TBR Day: Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 by Gina

This first TBR day is drawing to a close and I am puttering away at the computer trying to meet my deadline.   Avidbookreaderis hosting this challenge.  I did not finish the 2008 challenge, but I almost did, so I am trying it again this year.  This year she has put a bit of a twist in the monthly challenges.  Mostly they have to do with romances.  This month we are supposed to try and read a Category Romance.  I don’t really read romances, so I am going to just pick a book from my stacks. 

This month’s selection was Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts).  This is the ninthbook in the “In Death” series.  It follows Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her band of trusty sidekicks through some terrorist plots in the futuristic New York City.   The twists and turns of the story were very well done.  I liked the mystery of it.   Robb is good at spinning a good mystery.  I feel like the romance between Roarke and Dallas is coming along very well.  I love the way they keep learning how to be a couple.  I do find the “love scenes” to be a bit much.  As I stated earlier, I don’t read romance novels anymore.  Their loves scenes tend to fall into the romance novel category for me.  I wouldn’t even mention it except that it doesn’t happen once or twice — but there are three to five love scenes in each book.  For me, there are a few too many.   (But that is personal preference.)

The most interesting part of the book has nothing to do with the story, but the time when it was written.  You see, this book on terrorism was written pre-9/11.   It even goes so far as to mention the Twin Towers as a possible target for their terrorist organization; however, it is quickly figured out to be Lady Liberty that is targeted.  I felt that many times my brain was brought back to that September day when our world changed.  

I really enjoyed this installment of Lt. Eve Dallas’ life.  I recommend these books to people who like mystery books, but that aren’t afraid of some steamier scenes.

TBR Challenge: Murder with Reservations by Elaine Viets (2007)

Posted in Fiction, Gina, TBR Challenge on November 19, 2008 by Gina

Murder with Reservations is the sixth installment in Viet’s Dead End Job mysteries.    Helen Hawthorne is on the run in South Florida.  She must stay under the radar to avoid her former, St. Louis corporate life from coming back to haunt her.  Staying under the radar for Helen means taking a series of dead end jobs.   In this book, we find Helen working as a maid at the Full Moon Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  As always, Helen finds herself involved in the middle of murder and mayhem.  

This series consists of light, easy to read mysteries and this one is no different.  The mystery is interesting and fun.  Helen’s job as a hotel maid lends itself to many funny moments.  Most of the book takes place at the hotel.  The usual cast of supporting characters seems to be under utilized in this book.  Peggy has a superficial role.  Margery was her same old self, but she still seemed to be written without as much depth as usual.   We do get to delve into Helen and Phil’s relationship more deeply than in previous books which was nice.  

All in all, I enjoyed the mystery but felt that the supporting cast should have been showcased more prominently.

TBR Challenge: For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison (2007)

Posted in Fiction, Gina, TBR Challenge, Uncategorized on October 15, 2008 by Gina

This is the fifth book in The Hollows series by Harrison.   This is one of my favorite paranormal series.  I love the cast of characters and how they interact.  Jenks, Ivy, and Rachel make a great team.   I will admit that this is my favorite of all five books.  I have moved The Outlaw Demon Wails (Book 6) to the top of my TBR pile.   While this was my favorite, I would not have chosen the direction of the story Harrison chose.  (That is all I am saying about it.   I will not be held responsible for ruining the book for you.)

Here are five parts that warm my heart and make me love this book so much. 

1)  Kisten and Rachel’s Date on his boat.

2) Glenn’s love of tomatoes.

3) Quen…you gotta love Quen.

4) Jenks and his children…Jariathjackjunisjumoke

5) Rachel’s transportation issues.

When I examine the list, I find that it is the characters that I adore.   I love their interactions and their lives.  The story is a good one, too.   The characters are highlighted and it flows well – except for in one part where it doesn’t, but that is resolved by the end of the book.  

If I rated books, which I don’t, I would give this one a 5/5 or two thumbs up.

TBR Challenge: The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998)

Posted in Fiction, Gina, TBR Challenge on September 17, 2008 by Gina

The Hours has been holding up other books on my bookshelf rather well since 2002 when the movie came to theaters.  I had rushed out to buy a copy because I just had to read it.  I bought it and placed it on the shelf to get lost in the shuffle of books for four years.  I re-found it this month, while looking for another book, and decided that it would really be a good read for this month’s TBR Day. 

