about : me : contact : I read : others read : Reviews of books

r e a d i n g r o o m

what I'm reading now

what others are reading

what I read in:
1996 :
1998 : 1999
2000 : 2001
2002 : 2003
2004 : 2005

2006 :


jan : feb : mar apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
: nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

jan : feb : mar
apr : may : jun
jul : aug : sep
oct : nov : dec

may : jun : jul
aug : sep : oct
nov : dec

Tuesday, August 28, 2001
academic mysteries

I stayed up entirely too late last night to finish Joanne Dobson's Northbury Papers. It was really quite good. I do believe I shall read all in the series, apparently I began with the third and most recent title. Her characters were well-constructed, the plot was tight, interesting, and believable.... somewhat. However, it was lovely to peek inside academia, for you certainly learn her perspective as a member of the English faculty. Most interesting is that the protagonist/heroine Karen Pelletier ascended her academic throne despite having a child at 19 and coming from a working-class background. She's fiesty, she's brilliant, she knows her stuff, and has a tender spot in her heart for hulkingly handsome police detectives.

I'll begin Red Dragon later this evening. The tender spot in my heart for Sir Anthony Hopkins demands that I read this prequel to Silence of the Lambs, which I haven't read either. I understand that there is a film adaptation of Red Dragon in the works, so I'd really rather read it instead of relying upon Hollywood's (blech--too bad I didn't make this blink!) interpretation.

Monday, August 27, 2001
periodical reading

Have wanted to read A reader's manifesto by B.R. Myers for a few weeks and just today found the July/August issue of The Atlantic. And here I thought it wasn't online! Well, a few jewels that you may enjoy: "At the 1999 National Book Awards ceremony Oprah Winfrey told of calling Toni Morrison to say that she had had to puzzle over many of the latter's sentences. According to Oprah, Morrison's reply was "That, my dear, is called reading." Sorry, my dear Toni, but it's actually called bad writing. Great prose isn't always easy, but it's always lucid; no one of Oprah's intelligence ever had to wonder what Joseph Conrad was trying to say in a particular sentence. This didn't stop the talk-show host from quoting her friend's words with approval. In similar fashion, an amateur reviewer on Amazon.com admitted to having had trouble with Guterson's short stories: "The fault is largely mine. I had been reading so many escape novels that I wasn't in shape to contend with stories full of real thought written in challenging style." And then this was a nice goodie as well: Many readers wrestle with only one bad book before concluding that they are too dumb to enjoy anything "challenging." Their first foray into literature shouldn't have to end, for lack of better advice, on the third page of something like Underworld. At the very least, the critics could start toning down their hyperbole. How better to ensure that Faulkner and Melville remain unread by the young than to invoke their names in praise of some new bore every week? How better to discourage clear and honest self-expression than to call Annie Proulx—as Carolyn See did in The Washington Post—"the best prose stylist working in English now, bar none"?

Saturday, August 25, 2001
mysteries galore

Death's autograph by Marianne MacDonald was okay for a British mystery. I normally don't like to read books in any genre that are written by the English. There's a quality to their writing that I just cannot appreciate. It's too dry or something.

So I didn't read Bridget Jones' Diary (although I did try it and found the recounting of poundage and number of cigarettes smoked too neurotic for my taste), nor have I read any of those Harry Potter books. Plus, Death's autograph took place in an antiquarian bookshop, is there any better place? Ah, perhaps a library you say? Well, it was entertaining, a quick read and all, not terribly fluffy since I really don't care for cozies at all.

Next, I read First kill all the lawyers, wherein the spunky southern heroine is an investigative news reporter...ew, I just noticed that it's considered a Cozy. The dread cozy. Well, I suppose that it is, because it wasn't hard-boiled, yet it didn't have a recipe included, nor was the mystery solved by the heroine's ___________(insert cuddly creature here) or some other such nonsense.

