ATTENTION CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS

2015 Editions of the Color Coded , Mount TBR and Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenges--as well as Read It Again, Sam (due to popular demand)-- have been posted. I am also introducing my newest brain-child: Super Book Password. Please check it out!

As in the past, I will post sidebar links for sign-up posts as well as review headquarters once the new year begins.


Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...



Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Cross Book Sale Treasures



Every year I look forward to the local Red Cross Book Sale. They boast over 80,000 titles as available. Well, I didn't actually take time to count, but I'd say there were at least that many--if not more. And, no, I didn't bring them all home with me. I didn't have time. I made a mad dash to the Fairgrounds after work and had less than an hour to work my way through as many sections as I could before they started herding us out the door. So, I only managed to snag 23 books. But, no worries, I'm going back tomorrow when I can browse at a more leisurely pace. Here's what I've brought home so far....

Murder Has Its Points by Richard & Frances Lockridge (the Lockridge books are always on my TBO--To Be Owned List). Still need about 20 titles before the collection will be complete.
The Dreadful Hollow
by Nicholas Blake
Wycliffe & the Guilt Edged Alibi
by W. J. Burley
Murder Down Under
by Arthur W. Upfield
Anatomy of a Murder
by Robert Traver (Dell Pocket 1st edition in the pocket size! This was an up-grade for me. I previously had a pretty rotten copy of the 2nd edition of the pocket size.)
Call for Michael Shayne
by Brett Halliday (Dell Pocket 1st edition)
She Woke to Darkness by Brett Halliday (Dell Pocket 1st edition)
The Case of Jennie Brice
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
The Gay Phoenix
by Michael Innes
Champagne for One
by Rex Stout
The Coffin Tree
by Gwendoline Butler
The Religious Body
by Catherine Aird (have read, but always wanted to own)
Murder in the Dark
by Margaret Atwood
The Fifth Man
by Manning Coles
Black Widow by Patrick Quentin
Two Men in Twenty
by Maurice Procter
The Doorbell Rang
by Rex Stout
Watson's Choice
by Gladys Mitchell (another that I've read but wanted to own)
C. B. Greenfield: A Little Madness
by Lucille Kallen
Frenchman's Creek
by Daphne du Maurier
Five Passengers from Lisbon/Wake for a Lady/The Murder in the Stork Club
by Mignon G. Eberhart/H. W. Roden/Vera Caspary (3-in-1 book club edition--bought purely for the Caspary portion, but I'll certainly check out the others)
Strange Murders at Greystones
by Elsie N Wright (in the clearance section & I couldn't resist even though I know nothing about Wright)
C
rime & Mr. Campion by Margery Allingham


Friday Memes

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages. Here's what you do: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Katy's place.


Here's mine
from Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers:

The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth.



The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It is really easy to participate. {Please note that Freda is not sponsoring the link this week due family circumstances. We hope that she has safe travels and that all will be well.}

Here's mine from Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers:

I've tried snatching. It didn't work, though.

Reminder: Killer Angels Giveaway


The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Synopsis: In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny. - (Random House, Inc.)

Go HERE to enter the giveaway.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Booking Thru Thursday

btt button

1. What do you think of reading aloud/being read to? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Your children’s childhood?

2. Does this affect the way you feel about audio books?

3. Do you now have times when you read aloud or are read to?

1. I always enjoyed reading aloud to my son when he was small. It was especially fun because I discovered many wonderful children's books that I had somehow missed out on when I was a kid. And I remember with great fondness being read Here's a Bunny by my Aunt Helen. Repeatedly. I loved that book. Now, I'll read certain sections of a book to my husband if I think it's particularly funny--to mixed reviews.

2. I'm not a big fan of audio books. Not that I don't like them....but I'd just prefer to read the book myself. They're okay occasionally.

3. Not really.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bradbury's Chapbook: Review


A poetical review of Ray Bradbury's A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers.

