Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jodi Picoult - Vanishing Acts

I gave up on this book. I tried for over a month to read it, but it didn't grab me at all. Each page I read felt like it was dragging along, it was slow and it didn't make me want to grab the book and sit down to read it and forget everything else.

As I said before: Life it too short to finish bad books...

I heard very mixed reviews of "Vanishing Acts" in the past weeks, and I believe that it is a good book for some, but not for everyone. I read three other books Picoult wrote: "My Sister's Keeper", "The Pact" and "Plain Truth". I enjoyed all three and I most likely will read more of her books in the future, but this one just wasn't for me.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Carolyn Haines - Them Bones

Them Bones
Haines' 4th book
1st book featuring Sarah Booth Delaney, Southern Belle in Mississippi
318 pages
Bantam Books

Meet Sarah Booth Delaney... an unconventional southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make her the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi... if it doesn't make her the deadest.

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state - or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself... and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

This is a group read for laaaate February, but I just can't wait to find out what Sarah Booth is like.

First sentence:
"Women in my family have a penchant for madness and mysterious "womb" disorders."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles Ablaze

Bubbles Ablaze
Strohmeyer's 3rd book
3rd book featuring Bubbles Yablonsky, hair dresser and journalist in a small Pennsylvania town
309 pages

Bubbles Yablonsky has been summoned. Heeding the call from her boss at the News-Times, she's racing her Camaro toward an abandoned coal mine and a potentially big story. What she finds is the love of her life, Steve Stiletto, knocked unconscious - and another man with a hole in his chest. The bizarre scene will lead the not-so-dumb blonde and her main squeeze straight into the heart of coal country - and a strange conspiracy linked to a cadre of women known as the Slagville Sirens, a local hot spot called Limbo, and a mysterious assassin who wants Bubbles' investigation to go up in flames...

I have enjoyed the series a lot in the past and can hardly wait to get to this third installment. Bubbles crakcs me up with all the crazy things happening to her!

First sentence:
"Looking back, I guess my first mistake was to assume that a rookie reporter could persue both a hot story and a hot sex life."

I'm in trouble...

I just added more read books to my shelves at my parents and I discovered there is no longer enough room for all my books. They are already sitting in two rows, alphabetically sorted and two shelves reserved for my unreads - and I have no room left.

That is, technically, I could make some room if I threw away some scrap books my Granddad made way back - but I can't do that. It's pretty much what's left of him except for memories and a watch he gave me in 2003.

I suppose I could also add some books to my BC shelf, but then, I'm sure a year after I got rid of a book that way I'd want to re-read it - and not have it anymore... So that's not an option either.

A new shelf would solve my problems for the next year and a half, maybe. My Dad doesn't agree, though. He thinks once I add another shelf (wherever), the house might collapse (don't have faith in our own abilities, have we? :-P).

Now, this is a pretty hopeless situation, I think. Anyone has an idea how to solve the problem? I just can't part with my books!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Susan Sussman with Sarajane Avidon - Audition for Murder

Lines to remember:
Grandma Belle was the only one who came right out and told me it served me right when Adam left me for Sylvia. "Maybe next time," she said, "you will be quicker to say yes."
"But what if it doesn't work out?" I ask.
"You want guarantees?"
"I don't like surprises."
She has a deep, throaty laugh. "Surprises are the best reason to keep living. If you know how the movie ends, why bother going? One man is only one man. There will always be plenty of other bees buzzing around your honey."

When struggling actress Morgan Taylor's partner Lily London doesn't arrive in time for the audition, she is really angry - until she finds the woman dead in a restroom cabin. At first everything looks like a heart attack, but when the police follow up after an anonymous caller stated it might have been murder, it soon is discovered that Lily London was poisoned. Morgan's leaving a threatening message on Lily's answering machine when she didn't arrive in time for the audition makes Morgan a suspect, but would she really kill for work?

I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment in a "series" consisting of two books only. There were some really funny scenes and the mystery part was well-written. Morgan's side kicks helped both for development of the story as well as for character development.

Thinking about it, I can't find a thing that came off in a negative way. For whatever reason I held off reading this book earlier, I now know I have to get the second in series as soon as possible. A pity the series is not continued after Cruising For Murder - if anyone knows why, please let me know!

P.S.: Whoever wrote this backcover blurb should be punished. Once half the "facts" or more are wrong it is fantasy, not a backcover blurb...

Rating: A-

This was the first book for the 2007 TBR challenge!

Non-Fiction Five Challenge

I am joining Joy's Non-Fiction Five Challenge!

