Friday, October 29, 2010

The Search, Nora Roberts

Title: The Search
Author: Nora Roberts
Published: Putnam, 2010
Rating: 7/10

La Nora's summer release for this year, picked up from the library for a nice weekend read. Her books don't really wow me (I think I've read too many for them to do that anymore), but they're almost always a pleasant read.

Fiona Bristow lives a peaceful existence on Orcas Island in Washington. She trains dogs for a living, including search and rescue dogs. One day she gets a new client with a very badly behaved puppy named Jaws. His owner, Simon, turns out to be quite the hottie, and Fiona ends up spending lots of time with both him and Jaws. The suspense plot in the book revolves around a serial killer who is mimicking an earlier killer who had tried to kill Fiona and failed. It soon becomes obvious that the new killer is targeting Fiona, trying to kill her when his predecessor had failed.

I found the suspense in this book to be quite tepid, which to be honest is just fine by me. When pages were devoted to the killer's movements and motivations, I was just reading through to get back to the good stuff. The good stuff being the descriptions of Fiona's life as a dog trainer, her relationships with her friend and mother-in-law, and the romance between her and Simon. While Simon is not really my idea of a hero (a bit gruff and overbearing to me), it was nice to read about these two very independent people as they learn how to make a serious relationship work.

Roberts's language is a bit on the overdramatic side for me, but she is a great storyteller.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jubilee Trail, Gwen Bristow

Author: Gwen Bristow
Published: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1950
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/10

I was browsing through AAR's DIK reviews a couple of weeks ago -- and found an A review for Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow. One of my favorite books of all time was written by Gwen Bristow (Celia Garth), and I realized that I'd never tried any of her other books. My library had this one, so I gave it a try.

Garnet Cameron turns 18 in the year 1844. She is the daughter of a nice, well-to-do family, who live in a nice house on Union Square in New York City. She has marriage offers from respectable men who, well, bore her. She wants adventure in a time when young ladies of good birth didn't get to have adventures. Then she meets Oliver Hale, a man who makes his living by trading along the Jubilee Trail, which stretches from St. Louis to California. When Oliver proposes, Garnet jumps at the chance to have an exciting life. And off they go on their way to California.

Now I think I understand why my mom (who gave me Celia Garth) never gave me this one to read. I read this whole, looong book, but I was close to giving up lots of times. By the end I was skimming because while I really wanted to stop, for some reason I also wanted to know what happened in the end. I think this means that the story and plot was good, but that the characters were poorly done.

Garnet is naive, but plucky and brave in a way that is not very believable (and, imo, quite annoying). She, and all the other characters, struck me as sadly one-dimensional. Her adventures seem unrealistic too. And one thing that really disgusted me was several scenes in which the Indians encountered along the way are described as non-human. Now, this book was published in 1950, but that doesn't excuse it.

Honestly, this book made me wonder what I would think of Celia Garth had I read it for the first time now, instead of when I was a preteen. I know that my standards have gotten a lot higher.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bibs for a Baby!

We found out a couple of months ago that Collin's sister is having another baby. Which means, yippeee! A baby to sew for!

My first projects for the little one were these cute quilted bibs. I found the pattern here. They go together really fast. And they're washable, so they can actually be used.

I'm working on a baby quilt now!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Death in the Stocks, Georgette Heyer

Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 2009 (reprint), Sourcebooks, originally 1935
Category: Mystery
Rating: 5/10

I have been steadily reading Heyer books (with great delight) since I discovered her a few years ago. She has a huge backlist, which consists of historical romances, mysteries, and historical fiction. The romances, of course, are my favorites -- but I'm running out of new ones to read! So, I picked up this mystery when I saw the pretty re-issued edition by Sourcebooks.

Andrew Vereker is found dead, his corpse carefully arranged so he's sitting in the stocks on the green of some little English village. The police soon have more suspects than they can handle: the nephew who is heir to Vereker's fortune, a corrupt employee who was cooking the books, a mysterious stranger who was seen fighting with Vereker before his death. Everyone seems to be lying about where they were the night of the murder, and everyone seems to have hated the deceased.

I was sadly disappointed by this book. For one thing, I totally guessed who "done it" really early in the book, which either means I'm really clever or it was obvious. I think it's the latter, because I never know who the murderer is when reading mysteries. I'm nearly always surprised in the end. My second reason for not liking the book: I found all the characters extremely annoying. They struck me as lazy, spoiled, selfish, snobby upper-class Brits and I didn't like them. A couple of people grew on me toward the end, but it was waaaay too long coming.

The only saving grace for me was the intelligent, witty dialogue, which is classic Heyer. I'm undecided whether I want to try any more Heyer mysteries. Anyone have any advice? There are a couple of her romances that I haven't read yet -- will definitely have to track them down.