Dear Ray,


I nearly despaired
of you
in the writing of poetry

It's not what I expected
from one of the
fathers
of science fiction
Not even free verse


Your rhythm and cadence
threw me
I just couldn't see Moby Dick
as a giant spaceship

or Noah in the galaxy

Of course, I'm not

a Melville fan

Maybe that was it


But then--
along came "Christus Apollo"

and you blew me away

with the imagery

and the beautiful language

and "wow"--just wow

And "Joy Is the Grace We Say to God"
Love that one too
A poem about joy
has to be good

I just wish your poems
had been more even
That they all
had been as good
But there are too many
that leave me cold
or scratching
my head

Beautiful language
is your trademark--
even in the oddest of the
science fiction tales
Beautiful rhythm
should hallmark
your poetry in
every verse
Not quite


A decent little outing. And a different look at one of the founding fathers of science fiction. In this collection, Bradbury gives us his spiritual side--his belief in mankind and our place in the universe. Nearly all in free verse with some essays mixed in. Solid work...with a hint of brilliance. Three stars.

WWW: Wednesdays

WWW: Wednesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. This is a weekly meme that I have been participating in for over a year now.

To play along just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you just recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

Current:
A Chapbook for Burned-Out Priests, Rabbis, & Ministers by Ray Bradbury: For Bradbury enthusiasts, religionists and nearly everyone else, here's a delightful scrapbook of poems and essays, familiar summations but no less vital from a brilliant young fantasist grown older but not old. A "fallen-away Baptist," Bradbury has found a faith localized in a man-centered universe. Without recourse to the stylistic mannerisms that have made him prey to parody throughout his long career, he preaches with heartfelt urgency a return to space as an antidote to war. In essays he reimagines his lifelong idols, George Bernard Shaw and Herman Melville (GBS as a potential fan of Singing in the Rain, the "only science fiction musical film"; Ishmael as space voyager). His poems, the bulk in free verse, are no less exhilarating and infectious. One opens with an "apeman" sketching "science fictions" on cave walls while another addresses the modern "dichotomy" between Einstein and Christ ("Try this for size;/ A bit of both?"). There is humor, insightful in "Eccentrics Must Truly Have Loved God. They Made So Many of Him" and playful in "Has Anyone Ever Seen Anyone Reading in the Christian Science Reading Rooms?" (He concludes with a poignant image of the ghost of "Mary Baker eddying/ In pools of liquid ectoplasm.../ Reading her own stuff.") Bradbury hails Shaw: "GBS!" The future will add: "Ray!"

Read Since the Last WWW: Wednesday (click on titles for review):
Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
March Violets by Philip Kerr
Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb
Middlemarch by George Eliot


Up Next:
Haunted Gound by Erin Hart
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
Hide and Seek by Wilkie Collins
Lucky Jim by Kinglsey Amis
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Let's All Kill Constance by Ray Bradbury
Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Middlemarch: Review

First off...please pardon me a moment while I do my customary "I just finished this really long [No, I mean REALLY long] classic novel celebration dance" all around the blog. Please click on the little bear for full dancing around the blog effect.


There. Done. But seriously. Over 800 pages. I've been reading Middlemarch for over a month. I can't remember the last time it took me a month to read anything. George Eliot, honey, you're one wordy lady. Can't possibly just say something like, "Dorothea walked out into the garden." Oh, no. We must know exactly why she went there and every little thing she thought on her way there and every little flower that she looked at along the way. If there were multiple reasons for going to the garden, then we must examine them each in turn from every which way until there isn't the least little doubt that Dorothea was meant to go there no matter what. Enough already.

Okay. Got that out my system. And I have a little confession to make. For quite some time (oh, for say 25 years or so--ever since college), I've considered myself a Victorianist. I was drawn to the era. But as I waded into Middlemarch, I was beginning to doubt myself. Or at least begin to reconsider what kind of Victorianist I am. I honestly think I am more your Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle kind of Victorianist. More a Collins' The Moonstone rather than a Collins' The Woman in White kind of Victorianist. And I suspect (although this is based purely on an experience with Great Expectations) that I'm not really a Charles Dickens kind of Victorianist. Because I'm not all that into long, involved, let's describe things to death narrative. But, then, I liked Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds and that's one long, wordy book....must keep considering.