I have been thinking about joining this challenge for the past 4 or 5 days, and though I a first didn't want to join so that I had more time for fun reads, I now just feel like I have to join! It has been a looong while since I last read non-fiction other than what I need to read for university, so this will definitely be something different.

My 5 books are:

  • 1. Bill Bryson - A Short History Of Nearly Everything

  • 2. Bill Bryson - In A Sunburned Country (in German)

  • 3. Bill Bryson - The Lost Continent

  • 4. Tony Buzan - Use Your Head (in German)

  • 5. Azar Nafisi - Reading Lolita In Tehran

  • 6. Nancy Peske & Beverly West - Cinematherapy For Lovers

  • 7. Hilary Rodham Clinton - Living History

  • 8. Geneen Roth - Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating (in German)

  • 9. Cameron West - First Person Plural: My Life As A Multiple (in German)

Of course I realize this list is a bit longer as it is supposed to be, but I will change the list so that in the end there will be five books left in time for the beginning of the challenge.

Cathy Pickens - Southern Fried

Lines to remember:
Law school had broken me of the dating habit. Few people have any idea of the kind of people who go to law school.

I finished this book a few seconds ago. It is late, no, early. I'm tired. I actually only finished this book because I wanted to get over with it and I didn't want to stop reading 70 pages to the end. If I'm that close, I might as well finish and find out whether I was right.

But on to the story: Avery Andrews moves back to Dacus, SC, from Columbia, SC, after she loses her job in a high-powered law firm. She wants to rethink her career and her life, but her family manages to set her up with a few cases not long after she's arrived. The owner of a local factory hires her to help with an environmental problem, and divers find a body when she is at Lake Luna due to a half-baked stunt with which an old high school classmate tries to get her attention. This all sweeps Avery into a red-hot case...

The writing was actually really good and me as a non-English speaker, at least not as a mothertongue, but only as a language learned in school, had a fun time getting to know the Southern accent, thanks to Pickens' writing as it would have been said. Also, I really enjoyed the story being written in first person, which gave a more in-depth understanding of Avery. This, though, was what was also a problem with the book.
What really annoyed me, was the main character, Avery Andrews, who felt so special and appeared to be rather snobbish. To me it seemed as if she was thinking of each of the other characters as an inferior to her - not only business-wise, but also when it came to intelligence. It felt as if she was constantly bashing the people of Dacus, SC.
What turned me further off of Avery was her self-pity. So she lost her job because she made a more or less stupid mistake, okay. So this happens and she sure will lose some money due to that. But that's just the "big bucks" and she still has a chance to earn her living in another job as an attorney. It's not as if she lost her law licence or is about to lose it. It is a big change for her, true, but in a way she is the sole person responsible for it. Self-pity in that manner is something I can't stand.

I definitely won't continue with this series, as it is obviously not my type, but I'm sure others will enjoy this book and series quite a bit.

Rating: C

10 books I could hardly put down

At one of the online reading groups a member asked:

What are ten reads that you remember enjoying and couldn't hardly put down?

1. All of the Harry Potter books (Except for Order Of The Phoenix, cause a classmate told me who would die when I had only 100 pages left to the end - argh! She did that sooo on purpose!!!)

2. Lee Harris' Christine Bennett books

3. Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

4. P.J. Tracy's Monkeewrench (apa Want To Play?)

5. Astrid Lindgren's book about the children of Bullerbü (Kid lit, but sooo great, no matter what age I am/was ;-) )

6. Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep A Secret?

7. Jeffery Deaver's The Bones Collector

8. Henry Winterfeld's Detectives In Togas (Kid lit as well, but also the only book we had to read at school that I had read about a year earlier - I brought my hardcover to school each day back then.)

9. Rhys Bowen's Murphy's Law (First in a series, haven't read any further so far, but am waiting for some time to read the second which is on my shelves.)

10. Mitch Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Okay, I know this is a bit belated, but I have an excuse! I seriously thought I had already posted them, but when I was looking for them, I couldn't find anything :-( So, here they are!

My New Year's Resolutions for 2007!

  • 1. I won't buy much books other than those I need for various discussions. Actually, I will limit myself to buying no more than 20 books this year!

  • 2. I will read as many reads I signed up for as I can.

  • 3. I will read more non-fiction books.

  • 4. I hope to get a lot further into at least three of my series. With a lot further I mean I'd like to read at least three books, better more!

  • 5. I want to finish updating the database of all my books, which I started last year.

