Saturday, February 27, 2010


Pages: 343
Date: 27/02/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Commissario Brunetti Mystery
            Also Published As: Dressed for Death

Commissario Brunetti hopes of escaping a Venetian heatwave by going on a family holiday are dashed when the body of a murder victim is found. The man's face has been smashed in, and he was wearing a red dress with matching shoes when discovered. 
For a long time the victim remains unidentified and Brunetti has to centre his investigation on the transvestite community in Venice.
Once the body has been given a name, Brunetti has a new direction in which to stear his investigation. However, even as matters become more clear, it also becomes obvious that it is highly unlikely that Brunetti will ever find the proof he needs to convict those responsible for this murder and for those that are to follow.
This is a great series. Brunetti is a very well written, sympathetic, and rounded character with flaws that only  make him more real to the reader.
I also admire the way Donna Leon deals with with the corruption so endemic in Italian society, which forms a constant obstacle to Brunetti in the execution of his job. While she makes it clear how frustrating this is, she presents it as a fact of life, which I suppose must be how most Italians would perceive it.
I'm really going to enjoy slowly reading my way through this series.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Pages: 335
Date: 26/02/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Bride Quartet

This is the story of Emmaline Grant, the florist in Vows, the wedding company she runs with her three friends.
From a very early age, Emma has been a true romantic, dreaming of love and devotion that last a life time, like the love her parents share. Beautiful and sexy, Emma gets lots of male attention, but so far love has eluded her.
Jack Cooke has been a friend of Emma and her friends for years. And when he and Emma suddenly find themselves attracted to each other they have to make a few adjustments.
Jack however doesn't believe in happy ever after, which is the only thing Emma will settle for. But if their romance were to fail, it wouldn't be only their friendship under threat. It would also severly challange the dynamics in the group of friends they both belong to.
This is Roberts at her best. Only she can write books where it doesn't matter that I know the ending before I even start reading it. It's the journey towards that ending, romantic, exciting and sexy, that makes these books such fun.
This was also the perfect book to read while recuperating after a minor operation; totally engrossing and not too demanding on my somewhat flighty mind.
The third book in this quartet will be out in just a few months, and I'm already looking forward to it.


Pages: 278
Date: 23/02/2010
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 6 Maisie Dobbs Mystery

I do love this series. I love the setting, London in between the two World Wars. I love the way it deals with the issues of the time without romanticizing them, showing them in all their ghastly reality while never getting too sentimental. And I love the character of Maisie Dobbs, an independent and self-suffficient woman in a time when those qualities were rare in women, yet a woman with issues of her own which make her more real.
This book starts with Maisie and her assistant Billie Beale witnessing a man, obviously a maimed war veteran, killing himself by blowing himself up. 
The next day the British home secretary receives a letter announcing more deaths to follow unless war veterans receive the pensions and care they need and deserve.
Because Maisie's name is mentioned in the letter, she's invited to join the investigation. It soon becomes clear they're dealing with a desperate man, able and willing to use desperate and devastating means to get his point across. And Maisie finds herself dealing with the effects of WW I again. A war that left so many people, including Maisie herself, damaged.
At the same time Maisie is trying to help both Billie's wife and her friend Priscilla who are both dealing with depression.
A very well written mystery with lots of historical detail and insight into human nature and the emotional struggles people have to face.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Pages: 403
Date: 21/02/2010
Grade: 3.5
Details: no.1 Cicero
                  Bookclub read for February

I don't think I would have finished this book if I hadn't been reading it for my bookclub. To be captivated by this book, I think the reader would have to be fascinated by politics. My interest in that field isn't deep enough to want to spend hours reading about the mechanics of it, not even when the background is provided by ancient Rome.
This is the story of Cicero and his rise through the political ranks in Rome, as narrated by his secretary and slave, Tiro.
The story starts with Tiro admitting a terrified Sicilian to Cicero's house. 
Cicero, who is an ambitious and gifted young lawyer and senator at the time, takes on the politically dangerous case the Sicilian presents and with that sets of on his path through the layers of political power in Rome.
On his way up he will make enemies and friends, will have to let ideals go and discover new ones, and will have at least as many moments of despair as he does of triumph.
Overall, I found the amount of characters and the detailed descriptions of the scheming going on rather tiresome. I have to admit though that the writing was of such a standard that finishing the book never felt like too much of an uphill struggle.
What did amuse me was the realization of how little has changed in the world of politics, despite more than 20 centuries having passed since Cicero's day.
The political world is still largely one of friends helping friends, where what matters is who you know, not what you know, and where money will by you power and favour.
One line in the book reminded me of the Tv-series "Yes (Prime) Minister:
"These people, Cicero complained to me one morning, are a warning of what happens to any state which has a permanent staff of officials. They begin as our servants and end up imagining themselves our masters." (p. 290)
Another quote I really liked:
"The art of life is to deal with problems as they arise, rather than destroy one's spirit by worrying about them too far in advance." (p.402)
And one last line:
"Words, words, words. Is there no end to the tricks you can make them perform?" (p. 402).

