Monday, February 28, 2011


I only read three books this month, which pales to the 11 I read last month. To be fair, one of them was 750 pages and took all my time up. I spent the rest of the month working on mailing out books too, although I have had rubbish luck with my copy of Suite Francaise. I listed it before and forgot to mail it so the request expired. So I relisted it when I did my book cataloging and someone snatched it up.

Today I got a message in my inbox stating that she got the envelope that it was in, but no book. I know that I sealed it up properly, because I was doing five other packages at the time and sealed them after writing the contents on the outsides of the envelopes. So I emailed GoodReads to ask what they can do for us. I hate to lose books, and I hope we get this resolved amicably. I've shipped almost 40 other books and this is my first incident, so I guess that's good.

So onto the books I read:

Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley, Alison Weir.
So many of you know that I'm in love with anything Ms Weir writes, correct? This is the 750 page monstrosity that she explains right up front requires that much pagination because you have to take in the scope of the conspiracy and all the players involved, and you need all the backstory. And she's not wrong. The problem is that Mary herself isn't as compelling a figure as Elizabeth or Isabella or Eleanor, and after 400 pages of Mary making the wrong decisions at the worst possible times you kind of get tired of her. Weir tries gamely to make her interesting, but I was quite happy to get to the end of this one. This is definitely a requirement if you want to read all of Weir's books, but don't make this your starting point by any means.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig.

Oh my lord. This was miserable. I wanted to punch everyone and everything in it. It read like a sitcom set in the turn of the 18th century, but stocked with modern characters wearing fancy dresses. The cartoonish proposal scene was beyond criminal, and the entire "present day" scenario made me want to puke. Self-insert characters never fare well. And apparently there's a whole freaking series of these books. Hell to the no.

Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World War, and the Long Journey Home, Gary W. Moore.

This is the story of Gene Moore, a phenom prospect signed by the Dodgers just prior to World War II. He played baseball for the Navy during the war and ended his career in a meaningless game against German POWs he had taught to play. His son writes the book and right away it turned me a bit off to find out that Gary Moore's job was as a motivational speaker. The dialogue in the book would fit into any self-help book, and it's slightly exaggerated. But as you ease into the book, it becomes more and more interesting, and You find the story far easier to swallow. I'll admit it, this book brought me near to tears a couple of times.
The subject matter is close to my own researches -- my senior thesis for my BA was on baseball during WWII. I wish this book had been out then.

Currently reading local author Jedediah Berry's "The Manual of Detection." (If you consider he was born in the Hudson Valley somewhere and currently lives in Northampton MA, then yes he is local.)