Sunday, May 29, 2011

BOOK: Southwesterly Wind by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Southwesterly Wind by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

book 3 of 7; next in series: A Window in Copacabana

Inspector Espinosa, the police man who nobody thinks is a policeman. The bookish, introspective detective who lives in the same apartment he grew up in, with a wife and son long gone to Washington, DC. The warm, wild streets of Rio de Janeiro as the southwesterly winds roll in, bringing change.

A young man comes to Espinosa, worried. A psychic told him he would commit a murder before his next birthday. He's now a complete wreck. Espinosa listens patiently and entertains him, assigning an old friend unofficially to the case. But when two people connected to the young man turn up dead, they have to look a little more seriously at the quiet young man.

I've been reading this series quite out of order, so keeping track of what is going on in the personal lives of Espinosa and the people around him is tricky. (I hate reading a series out of order, but I blame my library.) Espinosa is beginning to think he might like a relationship with a woman, but he really likes being alone as well. His friendship with 13 year old Alice in his building is touching, and clearly replaces the one with his son he never sees. Having already read the seventh book, Espinosa is still evolving and I'm looking forward to the next couple of books to see how he gets where he ends up.

This week in the Crime Fiction Alphabet we are up to letter S, and my reading matches the week! Yah-hoo! So S is for Southwesterly Wind by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. Other books in the series:
The Silence of the Rain
December Heat
Southwesterly Wind
A Window on Copacabana
Alone in the Crowd
For more participants in the Crime Fiction Alphabet for this week and the letter S, check here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CHALLENGE: Paris in July 2011

Paris in July is being hosted again by Karen at BookBath and Tamara from Thyme For Tea . I participated last year, reading and watching a variety of genres.The best was watching Ratatouie. I can't believe I hadn't seen it before.
The idea is to read or watch or cook or bake or anything else that you dream of posting about France. Bonne Chance!

Possible Ideas:
Nonfiction: Lavoisier in the Year One:The Birth Of A New Science In An Age Of Revolution (Great Discoveries)
Watch Coco or La Vie en Rose
Fiction: Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
a mystery by Fred Vargas
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (some year I'll get this actually read!)
Madame de Stael: The First Modern Woman by Francine Gray (I started reading this on last year)

What I actually did:
1. watched Midnight in Paris at the theatre
2. read The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
3. read Lavoisier in the Year One by Madison Smartt Bell

Monday, May 16, 2011

BOOK: Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell

Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell, 280 pages

Mystery and Suspense Challenge; review book from

As mysteries go, this was a quiet one. No detective called in to solve the case, no amateur sleuth who just happens to be around. No, this is not a cozy mystery nor a police procedural both of my usual mystery fares. There's not even a death until well over halfway through the book. It reminded me of Rear Window, the Jimmy Stewart/Hitchcock movie where the man across the street, bored with a broken leg, begins spying on his neighbours across the street. There actually is a bored man across the street who 'keeps an eye' on his neighbours in the apartment of flats across the street, or whatever those are called in London. He likes to give names to everyone and imagine their relationships. As the reader, we get to see the truth about the people, and how wildly off he is in his nosiness.

No, it's not a classic mystery, but it was a great story. Seeing how the tenants were connected, and what was going on in their lives - some sad, some cute, some tragic, made for great reading. As the characters got more and more entwined, as people who live near each other are wont to do, I was kept on the edge of my seat. It wasn't scary suspense, but there was a feeling that something would happen to someone, and soon. There were some surprises and the plot moved quickly in the second half. I enjoyed the characters although they weren't all good people. It's a story with characters that lie to the police because they have something to hide, but not related to the case usually. Sigh, it must be tough to be a police officer investigating a case.

Great writing, interesting characters, and a that plot meanders for an enjoyable read.

This is my contribution for this week's Crime Fiction Alphabet. Ruth Rendell for the letter R. Rendell has written a pile of mysteries, prolific would be the term. How have I never read any of her books? There is a series with Inspector Wexford, and a large number of stand-alones, plus even more written as Barbara Vine. I managed to pick up another book at the used book sale: The Water's Lovely. Can't wait.

Rendell has been winning awards from the Crime Writers' Association  since 1976, up to the 1991 CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger and the 2004 Gumshoe Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Hosted by Kerri at Mysteries in Paradise
By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MEME: One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four.... and Five

I aw this meme around a few places this weekend, most recently at Lizzy's Literary Life. I guess it started at Stuck in a Book. (I have recently discovered that I can copy a link location in the 'right click' menu. I used to follow the link and then copy from the address bar. I'm sure I'm the last person to figure this out, but it has made linking posts sooo much easier.)

1) The Book I am currently reading
 I've been reading The True Story of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, and now have just started Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendall.

