Saturday, December 02, 2006

Three Books: To Play the Fool, Visions of Sugar Plums, and Lord Emsworth and Others

I've finished three books in the past four days and don't feel like posting lengthy reviews about any of them. So, I'm going to shoot for three quickie reviews.

1. To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King - When the body of a dog is cremated by the homeless residents of Golden Gate Park, police fill out a report and let it go. Then, a second cremation is attempted, this time the body of a homeless man. Investigators Kate Martinelli and Al Hawkin are called in to determine who was responsible for the man's death and why the homeless group attempted to cremate him.

After locating a suspect, Martinelli is baffled by his odd mode of speech. Instead of answering her questions directly, the man known only as "Brother Erasmus" speaks in quotes from books. A perplexed Kate Martinelli attempts to translate the meaning of his words, uncover his mysterious past life, and discover the reason for the homeless man's murder.

I'm not a big fan of mysteries, these days, but I enjoyed this particular story because I thought it was unique and often surprising, although at times a bit slow. Erasmus was an interesting character. I wasn't all that intrigued with Kate Martinelli, but I would read another mystery by this author as I thought it was well written.


2. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum is not in the mood for Christmas. She hasn't even managed to buy a tree for her apartment, much less decorate for the holidays and buy presents. So, she certainly isn't in the mood to have a strange man materialize in her apartment and then follow her around everywhere. Who is this man, Diesel, and why does he insist on accompanying Stephanie as she tries to locate fugitive toymaker Sandy Claws? What's with Diesel's ability to unlock doors with the wave of a hand? And, will her family ever get off her case about the fact that she doesn't have a tree?

At a mere 149 pages, this particular Stephanie Plum is typically action-packed and an even faster read than her regular novels from the numbered series. The usual romp with fun dialogue, the expected car disaster and a special new hunk. I just love reading about Stephanie's adventures.


3. Lord Emsworth and Others by P. G. Wodehouse - A collection of nine short stories by the author of the Jeeves & Wooster stories, including some of his golf stories and at least one starring the Earl of Emsworth, a man who lives in a castle and has a passion for pigs.

I've been hacking away at this one for quite a while. Wodehouse stories are always an upper and so utterly timeless that I was caught a little off-guard by the conversation about whether or not "talkies" (aka films with soundtracks rather than silent films) were worth all the fuss.

I also love Wodehouse's wording: "We all expired with mirth," sounds so much better than, "We all died laughing." Plus, saying "Wodehouse" and "Jeeves" in the same sentence gives me an excuse to post a photo of Hugh Laurie, the delightful actor who played Bertie Wooster in "Jeeves and Wooster" and who now stars as Gregory House, M.D. There he is, stunning as always. Yeah. That's an upper, all right.


Trying to get all caught up since this week's computer mess and phone tag with the eldest son after he was in an automobile accident (he's fine; the truck's apparently a mess). We also had a very sobering close call ourselves, last night, when a truck drifted into our lane on a twisty back road with gullies on each side and not even a foot or two of shoulder. Scary. I made the executive decision to stay at home and hide, today.

My new computer is finally set up, the email files were recovered from the dying computer but are separate from newer files to allow for a fresh start, and the doctor neglected to call my insurance company to approve the latest refill of Ambien . . . so I'm a bit of a sleepless wreck, but a happy one. Hubby and I have agreed to move up to a higher speed connection, within the next couple of weeks. That should help me get around to other blogs with a little more ease (actually, I'm hoping for a lot more ease; we have a pitiful 26.4 Kbps dial-up speed).

I'm still reading Earth in the Balance by Al Gore and Once Upon a Time by Gloria Vanderbilt, when the mood strikes (pretty much every free moment I can squeeze in, in other words), and have added The Christmas Strike by Nikki Rivers and Big Girls Don't Whine by Jan Silvious. It's true that big girls are not supposed to whine. However, I really did some major wailing upon discovering that our Bible Factory Outlet is closing. We'll soon be reduced to exactly one bookstore (a very small one) in a half-abandoned mall, no used bookstores, no book outlets or even outlets that contain books as part of the inventory. To wander through a decent book selection, we'll have to drive 50 miles. I think that's worth a good whine and a bar of chocolate, myself.