  • 6. I will read at least a few of the books that are sitting on my shelves waiting for me since several years now. I have some from before 2003! Heck, I was in school back then... *shakinghead*

  • 7. I won't try to finish books that just don't make me want to read on. Too many books, too little time!

  • 8. I will try to read at leat 60 books, not matter what happens this year! For every third book I read above that limit, I will get to buy one book more in 2008. This should actually make me read a lot ;-)

Fun Quiz

I found this at The Sleepy Reader and couldn't resist. I love Starbucks coffee (everywhere else I stick to tea, but Starbucks has to be coffee and nothing else ;-) ), so it was interesting to see the result...

Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino

Smooth and sweet, you fit in to almost any crowd. No one would suspect you of being a coffee tweaker!

book meme

I found this book meme over at Musings of a Bookish Kitty and I think it is a fun one that will really make me think.

Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?
Fantasy. I have read all three genres in the past, but fantasy is the one I like best. I am not as picky with Fantasy as I am with SciFi and Horror. Okay, I am a picky reader, but with those two, I'm especially picky...

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
I own books in all three versions, but whenever possible I try to get Mass Market Paperbacks. After all, I'm a student and money is tight most of the time. With MMPs I get more books for a reasonable amount of money and I can also buy some more books than I could if I got Trade Paperbacks. Also, MMPs are not as heavy and even fit in my small purse. I just have to carry a book with me, wherever I am. Even when I have my backpack or purse all filled up and heavy, a book has to come along with me.

Heinlein or Asimov?
I have never read Heinlein, so I have to take Asimov...

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
Amazon, the other two don't exist here in Germany - and the other online book shops here aren't nearly as well-stocked as Amazon!

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Neither exists here in Germany. Our equivalents would maybe be Thalia (a big chain) and Hugendubel (a smaller chain in the hands of the family Hugendubel, actually). I use both, though I'm at Hugendubel more often. The reason for that is that I can get to Hugendubel on my to or from university, while Thalia is quite a bit away. But when I'm at my parents' I usually go for Thalia because there is no Hugendubel around.

Hitchhiker or Discworld?
Hitchhiker, cause I have them. I heard about Discworld, but haven't read any so far. I assume I should get one some day ;-)

Bookmark or Dogear?
In my eyes dogears are a sacrilege! I always have a bookmark somewhere, and if I can't find one I always can find a small piece of paper, a sticky note or something else to mark where I stop reading for the moment. And if it is a piece of paper from my notes from a class - I can always tape that piece back on once I can get a bookmark, right? ;-)

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random?
Alphabetize by author - and I'm a stickler for that! You pull out a book, you better get it back to the right place :-P When I have more books by one author, I order those by copyright, btw.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?
Keep! I rarely have a book I give away, and then in most cases it is just to swap books ;-) Right now I keep most of my books at my room at my parents' though, and space is getting really tight... (My Dad refuses to allow me to get yet another bookshelf for fear statics might change and the house will collapse ;-) )

Keep dustjacket or toss it?
Keep it of course!

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
I remove the dustjacket while I read a book.

Short story or novel?
I prefer novels - a lot!

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
What a question! Harry Potter of course!

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I try to get to the chapter break no matter what, but when the chapters just are too long I wait for the next reasonable break, a section break, to stop reading till the next day.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Dark and stormy usually makes the story with more suspense ;-)

Buy or Borrow?
As much as my balance hates it, I prefer to buy. I like to own my books so I can re-read the good ones whenever I want without having to wait until it is in from the library - that is, if there were any really, really good libraries with lots and lots of English books around here :-P

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?
All three actually. Either a friend recommends a book and I know we have the same taste (I have an extra file just to gather those titles for reference), or I read a review, or I browse either the bookshelves or and find a book that sounds interesting.

Lewis or Tolkien?
I tried to read Tolkien and just couldn't get into it. Those are so not my books! Therefore: Lewis!

Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?
I don't like short stories.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?
Whichever, depending on what kind of book it is. If it is a standalone, I can't really stand cliffhangers, because I need to know how it ends - or at least get a hunch what might happen after the book ends. If it is a series, I don't care, actually. As long as there will be a next in series and I find out more, I have absolutely no problems with cliffhangers (other than maybe far too long months between two books).

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
Whichever! Whenever I have some time left I read. Back at school I actually used to get up at 5 am just so I could read 1 to 1.5 hours before I had to get ready to leave. And I didn't go to bed until 12 am - sometimes even later. My parents hardly ever caught me, though, because I had my room two floors above theirs. Hehe! Nowadays I don't get up that early anymore, but I still read until waaay after bed time.

