4 Stars

I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. There are a lot of them, and they are all pretty similar, so what happens is you’ll read a Discworld book, think, “That was awesome! Gimme some more,” read another book or two, then suddenly become sick of it for a few months or years. Right now I am in a Discworld groove, currently reading my third book in two weeks. Maskerade is the book that got back into the groove.

In this one, the Lancre witches travel to Anhk-Moorpork to track down and recruit into their coven Agnes, who is pursuing a career in the opera, but who really came to the big city just to get away from the witches. Of course, as in all Discworld novels, the plot is just a vehicle for the side-splitting hilarity. With a Phantom of the Opera parody as a backdrop, and seeing as how I work in theater, I found this episode to be especially entertaining.


Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Maniac McGee


4 stars

Have I told you about Newberry Award books yet? No? Well, I’ll just have to write something for you, now won’t I? Anyhow, I collect Newberry Award winners, and will eventually write a series of essays comparing and contrasting the winners each year. Maniac McGee was one of only 2 Newberry Award books in 1991, and beat out True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle for the gold. I must say, I liked Charlotte a little bit better, but then that just could be because I was in a high-adventure mood when I read it.

Maniac McGee is the story of an orphan who lives on his own for a few years after his parents die. He returns to his old town, only to be caught up in a vicious race struggle between the town’s residents. Maniac uses his natural charm to help bridge the gap between the citizens, and has some adventures on his own in the mean time. It was a great, easy read, and passed on a message that is common in Newberry Award winners: race doesn’t matter.


Published in: on October 19, 2007 at 12:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Muletrain to Maggody


2 Stars

Oh, silly little mysteries. This Maggody series is the epitome of the silly little mystery, but it isn’t a very good story in general. I’m not sure what it is about the books that rubs me the wrong way, but reading each new entry is more like a chore than a treat. At least it’s a fast read.

The Maggody series is about a small town, Maggody, which is policed by a woman from the big city. She grew up in town, married and moved to New York, then returned when her marriage fell apart. Her mother got her the job of chief of police for the town (not a great honor since there is only one policewoman in the station) and she spends her time alternately dreaming of getting away and half heartedly chasing whatever bad guy presents himself. She also must deal with the characters in town, not the least of which is her overbearing and bar-owning mother.
Muletrain to Maggody is unmemorable, really. A civil war reenactment descends on the town, and our heroin must deal with the craziness of the participants, while investigating a suspicious death that may or may not have to do with hidden gold. Of course various members of the community must stick their noses into the business and the good chief has to work everything out.

I’m not sure what it is that makes this series so mediocre…perhaps the lack of unique characters or the utterly predictable plot. Whatever the problem, these books have yet to grip me in a way that makes me look forward to the next sequel.


Published in: on August 12, 2007 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Mind Hunter

5 Stars

My friend Ivan recommended this book to me (he’s into forensic psychology) and it took me a while to get around to it. However, once I did I was really, really happy. These types of books are a crap shoot–sometimes you get to deal with the inflated ego and bitch-mongering of the author (See Confessions of a Medical Examiner) but that wasn’t the case with this book. The author was very down to earth, willing to admit mistakes and say he didn’t know all the answers, and ultimately came across as human. His stories were fascinating, and he did a great job of chronicling the evolution of the psychological unit at the FBI. The book is now the basis for the TV show Criminal Minds (the best new crime drama on TV, in my opinion) and it shows. Simply a great book.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:51 am  Leave a Comment  



4 Stars

I loved this book. It was written for teen readers I think, and I read it after I had surgery. It was the perfect book for recovery–light, interesting, and engaging. The story is about an ex-con who rents a room in London and figures out that he can use the London sewer system to rob the houses of the rich. He does so and creates two distinct personalities for himself: one of the rich gentleman and socialite, and the other as a dirty servant. He has to juggle these two personalities and keep up the charade in-order to enjoy the high life.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:40 am  Leave a Comment  

The Man in My Basement


3 1/2

I started getting into that strange genre of literature called “fiction.” Fiction seems to be a catch-all for every book type that doesn’t quite fit under any other subheading. This is a great example of fiction. A lower-middle class blue collar man is approached by a very rich, very famous gentleman who wishes to rent the basement for the summer. The house owner allows it, and the rich man moves into a cage. He leaves strict instructions: no outside contact, no letting him out of his cell, provide food. For this, the house owner gets a huge amount of money. The book centers around the rich guy’s life and why he has chosen to incarcerate himself in an unknown location. Interesting stuff happens, and the book ends satisfactorily–almost.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Moving Pictures


3 1/2 Stars

Another Terry Pratchett book, except I liked this one better than most of his work. He makes a fairly obvious critique of Hollywood and the resulting movie culture in this book that is hilarious to anyone who has lived in Southern California, been in movies, seen movies, heard about movies, or met an actor. Mr. Pratchett is best when he is composing sly social commentary, and this book showcases his talent beautifully.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:20 am  Comments (1)  

Mrs. Jefferies Pleads Her Case


3 Stars

A nice example of the SLM with a memorable protagonist. The main character is the head house keeper for a detective at Scotland Yard. She takes it upon herself to help her employer out with difficult cases, always making sure to make her boss believe all her conclusions were originally his ideas. The premise makes it interesting and the characters see it through. A good over-all read.


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Midnight Magic


2 Stars

It was hard getting through this book. A medieval mystery with a motley crew of characters sounds like a good idea, but it just didn’t seem to deliver. It took me a long time to finish the book, and it wasn’t at all memorable.


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


3 1/2 Stars

Once again, a great book that got turned into a mediocre movie. This story is written from the viewpoint of a journalist that visits Savannah (Georgia?) to learn about the lives of the inhabitants. It is really a collection of individual stories, each staring a different memorable character of the town. The stories are woven together around a murder mystery and the resulting trial. The plot is engaging and keeps the reader riveted throughout. The movie sucked, however. I hate that.


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment