Friday, December 28, 2007

Changes at PBS

I was excited to read of some huge changes coming to Masterpiece Theater. I have loved this program since I was a teenager when it helped fuel my still existing Anglophilia. I am really looking forward to their new format and to new hosts.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Review: The Murder Room by P D James

The Murder Room centers around the Dupayne Museum, a fictional place that sits on the edge of Hampstead Heath in London. The Museum is devoted to chronicling the inter war years and features a room that displays information about famous murders during the 20's and 30's. As the mystery opens, the museum is in jeopardy of being closed as Neville Dupayne, one of the trustees of the museum, refuses to sign a new contract to keep the museum open. His siblings, Caroline and Marcus, try to persuade him to change his mind -- the next day Neville is burned to death inside a garage on the museum grounds. Adam Dagliesh and his Special Investigative unit are brought into the case because one of the museum employees works for MI5. As they investigate the various motives and suspects another murder is discovered; a young girl is found stuffed into a trunk in the murder room. She's been strangled and it's determined that she was killed on the same day as Neville Dupayne and probably by the same killer. Lending an aura of distaste to the investigation is the discovery that Caroline Dupayne runs a sex club out of her flat at the museum. Are the murders tied into the activities of the club? The conclusion of the mystery is very dramatic, with one of the witnesses being nearly murdered, but it falls flat in the motive. There was no background leading up to why someone would murder Neville and it was disappointing. The real ending of the book is in a very romantic love scene at a train station for Dalgleish and his love, Emma. At least that was satisfying. As usual, this James novel is very good on characterization and drama; not so good on the mystery. But, I love her writing and will continue to try to read all of her novels. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

P D James-aholic

So, lately I've been obsessed with P D James, the octogenarian British mystery author. I am currently reading The Murder Room and have 4 of her other books being sent to me through Bookmooch. Her writing is elegant, character-driven and efficient, which is not common for a mystery novel. And of course, the characters are British. Although he doesn't quite measure up to my beloved Rebus, Adam Dalgliesh is one of my favorite literary detectives. If you are looking for something that requires care and attention to digest try James. Not fast-paced in any way, you will be rewarded with rich characterization and delicious writing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, I am Reading

I am still here, just busy. I have finished a couple of books since I last posted: Election by Tom Perrotta and The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. I am currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which I LOVE. I will write more later.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Solution

So, I have been in a reading funk the past couple of weeks. After reading 7 or 8 novels in September I've stalled and can't find anything interesting. But I think I've found a solution: young adult novels. It seems I only ever turn to the YA section when adult literature fails me. I checked out a couple of novels yesterday and put a few more on hold. Hopefully, they will cure my reading malaise.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Review: Songs Without Words by Ann Packer

I was very excited to get this novel because I loved Packer's first book, The Dive From Clausen's Pier. Sadly, I found Songs Without Words to be depressing, whiny and a waste of time. Set in the Bay Area it centers on two best friends Liz and Sarabeth. Both in their 40's, Liz is a yuppie mom of two while Sarabeth is a career-less single. When Liz's daughter Lauren tries to commit suicide, their worlds and their friendship falls apart. I read most of this on an afternoon off from work and finished feeling depressed, discouraged and sick to my stomach. Because of this, I can't recommend this book at all. I'm not asking for sunshine and roses, but this novel plunges the reader into a scary and dark place where, really, I feel no one needs to go

Friday, September 28, 2007


Sorry, I haven't posted in a while. This week has been busy. I worked all last weekend and have worked 2 nights this week. I am completely off my regular schedule. I have 2 reviews to post and will try to do that tonight. Happy reading!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Review: The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill is my favorite type of British mystery. It is much like a P.D. James or Ruth Rendell novel. Set in a cathedral town it centers on the disappearance of two local women, who disappear while walking on The Hill, which looms over the city. There is no evidence that they've been harmed, but DS Freya Graffham has a feeling that they are dead and convinces her boss, DCI Simon Serailler to let her investigate. Simon is a mysterious loner who Freya immediately falls in love with. Meanwhile, Simon's sister Dr. Cat Deerbon is trying to stop quack new age doctors from "treating" people in the town. These various plot lines seem to be traveling down different roads and, indeed, in the end they don't really converge. But they all overlap in some way and make for an interesting and engaging thriller that has a knack for making the characters come alive. I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of the second novel in the series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cool Website

