Friday, June 27, 2008

And 51!!

49. Winter Study by Nevada Barr. I love the Anna Pigeon books although they are much darker than I usually read. This one had a good mystery that kept me guessing nearly to the end. I enjoyed the setting, Isle Royale in January, and enjoyed the wolf element.

50. Buried Bones and 51. Splintered Bones both by Carolyn Haines. I enjoyed the first two I read and these were also good. Buried Bones had an intriguing premise, a formerly prominent author now forgotten who was planning his tell-all memoirs is murdered; this sounds trite but this author makes it fresh.

I'm going to have to take a break now and get some knitting done. I have two socks and one new pair to do and two baby sweaters to finish.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nearly to 50!

42. Waiting for Ms. Chips by Dorothy Cannell. This is one of her Ellie Haskell series. I loved the first, liked most of the rest, but this one was really dull. She hammered on one joke about schoolgirl books until it was just annoying.

43. The Thai Amulet and 44. The Moai Murders both by Lyn Hamilton. The protagonist in this series has an antique shop in Toronto. These books all involve her travels to find stock for her store, so readers get some interesting descriptions of unusual places.

45. Crossed Bones and 46. Bones to Pick by Carolyn Haines. I found a reference to this author on Ravelry, and I am glad. I enjoyed these mysteries set in the Mississippi delta with interesting characters. I especially enjoyed Crossed Bones which dealt with blues musicians.

47. Still Life by Louise Penny. This mystery series set in Quebec has one of the most engaging detectives I read in a long time. Quite a bit of philosophical musing and varied, entertaining characters. I'll be looking for the other two in the library soon.

48. The Serpent's Trail by Sue Henry. The protagonist in this series is Maxie, a retired widow who travels from Alaska in her Winnebago with her miniature dachshund, Stretch. The characters were well written, but I found myself skipping long pages of travel description. Unusual because I usually like description but these sounded more like travel guides to me. Interesting mystery though.

Now, if the library has the rest of the Carolyn Haines and Louise Penny books, I will pass the 50 book mark in a couple of days!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Love Traveling!

I also love being a teacher with the summer free for travel - if the finances were just there.

This time we flew from Albuquerque to Portland, spent a few days there, took a train to Seattle, spent a few days there including one day where we took a ferry to Victoria, B.C., and then back home.

Loved Portland especially the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. We found it to be an easy city to get around in with great public transportation. It also has amazing restaurants. We celebrated our 29th anniversary with dinner at Serrato - they were nice enough to bring us champagne!

We went whale watching in Victoria. Last year I couldn't get enough of watching the humpbacks off the Alaskan coast; this year we watched orcas in the Juan de Fuca Strait. They are certainly faster than humpbacks, so I have no good pictures. However, we did get to see something that the naturalist said only happens a few times each summer. We were watching random dorsal fins over a large area when they started turning and going in the same direction. She came out and said the captain had gotten a radio message that said apparently the three pods that stay in the Strait were going to meet. She said they think it might be an especially large concentration of salmon. Anyway, we took off quickly and got to a place where we could see dorsal fins starting to converge. The naturalist said the orcas got excited when they met up, and we began to see whales breaching, doing spy hops, etc. It was amazing to watch.

I also got to mark WWKIP by meeting the Capitol Hill Knitters in the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. They were so nice to a transient knitter! They made me feel so welcomed, included me in their raffle, and were just generally kind. I loved the looks on the faces of people passing by.
So, now that vacation is over, back to working on the house. We have to replace a faucet out in the yard, so I have holes to dig.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

And Yet More Books

36. The Weaver and the Factory Maid, 37. The Famous Flower of Serving Men, 38. Matty Groves, 39. Cruel Sister, 40. New-Slain Knight by Deborah Grabien. This series all have Ringan Laine, a folklorist and musician and his significant other, Penny who runs a traveling thespian group in England. In the first book, Ringan acquires a life tenancy in an old cottage but he and Penny both experience odd sounds and visions, all associated with a song that Ringan's band performs. They research the history of the cottage and find that the song is a sort of twisted version of an actual event at the cottage. The rest of the books in the series are all along the same lines, with variations - they have an experience with ghosts associated with a folk song and must find a way for the ghost to rest. While that may sound repetitive, actually I found the writing and variations to be strong enough to hold my interest. I also enjoyed the fact that the characters also began to protest the repetitiveness! I especially enjoyed the British history and now have some notes on topics I want to research further.

41. Antiques to Die For by Jane K. Cleland. A pretty typical mystery with some information about antiques thrown in. I am a huge fan of Antique Road Show, so I enjoyed that part, and I did like the characters, but this was a somewhat forgettable book overall. I did like it enough that I will look for the first by this author.

Now I am caught up with the reading list!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More Books

22. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, 23. Miss Julia Throws a Wedding, 24. Miss Julia Hits the Road, 25. Miss Julia Meets Her Match, 26. Miss Julia's School of Beauty, 27. Miss Julia Strikes Back all by Ann B. Ross. I'm not sure I got all of this series listed. These started out with an odd premise. A somewhat rigid, bitter and lonely older Southern lady is dealing with her husband's unexpected death, somewhat comforted by the discovery that, though he kept her short of money, he left a great deal for her. Then a woman appears on her doorstep with a ten year old boy; she tells Miss Julia that this is her husband's child and that she needs Miss Julia to keep him while she goes to beauty school and she leaves. Unexpectedly through a lot of twists and some mystery, Hazel and her son end up living with Miss Julia. These are light books, but I found myself laughing out loud and at times tearing up.

