Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guilt by Degrees –by Marcia Clark

Fiction (Mystery)
449 pages / 598 KB
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

When the OJ Simpson murder trial played prime time on Cable TV, I had an opportunity to watch part of it. In fact, I became hooked on Court TV (alas, no longer available) and enjoyed watching Marcia Clark. Guilt by Degrees is the first mystery by her I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am also pleased this is not a fictionalized rehash of the OJ Trial! Mysteries aren't normally my genre of choice, but this was great fun. And I just ordered another one for my Kindle. Perhaps mysteries are becoming my genre of choice?

I would have preferred a slightly different ending, but hey, I didn't write the book! And, I have a feeling (hope?) I'll get my ending in another book. There are other Rachel Knight books out there, but you do not need to read them in order to enjoy them. Each stands alone.

The start of the book was a bit like putting a picture puzzle together – working from the outside in, rather than a linear storyline. I enjoyed it. And she did get all the pieces in place by the end of the book for the complete picture.

Rachel Knight, Ms. Clark's protagonist, is a prosecuting attorney in the Special Trials unit. When one of her cohorts almost loses the case of a homeless man's murder through his ineptness, she grabs it, and with the help of a couple of good friends, finds out the case is not all that simple. Are they ever?

Turns out the homeless man had ties to a cop who was brutally murdered a couple years before. Everyone knows his wife – everyone, that is, but the jury of her peers who saw an innocent woman and acquitted her – killed him. Ms. Knight, of course, must dig into the old killing as she tries to solve the new murder.

Many have told me that trials are high drama with limited sets. Although little of this story takes place in a courtroom, there is great drama in the pages of this book. Marcia Clark knows her way around the legal system, and has the ability to write about it in a gripping way, with enough humor thrown in so it doesn't become either tedious or too dark. I hope her other books keep the same set of characters. They're great fun. Well, except for the bad guys who get there just rewards. Don't they?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Erotica for the Silver Haired

Ageless Erotica – Joan Price, Editor

336 Page
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

Full disclosure here, I know one of the contributors.

This collection of 29 stories was written by authors who are 50 years of age, or older. It is a book of erotica for the silver haired. And the stories are wonderful, and a great read before you turn the light out tonight.

Most are about hetero lovers, but not all. The LGBT community is delightfully present. Some of these stories are laugh out loud funny, but all are touching. I don't know if I can pick a favorite. As I read each story, I thought to myself, "Oh, THIS is my favorite" and then I read the next story. They are each so different from the other.

The story about Max, the man with Alzheimer's is sweet and touching – and even educational. The story of the gal who'd been married for years and knew nothing about sex until she stumbled across a copy of "The Joy of Sex" in the bookstore, grabbed it and ran to the Ladies' room where she discovered she had a body was hilarious. And Jaguar Dreams reminds me of my own Jaguar Dream from many years ago.

This is a book about sexy people who have arthritis, are overweight, on various medications, widowed, divorced, or married and how they still find if not true love, the closeness all humans need. Delightful, engaging stories that show we're not over the hill even though our hair is silver (or gone;-)

If you're over 50, this book is for you. I'm keeping my copy so you'll have to buy your own.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Falling off my Kindle

Fall – A Collection of Short Stories (Almond Press Short Story Contest) [Kindle Edition]

191 Pages / 394 KB
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
3 Stars

When I read fiction, I want to escape. If I'm not in the mood for escape, I read nonfiction. I started all of these stories, and finished most of them, and frankly, am sorry I did. As one reviewer stated, they felt "very real and true" – too real and true for my tastes. I felt more like I was reading an expanded version of the local newspaper in some cases, than a story.

I believe there are 16 stories in this collection, of which I finished 13 (I started all of them, and read for several pages before quitting the three). For me, they were all downers. Oh, the writing was good. Very good. It was the stories I disliked. And the characters. I could not connect with any of them, and believe me I tried. There wasn't a single character, with the possible exception of Mahalia Solages protagonist, I would have invited home for dinner, let alone out for a coffee.

This is literary fiction, and admittedly, I normally read genre fiction, so perhaps that is my problem, and not the collection's. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty....

Cats: Cute Cats From Around the World – Alex Rosel

79 pages / 1010 KB
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: Yes. Color photos
Suitable for eReaders: Yes, if your reader is a Kindle Fire or equivalent
5 Stars

I truly had no idea what to expect, having not read any of the reviews before hand. However, a book about cats couldn't be anything but a delightful read, and this one is one of the most delightful cat books I've read.

Alex Rosel has collected stories and photos of cats from around the world, and compiled them into a delightful read. The cats come from Wales, Spain, Czech Republic, UK, Mexico, the US and, basically wherever people and cats live together. Each cat has her or his own idiosyncrasies, and one cat, Alfie of Chepstow, South Wales has his own Facebook page where you may 'friend' him and read about his exploits. (Alas, Alfie passed away this past Tuesday, 12 Mar 13, so there will be no new adventures of Alfie. But check out his page anyway.) He's a delightful cat, and the world is a better place for his having graced it!

This book tells the stories of the cats and their people, how they interact with each other, and how important each is to the other.

At the end of the book are some questions about raising kittens to become cats, and I am pleased to say, I answered all correctly;-) If you've never owned a kitten, those questions and their answers are pretty important.

If you're a cat lover, as I am, you will enjoy this book. If you're a dog lover, as I am, you will still enjoy this book. It's a 'must have' book. Although I own an electronic version, I am seriously considering buying a hard copy to have in the house. (Much easier to share;-)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Guest Review: A Picture *is* Worth a Thousand Words

This guest review is by my friend, Judith.

Proof of the adage is in the comparison between F.G. Haghenbeck’s 2012 novel “The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo” and art historian Frank Miler’s coffee-table book “Frida Kahlo” with 80 confessional paintings—the latter winning the day.
I was probably only 1/3rd through the library-borrowed novel when I felt compelled to turn to my own copy of Kahlo’s 80 paintings to SEE what the novelist had been trying to describe. His words could hardly do justice to her brushstrokes, colors, and images.
It took only a quick browse of Kahlo’s personal art for me to come to the conclusion that I don’t need to return to the novel.

If you’re a word person, turn (as I do frequently) to another book, “The Diary of Frida Kahlo: an Intimate Portrait.” This illustrated journal includes her thoughts, poems, & dreams during the years 1944-54. Don’t speak Spanish, you say?  Not to worry, there’s a full translation, plus commentaries, in the latter third of the book. OK, so tis a bit of a drag to keep flipping between full page diary entries to the back section for translation, but the revelations are well worth the effort.
Skip the novel, borrow a picture book.

A Plume of Haunting Beauty

Plume: Poems (Pacific Northwest Poetry Series) – Kathleen Flenniken

80 pages
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

When I moved to Kennewick, Washington, a few years ago, across the Columbia River from Richland (and the Hanford Reservation), many of my friends faced visiting me with (mock, I hope) trepidation. Some still express amazement (feigned, I'm sure) that I don't glow in the dark.

Kathleen Flenniken's book glows. The writing glows with lyrical, hauntingly musical, crystal clear phrases that tell us what it was like, growing up in Richland where, as she says, all the fathers disappeared into Hanford to make the bomb. As an adult, she worked there herself for a few years, while her best friend Carolyn's father died of a cancer directly attributable to his work at the Hanford nuclear facility. His death wasn't the only one.

Flenniken talks about her childhood, the trust, the lies, and Carolyn's father.  Are we still hearing the same lies, do we still have the same trust? Does it ever snow in July?

Ambitious, sweeping, and easily accessible, Plume is worth the read. Several times.