Keep track of your favorite authors or just look to see what authors are appearing near you at BookTour.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Review: Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is the much-awaited sequel to the fabulous young adult novel, Stargirl. I listened to Stargirl about 2 years ago and loved it, so was very excited to hear about this continuation. This novel is written as a series of letters from Stargirl to Leo, her former boyfriend in Arizona. Stargirl now lives with her parents in Pennsylvania and is home schooled, lonely and longing for Leo. When the novel began I was a bit startled by how like a normal teenage girl Stargirl was sounding, pining after Leo. After a while though, I really appreciated how much more mature Stargirl is in this novel. Though she still has kooky ideas and says kooky things, she is struggling in this novel to be the girl she once was. Her best friends are a 6 year old named Dootsie and Betty Lou, an agoraphobic divorcee. Throughout the year Stargirl befriends a tomboy named Alvina, a complex boy named Perry and various other characters in town. Through it all she realizes that she still loves Leo, but can have a normal and fulfilling life without him near. The climax of the book comes when Stargirl hosts a solstice party which brings all of her friends and neighbors together to watch the sun rise on December 21. The ending, when she hears from Leo, is sweet and satisfying. I really enjoyed Love, Stargirl and am so happy that Jerry Spinelli decided to write this lovely sequel.

Books I Don't Want to Read

For some reason, I never want to read the books everyone is reading and raving about. I don't know if it is a rebellious streak in me or if the books truly don't appeal. One of those books is The Kite Runner. Another is The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I've heard nothing but good about these novels, yet something in me resists giving in. I also am dead-set against reading any James Patterson or Janet Evanovich books. I know some of it has to do with appeal on these. When I open a novel and all I see is dialogue I am immediately turned off. I like some narrative meat in my reading sandwich. Sometimes I feel this makes me a bad librarian, but I think I can understand the appeal of the popular novels without reading them myself. One day I will probably cave in and read The Kite Runner, but I'm sorry Janet Evanovich, your books will never be read by me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review: Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward

Nadine Morgan is a 35 year old journalist who travels to all the danger spots in the world reporting on revolutions and uprisings. As Forgive Me opens she is beaten up by Mexican drug runners in Chiapas and is recuperating with her dad and his girlfriend at their motel on Cape Cod. Nadine has erected many emotional walls to protect herself from attachment and commitment. She doesn't even communicate very well with her father or her best friend. She does form a relationship with her doctor, Hank, and spends Christmas with him at his house on Nantucket. But when Hank brings her a local newspaper and she reads a story about South Africa she immediately buys a ticket and heads to Johannesburg and her past. As a young reporter Nadine had lived in South Africa and reported on the murder of an American teacher, Jason Irving, by ANC members. Jason's parents are on the same flight with Nadine and refuse to give her an interview. Once in SA Nadine confronts her past and reflects on her lover, Maxim's, murder, her relationship with Thola, the sister of the girl who murdered Jason, and the nature of forgiveness as she attends hearings to free Thola's sister. The entire novel reflects on forgiveness and reconciling past injustices and regrets. Nadine is a complex and mysterious character and we're never sure if she will forgive others or herself. Reading about the atrocities of apartheid and the efforts of an entire country to forgive is fascinating and an interesting backdrop to Nadine's personal struggles. I enjoyed this novel and was compelled to discover what path Nadine would take. Will she continue in her solitary life as a journalist or return to Hank and life as a doctor's wife? Interspersed throughout the novel are diary entries written by a boy we think at first is Jason, but come to realize is Nadine's future son. This aspect of the novel was a bit confusing to me, but overall it doesn't deter from the powerful message of forgiveness the novel explores.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Review: The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson

The End of the Alphabet is a slim, yet moving account of a marriage and a life at its end. Ambrose Zephyr is a contently married advertising executive in London when he finds out that he is dying of a mysterious disease. He has only 30 days to live. With his remaining time, he decides to fulfill a childhood wish to visit places whose names begin with every letter of the alphabet. He and his wife Zipper go to Amsterdam, Berlin, etc. By the time they get to the letter J Zipper convinces Ambrose to go to Paris instead and by this time his health is so poor that they make their way back home. There Ambrose spends his remaining days. In a very economical way, Richardson conveys the emotions that exist when a partner is lost and the awkwardness of imminent death. If you have a spare afternoon and want to read a quietly sad, yet uplifting, book, this is the one for you.

