Friday, September 3, 2010

Books of the summer, part 2

I didn't make it to 100 books this summer, but I still have 10 days to go before my job really starts. Well, I'd have to read nonstop to make it to 100, and I don't think that can happen (still a lot of unpacking to do.) Here's a brief wrap-up of all the books I can remember reading...

Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle. I generally love this series of books, set on the alien world of Harmony, but this seemed like a particularly weak entry in the series. Oh well: I still want a pet dust bunny!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward, illustrated by Carson Ellis. Sadly, I wasn't a huge fan. I thought the first 1/3 of the book was great, but it trailed off rapidly after that. I skimmed the last 120 pages just to see how it ended. If I'm seized with a sudden urge to read the next one, I'll get it from the library.

Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Anne Scarborough. Yeah gods and little fishes... it's tragic to see two such talented storytellers churning out sentimental crap like this. It's readable. They can both spin a tale. Yet the overall impression was that I had just thrown away two valuable hours of reading on complete drivel. I will not be reading the sequels.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. I got this because it had such a great write-up on The Whatever, but the book was only so-so IMHP. It's amusing to watch the author work in all the traditional gothic elements, but I didn't find the plot all that compelling. I probably won't buy the sequels.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. What a lovely, lovely book! It's a simple tale of childhood, but so beautifully told that it just begs to be pushed on all of my friends and family. I've already got the sequel from the library.

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie. While vacationing with my husband's extended family, I came across a pile of old mystery paperbacks. I'm not a huge Christie fan, but this was a nice example of her story-telling skills. I was rather disappointed to spot the solution well ahead of M. Poirot.

Fallen into the Pit by Ellis Peters. I used to be a huge fan of Ellis Peters's Cadfael books, but I had never realized that she had written extensively about England in the 1950s. This is the first book in the series, and just delightful! I don't think I predicted any of the twists and turns in the plot. I immediately set out to find more of them.

Flight of a Witch by Ellis Peters. Another fabulous mystery in the same series. I only spotted the villain about 10 pages before the detective did.

The Knocker on Death's Door by Ellis Peters. Same series as above. A bit weaker on the mystery, but such a lovely piece of story-telling that I didn't mind a bit.

Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. This was required for my job, but I managed to get through it quickly and enjoy it. I plan to look for the other book in the series when it's back at the library.

My Antonia by Willa Cather. This was my other shot at reading "good literature" this summer, and a thoroughly enjoyable one, too. The book is on the recommended reading list for my students; I try to read one or two off that list every summer, to keep up. Having exhausted the easy ones (ie, the ones I've read before) I had to branch out a little this time. I liked it enough that I checked another one of her novels out of the library this week.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Terrific, gripping story. I immediately ran out and got (and read) the sequels: see below.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Even better than the first book.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Not as fun as the first two, and much sadder, but a very fitting end to the trilogy.

Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum. A good story, but the answer to the mystery was telegraphed far in advance of the actual solution. If I can get more of her books from the library, I will.

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