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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

UPDATE


***30 down. Nice game of catch-up. I'm definitely hitting 50 this year.***

Everyone has been posting their book challenge progress, and I feel a little guilty not doing the same.

Keep in mind, people...I don't have the free time of yesteryear; with Alex, Matt, the pups, the house, and fatigue...I'm not reading books as often as I'd like. However, I just got a bunch from Amazon this week, and am definitely itching to get at them.

Unlike everyone else, my list is of both read and prospective books. I know I'm going to read these books this year, eventually. Listing them this way is more of a reminder to me to find time to do what I love...read.

Here we go (not much to brag about, but it's a start):

50 BOOK CHALLENGE


50. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Robert Rankin-finished
Well, I finally got around to this one.
It was?good. Interesting story, and certainly my type of book. Except?while the concept was supposed to be all 'knew and different', with the exception of the ending (whew), I saw it all coming.
I felt like I'd been there before?still, nice book.

49. The Case of the Postponed Murder, Erle Stanley Gardner-finished
What can I say about this? It was a good mystery. I loved the television show, and as a matter of a fact, I've been watching Perry Mason reruns on the Hallmark channel. So naturally, I'm interested in reading the original material. Better than the show; but that's not surprising, is it?

48. Q is for Quarry, Sue Grafton
I enjoy these books; I don't think they're the greatest mystery novels of all time, but they're fun to read. This one was interesting; much of the story was taken from a real-life cold case, with only a few details (and obviously, the ending) changed. I read reviews from other fans, who pretty much across the board didn't care for Q is for Quarry. I thought it was pretty good (although I spent three quarters of the book pretty confident that one of two characters was the murderer...and I was right). It was just different than Grafton's usual fare. You know how much people hate change...all in all, a good book.

47. A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
Ok...another one down.
This was a good book. I don't think I really knew what I was expecting, which made it all the more fun. I also couldn't quite tell if it was a book for 'grown-ups', or slightly older children. Either way, I polished it off in one night...and that's always a good thing. And I like reading a book, and NOT knowing what's going to happen next. Here, I really was along for the ride.

46. How to be a "Wicked" Woman, Susanna Carr
This was actually three short stories from different authors, all woman, all chick lit, and all sexed up. I really liked one, enjoyed the second, and couldn't bring myself to care much about the third. I would recommend this (or any number of similar books in what appears to be a series) as a good beach read, but it just wasn't what I had been hoping for.

45. Undead and Unemployed, MaryJanice Davidson-finished
My first encounter with 'chick lit'. And with the added bonus of having the main characters vampires? Oh, you so had me at "Undead". Fun. I read it in about two hours. Unfortunately, this is the second in the series: I thought I was ordering the first, but I goofed. There were hints of things I'd missed, not having read the first book, "Undead and Unwed", but clearly nothing too important: the story just kept going. Again, fun, and I will definitely be ordering the other book.

44. Assembling My Father: A Daughter's Detective Story, Anna Cypra Oliver
Oh...wow. Fabulous book. And very personal. Oliver's father committed suicide when she was a young girl. Later in life, she embarked on a quest to know the man she couldn't even remember.
I can't think of another book that's hit me in the gut and knocked the air out of me like this one did. In so many ways, I could identify with Oliver. And after staying up till five in the morning to finish it (Yes, I regretted that), I found myself furiously typing away...my own feelings and experiences pouring out. An excellent read; I recommend it.

43. Cary Grant: A Biography, Marc Eliot
Wow, what a fascinating read! I don't take every word written as gospel; Eliot clearly wrote this by interviewing, or perhaps even reading previous interviews of, the people in Grant's life, and not Grant himself. It raises a lot of questions, but always comes back to the same thing: Cary Grant never really felt comfortable as an actor, or as himself. Childhood traumas quite seriously impacted his career and personal life, he liked men, and he was a much better actor than he thought he was. I always take bio's with a grain of salt...even those written with the subject's cooperation can't be completely trusted. After all, every story is just one person's point of view! But I'm happy to have read it: Cary Grant is still my all-time favorite actor.

