Monday, September 05, 2011

Weekly Reading Update #3 - Including mini reviews of Juniper Berry, Lord and Lady Spy, and Horoscopes for the Dead

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with my weekly reading update. I just thought it was cute.

This past week was a pretty good reading week! Happy am I! I finished reading 4 books.

Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky (Fiction; ages 8-12) is a book about a young girl who used to have a lovely life with her actor parents. Then, they became extremely famous (Jolie-Pitt famous), moved to a massive mansion, began to take less and less interest in her and finally became distant, angry, muttering strangers with no time for their daughter. When Juniper meets a young neighbor whose parents have gone through exactly the same thing, they decide to investigate. What they find involves a tree, a whole lot of balloons, lost souls, glowing bugs and an evil bad guy. I thought Juniper Berry started out terrific, went downhill and then ended on a decent note. It's not a favorite but it definitely would have qualified for the RIP VI Challenge, if I'd bothered to sign up . . . which I haven't done. But I still intend to, if it's not too late.

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen (Romantic Historical Fiction) is not quite what I expected. I figured two spies married to each other would mean lots of adventurous spying, maybe a bit of Mr. & Mrs. Smith: Regency Style. Unfortunately, the book begins with a little spy action but quickly becomes a murder mystery involving the Lord and Lady competing with each other to try to win a spot in their former spy agency, which has mostly disbanded. Whilst trying to one-up each other (comparing the number of bullet scars) and trying to repair their floundering marriage (mucho graphic sex), they work on solving the mystery. Eventually, the storyline improves a bit, but this particular book was a little shy on the type of action and adventure I'm accustomed to in a Shana Galen book. It was only my love of her action scenes that kept me going. I'd particularly recommend this one to the romance crowd. I like a little chaste romance but I mostly read Galen's books for the action.

Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (Poetry) - Oh, how I love Billy Collins. I bought this slim volume of poetry at Borders. It was absolutely my most exciting find (although I found a lot of great books . . . maybe a few too many for the budget). I've already mentioned this book in last week's Fiona Friday post -- about how I admire the way Collins can turn something ordinary into a funny, witty, meaningful bit of poetic genius.

Take, for example, "What She Said". Here is how it begins:

When he told me he expected me to pay for dinner,
I was like give me a break.

I was not the exact equivalent of give me a break.
I was just similar to give me a break.

--from "What She Said", p. 68 of Horoscopes for the Dead

I can't imagine anyone reading that and not breaking out in a grin. I absolutely loved Horoscopes for the Dead and gobbled it down in a single evening. It's definitely one for the keeper shelves. Wouldn't you know, my eldest has already dropped a hint that he'd be happy to take it off my hands! Um . . . gift idea?

The other book I finished will not be released till October 1 and the title wouldn't fit up there in the subject line because I already pretty well bogged it down. But, if you must know, it's a children's book entitled The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister and I'll definitely review it when the time comes.

Currently focusing on:

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (Historical Fiction/WWII) - The story of a Czech couple separated at the beginning of WWII and reunited in the United States, many years later. Married but separated when she refuses to leave her family, his letters are returned and he assumes she was killed in a concentration camp. She reads his name in the list of dead when the boat he was taking to Canada from England is torpedoed. I will probably finish this book tonight or tomorrow and then I'll let you know what I think, next week!

I haven't picked up any of the other books currently in the "Now Reading" section of my sidebar for at least a week. Oh, no, that's not true. I still occasionally read a few pages of Haiku Mind. But, my friend's manuscript and Jamie Durie's The Outdoor Room ended up at the bottom of my bedside pile, this week, and I let my whims take over my reading, as is often the case when I'm slumpy. I plan to focus on those two, soon. I took How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson out of my sidebar because that cupcake cover was making me hungry, but I'll keep hacking away at it because I do have the desire to become more domestic and I am just crazy about Nigella Lawson's chatty, relaxed writing style.

In other news, we only got about 6" of rain from Tropical Storm Lee -- definitely on the low side of predictions and the rainwater soaked in pretty nicely because we've had a lengthy drought. We have enjoyed the cool front that came along behind the storm. The cats are ecstatic about being able to sit in open windows, sniffing the outside smells.

How have you been doing, this week?

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  1. Love the photo - looks like a cross between a cat and a bunny rabbit! :--) I'll be very interested to read about The Lost Wife when you're done - the plot sounds like it could be great!

  2. Jill,

    She's definitely a cute little pouncy cat -- plenty of bunny in her. :)

    I'll let you know about The Lost Wife! I will probably have a lot to say about it!

  3. It seems like you have been reading some pretty good stuff this week. I was curious about Juniper Berry, but think that after reading your review, I will pass. That book of poetry sounds wonderful though, and like it's a lot of fun. I also really like the kitty pic today! All in all, a great spread!