Then I read Flower master by Sujata Massey. I'm not a Japonophile, but learning about Japanese culture and ettiquette was quite interesting, especially since there was an ikebana emphasis. The writing was clear, and everything was interesting, the story progressed well, yet it lacked the wacky, zany, irrereverant character idiosyncracies that I've come to love and expect from the books I read.

And, I started but have not completed Murder shoots the bull: a southern sisters mystery by Anne George. It's well-written, with nicely developed characters (they're in their sixties), and nice observations of Birmingham, AL, but I'm not sure that I'm planning on reading every book in the series. Once I finish the last 30-something pages, who knows what I'll read next. Oh, I'm sure one of the many library books that I have checked out. It's a compulsion, I freely admit it...I'm addicted to libraries and books especially. It's a good thing that I work in one, otherwise I might just go crazy...nah!

Friday, August 24, 2001
trees growing in Brooklyn...

What a sad book, all 420 pages of it! The worst part is how evil the librarian was. Oh, well evil is a pretty strong word, but what a nasty person, jeez! Well, I think of all the millions of people who read the book and they're left with such a cold, uncaring, impatient characterization of librairanship. It's a wonder folks went to libraries. But, then again some people who read are more comfortable with books than with humans, so they may not require any warmth or interaction. Children do though. And it was really sad too how other children were mean to her because she was poor and her father was an alcoholic singing waiter. It's certainly one of those American Dream books....work hard and you too can succeed. And I think that was true at one time in the US, but not now. I learned this about the author at the Harper Collins site: Betty Smith was born on December 15, 1896. The daughter of German immigrants, she grew up poor in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. After stints writing features for newspapers, reading plays for the Federal Theater Project, and acting in summer stock, Smith moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina under the auspices of the W.P.A. While there in 1943, she published A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, her first novel. Smith's other novels include Tomorrow Will be Better (1947), Maggie-Now (1958) and Joy in the Morning (1963). She also had a long career as a dramatist, writing one-act and full-length plays for which she received both the Rockefeller Fellowship and the Dramatist Guild Fellowship. She died in 1972.

Thursday, August 23, 2001
bookstore correspondance & living the feminist life

Read 84, Charing Cross Road quickly, afterall it is a thin book. Didn't realize it was made into a play and then a movie. But I had not read it, and for some reason I kept coming across it on lists of books one must read.

Also read Not one of the boys by Brenda Feigen. It was not the best memoir I've ever read. For one thing, she didn't mention a thing at all about her childhood. The memoir began with her admission to Harvard Law School. Another problem with the book is that is it so disjointed. The chapters are not at all chronological and that makes her story confusing as well. And, sad to say, not everyone shoudl write a memoir. I really thought it stank. At times she really didn't have a thing to say about her life, but she makes comments on political events, and uses excerpts from other feminists' books to make her points. She does sort of a "state-of-the-art" on feminism but it really doesn't relate to her specifically because she's been out of the loop so long. And, she did't really go into her sexual orientation in great depth, which would have made the memoir more interesting.

I've read a few chapters in A tree grows in Brooklyn which I also find on lots of lists of books to read. So far the little girl loves the library, checks out a book every day and 2 on Saturday. She loves the smell of the library, including library paste! Dare I recall that odor? It's vague, but not much in use in today's libraries. Apparently this was also made into a movie as well. And, the

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
oh to live a life of crime

I think that Fleur de Leigh's life of crime was supposed to be funny. And, well, it was. There weren't any glaring deficiencies in Diane Leslie's first novel. The main character, Fleur is the child of two Hollywood nasties. The novel documents how sad her life was, but in a most perky manner. I suppose it's a black comedy, and perhaps it is supposed to be lighthearted, but honestly, it was one of the saddest books I've read in a long time. Her parents are wretches, she's ignored all the time and depends upon the kindness of zany nannies who move in and out of her life. And, I'm caught between books. Haven't decided what to read just yet.

