The second book in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries (or the "Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries," as PBS calls them). I bought books 1 and 2 for my dad for his bThe second book in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries (or the "Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries," as PBS calls them). I bought books 1 and 2 for my dad for his birthday because he said he wanted "Miss Fisher" for his birthday. I asked "The DVDs, or the books?" and he said "Either." So I bought the first two books, and then a week before his birthday, he decided he wanted something else instead, and that was "the only thing" he wanted for his birthday. So then I had these two books lying around, so I decided to read them myself.
They're not bad. I didn't like the first one that much, but this second one is better. Phryne is a bawdy lady of the 1920s: she likes men and sex (gasp!), she likes to drink, she likes being scandalous; she's a pilot, knows defense techniques, has travelled the world... As I said, this second one struck me as better than the first: Perhaps Kerry Greenwood was just too clumsy with introducing Phryne, her personality, and why she was a British gal in Australia in the first book, but by the second one had found her groove. I only read the second book because I had it, but now based on the second one, I'd be willing to read more in the series. I won't run to the store and buy all of them, but it's a series I'll keep in mind if I ever need a book to read (like I ever don't have books to read!) and want a little period-piece mystery with a kick-ass gal.
If I could only choose one 1920s-era smart-as-a-whip mystery-solving gal, though, I'd pick Maisie Dobbs....more
The e-book version I read (ISBN 0752471643) contains 5 short stories: "The Canterville Ghost," "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime," "The Sphinx without a SecThe e-book version I read (ISBN 0752471643) contains 5 short stories: "The Canterville Ghost," "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime," "The Sphinx without a Secret," "The Model Millionaire," and "The Portrait of Mr. W.H.".
- "The Canterville Ghost": the crux of the story is that an American family is staying in England and is haunted by a ghost. I liked the humor in this story. One type of humor comes from ridiculous situations. For example, one son in the family gets rid of bloodstains left by the ghost by using Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent. Later, the father suggests the ghost oil his creaking chains with Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator. The fact that the family is so unafraid of the ghost, and so commercial to try to remedy the haunting situations with name-brand products, is funny.
Then there's the humor from wordplay. One example is when the daughter suggests the ghost emigrate to the U.S. She tells him there's currently a high duty on spirits, but... Get it? Spirits? Duties? Spirits like alcohol, but spirits like ghosts! Funny! The story loses its goodness at the end, though, like Wilde all of a sudden decided to go from a funny satire or ghost story to a sad, romantic tragedy.
- "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime": good story. Sort of your typical tortured-by-a-prophecy story. Like "The Canterville Ghost," it had a few digs against literature and Americans.
- "The Sphinx without a Secret": super short. Just long enough to make you wonder what the secret is and why.
-"The Model Millionaire": a middle-of-the-road story. Not bad, but not great. A quick sketch.
- "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.": at times it felt like a tragedy, at times a mystery, and at times a critical reading essay one might have to study in a college lit class. Good story, with intrigue....more
This book had two things really going for it: 1) It gave me a taste of pioneer life on chicken farms out in our part of the country in the early decadThis book had two things really going for it: 1) It gave me a taste of pioneer life on chicken farms out in our part of the country in the early decades of the 1900s (granted, she's on a mountain on the Olympic Peninsula, but close enough); 2) MacDonald at times uses really fabulous language to describe events and people, and I loved the way she anthropomorphized things like the stove ("Stove") and the mountains.
On the downside, though, I kind of felt like she was SO negative at times, especially about the people she met. I get that out in the rural country in the early 1900s, not everyone was "civilized" and "cultured," but I find it hard to believe that EVERYONE was wacky and batty and country-bumpkins, and that she was the only "normal" person out there. So I got a little fed up with that.