42. Teasing Secrets from the Dead: My Investigations at America's Most Infamous Crime Scenes, Emily Craig
Along the lines of Death's Acre, Dr. Emily Craig recounts her various high-profile (and not-so notorious) cases, as well as her progression from sketching body parts, to grad student under Dr. Bass right here at UT (the Body Farm!), to handling anthropological needs for the entire state of Kentucky (which, apparently, has a pretty high murder rate). Craig was called in to identify human remains at Waco, Oklahoma City, and Ground Zero.
In between those six-o'clock news-worthy cases, she doggedly identifies the forty year old remains, confirms a housefire is actually the murder of a young mother and her two small children, and a half a dozen others.
I liked this book. But I liked Death's Acre better. Her storytelling seemed to jump around, almost randomly. Under certain circumstances, I can accept this as writing style; in this case it was a bit jarring.
And I didn't find myself caring quite as much in this book...Dr. Bass had me very involved in his cases, whereas Dr. Craig kept things almost too...technical.
Sure, I cried when I read a three year old girl had died when someone stuck a shotgun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
When she recalled sorting through body fragments at Waco, and finding a child's hand clutched in a young woman's.
As she worked alongside a 30-year Port Authority veteran, and other NYPD members, and their fallen comrades...or what was left of them...were brought in for identification. Many of them in bags no larger than a kitchen freezer bag.
But that's me. Senseless death upsets me. I cry.
She just didn't rope me in. The book? Good. Read it in a few hours. But if asked, I'd recommend Death's Acre over Teasing Secrets any day.

41. Entertaining is Fun! How to be a Popular Hostess, Dorothy Draper (in progress)
I'm still working through this one. On one hand, it's kind of funny ("A woman I know had no servants at all, except for a maid, to help her with the party?"), but on the other, much of the attitude, the philosophy, is still relevant. With a little more free time, I should be able to finish this one over the weekend.

40. Undead and Unwed, MaryJanice Davidson
I am really enjoying these books. And now, having read the first in the series (so I'm out of order; sue me), I love it even more. The 'heroine' is a real hoot?and has a mouth equal to mine! The words "Do. Not. Mess. With. Me." come to mind?.
There's a third book on the way; I've already pre-ordered.

39. Silverfin: A James Bond Adventure, Charlie Higson
Excellent! I admit I was skeptical when I heard someone was taking Bond back to his school days. But then I learned the Fleming estate had contacted Higson to do just that, and were quite pleased with what he came up with.
I've read most of Fleming's Bond novels, so I know his writing style. I also know that the Bond of paperback and the Bond of celluloid are quite different characters; the former being a much harder, ruthless fellow than the latter.
So, it is with both relief and joy that I say, well done! Mr. Higson.
He very nicely captured the style of Fleming, and was able to introduce the reader to the origins of so many well-known Bond affectations, and characteristics; very much like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade gave us glimpses into what made Indy the man he was.
I read the book in short time, and found myself looking forward to the rest of the series.

38. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Joanne Fluke
Ok...finally got around to this one (kind of forgot it was here...oops). What a fun read! I'm always a sucker for those small-town crime novels, and as the heroine is a baker; well, they got me at Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies. Yes...the book includes recipes!
What more could I ask for in a novel? Murder mystery, small-town setting, and recipes! It's...it's heaven. Will definitely be getting the other books in the series.

37. Undead and Unappreciated, MaryJanice Davidson
Not nearly as good as the first two, but still a fun...and very quick...read. What more can I say?

36. Hellblazer, Jamie Delano, John Ridgway, Alfedo Alcala Vol. 1-16-finished
I've decided to go ahead and count comics as books. Why not? And it's not
like I read just one; it was a whole bunch of them!
I liked it; not as much as Matt, but i am definitely going to read the rest of
his collection...and probably count it as a second book (a sequel's worth, I t
think).

