Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey and a whole lot of nothing

Wait!!! I can't review The Pearl Diver till I mention that the latest issue of Estella's Revenge has been posted, ta-da! Wahoo! I love Estella and this one looks nice and juicy. I have one review in the June issue, here. Congrats again, Andi and Heather.

And, on to the book . . . I've been putting off reviewing this book because of fatigue and because I'm not sure I have all that much to say about it, so I'll keep it brief.

I bought The Pearl Diver remaindered and, as mentioned earlier in the week, from the cover blurb and trade paperback size of the book I assumed it was a literary novel with a touch of mystery - mostly because mysteries are typically sold as mass-market paperbacks. So, I was a little surprised to find that the book was a series book with an interior-decorator sleuth and not really very stylistically pleasing at all. The writing was, in fact, pretty flat and unemotional.

However, I enjoyed the mystery. The Pearl Diver is apparently the 7th of 8 Rei Shimura mysteries. Rei has been kicked out of Japan (for reasons that were never fully clear) and is settling in Washington, D.C. with her fiance when she's offered a job decorating a new restaurant. When her cousin disappears on the opening night of the restaurant, Rei goes into action to locate her and then is asked to search for another missing woman, the mother of the restaurant's hostess . . . and from there on things slowly unfold and tangle up and so forth.

It's been three or four days since I finished this book and I honestly can't remember some details that I think should have stuck in my mind. I'm not going to say Shimura did a bad job getting things across because I did think the mystery was a good one, it stood alone well, and it was not annoyingly complicated (which I like). Maybe I'm just a little off-kilter, here, and that's thrown my memory away from the details. I really did find it exceptionally unemotional; and, there's a secondary storyline that's so transparent I had to wonder why she even bothered. Overall, an average book with a rather dull sleuth and unimpressive writing, in my humble opinion. Also, this is the third book I've read, recently, with an interior decorator protagonist and I find details of decorating mega-boring reading material, so that undoubtedly effected my overall impression.

3/5 - average writing, decent mystery, lacking emotion or zing

Just finished: What I Believe by Norma Fox Mazer and I see I've got a typo in my sidebar on that one. Oops. What I Believe is a review book for Estella, so watch for a link in July. It's a young adult novel - a quick read and excellent writing, but that's all I'm telling you.

I stalled halfway into Held at a Distance by Rebecca Haile but hope to finish that this weekend - it's another Estella review book and I should finish it pretty quickly once I pick it back up, so watch for that review in July, also.

And I'm almost finished with a short story by Stevi Mittman. It's an advanced reader that Stevi personally sent me; I don't have the other two stories that are in that particular book but I am loving it. I adore Stevi's writing; she has a great sense of humor (plus, she's really nice - you know I support nice authors) and is a consistent writer, which is very pleasing.

Recap of May reads:
Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (advanced reader - grab it on June 5!)
A Spoonful of Humor by Henry L. Lefevre
Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Capt. Ted W. Lawson (Non-fiction Five)
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
We Are All Fine Here by Mary Guterson
Prescription for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor by Naomi Gaede-Penner (Non-fiction Five)
Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester (Estella's Revenge review book)
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (group read - not sure what happened to the rest of the group, huh)
The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey
What I Believe by Norma Fox Mazer

Therapy for a lousy week, highly recommended:
I'm particularly fond of those little sprinkles. The mug was purchased at Tattered Cover, a Denver bookstore which is sinfully wonderful - don't know how long ago, but too long. Need to see my nieces and nephews before they go off to college and get jobs. Time is passing way too quickly.

*Brief directed-rant warning*

Note to TB Guy:
I don't buy it, dude. Anyone who is sharp enough to become a lawyer knows darned well that he should not get on a plane while carrying a communicable illness, whether or not he knows it's not very treatable. Quit looking for sympathy and stop trying to shift blame. Shame on you!

*End rant*

Detail from a photo on my wall, for a change of pace:

Cool, eh? I got the photograph for one pound at a little store in Bath, England.

Gotta go. Hubby wants the computer. Happy Weekend to all!

