September 12, 2008

End of Summer Reads

It’s officially the end of summer. It’s been raining off and on all week and it was dark by 7:20pm tonight (darn Central Time Zone). It all goes downhill from here. Despite the depressing loss of sunlight I’ve managed to read some good books lately. So here are my end of summer reads:

Q is for Quarry
Sue Grafton, 2003
Sue Grafton has quite a series going, and it worked out very well for me since I needed a ‘Q’ book for my reading challenge. The A, B, C books are mysteries that follow Kinsey Millhone, a private detective in California, as she tackles cases. They are fun and suspenseful and hard to predict. They’re also amusing because they are slightly dated. They are set in the 90s before cell phone and PDAs and lots of modern technological conveniences that would be beneficial to someone in Kinsey’s line of work.
Overall they’re great stories. I’ve read two of them out of order, and they can definitely be read as individual books, but I think you could get even more out of the stories by reading them in order.

Mansfield Park
Jane Austen, 1814
Jane Austen is very good. Her stories are so calm, yet cover so many events and emotions. I’ve read all but one of her books and I have to admit this is probably my least favorite. It’s very long and it seemed to drag more than the other books she’s written. I’ve seen two different movie versions of this story, and never realized how much they condensed the book. As much as I admire Fanny Price’s moral character, I kept getting annoyed at her crippling shyness. It’s a good book and well worth the time it takes to read, but if you could only read one Jane Austen book, I would say go with Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice over this one.

The Lightning Thief
Rick Riordan, 2005
For those of you who are slightly depressed that there are no more Harry Potter books coming out and slightly mad that Warner Brothers has decided to move the next Harry Potter movie release back from this November to July 2009, there is hope. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series follows Percy and his “half-blood” friends as they navigate the world of mythological monsters and gods. The world of Greek mythology is real and Percy is learning what it means to be the son of a god and to see all the creatures and monsters that he’d always thought were just tall tales.
This is a great story. It had been recommended by a couple of people, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s well written with exciting adventures and action sequences. It’s chocked full of Greek mythology, but you don’t have to be an expert to understand what’s going on. It’s a quick, fun read that’s perfect for lazy rainy days, when you are yearning for HP type adventures.

The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear
Jasper Fforde
I loved these books. It’s been a while since I read something that was so creative and fun, yet complicated and compelling. These are the first two books in the Nursery Crime Series. They tell the story of Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergent Mary Mary who run the Nursery Crime Division of the Reading Police Force. They investigate the cases involving PDRs or Persons of Dubious Reality.
In the first book, The Big Over Easy, Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall. Was it an accident or was there foul play involved? In the second book, The Fourth Bear, Henrietta “Goldilocks” Hatchett has gone missing and the last people to see her alive were the three bears. Adding to Jack’s problems is the fact that the Gingerbreadman – “psychopath, sadist, genius, convicted murderer and cookie” – has broken out of prison.
There are so many ways that these books could fall flat, but they don't and I'm sure it's because the author is intensely talented. They are full of nursery rhyme characters acting out their stories in incredibly creative ways, but at the heart of the books is a really good who-dun-it mystery that truly keeps you guessing.

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