New Name

In honor of Kyla joining our blog, I've renamed us "Cousins Read". Our web address can't change, though -- blogger won't let me change it. Welcome, Kyla!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally! Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

I finally finished!! I don't know what it is about Stephenie Meyer, but one minute I love her and the next I despise her. I shouldn't say her; I despise her writing and her characters. Eclipse opens with Bella about to graduate from high school. She is still being chased by Victoria and the Volturi are a possible threat. She fully expects to be changed into a vampire after graduation, but Edward decides that he will only change her if she marries him. Bella is dead-set against marriage and they try to manipulate each other back and forth into getting what they want. Also, Jacob is mooning after Bella and being an all-around jerk about it. There is a serial killer loose in Seattle and they all finally realize that it is a pack of new vampires who have been created by Victoria to destroy the Cullens and Bella. The Cullens team-up with Jacob's wolf pack to stop them and amidst all of this drama Bella has a major make-out session with Jacob and realizes she loves him. Very annoying. In the end, Bella chooses who she will stay with, but there is still a possibility she will end up with the other. These novels are so gag-me a lot of the time and I hate that Bella is so weak and always being nurtured by everyone, but the story is compelling enough to keep me coming back for more. I will definitely read the 4th and last in the series when it is published next year.

First Book

For my first award winning book for the challenge below I've chosen The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. It won the Newbery award in 1974, the year I was born.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Book Challenge

I just read about the Book Awards Reading Challenge that I think I will try. The gist of the challenge is to read 12 award winning books before June 30, 2008. Here is a list of different literary awards to choose from. I'll update you on my progress.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Review: Bloodline by Fiona Mountain

Bloodline by Fiona Mountain is set in the Cotswolds of England and begins when young genealogist Natasha Blake is hired to compile a family history for Charles Seagrove, a secretive elderly man. The history turns out to be a history of his granddaughter's fiance's family. Later, when Seagrove is found shot to death Natasha realizes that her work for him may have gotten him killed. She continues to investigate and discovers that Seagrove had a sinister affiliation with the Nazis during WWII and that he was highly interested in eugenics. This interesting plot is somewhat bogged down in the end and too many different characters make the book confusing. I enjoyed it, but the plot could have been tighter. I would read another of these as I really like the Natasha character and find the genealogy fascinating.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Great Austen News

January is going to be my favorite month. I recently read that PBS is showing new adaptations of the Jane Austen books Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion that month. It will be so nice to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and watch these . Now, I do love the movie versions of the last two, but I am always willing to watch new Jane Austen adaptations. They will also show her biopic. I can't wait!

Poetry Kick

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall

I've been on a poetry kick lately. Longfellow is still one of my favorites. I love that he acknowledges sorrow and hardship but remains hopeful. For the most part, I'm uplifted after partaking. I like to read poetry when life is busy cuz it's easy to put down. With novels, I get so involved in the story, I just want to read and read and read until I'm done.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Still Reading Eclipse

I have it for only another week, though, so I need to get cracking. I enjoy Stephenie Meyer's work, but her over-the-top, emotionally charged hormone fest sometimes gets to me. I can see why the teenage girls like it. I am also reading a really good mystery called Bloodlines by Fiona Mountain. It is an "Ancestor Detective" mystery. The main character, Natasha Blake, is a young genealogist working out of the Cotswolds. I'm almost finished -- I'll let you know what I think.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Currently Reading

I am currently reading Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. The Bella and Edward saga continues. What are you reading?