Standalone or Series?
Both, actually. I have no real preference.

Urban fantasy or high fantasy?
I read both, but it depends on my mood what I read.

New or used?
Both, though I prefer new. I just like the smell of a new book :-) Though I of course I enjoy spending less money on a used book, because it might mean I can buy two or three books instead of just one.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Hmm, that's difficult. I'd say for non-fiction that would be David Crombie's The World's Stupidest Laws. It's just sooo much fun to read and re-read this book and laugh about all those laws that actually still exist...

Top 5 favorite books read last year?
1. Marion Chesney: Snobbery With Violence
2. Julius Lester: The Autobiography Of God
3. Alice Kimberly: The Ghost And Mrs. McClure
4. Victoria Laurie: Better Read Than Dead
5. Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity's Death

Top 5 favorite books of all time? (not including any of the above five)
1. Lee Harris: The St. Patrick's Dy Murder
2. Jeffery Deaver: The Blue Nowhere (actually *the* book that made my brother read!)
3. Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
4. Jilliane Hoffman: Retribution
5. P.J. Tracy: Want To Play? (apa Monkeewrench)

5 favorite series?
I only picked series where I have read at least 4 books:
Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich
Myron Bolitar by Harlan Coben
Christine Bennett by Lee Harris
Abby Cooper by Victoria Laurie
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

upcoming reads

For the next 6 weeks, or maybe more exactly once I'm done with those stupid exams, I plan to be reading the following (and hopefully at a faster speed and with less dumping than the past 3-4 weeks):

  • Cathy Pickens: Southern Fried (last third)

  • Susan Sussman with Sarajane Avidon: Audition For Murder (half-way through)

  • Kate Borden: Death Of A Tart (on the first 40 pages right now)

  • Sarah Strohmeyer: Bubbles Ablaze

  • Carolyn Haines: Them Bones

  • Laura Childs: Gunpowder Green

I only hope I can get to all those books in time!

The Page 123 Meme

I found this on The Library Ladder
and think it is a fun meme, so here you go:

The rules:
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, scroll down to the 5th sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag 3 People.

"Old Mitsima's words repeated themselves in his mind. Finished, finished... In silence and from a long way off, but violntly, desperately, hopelessly, he had loved Kiakimé."

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (this book actually is only right next to me because I added it to my shelf at - where I got an account last night, for whatever reason... It's not as if I didn't have a perfectly well organized file for all my books...)

I won't tag anyone, just pick it up on your blog if you'd like to:-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What kind of reader are you?

I found this at Literary Feline's blog while browsing old posts...

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Since, for some reason, it seems as if it is not possible to see my ratings for the other possible types of readers, here a short "description":
I had:
about 75% for Dedicated Reader
about 50% for Book Snob
about 50% for Literate Good Citizen
0% for Non-Reader
0% for Fad Reader

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Susan Sussman with Sarajane Avidon - Audition for Murder

Audition for Murder
Sussman's 15th book & Avidon's 1st book
1st book featuring Morgan Taylor, a struggling actress
250 pages
Worldwide Mystery

Leave it to a diva like the aging and taciturn Lily London to steak the show by dying during strugglingactress Morgan Taylor's audition. Okay, so being upstaged by a corpse has its berks - at least she might get a callback. But Morgan isn't quite as confident when she finds out how Lily was murdered

Sure, Lily was supposed to audition with Morgan who had jokingly left a message threatening to kill Lily if she was late, but really, she'd never be that desperate for work. She hoped. Then another corpse takes center stage, and things are getting... dramatic, especially when a killer decides it's time to make Morgan's next curtain call her last.

This is my first book for the 2007 TBR challenge and I hope I picked a good one for a starter. The book has been on my shelves for at least a year now, more likely 2, and I think it really is time for me to read it.

First sentence (more like paragraph, this time):
"It is a small theft. What harm, after all, in one purloined piece of fruit?"

Southern Fried to be continued

Okay, I decided to continue with reading Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried. This noon I wasn't sure about it at all, but out of a habit I picked up the book about half an hour ago and read on.

The main character's thoughts on the other people in Dacus, SC, still is rather annoying, but I'm trying to overlook this for now and read on. Actually, so far it is not even as difficult to ignore it as I thought :-) I'm just taking one chapter at a time...

book buying for 2007

For 2007 I have made only a few small resolutions - and all of them book related.

