Friday, June 25, 2010

5 x 5

Five Authors That I Just Don't Get:
1. Anne Rice. I've read five of her books, and I didn't like any of them. I gave her Mayfair Witches series three tries, and got incredibly fed up with her refusal (or inability) to answer questions that she had raised in previous books. Plus, she seems to really enjoy including sexual sadism in her novels.

2. V.C. Andrews. Why on earth does anyone want to read novels that revolve around incest? What's worse is that after she died in 1986, people kept churning out books in her series.

3. Lurlene McDaniel. Again, I don't understand why anyone would want to read novels where the whole point is that one of the main characters is dying a slow and painful death.

4. Nicholas Sparks. It isn't that I dislike romance novels, or even books that deliberately pull at your heartstrings, but I fail to understand the popularity of his books. They're ridiculously sentimental and maudlin.

5. LaHaye and Jenkins. The popularity of their Left Behind series scares and puzzles me.

Five Authors that I LOVE!
1. Christopher Moore. I realize his work would not be for everyone, but I find him to be uproariously funny, and his books to be filled with clever plots, witty dialogue, and highly memorable characters. Of his twelve novels, I have read ten. I should have paced myself better as I only started reading his books in 2007.

2. Jasper Fforde. Again, his work would not be for everyone, but I find his books to be incredibly clever and witty. I've read all of his Thursday Next books, both of the Nursery Crime novels and can't wait for the next installments of each. I haven't had a chance yet to read Shades of Grey which is a separate novel, but I will soon.

3. Neil Gaiman. I've only recently gotten into his works so I have a vast quantity left to discover, but I have loved everything I have read so far. It took me a while to get into some of his novels, but once they grabbed me, I was hooked good and proper.

4. Roald Dahl. For the longest time as a child I was unaware of how many books Dahl had written, and sadly didn't get past the major works such as BFG, Witches, Matilda and the like. And I certainly wasn't aware that he had written novels and short stories for adults. What a treat to discover this as an adult. One caveat: Dahl's work for kids is actually fairly dark and demented, and his work for adults is the same, only more so.

5. Bill Bryson. I haven't enjoyed all of his books equally, but he is one of my favorite nonfiction/travelogue authors. I'm very excited for his newest book which comes out this fall.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


What have you recently read?
What are you currently reading?
What will you be reading next?
Brought to you by Should Be Reading. (I gave incorrect credit for this at least once.)

What have you recently read? Since last week I have read Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, Haunting Jordan by P.J. Alderman, and Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. The brings my total of books read this year up to 32. I'm not exactly on pace to reach 100, but I'm feeling pretty good. If I get to 75 this year, which will be the most I've read in a year when I've kept track, I will be really happy. On a related note, I'm pretty sure I will be chucking my carefully constructed list and just reading whatever the heck I want. :)

What are you currently reading? I still haven't finished Homer P. Figg, and I have The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells on my nightstand ready to crack open tonight.

What will you be reading next? Looks like The Invisible Man, but I may also go with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

From the Shelves: Haunting Jordan

" Jordan Marsh left L.A. for the quaint Pacific Northwest town of Port Chatham in pursuit of some much-needed R & R. As the prime suspect in her cheating husband’s murder, she had been hoping to immerse herself in the restoration of the charming Victorian she’d just bought—and put all talk of homicide investigations behind her. But as she soon discovers, the coldest of cases cry out to be solved, too. For this old house comes fully furnished—with two garrulous ghosts who have a century-old murder of their own they’d like her to look into. Now, if Jordan can keep the L.A. police at bay, and sort through a suspect list of shady characters circa 1890, she might just clear a wrongly accused man’s name—and her own."

I thoroughly enjoyed Haunting Jordan by P. J. Alderman. It was exactly what it presented itself to be, and I came to care about the characters quite readily. I really enjoy a well-crafted mystery and I admire an author who can keep two different mystery narratives running in the same book. Did it bother me that I could figure out who the murders were slightly in advance of the heroine? Not particularly for the following reasons 1)for the historical murder it was fun watching how she figured it out and where she found her evidence and 2)for the present day murder, while I guessed who did it, I didn't know WHY. Plus, the climactic fight scene was something to be enjoyed.

I found the plot point of Jordan being able to communicate with and see ghosts to be handled fairly deftly. She was not at all happy to discover that she could do this and it takes her quite a while to adjust. She is not someone who had demonstrated psychic powers in the past, nor was she someone who makes her living dealing with anything supernatural or new age, which I found refreshing. This, combined with the fact that all of her neighbors readily accepted the fact that their town was heavily haunted and were excited that there was someone who could actually speak to the ghosts in their midst made for some very amusing passages.

I do have a few quibbles though. I thought that the loyalty and almost unnaturally good nature of her new friends was a bit much and a bit too soon. I realize that there was a bit of a time crunch in order to keep the narrative running in a realistic time, but to have developed such fast friendships like these seemed unrealistic. Additionally, there were a few loose threads that did not get tied up in this book. At the time I was unaware that this was the first in a new series so I was irritated, but now that I am aware of this fact I am less so. Finally, there were two different times when a major error took place, (the repetition of a phrase in the same sentence and calling a major character by the wrong last name) which made me wonder a bit about the editor. These are pretty minor quibbles though. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, whenever that may come about. The only information I can find on the author's website is that the second book (no title) will be published sometime this year. Highly recommended.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Salute to My Father

Since it is Father's Day I decided I would do a post in honor of my dad. I know that many people think highly of their fathers (and just as many have low opinions of theirs as well), but I really think I hit the jackpot in terms of fathers. I've chosen three different stories to illustrate my dad's character and personality.

My grandmother once told me "your father was the nicest, dearest, sweetest little boy." She proceed to elaborate by telling me about her dog Candy. Growing up my father's family had a number of dogs, but Candy was Meme's dog and she was extremely fond of her. One day, when Meme came home from shopping, my dad met her at the door (he was about ten) and told her that Candy had died in her sleep while she was out and that he had already buried her in the backyard so that she wouldn't have to do it.

I sort of hesitate to tell this story as it reflects poorly on my grandfather, who held certain prejudices. To be fair, he was born in 1906 and had a jerk for a father himself so it was definitely learned behavior, but that isn't much of an excuse. At any rate. When my father was in high school he was getting ready to go out on a date with a young lady whose last name was Rosenbaum. My grandfather asked who he was taking out and when he shared her name my grandfather said "but Peter, she's a Jew." My father calmly replied "no Dad, she's a girl," and then left.

And finally, as a child I only remember getting spanked by my father one time and it was for being horribly rude to my mother at the dinner table. I was not very old, maybe five, and was sent from the table in disgrace for making my mother cry. I got spanked one time, burst into tears, and my dad grabbed me in a fierce hug and told me he loved me but that my behavior had not been acceptable and to never do it again. Dad was crying while this took place too. I admire him for giving me the punishment I deserved (although my older sister got off scott free and she was the one who goaded me into saying what I thought of the meal which still bothers me), even though it pained him to do so. I also admire him for supporting my mother so much and not tolerating such attitudes.

Dad, I know you don't read my blog, but you're fantastic, and Sunshine loves and admires you too. Love you!