2)  The Book I finished last
 I just finished Bannock, Beans and Black Tea by John Gallant, an  memoir of an Islander from the 1930s that will give you an idea of life on PEI that is not much like Anne of Green Gables. It put me to mind of books I've read set in Ireland,  like Angela's Ashes. When people in the Depression say they were poor, they were really poor. No social assistance, no help of any kind.The title refers to the most common meal, when they had one. I liked recognizing the locations, as I live about a forty minute drive from the setting of this book. It was called a graphic novel on library thing, but it was mostly just written stories, with a few pictures drawn in. I'm hoping to get my kids to read this book, to maybe have them appreciate what all they take for granted.

3) The Next Book I want to read
A mystery of some sort - probably The Devil's Whisper by Miyuke Miyabe

4) The Last Book I bought:
Isaac Newton by James Gleik. I teach about Newton everyday - I should learn more about his history. I'm looking forward to reading about his feud with Robert Hooke. That's the kind of stuff that makes some of the scientific names come alive.

5.) The last book I was given: 
The Music of Pythagoras by Kitty Ferguson was lent to me by a student, so I have until the end of June to get this one read. I'm always pleased to share reading ideas and books with my students.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

BOOK: The Night Wanderer by Drew Hayden Taylor

The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor, 215 pages

Gothic Reading Challenge; Once Upon a Time; 4th CBC

I read Taylor's Motorcycles and Sweetgrass last year (and loved it), and this book, The Night Wanderer, feels like the practice run for Motorcycles and Sweetgrass. The Night Wanderer is classified as young adult, and tells the story of Tiffany Hunter, a native girl in Otter Lake who is suffering much teenage angst. (Otter Lake is the same location as M&S) Her mother has run off, leaving her with her bitter father and her charming grandmother. A mysterious stranger from Europe arrives and boards at their house. (A stranger comes to Otter Lake and shakes up the town in M&S)

In both books, the stranger introduces a supernatural/mythological aspect to the story. The Night Wanderer isn't as consistently funny as M&S, but the hints are there that Taylor has a comedic novel in him. Taylor manages to tell native stories that are accessible to non-natives, without being depressing, while conveying the vast history and traditions, and illustrating the conflicts that exist. I felt like I got a little history in my entertaining story, and combining native mythology with vampires was a nice touch. The teenage stuff was okay, showing the typical "woe is me" teenage angst when families and boyfriends aren't working out. Overall, good read, especially for readers who like vampires in small doses, and I'll be waiting for another book by Taylor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BOOK: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

Hosted by Kerri at Mysteries in Paradise
By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow. 

This week is the letter P, represented by Louise Penny. Louise Penny is a Canadian author and her Inspector Gamauche series has won her many awards - three Agatha Awards for best novels in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The series is set often in the small village of Three Pines in Quebec.
See more P entries here.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny, 460 pages

Book Awards V: The Agatha Award 2009; 4th Canadian Book Challenge

book 5 of 6 in the Three Pines Mysteries

Another murder in Three Pines brings Inspector Gamauche back to the village with all the village gang - Peter, Oliver and Gabriel, and poet Ruth. The body of a man has been found in Oliver's Bistro, but who is he? No one in the village recognizes him. Is his death related to Oliver? Or is there a connection to the new Spa being developed in the old Hadley house that had the first murder in the series?

This book delivers the usual strong murder, with Gamauche keeping his eyes and ears open. There was less about the political intrigue in the Surette and Gamauche and his boss. Also, his team seemed somewhat less involved. I think overall, this volume has a different feel than the previous book - more with the characters of the village and the mystery, less with the police themselves. I think I liked this one better, without the other side stories.

Next up - Bury Your Dead, then I am up to date.

also reviewed: kerri at mysteries in paradise; booklogged at a reader's journal;

Sunday, May 1, 2011

BOOK: Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie, 284 pages

Vintage Mystery Author Challenge; Mystery and Suspense Challenge

On an isolated archaeological dig outside Baghdad, the leader is worried about his wife's health, so a nurse is brought in to keep an eye on her. It appears she is afraid of something, or someone. Once she turns up dead, Hercule Poirot, who just happens to be in Baghdad awaiting passage back on the Orient Express, comes to the site to investigate.

One of the things I enjoy about Christie's writing is she often takes a different perspective of the mystery. For this one, it is the nurse who was asked, after the fact, to record the events that occurred at the archaeological site. So the whole story, including all the Poirot interactions are what the nurse saw, and how she understood what happened. Poirot is at his logical, methodical best, using the nurse as his assistant. I liked how he left this murder to take the Orient Express back across Europe, which just happens to be the most recent other book of Poirot I've read.Christie writes tight, well-plotted mysteries with clues and many suspects. I never know who or what happens, but I always enjoy the story.

also reviewed: kerrie at mysteries in paradise;