Oct 26, 2008

Book Review: Death Swatch by Laura Childs

Death Swatch: A Scrapbooking Mystery #6 by Laura Childs, published Sept. 2, 2008; Berkley

A scrapbooking mystery by Laura Childs is my latest find. I have enjoyed several of the mystery novels in the series and am getting some ideas for showing family photos from the book, Death Swatch (Sept. 2008) I'm also finding out a lot about New Orleans culture and couture, past and present, about the pirate Jean Lafitte and buried treasure near New Orleans (fictional and legendary), Mardi Gras parties, and of course ways to spend time and money making your memories with scrapbooks and "memory" books.

Don't look for realism - just plain New Orleans fun mixed in with murder and mayhem. In Death Swatch, the main character witnesses the death of a party goer and is not at all traumatized. She goes about her sleuthing, her scrapbooking, and party going with so much aplomb. Of course, this is meant to be a "cozy" mystery and meant to be read just for fun.

Oct 19, 2008

Book Review: Expresso Shot by Cleo Coyle

Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle, seventh in the series, published September 30, 2008. Set in Greenwich village, NYC.

Clare Cosi and her ex-husband Matt jointly run an upscale coffeeshop in Manhattan. Matt's about to remarry and begs Clare to stay close to his fiancee, who might be in danger from unknown persons. Clare herself is involved with a policeman, Mike, so she doesn't mind that much though it keeps her from managing her coffeeshop.

Lots of coffee talk in this novel. Mochaccino - espresso with chocolate syrup, steamed milk, foam, topped with whipped cream. Doppio expresso - double shot of espresso. Hazelnut-toffee latte with foam. Macchiato - espresso dotted with a spoonful of foamed milk.

Don't think I've heard of those much.

Oct 12, 2008

Beethoven's Symphony No. 8

I'm not a classical music aficionado but can say I am now a big fan of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93. Having never heard this symphony before, I didn't know what to expect at a concert I attended last night, but the guest conductor Scott Yoo brought the music to life with his lively movements. Watching him conduct definitely helped me understand and appreciate the music.

The 8th symphony is described as one with "rough, boisterous humor," with no slow movements. And so it was, delightful in the way it carried the musical theme, bouncing it around like a ball, from one section of the orchestra to the other, and then expanding it to the entire orchestra.

Mozart's Brandenburg Concerto 9 No. 4 in G Major I enjoyed immensely as well, but in a different way. It was so soothing that it lulled me to sleep. I can recommend it to anyone who needs music for relaxation, and even as a lullaby. It may be however, that the pianist played somewhat hesitantly and not with the kind of vigor that might have kept me from being totally relaxed.

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.

It's Monday: What Are you Reading?

  The Night Hawks   by Elly Griffiths,  June 29, 2021. Netgalley Genre: mystery set in Northern England There’s nothing Ruth Galloway hates ...