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Witches’ Bane by Susan Wittig Albert

>> Monday, February 26, 2007

This is the second in the China Bayles light mystery series. I first learned about this series from Framed & Booked and have enjoyed them so far. China is a former hotshot lawyer who leaves her Houston practice to open an Herb Shop in a small town in the Texas Hill country.

In this installment of the series China and her friend Ruby find their shops boycotted and themselves accused of promoting witchcraft due to Ruby’s Tarot card classes. Things get complicated when a member of the class is murdered and Ruby may be implicated. China’s mother makes an appearance in this one and more of China’s family history and background is revealed. I’m looking forward to continuing with this series.


The Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson

>> Thursday, February 22, 2007

This was the perfect book to change the pace and mood after 7 weeks of Classics. This was a typical Patterson quickly read, quick paced installment in the Alex Cross series. I like Alex - he’s devoted to his kids, has a fabulous grandmother and is a smart sensitive cop. This 9th book in the series was refreshingly not quite as gory as some have been. The story involves the Russian Mafia, abductions for hire, sick and twisted villains, bad guys, good guys, bad good guys and lots of twists and turns. These aren’t great books, but they are a great quick change of pace when I need to have a book I can read in just a couple of days.


Winter Classics Challenge Wrap Up

>> Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I just want to say a great big Thank You to Booklogged for sponsoring the Winter Classics Challenge.

I truly enjoyed all five of the Classics I read for this one. Between this and the Chunkster Challenge I finally convinced myself to read a couple of biggies that have been on my ‘someday’ list for years. The others weren’t as imposing in size, but just seem to have been books that I wanted to read but hadn’t managed to actually pick up yet.

The 5 I read for this challenge are:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Thank you Booklogged!!!

And although I really enjoyed reading these classics, next time around I’m sticking with the shorter ones. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks reading nothing but books published in the 1800’s. Time for some modern day psychological and crime thriller type stuff. I need some quick reads set in the present day.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

>> Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This is the last of my books for the Winter Classics Challenge. This is another one that I really have a hard time believing that I haven’t read it before now. I read the Penguin Classics edition which is the revised version that Mary Shelley did in 1831. There were some changes from the initial 1818 version, but they weren’t substantial storyline changes.

This edition is divided into 3 volumes. It’s extremely layered storytelling – it begins with a sea captain’s letter to his sister telling what Victor Frankenstein has related to him. Within that are more layers of story as told to Frankenstein himself. The first volume is mostly about Victor Frankenstein as he grows up and eventually creates his monster (who is never given a name). This first volume was where I had the most difficulty staying focused. In the middle volume the Monster has the opportunity to tell his own story and does so quite eloquently. This is where the book became much more compelling to me and I had a hard time putting it down. The creature demands that Frankenstein create a mate for him, Frankenstein only sees the potential for more ‘monsters’ of his own making and doesn’t want to comply. This sets up the inevitable confrontations in the third volume.

Forget every movie you ever saw about Frankenstein and read the book.


The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

>> Wednesday, February 14, 2007

When I decided to read this one as my fourth book for The Winter Classics Challenge (and then to also count it for the Chunkster Challenge and the TBR Challenge) the first thing I did was find out which translation would be the best to read. The overwhelming recommendation was a new (2006) translation by Richard Pevear. Although it is a chunkster at 704 pages and not out in paperback yet, the typeface and layout helped to make the excellent translation an easy and enjoyable read.

This book is most definitely a swashbuckler in the tradition of the black and white movies I remember watching on Saturday afternooons.

D'Artangnan is a youthful idealist who just happens to be an expert with a sword. He heads to Paris from his country home to join the King's Musketeers. Not only does he have the ability to fall in love at the drop of a hat, he also manages to be willing to get into a swordfight just as fast. Although he isn't officially a Musketeer yet, he quickly becomes friends with the Three the book is named for - Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

These guys are kind of like a Frat Party that wants to have a moral purpose. They fight, feast, fall in and out of love, get in trouble, get themselves and others out of trouble and all along the way it's all supposedly to serve their King and Queen, but really seems to be for the purpose of fighting and having a good time. The good guys are bad boys, the bad guys are really nasty and Milady is just plain evil.

Everyone in the book has secrets and the plot just gets more complicated as more secrets are revealed. Dumas sets this story in the reign of Louis XIII between 1625 and 1628, but he absolutely considered historic facts to be mere suggestions. Don't expect all the events and people you read about to be based on fact or to have actually existed or occurred during the supposed time frame of the novel. In the end, however, it won't matter because the ride is just downright fun.

A few passages I marked along the way . . .

"Porthos," said Aramis, "Athos has already informed you that you are a ninny, and I concur with his opinion. D'Artagnan, you're a great man; and when you replace M. de Treville, I'll ask for your patronage in getting myself an abbey."

"That was a stupid thing to do," said Athos, "but never mind, there's no backing out now. Kill the man and catch up with us as quickly as you can."

"In general, people ask for advice" he used to say, "only so as not to follow it; or, if they do follow it, it's only so as to have someone to blame for having given it."

Night brought together all the comrades in the company of M. des Essarts guards and the company of M. de Treville's musketeers of who had become friends. They were separating, to see each other again when it pleased God, and if it pleased God. The night, was thus a most rollicking one, as one might think. For in such cases extreme anxiety can only be combated by extreme insousiance.

If you decide to read this, I highly recommend this translation by Pevear.


Audiobook - Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M. C. Beaton

>> Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This is the second in this series about a 50-ish former PR go-getter who has retired to the English countryside. Agatha is described by her police officer friend as both a ‘Nosy Parker’ and as ‘touchingly naïve’. Both of these qualities continue throughout the book.

A new vet in town seems to have all the women interested. It turns out, however, that he really doesn’t like cats and dogs at all. When he’s found dead of an apparent accident, Agatha can’t help but be curious and dig deeper into his and everyone else’s lives.

She’s joined in her investigation by her new neighbor James Lacey. Agatha can’t seem to be able to decide if she has a crush on James or if she’s annoyed by him. Either way Agatha’s not giving up on finding out what happened to the vet.

These books are short, light, more amusing than mystery and read by Donada Peters who is one of my favorite audiobook readers.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

>> Sunday, February 4, 2007

I remember starting this book several times when I was a kid, but never getting very far, before putting it aside. It’s one of those books I felt like I should have read. So I made it my third book for The Winter Classics Challenge.

It’s definitely a story from a slower and gentler time and place despite the fact that is opens during the Civil War. I really can’t say I loved the book, but I didn’t dislike it either. I knew parts of the story, but not all. As I expected, I felt more of a connection with Jo than any of the other sisters, but I was a little surprised at how things turned out for her in the end. All in all, I’m glad I read it.


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