But, forget all this True Confessions business--what we really want to know is did you like it? Was it an awesome novel like the interwebs says it is? Is it the finest thing that Eliot ever did? Well, I don't know about that last one. Because, you see this is the first work by Eliot that I've ever read. But, yes, it's a wonderful novel. She sketches out an intricate look at British village life. She gives us pitch-perfect character studies. She knows her characters inside and out and understands them. Even though they don't understand each other and mostly don't seem to understand themselves. Who would have thought there could be so much melodrama in the British countryside? And all the interweavings of relationships.

Dorothea and Casaubon. We have the idealistic Dorothea who wants to do good and become educated to increase her capacity for good. Dorothea who somehow thinks that to wed Casaubon and be "lamp unto his feet" and support his scholarly pursuits (and maybe pick up some Latin and other languages along the way) will fulfill her ideals and allow them (D & C) to live happily ever after. Not so much.

Rosamond and Lydgate. Lydgate who is every bit as idealistic as Dorothea. He wants to do great things in medicine and revolutionize the field and then he falls in love with Rosamond and thinks somehow the love of this fine little woman will support him while he succeeds. Rosamond has said all along that she could never marry a Middlemarch man--she's known them all too well and they would never do. And she has stars in her eyes thinking that any outsider (say, Lydgate) must be way better and, hey, doesn't he have relatives who are somebody? So, by golly, they'll live happily ever after too. Well, sort of, depending on your definition of the phrase--and only after much tribulation and gnashing of teeth.

Celia and Sir James. Sir James originally longs for Dorothea--and, in fact, many in Middlemarch expected Sir James and Dorothea to wed. But after watching Dorothea marry that dried up scholar, Casaubon, Sir James sets his sights on sister Celia. Celia, who really has always had an eye for James but thought he was so much better suited to Dorothea. But, hey, if her sister is going to throw away a chance to marry James, Celia won't say no. After all. "Celia confessed it was nicer to be 'Lady' than 'Mrs." and it did allow her to have her pretty jewelry and her precious little Arthur. Who, of course, is the most darling of boys. They certainly will live happily ever after. Most likely.

Mary Garth and Fred Vincy. Fred is a seemingly ne'er-do-well. He means well, but can't seem to settle to anything--and things just don't seem to go right. He goes for schooling to go into the church, but can't quite stick it. He has expectations of a small inheritance that doesn't come through. He finds himself in debt and can only get out through an obligation to Mary's father. Mary and Fred have loved each other since they were small. But Mary won't commit to him until proves himself steady. Will they live happily ever after? Oh, you can count on it. But don't try to count the twists and turns that Eliot will take you through before they get there.

And, oh, I could go on. There's the Bulstrodes and his secret and the man who comes along to spill the beans. And the good vicar Mr. Farebrother who also loves Mary, but who does his best to help love's young dream. And Mr. Featherstone (of the possible inheritance) who keeps everyone guessing about who's going to get the goodies.

In all of these relationships, no one really understands anyone else. I was really struck by the amount of heartache and trouble that could have been averted if these people would have just talked to each other. They all assume what the other person thinks or feels or means, but they rarely get it right. I suppose, on a much smaller scale, that's true of all human relations. Assumptions make for a great deal of trouble. I also absolutely loved the depiction of the village grape vine and social judiciary committee. Who needs facts when you can spread conjectures? The word in Middlemarch "was spreading fast, gathering around it conjectures and comments which gave it new body and impetus....Everybody liked better to conjecture how a thing was, than simply to know it; for conjecture soon became more confident than knowledge, and had a more liberal allowance for the incompatible." The poor folk who are being conjectured about never stand a chance. And isn't that always the way?

So, again, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I have to say, it was absolutely worth it to make my way through 770 pages or so to get to the end. The tying up of all the story lines is masterful. The ending is marvelous. It probably deserves another reading--but, honestly, unless I take up the call of the scholarly life, I don't think I'll be devoting another month to rereading it. I highly recommend it for those who want a very thorough look at British provincial life in the Victorian era. Just make sure to carve out plenty of time for reading it. Four stars.

Teaser Tuesdays

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.Link*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.

*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others.
*Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add it to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.

