31 August 2011

What I am Reading: August 2011

It may seem like I have had an awful lot of time to read this past month, but that's a result of multiple trips— driving to NRW and then training to Amsterdam (3 changes one way, 5 the other), having a few free days while the kids were in NRW, with a train trip back to Berlin, and a few flights as well. So I made my way through a pile of magazines and a few books that I need to see about returning soon.
  1. Murder Past Due (2010) by Miranda James (aka Dean James): I was actually distracted while reading this because the protagonist, part-time librarian Charlie Harris as a male seemed a bit off. When I looked at the copyright page and saw the second name, I was pretty sure that the writer was actually a man and that his style, a bit over-done in its "coziness" was a result of trying a bit too hard. So he is.
  2. Death is a Bargain (2005) by Nora Charles (Noreen Wald): 3rd in the Kate Kennedy series. Kate is helping Marlene sell some of her treasures (decluttering is a theme I resonate with) in a flea market at a local circus. I always get a kick out of these that's not related to the actual plots, but because the setting is so close to where my mom winters. Not the best, but an ok read.
  3. Sunset Bridge (2011) by Emilie Richards: Charming chick-lit. A story in the lives of five women in the Floriday Keys. It says "A Happiness Key Novel", so there are probably more. I enjoyed the light read, but not enough to search out more. (DT ARC)
  4. The Amish Midwife (2011) by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould: Like the above listed book, this is out of my genre (yes, there is a very specific Amish genre and this author is famous in it). The protagonist, Lexie Jaeger, was raised in a Mennonite family in the PNW but when her adoptive father dies, discovers her link to the Amish community in Pennsylvania. She takes a temporary position as a midwife (she is licensed as a nurse-midwife) in the community with a midwife that she has been told has an association with her. Well-written story, quiet romance, pleasant chick/Amish lit.(DT ARC)
  5. Ransom at the Opera (2002) by Fred Hunter: I was surprised to run across an entire mystery series that I was unfamiliar with in this book from my mom. When I googled the author, I found that she had two separate series and was a woman. With no new books since 2004, I'm not certain if she is still writing (or still alive) and I haven't been able to find a quick answer). This is the 6th book in the "Ransom" series (and there is a 7th in 2004) set in Chicago with Detective Ransom and his "septuagenarian friend, Emily Charters". Charters is an opera buff and is watching the performance where a tenor is, apparently, murdered on stage. Well-written. I enjoyed it but won't seek it out as I don't know whether it will be a series without an ending. (DTM)
  6. Mai Tai to Murder (2007) by Candy Calvert: Another of Mom's books. I quite enjoyed this fluffy 3rd in a series genre crime novel with Darcy Cavanaugh, an ER nurse as protagonist. She and her friend and co-worker, are on a cruise with her boyfriend's uptight mother, an aspiring writer, when a famous critic is murdered. Their "instructional" lecture on murder methods were used in a series of "pranks" that culminated in the murder and the mom is a primary suspect. Snappy, funny, interesting characters: I liked it a lot, only to discover that the writer has chosen to switch genres and will no longer be writing in this series. Bah. (DTM)
  7. Poisoned by Gilt (2008) by Leslie Caine: 6th in the Domestic Bliss mystery series with Erin Gilbert and Steve Sullivan. I spent quite a bit of the story being annoyed by the stupidity of the protagonists and wanting to give them a clop upside the head. Not in re the mystery, but in re their personal relationship. The book was an ok read, but it looks like the relationship may be resolved in the next, which is a relief.(DTM)
  8. Friends in High Places (2007) by Marne Davis Kellogg: I hadn't seen this author before and when I started the book, I wasn't too impressed— the protagonist, Kick Keswick (a retired jewel thief), just seemed too much of a social climber, always dropping names, brands and dollar amounts. But after a few chapters I found her more interesting, the plot and characters and settings were interesting, and I wound up really enjoying it. Since it was dated 2007 and there were no later books I looked up the author's blog, found reading it interesting, and discovered that she has a few earlier books with this protagonist, another series, a very interesting earlier life and that her current book has been delayed. (There were also a few recipes, due to Kick's love of food. Not my taste, but I always like a book with recipes.) (DTM)