Finally I have to admit that even though I was't overly impressed by this book, I do find myself wondering what happened next in Cicero's life and career, and thinking that I may just have to read "Lustrum" to find out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Pages: 369
Date: 17/02/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: Large Print edition

This book by Chevalier, like the earlier ones, is based on real people and real events.
Set in the first half of the 19th century, it is the story of two women, Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning.
When Elizabeth moves from London to Lyme Regis with two of her sisters she is already resigned to living out her life as a spinster and develops an interest in fossil hunting. While on the beach searching for fossils she meets Mary Anning, a young girl from a very poor family with a remarkable eye for hidden fossils.
Elizabeth and Mary start spending time together, searching for treasures with especially Mary being very successful at finding the remains of creatures unknown to men.
Such is Mary's success that men of science start looking for her help in finding fossils and buying those she has found of her.
Of course, this being the age it is, Mary doesn't get credited publicly with her finds and it seems that her name and Elizabeth's will be lost to history.
Their difference in standing keeps a distance between the two women and a falling out keeps them apart for years. In the end though their devotion to fossils, science and the truth will bring them back together. And, as this book proves, their efforts and lives were momentous enough to be remembered.
This book deals with a lot of issues such as the role of women in society, the church doctrine versus science as well as loyalty and friendship.
Still, this book failed to impress me like some of Chevalier's earlier books did. I never felt close enough to the women to be really interested in their story. And although it wasn't a hard book to read or stick with, I was never impatient to get back to it either. All in all this was an interesting but not an amazing book.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Pages: 356
Date: 14/02/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 3 Mike Bennett Mystery

The son of one of New York's wealthiest families is snatched off the street and kidnapped. The kidnapper however is not demanding money. Instead he makes the boy take an exam; getting the answers wrong is punishable by death.
Michael Bennett, still balancing his high pressure job with taking care of his 10 children is joined by FBI agent Emily Parker, with whom he gets on really well right from the start.
But as more kidnappings follow and rich kids die, Mike and Emily have nothing to go on, and the kidnapper is working towards a devastating finale.
As always with Patterson this was an easy to read page turner. It wasn't a very good mystery though, and I never really got caught up in the story, partly because who the kidnapper is is clear from the start of the book. However, I like Mike, and will continue to read the books in this series, just to keep up with his family life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Pages: 374
Date: 13/02/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 29 In Death Mystery

I really, really love this series of mysteries and its main characters, Eve Dallas and Roarke. I also like the way in which the books in this series have been progressing. With every subsequent book it seems to be more about the mystery and less about the sexy. The latter is (thankfully) still there, it wouldn't be an Eve and Roarke story without that aspect, but the balance is definitely shifting towards to crimes and how they're solved.
And, as always, Robb drew me into the story, made me feel the pain, the anger, the pleasure and the joy. She kept me turning the pages, desperate to find out how it ends yet sad that it would have to end at all. This book left me eager for the next one which, much to my joy, is already available in the shops.
In this book the victim who's crime scene Eve is called to, even though she's supposed to be off duty, is the daughter of a colleague and good friend of Captain Whitney's. The sixteen year old girl has been sexually abused in a most brutal way before being murdered; all in her own bedroom. 
Although resources are not an issue, Eve and her team can't pick up any useful clues about the murderer and his motives, until just before a second victim is discovered.
When all becomes clear, Eve will have come face to face with parts of her past once again, and will have discovered that, although it will never be easy, she's getting better at dealing with it, always sure of the love and trust of those around her.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Date: 12/02/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: "The Sookie Stackhouse Stories"

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I'm not a huge fan of short stories. I like all the detail you get in a novel and miss it in short stories.
But this was a nice series of visits with Sookie Stackhouse, and I can't help wondering if short stories maybe work better in this, paranormal, genre. How much character description and development can you give a vampire, werewolf or fairie? Surely their being dictates a lot of their behaviour and therefore limits the author's options?
Anyway, these stories all fit nicely in between the books in the series, and Harris kindly explains exactly where and how in the introducion.
The stories are fun and deal with every aspect of the paranatural in Sookie's life and feature several of the regulars from her books.
Reading "A Touch of Dead" left me feeling that it's probably time to bring another one of her novels home. Which fact in itself proves that I enjoyed reading this book.



Pages: 356
Date: 11/02/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Burren Mystery

It is 1509 and Mara, Brehon (Judge) of the Burren, is attending the funeral of a priest. Outside the church the body of a man is found who died as a result of bee stings. The dead man was a silver-smith and owner of the local silver mine. He was also very rich and very unpopular. 
Mara is convinced she dealing with an "unlawful and and secret murder" and starts an investigation.
Finding out who killed the man won't be easy though,since there is no shortage of people with reasons to want the man dead. His (former) wife, his son, a disgruntled neighbour, to name but a few all have grievances against him. There is also the question as to who should inherit the man's wealth. And to complicate matters even further, there is a connection between King Turlough Donn O'Brien, who Mara is engaged to, and the dead man.

