Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dead Center - David Rosenfelt

This is the third Andy Carpenter novel I've read recently. As you know, this series was my personal top new series for 2007.

In this one, Andy goes to Wisconsin where his girlfriend. Laurie, is the acting chief of police to defend a young man from a multiple murder case. The man is accused of murdering two female college students who happen to be members of a cult-like group called the Centurions. In the process of the case, Andy gets wrapped up in other plots by this group.

Strengths of Dead Center: I continue to like Andy. He's a humorous and self-deprecating character with just enough wise-ass to make him interesting. I also like the fact that Rosenfelt has given him independent wealth so that makes the plots more plausible, but it also makes him admirable because of how he uses the money.

Weaknesses of Dead Center: This was not one of the better ones I've read in the series. The plot was left dangling. The bodies were found buried in the acquitted killer's backyard yet we are never told how or why. The reader has to make a lot of assumptions. Once Andy gets the young man acquitted and turns to the Centurions, it's like the author decided to start a different novel. Yes, the two plots do come together, but the reader is left with a lot of questions about both plot lines at the end.

I also did not like how Andy was able to leave Laurie behind and start a long distance relationship. He has enough money and time to live both places and move freely back and forth. What a cop out by the writer! SPOILER ENDED

Overall, I've found that all series seem to have a weak book in them. I may have found it in this one. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. I'd only read it if you're reading all of the books, like I am, and want to make sure you know what happens from book to book. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Personality Recipe

The Recipe For Janis
3 parts Attractiveness
2 parts Happiness
1 part Love
Splash of Vigor
Finish off with an olive

This one is thanks to CJ. I like this one alot and "blush" I hope it does fit me.

Friday Fill-In

I'm doing it a bit differently this week...below are movie quotes. Don't stress about filling them in correctly, just put something funny or applicable, or hey, if you DO know it, feel free to fill it in correctly!

I'll have the correct fill-ins up on my blog, along with the movie title and the character name who spoke the line...AND below that my fill-in goofy answers :-) Enjoy!

1. "I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, and how it allows women to magically feed everyone in sight.
2. "Why is money always gone?"
3. "Harold, *everyone* has the right to make an ass is probably right but I thought of a mistake."
4. "Nine companions, so be it. You shall be I know this is probably The Fellowship of the Ring but I've always liked the King Arthur stories better."
5. "Nonsense, I have not yet begun to it's probably fight but my first thought was diet!
6. "Mama says they was magic shoes. They could make all my wishes come true!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to movie time with the family tomorrow my plans include seeing an old friend who's bringing 4 house guests and Sunday, I want to enjoy my visitors!

I made no attempt to really figure this out. I just had fun with it!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Favorite Reads this Year

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year? List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

I was hoping for this BTT question! I decided to make a list based on the reading challenges I did this year since that's how I kept track of most of what I read. I started this blog in July so this represents only the last half of 2007.

Book to Movie Challenge: My favorite was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

Canadian Reading Challenge: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields is in the running for my favorite of the year!

Book Awards Reading Challenge: This one was a tie. I really liked Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haight. However, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is also in the running for my personal book of the year.

2nds Challenge: I was pleasantly surprised by The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett.

Favorite New Series: This wasn't actually a reading challenge but it was a series I found this year. I am really enjoying the Andy Carpenter novels by David Rosenfelt.

Least Favorite of the Year: I know this wasn't the question, but I wanted to put it out there anyway. I absolutely hated Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell and The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell.

And now .... my favorite book of 2007!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Food Quiz

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

I like this one! I've even made a few gingerbread houses in my day!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - 2007's Best

  1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

1. Best new book of 2007 is hard for me because I don't tend to read that many just published books. I normally wait for paperback or just have too many books waiting to bother with brand new ones. I'm also not even sure when some of the books I liked this year were published. I do know that I read the last Harry Potter book, but I wouldn't nominate it for the year's best. I also just finished T is for Trespass, which I quite liked. That might be a nominee for best series novel of 2007.

2. I do read non-fiction - mostly parenting and school related books. I don't really have a stand out in my mind that was published this year. I do read way more fiction than non fiction.

3. Yes, sometimes I'm influenced by best of lists. However, I don't normally make a decision to read them until someone else recommends them as well. That's the great part of the book blog community - lots of ideas for great books.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I read this one for the Newbery Project as well as for the Reading Awards Challenge. It is the winner of the Newbery Award, which honors the best in children's literature. This is the same author as Because of Winn-Dixie so I guess this also qualifies as a 2nds, even though I completed that challenge.

Despereaux is a mouse who goes on a quest to save his beloved Princess Pea from the rats in the dungeon. A servant, Miggery Sow, gets involved in the rat's evil plans. The story is one part fairy tale, one part quest story, one part fantasy, and one part bedtime story. The author relates that her son's friend asked for a story about a hero with large ears, and this book is that story.

Strengths of The Tale of Despereaux: The entire story is a metaphor filled with light and dark, goodness and evil, but it is not quite so clear cut. The rats live in the darkness, or evil, dungeon, but one longs for the light. That's part of why he captures the princess. It's more morally ambiguous than it sounds which makes for excellent discussion with children. Despereaux, the mouse hero, is not a perfect character either since he broke mouse law and was sentenced to the dark of the dungeon. DiCamillo gives all the characters a great deal of nuance which caters to children's creative thinking. I'd love to do comparison and contrast maps on these characters with children.