One of them was that I would only buy 20 books this year. I mean, I have 120 unread books here, so I don't really need new books, right? And then I could very well use the money for the vacation I am planning for later this year.

Well, I had some time left this afternoon and checked what books I'll need for discussion in 2007 - and I ended up with 17. Plus the two I already bought and paid, and the one I ordered and will pick up in early to mid February, that makes - right, 20! If that doesn't suck, then I don't know... I won't have one single lousy book left to buy just for fun...

I mean, what if I see a book I really, really want to have this very second? Or if I find myself in a mood where I don't feel a bit like trying one of the books I have on my shelves, waiting to be read?

At the moment I'm thinking about boosting the number of books I can buy to 25. This would leave me 5 books I can buy for sheer pleasure. Especially cause of the 20 other books, 19 are for group reads and only one is for pleasure...

I can sure make up for those five by just spending less on junk food, after all ;-) I mean, who needs pizza from the freezer or other food on a regular basis?

2007 TBR Challenge - final list, 2nd try

For mizbooks' 2007 reading challenge, I have updated my list of books and changed/added a few.
I actually had hoped I had my final list, but when I went over my list once again I realized that I felt like doing some alterations...

Alterations are underlined!

My "new" 2007 want to read's for the challenge are:

Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity Digs In
Enid Blyton: Malory Towers omnibus 5
Harlan Coben: Drop Shot
Theodor Fontane: Frau Jenny Treibel (German classic)
P.J. Tracy: Dead Run
Stephanie Barron: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
J.D. Robb: Naked In Death
Susan Sussman: Audition for Murder
Ann Brashares: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Janet Evanovich: Seven Up
Julia Spencer-Fleming: In The Bleak Midwinter
Nancy Peske & Beverly West: Cinematherapy for Lovers

My alternates are:

Nancy Fairbanks: Death A L’Orange
Sue Grafton: C is for Corpse
Cameron West: First Person Plural (German edition)
Catherine Alliot: The Old-Girl Network
Bill Bryson: Frühstück mit Kängurus (German edition for the one in Australia)
Jeffery Deaver: Speaking in Tongues
John Grisham: The Testament
John Grisham: The Brethren
James Patterson: 1st to Die
Bill Bryson: The Lost Continent
Robert Ludlum: The Bourne Identity
Jane Austen: Mansfield Park
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Living History
Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights
Tom Clancy: Without Remorse

I really, really hope those are the last alterations I will make...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Southern Fried

Well, I'm now on page 104 (I think) and I'm wondering about this book - I really mean it! I don't have many problems with the language - sort of like phonetic spelling for an SC accent (?) - but more with how the people are described.

Somehow it seems to me as if the main character (and "storyteller") sees them all as bad people, fools and idiots. This is really annoying, especially because this happens with pretty much each character I come across.

I will sleep over continuing this book or not tonight and should have a (more or less final) verdict by tomorrow, I hope.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

2007 TBR Challenge - final list (I hope)

As you may know, I am taking part in mizbooks' 2007 TBR challenge and I should now be done with my list of books. I picked 12 books I really want to read, and just in case have 12 alternate books, in case there are some stinkers among the original 12.
All those books have been on Mt. TBR since at least half a year by now, so they really should get off of there some day. Some I actually have since 2003!

My 2007 want to reads are:

Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity Digs In
Enid Blyton: Malory Towers omnibus 5
Harlan Coben: Drop Shot
Theodor Fontane: Frau Jenny Treibel (German classic)
P.J. Tracy: Dead Run
Stephanie Barron: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
J.D. Robb: Naked In Death
Tamar Myers: The Ming & I
Ann Brashares: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Janet Evanovich: Seven Up
Julia Spencer-Fleming: In The Bleak Midwinter
Jayne Anne Krentz: Hidden Talents

My alternates are:

Anita Shreve: Light On Snow
Rhys Bowen: Evan Help Us
Sue Grafton: C is for Corpse
Cameron West: First Person Plural (German edition)
Catherine Alliot: The Old-Girl Network
Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson: Frühstück mit Kängurus (German edition for the one in Australia)
Robert B. Parker: Stardust
John Grisham: The Testament or The Brethren (not sure which one it is)
James Patterson: 1st to Die
Anita Diamant: The Red Tent
Susan Sussman: Audition for Murder

I can't wait to see what I got read at the end of this year!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cathy Pickens - Southern Fried

Southern Fried
Pickens' 1st book
1st book featuring Avery Andrews, South Carolina lawyer
326 pages
St. Martin's Minotaur

Attorney Avery Andrews left her BMW behind in Columbia, South Carolina, along with her job at a high-powered law firm. She's come back home to Dacus where the vehicle of choice is a pickup truck with a dog chained in the back. Avery wants time to rethink her career and her life. What she gets is a bossy great aunt drumming up clients and dragging her to social teas. That's how Avery ends up hired by a local factory to help with a messy environmental problem. But she's at Luna Lake because an old high-school classmate is trying to get her attention with a half-baked stung, when divers find a car containing a corpse. Now, the discovery of the dead body sweeps into a red-hot case... and into the sizzling secrets of a small-town life, where some people get away with murder.

