Monday, December 28, 2009

Nanny Returns, by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Well done sequel to The Nanny Diaries- Nan returns to New York, and troubled Greyer X, who she nannied immediately after college is 16 now, reaches out to her when his family faces a crisis. Good but surprisingly depressing book!

The Big Steal, by Emyl Jenkins

Highly bleh antiques based cosy mystery.

English as She is Spoke, by José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino

Amazing! This has to be the one of the strangest things I've read this year. It was written in 1853, and was intended to be an English to Portugese dictionary, with useful phrases, but the tragic thing is that the authors did not speak English, and used a Portuguese to French dictionary, and then a French to English dictionary to create this astonishing little book.
I wish people would say these things to me:

That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.

Take that boy and whip him to much.

He do the devil at four.

I have trinked too much.

The rose-trees begin to button.

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President, by Josh Lieb

Ridiculously funny YA book.

Desert Wives, by Betty Webb

Another really good and disturbing mystery set amidst polygamist compounds in Utah and on the Arizona border.

Prada and Prejudice, by Mandy Hubbard

Exceptionally senseless Jane Austen-themed YA fluff, but it was fun and fast. Callie trips in her new high heels while on a trip to London, and wakes in 1815, and well, I think that's all I need to say. It was kind of charming though, and, as I said, very fast.

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

Well, I never really get why people think he's so funny, he always vaguely depresses me, and this book was no exception. Short little bittersweet or just bitter stories about the holidays.

John Currin

Excellent art book with the paintings of John Currin, my favorite contemporary artist.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Monster in the Box, by Ruth Rendell

Another great Inspector Wexford novel by Ruth Rendell, le grande dame of UK psychological suspense. So good. I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I actually cried in parts of this. I think a great deal of the strength of some of the series fiction, as opposed to stand alone titles, is that growing with a character over years and years makes them so familiar, and you have an existing emotional relationship with them. As with Martha Grimes' Richard Jury, I feel that Wexford is (ok, an imaginary) friend, and to see him so vulnerable and looking back through the years made me kind of achy. The Wexford series has been going since 1964, I think I found them in about 1997 or so, and I've read all 22, so I feel like I've seen Wexford grow up faster than I did. It's a funny feeling. Anyone who cried reading Curtain by Agatha Christie will know what I mean. (no, not that!!! Just, you know, hard to read.)

The Actor and The Housewife, by Shannon Hale

Stupid, stupid book. Mormon Utah housewife Becky (gag) sells a screenplay (without an agent, no less), goes to Hollywood, and hits it off (in a friendly way only, because, see above, Mormon, housewife, Utah) with a handsome movie star. They become best friends. It only gets more improbable and pathetic from there. This was the worst kind of schlock.

The Broken Teaglass, by Emily Arsenault

Wonderful, literate and intricate mystery. Lexicographers Mona and Billy discover a long ago murder mystery buried in the citation files where they work for America's oldest dictionary company. Aside from the unique nature of their jobs, the way the story came together in so many little pieces was great- this was very different, and very good. There was a kind of bildungsroman feel to it as well, which is so rare in a mystery.

Up the Amazon Without A Paddle, by Doug Lansky

Very funny collection of travel essays. My favorite was definitely the Jordanian Border Control story, but all were interesting and thought provoking, especially the Disney one. I'd like to read more of him. Reminded me (vaguely) of Bill Bryson and J. Maartin van Troost.

Desert Lost, by Betty Webb

Fascinating mystery. The story takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona, all too close to some of the notorious Utah polygamist compounds. Private Investigator Lena gets a little too involved in helping some sister-wives escape, and boom. The book was remarkably well written, and gave a horrifying look at what lives are like in, as the author states, America's own Taliban.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ivy and Bean Doomed to Dance, by Annie Barrows

Children's book that reminded me why I don't read more of them- or at least more recent ones. Ivy and Bean were wily, sly, manipulative, sarcastic, clever, and unpleasant. I appreciate that ballet is not for everyone (it wasn't for me) but overly demanding brats is not what I want to read about, and I can't help but think that children's books like this only add to The Problem.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson

Absolutely fantastic book, the last of the Millenium Trilogy, which breaks my heart. Lisbeth Salander, one of the most original characters I've encountered, and Mikael Blomqvist feel so real, I'd know them if I saw them walking down the street. This book had so much going on in it that it's swirling around in my head like confetti, amazing dialogue, incredible tight plot, great fight scenes, less sex than the other two books, but given the plot, which I don't want to give away a drop of, it had to be that way. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Thank you so much mom!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We'll Always Have Parrots, by Donna Andrews

Very funny Meg Lanslow mystery, this one set at a convention for fans of a fantasy show that her boyfriend, actor and drama professor Michael is on.

Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938, by R.A. Scotti

Re-read for book group, still fantastic non-fiction that reads like a thriller, still made me cry in parts. Hard to believe the devastation that happened right here in Rhode Island.

The Unseen, by Alexandra Sokoloff

Pretty damn good horror/ghost story/paranormal thriller. Psych professor Laurel moves to North Carolina to take a position at Duke, where sealed files from the Rhine paranormal study labs have just been unsealed. She gets caught up in a spiral of HORROR, etc, it was impossible to put down!

The Atlantis Code, by Charles Brokaw

Fast paced international conspiracy thriller. Well done, much snappier than The Lost Symbol.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to Sell, by Clancy Martin

Amazing first novel. Bobby Clark leaves Canada at 16 to go work with his brother at a jewelry store in Dallas, and the process by which he learns to sell (watches, jewelry, his integrity) was painful and fascinating to read. Precise details about the shadier sides of the jewelry industry read so right, it's left me feeling wary of the entire sector.