Here's mine from Middlemarch by George Eliot (p. 706):

To be candid in Middlemarch phraseology, meant, to use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their position; and a robust candour never waited to be asked for its
opinion. Then, again, there was a love of truth--a wide phrase, but meaning in this relation, a lively objection to seeing a wife look happier than her husband's character warranted, or manifest too much satisfaction in her lot: the poor thing should have some hint given her that if she knew the truth she would have less complacency in her bonnet, and in light dishes for a supper-party.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Five Best Books: Banned or Challenged


5 Best Books is the weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at INDIE READER HOUSTON. Each week there's a new topic and 5 book picks to talk about. This week, in honor of Banned Books Week, we are to pick the Five Best Banned &/or Challenged Books. Check out Cassandra's wonderful post re: banned books and her own 5 Best.


Here are mine (with clickable titles for reviews where appropriate):

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou




3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin



Oh! And I forgot Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which I learned from Amanda over at Dead White Guys was "banned in 1998 by a school board in Mississippi because of the word 'god damn.' Obviously, the parent who complained did not catch the irony. He was too busy being a dumb ass." {I just had to quote her....she says it much more emphatically than I ever could.}

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey. It's where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It's a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over via the link above and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading

Books Read (click on titles for review):
Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
March Violets by Philip Kerr
Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb


Currently Reading:
Middlemarch by George Eliot: Dorothea Brooke can find no acceptable outlet for her talents or energy and few who share her ideals. As an upper middle-class woman in Victorian England she can't learn Greek or Latin simply for herself; she certainly can't become an architect or have a career; and thus, Dorothea finds herself "Saint Theresa of nothing." Believing she will be happy and fulfilled as "the lampholder" for his great scholarly work, she marries the self-centered intellectual Casaubon, twenty-seven years her senior. Dorothea is not the only character caught by the expectations of British society in this huge, sprawling book. Middlemarch stands above its large and varied fictional community, picking up and examining characters like a jeweler observing stones. There is Lydgate, a struggling young doctor in love with the beautiful but unsuitable Rosamond Vincy; Rosamond's gambling brother Fred and his love, the plain-speaking Mary Garth; Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's attractive cousin, and the ever-curious Mrs. Cadwallader. [Getting closer! only about 200 pages to go (of 848)]

A Chapbook for Burned-Out Priests, Rabbis, & Ministers by Ray Bradbury: For Bradbury enthusiasts, religionists and nearly everyone else, here's a delightful scrapbook of poems and essays, familiar summations but no less vital from a brilliant young fantasist grown older but not old. A "fallen-away Baptist," Bradbury has found a faith localized in a man-centered universe. Without recourse to the stylistic mannerisms that have made him prey to parody throughout his long career, he preaches with heartfelt urgency a return to space as an antidote to war. In essays he reimagines his lifelong idols, George Bernard Shaw and Herman Melville (GBS as a potential fan of Singing in the Rain, the "only science fiction musical film"; Ishmael as space voyager). His poems, the bulk in free verse, are no less exhilarating and infectious. One opens with an "apeman" sketching "science fictions" on cave walls while another addresses the modern "dichotomy" between Einstein and Christ ("Try this for size;/ A bit of both?"). There is humor, insightful in "Eccentrics Must Truly Have Loved God. They Made So Many of Him" and playful in "Has Anyone Ever Seen Anyone Reading in the Christian Science Reading Rooms?" (He concludes with a poignant image of the ghost of "Mary Baker eddying/ In pools of liquid ectoplasm.../ Reading her own stuff.") Bradbury hails Shaw: "GBS!" The future will add: "Ray!"

Books that spark my interest:
Haunted Gound by Erin Hart
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
Hide and Seek by Wilkie Collins
Lucky Jim by Kinglsey Amis
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Let's All Kill Constance by Ray Bradbury
Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vintage Mystery Sunday: The Voice of the Corpse

It's Vintage Mystery Sunday and time to spotlight another classic mystery that I read and loved before I began blogging and reviewing every book I read. A lot of these books come from a time when I was a reader....period. No journaling, no notes. I kept a list of what I read and assigned a rating, but that's it. So quite a bit of my comments will be based on what my rapidly-aging, sieve-like memory will produce for me...that and the little jolts I give it by reading descriptions from the back of the books, the library website, Amazon, etc. I just want to take a moment each weekend and introduce you to some vintage mysteries that you may not know....or, perhaps, remind you of some golden oldies you may have read in the past.


