Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, by Kate Summerscale (audio book narrated by Simon Vance)

This fit in perfectly with my current love of Victorian murder/detective fiction written by contemporary writers, except that it wasn’t fiction. The story was told in such a sensational way, with so many references to both newspaper and literary sources of the time, that I was amazed I hadn’t heard of the case before. What really brought it to life for me, though, was the outstanding audio book narrated by Simon Vance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin In Her Own Words, by Matt Lewis (ed.)

Buy Now on
Buy Now on

I loved this book, albeit probably for all the wrong reasons. The greatest thing about The Quotable Rogue is that it will appeal equally to people who love Sarah Palin and people who enjoy laughing at her foibles, because really, they’re the same quotes. I do feel like I know Sarah Palin a little better, though I find her no more agreeable or endearing than I did before. If anything, this book confirmed to me that she has not been misquoted in the press; her words have not been taken out of context. Her words, even her in the hands of an ardent supporter and edited to present her in the best possible light, make her seem as entitled, obnoxious and wilfully ignorant as ever.
One area in which she does shine is when speaking about the oil and gas industry. Her experience in Alaska has left her with strong, informed opinions on energy issues and I found those very interesting to read. I personally disagree with almost everything she said and I believe she is wrong on most things, but it’s an intellectual disagreement, which I respect. Most of Ms. Palin’s other thoughts, such as her opinions on foreign policy, domestic politics, religion or family, are expressed as feelings, emotions, folksy maxims or intuitions so it is difficult to believe that she is an informed and intelligent politico.
Still, I think Matt Lewis did a fair job in presenting a total picture of the woman through the quotations he collected in his book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Better Quality of Murder: An Inspector Ben Ross Mystery, by Ann Granger

An historical mystery novel is not hard to come by, but one that I truly enjoy is rare indeed! I've been so interested in the crimes of Victorian England lately and this book was truly a standout in its category. I loved it and can't wait to read all in the series!
I believe the previous books are actually "Lizzie Martin Mysteries" but in this one she has become Mrs. Elizabeth Martin Ross, wife of Inspector Ben Ross. I think I'd be happy to read mysteries from either of these characters' perspectives, or split between the two as this was.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity, by Andy Andrews

I received The Final Summit, by Andy Andrews, from, a website that gives free reading copies of books to bloggers in exchange for posting an honest review. It was described as an adventure novel about David Ponder, a character from Andy Andrews' previous novel The Traveler's Gift, and a cast of some of history's most prominent figures coming together to try to save humanity from destruction by finding the one answer that would put us all back on the path for success.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I should mention that the choice of historical figures presented in the book was very troubling to me. Winston Churchill, for example, is one of the central figures in this quest for righteousness. Winston Churchill?? Really?? Churchill was a brutal racist whose greatest victory was in defeating a man whose racism was more perverse than his own. Martin Luther King, Jr., is sitting in the same row as Gandhi. Of course it is never mentioned that Gandhi, though he did a great deal for his own people in India, had an absolute disdain for black people.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery, by M.C. Beaton

What the #@*! is this?? Did the real M.C. Beaton DIE and somebody horrible took over her series? It’s the only thing that makes any sense! The book was needlessly gruesome, overly complicated, lacked any mystery or “reveal” and was ANYTHING but cozy! The “chimney sweep” in question is merely the second in a long line of murders (I lost count—ten, maybe?) and he’s not even mentioned by name again after the first few pages! Plus the whole story takes place over several years, from what I can tell, during which time nothing else seems to happen. Every side story is another murder or gruesome death that is all part of the convoluted main story.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

This book has gotten so much attention. The author was on the cover of TIME Magazine with a caption that read, “Great American Novelist.” The library had me waiting for a copy for months. Amy Poelher’s character on Parks and Recreation tried to get her best friend to read it “because I’m almost done and I want to talk to you about Patty.”
What am I missing?
I was all set to love this book. The whole world loves this book. The whole world can’t be wrong, surely. I know, I know, there’s a voice inside me saying, “If the whole world jumped off a bridge would you?” Of course I would! It’s called bungee jumping and it’s hugely popular. Not unlike this book. The difference is I did not like this book. At all. (Okay, that makes it sound like I do like bungee jumping, but in truth I’ve never done it. Maybe I’d find that underwhelming as well.)

Hit the jump for a greater description of the week I wasted reading this book....