Sep 21, 2008

Exotic settings

More books on the desk, books with a foreign setting:

Folly du Jour by Barbara Cleverly, a Joe Sandilands Mystery, 2008. It's springtime in Paris, described as the Jazz capital of Europe, and mischief is afoot.

Deadline in Athens, by Petros Markaris, translated from the Green by David Connolly, 2004. An Inspector Costas Haritas mystery, a series written in Greek and set in Athens, about Albanian immigrants in the land of sun, shrimp, and calamari. I'm enjoying this new book but, alas and alack, I don't see that any others in the series have been translated.

The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters, set in... you guessed it... Egypt of course. This time thought there is no Amelia Peabody and her brood to brood over along the Nile or among the pyramids. In this book, Peters sets her other heroine, Vicky Bliss, in Amelia's territory, the Valley of the Kings. Art and artifact thieves. Another mystery.

Did I mention the non-mystery books about birds in East Africa and gardens in Peking/Beijing during the 1900s Boxer Rebellion? Armchair sleuthing and armchair travel can be pretty exciting!

Sep 20, 2008

Friendship Walls in a Chinese Garden

A funny thing about leafing through that 1926 novel set in China by Louise Jordan Miln, It Happened in Peking, I came upon a description, one of many, of Chinese gardens. Seems an old custom is to have a "friendship wall" in the garden usually made of bamboo - one that visitors and guests can write on, leaving their names or comments. I thought of the Chinese American architect Maya Lin's wall, with all it names, in commemoration. The Vietnam wall in Washington, of course. Wondered if the old Chinese friendship wall in the garden was an inspiration for Maya Lin.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a novel by Mark Haddon is about an autistic boy who decides to find out who killed a neighbor's dog. It tries to show the world through the eyes of this autistic boy, how he processes information and how he reacts to other people. It's a mystery novel, though.

Tried to finish Norway to Hide, a mystery by Mady Hunter set in Scandinavia, but scanned to the end to find out whodunit instead of reading it through. Too many attempts at humor by the author that fell flat. The book lacks the wit of truly funny writers such as Tamar Myers.

Sep 4, 2008

As the World Churns

I have Tamar Myers' Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery, As the World Churns, at my workplace, The Foreigner by Francie Lin in my bedroom (not really, I just have the book), Janet Evanovich's Fearless Fourteen on the downstairs couch, and Kinshu Autumn Brocade by Teru Miyamoto on my desk at home. (These are all books, by the way).

The Strangeness of Beauty by Lydia Minatoya turns out to be a very enjoyable book - local Japanese during WWII and the occupation of Japan. How informed and involved were they in the policies of their government? Japanese women formed a peace alliance organization described in this book. Fact of fiction? In any case, the author brings humanity to the residents of a country at war.

Aug 22, 2008

Usain Bolt of Jamaica

NBC announced that runner Usain Bolt will donate $50,000 to the Sichuan earthquake victims, his thanks for a wonderful time in China, where he has won three gold medals while breaking three world records.

Someone said it must be the Chinese food, but I've heard that Usain has been eating lots of chicken nuggets in China. His father said it was the Jamaican yams that has made him so fast. On the other hand, swimmer Phelps got his energy by eating breakfasts for ten.

The Bird's Nest and the Water Cube must also have good feng shui for all the athletes who broke world records there!

Regarding his antics on the track after winning the 100 meter race,

Bolt says he was just having fun.

Comment: reader indicates that Bolt first announced his donation for the earthquake victims at the press conference hosted by the International Sports Press Association.

Aug 17, 2008

Book Review: As the World Churns by Tamar Myers

It takes 3 avocados and half a pint of heavy cream, plus milk, lemon juice, and sugar to make this recipe for avocado ice cream I found in As the World Churns, a Pennsylania Dutch Mystery with recipes by Tamar Myers. There are also recipes for Amish style chocolate, honey, creamy orange, and butter pecan ice cream.

The book's main character Magdalena Yoder of Hernia, Penn., an Amish/Mennonite innkeeper, charges her guests extra for the "full Amish experience" - in other words, they pay more to make their own beds and help with the chores! I enjoy the puns and wit of the hilarious Magdalena.

The setting for this mystery novel is a cow competition, the Hernia Holstein Competition, which brings out-of-town farmers and their prize Holsteins to Magdalena's PennDutch Inn, which puts up man and beast alike. The cows are put up the barn, of course.

The death of an old vet who claims to find something strange about one of the cows' udders puts Magdalena in sleuthing mode. I'm reading on to find the outcome. Drugs in the udder? Radioactive milk? A Holstein that's not a Holstein? You can never tell with mysteries!

Aug 10, 2008

Book Review: Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues by Blaize Clement

Pet sitter Dixie Hemingway lives on Siesta Key, a small island off the coast of Sarasota, Fla. She has become involved before in solving crimes while doing her rounds taking care of other people's pets.

This time in Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues, she takes on a five-foot iguana and its owner, feeding them and making sure they make it out of their funk. The iguana was left in the cold and its body temperature had dropped to dangerous levels when Dixie found it. The owner is ill with some unknown malady that makes his skin dimpled and blue-green.

When the owner's security guard is shot dead, Dixie gets caught up in the drama of Who Did It, all while recovering from her own "blues," the death of her husband and daughter in an car accident several years ago.

Dixie is a down to earth, gutsy main character, whose love of animals belies her tough stance toward many humans.

I'm really enjoying this book, even more than the previous pet sittery mystery by author Blaize Clement, Duplicity Dogged the Daschund.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...