  4. Four books in a week...sounds like an impossible dream to me. :) I actually picked up Juniper Berry and read the first chapter in the bookstore, but it just didn't suck me in so I didn't end up buying it. I so wanted to though, just for the art!

  5. Zibilee,

    Juniper Berry just didn't thrill me. But, maybe it's better for its proper age range. The poetry book was wonderful. I went on a search for my other Billy Collins book and found it, although I don't think I'll get to it, this week. Thanks!


    It was an unusual week, especially after such a lengthy slump. Cold air is marvelous for my reading, that's for sure! Juniper Berry did suck me in at the bookstore, but it just didn't hold on. I kept reading, though. It was nice to finish a book, so I appreciate it for that! And, the artwork is definitely enchanting!

  6. Ohhh how I love Billy Collins! He's a really good choice for my Intro to Lit classes, too, since they often find themselves scared by poetry. He kinda helps break down the walls.

    Gonna make a trip to my local Borders before it closes up. If they have anything left, I'm sure I'll bring home a haul!

  7. The Lost Wife sounds interesting. I'll look for your review. I love Isabel's fluffy neck!

  8. That poem "What She Said" is cute - I can see why you like Collins' poetry. I would pass on Lord and Lady Spy since that kind of romance isn't my thing.

  9. Agree with you on the cute portrait, and especially like the black and white quality. I need to read more Billy Collins! I have one of his works, can't remember the title, but still haven't read it...sigh.

    Will you pick up any literature in Japan? Translated in English of course? Will you take lots of photographs for those of us who will be left behind?

  10. That is a cute picture!

    Glad you are managing to get some reading done. :)

  11. I've got the Shana Galen book on my shelves and am really looking forward to reading it. Hopefully I will end up liking it a bit better than you did :)

  12. Andi,

    I'll have to check your blog to see if you've confessed to any Borders piles. Billy Collins is perfect for the poetry-shy (or -terrified). When Carrie and I were talking to Simon, yesterday, I mentioned the volume I just read and Simon said, "Have you met Billy Collins?" I said, "No, have you?" and he said, "Yes. He's rather intense." Not totally surprised about that, since I've watched him reading "Litany" . . . which is also funny to hear him read, but I think it gives you an idea of his personality.


    I liked The Lost Wife! I'll talk about it on Tuesday. Thanks! I thought that pic of Izzy was so sweet. She's grown some jowls. Kinda adorable!


    I fell in love with Billy Collins' poetry practically the moment I began reading it. I don't even know how I found him, but his writing is . . . well, I'm at a loss for words other than "awesome" and "wonderful". Maybe I'll do better, on another day. LOL


    Thanks! Oh, you must pull Billy off the shelves. You can read a volume of his poetry in nothing flat. And, then you'll wonder why you didn't get to it, sooner.

    I don't know if I'll get around to buying any books in Japan! Nat orders most of hers, I think. But, yes, I'll take loads of pictures. I need to study up on photography. I've been a lazy photographer, since Kiddo graduated. I had to work hard to get good swim photos but now I've gotten to where I'm going all-auto. Horrors.

  13. Kelly,

    Thanks! Well, I *was* getting lots of reading done. This week, I've been dashing around Massachusetts with Carrie of Care's Online Book Club, so I've only finished one book!!! Maybe I'll whip through something, this weekend. :)


    I still liked Lord and Lady Spy! It was just a little too heavy on the romance and not quite what I expected. I don't think you can really lose with Shana Galen, though. She always manages to insert some fun action scenes and her storylines are good. I'd have liked it better if it was more spy-oriented than mystery-solving, but that's just me. I hope you love it! :)

  14. The Lost Wife sounds like it has potential. I just read about it on Cariboumoms blog and learned about how the author came up with the idea. {goosebumps!!}

    We haven't had much rain, but the weather has been so wonderful! I rode my bike every day last week for a total of 98.92 miles. I still have tomorrow's ride to add to that total, so I'll get close to 150 for the week. Woot!!

    I'm so excited for your upcoming trip to see Nat!!!! I owe you an email, too. We need to chat about April and next fall... Hope to write to you later today or tomorrow.

  15. Les,

    The Lost Wife is a good story. I'll have to read Wendy's review.

    Cool! I wish I could ride bikes, around here. I'm stuck using a stationary bike, instead, and those things put my legs to sleep. I prefer a real bike and the outdoors.

    Thanks! Yes, we do need to chat. :)

  16. Wendy didn't post a review. Just a blurb in her Mailbox Monday post.

  17. Les,

    Okay! I'll look for that, then!

  18. The Lost Wife sounds fantastic, I can't wait to hear what you think. I'll refrain from hitting that oh-so-tempting 'reserve' button until I do, though, as books like this can tend to go either way.
    - Chelsea


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