Sunday, August 19, 2001
weekend round-up

Back to Nice girls finish last, for a brief moment. I was struck by a sentence on page 25: "...where viewers were less likely to notice if he confused Liberian rebels with librarian rebels." It's wonderful that others have noticed the remarkable similarity between Liberia and Library. Of course, at our favorite place of work, we have a saying that, At least it's better than Liberia.

I did finish Gibbon's decline & fall; it was most excellent, one of the best books I've read all year. And, I regret that the link in my previous mention of the book gave it a rather negative review, calling it much to feminist. Whatta shock! My, my, my. It was really great until the end, when it got kinda freaky (not that kind of freaky though). And, the end was rather ambiguious, so I didn't especially appreciate that as a plot device, although it probably was pretty durned effective.

Then, I indulged in a bit of fun with Jennifer Crusie's Manhunting. Not one of her better one's, mind you, but still above average writing in the romance genre.

I tried a Tami Hoag novel, Dust to dust. It was well-written, with good characters. I especially liked her Nikki Liski, her sense of humor is quite good. The plot was twisted enough to confuse me a bit, but I figuered out 80% of the ending before it happened. I might read another one sometime.

Oh, then I read Miracle strip by Nancy Bartholomew. I'll definately read ther rest of the series. They're brilliantly funny, a fabulous heroine with a great right hook who's also an exotic dancer in Panama City, Florida. Yeah, I know, couldn't quite help but read ANOTHER of those wacky books that takes place in Florida. What is it about the place? And I picked up one of Bartholomew's other wisecrackin' (I hope) mysteries...can't recall the title, but the protagonist is a country western singer. Likely another fabulous heroine with great wit, wisdom, etc. And, there's more (just one though!)....

Discovered another great writer, Katy Munger. I read Legwork, goody, her first. I really wasn't sure if I started reading far into the series becase she refers back to things in her past a lot, like other writers do just in case one begins their series in the middle. It must ohave beena Carolina weekend because both Munger and Bartholomew live in the northern state (Munger in Raleigh, Bartholomew in Greensboro--my alma mater--ahem!). Hmmm, I wonder if North Carolina has festival of books? I may read a few chapters in something else this evening before bedtime. All in all, I've been pretty pleased with my reading this weekend.

Friday, August 17, 2001
on with the show...

Ok so the plot of Letting loose was pretty predictable. I guessed it, wound up being correct, and now wonder why I even bothered reading the durned thing. Oh, but the great thing about the book is that the heroine has moved from Mass. to some fictional "Paradise Island" on Florida's Gulf Coast to open a bookstore. That was the part that made it so promising and appealling, but alas there wasn't much abou the bookstore in the book. I assumed she opened it, the book ended with the typical wedding on the beach at sunset...blah!

I did read A darkness more than night by Michael Connelly. I read one of his books a few years ago...Blood work, which I recall as being entertaining. And for some reason Void moon sticks out in my head, though I don't think that I read it. Well, after consulting my reading log of six years, I actually did read Void moon last year. Believe it or not. But they are entertaining, well-written, and probably good airplane books. The plots are better than average, but not with the twists and turns that I'm used to ala Jeff Deaver. Btw, don't you think it's interesting that almost every author has their own website? Wow, if I didn't write this stuff down, there's no way I would have remembered that! My memory is already shot at such a young age.

I read the first two chapters of Sheri Tepper's Gibbon's decline & fall. It promises to be really great. My goal is to read all of her books, though I'm ceratinly not going about it chronologically. Already it's pretty pro-feminist, what I always like in a good read. I'm sure to complete it tonight and then I have oodles of books to move on to.

I joined the Mystery Guild Book Club about 2 weeks ago and read one of those books already, so I've got at least six more to go through. Plus the 3 mm paperbacks from the dread amazon.com. Actually I'd rather purchase books from Powell's, but they're just so SLOW about getting the books out. Amazon is really quick, which is probably the best thing I can say about them.

Thursday, August 16, 2001
letting loose? uhm, er...as a goose?

