Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekly wrap-up : number forty-five

The weekly wrap-up is my way of keeping my loyal readers informed of my bookish activities and holding myself to my bookish obligations. The questions may change slightly depending on the week.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: Caribou Island by David Vann and The Uninnocent by Bradford Morrow


Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I'm reading Caribou Island for pleasure and to fill an empty slot in the A to Z Challenge. I received a copy of The Uninnocent through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. It is a collection of short stories, and I'm fitting them in around full-length novels.

Q: What have you read since the last weekly wrap-up?
A: The Amber Room by Steve Berry


Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner


Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: An historical mystery set in France? Why wouldn't I want to read it?

Q: What bookish events did you attend?
A: I attended the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference during the first part of this week. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to prep posts before leaving, so that's why I've been MIA on the blog this week. Sorry for the lack of content!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekly wrap-up : number forty-four

The weekly wrap-up is my way of keeping my loyal readers informed of my bookish activities and holding myself to my bookish obligations. The questions may change slightly depending on the week.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I'm still reading The Marriage Plot as part of a readalong.

Q: What have you read since the last weekly wrap-up?
A: The End of the Wasp Season by Denise MinaDeath Notice and Bad Moon by Todd Ritter, and Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby


Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: The Uninnocent by Bradford Morrow


Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: I received a copy through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Q: What books did you acquire?
A: NetGalley: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
Purchased: The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth and The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition by Norton Juster


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review : Death Notice

Death Notice by Todd Ritter. Minotaur Books, 2010.

[Source: Library]

Death Notice is Todd Ritter’s debut novel and first in the Kat Campbell series. Kat is the police chief of small town Perry Hollow, Pa., where crime is a rarity. She and the townspeople are shocked when their tranquility is shattered by a brutal murder. Knowing she is out of her league, Kat calls in the help of the state police, which arrives in the form of Lieutenant Nick Donnelly and his task force. Terror is added to Kat’s shock when Nick tells her the murder appears to be the work of a serial killer. Local obituary writer Henry Goll also becomes involved in the case when he realizes he received a death notice for the victim before his death. The killer continues to use Goll to communicate his plans. With each death notice, Kat, Nick, and Henry must race to beat the clock and catch the killer.

Death Notice is a clever crime novel that kept me guessing the entire time. Several suspects pop up along the way, but I was never sure of anyone’s guilt or innocence. Kat, Nick, and Henry are all extremely likeable but also very complicated. They each have demons that haunt them and drive their actions. Ritter has crafted an gripping whodunit with compelling characters for his first novel. I have Bad Moon, the second in the series, on hand to read next and can’t wait to get started.

Buy Death Notice at Powell's or Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review : The End of the Wasp Season

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina. Reagan Arthur Books, 2011.

[Source: Publisher]

The End of the Wasp Season is the second in the DS Alex Morrow series. The story begins with the murder of a young woman, Sarah Erroll, in her home. When Morrow and her colleagues arrive on the scene, they find a large sum of money hidden in the kitchen. Where did the money come from? Why was the woman murdered? As the investigation begins, the reader already knows who did it and quickly finds out why. The truth of the Sarah's life, however, unfolds more slowly.

Like Still Midnight, Wasp Season is a journey during which the reader waits for Morrow to catch up to what you already know while filling in the gaps. Unlike Still Midnight, the journey seems artificially prolonged. I spent a good portion of the book wondering why the police were wasting time picking on poor Kay instead of following the obvious lead provided in the emergency call. Of course, Alex Morrow eventually defies Bannerman, who is now her boss, to pursue the appropriate course of investigation and solve the case. I was a bit annoyed, however, by Alex’s realization that she was being passive because of her pregnancy -- after spending most of the book annoyed with her male colleagues for assuming her being pregnant would affect her work!

That being said, The End of the Wasp Season is still a good crime novel. Despite being annoyed at Kay’s treatment, I was glad to have her in the book. She is another strong-willed woman the reader can admire. Plus, she and Alex were friends in their youth so she allows a bit more of Alex’s personal side to be revealed. I love the general feel of this series and will read the next one when it comes out even though The End of the Wasp Season didn’t quite measure up to Still Midnight.

Buy The End of the Wasp Season at Powell's or Amazon.com.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review : Still Midnight

Still Midnight by Denise Mina. Reagan Arthur Books, 2010.

[Source: Purchased]

Still Midnight is the first in Denise Mina’s DS Alex Morrow series. The novel opens with the crime. The culprits are looking for someone named Bob. When no one in the house they attack is called Bob, they take the father, a simple Ugandan shop owner, for ransom. The police must figure out why the family was targeted and race against the clock to save the father. DS Alex Morrow is, of course, the one to figure it all out even though she is passed over as head of the case for the boss’ protégé, DS Grant Bannerman.

Still Midnight is a classic story of bumbling criminals except that there is nothing comical about the situation. I found myself cringing at both their actions and their stupidity, especially the ringleader, Eddy. The character of Alex Morrow is reminiscent of the great Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect. DS Alex Morrow is a woman in a man’s world. She is disliked by her male colleagues for being a female officer -- and for being a good one. There is also underlying tension in her personal life, which remains unexplained for a large portion of the novel.

I was fully engrossed in the narrative and was taken off guard by the twist that pulls all the strings together. In my book, these are hallmarks of well-constructed crime fiction. If you are a fan of strong, female characters in crime fiction, Still Midnight is the book for you.

Buy Still Midnight from Powell's or Amazon.com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly wrap-up : number forty-three

The weekly wrap-up is my way of keeping my loyal readers informed of my bookish activities and holding myself to my bookish obligations. The questions may change slightly depending on the week.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina


Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I'm reading The Marriage Plot as part of a readalong and The End of the Wasp Season for review.

Q: What have you read since the last weekly wrap-up?
A: If Jack's in Love by Stephen Wetta, Still Midnight by Denisa Mina


Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: Death Notice by Todd Ritter


Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: @Dana_Kaye sent me a copy of Bad Moon, so I want to start at the beginning of the series with Death Notice.


Q: What books did you acquire?
A: NetGalley: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre
LibraryThing Early Reviewers: The Uninnocent by Bradford Morrow

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reading challenge : Nick Hornby : Update six


I think I'm making great progress on my personal Nick Hornby Reading Challenge! Since my last update, I've posted reviews of A Long Way Down and Slam. I also read Otherwise Pandemonium, which includes two short stories - "Otherwise Pandemonium" and "Not a Star." Initially, I didn't realize "Not a Star" was included here. The fact that it is knocks another item off my reading list - the standalone publication of the same story.

That leaves me with the following left on my Hornby TBR list.

Click (one novel with ten authors)
Lonely Avenue (lyrics and short stories)

I'll definitely get through Juliet, Naked and hope to fit in the short stories around other books. I fear I may not be able to fit in Click, but will do my best to complete this challenge.

Feel free to leave links to your own Nick Hornby reviews as a comment on this post.