Showing posts with label Nevada Barr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nevada Barr. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books/Authors

This week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is about those Gateway Books or Authors in Our Reading Journey who got you into reading, or into reading a genre you never thought you'd read, or brought you BACK into reading.

Definitely this was a fun Top Ten list to consider--I focused on authors because when I find an author who works for, I tend to try to read everything they come out with.  I also had a blast coming up with the right illustrations for my authors.

Donna Leon - Leon's series of books featuring Guido Brunetti sparked an interest in Venice that has taken hold of me and just won't let go.  Now I seek out books--histories, novels, memoirs--about Venice.  Hoping to make it there this fall.

Nevada Barr - I've always liked mysteries, but Barr's Anna Pigeon series which features a lot of National Parks and a lot of hiking got me interested in both.  Now I walk daily and hike weekly, and make a point of planning vacations around visiting National Parks...truly one of America's best ideas! 

Mary Stewart - I'm not much of a Romance reader but my mom used to get British women's magazines from our town's newspaper/tobacco shop in the 1960's and I learned to read by reading the serialized Mary Stewart stories, complete with stirring illustrations!

Bill Bryson - My love of travel and travel memoirs can be traced to reading Bryson's oh-so-snarky travel books.

Jane Austen - Classics don't have to be big, scary, or filled with political ramblings that are incomprehensible to the modern reader.

Daphne du Maurier - I love psychological thrillers and DDM is the mistress of the genre.

James Michener - I love historical fiction and Michener hooked me early.

Margaret Forster - I didn't really start reading literary bios until my dad gave me Forster's bio of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and I fell in love with the genre.

Erik Larson - I love his histories that read like novels; Larsen's books made me go back and read In Cold Blood, the prototype of the genre in which Larsen shines.

Tracy Chevalier - Artifact-based fictionalized backstory. Love it!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Catching up - marching into spring

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Song of Solomon

I've been traveling on business--last week took me to the following:
* Boston (high point was visiting the bar that inspired Cheers for a quick look and a quick chat with colleagues and low point was the Barking Crab--I really hated eating dinner on paper plates with plastic ware), with stops in Lexington (I didn't have time to swing by Concord and check out Orchard House as I had hoped), Framingham, and Norwood.
* Long Island (high point was watching my colleagues go off to see the Islanders play hockey while I got room service and prepared for the next day, low point was paying $12.95/day for wireless at a Marriott--it should be FREE!!!)
* Manhattan (high point was walking through Times Square to Rockefeller Center for dinner with a colleague who had not been to NYC before, low point was the mediocre dinner which was more for 2 than I paid for 7 for lunch the next day at a local Italian place in mid-town).
* Parsippany, NJ (high point was meeting in person someone I've worked with for years over the phone and internet, low point was lunch at a very, shiny chrome diner where I ordered a rueben and got a collosal open-faced monstrosity).
* Newark airport via Staten Island because when we tried to make a quick stop to check out the progress on One World Trade Center (it seems to be going up fast!) the cop directed me into a tunnel that spit me out in Brooklyn (high point was going across the Verrazano bridge, which I hadn't done before, low point was the little bird impaled on the barbed wire fence surrounding the Fed Ex center where we spent way too much time dropping off cases for overnight shipment to Florida).
* Tampa and points south: high point was the gorgeous weather--it had been nice in Boston and New York but it was absolutely perfect in Tampa (green, warm, not too humid, clear, lovely, ahhhh); low point was the Fed Ex shipment not arriving for a Friday morning meeting after all the hassle of shipping it from Newark the afternoon before...grrr).

And I finished two books! Even though I'm in the middle of Little Dorrit, I knew that this was not a good book to take on a hectic business trip, so I decided to catch up with Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne in Julia Spencer-Fleming's latest One Was a Soldier and then finally read Shopgirl, by Steve Martin, which has been sitting on my TBR shelf for awhile now.