Well I've picked a ....where's the word?...book to read, that's for sure. Letting loose is really not my cup of tea....it's more like liptons (i prefer tetley or even better, celestial seasonings), or some of that horrid instant mix with water tea. Oh the book is not terribly bad, but I'm bored with it. It has potential, some of the characters could be more quirky, after all, it is one of those would-be humorous books set in Florida, you're familiar with the genre, right? I guess I decided to read it because it was likened to Jennifer Crusie's novels. I'll be glad when I'm done with it. I'm already 2/3 of the way through with it, so I really have some time invested in it. I did finish Beauty last night, and parts of it were really well done, but then there were sections that just dragged along. It was tedious, odious, terribly painful to digest. I must say that Beauty is not my favorite Tepper book. But I have plenty of books at home to read, I can't wait to read something GOOD, for a change!

Wednesday, August 15, 2001
sparkle, beauty, et al

Although I really try not to patronize amazon.com (for many reasons), a sweet, thoughtful friend sent me a $25 gift certificate for one of those _0 birthdays. I indulged by purchasing a few mass market paperbacks one of which I read last night. Sparkle Hayter is such a great writer. I've read most of her books, and finished Nice girls finish last, last night. And, I've got Revenge of the cootie girls checked out so I can read it later this week as well. The main character throughtout the series is Robin Hudson, girl (ah, she's a woman, really!) television news reporter.Witty, clever, good humor, they're really fabulous and I would highly recommend them to almost anyone.

Then I began Beauty (another Beauty link), by one of my favorite authors, Sheri Tepper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Had lots of time to read over the weekend since I've had a malingering illness. Upper respiratory plus allergies, yech! Finished Blue diary...it was good, but it didn't end exactly the way I expected, which was good, I get tired of authors using the same old plot formulae. Read Jemima J by Jane Green. It was entertaining, but eh, not the most thrilling thing I've read. The writing was ok. The characters were ok. Not exactly stand out, but it had a good message.....if you can believe that. It was fun though, and easy to read.

Then, I read Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard. His 29th book, eh!? The first I've read of his books, it was okay, but nothing particularly special as far as I'm concerned. Dont' get me wrong, I've read worse things, but this wasn't a real stand out.

Anyone but you is one of Jennifer Crusie's books. Surprisingly it was a Harlequin romance type book, very thin and all and quick to read, but I read it because I enjoy Crusie so much. Eh, it was okay, but not as great as her other books. I doubt she had the time to really draw her characters and go into great detail.

I tried a Nora Roberts book, too. Carolina moon was ok. Not terribly bad. It kept my interest, and the characters were well-rounded. I don't know that I would read another of her books, but it was a nice departure from what I normally read.

And then, a good old mystery to round things out, Fourth wall by Beth Saulnier. Apparently the third in a series, great newpaper reporter takes on mysteries, the mob, etc. I may try to read her other two books in the series. So now, what to read, what to read?

Oh, I did look at the list of confirmed authors for the Southern Festival of Books this morning. Of course several great authors will be there but I'd really like to see Marly Youmans.

Friday, August 10, 2001
on to the weekend

I didn't finish Blue diary last night, I decided to catch up on my sleep instead. So I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, and it seems promising so far. I certainly want to keep reading. I looked through my list of books that I've read in the past years and realized that I read Hoffman's Local girls. I completely forgot about that. Well, honestly I really would not receall the books I read if I did not keep a list. I read far too many of them to remember each and every one. Will probably start reading Margaret Bourke-White's biography, Margaret Bourke-White: A biography, this weekend. I'm writing an entry for the Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences on her and need to get on the ball for this project.

Thursday, August 09, 2001
oh oh, blue diary!