20 comments:

  1. Oh what is in those mugs?! Looks yummy!
    I read a lot of the Rei Shimura books and my favorites were the first ones in the series when she's based in Japan and is an antiques dealer. I lost interest after this book. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. Pearl Diver doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but I love the cover! Very appealing. I love that mug! I collect coffee mugs and I drink at least 3 cups a day. I'm often made fun of for my coffee addiction :p It comes from working at a coffee shop for years and seems to go with the bookish type. The drink looks delicious too! Coffee or Hot Chocolate?

    The TB guy bugs me too! How irresponsible! Totally annoying to put that many people at risk.

    Love the photo. I'd love to travel to Europe. One of these days...

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  3. Iliana,

    The mug was filled with Viennese Chocolate Cafe (I'm a mocha type of gal) topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. Mmmm.

    I don't think I'll read another Shimura book, but I have to admit I was more interested in reading with the Japanese setting. I'm not a big mystery reader, anyway. If I'd known I was picking up a mystery, I would have grabbed Maisie Dobbs, instead.

    Chris,

    It's not your cup of tea. Yep, the cover's a grabber. Guilty. I definitely picked it up in the first place because it was pretty! LOL

    The drink is Viennese Chocolate Cafe. Hey, I collect mugs, too! Not so many as I used to, since the mug shelf is bursting. I'm particularly fond of bookstore mugs with author quotes. Personally, I don't think a coffee addiction is so bad - there are so many worse things.

    TB Guy angers me because his behavior could have easily caused a plague, but I do also feel for him because he's got a nasty disease he didn't ask for. He's probably going to die a most unpleasant death and he's done nothing to bring that particular misery upon himself. I just wish he had taken the time to think about the people around him.

    Isn't that a cool photo? Go to England - it's easy. They speak the language. :)

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  4. I love the mug!

    There's not a lot you can say about a book that turns out to be such a disappointment. I don't think I'd give the author another try, either.

    And the TB guy might've deserved a little sympathy if he hadn't taken a return flight AFTER he'd been advised not to fly. He was told to turn himself into Italian health people and he and his wife panicked and flew back, thus exposing dozens of more people. Did you see that his FIL works for CDC and specialize in TB? There's not much more that can be said about the situation, except for a prayer that everyone he exposed comes through healthy.

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  5. Your drink looks very yummy! Love the mug too. I agree that the writing in the Massey books is nothing special. Like Iliana I enjoyed the ones set in Japan for obvious reasons. The last one I read, #5 was the first one set in the US. I'll try the next one but we'll see. At least they're quick, easy reads.

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  6. That mug is perfect. I knew C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than me liking his writing. And mmm I like mocha. It's the best of both worlds because it's hot coffee and hot chocolate.

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  7. The mocha sounds YUMMY. I'm so jivin' for some of those sprinkles.

    Great review for ER this month! Looking forward to your next ones!

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  8. CJ,

    True, there's not much to say about a book that doesn't thrill you. :)

    I did see that TB Guy's FIL works for the CDC. Weird twist. I feel for him having such a horrid disease, but he knowingly exposed people to a dangerous illness and for that he loses my sympathy. Lots of prayers going up, here. It's a horrible situation, whether or not he was in an active phase.

    Nat,

    I did enjoy the fact that The Pearl Diver was a quick and easy read. Okay, so if you say even the early ones aren't anything special, apart from the setting, I'll definitely avoid them. Thanks for mentioning that. :)

    The coffee is wonderful. I have to drive to Jackson to buy it, so I tend to stock up!

    Nik,

    C.S. Lewis would have probably intimidated me if I'd met him in person, but I'm a great admirer. That's one of my favorite mugs because I love the quote. Oh, yes, coffee and chocolate go together perfectly. :)

    Andi,

    It's very yummy. I just got the idea to throw on sprinkles, last week, and I will have to be careful not to overdo - they're a very nice, sinful addition to coffee!!!

    Thanks. I'll try to get the next two reviews written early. I'm trending late, here, but at least I do make a deadline, don't I? :)

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  9. I don't buy his story either. He didn't know, my eye. I know how TB is transmitted and I don't have it, nor does my father in law work for the CDC.

    I love that kind of coffee mug. The shape and the saying! It looks yummy.

