Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

There'll be no butter in hell!!!!!!

I have never heard of this book before, let alone knew a movie existed, but I'm glad, once again, that I read outside of my comfort zone! Cold Comfort Farm turned out to be a very entertaining and funny book!

Written in 1932, Cold Comfort Farm is about Flora Poste, recently orphaned and looking for family to stay with. She does hate a mess and is determined to clean up the farm when she does to stay there. She wasn't quite prepared for the crazy side of her family and they weren't prepared for her. Flora does, in fact, come in and re-organizes in a way. In the end, everyone is much happier that she moved in with them.

At first I didn't care for Flora. When she spoke with Mary about not working but going to live off of family and "being a parasite", which doesn't sound good in any context. I felt at first that she was just a spoiled brat who refused to work. Gradually, I began to like her. She had grand plans for helping out her family at the farm and they were good plans, helpful to her family and not just herself. Somehow, all of her plans worked out perfectly.

It took a bit to get into the rhythm of the "country" talk but once I did, I moved right along. Don't let the language or age of the book dissuade you from reading. It's really a clever funny book!

I watched the movie as well and was pretty pleased that it was a faithful adaptation. I rarely ever say that!

The new Penguin cover cracked me up! I can't picture Seth as anything else now.

Cold Comfort Farm trailer

Monday, October 9, 2017

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Can I say how much I LOVE Sue Grafton's books? Each book in the series is fresh and new and I'm so sad Z is coming up. I want these to last forever. I hope, in some way, Kinsey Millhone continues on somewhere.

Based in the late 80's, Kinsey is a private detective who is called about a job for Lauren McCabe. Lauren's son, Fritz, just got out of prison where he was sentenced for murder and released at age 25. Fritz, and some of his friends, killed Sloan Stevens 10 years prior. Fritz turned on his friends but had to serve a full sentence since he pulled the trigger. His friends, Troy, Baynard and Austin, didn't have as much punishment. Lauren hires Kinsey to find out who is blackmailing Fritz now for $25,000. Turns out, Fritz and friends made a sex tape where they sexually assault a passed out 14 year girl, Iris. Sloan was trying to negotiate Austin with the tape: he gets the tape, he calls off everyone shunning her.

Austin was not pleased that Sloan had the tape, she dies, tape goes missing. Until Fritz is blackmailed with it. Kinsey goes down one hell of a messed up rabbit hole to figure out what happened 10 years prior and who was blackmailing now.

As a side plot, Ned Lowe is back and stalking Kinsey (remember, he tried to kill her in a previous book).  Anna, Henry, Ed, Pearl all play a part in this side plot.

I sped right through this one. It was a a crazy case to work through and, even though I read the accounts of what happened really, I still didn't guess the WhoDunIt. Excellent job!

Each book in the series can stand on its own very well. Start wherever you like, just start!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Look at me. I actually finished another IRL book club book. I had this one, bought from Half Price Books for 50 cents (what a deal!). It turned out to be a very quick read, and a pretty good one at that.

I've only read one other book by Tracy Chevalier - Remarkable Creatures - and really enjoyed her style of writing and the way she writes historical fiction.

For Girl, we learn the (fictitious) story of the girl who posed for the painting of the same name for Johannes Vermeer.
Very little is known about Vermeer except he left behind about 35 paintings and left his large family in debt when he died. Chevalier takes us to 1660's Holland so we can see how the painting came to be.

Griet is sixteen years old when she is told she is to live with the Vermeers and become their maid. Her parents are living in poverty due to her father losing his sight in a kiln explosion, causing him to lose his trade. Her brother, Frans, is apprenticing at the tile factory because their father saved up money to send him there to carry on the trade. Griet will be the one who brings in money for the family.

Vermeer's wife, Catharina, takes an instant dislike to Griet, as does the current maid,Tanneke. Griet tries to stay out of sight and trouble and do her job well. The children in the house, for the most part, are decent kids. Cornelia immediately starts out as a problem and Griet slaps her face on her first day there. Not a good start.

One of Griet's tasks is to clean Vermeer's studio but to leave everything exactly as it was. Griet comes up with a way to clean and make it appear nothing has moved. Vermeer happens to come in and see her cleaning the windows and is mesmerized by the light hitting her face. And thus, we start the somewhat downhill trek of Griet.

Griet meets a butcher and his son, both called Pieter. The son has eyes for Griet and soon pursues her. It's becoming apparent that Griet has eyes for Vermeer and that it's reciprocated.

Chevalier delves into Vermeer's techniques of painting which were very interesting to read. Using the camera obscura and painting "false" colors, it gave new insight (to me at least!) on Vermeer's technique.

Did this really happen? Doubtful. But it's a great story to put with the painting.

There is a movie based on the book, although I have not seen it. I might be curious about it, but, knowing myself, I probably won't watch.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

1) I think it's appropriate to be drinking red wine while writing this. Who didn't drink in this book? No wonder everyone made dumb decisions, they were all drunk.

2) This audiobook was so long that I forgot what happened in the beginning (and middle) of the book so I looked it up for assistance.

I started Feast immediately after A Storm of Swords and was so disappointed. I wanted more of what Storm brought me, instead I was thrust into this other timeline of people I didn't care about. I've been keeping up with the HBO series and decided to come back to Feast to see if I liked it any better. Why yes, I did. Now that I was further along with the series, I enjoyed going back to hear the back stories and in-between stories of some of the characters I now really love.

Yes. I know the books < > the show.

So we start with Lord Tywin being killed by Tyrion (YAY!) and Tommen on the throne with his crazy-ass mother, Cersei, as Queen Regent. The show didn't show us much in Tywin's after death scenes but Feast goes in to all of it. ALL of it.