So, two stars -- it was fun to read about chicken farming and pioneer life in our region, but it's not like my life was missing anything before I read this, and I would have been just as fine living the rest of my life without reading it....more
This is one of those books that I don't really get into at the beginning (wasn't keen on the writing style; it felt like there was backstory I shouldThis is one of those books that I don't really get into at the beginning (wasn't keen on the writing style; it felt like there was backstory I should have known, but didn't, even though this was only book #1 in the series; and I wasn't sure I cared about the stated mystery), but then find that I can't keep down. For me, it's not a page-turner, so it's easy for me to put it down, but once I've put it down, I find myself thinking, "I can't wait to find out how the stated mystery is related to this secondary mystery. Or are they related? Could they be two separate mysteries? No, nothing's ever not-related in books, especially mystery books. Right? Hmm... And was I right about the first mystery? Is my guess what really happened? And how do these dancers fit in?" so then I pick the book back up, not even five minutes after putting it down.
But about halfway through the book (and the book is short, and a quick read, so halfway really isn't like I gave up too much of my life to get there) it started to really pull me in, so now I find that I *can't* put it down.
And the cover art is BEAUTIFUL and striking, so even if I didn't read the rest of the series, part of me wants to own the series (at least the covers done by Beth Norling) just because the line of books would make a beautiful collage :)...more
This is a sweet little collection of fairy tale-type stories for kids. As with most collections, there were some hits, and some misses. Overall, thougThis is a sweet little collection of fairy tale-type stories for kids. As with most collections, there were some hits, and some misses. Overall, though, there were more hits than misses for me.
My favorite stories were: "The King's Daughter Cries for the Moon"; "The Goldfish"; "The Clumber Pup"; "The Little Dressmaker"; "In Those Days"; "Pennyworth"; "San Fairy Ann"; and "The Kind Farmer"....more
I loved the colors scheme and the illustrations. They're very simple, but charming. And the colors are plain/muted enough that they feel comfortable aI loved the colors scheme and the illustrations. They're very simple, but charming. And the colors are plain/muted enough that they feel comfortable and inviting, not bold and neon and in your face.
I liked the rhyming, too. I don't know why so many authors feel the need to make kids' books rhyme, but they do, and I like ones like this where the pattern and rhythm aren't obvious. It's not "The cat sat on the hat" or "Roses are red, violets are blue" types of rhymes. There were a couple of times where the rhythm changed slightly, which I liked. It makes the story seem less mundane and expected -- it adds to the "What's going to happen?" feeling when you don't even know what rhythm the story's going to take, in addition to not knowing what's going to happen with the plot.
Overall, a cute little sing-song book for youngish kids. ...more
This edition also includes "The English Mail-Coach" and the "Suspiria de Profundis."
de Quincey's prose is beautiful, I'll give him that. Some of the wThis edition also includes "The English Mail-Coach" and the "Suspiria de Profundis."
de Quincey's prose is beautiful, I'll give him that. Some of the writing, though, is SO dense -- he has so many references and allusions to other literature and history, and there are a number of the author's footnotes and editor's endnotes, that it sometimes takes FOREVER just to read a small chunk of the book. But it is beautiful, and the subject is (sometimes) fascinating (and when it's not fascinating, it's often at least interesting).
This book was first brought to my attention through a former friend, who was going to teach an English class subtitled "Sleep and Dreams," so I expected this to be about dreams, but it's not. Yes, de Quincey does talk about the dreams he has while taking opium, but not nearly as much as I expected. Or maybe he is. The prose is so fanciful, and sometimes goes on forever, that I often can't tell if he's telling a true story, using an analogy, or describing a dream. I also expected a lot more about opium, in general (not necessarily about his dreams he had while taking opium, but how the drug effected him, etc.). He does discuss why he started taking it, and he does talk some about his reactions to it, or the dreams he has, but he spends so much time talking about other things (or taking so long in the build-up) that only a small percentage of this book is actually about "eating" opium. Or, again, maybe I'm getting so lost in his prose/tale-spinning that I can't tell what he's talking about. (There's a good chance that's the case.)