This week's featured detective novel is The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray. Max Murray was born in Australia and worked as a newspaperman in that country, the US, and England and served as scriptwriter,editor, and news correspondent for the BBC during WWII. He was married to author Maysie Greig. He died while on a return trip to Sydney in 1956 at the age of 55. The Voice of the Corpse (1948) is the first novel in a series of eleven mysteries all with "corpse" in the title. His novels, like his life as a journalist and an employee of th
e BBC, took him to various places in the world. This means that although there is the running "corpse" theme in the titles Murray's books do not have a series detective.

The Voice of the Corpse finds us in a typical post-WWII British village. Murray quickly establishes place and gives us finely drawn characters. The corpse in question for this outing is Angela Pewsey. Angela is that mainstay of detective fiction--a poison pen. Her voice is the voice of sneaky accusation. And until someone silenced her at 3:30 one fine afternoon with a neat blow to the back of her head, the vicious woman had collected bits and pieces of conversation, looked through stolen letters, and spied on her neighbors until she k
new at least something about everyone in the village of Inching Round and everything about some of them. Her letters were gloating and threatened to reveal all. That was too much for someone and spelled the end for Angela.


The story is skillfully plotted and provides the reader with a large cast of suspects--because nearly everyone had a reason to stop Angela from broadcasting what she knew. The most prominent suspects are the vain, quick-tempered Graham Ward; Major George Torrens, a retired army man with a secret; the overworked doctor Eric Daw; and Joyce Everard, the woman he loves who just happens to be married--to someone else.

The village police are open to the wandering tramp theory. But though it is an attractive theory none of the locals believe it. And neither do Firth Prentice, a young London solicitor, or Inspector Fowler, the man from Scotland Yard. They discover other folks with
motives and means--like Mrs. Sim and her daughter Celia, and the poacher Artie Evans. And then, of course, Angela's venom-soaked diary comes to light with clues enough to lead to the murderer's name...if Prentice and Fowler can decipher them.


Take a cast of plausible murderers, mix well with a shocking confession, and you wind up with a wonderfully exciting and unexpected finale. All told with humor and wit, fine dialogue, and irony. The Voice of the Corpse is another terrific example of post-WWII detective fiction by an author that few readers remember today.

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: Czech Republic

Next stop on our Crime Fiction Europass whirlwind tour is the Czech Republic. I have to be honest on this one. I don't think I've ever read a mystery based in the Czech Republic. Or if I have it wasn't memorable enough to stick with me. So I went out and did some research on the interwebs and decided that if I were going to visit this part of Europe, I'd like to go to Prague with "The Doctor." As in, The Doctor Dines in Prague by Robin Hathaway. I've never read anything by Robin Hathaway and with all the challenges I've got to finish by the end of the year, I don't know that I'll have any time soon to do so. But if I did have time--the synopsis on this one sounds really, really good. If I manage to fit it in, I'll let you know what I think. In the meantime, here's the synopsis:

Dr. Andrew Fenimore is a Philadelphia general physician who still makes house calls - even when they're in New Jersey - and whose resume, were he to be so immodest as to prepare one, would include triumphs over wicked Homo sapiens as well as dangerous bacillae. In other words, he's a crack amateur detective.
It has been his habit to call his Czech cousin every week, and he is especially eager to be in touch with her and her family now, as Anna is to bring her husband, Vlasta, to Philadelphia for heart surgery soon. When he is unable to reach them, he immediately flies back to Prague. If his concern is misplaced, well, he'd always meant to visit the "most beautiful city in Europe," where his mother grew up.

