book.

When I can ignore this aspect of moving the plot along, I did enjoy the book. After witnessing an assault at a drag queen show, and then the disappearance of one of her employees, Brett gets involved. Her store had done some of the tattoos for the performers. She spies a tattoo on the assaulter and discovers that it was done at her rival and possible romantic interest, Jeff Coleman's. The characters who work with Brett are fun, and the setting of Vegas is perfect for over the top events.

There are two more books in the series, Driven to Ink, and Ink Flamingos, and I'm sure I'll continue reading to see how Brett's romantic life continues and to get more background in case I travel to visit Vegas.

Friday, October 14, 2011

BOOK: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, 562 pages

Challenge checklist - Gothic Reading Challenge; RIP 6; 2nds Challenge; Aussie Author Challenge

Kate Morton book list - The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours

Gothic checklist- romance and horror, castles, secrets, madness, darkness

Raidergirl's good book checklist - England, sisters, back and forth in time (parallel stories), bookish mysteries

Morton created many well developed characters that I really enjoyed reading about. I liked the war story, and the present day story. The relationships between all the characters seemed real, and the secrets were tantalizingly revealed. The ultimate secrets weren't as dramatic as I was imagining, but the journey to get there was well worth my time. Excellent book for the RIP season, and to finish off the Gothic Book Challenge for me.

also reviewed: kittling booksrhapsody in books; caribousmom; katherine of a girl walks into a bookstore; karen at the bookbath;

Thursday, October 13, 2011


If you could get a sequel for any book, what would it be?

Some of my favorite books already have sequels (Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones, Heidi, plus all the mysteries - I do love my comfortable characters). Anne of Green Gables even has a prequel that was recently written (Before Green Gables.) I can think of a few. It would be great to revisit Jane Eyre and see her and Mr Rochester in their later years. The only problem is that another book would need a plot, which involves conflict of some kind, and I'd really rather imagine them happily ever after, for ever after.

After I finished The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens this summer, I wasn't ready to be done of the characters Mary Gooch and her husband. That's a book I'd love to see some follow up to. Either from her husband's point of view, or just more of Mary on her life journey. The book ended on a beginning of sorts, and I'd like to read more about Mary Gooch.

What books am I forgetting about that need a sequel?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BOOK: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, 307 pages

2nds Challenge; Aussie Author Challenge

It's not officially a RIP book for me, but if ever I was imbibing Peril, it was while  reading a book about the plague, the black plague in a 1666 English village. People dropping left and right of a horrible death. Plus, as is often in these types of books (or movies, like Titanic) so many ways to die.

Brooks did her homework and the story is filled with historical aspects. Apparently, the book was conceived after Brooks visited the village that this book is based on, where a plague outbreak occurred. The villagers decided, in the novel based on the legend, to quarantine their village once the outbreak began, to prevent the spread, but taking their own chance for survival. It's pretty bleak, but the main character, Anna Firth manages to stay healthy and provides medical care for many in the village.
Well written historical fiction, with a dash of peril for the season.

also reviewed: laura at musings by laura (who found the ending far-fetched); sandy at You've Gotta read this;
Jackie at farmlanebooks; les at lesley's book nook;