Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

by Fannie Flagg

What a fun, endearing, quirky book!  This is not my general fare of mystery or suspense but I totally ate it up.  Flagg has a wonderful way of lifting your spirits with her delightful main characters.  I sound like an expert on Fannie Flagg, don't I?  I should insert a disclaimer right here saying that I've only read two of her books so far, but they were both great fun to read and put a spring in my step.

The heroine is Elner Shimfissle who is well into her eighties and still lives alone.  Heck, she even climbs the ladder to gather in some fruit from her fig tree without giving it a second thought.  Turns out she should have because while up there she gets attacked by a swarm of bees and falls backwards off the ladder.  She's rushed to the hospital where she is pronounced dead.  While family and friend are making funeral arrangements, Elner is enjoy her after-life experiences and meeting with a few interesting people from her past.

Her niece is beyond worry that the townsfolk saw her aunt Elner in that old, ugly housecoat that she had on when she fell.  The nieces husband has more serious matters to worry about after finding a gun in the bottom of Elner's hamper.  Did I say there wasn't any mystery?  I forgot about the gun until just now.  What is that doing in sweet Aunt Elner's hamper?

The Hunter

by John Lescroart

I just found out today that The Hunter is book three in a new series by Lescroart that features PI Wyatt Hunt.   It reads wonderfully as a stand alone and I don't think it is necessary to have read the first 2 books to enjoy this one.  Most of the time I like reading a series in order, but sometimes it is fun to just jump into book 3 or 4 and then go back and read the first books.  You already know things that are going to happen to the main character and you can view him through a different lens than you would otherwise.

Most of you recognize the name John Lescroart and have appreciated his books featuring Dismal Hardy - Les from NE comes to mind.  In fact it was reading Lesley's reviews that first introduced me to Lescroart.  Needless to say, I became a fan.

The Hunter is about Wyatt Hunt, who receives an anonymous text message asking him how his mother died.  Wyatt is adopted and knows nothing about his birth mother and discovers it is tricky finding clues about her and what happened to her.  The anonymous text-er, out of fear, will not reveal too much to Wyatt but does occasionally leave hints and warnings.  Wyatt finds himself in greater danger with each new discovery he makes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner - a good mystery, a likable & sympathetic main character, a tie-in to a famous incident, good writing, plenty of suspense.

** I received a free copy of The Hunter in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Discovery of Jeanne Baret

by Glynis Ridley

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover; and then the title; and then the subtitle.  When I was offered this book by Crown Publishing I caught a glimpse of the cover and thought, "Oh, it's an Andrea Barrett book!"  I love her - she writes beautiful novels dealing with scientific aspects.  Then I noticed it was about a woman named Baret - close.  And then the subtitle: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe.  It was a bout science!  I knew this was a book for me even if it wasn't written by Ms. Barrett.

I don't know if this is a biography or fiction.  The research was in depth and well presented, but there was much speculation as to the thoughts and feelings of the people involved.  For instance, we may suppose that Barret felt animosity toward her traveling companion and teacher, botanist Philibert Commerson at certain times and at others love and gratitude, but to be truthful that part of the book is conjecture.  It's probable to most readers that she should have despised the man long before they ever set sail, but she still dressed as a man to accompany him around the world.  A few good reason are supplied by the author as to Jeanne's reasons.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved learning so many new things about life and science in the late 1760s.  I tried to imagine how Jeanne could pull off her disguise for more than a month in such a tightly cloistered environment as a ship full of men.  I mean, how does a woman conceal evidence of her period in a day and age when they had to use and reuse rags?  Of course, her secret was eventually found out and acknowledged.

One caution:  I was confused by the Introduction.  It just jumps right in and talks about Jeanne Barret like she was a person I should know of and that I should be familiar with her circumstances, which I was not.  I decided its purpose was to justify the need to write a book about Barret.  Keep reading.  You'll be rewarded with an interesting story and a very rewarding time of reading.   If I rated books, I'd give this one a 4.25 or 4.5.  I really liked it, but be forewarned that it is not a fluffy, light read.  There was substance to this book.

** I received a free copy of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Reaper Man

by Terry Pratchett

I love Terry Pratchett - or rather, his books.  What a lively sense of humor and imagination.  Candleman and I listened to the audio on our trip to Las Vegas to help youngest move into her first apartment.  I guess she's lived in an apartment before but it was her sister's and so youngest didn't worry about the bills.  Now she is.

In Reaper Man one of my favorite Discworld characters is running out of time.  The sand in the top globe of his timer is almost gone.  Death is facing his own demise.  You can see why I was sad - I like Death and didn't want to see him replaced.

With only a little time left he is kicked out of his mansion and wanders homelessly until he discovers a nice, little, old lady who needs help reaping her crops. While living there he becomes friends with some of the country folk.

Several times Candleman and I shared the thought about what it must be like to live inside the mind of Terry Pratchett.  He does fantasy, satire, humor and plot with ambidextrous ease.  To read, or listen to Pratchett, is unlike anything else I've experienced in reading.  On second thought, Jasper Fjorde comes to mind, but they are still different.

One thing I like about the Discworld books is that you don't have to read them in any order.  They all deal with Discworld and different characters will appear in multiple books but there isn't really a time line.  If you haven't read any of Pratchett's you really need to - just to bring some whimsical amusement into your life.  And usually there's a worthy plot.  One of my favorites is Mort who becomes an apprentice for Death. 

I like the English/Canadian cover, too.  I know, you're thinking this does NOT look like my kind of book.  That's what I thought when I was the cover of Mort.  It had a picture of Death in a black cape on a big stallion, riding through the wind.  I send to the library worker who recommended it to me "You see, this just doesn't look like a book I would like to read.  I mean a skeleton in a black cape..." But he reassured me and I didn't need a fantasy/scifi for the library challenge I was doing at the time, so I took it home and read it and loved it.  Step out of your comfort level, turn off the reality switch, and settle in for a fun story and lots of belly jiggles.