This book is yet another group read for February ;-) Just gotta love those mysteries...

First sentence:
"A couple of county cop cars and several pickups, one loaded with an air compressor, crowded around the boat landing at Luna Lake."

Mary Daheim - Just Desserts

Lines to remember:
"Hey, sweetheart," he called, "you want a piggyback ride on the sofa?"
"Go on, you devil"! rasped Gertrude, though there was a coy edge to her voice. "You think because I'm old, I'm easy?"

Judith McMonigle's B&B is in a slow phase when the Brodie family call and ask to stay for a night with not only breakfast but also a dinner the evening before. At first, Judith is not too happy about that, knowing the family only too well, but she then agrees. Not too far into the evening, Madame Gushenka, a fortune teller, arrives to tell each member of the family their future, but when she collapses all of a sudden, Judith and her cousin Renie soon discover that not much is as it seemed to be.

I finished Just Desserts a few minutes ago and I am really amazed by this first installment of a new-to-me series. One quickly comes to like Judith and Renie and laughs at Gertrude's quirks. Despite this being a cozy mystery, the pace made me really run along the line to keep up with the details of who is who and does what. All in all, I think this was a complex story and a good start into a series. I can only hope this will stay that way.

Rating: B+

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mary Daheim - Just Desserts

Just Desserts
Daheim's 1st book
1st book featuring Judith McMonigle, bed and breakfast owner in Seattle, Washington
220 pages

When the garishly grotesque clan of wealthy carpet-sweeper magnate Otto Brodie sweeps down upon Judith McMonigle's Hillside Manor Inn, it looks like there'll be a wild night of drinking, dining, and fortune-telling in the offing. But when their soothsayer-for-hire Madame Gushenka drops dead after someone douses her tea leaves with bug killer, harried hostess Judith and her irrepressible cousin Renie are left to clean up the mess. One of the Brodie bunch would dearly love to sweep the Madame's murder under the rug, however, and that might mean eliminating the nosy Ms. McMonigle as well. But with the help of her one-time beau, policeman Joe Flynn, Judith is determined to rattle the dust off some closeted family skeletons, in order to coax a killer out of hiding before coffee is served.

This is a buddy read for which I've been waiting quite a while now, and in early February, it will finally be time to discuss the book *bg*

First sentence:
"Judith Grover McMonigle thrust the phone away from her ear a good two feet, knocked her coffee mug off the kitchen counter, and booted her cat, Sweetums, into the opencupboard under the sink."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kate Borden - Death of a Tart

Death of a Tart
Borden's 4th book
1st book featuring Peggy Jean Turner , mayor of Cobb's Landing
197 pages
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

When single mother Peggy Jean Turner succeeds her late husband as mayor of Cobb's Landing, she faces a major challenge: rescue the New England village from its financial woes. Now she's singing the praises of the wealthy miracle man who bought the local bank. Mayor P.J. Turner thinks Max is a godsend...

Max's plan? Turn Cobb's Landing into a tourist attraction by "going Colonial." So far so quaint, until period clothes and corn husking become mandatory, and baseball and satellite dishes are banned (under the threat of punishment in the stocks). Yet Cobb's Landing is prospering, and who can argue with that? Certainly not Selma, the town tart... since she's just drowned. What's more, the splinters under her fingernails match the same wood once used to torture witches in New England's dishonorable past. It appears someone's taking the ye olde customs to extremes. Now it's up to P.J. to solve the crime and wrestle Cobb's Landing from Max's clutches before more old-fashioned traditions take their toll...

I had actually planned to read this book in February, but I happened to have some time here and so I picked this one. It will be a group read in March, so I might have to take some good notes, just so that I can remember the story and the characters.

