The Purrfect Murder, A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

By Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown… the latest in an everlasting series, that highlights the comings and goings and evilness of small town America, this time in Virginia. The typical cozy mystery series, typical action, with the typical cast, though this time a real whiner and bitchy person gets the axe, or knife if you will. Good description of the fall in rural horse country Virginia, including the influx of the rich into typical country life. A simple read, can get it done in a few hours,
not brain stimulating, but a good time waster.

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Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Infinity Beach

3 1/2 Stars

Have you ever noticed that the Mystery and Science Fiction sections are always together, way at the end of the fiction books? That makes sense to me because Sci-Fi books usually have some type of mystery in them. Not necessarily a whodunit sort of story, but a what’s-really-going-on-here type of thing. All the Jack McDevitt books I have read feature this element, Infinity Beach more so than most. Kim Brandywine sets out to discover what really happened thirty years ago when her clone sister disapeared amid interesting circumstances. The book is very good until the end, where is really slows down.

This is a common complaint I have with a lot of books and movies, where they will be very interesting and exciting almost right until the climax or big reveal or whatever, and then go pfft. Sometimes this comes from writers not really having a good explanation for all the weirdness that has been going on (the TV show Lost, for example), but often it seems as it they just get tired of telling the story and give up. It’s disappointing.

ben

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Ender’s Game

5 Stars

When a science fiction book wins the Hugo and Nebula awards, you know going in it’s gonna be good.  Ender’s Game has all the hallmarks of good sci-fi: a future setting, space battles, neat-o technology, relativistic and gravity considerations.  It also has a well written and engaging story about brilliant children training as soldiers by playing war games.  Imagine Lord of the Flies without all the boring bits.

ben

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Storm Front

4 Stars

Book One of the Dresden Files! That was my favorite TV show of last season, so of course it got canceled. Then someone told me it was based on a series of books, so I had to check it out. Not surprisingly, I liked the book version too.

Harry Dresden is a professional wizard, using his magic to solve real world problems, in a private eye sort of way. He also, on occasion, consults for the police when they encounter the unexplainable. Storm Front is a fun read because it explores Harry’s attempts to straddle two worlds, the mundane and the magical, without getting into too much trouble in either, and it mixes in a compelling whodunit in the meantime. I look forward to reading more.

ben

Published in: on April 13, 2008 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Interesting Times

4 Stars

So my Discworld kick of the last couple months (it’s over now) all started because I got this book from the library. It is the fifth Rincewind story, and made some references to his previous exploits, so I thought I ought to freshen up on his earlier adventures. It turns out that was not necessary. Except for the familiar characters, Interesting Times is its own book entirely. Rincewind gets sent to the counterweight continent, the Discword’s version of Asia, where he gets caught up in a variety of ridiculous and hilarious predicaments. This is the best of the Rincewind books so far.

ben

Published in: on April 8, 2008 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic

4 stars

Hee! That’s pretty much the entire review for this book. It was hilarious. Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker fame, tells the story of a large luxury space ship that goes a little crazy. Wacky adventures ensue. There’s really no point going more into the detail of the story line–which is honestly secondary to the witty writing and amusing situations. The book is a fast read, simply because it’s nearly impossible to put down, and you end up laughing through every page. Highly recommended

–Adrienne

Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eric

eric.jpg

3 1/2 Stars

From the cover art it appears that this is a parody of Faust. I do not know Faust, but I sure enjoyed Eric. It is about a fourteen year old boy who tries to conjure a demon, but gets Rincewind instead. They travel around and have ridiculous adventures, with a pissed off Luggage following them every step of the way. This is the ninth Discworld book, and it exhibits all the irreverent humor and ridiculous disregard for narrative cohesion that I love about the series. This is an improvement over the previous Rincewind novels.

ben

Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Sourcery

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3 1/2 Stars

More of Rincewind and the Luggage!  As far as Discworld characters go, Rincewind is not my favorite, so why am I reading all the Rincewind books at once?  Well I got an omnibus from the Science Fiction Book Club called Rincewind the Wizzard, which has the first four Rincewind-centered Discworld books.  It was sitting on my bookshelf for a while–since I had already read three of the four books, I was in no particular hurry to reread them, but it was something I was planning to do eventually.  Then I rented from the library the fifth Rincewind book, which makes mention of the chaos of Rincewind’s previous adventures, many details of which I could not remember, so I decided to go back for a refresher.