In college, I read my first and only Virginia Woolf book, A Room of One’s Own. I loved it.  I thought it was brilliant.  I felt a strong connection down deep inside me.  However, now upon recollection I can only remember my strong feelings of it and not really the reasoning behind those feelings.  Mr. Cunninham’s writing of Virginia has rekindled my excitement for her.  I am excited to reread A Room of One’s Own as well as read her other works including Mrs. Dalloway, which is the book she is working on when this novel is set.     

Now, for Mr. Cunningham’s novel.  As per the back of book,

Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, The Hours is the story of three women:  Clarissa Vaughn, who one New York morning goes about planning a party in honor of a beloved friend; Laura Brown, who in a 1950′s Los Angeles suburb slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home; and Virginia Woolf, recuperating with her husband in a London suburb, and beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway.  By the end of the novel, the stories have intertwined, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace, demonstrating Michael Cunningham’s deep empathy for his characters as well as the extraordinary resonance of his prose.

I enjoyed reading this book very much.  I felt the bouncing back from one woman to another added drama and kept the story moving along.  I loved how Cunningham followed them and used everyday moments to show us the character of these women.  I enjoyed his writing style.  He took his time reveling layer upon layer of these women and the characters that came and went from their lives.

Though the women lived in three different times and were living three vastly different lives, they were similar in the heart of the matter.  They all pretended and played roles for the world and for the people around them.  Laura the role of a dutifully wife and mother.  Clarissa the role of a ‘wife’ and intimate friend.  Virginia, it seemed, had to pretend to be and do most everything in her life. They pretended to be what the world/their loved ones wanted or needed them to be.  They judged themselves unworthdy because they could not attain the perfection they desired.  Perfection seemed to be a disease of them all.   This perfectionism can be seen most clearly in Laura’s cake, Clarissa’s flowers, and Virginia’s interactions with Nelly, the servant.   This perfectionism still effects women today.  Is my house clean enough?  Are my children well behaved enough?  These are just two of the questions women ask themselves each day.  How do I measure up to others?   Why is it we always measure ourselves against the best, most perfect ideal which often times does not exist?  (end tangent)

This book was a great read.  It isn’t an overly difficult or long (226pgs) read.  It was well worth the time it took to read, which is not always the case.

Death’s Acre by William Bass and Jon Jefferson

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , on September 9, 2008 by Lisa

Cross posted at Books. Lists. Life.

Death’s Acre by William Bass and Jon Jefferson

Did you ever read Patricia Cornwell’s The Body Farm? Watch Forensic Files? Bones? Death’s Acre is the non-fiction version of that. Subtitled “Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales ,” this book is about the Body Farm (as you may have guessed by now.) The Body Farm is in Knoxville, TN and is a research facility dedicated to death. The brainchild of Dr. Bass, anthropologists there study every conceivable aspect of death to determine how and when a person died.

The book is a series of chapters about various case studies beginning in 1981 with the opening of the Farm. It tells in great detail about what a person can learn from a dead body and what can and can’t be hidden. For example, it’s hard to burn a body, if a body rests on a coin, the coin will be imprinted on the corpse, maggots appear almost immediately, and the soil under a body will show traces of the body’s decomposition. Both fascinating and a little bit gross, the book held my interest and I flew through it. My only complaint is that at times it was painfully obvious that Dr. Bass was in charge of the writing as it would veer into weirdly self-congratulatory talk. I was unable to read their first fiction novel for the same reason- the writing style- so if the writing bugs you this might not be for you. Otherwise, if you’re at all interesting in the forensic sciences, you should pick it up. This book would be a nice companion to Stiff by Mary Roach as well.

TBR Challenge: Fledgling by Octavia Butler (2005)

Posted in Fiction, Gina, TBR Challenge on August 19, 2008 by Gina

This book has been on my TBR for probably the longest of all my books.  My husband heard a NPR review of it sometime in late 2006 and asked me to put it on my TBR list.   Even with a near 2 year wait for this book, I was not disappointed.  The only disappointment I have is that Ms. Butler tragically died in February of 2006 and will not be able to finish the story which she began in Fledgling

Fledgling is not just another vampire tale.  The creativity in which the Ina are introduced is astounding.  The writing beautifully woven to just give the reader enough information to connect to the characters.  Shori is tragic and strong with each stroke of the pen.  

I found Ms. Butler’s story to be one that flowed well.  I was engaged and involved with the lives of Shori and her symbionts.  The first two-thirds of the book had Shori and her symbionts on the run from the murderous racist that annihilated her family.    The last third of the book focused on finding justice.  The final third of the book deals with many societal issues.  Racism.  Crime.  Justice System. 

