Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt

>> Saturday, March 31, 2007

I first heard of this author from My Surly Friend. Now that I’ve read his first book, I’m handing it to my husband to read before it’s due back at the library, because we’ll be buying the rest of Rosenfelt’s books.

Andy Carpenter is a hotshot New Jersey Lawyer who has a reputation for borderline courtroom theatrics to help his cases. He’s irreverent with authority figures and I like that quality in a main character. Andy has been asked by his former DA father to take on an appeal for a death row inmate that his father originally prosecuted. Andy reminds me of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar and in fact the book jacket includes a recommendation from Coben.


In addition to his current case, Andy has a few other things going on in his life including a not-quite-ex-wife who wants to get back together, an investigator that he may or may not be in love with, his loyal golden retriever, Tara, and by the way – there’s also that huge amount of money that he never knew his Dad had . . .

I exact my revenge on Nicole by taking her to a sports bar that I’ve never been to. It’s a sign of how hard she’s trying that she doesn’t voice a complaint about the choice. The only sports Nicole tolerates are sports cars, and occasionally sports shirts. It was a problem in our marriage. One time I planted myself on the couch and watched football for so long that she came over and watered me. Tara licked it off my face and I didn’t miss a single play.
This place actually turns out to be pretty cool, with nine large-screen TVs and headphones that plug into the table so you can hear whatever game you want. Unfortunately, the only game on is a hockey game, which doesn’t interest me. I have this rule: I’m only a fan of sports in which I can pronounce 30 percent of the players’ names. I don’t think Nicole is a big hockey fan either; she glances at the screen and asks me what inning it is.

My Father used to lecture me that a trial is a serious business, not a game, but I have come to disagree. For me a trial and the investigation surrounding it is in fact a game. I turn it into one, so that I can handle and thrive in the midst of all these confrontations. In sports, every play between the participants is a confrontation, but I can deal with that because that is the purpose of the game. Once I can put trials into the same category, it becomes depersonalized and I’m home free.

This is a quick mystery with some fun humor thrown in. I’ve added all of Rosenfelt’s books to my TBR list.

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Son of Holmes by John Lescroart

>> Thursday, March 29, 2007

I’ve seen several recommendations lately for John Lescroart’s books. I’ve never read anything by him, so I decided to start with this early one.

Take a small town in France during World War 1, add a few spies and a few non-spy type villagers, toss in a dead spy and mix in the suspicion that one of these guys is the son of Sherlock Holmes (presuming, of course that Holmes was based on a real person). This little book is interesting reading and keeps you guessing about a lot of things in addition to the basic murder mystery which is at the core.

This wasn’t a great first novel, but it was interesting enough to make me want to read more of Lescroart’s books.

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Snow Blind by P. J. Tracy

>> Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I’ve enjoyed the first three books in the Monkeewrench series by this Mother – Daughter writing team. They have combined interesting characters, decent mysteries, and humor that makes me laugh out loud sometimes.

This one starts out with a mysterious prologue involving a body to be buried and an old woman out to kill someone. Then the book opens with a murder and we’re off . . . . It’s the typical fast paced story with lots of twists and turns. The Monkeewrench crew themselves aren’t around that much in this book, but Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth continue their fun and friendly banter as they investigate the case. I enjoy mysteries that have a good balance of realistic unforced humor between the main characters. I’m already looking forward to the next book from this writing team.

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6 Rainier Drive by Debbie Macomber

>> Monday, March 26, 2007

After a Chunkster that I only partly enjoyed I was in need of something light and quick. Some fluff with familiar folks. Luckily I had this book on the shelf.

6 Rainier Drive is the 6th book in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. Each book focuses on a different person or family in the town and the titles are the addresses as well as the series sequence numbers. These books are nothing more that quick light reads and I enjoy them as quick breaks. The cast of characters has grown as the series has progressed, but the formula remains the same. Relationships are in danger, sometimes people are very briefly in danger, all the recurring characters get a little bit of page time and its mostly feel good stuff. It was just what I needed for a couple of days.

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Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West by Kathleen Winsor

>> Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kathleen Winsor is best known for writing Forever Amber which was published in 1944 and despite being banned in many places as pornographic, became one of the bestselling novels of the 40’s. You don’t hear much about her other books, but when I ran across a used copy of Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West at Powells a year or so ago, I bought it.

This is my 3rd Chunkster Challenge book and at 918 pages it’s a big old rambling historical fiction saga. The book takes place in post Civil War New York and Montana and revolves around the many members of an extended family and their acquaintances. There are lots of characters to keep track of and some pop in and out throughout the book. The book was interesting enough and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Unfortunately, I felt that even the primary characters were a bit less than complete. There were a lot of storylines that progressed and intersected in the 20+ years in the story so it was difficult to identify a clear hero or heroine. Their lives, loves, traumas and triumphs were more of a background to the historical setting of the book than the other way around. I enjoyed parts of the book, but I didn’t love the whole of it.