First sentence (more like paragraph, this time):
" "Nick? I'm leaving now. Do your homework and don't forget to let the dog in. It's starting to rain. Dry Buster off with the old towel hanging next to the back door. Nicky, are you listening to me?" "

Jacqueline Winspear - Maisie Dobbs

I gave up on this book! I read the first part, set in spring 1929, but it just didn't click. With each page it felt as if I had to force myself to read it and I never got warm with the characters. I didn't really care for them, so - after talking to some friends - I decided to put the book down and just forget about it.

Life is too short to finish bad books!

I heard from several people about the book and it seems as if you either like it - or you don't. It was pretty even, so I won't say don't read it. It just wasn't the right book for me...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Meryl Sawyer - Lady Killer

Lines to remember:
[Two journalists talking about smoking.]
"It was a great TV ad that ran here in California, funded by the money the state received from the tobacco settlement. It showed this hot young guy in a bar, smoking. He's having sexy thoughts about this beautiful girl. As she slinks by him, the cigarette goes limb and curls downward."
"The message being smoking makes it hard to maintain an erection."
"Exactly. Men are usually okay until their late thirties or early fourties. Then the problem sets in."

A serial killer is on the loose and he is killing smart, successful women - the kind who doesn't realize how vulnerable she is until it is too late. When the actual crime reporter is out for a while the San Francisco Herald's columnist, Jessica Crawford, jumps in and writes a few articles about the serial killer, dubbed the Final Call Killer due to his using a phone cord to strangle his victims, until a replacement is found. Not soon after Cole Rawlings fills in, the Final Call Killer gets Jessica's best friend, a fellow Herald employee.

What really got on my nerves while reading the book was the poor editing. I'm by no means an expert on language or grammar, especially not when it comes to English, but there were mistakes that were just too obvious. Granted, this is only the editing, and therefore I decided that it is not the author's fault. Since I enjoyed the plot a lot I kept reading and just couldn't stop until I was done.

This is definitely a fast paced thriller with some interesting characters, though at some places, it seemed as if aspects were added only to lengthen the story - and maybe in parts for character development. Various references to a well-known FBI profiler (I have to admit I have one of his books on my shelves somewhere ;-) ) made the story even more interesting.

Rating: B

just how stupid...

... can one single person be?!

I had changed my PIN for my cell phone a while ago because I didn't like the old one - I changed it into something I thought was easy to remember, but never had to use it. Until now! Today the rechargeable battery for my cell was completely empty and it switched off for the first time since I changed the PIN.

Well, I recharged the battery, wanted to switch the cell back on, and there I am. I have to enter the code, know that it isn't the old one, try the one I think it is. Wrong!

Second trial, I try to remember the PIN, think I have it and enter that one - second time around: Wrong! Argh!

Okay, one left to get back to my phone. Shouldn't be so difficult, right? Well, I think, and think, and think... Ah yes, that should be it! I enter the PIN, and - for the third time, it is the wrong one. Argh! Now I have to enter the second code, one that I have no recollection of and which is about an hour from where I am right now and where I will be till Monday.

Argh! I can't live without my cell phone for the next 3 days!!! My last hope is my room mate. If he finds the right papers, he can get me the number and then I have my phone back.

Just how can one person be so stupid?!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jacqueline Winspear - Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs
Winspear's 1st book
1st book featuring Maisie Dobbs, PI in 1920s London
292 pages
John Murray

Introducing the extraordinaire Maisie Dobbs, private investigator in 1920s London. Her first case combines a gripping investigation with a moving portait of love and war. It marks the beginning of a wonderful new detective series.

London, 1929. Having set herself up as a private investigator, Maisie Dobbs is relieved when her first client arrives. Christopher Davenham suspects that his wife is conducting an affair. But Maisie's investigation's confound her expectations at every turn. And she is forced by her findings to revisit her own turbulent experience of the Great War. For Maisie, the boundary between her private and professional life is suddenly blurred.

This is a world still reeling in the aftermath of war, a world in which many secrets lie buried. But Maisie is determined to hunt down the truth, however painful it might be...

This book is for a buddy read, for which I have to prepare some questions. So far I only started and I hope it will be as interesting a read as I suspect it to be ;-)

First sentence:
"Even if she hadn't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle."

Meryl Sawyer - Lady Killer

Lady Killer
Sawyer's 18th book, this time featuring Jesica Crawford, popular relationship expert for the San Francisco Herald
416 pages

Some men...
He preys on a certain type of woman - smart, successful, professional, the kind who doesn't realize how vulnerable she is until it's too late. The last terrifying sight she sees is the face of a ruthless serial killer...

