Thursday, April 5, 2018

Monthly Keyword Challenge

Anything to organize my reading!  To add a bit of fun and spice to my reading choices, I'm signing up for the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge.  This challenge is hosted by My Reader's Block.  It involves finding a book that has one of the listed keywords in the title.  Here's the monthly schedule:

Obviously I will need to catch up on January-March, but that shouldn't be a problem.  Now, to go find a book for April...

What's in a Name Challenge 2018

This is a challenge I've enjoyed in the past, and I'm excited to give it a try in 2018.  The requirements are simple, six categories, read one book with a title that fits each of the six categories.  This challenge is hosted by The Worm Hole.  The categories are as follows:

  • The word ‘the’ used twice (The Secret By The Lake; The End Of The Day, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time)
  • A fruit or vegetable (The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society; The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake)
  • A shape (The Ninth Circle, The Square Root Of Summer, Circle Of Friends)
  • A title that begins with Z – can be after ‘The’ or ‘A’ (Zen In The Art Of Writing; The Zookeeper’s Wife, Zelda)
  • A nationality (Anna And The French Kiss; How To Be A Kosovan Bride; Norwegian Wood)
  • A season (White Truffles In Winter; The Spring Of Kasper Meier; The Summer Queen; Before I Fall; The Autumn Throne)
Sadly, I've never managed to complete this challenge, even though I've attempted it several times (I know, I know, too many books, too little time).  I'm going to give it a go again this year!  Plus, it has a super-pretty challenge button.  

Just the Facts, M'am Challenge 2018

I adore vintage mysteries.  They're not really a guilty pleasure (that would be cozy mysteries), but whenever I don't know what to read, or I want something comforting, I turn to vintage mysteries.  So, this challenge is right up my street.  It involves reading mysteries from the Golden Age (1900-1960) and the Silver Age (1960-1989).  There are various levels, I'm going to attempt the second level, Detective Sargent, by reading twelve books, two from each category.  Have I mentioned there are cool categories?  The host, My Reader's Block, has come up with these fun Detective's Notebooks, to track categories of mysteries.  Have a look!

To sign up, click on the challenge image above.  See you there!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Reinvigorating the Blog

After a few years away from blogging I'm ready to get back into it.  One thing I've really missed in my absence is reading challenges, and my reading has felt somewhat scattershot without challenges to organize it.  When you have a TBR of a million and counting, any semblance of order helps.  To that end, I'm about to join a bunch of reading challenges and dive in.  Stay tuned, the reading challenge is back on!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Hello from the Gillespies

One should not be put off by the 600+ pages of this book. Despite its heft, it is really quite a quick read. This book brings the reader into the lives of the Gillespies, an Australian family living on a remote sheep station in the outback. Matriarch Angela Gillespie is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with her life. Her husband is becoming more distant, her children are facing various minor disasters. All of Angela's thoughts are accidentally emailed to her friends and family in a brutally honest Christmas letter. How the family handles the fallout is part of the book, until a car accident leaves Angela with amnesia and without her identity. 
The second part of the book is surreal. Angela is living with her family but thinks they are strangers, and the doctors encourage the family to play along. 

I was very into this book up until the amnesia. Once Angela got amnesia everything became quite predictable. We know that Angela isn't going to remain unaware of her identity forever, which means that there are only so many directions the book can go. The first half of the book was much stronger. I've heard McInerney compared to Maeve Binchy, and I can certainly see the resemblance in this book. McInerney can seamlessly enter the minds of numerous characters and weave their stories together into a broader saga. 

My main complaint with this book? Someone needs to throw Lindy to the wolves (or the snakes, or the rabid kangaroos, or whatever). Is it possible for an adult to be that whiny? Seriously Lindy, nobody cares about cushions. Nobody. Shut up, and quit whining. 

Those thoughts aside, this is a relaxing, feel-good sort of book. Definitely cozy.

Monica McInerney, Hello from the Gillespies (NAL, 2014).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Double Mint (Davis Way, #4)

Davis Way is back to uncovering crime and engaging in hi-jinks at the Bellismo Casino. Employed as a special undercover agent at the Bellismo, Davis is expected to uncover and take down criminal operations at the casino. Those who have read the earlier volumes in this series will recall that Davis was hired by the Bellismo because she looks exactly like her boss's wife. She has married the resort's security chief, and they reside in an on-site penthouse apartment. As this volume opens Davis has been forced to take over the special events coordinator's job, after the incumbent walked out of the hotel, never to return. She has also discovered the equipment to print fake currency lodged deep in the walls of her apartment. Then there's the fridge: it doesn't work, and needs to be fixed, except it's a crazy, ugly behemoth no one has ever seen before. Then a group of security professionals show up for a conference, with entertainment consisting of high stakes slot tournaments, and platinum goes missing from the casino vault. 

The story is a bit nuts, but it's also absolutely hilarious. It's high-energy, high-action, and high-humor. Davis offers significant snarky commentary about her apartment, decorated as if a Party City barfed up a New Orleans themed issue of a decorating magazine. Nothing in this book is expected. If you think you know where there plot is going, you probably don't. I'm excited to see where this series is going to go next. 

Gretchen Archer, Double Mint (Henery Press, 2015) 

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley for purposes of review.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Riding a Crocodile

This book begins as a satire of the health care system and hospital administrators. It turns into a mystery, a shift which is not entirely welcome. Senior physician Abe Nevski returns to his job as a physician in a large Australian teaching hospital. While he has been gone the hospital administration has become more draconian in pushing a program that is meant to (according to the administrators) allocate resources in a utilitarian manner, younger patients and to clearing beds quickly. To Abe, this sounds a lot like withdrawing care and signing death warrants of older patients. The administrators claim that's not the case. Abe thinks otherwise. There have also been a series of unexpected deaths among seemingly stable older patients. Abe tries to figure out what is going on while mentoring his registrar, Rebecca, a young doctor who is becoming disillusioned with the lack of humanity in modern medicine and the hospital-industrial complex. This sets the stage for a showdown between Abe, a doctor who cares about patients and has an excellent bedside manner, with the hospital administration, which is a cold and smarmy as one would expect a hospital administration to be. 

As a social commentary on the modern healthcare system and cost-cutting measures, this is an excellent book. Komesaroff is a practicing physician. He clearly knows the medicine, the culture of the hospital, and the social issues facing healthcare. Dr. Nevski is a well-developed and believable character, and the hospital world is immersive. Where the book falls flat is as a novel. I found the book's ending to be completely ridiculous. This was such an uneven book. The beginning was excellent, but as the plot becomes more bizarre and more mysterious, it devolves. I utterly disliked where the relationship between Abe and Rebecca wound up (lawsuit!), and, as mentioned, the resolution to the mystery is unsatisfying. I think I would enjoy reading some of Komesaroff's non-fiction, as he clearly wants to address the inhumane elements of modern healthcare.

Paul A. Komesaroff, Riding a Crocodile (River Grove Books, 2014).