  9. A Peach of a Murder (2006) by Livia J. Washburn: I hadn't read anything by this author before, although she is prolific. This is the first in her "Fresh Baked Mystery" series and I liked it. A retired schoolteacher, Phyllis Newsom, has been recently widowed and has taken in other retired teachers as boarders and friendly companions. She is preparing to compete in the Peach Festival (against her boarder, who is the constant winner when townsfolk start dying and her friend and competition becomes the major suspect. I always like mysteries with recipes that look fun and this was well-written and the recipes look good as well (that is, I might actually make the cobbler)! I'll look for the others in this series. (DTM)
  10. How to Crash a Killer Bash (2010) by Penny Warner: A "Party Planning" Mystery. The protagonist, Presley Parker, is a former "instructor" in Abnormal Psychology (and I can't understand how one instructs that). Having lost her job, she is now an event planner and hijinks ensue as she the murder-mystery fund raiser at a museum goes dramatically wrong, landing her friend in jail. Her friend and romantic interest is a crime scene cleaner who has a mysteriously close relationship with the police and helps her get to the bottom of things. A mother with AD rounds out the cast. Was a fun and light read. I see that Ms. Warner is extraordinarily prolific and is now writing a second and more serious mystery series as well as a third children's genre mystery series (or at least a few title is one). She has been a professional party planner and currently also creates mystery party fund raisers for libraries. (DTM)
  11. The Silver Needle Murder (2008) by Laura Childs: "Tea Shop Mystery" 9 and the title is, as all the others, the name of a specific tea. I vaguely remember having read a few before and enjoying them, although I find the protagonist, Indigo Tea Shop proprietor Theodosia Browning, sometimes a bit of a name and brand dropper. Set in Charleston, it's fortunate that Theo's catering and shop give her reason to have a wide circle of acquaintance or her friends might be running for the hills, rather than helping her to investigate. As a former restaurant owner, I found the descriptions of her restaurant and service enjoyable, although laughably unrealistic (unless the single cook/chef/creative kitchen staff has magic powers!). Nice recipes included, which I always find a plus.
  12. Shot through Velvet (2011) by Ellen Byerrum: 7th in the "A Crime of Fashion" mystery series and the first I have read since Grave Apparel, her 5th. I found the descriptions of the closing velvet factory more interesting than the story itself, as I recently attended a talk by a photographer who had documented the closing of a felt and hat-making factory and the exposition in the book were extremely true to life. And a bit sad, when one sees the end of complete industries as Western countries are incapable of matching the slave wages and terrible working conditions in China and other non-rule bound societies. I do like this series, though, and one of the things I most enjoy is Lacey's descriptions of the vintage clothing that she wears (inherited from her flapper Aunt Mimi). I love vintage clothing and I am deeply sorry that my grandmother, who was a flapper, did not leave me any. (DTM)
  13. Killer Cruise (2009) by Laura Levine: Another author that I hadn't read. This is the the 9th in her "Jaine Austen" mystery series (no relation, ad copy writer). Jaine is invited as a lecturer on a cruise line when her fellow employee winds up as a suspect in a murder and she investigates. Fluffy but enjoyable read. But at 9th in the series without any real depth or character development, it won't be a series that I will pursue. (There you go- the author was a real copy writer who created the Frankenberry and Count Chocula campaigns- cool.She then became a sitcom writer and worked on some of my favorite childhood shows.) (DTM)

3 comments:

Christina LMT said...

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I grew up in West Berlin from 1980-1989, leaving for USAF basic training three days before the wall fell!

I lived in Kreuzberg on Urbanstr. and attended Leibniz Gymnasium.

I've worked my way through your archives and especially appreciate your monthly reading lists...you've pointed me in the direction of many excellent books, thank you.

G in Berlin said...

Thanks for stopping by- I am always happy when someone has my same frivolous taste in books!

Christina LMT said...

My Kindle has gotten quite the workout since I started reading your blog! ;)