35. Sherlock Holmes: the Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I, Sir Arthur Conan Dolye
Yikes! When I ordered this one, I definitely did not pay attention to the total page count...1049! I almost want to count this book as two, but I won't.
Good reading. I knew so many of the stories already, but they were very much like meeting up with an old friend. And of course, I read many others that were knew to me, no matter how big a Sherlock Holmes fan I may be. Now I just need to get Volume II!

34. Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard
For some time, I felt I was missing out on something, as I'd never read any of Leonard's stories. I finally decided to give him a try, but was completely flabbergasted at his body of work: close to forty novels, and countless short stories. Where to begin?
I recognized some of the titles, mainly 'Be Cool', 'Get Shorty', 'Out of Sight' and 'Killshot'. Due most likely to my aversion of all things Travolta, I went with 'Out of Sight' and 'Killshot'.
I don't know what I was expecting...but I really couldn't get interested in the story. Con (convict) talk just doesn't draw me in, I suppose. And of course, I kept seeing Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in my head as I was reading...and thinking how unlike the characters in the book they were.
So, ok; I finished it. I don't feel any better for it, but I don't feel any worse, either.
I'm still going to read 'Killshot', as it's being turned into a film with (allegedly) Viggo Mortensen and Diane Lane starring. I have a lot of respect for someone who can churn out as much written word as Leonard has, and as he's nearing 80 with no signs of stopping, even more so. I just don't think he's going to be joining my 'favorite authors' list.

33. Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Joanne Fluke
I got this one from a public library in Maryland...always happy to support one of my favorite institutions! Another nice, fun, read. I love these books for their portrait (sometimes stereotypically) of small-town life. Unless you've grown up in a place where you can walk into a store and almost be certain you'll meet someone you're related to, you might not fully appreciate the characters Hannah Swenson encounters. But I did, and do.
I'll admit I usually have all the twists figured out chapters in advance (five-minute mysteries were a favorite as a youngster), the style of writing, the description of food, and the recipes! keep my coming back.

32. Blueberry Muffin Murder, Joanne Fluke
Read these two in one day; I'm not saying they're short stories, but once a writer has my attention, I won't go to bed until I've reached the end. Another enjoyable, safe, read...and more yummy recipes to try!

31. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, Joanne Fluke
Working my way through the series. What can I say? Still a fun, quick read, with lots of recipes to try.

30. Fudge Cupcake Murder, Joanne Fluke
See above! No, I'm really starting to dig the characters, which is why I hate one of the love interests for our heroine. And I can't wait to try out the cupcake recipe...

29. Sugar Cookie Murder, Joanne Fluke
That's it. I'm writing to the author. I can't stand one of the characters...Hannah, the baker who keeps finding bodies and solving the murders ahead of the police (think Murder, She Wrote, but with a red-headed, thirty year old baker), has two guys who are 'into' her. One's a nice, average-looking dentist, the other a hubba-worthy detective. The first makes her laugh, the other makes her knees go weak. But he's also a jerk. No matter how handsome, or what physical attraction the character feels for him...if she were one of my girlfriends (and could be, as we're in the same age group), I'd do all I could to steer her towards the 'nice' guy. It's better to feel loved and cherished by a good man, then to constantly wonder what the heck is going on with a GQ-model look-alike.

28. Peach Cobbler Murder, Joanne Fluke
Noooo!!! Both guys have proposed, and now I have to wait till the next book, Cherry Cheesecake Murder, is published.
Heck, the murders are secondary. I want this woman to pick the nice guy. I married a nice guy, and I've dated handsome, make-my-insides-quiver guys. Woman may think they want that, but in the end...someone who makes you laugh, who gets your sense of humor, who supports you in everything you do, and sincerely thinks you're beautiful even when you've come in from the rain; that's the kind of guy you want.
Fluke should be happy...I'm getting fired up about this!

27. Killshot, Elmore Leonard
This is my second go-round with Leonard. I have to say, I'm not impressed. The stories bored me. They're populated with convicts, and I'm not enjoying the visit. And when I finally get to the end...I feel nothing. Ok, I feel like I've just wasted my time.
Big let-down for me; I expected greater things.