We get many chapters of Sam Tarly heading to the Citadel on orders of Lord Commander Jon Snow to become a maester. Gilly is with him and we get very long descriptions of the boat trip and all of Sam's adventures. He had more adventures in the book than he did in the show, so yay Sam.

One of my favorite characters from the show is Brienne of Tarth and she's featured fairly prominently in the book but I have to admit to despising "A highborn girl of three and ten, fair face and auburn hair" because it was repeated ad nauseum. But I did enjoy Brienne's adventures with Pod. I'm not happy with how Brienne's story was left to us so I sincerely hope something more happens in the next book.

The Dornish women were really featured, which was a bit surprising, as they didn't seem like such big characters in the show. Who knew the craziness that was happening in Dorne??

Jamie the Kingslayer is out on missions from his sister Cersei, but when she needs him most, he's doesn't respond (good for you! She crazy!). I was happy that the High Sparrow dealt with Cersei in the same way I was familiar with. What is with that woman?

Lots of main characters were not even mentioned in Feast, but we did get some glimpses into Sansa and Arya Stark. I'm looking forward to A Dance With Dragons to keep catching up.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Whistler by John Grisham

I've been away from Grisham books for a bit. I like legal thrillers but I think I got overrun by them. So I stepped away and, for reasons I can't recall, decided to try this one. As far as Grisham books go, it's not my favorite but it was a good one nonetheless. I got caught up in it and finished it up pretty quick.

Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch are lawyers who work as investigators for the Bureau of Judicial Conduct. Essentially, they are underfunded, overworked, and chase down complaints of corrupt judges in Florida. Lacy receives a call to meet with a mysterious person about a corrupt judge. Hugo and Lacy head to St. Augustine to meet with Greg Myers, ne. Ramsey Mix, a corrupt lawyer who went to prison and now wants to help take down a judge who seems to be in bed with the Coast Mafia.

We get into all sorts of things in this investigation: mafia, crime lords, Indian casinos, etc etc. It was a lot thrown in to the book but, for the most part, worked. It felt a little too easy in taking down a crime lord, but what do I know about that? Once the FBI was brought it, it all fell into place and that seemed a little far-fetched as well. (j/k FBI).

Not a bad book to pass the time.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

I'm on a roll! I found this book at the library on the new shelves and, since I like Evanovich, I decided to try this new series. Yup, I started at book #2. What the hell, Amanda?? To be fair, it just says A Knight and Moon Novel on the front. Not the number of the book in the series. Well, I liked this one enough to go find the first book.

I do like Evanovich's partners-in-crime that she creates. They are great characters who play off of each other very well (and I love the names - Knight and Moon, Fox and O'Hare, etc). This is another set of partners who end up on madcap adventures. In Dangerous Minds, a little monk is included in this group.

Riley Moon  works for the estate of the Knight family, which is immense. The estate and all the wealth was left to eccentric Emerson Moon, who has been studying Buddhism and wants no attachments, including his manor and the things and animals in it. Moon is trying to make sense of the finances for Knight when a little monk walks in with a complaint that his island has disappeared. Wayan Bagus, the monk, was booted off his island by people in khaki and when he tried to go back, it was just gone. Just the type of mystery that Knight gets involved in.

Knight, Moon, monk and Vernon (Knight's childhood friend who accepts his description of "horndog" happily) are off to investigate the island and other National Parks that are similar. All the parks have had mysterious tourist "accidents" and are on top of volcano plumes.

This spirals into a crazy adventure involving Rough Riders (yup, those Rough Riders), Parks, Volcanoes and strange matter. So far fetched and out there but a damn fun ride.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

One Shot by Lee Child

Hey look, I started another series out of order! *sigh*

Luckily, I don't think it  matters. I heard Ann from the Books on the Nightstand podcast talk about Lee Child like I talk about John Sandford, ie. as soon as the author has a new book out, life stops until we read it. Ann always gave good advice on what to read next so while I was shopping at The Book Nook in Anderson, I found One Shot and picked it up (for $1!). Little did I realize that Jack Reacher is a series character. I also didn't realize it's a movie series with Tom Cruise....and I'm confused about that. Reacher is described as huge, in height and muscle mass and... well, I'm bigger than Tom Cruise. Anywho... on to the book.

We cold open with someone setting out to mass murder people in a plaza in a small town in Indiana. He sets up his position, seemingly very careless about leaving behind evidence, and ends up killing 5 people with 6 shots.  The evidence is overwhelming, down to fingerprints on a quarter left in a parking meter, and James Barr is quickly arrested and thrown in jail. He refuses to speak except to say "Get me Jack Reacher". DundunDUN!

Lawyers are hired by Barr's sister but the case seems hopeless against him. Helen Rodin is going to try to defend him anyway because the sister is so insistent that her brother would never do this. Except when he did.... fourteen years previously in Kuwait City where Reacher very nearly got him put away for it. But again, circumstances intervene and Barr doesn't serve time and everyone parts ways.

Reacher sees Barr on the news while in Florida and realizes Barr has acted out the same murder spree he did in Kuwait City and Reacher sets off to Indiana to finish him.

But things really aren't this open and shut, are they? Reacher makes some grand leaps that are needed to move the story along, and honestly, if I knew Reacher's background better I may not have seen them as leaps but as excellent intuition and experience, but alas, I started at book #9. Reacher's character is incredibly resourceful, strong and just the person you want on your side. You definitely don't want this dude against you.

More and more people enter in to this story and the open-and-shut case gets all muddy and confusing. It was a good story that really kept me guessing and a quick read, to boot, because it was so fast paced. Looks like I found a new author to keep after.

(so apparently the Jack Reacher movie is based on this book, although I can't tell that by the trailer)