One small mystery is solved almost immediately when the doctor finds the apartment inhabited. For two weeks, Anna's nine-year-old daughter, Marie, has been hiding there, sleeping in the giant oven of the traditional stove, living on crackers and whatever else she could find in the pantry since two men with guns had taken her parents away.
Fenimore smuggles young Marie off to Philadelphia, where his secretary, Mrs. Doyle, will care for her, and remains in Prague to find Anna and Vlasta. He looks up one of their colleagues at the university - a large, loud, and somewhat frighteningly flirtatious woman who insists on taking him sightseeing. He can only hope that the tour she takes him on will lead to information about his relatives. Instead, it leads him, first, to a puppet show (a popular feature of Czech culture) on the life of the Emperor Charles IV, and from there into a disturbing maelstrom of crazed ambition and a terrorist plan that would devastate the city. With luck Fenimore is able to block the plan and find his family, but only after the murder of a Czech citizen and a threat to Fenimore's own freedom - and possibly his life. - (Blackwell North Amer)


Death of an Englishman: Review


Chosen originally as an "N" author for the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb will also come in handy for the Crime on a Europass Challenge. Nabb's debut novel features Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri. The Marshal is a Sicilian stationed in Florence, Italy and now that it is Christmas-time, he is looking forward to heading South and spending the holidays with his wife and family. However, before he can board the train a nasty bout of flu hits him (as well as a number of his fellow Carabineiri). He must get well.....and solve a murder....before he can leave Florence.

Holiday shoppers are making last-minute purchases and festive patrons spend the last few days before Christmas celebrating in the bars and trattorias. Meanwhile, in a cluttered, dirty apartment near the Pitti Palace, the body of an Englishman is found shot to death--from behind. A. Langley-Smythe seemed to be a reclusive man who didn't even mix much with his fellow ex-patriots, but fingerprints taken from the apartment reveal that there have been numerous visitors to his shabby home. And in fact, Langley-Smythe lived a quite busy life--replacing the furniture in his apartment on a regular basis and involving himself with unsavory friends and underhanded business dealings.


Nabb does an excellent job of taking her readers to Florence. She gives plenty of detail without making the reader feel like they are on a sight-seeing tour and one instantly feels at home in the city. Her style reminds me of Simenon and The Marshal reminds me of Maigret. She is all about description and character--especially the psychology and social conditions that can lead an ordinary man to murder. She is also very good at concealing the identity of the murderer...I was absolutely taken in.


One quibble, however. This is billed as the debut of Marshal Guarnaccia. And yet--while it is true that he is ultimately the one to solve the crime--he spends most of the book in bed with the flu. Having odd dreams brought on by fever. Most of the actual police work is done by The Captain and Carabiniere Bacci working with their British counterparts from Scotland Yard. One wonders how Guarnaccia managed to absorb enough details to be able to complete the case. I'd like to read another in the series just to see if we get The Marshal for a full run. Three stars for good solid story-telling.

September Giveaway: The Killer Angels


I've got a few giveaways lined up for the month of September. First up:


The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara--one of my all-time favorite historical books. And probably my favorite war-related story. I was already interested in the Civil War before reading it, but this one really highlights Joshua Chamberlain and sparked my interest in his Civil War career. I've mentioned this one on a couple of memes recently and a few of you have expressed interest in it. Well, here's your chance to snag your very own copy.

Synopsis:
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny. - (Random House, Inc.)

Entries will be accepted through midnight on Sunday, October 2, and a winner will be selected by random number generator on Monday. If you would like the opportunity to win Killer Angels, please comment below with your email address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to an email to claim their prize. You do not have to be a follower to enter and international entries are welcome.

Sunday Stealing

Haven't seen a "Sunday Stealing" post for a while. Stole this from Kasi at Thoughts from me!




A. Age: 42

B. Bed size:
Full

C. Chore that you hate:
Cleaning the bathroom (and dishes)

D. Dogs:
Haven't had one since I was home. She was a Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix (a Lhasapoo! I love saying that. Lol) named Tosha.

E. Essential start to your day:
Must have shower and some breakfast. And no conversation until those things have happened.

F. Favorite color:
Blue

G. Gold or Silver:
Silver

H. Height:
5'4

I. Instruments you play:
The CD player. (I used to be able to bang out simple songs with two fingers very slowly on the piano, but probably not any more.)