Will charm you...
As the San Francisco Herald's popular relationship expert - the "Love Doctor" - Jessica Crawford has her own opinions about what kind of man is compelled to brutally murder successful women. After the killings begin, she decides to use her nationally syndicated column to profile this Lady Killer. As the reporter on the story, journalist Cole Rawlings fears that Jessica's articles may make her the next victim. He's seen up close what this man is capable of and soon, so has Jessica... because the latest victim is her best friend...

... to death
Now, as a ruthless psychopath strikes close to home, turning every corner, every haunt, every connection into something she can no longer trust, Jessica is playing a deadly game with a cold-blooded killer who is already one step ahead...

I really need something fast paced for now, as I've been reading cozies for the past weeks, if not months. I had a few books to pick from after pondering the thought for almost an entire day (I actually started before I had finished Death By Darjeeling ;-) ) and came to the conclusion to try this one. It is a Bookcrossing book, so once I'm done and you're a BCer - feel free to ask me, my ID is oisec.

First sentence:
"Damn, was he good - or what?"

Laura Childs - Death By Darjeeling

Lines to remember:
"You're sure?" One of Tidwell's furry eyebrows quivered expectantly. "Because you look awfully pale. Ashen."
"It's just my post-traumatic stress look," Theodosia said slowly. "Comes from confronting murderous maniacs."

Theodosia Browning owns the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston and hosts a garden tea party during the Lamplighter Tour, an event where all the old and splendiferous houses of Charleston are open to public. At the end of the evening, when Bethany, a young employee, is about to clear the tables, she discovers the body of a man at one of the tables, clutching an empty teacup. Soon it is official that the man died not of a natural cause, but of poison. In an attempt to rescue her reputation and that of her employee, Theodosia starts an investigation of her own, which leads her to meet some rather strange people, who all might have a reason to kill the dead man.

I finished this book only a few seconds ago and my mind is still drawing a blank as to how best describe how much I enjoyed it.
This is the first book for the year that I finished (I decided to give up on two books I had started way back in 2006) and I'm now anxiously awaiting my next book buying spree so that I can get the second in series, Gunpowder Green.
I'm a tea addict, so I especially enjoyed the tea facts the author gave, but of course, this doesn't make a good book. At least not alone... What I thought really helped connect to the characters was that they appeared one after the other and not just popped up all together right at the big event, the Lamplighter Tour. That way, one could get used to a new character before having to try to figure out yet another character, as in some other books.
The setting was a completely new one to me, but nontheless (or maybe exactly because of that?) a good decision, as I doubt there are many mysteries with a tea shop as the main place of events.

Rating: A-

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Jodi Picoult - Vanishing Acts

Vanishing Acts
Picoult's 12th book, this time featuring Delia Hopkins, who searches for missing persons
417 pages

Why would a man who loved his wife - so much that in the quarter cenury since her death, he hasn't found someone to take her place - why wouldn't he have a record of the life he'd had with her, of the baby they'd made?

Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and a job she loves, finding missing persons.

But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can't recall. And then a policeman knocks at her door, and her world fractures into something unrecognisable...

This is also a book I'm reading for a group read, and I'm only a fourth in it so far. But I enjoy it a lot and hope to finish it soon.

First sentence:
"I was six years old the first time I disappeared."

Laura Childs - Death By Darjeeling

Death By Darjeeling
Childs' 1st book
1st in the Tea Shop Mysteries featuring Theodosia Browning
242 pages
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in history - and mystery...

It's tea for two hundred or so at the annual historic homes garden party. And Theodosia, as event caterer, is busy serving steaming teas and blackberry scones while guests sing her praises. But the sweet smell of success turns to suspense when an esteemed guest is found dead - his hand clutching an empty teacup. All eyes are on Theo... who is now trying desperately to save her reputation and track down the real killer. If only she can make sense of it all - before someone else takes their last sip... .

I'm not very far into the book yet, but so far I really enjoy it. I have to prepare some discussion questions, though, which means I better hurry up reading...

First sentence:
"Theodosia Browning leaned back from the clutter of her antique wooden desk, balanced a bone china cup and saucer on one knee, and took a much-needed sip of Lung Ching tea."


I'd like to wish you all a belated happy new year!

Somehow I seem to be somewhat slow this year with everything. :-(

Oh, right, this is a book blog... You might be interested in what I'm reading right now.

For now I'm reading Laura Childs' Death By Darjeeling and Jodi Picoult's Vanishing Acts. I'm still not far into the books, cause I seem to be lacking time a bit. That might be because of an exam I have coming up (see ticker) and some other things going on in my life right now.