    And yup, I've diced tomatoes up into baked potatos. I also eat them like apples. Another really yummy summer dish is tomatos, bread cubes, cubed cheese, basil and olive oil, tossed.

    I'm not into interior decorating, cooks, or...well, that's a wee bit unfair. I just can't find anything I want to read. Argh.

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  10. That picture off your wall is interesting. Makes me think there is some sort of craps game or something going on off to the left and the guys in the foreground don't really approve.

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  11. And where was this picture taken?

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  12. Carrie,

    My sentiments exactly on TB Guy and, yep, same here on knowing how it's transmitted and not having the medical connections he has.

    Ooooh, that sounds so good! I'll have to give your summer recipe a try when the tomatoes ripen - we have two, now! Yippee!

    Can't find anything to read? Oh, no! I just started yet another book, today, The God of Animals - a Simon & Schuster ARC. It's good. I turned one corner because I was out of the house and didn't have my post-its, but I can send it to you when I finish, if you're interested. I'm not a horse person, but it's about a girl whose father breeds horses, trains riders, etc. Kind of a pensive novel and a smooth read. I'm really enjoying it.

    Kookie,

    I'm really mystified as to what's going on in that photo, but I just love it. There's so much action and character, don't you think? I'd love to know what exactly was happening. Your theory sounds perfectly viable to me!

    Anil,

    I don't remember! Ack! The location is written on the back of the photo - I remember that - but the frame is sealed, so I can't look. Isn't it a wonderful photo? So much seems to be happening in that photo and I love the setting. Wish I knew more about it, but I'm guessing it was taken in the 1920's, based on the hat and suit of a fellow not shown in my cropped version.

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  13. Whoa- I am drinking my coffee out of the same mug.....very twilight zone..but I do buy most of my books at the TC since it is 4 blocks from my house..TB guy is here in Denver and people are refusing to check into the hospital with him...guess i'll hold my breath til he is better.

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  14. I completely agree with you on the TB guy. I've been ranting about him all day. My husband is tired of it...

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  15. ...and I'm reading The God of Animals, too! Looking forward to hearing what you think.

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  16. Nancy,thanks for the heads-up on the Estella mag, I will be sure to take a look at it!

    I have seen copies of The Pearl Diver" around and have often meant to pick it up for closer scrutiny but will not bother with it now. "Sujata" is an Indian first name, so I was quite curious about the author, is she of East-Indian descent do you know?

    And the mug and that drink, both look totally wonderful, thank you so much for sharing that!!!

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  17. I may try the author but right now trying to figure out my cozy mystery list. lol

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  18. Joemamma,

    How funny that you've got that same mug! I bought it when we stayed with hubby's brother and family in Denver (then we camped out in Estes Park - I always stayed in cabins as a kid; I thought I was going to be eaten by bears . . . okay, so camping is not my thing).

    People are refusing to check into the same hospital with TB Guy? Okay, that's going a bit far. I'm sure they have him very isolated. It's definitely a situation that has shown us the capacity people have to panic, on top of that nudge to remind us that a pandemic could very easily begin because one person thought of himself first.

    Gentle Reader,

    How cool!! I'll look forward to your review of TG of A, too. One thing I haven't figured out is how to send a review to S & S. There was no info inside the envelope - just the three books.

    Lotus,

    Hope you enjoy Estella! I think it's just wonderful. :)

    I don't know anything about Sujata Massey, since I picked up the book on a whim, but she has olive skin and dark hair (and is enviably thin in her cover photo). Add in the fact that several of her characters were of mixed descent and I think you've got a hint of the author's personal experience tossed into her fiction. But, I honestly don't know.

    Hmmm, I could go for a coffee or hot tea, right now. LOL

    Krista,

    I think you would enjoy her books more than I do, if only because you judge writing less harshly than I do.

    I'm not writing up a list of cozies, just yet. I've got all mine in one place, so I think I'll just grab them closer to time and decide what I'm most anxious to try. :)

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  19. I just moved from Denver last year and I really miss TATTERED COVER. Sigh.

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  20. I understand, Amy!!! Tattered Cover is a great place!!

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