02 March 2012

What I Read This Week

Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson: I read this for the Reading to Know Bookclub and provided a link to my thoughts. All I have to add (after actually finishing it) is that someone reviewing the book didn't like all the (confusing) historical detail. This nerdy former history major has to admit that was probably the best part for me. And there was so much interesting (and sometimes gross) food! I really enjoyed this book.

A Mind to Murder by P.D. James: I've talked about James before. I actually thought this one was maybe a little bit not as clean as the first. I would say reading James is like watching a BBC detective story. It's great and extremely British and you are engrossed in a really good mystery and then, suddenly, a nude person is on the screen. Do you know what I'm talking about? Anyway, as long as you keep that in mind, I think James is a pretty fun mystery writer.
This one was set in a psychiatric ward where the Administrative head is found murdered in the basement. The staff is under suspicion and detective Adam Dalgliesh (who is actually a poet we find out in this book) is called in to sift through the lives and secrets of the staff of The Steen Clinic.

The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares: This is the second in the Traveling Pants series. Someone else, who I won't name read them and I got curious and am reading them too. It's a series about four girl friends who find pants that magically fit them all, despite their differing body types. They send the pants and letters through the mail to one another all through their summers (the only time of the year they are apart), and the pants give them the emotional support of one another's friendship to be the best they can be. Yes, it's brain candy. If you reading something particularly daunting, or heavy, or overly academic and you need a break, these are fun, stupid, girly reads. A word of caution is that the girls all go through phases of being bratty to their parents (although I DO appreciate that nearly all of the situations get resolved and the parents are almost never actually in the wrong), two of them get in an adult situation with a boyfriend (also note that neither of these situations work out well, but they are still IN the book), and the fact that they portray teen relationships in a good light is a little sketchy in general.

The Death of a Cad and The Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton: Ok, I'm not going to take a lot of time here. My dad randomly brought home from the library a series of mysteries set in the remote village of Lochdubh in the Highlands of Scotland. The series involves a local policeman named Hamish MacBeth who solves mysteries. They are very funny. I recently found out that they were actually based off a real series by M.C. Beaton, who I'd never heard of before. (She writes Regency romance novels actually...which is why I'd never heard of her) So, I checked out some and they are funny. Again, more brain candy and the language of the Scottish highlanders is apparently very earthy if we are to believe Ms. Beaton. They're enjoyable, but I think they are only enjoyable because I liked the TV series first.

Unnatural Causes by P.D. James: This one was very dark and very very mysterious. I guessed the end of this one, but I didn't guess ALL of it.
Adam Dalgliesh, after releasing his second book of verse (by the way we finally get to read one of his poems in this one) and suffering from a failing love affair, goes off to stay with his aunt for a holiday. Apparently holidays aren't easily come by because he comes just in time to find a murder has taken place. A writer of detective fiction (aha!) has been killed, and Adam's aunt and all of her neighbors (who are all members of the literary field in some capacity) are immediate suspects. This is not Adam's case (because it's not his jurisdiction) but naturally he solves it anyway.

Selected Poems; Bilingual Edition by Rainer Maria Rilke: I don't think I can review this. Reviewing poetry is tricky and not remotely within my expertise (*snicker*...expertise!). I do like reading Rilke. He's possibly in my top five poets. I don't think we would be able to talk theology without arguing, but I do appreciate that his poetry grapples with questions about God, while he was writing in an age that had rejected traditional religious values.
I also loved reading the bilingual edition because I read the German out loud to myself to keep my accent fresh and a slight grip on my already failing vocabulary.

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