But there is some wit: when talking about a fellow traveler on the mail coach, he says that this man, who only has one eye, was his former teacher. "As a pupil, though I paid extra fees, I cannot say that I stood high in his esteem. It showed his dogged honesty, (though, observe, not his discernment,) that he could not see my merits. Perhaps we ought to excuse his absurdity in this particular by remembering his want of an eye. That made him blind to my merits." Ha!...more
Such a cute book about friendship! The pictures are bright and colorful, with the different shapes contorting themselves into new shapes, like a houseSuch a cute book about friendship! The pictures are bright and colorful, with the different shapes contorting themselves into new shapes, like a house or a rocketship. With all the plays on words and plays on pictures (like the shapes making a house), the kids were pointing and laughing and howling and giggling the whole way through....more
We've always known that Claudia isn't a great student. Now she has to repeat the seventh grade, and she's completely humiliated! On the flip side, thoWe've always known that Claudia isn't a great student. Now she has to repeat the seventh grade, and she's completely humiliated! On the flip side, though, she has the honor of being selected to attend a special art class with a famous artist. And as with all BSC books, everything turns out wonderful in the end. ...more
What I love about this book is that it's a history of the *land* of Seattle. Businessmen and families are only mentioned as they relate to the land: tWhat I love about this book is that it's a history of the *land* of Seattle. Businessmen and families are only mentioned as they relate to the land: they had a home at this current intersection, which was torn down or moved as part of Denny Hill; they had a business at this former intersection, which was created with fill on tideflats; he rallied to create a railroad in this part of the city, which required building out. The history of the land isn't told as often as the stories of the people are, so this was a refreshing take on Seattle history.
The book covers the geological aspect of the city (glaciers!), the original shorelines and using fill to create new land areas, connecting Lake Union/Lake Washington/Puget Sound, and the big one... regrading Denny Hill.
Speaking of "the big one," I also love how Williams relates some of the historical stories about the land to modern (or, in some cases, modernish) day -- Why did some buildings get wrecked more than others during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake? Because those buildings were on fill, not solid land. How will the current shoreline/original shoreline/glacier remains have an impact on Bertha and the new State Route 99 tunnel? And by the way, what about the Bertha project (When Williams first started mentioning Bertha in the book, I feared that those mentions would date the book and make it less relevant 10 years from now, let alone 40 or 50 years from now. Then I realized we're talking about the tunnel boring project... We'll still be trying to dig that tunnel 40 or 50 years from now! ... *sigh* Poor Bertha.), and other potential tunnels or roadways around the city? How about the new seawall that will be built to replace the old seawall that was built where new land was created using fill? And toward the end (but I can't seem to find it now, so I hope I didn't imagine this), when he seems to get wistful (or maybe that was just me) about the fact that Seattleites of the late 1800s/early 1900s wanted to get rid of Denny Hill to make the city more open for business and traffic, but then business didn't grow like they expected, and we now have tunnels and buses and trucks that could easily get through/around/over the hill, so did it really need to be flattened? Oh, that kills me!
And finally, his remarkable statement that "Just as early Seattlelites had to adapt to what they found, we now have to adapt to what our predecessors left us" is fabulous! It brings everything together: the history of the land, the history of the city, the revisions to the land that the citydwellers made, and all of the little connections to current-day that he's made throughout the book.
I was disappointed, though, that this was such a short book! I expected it to be much longer, because the topic is so underrepresented. Still, what a great history!...more
So, a young English princess moves in to Kristy's neighborhood, and Mary Anne gets chosen by the parents to be the girl's babysitter/companion. And hiSo, a young English princess moves in to Kristy's neighborhood, and Mary Anne gets chosen by the parents to be the girl's babysitter/companion. And hilarity ensues.
Except, not really. The end storyline turns out to be that this girl is standoffish to new people and bitter because her parents are always traveling and she feels neglected and like everyone she likes leaves, so why bother liking anyone. But it just never felt like we got a lot of that during the book... Yes, she sometimes seems standoffish from the rest of the kids of the neighborhood, but wouldn't you seem a little awkward if you'd just moved to a new country, meeting new people, don't know the language (at least not the slang) and the customs, and you're surrounded by a bunch of goons? But suddenly at the end it's like "Oh, she's that way because she misses her parents! Everything makes sense! Don't cry little girl, your parents are coming back!" "Oh, okay. I'll make friends now!" Meh.