Anyway …. Sourcery is the story of an eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, who is by definition a source of magic, AKA sourcerer.  His extraordinary power sends the Disc all bonky and threatens to really mess things up, and it falls on the shoulders of hapless Rincewind to stop the sourcerer and save the Disc.  Hilarity ensues.

ben

Published in: on March 22, 2008 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  

The Light Fantastic

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3 Stars

Rincewind is back! This book is a direct sequel to The Color of Magic, perhaps the only direct sequel in the entire Discworld lexicon. This time Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage race across the Disc trying to stop it from crashing into a giant red star. Actually, Rincewind, as per usual, just tries to stay alive, while everyone around him goes crazy about the star. In the process we meet interesting characters and experience satirical adventure. Hilarity ensues.

ben

Published in: on March 20, 2008 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  

The Colour of Magic

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3 Stars

I am in the middle of a crazy Discworld kick.  Normally after two or three, I get sick of the style and stop reading them for a year.  But now I have read, like, six in a row and I am still going strong.  It’s weird.

The Colour of Magic is the first entry in the Discworld series, and this reading of it for me is actually a re-reading.  The story features Rincewind, an untalented wizard and practicing coward who has an uncanny ability to stay alive.  He meets friends and escapes enemies and has all sorts of adventures–like any Discworld book, the plot isn’t really important.  The first time I read this book, I absolutely loved it.  This time I only liked it. It’s not that TCOM is any worse now than it was back then, it is just that the newer books in the series are often better, so in comparison…

Oh, well.  It is still a fun book to read and a good introduction to the series.

ben

Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Delete All Suspects

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4 Stars

Oh, the Turing books. I love it when authors can come up with truly unique characters. These books revolve around a computer–an artificial intelligence based computer named Turing. Throughout the books, Turing explores her dawning self awareness, and how this complicates her existence. Each individual book has some sort of mystery–murder, embezzlement, scams–that Turing and her small group of human friends must try and solve. The stories themselves are pretty run-of-the mill, with criminals doing crimes that are eventually discovered through clever police work and a considerable amount of processing power. However, the interplay between the characters (several of which are computers themselves, and Turing is always trying to discover if these computers have become self aware also) and how a newly self aware computer explores her new world.

–Adrienne

Published in: on March 13, 2008 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bookseat

I’m going to start a new series of posts I like to call “Book Integration” or “how in the heck am I going to fit all these books into my super small apartment?!?” Since my husband and I have just moved to a new, very tiny place, and most of my books are still in boxes due to the sad lack of built in bookcases in our new space, I have been trolling the internets for brilliant ideas on how and where to incorporate my ever-growing book collection into our daily decor.

Today I found this:

Bookbench

This is a new design from Fishbol.com, an online design team. There’s very little information about this bookbench on the site, other than the dimensions (600X700X800 mm) and the material (plywood). No price or comfort levels mentioned–but then it’s from a design site, and these sites historically don’t take silly subjects like price and comfort into account when working on furniture.  It’s about the product!

I kind of like the look of this–it would work nicely for an empty corner or hallway nook (or an entryway, perhaps?), and give the reader a space to store  plenty of reading material. I’m worried about the materials, however. Plywood doesn’t seem like the best place to spend hours of reading time in blissful comfort. There’s also no convenient place to put the mandatory cup of tea or other refreshment that goes with reading a good book.

Over all, I’ll have to pass on this one, unless there’s a bare entryway in my future that is just begging for a bench full of books.

–Adrienne

–Source 

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Dark is Rising

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5 Stars

I cannot say enough about this book (you don’t know what you’re talking about Ben!). I first picked up this book when I was in 6th grade, and I’ve made a habit of reading it every few years since. To me, this is the epitome of adventure fantasy. It has it all–an unlikely hero, daring fights, a seemingly insurmountable evil, and just enough humor to take the edge off.