Weaknesses of The Tale of Despereaux: At the beginning, I was somewhat annoyed when the author (or story teller) broke the "wall" and spoke directly to the reader. At first, I felt that she was being demeaning to the reader. As I continued to read, it felt more like being told a story where the story teller interjects as a part of the performance. I can see how this might annoy some people.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I think my favorite line was in the "Coda" where the story teller (author) remembers that Gregory, a character in the story, told Despereaux that "Stories are light." I could probably go on forever about the light metaphor, and probably would in a discussion group. This is another of those books that makes me want to teach fourth, fifth, or sixth grade again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

This is the latest in the Kinsey Millhone series. I actually was a bit skeptical after my bad encounter with the latest Cornwell novel. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read another one in a long standing series. I also had to buy it in hard cover, which made me think twice!

In this one, Kinsey gets herself involved with an elderly neighbor who needs a caregiver. The caregiver turns out to be the villain and has stolen money and identities from a number of people and victimized the elderly in the past. It's fine to reveal this because the book is told both from Kinsey's point of view and from the care giver's, Solana's, point of view. So the reader does know all this information from the beginning. Kinsey's neighbor, Henry, is back and instrumental to the plot.

Strengths of T is for Trespass: I really like how Grafton has kept the series set in the late 1980s. Kinsey has to operate without cell phones and the Internet. I really like the excitement Grafton can generate because of that. In this one, I liked how the point of view shifted. Solana was such an awful person that it was interesting to get into her mind and see what she was doing. It made the book less of a mystery and more of a character study of these two women. It also made for a great suspenseful ending as they eventually had to collide. I liked how Grafton used Henry in this one. It made the friendship between him and Kinsey more clear, but it also gave him some depth, especially in his encounters with his real estate would-be girlfriend.

Weaknesses of T is for Trespass: I felt like it would be hard to pick up this book if you'd never read any of the other Millhone stories. Grafton assumed some knowledge of her character and past events in the series. But, then again, it's fairly late in this series so I'd assume that people would not be starting here.

Overall, this one renewed my faith in series books. I really enjoyed it and read it quite quickly because I was drawn into the story. I couldn't put it down in the last twenty pages. I'd highly recommend this one. Let me know what you thought about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt

This is the second book I've read by this author and the third one in the series. I seem to have skipped number two. I hate that because I already know how it ends before I even read it. Anyway, I'm using this one to complete the 2nds Challenge. It's replacing A Thousand Splendid Suns because I haven't gotten a copy of it yet. This will complete that challenge for me!

This is another of the Andy Carpenter books. In this one, he's defending a newspaper writer accused in a serial murder case, where the murderer used the reporter to make the crimes known a la Son of Sam. Andy's divorced in this one, but Laurie is back, along with Tara, the dog, and other characters from the first book.

Strengths of Bury the Lead: It was a fun, easy read. I really enjoy Andy's character and find him humorous, though somewhat unrealistic. His antics would have gotten him disbarred in real life by now. I enjoyed the plot of this one. The killer wasn't as obvious as it seemed, and there was a decent pay off at the end. I also really liked the side plot with Willie and the Tara Foundation.

After I reviewed the first book, CJ, a blog friend, asked how I felt about the first person narrative style. I found myself really noticing it in this one. I'm not sure if it's a strength or a weakness. I like Andy so I enjoy his view of things. But, if you weren't too sure about him, I think it would really bug you as a reader. I also think it helps that we, as readers, are really clear about what he knows, and what he couldn't know.

Weaknesses of Bury the Lead: I think the ultimate murderer was a little too far off the radar in the book. Once it was all tied together, it made sense. I didn't mind that tremendously, but I'm sure some readers would be bugged by the lack of obvious clues. They were there, but since we saw things through Andy's eyes, it took a while to make it clear.

Overall, it was a fun read. I'll probably read more in this series. Let me know what you think. If you've read the series, I'd love to know your favorite since I'm obviously not reading them in order.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Music :: Rock and Roll

  2. Insanity :: Stop the ...

  3. Curtain :: Call

  4. Nickname :: Don't like them - that's why my child's name is short

  5. Container :: Ship (I don't know why)

  6. Roast :: Pot (even though I hate them!)

  7. Thong :: Underwear

  8. Purple :: Old Woman (as in when I am an old woman I shall wear purple!)

  9. Holidays :: Travel

  10. Christmas tree :: Rockin' Around the (carols started at my house)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Themed Reading Challenge

Caribousmom is hosting the Themed Reading Challenge, which starts in January 2008. The challenge is to find a common theme between four books and read them by June 30, 2008. I was going to avoid joining another challenge, but four books seems doable, and they are already in my TBR pile.

My theme is Parenting.

My book choices are:

1. Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

2. Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman

3. The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn

4. The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine (this one was recommended by my husband)

This way I can alternate between fiction and nonfiction in 2008!

Books to Movie Challenge - Wrap Up

I finished this challenge a while ago but haven't had the chance to write up a final summary. For this one, I read:

Because of Winn-Dixie
The Devil Wears Prada
The Freedom Writers Diary

I really enjoyed the process of reading the books and comparing them to the movies. I'd say my favorite of the three ended up being Winn-Dixie. It was an incredibly sweet novel, and one that I enjoyed sharing with my daughter. As some of you may remember, I really didn't like Freedom Writers. I'm linking to my reviews if you want to read more.

Thanks to Callista for thinking this one up. It was a lot of fun!