Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday is Library Day!

Ooh! I read some GOOD books this week. I'm gonna have trouble choosing which ones to talk about!


North by Northanger (Or the Shades of Pemberly) by Carrie Bebris
From the jacket: First, a letter from Lady Anne Fitzwilliam Darcy, long deceased, is discovered. The contents are both mysterious and prescient for the new Mrs. Darcy. Then, a summons to Northanger Abbey involves the young couple in intrigues that threaten not just the Darcy legacy and good name, but Darcy's freedom as well And to make matters even worse and more uncomfortable for the expectant mother, Darcy's overbearing aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, arrives on the scene to further bedevil Elizabeth.
Add to this rumors of treasure and past scandals, and it becomes obvious that peacefulness is not at home in Pemberley but secrets and spirits of the past are, and their revelations can have a most chilling effect on both the Darcys and their family to come.

If you enjoy Jane Austen, you will enjoy this book. Although it is the third in the Darcy Mysteries, I haven't read any of the others so I can't say how it compares- I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. Bebris captures Austen's characters so well, and although her writing is not as brilliant as Austen's it sparkles with wit and charm.

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs
From Publishers Weekly: Forensic scientist Tempe Brennan isn't happy: it's freezing in Montreal, her detective boyfriend is giving her the cold shoulder and her macho colleagues won't take her seriously. When Reichs's heroine is called in to examine three skeletons discovered in the basement of a pizza parlor at the start of the seventh installment in this popular series, her instincts tell her a crime was recently committed. Chauvinistic homicide detective Luc Claudel doesn't agree, but Tempe forges ahead and soon discovers that the victims are young women, probably teenagers killed sometime in the 1980s. Already feeling vulnerable because she's left her beloved daughter, Katy, back home in North Carolina, Tempe is further troubled by the indifference of formerly avid lover Andrew Ryan (another Montreal detective). Meanwhile, new developments lead Tempe and her reluctant colleagues to suspect a creepy former pawn store owner of serial kidnappings, torture and grisly murder.
What's best about Reichs, and often unappreciated in reviews, is not the informative detail that she brings to Tempe's forensic sleuthing, though that's certainly engrossing. It's the same well-observed detail and incisive analysis applied to other aspects of the story. Tempe deconstructs Ryan's every evasive gesture and casual comment and describes an ominously darkened room, the glow from a UV light and an armada of snow plows with vivid precision. Here, as previously, readers will be as invested in Tempe's life as in her case.

Kathy Reichs characters inspired the TV series 'Bones', and although the shows reflect her characters it is NOT exactly the same. When I ignore most of what I know from the TV series, I thorough enjoy these books. Don't go into them thinking they are the same- they're not. However, they are excellent mysteries, and well worth the time. I enjoy her characters and attention to detail. I care about the people in the story, even the dead ones. I love seeing Tempe figure out what's going on.
My only annoyance is the fact that in almost every book Tempe figures something out and then she has to convince the same police crew what she knows. Come on! You'd think that by seven books into the series they would give a little more credence to her intelligence and ability to figure things out!

The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C Hines
From Publishers Weekly: In this fast-paced second installment of the Princess Novels, author Hines tells the story of the Little Mermaid through the eyes of Danielle (the Cinderella character), Snow (Snow White), and Talia (Sleeping Beauty). In this version, the undine princess Lirea (the Little Mermaid), who takes on a new name-and personae, has gone on a rampage against undines and humans alike. Her insanity has led her to capturing the Queen of Lorindar's soul inside of a magic knife. The fairy tale framework provides a hook for the reader into this trio of engaging, effective adventurers taking to the high seas-without any dainty pretensions-to save their kingdom and the people they love. Although Hines attempts to incorporate the true stories about the princesses' early lives, these details fail to add much psychological depth to the characters and often come off as pasted-in distractions. Fortunately, the smooth flow of dialogue and action compensate, making this a nearly effortless read. This novel will appeal to anyone who yearns for the heroines of their childhood-or just a witty, well-constructed adventure tale about powerful women stepping up with skill and cleverness.

Magic, Mayhem, Fairy Tales, Humor, Adventure, Strong female characters...
What more could a girl ask for? I loved both of these books. Hines deconstructs fairy tales, and re-tells them with a modern twist. I disagree with the review when it states that the details seem forced or pasted-in. I didn't find them distracting or un-important. I wish I knew the characters a little better, in particular, Talia; however, I believe the details he throws in about her past.
He definitely chose the correct character to tell the story- Cinderella or Danielle, as Hines names her- is the most sympathetic one, the one you relate to the most.
I love the mermaid/undine world he creates, and felt their conflict in attempting to save the princess while still removing her from her position.

500 Necklaces: Contemporary Interpretations of a Timeless Form edited by Lark Books
From the product review: More artists make necklaces than any other form of jewelry—and these pieces are among the most exquisite ever created. Selected from over 5,000 entries, they range from unique chokers to artful collars. Some showcase precious metals and gems, while others use more unusual materials, including plastic, wood, paper, and glass. They’re forged, cast, and woven, and have surface embellishments that run the gamut from inlay to enameling. And the variety is simply astonishing: Classic bejeweled chains appear next to avant-garde felted wool constructions. Some of the eye-catching, full-color images feature enlightening quotes from the creators themselves. Jewelers, students, collectors, and anyone who loves beautiful objects will treasure this extensive collection—the largest of its kind.

I admit it... As much as I loved the last one- Earrings, I think- this one just wasn't that good... I was hoping for more practical designs- beautiful, but sellable. And most of the pieces in this book are "art pieces". They were not meant to be worn.
Here's 2 examples: one necklace made of matches with before and after pictures of it being burned, another made from rocks as large as my head.
So, while I was hoping for inspiration, I mostly looked at stuff I couldn't even imagine working with- floating circles of feathers, huge metal contraptions for you to 'hang' your hands from, another made from human hair, another made into the shape of a rubber penis and hung right in front of the crotch...
I did see some stuff that made me think of other things, though. And that's good...
Not a book I'll purchase, though.

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