Saturday, August 30, 2014

Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long-Short and more shallow than what I was looking for in a devotional

I've heard lots of good things about Beth Moore so maybe this just wasn't a good first introduction to her. I was looking for a daily devotional but the thoughts in this one were just too short and shallow for me to really enjoy. Obviously I didn't need to read a whole year's worth to know this wasn't what I was looking for but I tried it for a full month. I'll try one of her books that is a real study rather than just daily thoughts before I really decide what I think of her as an author.

More about Beth Moore

  • Would I pay money for it? No
  • Would I read more by this author? I will definitely be trying one of her regular studies
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? probably not
Purchased as a Kindle freebie January 3, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Murder on the High Seas-Interesting little novella with some glaring flaws

Murder on the High Seas by Sara M. Barton

Murder on the High Seas is too short to be called a novel, the term “novella” suits it much better. It is a very quick read, under an hour for me.  It isn’t a ‘whodunit’ kind of mystery, there’s no murder to solve.  The title really isn’t representative of the story.  

There were things that I liked.  I did enjoy the main character being a caregiver because that is something I can relate to.  My mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s lives with us so I could really sympathize  with needing time to be free of responsibility and I think that was represented well.  The character was likeable and sensible most of the time.  The atmosphere aboard the ship felt real and that’s important to me.

There were things I didn’t like.  The story was so short that the relationships didn’t have time to develop naturally.  They felt rushed.  The main character seems to like or dislike people almost instantly which left very shallow at times.  She becomes rude with one character after a very brief acquaintance and one that I did not feel justified that rudeness.  Several of the characters were so stereotypical as to almost be caricatures. 

It felt like the first draft of a story that should have been expanded and filled out.  Given time for proper depth and proper character development, it could be quite interesting but in it’s current form, it’s just too short for the story it wants to tell.

  • Would I pay money for it? No
  • Would I read more by this author?  I'd give her another try, yes 
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? probably not
Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 22, 2013


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Murder of Katie Boyle-A fun short story with two likeable heroines

The Murder of Katie Boyle

I’ve become a fan of Libby Fischer Hellman over the last year or so and I’ve read a book in each of her Georgia Davis and Ellie Foreman series.  This short story, which is also published in “Nice Girl Does Noir” has both of her heroines.  When Ellie finds a dead body, Georgia is one of the cops on the case.  I really love when a writer has their literary worlds overlap.  I often wonder why more writers don’t do it.  To me, it grounds the stories and makes them seem more realistic.  

Ellie arrives early at her exercise class and has the unpleasant discovery of a dead body.  Georgia’s boyfriend, a detective is having a meal nearby with Georgia, not yet a detective, and brings her along to the scene of the crime.  It’s definitely not best-friends-at-first-sight for Ellie and Georgia.  The POV moves back and forth between the two so you have plenty of insight into what’s happening.  When Georgia makes a crucial discovery, the case is blown wide open.

This is a short story, you’ll probably have it read in 20 minutes or so.  But if you are a fan of Georgia Davis or Ellie Foreman it’s fun to see them when Georgia was a still a cop and Ellie was just learning how to be a single mom.  As with Libby Fischer Hellman’s other writings, you have a well-written compelling story with sympathetic heroines.

  • Would I pay money for it?  I'd probably buy "Good Girl Does Noir" rather than this stand-alone
  • Would I read more by this author?  yes 
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? yes
Purchased as a Kindle freebie July 8, 2013

Rusty Nail-A graphically violent Jack Daniels

Rusty Nail by J.A. KonrathGRAPHIC VIOLENCE WARNING. Ok, you have been warned.  I was warned by the author (thanks Mr. Konrath, I really do appreciate it!) that this book has the most graphic violence in the series.  Having been warned, I was able to blip over sections where that violence occurred.  It was pretty easy to see them coming.  So why would I even read a book with stuff I don’t like in it?  Well, I really wanted to know what happens to Jack.  I was starting to get fairly invested in her after the first two books,  Whiskey Sour and Bloody Mary, and having been told that the violence decreases after this book, I wanted to keep up with her storyline.  

The first book involved Jack’s investigation into the Gingerbread Man.  He pops up again here and let me say that he is not someone you want to deal with more than once.  Jack is once more being personally targeted by a serial killer.  Her partner is having to deal with some health issues, her mom’s in a coma, her ex-boyfriend has a new girlfriend, life is not fun. 

As with the first two, there are excellent descriptions of police work.  I like hearing about some of the nitty-gritty of an investigation, the leg-work involved.  I don’t like cases being solved purely by intuition or a sudden revelation.  We see plenty of good detective skills here.  As with the first two, there is plenty of humor.  Great one-liners, good relationships between the characters.  Jack and her partner have a real warmth to their relationship that I enjoy.  For all the things that are wrong in her life, Jack has a great group of people that like and help her.   

Bottom line-if you don’t want the violence, avoid this book.  If you can jump over it and are interested in following Jack’s story, you’ll find this quite satisfying.  