I liked One Was a Soldier well enough while I was reading it, but then after I finished I realized that I was actually a bit disappointed with it. The mystery itself was satisfyingly interesting and I didn't figure out who-really-dunit-and-how, which is good, and I did smile at the end, which wrapped up the Clare/Russ story in a great way and then opened the door for another sequel. My issue is that Clare and Russ were never in danger in the way they were in the earlier books. Maybe the author decided to finally give them a break but the bad guy never really threatened them more than to just play pretty juvenile mind games with them, which doesn't get the heart racing the way it should.

In a previous review of this series, I confessed to being more interested in the Clare/Russ relationship than in the actual mystery, but now that I've read a book in which their relationship is front and center, I find I'm missing the excitement of the previous books. Just fickle, I guess. I ended up giving it 3 stars on Goodreads, but that doesn't mean I'll not be eager to read the next in the series, if and when it comes out.

Shopgirl was a different animal altogether. Overall, I found it somewhat oppressive, and just this morning realized that what I didn't like about it was the lack of dialogue. Steve Martin is a good writer--he is insightful, articulate, incisive, but not that great a storyteller, at least in this book, I haven't read any of his others.

His narrator is beyond omniscient. He delves so deeply into his characters' pysches that I feel like I cannot breathe, I'm in so deep. And yet, I don't really know them. Their voices aren't distinct or memorable or touching. They are more like mannequins or puppets play-acting a story rather than real people living it. This is ironic because the story is written in present tense, which should give the story an immediacy (ala Wolf Hall) but doesn't.

The whole time I read it, I felt like I was thinking in slow motion, which is a weird, oppressive feeling. Nevertheless, it's an interesting coming-of-age story. Not sure if I will watch the movie. It got wildly mixed reviews on IMDB, with reviewers either giving it >5 stars or just 1 star. You love it or you hate it, it sounds like.

In the interest of really catching up, just before my trip I read Flashback, by Nevada Barr, which is in her Anna Pigeon, park ranger, mystery series. I loved this book for a number of reasons. First, there's the setting. I really had never been aware of Dry Tortugas National Park, so I ended up Googling images of it whilst reading the book, and it's now on my top 10 list of place I really want to visit.

Set on a set of desert islands off Key West in Florida, the book provides two stories simultaneously. One is the mystery that modern-day Anna must solve as acting park supervisor, and the other is told via letters from an ancestor of Anna's, who was the wife of a Civil War officer in charge of the Union prison camp on the main island. The author did a great job of creating suspense and interest for two independent mysteries, and considering one was a historical fiction, I was pretty darned impressed with how well she managed this. I think this might be my favorite book so far in this wonderful mystery series.

Now, back to Little Dorrit...must speed-read it because we are leaving on vacation on Thursday, and again, it's not a good travel book. Who knows what I'll be reporting on when I get back from that trip...reading and otherwise!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Mailbox Monday

A couple of weeks ago I went to Erin Blakemore's reading/signing of her new book, The Heroine's Bookshelf, and she said that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is her favorite book. Since my taste and Erin's in literary heroines seems to jive, I figured I was doing myself a disservice by not reading this coming-of-age classic by Betty Smith.

I'm happy to say that I ordered it and it arrived last week, and has leap-frogged several other very worthy books on my TBR shelf.

I was inspired by all my fellow bloggers doing the RIP challenge and even though I didn't sign up for the challenge officially this year, I decided to read a few of the mysteries that have been taking up TBR shelf space for way too long. One was Blood Lure, in the Nevada Barr series that features park ranger Anna Pigeon. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered and received the next in the series, Hunting Season. So much for freed up TBR shelf space!

I found out about reincarnation series by M.J. Rose on another blog, and since I love time travel stories, I thought this might be a great new adventure for me. The first book, The Reincarnationist, arrived last week.

Finally, I reordered and received a book I read and loved and lost many years ago--Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, by Phyllis Rose. It profiles Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle, Effie Gray and John Ruskin, Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens, and George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. Since I recently read about Charles Dickens and his mistress, Nelly Ternan, and I'm about to continue reading stuff by and about George Eliot, the timing for rereading this couldn't be better.