Best moment of the day: The neighborhood hawk swooped into our back yard, again. He made the very distinctive call we've learned to identify even from inside ("kreee"), landed in one of our gigantic old oak trees for a minute, and then moved on. Regardless of how frequently we may spot them, hawks always leave us awestruck. I particularly enjoy seeing the look of amazement on my husband's face.

Not sure, but . . . I think I might dismantle my positive thoughts blog and go back to writing about my good moments in here, as I've let it drop during the past week or so. I've found that I prefer sharing upbeat experiences on my book blog and that trying to come up with three good things every single day sometimes gets on my nerves. What say thee? Any thoughts?

Hope everyone is having a good, book-filled weekend.


  1. Hey! You can share your "three good things" wherever it makes you happy. :)

  2. Thanks, Joy. I'm still pondering. I think things are best considered under a warm cat with a book in hand, today. We're so unaccustomed to cold! :)

  3. Anonymous8:42 PM

    Yikes! Glad you and your son are ok.
    A pic of Hugh is ALWAYS a lift!
    And I'm with Joy, wherever suits you.

  4. Thanks for posting that picture of Hugh Laurie! It's a cold December day, but now I'm bathed in sweat.

  5. Nat,

    Thanks, I'm still leaning toward just shutting the other blog down.

    Can't beat a Hugh photo for a lift, can you? LOL


    Thanks for the chuckle!

    I'll look for any excuse to dash off and look for Hugh pics, can you tell? ;)

  6. I avoided Visions of Sugar Plums when it first came out but it sounds like a fun read right now. I'm a bit behind with Evanovich's book, as I got burned out on Stephanie's flakiness. Maybe I just read too many too close together.

    Glad your son is ok. Bummer about the truck, though! We've recently had to help our daughter out with purchasing a new door that she managed to rip off of her car. Long story that I don't even want to go in to, but the bottom line is both our kids are ok, right? And you and your hubby, too! Eeek. Scary driving.

    Love the pic of Hugh-baby. Merci!

    A faster connection is always good. You'll be a happier blogger, I'm sure. And about your other blog, either way works for me. I've got all three of yours bookmarked and it's no trouble to bounce around. But I know where you're coming from. You get more traffic on this one, so maybe it's best to just post that stuff here. I keep thinking about dropping my gardening/nature/photo blog and just including that sort of stuff on my book blog. My hubby disagrees, but we'll see. I'll definitely keep my cooking blog separate.

  7. Hi Les!

    I'm behind on the Plum series, also, probably for a similar reason. I love the characters, but the stories start to sound a little too same-old, same-old, after a while.

    Oh, yes, the bottom line is that Daniel's okay. Although, his father's gotten an earful about why I think he might have been a bit more cautious if David had made him help pay for the repair of the Honda that he mushed a few months ago. :)

    Hmm, I think your gardening/photo blog would be a good one to combine with the Book Nook, since you post infrequently. Does your hubby dislike the idea of mixing up the subject matter?

    I can't wait till we get a higher-speed connection, so things will load faster. That'll be a relief!

  8. Yes, good to hear your son is okay after that! Scary.

    Fun book reviews. I'm with Les, I had avoided that particular Stephanie Plum book but I may have to give it a go.

  9. Wow, you've been busy reading!
    I'm going to have to get that Stephanie Plum book.

    I did absolutely no reading this weekend.. but a lot of drawing and matting/framing.

  10. I agree about the kids paying for their own car repairs. Mine is a senior in college (1 week left) and we pay her car insurance, but with this recent "accident" we've told her she needs to pay the deductible on the repair. $500! We're loaning her the $ for half and the other half is her birthday present. Not a very fun gift, but maybe a lesson will be learned? Maybe??

    Yep, Rod thinks it's best to stay focused on the book blog, but I disagree. I enjoy all the blogs I read that have a bit of everything. I think it helps to still have a focus and consistent format, but I like getting to know my blogmates through their more personal posts. So we'll see... I may keep the garden blog strictly for garden "journaling" and start posting more generic photos over on my book blog.

  11. Bookgirl,

    I used to avoid seasonal books, so I didn't buy Visions of Sugar Plums till I found a cheap copy, last year, just thinking I might hate it. LOL It was a fun read, worth the short time it takes to finish. :)


    I think I pretty much did nothing BUT read, this weekend - with a little Christmas shopping thrown in. I finished another book, last night, and started the second book of a friend I haven't seen in a year, which I happened across at Border's, yesterday. My writing group helped her with this one!! Cool!