(This, of course, coming from someone who is WAY too old to be reading these books and trying to get any substance or moral out of them. I'm sure if I'd read this when I was 10, with all the other BSC books I read, I would have thought it was a fine book. Not my favorite BSC book, but a fine one.)...more
I'd forgotten how inspirational Baby-Sitters Club books can be, or try to be. In this book, Mallory learns how to stick up for herself (to a teacher,I'd forgotten how inspirational Baby-Sitters Club books can be, or try to be. In this book, Mallory learns how to stick up for herself (to a teacher, a principal, and other students), while at the same time knowing she has the intelligence to lead a major project, and also has to remind herself that being a "brain" isn't a bad thing. At the same time, Kristy's sub-plot (creating a marching band for kids who don't belong to any clubs) is about inclusiveness, creativity, stick-to-it-ness, and teamwork.
I could see how young readers get some good lessons from these books... even though I don't remember every learning or being inspired by them. I always just thought they were fun, light stories....more
Oh, Pigeon. He tries to be such a trickster. In this book, you're tasked with making sure he doesn't stay up late, but he'll try anything to get you tOh, Pigeon. He tries to be such a trickster. In this book, you're tasked with making sure he doesn't stay up late, but he'll try anything to get you to let him stay up, including distracting you with small talk!...more
Mo Willems books are SO cute. This one would be fun to read out loud to/with kids because Pigeon is begging and pleading to drive a bus, so it would bMo Willems books are SO cute. This one would be fun to read out loud to/with kids because Pigeon is begging and pleading to drive a bus, so it would be fun to make all the begging and pleading voices.
I also love how no detail is left out in the illustrations. Even the endpapers are funny -- Pigeon in various poses (cool guy; feet up in the air; etc.) while driving a bus. Right there, before the book even started, had me giggling. And I'm not even the target audience! ...more
In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866In the research notes of The Voyage Of The Continental, a YA historical fiction about Asa Mercer bringing women to Seattle from the East Coast in 1866, the author, Katherine Kirkpatrick, mentions this book as another historical fiction (but for adults, rather than YA) account of "Mercer's girls."
While the book is technically about a girl who went on Mercer's expedition, it's not really *about* the expedition, at least not in my mind. The voyage doesn't even begin to start until page 94, and it's not until page 106 that the trip finally begins! You're almost 1/4 of the way through the book before the journey even starts! And in those 94 pages before the girls make their way to the boat, you get A LOT of story that didn't seem relevant. I didn't really care about the creep that the main character's cousin was supposed to marry. She's not even going to Seattle! Why do we care? And then once they did start on the voyage, Rucker skips huge chunks of time. I think it was mentioned that they were on the shores of New Jersey, then some stuff happened, with no reference to time or distance elapsed, and the next thing we know, they're in Rio! Then the main character has a romantic encounter with someone on the ship, and then they're in San Francisco! Wait a minute!! There should be a whole lot of time between those cities -- don't just skim over all the details of what happened on the ship! Seasickness! Confinement! The question of how everyone's going to pay for the trip! Give me more than "Oh, he was dreamy. I'm so happy! But he's a scoundrel! No, I'm still happy! Now we're in love! Ta-da! We're on the other side of the continent! We've arrived!"
This book might be okay if you're more into the romance of the story, and care less about the actual Mercer story. If you want to read about Mercer's expedition and the trials and tribulations of bringing a boatload of women to help teach, nurse for, and populate a wilderness town, this isn't the book for you. And since I don't care about romance stories (How many times do we need to talk about a young woman's breasts?!?) or girl-meets-boy / happily-ever-after stories, and I *do* want to read about Mercer's trip, then this wasn't the book for me....more
Like The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the ELike The Voyage Of The Continental, this is a YA historical fiction about Mercer's girls, the women, young and old, that Asa Mercer brought from the East Coast to Seattle to help populate the new city. In contrast, however, The Voyage of the Continental is mainly about the trip itself, but Petticoats West focuses more on life after the ships arrived in Seattle and the girls starting their new lives.
Whereas The Voyage of the Continental had a lot of history, and was researched using Roger Conant's journal and articles about the trip, Petticoats West is much lighter in the factual history, but much richer in details about the surroundings and other descriptions....more