Sunday, December 12, 2010

catching up

It looks like I didn't post anything I read in 2010. The next few posts are the things hanging around in draft for since the end of 2009, then I'll get cracking on what I can remember from 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

27. Revelations

Revelations (A Blue Bloods novel), by Melissa de la Cruz

I've reviewed the first two Blue Bloods books here, but this time, I actually bought a copy instead of picking up a galley at a conference. I was shopping for groceries, and bought this on impulse. I tend to like to stick with a series once I've started it.

Schuyler Van Allen is kind of a cross between Harry Potter and Serena Van Der Woodsen. She's gorgeous and talented, but a poor relation from a once-powerful supernatural family. In this installment, Schuyler is still in love with Jack Force, but he's still creepily promised to his evil sister, Mimi. The soulmate twins thing really and truly gives me a the creeps. The silver bloods are still sneaking around trying to kill off the blue bloods, and nothing else much has changed. There are some confusing fight scenes and some drama as several people come under suspicion of being a silver blood, but still, the characters all seem to be in the same places as before. Mimi is obviously a bad seed, but she's cleared of being truly, truly a baddie. The Leviathan under the Christ statue in Brazil seemed to come from out of nowhere, but maybe we'll get some of this cleared up later. Ah, well. It's entertaining while I'm reading it, but then pretty much forgotten.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

26. True Blue

True Blue, by Luanne Rice 2002)

Another pick from Mom's guest room, True Blue seems like a typical romance novel. The story is about Rumer, a vet who lives in a tiny Connecticut town. Her one true love Zeb, dropped her for her older sister Elizabeth. Years later, Zeb returns, divorced and trying to connect with his son and, not coincidentally, his son's aunt Rumer. You all know what happpens next.

23-25 Tea Shop Mysteries

This winter break, I picked up more of Mom's books, this time the tea shop series. The heroine of this series is Theodosia Browning, who owns the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston. Theo is a little different from Carmela, the scrapbook protagonist. She's a never-married thirty-five-year-old with no living family. She comes off as a lot older than her age, is kind of buttoned-up, and has a seemingly chaste relationship with her boyfriend Jory Davis, who for some reason, is almost always referred to by his full name.

The language in these books is a bit flowery and the characters seem kind of old-fashioned. If there weren't references to text messages and email, I'd think they were set in the seventies or eighties. They're nice reads, though, and the characters are likeable, if kind of simple and unbelievably talented at whatever they do (except detecting). The descriptions of the teas and foods are great, and probably contributing to me overdoing it on baked goods this winter.

One big gripe I have is that Theo is a such a terrible investigator. She's always lying and hiding evidence from the police and totally misreading every clue she comes upon. If she was a bumbling amateur working with Tidwell, instead of at cross-purposes with him, I'd probably like the books better.

23. Shades of Earl Grey, by Laura Childs (2003)

During an engagement party for a well-to-do Charleston woman, niece of one of Theo's frenemies, at the Heritage Society's house, the greenhouse roof caves in, killing the groom-to-be. The heirloom engagement ring is missing, and doesn't turn up in the rubble. Theodosia decides to nose around and root out the killer, despite grumpy Detective Tidwell's warnings not to get involved. Soon, Theo realizes there's a cat burgler on the loose in Charleston, and the plot thickens!

24. Gunpowder Green, by Laura Childs (2002)

At a yacht club regatta, Oliver Dixon is killed when an antique starting pistol explodes. When it starts to look less like an accident and more like sabotage, Theo looks around for suspects. Is it Dixon's much younger wife of a mere few weeks? Ford Cantrell, whose family has been fueding with the Dixons for generations? A business rival? Of course Theo locks horns with Tidwell in her hunt for the killer.

25. Jasmine Moon Murder, by Laura Childs (2004)

The murder hits closer to home in this installment. During a "ghost crawl" in a historic cemetary, somebody murders Jory Davis's uncle Jasper. Theo literally stumbles over a hypodermic needle, the first clue about the cause of death. Jory begs Theo to look into the murder and figure out who killed his beloved uncle. A fox hunt, a second murder, and a really implausible motive round this one out.

22. Frill Kill

Frill Kill, by Laura Childs (2008)

I'm sure I've mentioned here before that when I visit my parents' house, I stay in a guest room stocked with plenty of paperback romances and mysteries I probably wouldn't otherwise choose for myself, but that I tend to really enjoy. For the past several months, my mom has been really into the Laura Childs scrapbooking and tea shop mystery series'. When I was here in October, I chose this scrappin' story because it takes place at Halloween.

This series centers on Carmela, the owner of Memory Mine, a scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Carmela has just reunited with her cheating scoundrel of a husband when she finds his uncle murdered. Of course, the amateur sleuth gets in the middle of the investigation and decides to ferret out the murderer. As in many mysteries aimed at women, Carmela's best friend Ava is the requisite gorgeous, sassy sidekick, and Carmela herself is beautiful and fashionable. The mystery itself is pretty typical, but the writing and characters were entertaining enough to make me decide Laura Childs' books are a good way to spend a few hours when I'm here with family.

Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories, by Cecilia Ahern

Sometimes I pick up really interesting stuff at conferences. This one is a bittersweet story about two people who start to share each others' memories. I thought it was going to be kind of lightweight, but it really stuck with me and wasn't as chicklit-ish as the pink cover led me to believe--not that I have a problem with chicklit if it's good. Anyway, I remember not being able to put this down until I finished it.

The story is set in Ireland. There are two main characters, Joyce, who has recently had a miscarriage and had to have a blood transfusion, and Justin, who donated the blood Joyce received. It doesn't take long before they start running into each other all over town and taking one each others' thoughts and some characteristics. It's not realistic, but it's believable in the universe of the story. I can't ask more than to be completely entertained by a book, and this one did that for me.

21. Sophomore Undercover

Sophomore Undercover, by Ben Esch

When I was headed for Casper over Thanksgiving break, I hurriedly grabbed a couple of unread galleys from the pile, and this was one of them. The story follows Dixie Nguyen, a Vietnamese orphan adopted by a college professor who ended up dying in a car wreck. so he ended up being taken in by a different family that doesn't understand him. Dixie, the titular sophomore sleuth, is the sole reporter for the school newspaper.

The story Dixie's trying to uncover is a student athlete doping scandal, though his newspaper adviser has ordered him to drop it and cover homecoming instead. I had a hard time getting though the book because Dixie is an almost-impossibly naive and clueless kid who reads every situation incorrectly and unfailingly says exactly the thing that will get his ass kicked by the jocks who love to torment him. All in all, the hijinx are wacky, the comedy crude, and the situations completely implausible. Not my thing, but it might well appeal to its target audience of teen boys.