    What did you matt and frame?

  12. I have family coming into town this weekend, so I wanted to replace my ugly black frames with some ones that match my room (from IKEA.. that I bought about 9 months ago!). I have about 50 drawings that are sitting around collecting dust, so I picked my favorite ones to matt & frame. I was working on that Anthony Michael Hall one (that I just posted on my site), and realized I wanted that one up too.. so I hurried and finished, and matted & framed it as well.
    Needless to say, my lower back is killing me today. I had to lean over the floor to do it all. Too many hours doing that yesterday.

  13. Les,

    I think it's kind of fascinating that husbands have any influence at all on the blogging, although I know yours got you started. A friend was just telling me her husband insisted her blog must be books only. I thought, "So, why would he care?" I guess I'm a little biased, here, since my husband has nothing to do with my blogs, other than to occasionally peek at the photo blogs using his blackberry.

    On cars, Daniel pays about what we've figured the insurance cost is for him to drive, although he doesn't technically own any of the vehicles. He has to pay for repairs for any damage he does and should have paid for the damage to the Honda, but David decided to be nice. I think that's a mistake. He needs those doses of reality - all kids probably do. Amy will probably not appreciate her gift now, but one day I'm sure she'll understand!!!


    You need a table to do your framing!! Sounds like a good thing to do, though. I have some things that could stand to be framed or updated; but, the hallway has to be painted, first. Actually, nearly every room needs fresh paint. We've been in this house too long. :)

  14. I have Visions of Sugar Plums on my shelf...maybe this year I'll pull it out to read. I could go for a good holiday read, and Plum is always funny.

    Thanks for the rec...and for the pic of Hugh Laurie. ;-)

  15. Nancy, I think Rod's input stems from his livelihood as a magazine editor. He probably looks at my blog as he would the concept of a book magazine and doesn't understand why I'd want to include pictures of birds and squirrels. Silly guy. It's all about me! Seriously though, he is just offering his opinion and would never criticize or dictate how my blog should look. I hope I didn't make it sound like he does!

  16. Colleen,

    It's interesting that so many of us have put off Sugar Plums till now! I thought about reading it last year, but decided it was getting too close to Christmas and put it on a shelf to save. This was the right time for me. Hope you enjoy it!

    I'm not sure what a sugar plum IS, but Hugh is definitely yummier. ;)


    I asked my other friend why her husband insisted that she only write book reviews and it had to do with the fact that she mentioned some people by name when she blogged in the past. Her husband, she said, got "tired of cleaning up after her". Okay, that makes sense.

    And, I can see why Rod would look at your blogs with an eye toward theme. I was just curious, since my husband has absolutely nothing to do with my blog, apart from occasionally saying, "Why didn't you post this picture?" He has my photo blogs bookmarked and wants to see all of his favorites, but I edit down to just a few. I already knew Rod's a reasonable guy. :)

  17. Anonymous9:24 AM

    Les, (yes I know this is Nancy's blog but this is where the discussion is!) you know I'm one for combined blogs. I've got books and birds, squirrels and flowers! What would Rod say? :P But then that's mainly because I know I'd never be able to keep up with more than one.

  18. Hey, Nat. (excuse us for a second, Nancy - grin). Your blog is my inspiration and that's why I'm leaning more and more toward making the big switch. I still think I'd leave the garden blog so I can have some idea of what I need to do year by year as far as adding and deleting various plants. Well, maybe. Maybe I can just tag those posts (and not get into too much horticulture chatter) in my combination blog and not be so anal about creating the perfect garden! I need more simplicity in my life, not the opposite! I think I'll launch the "new" integrated blog on January 1st. Seem like a good time for a fresh beginning. I never really liked my garden blog name either, so maybe that's a sign.

    OK, Nance. You can have your blog back now. Thanks! :)

  19. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Aw, thanks Les. (Excuse us Nancy, one more time! ;P) I'm glad people don't mind the books and pictures combo.
    Once you switch over to beta (which actually wasn't too bad) you'll be able to have labels for all your posts so you could easily find the garden ones again.
    I'll look forward to your new and improved version in the new year!

  20. Chat away. It's okay by me. Sorry it took me so long to get online, today. :)


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