So I finished Blackberry wine early this morning and it was not disappointing, although I did feel like Harris wrapped things up pretty quickly at the end. Like jackrabbit quick. Oh, and she did do that thing...I have no clue what it's really called....that literary device of sorts wherein the chapters alternate eras. For example, one chapter takes place when Joe was an adolescent and the next would happen in 1999. Sometimes that works, but more often than not, it just annoys me. It began to grate on my nerves after a while.

I'll start Alice Hoffman's new book Blue diary while I get my hair done this afternoon. I've read a few of her books, but she's not my favorite author just yet. I enjoy her stories, though I wish they were meatier, or something. Can't quite put my finger on that just yet. I thought River King was a bit dark, but I do like her use of the mystical/magical. And I did read ......um........ the one that became a movie.....Practical Magic. But Turtle moon was my Alice Hoffman initiation, just so you know.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001
we will read no books before their time...

Finished Word freak, and it was pretty well-written. The author actually did address the gender issue. He devoted about 3 pages to the three top women in the game. Those women theorize that they actually have lives outside of scrabble and that's why the tournaments & top 50 are so male-dominated. Ok, so still not quite as much analysis as I would have liked. And, actually what annoyed me a lot with the guy is that he has this negative mindset about "blue-hairs", which I'm sure refers to older women, not men; he seemed very complimentary, at times awestruck by them.

I know that Joanne Harris' Blackberry wine will be great. I just read the first chapter earlier this morning. I really like her stuff even though she's part British. There's just something about the way that British authors write that I just can't appreciate. That's why I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books. But I like Harris because there's such a magical quality to her writing. I've always loved magic realism, and that's why I'm so drawn to Latin writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, and Laura Esquivel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2001
oh yeah, word freakiness

Gosh, started Power by Linda Hogan, but couldn't really get into it. It will sit on my bedside table for a few days until I feel like I can go back to it. Guess it's just too lyrical, poetic, filled with imagery, and I like a one-two punch kinda book that's pretty straightforward. But I've really enjoyed her other books Solar storms and Mean spirit. I found a Linda Hogan bibliography, too.

Also tried to read Cane river by Lalita Tademy, but just couildn't get into it, either. I don't know what's wrong with me, but my patience for books is really low right now.

Now I'm reading Word freak: heartbreak, triumph, genius, and obsession in the world of competitive Scrabble players.It's pretty engrossing, especially since I'm a Scrabble addict, myself. My only criticism of the book thus far (p.149) is that Stefan Fatsis doesn't investigate or analyze the gender inplications of the game. Only one woman, Rita Norr has ever won the national championships, and at one point in the book Fatsis says, "it's a fact of scrabble that the novice and intermediate ranks are heavy, literally and figuratively, with middle-aged women; twenty-five of my thirty-one opponents will be of th eopposite sex, maybe one under age thirty." So I'm wondering if the nature of Scrabble is more masculine, or if it's just that misogyny permeates matches, or perhaps it's just the author's projection. Although he frequently mentions all the male freaks he encounters at matches, he doesn't disparage them in the way that he does women (saying that they 'chirp' and referring to them as blue hairs).

Monday, August 06, 2001
weekend reading

Could only read to chapter 6 in the Pistol packing' mama book; it was way too dry and tedious, odious, you know what I mean. It's a shame too, I hoped it would be informative and....good. There was some extraneous narrative/information throughout A theory of relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I suppose it didn't get great reviews, but it was somewhat interesting.

Then, the fun began. I read Tell me lies by my new favorite author Jennifer Crusie.

And, I'm almost finished reading Quickening by Laura Catherine Brown. Don't know what I'll read next, but I do have more library books waiting at home.

Thursday, August 02, 2001
reading frenzy

Finished Fast food nation a few days ago and have since read Jennifer Crusie's Crazy for you, J. Deaver's Speaking in tongues (which was not his best effort, btw), Joanne Harris' Five quarters of the orange (fabulous is all i can say!) and Amy Tan's Bonesetter's daughter. Began Pistol packin' mama: Aunt Molly Jackson and the politics of folksong yesterday and am lingering at chapter 3.