28. Death du Jour by Lou Jane Temple. I had read some of this author's Heaven Lee series, although they aren't my favorite kind of mysteries. This new series however combines mystery with history, and I found them to be very interesting. I read the first, The Spice Box, last year. This one is set in France just after the revolution. Both books have an unusual box filled with recipes and spices.

29. The Wizard Heir and 30. The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. This is a fantasy series for young adults that has some unique touches. There are people born with special crystals behind their hearts that give them special powers. Each crystal offers specific powers, with wizards being the most powerful. The different branches of powers don't necessarily get along. I found these interesting and fun to read, and one of my students carried off my copy of The Warrior Heir the first day I brought it to class.

31. Taken by Edward Bloor. Interesting young adult science fiction novel, set in a future where children are trained in what to do when they are kidnapped, as very many are. There are some twists and some interesting characters.

32. Death of a MythMaker by Allana Martin. A Texas mystery set near Marfa with a protagonist who has a country store. This had some interesting descriptions, but the mystery was weak.

33. Constable's Run by Laurie Moore. Another Texas mystery although I have already forgotten most of the book even though I read it a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was bleak and somewhat dry, although there was a lot about a constable's job that was interesting.

34. The Body in the Gallery by Katherine Hall Page. I have read all of this series as soon as they come out. I love the protagonist, Faith, who is a caterer and a minister's wife in New England. This one had some interesting information about art and museums in the area, and descriptions of good food also.

35. Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke. I enjoy the Hannah Swenson mysteries and her recipes. This was a collection of short stories by 4 authors, and I enjoyed the Fluke one and the Meier one although I much prefer the complete novels by both these authors. And, of course, each story had a Christmas theme.

I'm still reading, but this is as far as I have gotten with writing a list. I need to go back and look at my book stacks again. I have also taken some time to go back to old favorites - my favorite stress relief - but I pledged to myself that I wouldn't count those in this 50 book challenge.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

50 Books in a Year

I read about this challenge on another blog and thought, "I can do that." However, it turns out that reading seriously impacts the time I have for knitting and for blogging - and of course work has to fit in somehow. This should explain why I haven't blogged since February.

These are what I have read so far (not in the order I read them):

1. Dark Moon Defender, 2. The Thirteenth House, 3. Mystic and Rider, 4. Reader and the Raelynx all by Sharon Shinn. I read about this author on another blog and, since I love fantasy, decided to try them. I really enjoyed them all; she had some unique ideas which made them fun to read.
5. Aunt Dimity - Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton. I have loved this series from the beginning. Aunt Dimity was a sort of super woman now deceased who communicates with Lori, her best friend's daughter, through a journal. Lots of humor and interesting situations throughout the series and lots of description of England.

6. Death Walked In by Carolyn Hart. This is a great series if you like mysteries because the protagonist has a mystery bookstore. Besides the mystery in the book, there are also lots of references to other authors. I have always read these with paper and pen so I can make notes of others I want to read. I also really like Annie and Max Darling and the characters that surround them. The author always starts with a view into the murderer's mind without revealing exactly who they are.

7. The Gladstone Bag by Charlotte McLeod. This author also writes under the name of Alisa Craig. She has several series, all set in Northeastern US or in Canada. She is so funny, and I love her characters. This is one I evidently missed because I thought I had read them all.

8. The Wednesday Wars and 9. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. Two very different books by the same author. These are for young adults, but I loved them. The Wednesday Wars is about a boy who is the only student in his school who does not go for religious instruction on Wednesday afternoons, so he is assigned to a teacher who does not want him. However, through reading, theater and sports, they find some common ground. This is set during the Vietnam era. Lizzie Bright is a take on a true story of a group of black people on a small island off the Canadian coast who are forced out so the island can be made into a resort. I can't write a description that would do this book justice. I loved both of these so much though that I am trying to get funds to buy sets for my classroom.

10. She Came Back and 11. Run by Patricia Wentworth. I love classic mysteries and these are great. I especially like her Miss Silver character (she knits!) and I love the time period (roughly 40's). These are hard books for me to find because so many are out of print, but they are wonderful.
12. The Princeton Murders and 13. The Princeton Imposter by Ann Waldron. These are interesting mysteries about a journalist from Florida who comes to Princeton to teach one course. These have some interesting twists and characters. I am having trouble finding the rest, but I liked them enough that I am making the effort. Very interesting protagonist.

14. Turkey Flambe 15. Holy Guacamole, 16 Bon Bon Voyage, 17. Crime Brulee by Nancy Fairbanks. This mystery series includes food and recipes. The protagonist is a food writer who travels to get ideas for her books. So, you get recipes and descriptions of interesting places along with a pretty decent mystery. Her characters are interesting and funny. The opening chapter in Turkey Flambe was like a scene from Keystone Kops but I laughed out loud while reading it.

18. Sax and Violins by Mary Daheim. I have been reading this series for awhile. I enjoy the interactions between Judith and her cousin Renie and the descriptions of Judith's bed and breakfast in Northwest US.

19. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews. The titles drew me to this series, and the writing did not disappoint. The protagonist, Meg, is a blacksmith with a unique family. I think I like reading about the characters more than I enjoy the mystery. These should be read in order however, as some of the story builds from book to book.

20. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. Curtis is known for great young adult books, and this one is my favorite so far. It is about a colony of free black people in Canada in the 1870's. It is somewhat painful to read at times; I find it hard to read about a child who is manipulated by an adult, but this was still a great read.

21. Eldest by Christopher Paolini. I wasn't a fan of Eragon because I thought it was very derivative. However, some of my students insisted that I read the second, and I wasn't sorry. It was a fun read, but not great. I do see why my students love it but personally I really don't remember much already.

I haven't finished the list, but I need to go knit. I am working on two baby sweaters for a young man who is supposed to arrive the end of June.