  • Would I pay money for it?  Maybe not this particular one because I skipped some parts but yes, the others in the serious I would
  • Would I read more by this author?  yes 
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? Not this particular one but I would recommend the others in the series to friends that like police procedurals
Purchased as a Kindle freebie March 30, 2013

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Man Jeeves-Simply ripping!

My Man Jeeves by P.G. WodehouseHugh Laurie states the case admirably "The first thing you should know, and probably the last, too, is that PG Wodehouse is still the funniest writer ever to have put words on paper."  I couldn't agree more.

"I'm not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it's Shakespeare-or, if not, it's some equally brainy lad-who says that it's always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole and more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping..  There's no doubt the man's right." And so is our first introduction to Bertie Wooster.

Bertie Wooster seems destined to always have Fate sneaking up behind him with a lead pipe.  If anything can go wrong for him, it will. Overbearing relatives, friends that need rescuing, ties that don't match the suit he's wearing. Enter Jeeves, his gentleman's gentleman.  Calm, cool, and collected,  Jeeves is always able to get Bertie and his friends out of whatever scrape they have gotten into. And he's always able to make sure that Bertie is properly attired while doing it. Comis genius is the only description of what goes on in a Jeeves story.

This book, Wodehouse's earliest writings about Jeeves, is a set of short stories, several of them about Reggie Pepper, rather than Bertie.  The two characters are almost interchangeable except for the absence of Jeeves in the Pepper stories. Some of these stories were rewritten for later Jeeves books.

If you've never read P.G. Wodhouse before, his writing is almost hard to describe.  He's quintessentially British.  He's hilarious and there is plenty of slapstick humour but there is also lots of dry humour.  His vocabulary is different than anyone else I've ever read. His use of the slang of the time and his depiction of the idle upper class and the aristocracy before WWII are just fun! He's one of the five authors who's works I would take to a desert island with me. 

Some Wodehouse sites
Plumtopia (Plum was Wodehouse's nickname)
A celebration of P.G. Wodehouse
The Wodehouse Society
PG Wodehouse books-A site with some really excellent articles about Wodehouse

  • Would I pay money for it?  Absolutely. I have bought many Wodehouse books.
  • Would I read more by this author?  yes 
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? I've been recommending him to everyone I know for years
Purchased as a Kindle freebie December 29, 2012 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Boddy in the Snowbank-An entertaining little story

The Boddy in the Snowbank by Jenna Bennett
This publication shows how the changes in the publishing industry can promote new ways of telling stories and new ways for authors to get their work out to the public. This is a short story, 6 pages long, that began as a blog post from the 7criminalminds blog where they gave a writing prompt and different authors used it to create a short story. It's apparently always a freebie which would make sense at that length.  It is obviously a very quick read at 6 pages.  

The prompt was "The Clue characters are locked in a winter lodge. Mr. Boddy is found dead in a snowdrift with no visible signs of trauma. Who did it and how do you prove it using just the things in the lodge?” I don't know if the other blog posts were published for Kindle but if they were, I would read them.

I'm a huge fan of the game "Clue" so the characters were quite familiar to me but in a story as short as this there's no way to really develop them or give much backstory.  I found it an entertaining little read, reminiscent of the 1985 movie.

  • Would I pay money for it?  No, too short
  • Would I read more by this author?  yes 
  • Would I recommend this to a friend?  If they like to read short stories, which some people don't

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Jane Eyre-The ultimate Gothic romance

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
When I was a kid, probably late elementary or early junior high, my mom introduced me to the old movie version of this book that had Elizabeth Taylor in it.  It was a haunting movie and I was thrilled a few years later, early high school, to find the book and read it.  Needless to say, the book contains so much that the movie left out, whole storylines in fact, but it is equally haunting and quickly became one of my favorite books.

Most people know the basic story line, poor mistreated orphan makes good, but that is a very simplistic way to summarize this novel. The dark, heavy, brooding atmosphere is so perfectly done that this is the ultimate gothic romance for me.  I hope there were never real adults of such  evilness and cruelty as the adults in young Jane's life.  I felt every unkindness and petty cruelty with her.  It's still difficult sometimes to read through the opening chapters. The deep mystery of Thornfield Hall drew me in completely.  You feel every shadow of that huge stone mansion.  The characters were real and have stuck with me as if they were people I have met somewhere along the way in life. The book feels intensely personal. 

Other books have used similar story lines to Jane Eyre but none have done them as successfully.   This is the epitome of gothic romance and gothic horror to me. Unlike some books proclaimed to be a classic, it is very easy to see why this one is.

This book is one of my most highly recommended ever.  And that goes for the 1943 movie version of it also!

More about Charlotte Brontë 

If you're studying this book in school, here are some helpful notes.  Sparknotes on Jane Eyre

Would I pay money for it? I have paid for print versions in the past

Would I read more by this author? absolutely
Would I recommend this to a friend? I recommend it to everyone I know who reads and I have been recommending it since I first read it years ago
Purchased as a Kindle freebie December 28, 2012