Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I just found out that Masterpiece Classic will be showing Cranford 2 this coming winter! I loved and adored Cranford and can't wait to see what the sequel brings. There will also be a new adaptation of Emma, which I've never been fond of but will gladly watch anyway, just because it is Jane Austen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reading Spaz

I'm all over the place with my reading these days, so I'm not sure when I'll finish another book. Nothing is really grabbing my attention. These are the times when I just throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first novel in a trilogy that was written by Stieg Larsson before he passed away in 2004 from a heart attack. It was published last year to lots of critic and reader praise. I thought it sounded good when it came out last year, but I was off mysteries at the time (and still mostly am) so I gave it a pass. I picked it up a few weeks ago, though, because it finally hit the right spot. This blockbuster Swedish crime novel features the mysterious and intriguing Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed, surly, asocial computer genius. When Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who's recently been convicted of libel, is summoned to the home of Henrik Vanger he is wary. What would one of Sweden's most successful businessmen want with a disgraced magazine writer? Mikael soon finds out: Vanger wants him to solve the disappearance of his beloved niece Harriet in exchange for cold hard cash. With trepidation, Mikael agrees to the assignment and soon finds himself enmeshed in the troubled world of the Vanger family. When he makes a breakthrough in the case he hires Lisbeth to be his research assistant and together they embark on a dangerous quest to discover the truth. Though billed as a mystery, I enjoyed the more chaotic structure of this novel. With several plot lines running rampant, this did not have the feel of a traditional plodding procedural mystery. The characters are fascinating, especially Lisbeth, and the pacing is spot-on, spurring the reader to quickly turn the pages and possibly stay up much too late to find out the truth.This book might have triggered my return to reading mysteries, as it was so good that I realized I was craving the satisfaction you get from reading a well-plotted and intense thriller. I can't wait until the second one, The Girl Who Played With Fire, comes out later this month!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raven's Gate

Alright, this isn't really about a book I've read, but it aroused my curiosity. I've Googled it and looked it up on Wikipedia and the only reference I can find for Raven's Gate is the book by Anthony Horowitz. I've seen it referenced in many horror movies and books and I'm wondering if it just sounds ominous, or if there is some mythical basis for the name. Does anyone know? I wanted to post on the author's message board, but there's no guarantee that he will see it or that those who do see it will know the answer. Plus, you have to promise your firstborn and read a 700-page policy before you can post. I'll continue researching. I MIGHT even go to the library and read some books.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Masterpiece Mystery

On Monday, I watched two new episodes of Poirot and one new episode of Miss Marple that have recently aired on PBS. (Oh, how I love my DVR!) I loved the Agatha Christie mysteries when I was a teen so I was happy to see these new versions air. I enjoy Hercule Poirot, but I've always had a soft spot for Miss Marple (maybe it's because we're both spinsters?) Julia McKenzie (who played Mrs. Forrester in Cranford) is the new Miss Marple and I think she does an excellent job. She seems like the kind of woman whom people would easily confide their secrets in. There are three more episodes scheduled in the coming weeks and I will be eagerly awaiting them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yes, I Changed It Again

This is what happens when you are home alone and looking for something to do! I hope no one minds.

A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure

A Pearl in the Storm is on the summer list of Oprah's recommended books and sounded intriguing. Tori Murden McClure was the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean alone. She completed this amazing feat after a tragically failed attempt when she got caught in three hurricanes that nearly killed her. The first 2/3 of the book documents her travails in the first attempt she made to cross the Atlantic. There are fascinating stories of shark sightings, sperm whales nearly capsizing her boat, communing with dolphins, and all of the equipment breakdowns she had to deal with. I was amazed by her intelligence and ingenuity in dealing with adversity. The story of her survival on the boat is intermittently sprinkled with stories from her past that illuminate for the reader how Tori became the woman she is today. The flashbacks tie in neatly to what she is experiencing on the boat and she does not glorify herself in any way. When she returns from her attempt is when the book took a personal turn for me. She falls in love for the first time at the age of 35. I thought I was one of the only women alive who hasn't been in love at 35! Her experience gave me hope and was even scarier to me than her journey across the ocean. I really admired her willingness to expose her weaknesses and how she was able to turn them into strengths. This book is about much more than rowing across the ocean; it's about resilience, learning how to take down the walls that keep you from knowing others and yourself, and about reaching goals, though it may almost kill you to do so. Great book!

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

This book has garnered a lot of buzz in the past month and so, though I normally don't care to read novels about American historical topics, I decided to try this. And I'm glad I did! I really liked this novel. It centers around Connie who is a Ph.D candidate in American studies at Harvard. She is trying to decide on a thesis topic when she is asked to clear out her deceased grandmother's home so it can be sold. While doing this she discovers the name of a possibly forgotten woman who was executed in the Salem Witch Trials. The bulk of the novel then details her search for the physick book or spell book of this woman, Deliverance Dane, her budding relationship with a fellow historian and her uncovering of a family history she never knew about. Connie's story is interspersed with chapters that tell the story of Deliverance and her daughter Mercy so the reader feels a personal connection with this interesting woman. There are supernatural elements in the novel which are very believable and even exciting. I would call this an adventure novel, but it is slower paced and more character driven and intelligent than your average adventure tome. And the historical details were fascinating and made the Colonial period come alive for me. I would suggest this to readers who like thoughtful adventures or to readers who have an interest in the Salem Witch Trials.