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Non-Fiction Five Challenge

>> Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Yes – it’s time to sign up for another one. Now that I’ve completed the Winter Classics it’s time to update that “Participating In” section of my sidebar.


My good friend Joy, over at Thoughts of Joy is sponsoring a Non Fiction Five Challenge. This one is scheduled for May – September, so that gives me plenty of time to read 5 non-fiction books without having to read exclusively non-fiction for the duration of the challenge. I hate self-help books, but I do enjoy history, biography, and the occasional true-crime book. It looks like Joy has made the rules lenient enough that I can legally join in.

I’ve been pondering possible titles for NF5 ever since Joy announced it, and it’s time to officially sign up and post a list of probable and possible titles. I don’t have to finalize this list till the end of April, but here are the books I’m considering:




Actually I really want to read all of these eventually, but I’ll need to narrow down which of them I’ll plan to read within the NF5 Challenge time frame.

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Audiobook - Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton

>> Tuesday, March 13, 2007


In the 3rd book in this series, Agatha returns from a lengthy vacation to find a newcomer in her little village of Carsely. Mary Fortune is pretty, a great cook and an excellent gardener. She also seems to have captured the interest of Agatha’s neighbor (and unrequited crush), James Lacey. An upcoming gardening competition brings out Agatha’s competitive nature and her habit of going about things in all the wrong ways.

Agatha continues to be her gruff, yet naively charming self who tries way too hard to fit in with the villagers without realizing that they already consider her a part of the village. Carsely is populated with enough eccentrics to make Agatha seem normal.

This is without a doubt, a light cozy mystery series. As read by Donada Peters, they make perfect driving around town audiobooks. I’m looking forward to finding out what kind of mess Agatha gets herself into in the next book.


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Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton

>> Wednesday, March 7, 2007

This is my 3rd book for the TBR Challenge.
I was slightly confused as I started this book. I had listened to and enjoyed the first book in the series (Aunt Dimity’s Death) last year. As I started reading this one I was wondering where Lori was. She was the main character in the first book and is nowhere to be found in this one. It turns out that this book, although published as the second in the series, is actually a prequel to the first book. It tells the story of Lori’s neighbors and how Aunt Dimity managed to orchestrate their meeting. Once I figured out who I was actually reading about, it made at least part of the ending a foregone conclusion, but the story and slight mystery along the way were still enjoyable. I am looking forward to getting back to Lori in the next book.

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Audiobook - Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

>> Monday, March 5, 2007

This is a new series for me. I’ve heard good things about Peters’ Amelia Peabody series and decided to give the first one a try as an audiobook. The setting and heroine are unique. Amelia Peabody is a wealthy 32 year old single woman in the 1880’s. She combines a bit of conventionalism with a hefty dose of some fierce independence and intelligence. After Amelia’s father dies, leaving his previously unknown fortune to her instead of her 5 brothers who have gone on to lead their own lives, Amelia decides to travel. She hires a companion because it’s not appropriate for a single woman to travel alone. In Rome this companion becomes ill and returns to England. Amelia then meets and hires Evelyn Barton-Forbes to travel with her to Egypt. Unsurprisingly the two women become close friends who seem to balance out each others characteristics.

Once in Egypt, the women set off on their travels and adventures and meet up along the way with the Emerson brothers (Radcliffe and Walter) who are archeologists battling to explore and preserve history while also battling roaming mummies and various other mysteries and complications.

I enjoyed this series and went ahead and picked up the next 2 books on cd from the library and already have them in my itunes library so I can listen on my ipod. I'll be alternating this series with the Agatha Raisin series for a while for my in-car listening.

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Shades of Earl Grey by Laura Childs

It was back to another light cozy mystery for me. This was another light quick read which was what I’ve been in the mood for post-classics-challenge. This is the 3rd in Laura Childs’ Teashop Series. The main character, Theodosia Browning is the owner of a teashop in the historic district of Charleston, SC. Her friends and co-workers are an interesting and eclectic mix. I like the Charleston setting because I’ve visited that city several times, so many of the locations are familiar. In this installment, Theo attends a society engagement party. Before the party really gets started, the groom-to-be is dead and the heirloom wedding ring is missing.

This series makes good quick 'take a break' kind of reading for me.

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My Sisters’ Keeper by Jodi Picoult

>> Saturday, March 3, 2007

13 year old Anna Fitzgerald knows very well that she was conceived to save her older sister Kate. Kate has a rare form of Leukemia and Anna’s embryo was chosen by her parents because it was the best genetic match for Kate. The ethical and familial dilemmas in this situation are just innumerable. The thing I love about Jodi Picoult’s books is that she can make me see and think about multiple sides of whatever issue she chooses to write about. In this book, that is enhanced by several of the main characters taking turns telling their own viewpoint. I liked the added touch that each character also had their chapters printed in a different font. I’ve never seen that in a multiple narrator book and it was an interesting and effective touch.

At its heart, this is a story about how a diagnosis of a serious, chronic and ultimately terminal disease can be devastating to all members of a family. Sometimes there just isn’t one right answer, and Picoult does her usual excellent job of telling why.

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