Overall, Fledgling is a well written, enjoyable book that leaves you wanting more.

Magazines

Posted in Christine, Magazine, Non-Fiction, Weight Loss on August 2, 2008 by muerta

I have always enjoyed reading a magazine.  I admit that my tastes are varied, and I have purchased or subscribed to magazines for a variety of reasons.  Currently, we have no magazines arriving to the house; the internet has changed most of the way that we gather our news or information that we seek.  However, this will change soon.

Oprah “O”:  I used to subscribe, but I canceled my subscription when her articles about my favorite things were items that were equivalent in value to my weekly paycheck.  While I still enjoy catching her show when I can [I like Dr. Oz and Suzie Orman(?)], I found her magazine to be too rich for my tastes.

Glamour:  used to be a fun read for me when I had a body that could fit the clothing styles that they advertised.  I also found that working in education with handicapped children and my ability to afford to go out to “stylish” places became more limited as usually I am asleep around 10ish (unless there is a Law and Order marathon happening on TNT or my book is really good) so this subscription too became canceled.

Games for Windows:  my husband’s yearly birthday present but he got mad at them for rating more console games and disagreed with too many of their reviews.  Hence, this subscription was canceled.

Wierd Tales:  another husband subscription but he canceled it because he did not like the format as compared to the older, much more expensive editions that he periodically finds on eBay.  Well, my apologies to them that Lovecraft, et al. are no longer contributing during this modern age of horror writing.

Yankee Magazine:  I loved this magazine for many reasons.  It had an elaborate list of things to do in New England, new places to try, recipes, a great gardening section, a featured “house of the month”, and in general, many interesting articles about life in New England- everything from lobster fishing to Lyme Disease outbreaks.  It was almost pocket sized, definitely pocket book sized, and very identifiable and unique.  However, about a year ago, another company bought them, made it normal sized for a magazine, and increased the advertising to where most of the magazine was focused on people and what they were selling.  No more articles of interest regarding the “Rhode Island Beach Frisbee Dog Catching Contest” or the Children’s Museum in Cape Cod.  With this more modern make-over, I canceled my subscription.  I liked the cozier feel of the old magazine.

After all, it was one article in Yankee magazine that taught us how to really use our Weber grill with accuracy and that alone made it very worth while.

Connecticut Magazine:  subscribed for a year and then canceled when I found out that people were paying reporters to get into the magazine.  It always focused on upscale places, or had rankings of who is the best dentist or doctor, or what is happening in the insurance industry.  There was little human aspect to the magazine; it was all about money being made in Connecticut.  I was hoping it would be a nice support for my loss of Yankee Magazine but sadly, it was not.

Now, I confess that I have succumbed to reading People Magazine in Doctor’s offices (will Tom and Kate survive?  What about poor Suri?  Will Brittany ever lose her baby fat?  and Poor Shaina Twain for her husband’s love affair!)  and about once or twice a month I will buy Star Magazine which I a). love the crossword puzzles because I can actually do them, and b). the girls at the high school love to read it when I am done so it gets recycled around.  Sometimes, I am even able to get the girl’s involved with helping me on the crosswords which makes it fun because it becomes more of a learning/current events activity than just sitting around.

I have also read Women’s World periodically but it tends to make me feel older and seems more focused to organizing your life, your kids, your family, your work, your schedule and lose 10 pounds at the same time!  It has not much in the way of living with an oppositional-defiant dog, a cat who barks, a husband who lives for gadgets and games, and a woman who merely deals with hot flashes by covering herself with wet clothes and fans.  I am getting “older” but I am not ready to admit it.

So for about a year, our house has been subscription-less.

Until now.

I made the decision to join Weight Watcher’s online, and with that, I decided to subscribe to their magazine as well.  I figure it will help me stay the course since I am not a meetings sorta person, and will keep me interested in ideas and redundancy of “I lost weight, you can too” without having to sit around listening to people whine/complain/talk about successes or failures in person.  I am too sarcastic and too blunt, and I suspect that I could hurt someone’s feelings so best to allow me to sit by my computer and track on my own.

So, now this house will have a subscription once again arriving to its door.  I am thinking about getting a second one, about green living and organic foods, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I guess I would only do it if it was on 100% recycled paper.  It only makes sense that way.

P.S.  The new 2009 IKEA catalog just arrived today.  Now, there is interesting reading as I am starting to redo the dining room this month!  WooHoo!

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