The book is second in the Dark Is Rising series. I liked the first, but not nearly as much as this. The story is of a young boy, Will, who on his 11th birthday finds he is an immortal with an important mission: to unite the signs and turn back the rising evil. The story chronicles his self discovery and mastery of his powers, and the ultimate fight that results between light and dark.

What I especially like about this book is the lack of sugary “good is good and bad is bad” themes that are often present in books of this type for younger audiences. This book has loved ones working for the dark side, and good people doing evil things for the sake of the light. It’s a well written, complex story that is a great introduction into the world of fantasy adventure.

One part has especially stuck with me since the first moment I read this book. A member of the Dark enters into Will’s house on Christmas morning, in an attempt to capture Will’s soul. The Dark has the ability to read surface thoughts, so throughout the whole visit, Will thinks hard about the coming breakfast, instead of the number of secrets running through his mind. As the Dark man leaves, he mentions to Will’s family that they’d better feed him, because he seems to be very hungry. Ever since then, I’ve found myself mildly worried when I’m punching in a password or typing in my pin number. I mean, what if a member of The Dark is around to read my thoughts? So I always think another number while I do it, just in case. : )  Ah, books that stay with you–what more do you want?

–Adrienne

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crazy Lady

crazy-lady.jpg

3.5 Stars

This was a cute book. Most of the Newbery Award books are pretty short, I’ve noticed, and this one is no exception. The story is of a young boy who, due to a minor indiscretion, must help the local “crazy lady” with her daily chores. The woman is ridiculed by her neighbors, due to her excessive drinking and her subsequent strange behavior, so the boy is upset at his punishment. He’s surprised to find the woman has a son about his age, who has some mental problems. The two boys become friends, much to the embarrassment of the boy’s old gang, and this helps everyone to grow.

It was a nice story, ended like you would expect, and left me feeling a mix of melancholy and happiness. That’s always a good feeling at the end of a powerful book.

–Adrienne

Published in: on March 6, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

March 6th is Read Aloud Day!

According to Holidays for Everyday, March 6th is Read Aloud Day (along with National Chocolate Cheesecake Day and the anniversary of the first day Oreos were sold…both of which deserve their own post). In honor of this wonderful holiday, I’ve put together a list of my favorite books to read out loud. When was the last time you had someone read to you? Let me tell you, it is a wonderful experience at any age.

My list:

the-giving-tree.jpg Ah, a classic.  There’s something so touching about this book, that just lends itself to hearing it in someone else’s voice. It’s the type of book that brings a tear to your eye and leaves you with happy chills at the end, and you always want to share that with someone, no?

the-raven.jpg Ooooo….creepy. Several years ago my husband made a poetry book for me for Christmas, and he included this book. The creep factor of this poem is crazy high–perfect for curling up and reading aloud.

when-the-frost.jpg This was also included in my poetry book, and this one has a much different feel than The Raven. The cadence and rhyming found in this poem is perfect for listening, and always gives me a chill.

where-the-wild-things-are.jpg There is nothing more fun than this book! Especially for one of my generation. What a great memory.

harry-the-dirty-dog.jpg Another one of those childhood memories. There’s just something about having books read to you as an adult that yo had read to you as a child. All I need now is to turn on the Smurfs while hugging my old bankie and I’ll be a child again.

oh-the-places-youll-go.jpg This is one of those early childhood inspirational books…and every once in a while it’s nice to remember that old inspired feeling. It just isn’t the same if you have to read it to your self.

make-way-for-ducklings.jpg This is the only book on this list that I didn’t love growing up. Nope. In fact, I don’t remember this book at all growing up. I actually got it as a present last Christmas as part of my goal to collect all the Caldecot Award winners, and my husband read it to me Christmas morning. I loved it. Have someone you love read this to you tonight, and I guarantee a happy evening.

–Adrienne

Published in: on March 5, 2008 at 8:41 pm  Comments (1)