Archive for July, 2007

Women of Mystery

Posted July 30, 2007 By Jandy

The California Center for the Book put together a Book Club in a Box program titled “Women of Mystery“. The Poway Branch of the San Diego County Library sponsored it as part of their Adult Summer Reading Program this year. It features Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, and Sara Paretsky. The first meeting (which I missed) presented a film about the three women. The next three meetings are devoted to one author and a selected novel of hers for each meeting.

I have read all of the Sue Grafton alphabet novels featuring Kinsey Milhone. The book to read for the program was S is for Silence which I had read a year and a half ago.

I had run across Muller before, but she hadn’t caught my notice at all. At the same time this program was scheduled I was offered a preview of her newest Sharon McCone novel, The Ever-Running Man. We read Vanishing Point for the program – good cold case novel.

I knew about Paretsky, but hadn’t read any of her work. So I finished Fire Sale this week for the last meeting. I was impressed with Fire Sale. I like V.I. Warshawsky’s “voice” and the way she got involved.

If you live in California, check out the program. I would imagine it is readily available to public libraries through the California Center for the Book. If you don’t, you’ll still find these three writers have strong women detectives featured in good novels.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Posted July 25, 2007 By Jandy

Although I didn’t buy it, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the day it was released. I made sure I reserved it as soon as the library allowed people to do so. Then it was passed on to my daughters.

I read it quickly. But my friend LazyGal read it in less time.

I liked the book, but I felt cheated at the end – it fell flat. I refuse to post any spoilers (telling events from the book before others have read it). I liked it and felt Rowling did a good job tying up the series. I felt like something was just beyond my grasp that never quite came together when I put it down with a fairly satisfied sigh.

The Margarets

Posted July 22, 2007 By Jandy

Earlier I mentioned I was reading The Margarets while waiting for jury duty. I’m glad I had the day because then I was able to finish the novel before my copy of the newest Harry Potter was available at the library yesterday. It is very good.

As usual, Tepper is making a social commentary. As usual, she twines it into such a good storyline that is doesn’t matter. There’s a science fiction theory that is crucial to this novel. When a decision needs to be made, the timeline splits into two – one where the person says yes and another where the person says no, creating two parallel times that grow less similar as the effects of the two different decisions effect the happenings after that. Margaret ends up with seven personalities, each unaware of the other, splitting onto to worlds fulfilling different roles.The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse byJonathan Selwood

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
took up yesterday. It was a nice, warm, sunny day that was great for reading. I even took a couple breaks to shop for scrapbooking supplies. Today my college-aged daughter came home to visit and to read my copy of Harry Potter because she is way down the library reservation list. I expect my other, older daughter to read it this week, too. Three for the use of one library loan – not bad.

I also added reviews for a book I was asked to review, The Pinball Theory of the Apocalypse, and a book from Molly, Show and Tell.

Call for Jury Duty – a Good Time to Read

Posted July 19, 2007 By Jandy

Today I sat in the Jury Duty Waiting Room all day. When we first arrived we were told the courts have a full docket and we were all fairly certain to go to some courtroom for the day. But that didn’t happen. I sat reading Sheri S. Tepper’s new novel The Margarets. At lunch I walked down the street about 7 blocks to a favorite used bookstore in downtown San Diego, Wahrenbrock’s Book House, and bought a 20 year old copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard to read for the August Book Club meeting.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThis afternoon I got into a conversation with a man who belongs to a different book club. He pulled out The Great Gatsby, the book he is reading. We had a great conversation about what we had read for our different clubs. His concentrates on the classics a la the old Great Books book discussions. I already told you about what mine reads. Around 2:30 about half the room was still there. Only 5 or so jury panels had been called. But we were sent home. I guess the other trials couldn’t come to enough agreement to get a jury in the room.

The Fifth Sacred Thing by StarhawkBefore jury duty, I finished an interesting young adult urban fantasy novel, The City Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. In a post plague world, the city of San Francisco protects itself and its artists’ colony from invasion. I couldn’t help compare it to Starhawk’s Fifth Sacred Thing. Both novels deal with approximately the same generation of older people. Both have San Francisco residents sustaining their community without outside help. Both have military type invaders who want to take the city. But the two novels are very different in tone and solution. Both give a fascinating look into a post-apocalyptic world and the reason for the fall.

For you teachers, I have added a review of a book my friend Molly highly recommends. Classroom Under Construction by Rich Grimes is a book that can help teachers do their job effectively. She says she plans to give copies of it to her student teachers.


Rabbit, Run by John UpdikeMy public library sponsors a monthly book club. I have gone for two years now. We’ve read books from very good (Gone With the Wind) to so-so (Mother Earth, Father Sky), from non-fiction (The Day the World Came to Town) to sentimental mush (The Five People You Meet in Heaven), and from serious classics (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter) to current best-sellers (we’re going to read Eat, Pray, Love in November).

This month we read Rabbit, Run. I found the book unnerving and unsettling. It maintained my interest in despite the dysfunctional characters. Our discussion tonight helped fill in pieces I hadn’t considered. If nothing else, the discussion helped us mentally keep the book within the right time frame. This novel would be written very differently if it were happening today. I still find it difficult to believe it was published in 1959 or 1960. I didn’t know they could print scenes as risque as some of the ones in this book are at that time in major publications. That’s just a reminder that the Love Children of the 1960’s didn’t have the corner on sex or free love. I’ll probably have to read the sequels even though I don’t like Rabbit, Janice, or their families.

I also added a review for another book Molly read. This one is a romance, Juliette Ascending.

Travel in Egypt and Save the Earth

Posted July 15, 2007 By Jandy

Books used to be sacrosanct to me – and still are in most ways. But I now allow myself to make notes in my own copies, especially non-fiction. I finished Rosemary Mahoney’s Down the Nile yesterday. I have notes (in pen and pencil) on the front and back flyleaves (flyleafs??) as well as a few notes in the text itself. I enjoyed the historical recountings she includes in the book. But as for the current culture – Egypt has not been on my dream list of places to visit. After reading this, it will never get on that list, either.

My schoolteacher friend Molly is on summer hiatus so is busy writing book reviews. I have received a number from her in the last month. Today I added a children’s non-fiction called Hot Topic Planet Earth. She recommends this book for children that studies our planet. Her 4th graders liked it, too.


Posted July 14, 2007 By Jandy

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThis blog has been created to be a companion for my web site. My latest book review is on The Great Gatsby.

As I mention in the review, I had avoided reading this book. But circumstances sometimes make us change our minds. That’s what happened and I read the book.

Actually, I listened to it. It was the Tim Robbins version of the audiobook. Robbins did a very good job with the voices and characters. Unfortunately, it is quiet. I kept turning up the speakers in the car. The letters written by F. Scott Fitzgerald at the end of the book are read by Robert Sean Leonard (of House fame right now). I had to laugh at Fitzgerald’s description of getting anything done in Hollywood. I guess things haven’t changed much in over 80 years.

I found the book very good. What do you think of it?