J. Job title:
Administrative Secretary for an English Department graduate program

K. Kids:
one son, Kyle

L. Live:
Indiana

M. Mother's name:
Mom, aka Gloria

N. Nicknames:
Bev Ann, Beev and whatever sweet nothing the hubby has come up with lately

O. Overnight hospital stays:
Pregnancy-related: twice--once for a week because I was sick & dehydrated; once to have my little darling; Surgery this past April

P. Pet peeve:
People who believe they are entitled (to whatever they want, whenever they want it--read a high percentage of the undergraduates who wander into our English Department). Also the number of students who, despite having been accepted to the university, cannot read and understand the English language. I'm talking home-grown American kids here, not our international students.

Q. Quote from a movie:
I've got a bad feeling about this. Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode IV (the original)

R. Right or left handed:
Right

S. Siblings:
None

T. Time you wake up:
M-F 5:45 am [Much earlier than anyone should have to] Weekends: 8:30 am or later.

U. Underwear:
Yep. Got some on. Don't make a habit of going commando.

V. Vegetable you hate:
Brussels Sprouts. Hands down.

W. What makes you run late:
Husband. Always. He has two speeds (the other one's slower).

X. X-Rays you've had:
Mostly dental. Only other x-ray was of my ankle about 7 years ago--just to make sure it wasn't broken. It wasn't...only a sprain.

Y. Yummy food that you make:
Cashew chicken

Z. Zoo animal:
Snow leopards

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Snapshot: September 24

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books. All you have to do is "post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mr. Linky on [her] blog. Photos can be old or new, and be of anything as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give is up to you." All she asks is that you don't just post random photos that you find online. (Click picture for close-up.)



Our local library is really cool. Every summer they run a themed children's program. Everything from hunting for buried treasure in the books they find at the library to camping out to this year's "Read & Get Moving" (combining a reading program with activities to get kids active too). One of the first years that my son and I participated (he was only two--but there was a level for pre-readers). The theme was "Science & Fiction." I thought it was SO cool that they had this giant model of the Enterprise displayed above old main entrance.


Quote It! Saturday


Freda's Voice has an awesome Saturday meme for quote lovers called Quote It! and I have another blog, Quote Mistress, which is entirely devoted to the quotes I have collected over my lifetime. So my Quote It! may be found on my quote site. I'd love for you to visit...and be sure and visit Freda's Voice too!

Six Word Saturday


Found a new Saturday meme: Six Word Saturday sponsored by Show My Face. It's quite simple to participate--all you need to do is describe your life in six words. You can add pictures, links, video, whatever if you like. Post it and link back to Show My Face.


In Bloomington--I'd rather be reading



Friday, September 23, 2011

March Violets: Review

I discovered March Violets by Philip Kerr when I was looking for a mystery either set in Germany or written by a German author for the Crime Fiction on a Europass Challenge. One thing I found while researching was that it would seem that the hands-down winner for German crime fiction is the Third Reich era. So many of the of the novels mentioned out on the internet take place in Nazi Germany or involve spy thrillers during the World War II era. March Violets is no different.
Set during the rise of the Nazi party, this is Kerr's debut novel of a series of crime stories set in Germany. According to the blurb: Scottish-born Kerr re-creates the period accurately and with verve; the novel reeks of the sordid decade that saw Hitler's rise to power. Bernhard Gunther is a hard-boiled Berlin detective who specializes in tracking down missing persons--mostly Jews. He is summoned wealthy industrialist, Herr Six, to find the murderer of his daughter and son-in-law, killed during the robbery of a priceless diamond necklace. Gunther quickly is catapulted into a major political scandal involving Hitler's two main henchmen, Goering and Himmler. The search for clues takes Gunther to morgues overflowing with Nazi victims; raucous nightclubs; the Olympic games where Jesse Owens tramples the theory of Aryan racial superiority; the boudoir of a famous actress; and finally to the Dachau concentration camp. Fights with Gestapo agents, shoot-outs with adulterers, run-ins with a variety of criminals, and dead bodies in unexpected places keep readers guessing to the very end.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of noir fiction or hard-boiled detectives but the synopsis of this book reeled me right in. And, for the most part, I'm glad it did. The period atmosphere is perfect. Almost too perfect, because let's face it Nazi Germany was a very depressing place to be if you have any moral scruples at all. The narrative style is marvelous. Bernie is a tough-guy private eye that I love despite not loving tough-guy private eyes. The twists and turns of the plot are convincing and they pull you in and keep you there. So, what you may ask is the part that makes you not so glad? Two things. One: I am well aware that the hard-boiled school tends to live on ridiculous metaphors. But, seriously, Bernie has more metaphors than a coon hound has fleas. (See? It's rubbed off!) And some of them are down-right horrible. Here are just two examples: "Her breasts were like the rear ends of a couple of dray horses at the end of a long hard day." and
"She gave me a smile that was as thin and dubious as the rubber on a secondhand condom." Two: The penultimate scenes were a bit brutal. Heck, they were a lot brutal. That put me off a bit. Of course, I also realize that situations in Nazi Germany were a great deal more brutal than that. But it did take me by surprise.