26. A History of Violence, John Wagner
I'll say this much; Cronenberg most certainly 'adapted' the movie script, and didn't copy it page by page. Knowing what I do of the upcoming film...and having read the book? I'm pretty happy the movie version is different!
Violence, indeed. And as 'graphic novels' go, this one was pretty short on dialogue.
It was ok. I think I'll like the movie more, but then again...the movie has Viggo Mortensen!

25. R is for Ricochet, Sue Grafton
Dependable Grafton. I've missed Kinsey Millhone, her octogenarian landlord Henry, and her non-existent love life. I've missed the at-times longwinded descriptions of California scenery.
Grafton's mysteries don't usually contain a lot of action, which is fine with me. I prefer a thinking story to one with lots of bullets flying.
This one was very slow-paced, and I enjoyed it. Enough to go ahead and pre-order 'S is for Silence', not due till December!

24. S is for Silence, Sue Grafton
When I ordered this, I read a lot of complaints, saying Grafton was losing her touch, the stories weren't as good. But I felt this one, as well as 'R', were well-told stories. I got caught up, and again stayed up too late to finish. Was it her best? Who knows. I try not to judge too harshly. I mean, Grafton's already cranked out a book for almost the entire alphabet...cut her some slack already.

23. The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett
Oooh, I like this. Very close to the movie, which is also quite excellent. The whole time I'm reading, I'm hearing Powell and Loy's voices in my head. The book, for obvious reasons, is a bit raunchier than the film...the book and movie came out in 1934, and the censors at the studios were much stricter than most editors. Fast-talking, gin-swigging, tough, yet kind. Fantastic.

22. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax: A Novel, Liz Jensen
Excellent book! Another finish-in-a-day read. I told Matt he had to read it, as well. An accident-prone boy is found drowned in a ravine, his father missing and his mother says the father pushed him in. The boy 'wakes from the dead', making every one edgy. A doctor who specializes in treating coma patients tries to unlock the secrets of the boy's mind...discovering more than any of them anticipated.

21. The Good German: A Novel, Joseph Kanon
This book is being made into a film starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Just reading the first chapter, I completely got it. Clooney will be perfect as a war correspondent, returning to Berlin at the time of the Potsdam conference, who's also searching for his former lover, Lena. While filing stories and searching for her, Jake (Clooney's character), discovers the body of an American soldier, shot dead, floating in the Russian zone. Secret deals, the black market, and reparations follow.
Not quite 500 pages...I again forced myself to stay up to finish this. Fantastic. Little snatches of history our high school teachers didn't share with us. Engaging story, without coming out entirely in favor of any side. Again, highly recommend this one.

20. Houston, We Have a Problem, Erin McCarthy
Chick lit...I don't know. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. Set in a hospital, where the 'curvy' intern turns into a butterfingers every time the hot doc is around. They sleep together, and then there's a mess (the moral I took: no one-timers). It was just...eh. And I'm noticing that in these books, just like 'romance' novels, the people just seem to have the most amazing sex in all of history. The guy has amazing stamina, she's 'off' at a touch. I'm thinking...you lost me here.
Anyway; it was ok. I wasn't bowled over by the writer, or her style, so I don't think I'll be getting other books penned by her. It was just...a book. With lots of sex...

19. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer (in progress)
Wow. This one is some seriously heavy reading. Big book, relatively small type, and heavy subject matter. And as much as I want to read it, I can't always bring myself to pick it back up. I mean, I know I'm eventually going to get to the concentration camps, and experiments on Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals. I've seen Schindler's List, and that was a tame representation (I spent a summer in middle school reading a series of books about the major characters in Hitler's regime, and the many, many horrible things they did. I know what I'm talking about). So, I want to finish it; I really do. I just need to be in the right frame of mind, first.