I love these books. Ireland, a short time before the English took complete control is a fascinating place, with interesting customs and laws and a way of looking at life that really appeals to me.
Mara is a wonderful character, a clever investigator and a compassionate but just judge.
I really hope there will be a lot more books in this series.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Pages: 391
Date: 08/02/2010
Grade: 4

This book tells the story of the first 31 years in the life of Calla Lily Ponder. Born in 1953 in La Luna, Louisiana she has an idylic childhood with her beloved mother, M'Dear, her father and two brothers. It is in La Luna that she meets Renee and Sukey who will be life-long friends. It's also where she meets Tucker, a boy she starts of hating, becomes friends with and finally falls deeply in love with.
Her life takes a tragic turn when her mother dies when she's just a teenager, but the sure knowledge of her mother's love and the support from her friends and close knit family and community see her through.
High school graduation brings more heartbreak, but also the chance to go out into the world, spread her wings and learn her craft, sure in the knowledge that this is what her mother wanted for her and that La Luna will always be home and waiting for her.
This was an enjoyable read, but nowhere near as good as DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD. The story of the Ya Ya's really touched me, whereas this book evoked little to no emotions in me. I felt detached from the characters and the story, and couldn't help feeling that it must have been the same for the author at the time of writing.
Still, it was a pleasant reading experience, and very easy to keep on turning the pages and I do not regret having picked up this book.

"Keep your heart open, keep your head on your shoulders, and don't be afraid." 

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Pages: 354
Date: 06/02/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 7 Tea Shop Mystery
            Large Print

The ocassion is a fund raiser for a run-down Victorian home donated to the Heritage Society in Louisiana, and Theodosia Browning and her crew from the tea shop are delighted to provide tea and tasty treats. But, before anyone can pick up a cup of tea the evening is brutally interupted when Duke Wilkes, a populair local politician, is murdered.
Although Burt Tidwell, the local Chief of Detectives, has warned Theodosia not to get involved in the investigation, she can't help agreeing to have a look when asked by Wilkes' heartbroken widow.
For a long time her investigation appears to be going nowhere, and even a second murder doesn't clarify the case.
But, once she does find a clear direction in which to look, and has to save her dog, Theodosia finds herself in a whirlwind of developments and revelations and in grave personal danger.
This is a typical cozy mystery. I love the tea shop setting and all the recurring characters with their individual quirks.
An easy to read book with a decent mystery and a satisfying solution. 

Friday, February 5, 2010


TITLE: WALKING IN PIMLICO, a novel of Victorian murder
Pages: 305
Date: 05/02/2010
Grade: 3.5

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. Although it is definitely a story of murder, it isn't a mystery since it's perfectly clear fairly early on who commited the murder. In fact, the murderer is one of two narrators in this book.
It is obvious that the author is very knowledgable about the Victorian entertainment industry, but I could have done with fewer details about that particular aspect of Victorian society.
And finally, I couldn't feel any sympathy for any of the characters in this book. The only character who appeared to have redeeming characteristics, is also the character that features least in the story.
So,although the book was good enough for me to never feel like not finishing it, there wasn't a lot there to make me excited about it. And I couldn't help feeling I might have enjoyed it more if it had been written as a proper mystery.
The book starts with the murder of Bessie Spooner, show girl and whore, with both her friend Lucy and comedian Corney Sage seeing the murderer before he gets away.
Fearing for their lives, Lucy and Corney take themselves off to other parts separately. But, wherever Corney, the other narrator of this story, turns the murderer turns up too, even if Corney isn't always aware of it.
I want to end this review with a warning. 
With the story set in the Victorian era, and mostly among the poor and down-trodden cruelty and lack of sentimentality are rife. And there is also one instance of blattant cruelty to a dog. Not a book for the feint hearted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Pages: 407
Date: 03/02/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 2 The Spellmans

Before I get into the story in the book, I have to address the cover of the copy I read.
Who designed it? Did they read the book before coming up with the picture? (Probably not.) Did they even bother to find out what the story was about? (Unlikely). For those who tend to  judge a book by it's cover let me say the following: no investigations are conducted on a bicycle, and no dogs are part of the investigation. I can't believe nobody involved in the publication of this book picked up on these, rather obvious, flaws.
With that off my chest, I can now focus on the story.
When Izzy Spellman is arrested for the fourth time in three months it is her elderly lawyer friend, Morty, who bails her out. It is also Morty who points out to her that this time it is serious and she'll have to explain herself in court and maybe face jail. Morty however is more than willing to defend her, provided Izzy gives him the full story.
And as Izzy tells her story we learn about four months filled with suspicious behaviour.
There is her father who is constantly coming home with wet hair, her mother's mysterious midnight excursions, and her brother's sudden and radical change in behaviour. But most of all, there is the very suspicious new neigbour of her parent's, John Brown (a very suspicious name to begin with), who won't give any details of his past and is behaving in a most suspicious way overall.
Izzy being Izzy can't help herself and has to investigate, finding herself at the wrong end of many sticks and in no end of trouble.
This really is an outrageous book, with a story that has very little to do with life in the real world. And there were times when I just wasn't sure if I even liked the book. 
But... I had a hard time putting this book down. The characters and the absurd story captivated me, and I'm now looking forward to reading the third instalment fairly soon.