I would like to continue reading this series. There are loose ends left at the "wrap-up" of this one that I'm curious to see how Kerr ties them up. I think I'll have to wait a bit for another dose of the mean streets of Germany, though. Three and a half stars.

Friday Memes

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages. Here's what you do: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Katy's place.


Here's mine
from March Violets by Philip Kerr:

This morning, at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Jagerstrasse, I saw two men, SA men, unscrewing a red Der Sturmer showcase from the wall of a building. Der Sturmer is the anti-Semitic journal that's run by the Reich's leading Jew-baiter, Julius Streicher.


The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It is really easy to participate.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.

*Find any sentence that grabs you.

*Post it.

*Link up at Freda's site.

Here's mine from March Violets by Philip Kerr:

With a post-mortem following a fire, one always keeps in mind the possibility that there has been an attempt to destroy evidence.

Fall Into Reading Challenge Launch


Fall into Reading
September 23-December 22
Hosted by Katrina at callapidder days


Katrina is once again hosting her low-pressure challenge. The only real requirement is to make a list. Just figure out what books you'd like to read this fall and sign up. That's it.

Check out the information post for more details--hope you'll join us! And go HERE for the Launch Post link up.

I saw the first post about this year's challenge over at Book Dragon's Lair. And I really like her plan for the challenge. Setting up two lists. One list for the rest of the year and a shorter list just for the Fall Into Reading Challenge. I will definitely read the shorter list and I hope to complete the longer list. If I do, that will knock out eleven more challenges for the year!

Fall Into Reading Challenge List:
Finish March Violets by Philip Kerr (9/23/11)
Finish Middlemarch by George Eliot (9/27/11)
Hide & Seek by Wilkie Collins (11/2/11)
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford (11/19/11)
The Praise Singer by Mary Renault (12/20/11)
A Chapbook for Burned-Out Priests, Rabbis, & Ministers by Ray Bradbury (9/28/11)
The Club Dumas by Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte (12/15/11)
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (12/12/11)
Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers (10/2/11)
Olga: A Daughter's Tale by Marie-Therese Browne (10/4/11)
The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell (10/12/11)
Haunted Ground by Erin Hart (10/15/11)
A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (10/17/11)
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (10/22/11)
A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake (10/23/11)
LinkTo Join the Lost by Seth Steinzor (10/26/11) [review coming soon]
Let's All Kill Constance by Ray Bradbury (10/28/11)
Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L Sayers (10/29/11)
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers (11/1/11)
Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell (11/3/11)
Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer (11/7/11)
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer (11/8/11)
The Yellow Room Conspiracy by Peter Dickinson (11/12/11)
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers (11/23/11)
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson (11/25/11)
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers (11/27/11)
Striding Folly by Dorothy L Sayers (11/27/11)
The Prince Lost to Time by Ann Dukthas (11/29/11)
In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L Sayers (12/4/11)

All Books needed to complete this year:
Finish Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Hide & Seek by Wilkie Collins
The Praise Singer by Mary Renault
The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins
The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey
City of Light by Lauren Belfert
The Habit of Widowhood by Robert Barnard
A Chapbook for Burned-Out Priests, Rabbis, & Ministers
by Ray Bradbury

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
The Prince Lost to Time by Ann Dukthas
An Incomplete Revenge
by Jacqueline Winspear
That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
7 books by Dorothy L Sayers
3 books with a word in the title that begins with "E" and one with a"Y"