18.. Detective Fiction and the Rise of Forensic Science, Ronald R. Thomas

17. The Egyptologist: A Novel, Arthur Phillips

16. Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, Aaron Lansky

15. Where the Truth Lies: A Novel, Rupert Holmes

14. Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Private Lives: Three Plays by Noel Coward (in the queue)

13. The Big Over Easy, Jasper Fforde (pre-ordered)

12. Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies, Laura Esquivel

11. Three Plays: Once in a Lifetime/You Can't Take It With You/the Man Who Came to Dinner,
George Kaufman (in the queue)

10. The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume II, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

9. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, Elizabeth David (in progress)

8. Trio for Blunt Instruments, Rex Stout

7. Three for the Chair, Rex Stout

6. Must Love Dogs, Claire Cook

5. Just Desserts (A Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries), Mary Daheim








Idle Chatter:
I feel pretty lucky that I'm able to spend my weekends lounging around reading books.
 
Yeah, those days are long gone for me. If I'm not watching Alex, then there's laundry, or shopping, or puppy paw prints to Swiffer off the floors, or the dilema of 'what's for dinner?'.

I miss my school years simply for the summers...I did little except read back then.

Enjoy every single minute!
 
Hi Stephanie,
this is gaia, thank you very much for the commento you left on my page! I love talking with any other who likes cooking and baking and having fun with all sort of food!
I started writing on the blog just a month ago, so it's a very short time, but it's funny and it gives me the opportunity to show some of the pics i usually take every time i make a cake or something like that!
Is yuour husband italian?
Anyway if you any question, just ask and i'll be glad to write back as soon as i can!
I know my english is not so good, but i'm going back to london to improve it, in a month!
hope to hear from you again!
hugs,kisses&cookies
gaia
 
I believe I actually own Q is for Quarry, but I've never read it. (The book clubs see me coming a mile away...they know I'll forget to respond and then I'll forget to return the books and eventually I'll pay for them.)

Anyway, now that I've rid myself of Kavalier and Clay maybe I'll replace it with Q.

My boss is obsessed with the old Perry Mason episodes on the Hallmark Channel. He is so exicted that they've started over and the episodes on now are actually based on the books.
 
I've only read one on the list of yours - Like Water for Chocolate. I enjoyed it. Very fantastical. Is that a word?

Good luck with the reading! I had to take back my books to the library because I didn't have time to read them.
 
WOW, Amazing Book Reader you are! And to have time to be a Mommy too! BLESS YOU! Happy Easter from Florida! ~*~Psalms 91:11 ~*~
 
Lots of good mysteries in there. Cool deal!

If you like mysteries, give Elizabeth George a try. I love her stuff.
 
Michael; I have always been a fan of mysteries, thanks for the author tip. I'll definitely give her a look.

I see you're a UT fan; my FIL is now retiring from the university...he was Dean, and all kinds of other things. If we cared even a little, we could get great tickets to all the games. But, the hubby's not a sports fan, and I root for Penn State.
 
mmmmmmmm books, Hat Full of Sky is an excellent read. I'm still happily working through my pile of Christmas and birthday books -- good luck on your pile!
 
Laura, I just, a few minutes ago, finished Hat Full of Sky! It was good, and now I'm going to have to get all the others...

I do enjoy finding time to read, although I'm afraid I'm neglecting more 'exciting' things, like laundry and dusting, to do it!
 
Do people actually DUST these days? (yikes!)

25 is a very respectable goal! Halfway there!

I am at 21 for my goal. End of June. Not where I wanted to be. Oh welkl. 21 fiction books, 38 total. (I have always been a reader of non-fiction, there is no challenge for me there!)

And I have 8 other books started but not finished, yes 8!

My stickler is pages. I heard Sandra Day O Conner tell Tim Russert that she reads over 1000 pages a day. I wwant to be like her, only I shooting for 100. Which I PROBABLY do, counting magazines and newspapers etc...but books wise? I am only at 66 per day...
 
Well, I'm not saying I'm consistent, but yes...I dust!
 
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