Archive for August, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Posted August 27, 2007 By Jandy

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutLast week my monthly book club met. Sometimes we choose to read “an author” rather than a specific book. Last year it was Ray Bradbury. This year we discussed Kurt Vonnegut‘s work. Members of our group had never read his work before; other members have read everything, often as soon as it was published.

I was one who fell in the middle. I had read Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions before now. I added Bluebeard this month and re-read Slaughterhouse-Five. I also have an old copy of World’s Best Science Fiction 1969 collection. Vonnegut’s short story, “Welcome to the Monkeyhouse” is in it.

Bluebeard by Kurt VonnegutOur discussion was, as usual, fascinating and all over the place. Bring 15 or 20 readers together and you’re going to hear many different opinions. Vonnegut’s work isn’t easy or straightforward. It’s satirical, funny, cynical, passionate, confusing… The adjectives range across the board.

Most of us had read Slaughterhouse-Five, so that is the one we discussed the most. I bought my own copy this time and made notes throughout the book. The strong anti-war sentiment was especially timely when this was first published in the late 1960’s. It’s interesting that even 40 years later the firebombing of Dresden is still only a small note in history. Yet this novel points out how horrendous it was.

If you want to challenge yourself, read some of Kurt Vonnegut’s work. But which one should you read first? Hmmm, one member says Cat’s Cradle, another says Slaughterhouse-Five, and another says his short stories, perhaps the collection under the title Welcome to the Monkey House. If you want straight forward stories, start with the short stories. Otherwise, in my opinion, try Breakfast of Champions.

Judge Deborah Knott

Posted August 19, 2007 By Jandy

Every once in a while I receive a book for review that I have been anticipating. When I was offered Margaret Maron‘s new Judge Deborah Knott novel, Hard Row, which comes out this Tuesday, I jumped at the chance.

For all you Deborah Knott fans, Hard Row is excellent. For all of you who haven’t met her, you’ll find this is a well done mystery. In other words, any of you who like a good detective mystery should like this book.

If you haven’t read any of Margaret Maron’s North Carolina mystery novels before, you’ll learn a lot of Miss Debra’s history in this one that unfolded in earlier novels. You should go back and read them, especially the first one, Bootlegger’s Daughter. That particular novel earned practically every mystery novel award available the year it was published. They are cozy mysteries in the sense that the murder is always off stage and we don’t usually get graphic details. But they don’t lean towards cute. They’re good detective novels.

Reading Nutrition Labels

Posted August 16, 2007 By Jandy

The other day I bought some salads and a burrito from Trader Joe’s. Today I decided to have the burrito. I read the nutrition label (as Dr. Schnur tells his readers to do). I was surprised and a bit cynical when I read the package of one burrito contained two servings.

2?? Two?

Who is going to eat half a pre-packaged burrito? It was bean and cheese. If I had cut it in half cold and only heated half, the cheese would have melted all over my plate rather than stay in its wrap.

C’mon folks, let’s get some reality in packaging. It’s the rare person who will only eat half a burrito. Package labels don’t have to be so misleading.

Wedding Reading

Posted August 13, 2007 By Jandy

I was invited to a beautiful wedding this past weekend. My daughter was one of the bridesmaids. Of course you shouldn’t read at a wedding (tell my other daughter that…) but I still found book time. It’s always smart to have something handy and portable because you never know when you’re going to be just hanging around. Waiting for the rehearsal dinner and before the wedding easily gave me three hours to read Julie Garwood‘s romantic suspense, Murder List. I was able to finish it that night after I went to bed.

A Southern California wedding in August is beautiful. Andrew and Carla had a wonderful, at times humorous, at other times evangelical wedding. The reception was held outside right after on her college alma mater’s grounds. Although we were under huge shade trees, there was a suntan lotion towelette at each plate. (If I had used mine, I wouldn’t be pink now.) They had one hors d’oevre I hadn’t seen before – there were SnoKones. After spilling the syrup down my dress, I decided they wouldn’t be featured at any event I give…

Congratulations, Carla and Andrew.

Surprise Winner!

Posted August 7, 2007 By Jandy

Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
Sympathy Between Humans by Jodi Compton
Entombed by Linda Fairstein
Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen
Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
Puss in Cahoots by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick

What do these books all have in common? Remember the Women of Mystery series I have been attending at my local library? There was a raffle for a basket of books. I was shocked when they pulled out my name. This is great. I’ve only read one of these (Falcon at the Portal) and am looking forward to these (meanwhile, Mt. Bookpile overflows even more… There’s not enough time to read everything I want!)

Taffy Cannon is the author who moderated most of the sessions and donated the basket. So I bought one of her books as well, Murder Will Travel that she wrote using a pen name, Emily Toll.

It Makes a Bibliophile Want to Cry

Posted August 6, 2007 By Jandy

My friend LazyGal is a school librarian. Unfortunately, they had a fire this weekend.