Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If You Like Mysteries...

...Then you must read The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries! Edited by Otto Penzler, he begins and ends with stories by Agatha Christie, but there are 57 little gems in-between, including stories by O. Henry, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ellery Queen and Mary Higgins Clark. In short, there is enough murder, mystery and mayhem to fill any armchair detective's stocking.

My kids gave me this book for Christmas. Thanks kiddos! You don't need a detective to know that I loved every word.

The Case of the Love Commandos

A list of things I love about Tarquin Hall and his new book, The Case of the Love Commandos:

1. Vish Puri, India's most private investigator. In his black Sandown cap and safari suit he solves crimes and devours curry with equal relish, always adding to his renown and his waistline.

2. Which brings me to his nickname: Chubby.

3. Mummy-ji. A traditional man who believes in traditional values, Vish feels that his mother has no business in his business. Just try telling that to Mummy-ji.

4. His wife, Rumpi. She and Mummy-ji make an unstoppable team, much to Chubby's chagrin.

5. His eclectic team of agents. From Facecream to Tubelight, they provide their boss with invaluable reconnaissance.

6. The vibrant picture Hall paints of his adopted country. I have never been to India, but these books bring the crazy-quilt of Indian culture to me.

7. The glossary of India/Hindi terms at the end of the book.

8. Mouthwatering Dishes from the Vish Puri Family Kitchen. Found at the end of each book!

9. The combination of larger-than-life characters, outrageous situations and terrifying realities that perfectly meshes the vast history and present day problems of India and its neighbors.

10. Finally, a great book is a terrific classroom, and Tarquin Hall is a great teacher.

So phat-a-phat and pick up a copy of The Case of the Love Commandos!  You'll be glad you did.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Bertie Plays the Blues

Darling Bertie is back! I speak, of course, of the delightful 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith, and my favorite character, seven-year-old Bertie.

Bertie Plays the Blues finds all the denizens of 44 Scotland Street plugging along with their Edinburgh lives. Matthew and Elspeth are newborn parents of newborn triplets. Angus and Domenica are trying to decide where they will live after their wedding, never forgetting that Cyril the winking dog must be considered. Big Lou has taken up Internet dating, and scheming Bruce is up to his old tricks. Meanwhile, Bertie just wants to be a normal little boy, but his mother Irene is making that difficult, so he decides to put himself up for adoption. If you knew Irene, you would do the same.

Written with wit and sympathy for the everyday dilemmas of the everyman, Alexander McCall Smith invites us into the lives of his characters, making us wish we could live at 44 Scotland Street. As long as it isn't with Irene.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Haiku or Two for You

Technology rules
Unless it doesn't do what
You want it to do.

Blogspot makes me smile
Unless I have a question
Then I frown a lot.

Margins and spaces
Should be the same every time
But they never are.

disabled people beware:
head banging solves nil.

The End



[ahy-den-ti-kuhl, ih-den-]  
similar or alike in every way: The two cars are identical except for their license plates.
being the very same; selfsame: This is the identical room we stayed in last year.
agreeing exactly: identical opinions.

The above definition is pretty straight forward, to be identical is to be alike in every way.  But human beings are not cars, and identical twins are defined as being very similar in appearance.  (Trust me, or look it up!) I think it is commonly accepted that twins have a unique connection, but Identical by Scott Turow poses an interesting question: How far would one twin go for another?

State Senator Paul Giannis' identical twin brother Cass was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Dita Kronon.  He has spent the last 25 years in prison and is about to be released.  Dita's wealthy, powerful and emotional brother, Hal Kronon, is not happy about it, and he has the means and the desire to make the Giannis family's life miserable. He calls on Evon Miller, the head of security for his company, ZP Real Estate Investment Trust, and Tim Brodie, the retired homocide detective that worked on the original murder case, expecting them to prove that Paul had something to do with the murder. What they go on to discover is a complicated can of worms, crawling with the Greek underworld, family loyalties and feuds.

The basic murder/mystery of Identical is reason enough to read the book, but what makes it truly fascinating is the intricate relationship of Paul and Cass. An average family of siblings are bound to experience varying degrees of love, jealousy, loyalty and resentment. In the case of Paul and Cass Gianni, all of these feelings are greatly magnified. So I ask you again, how far would Paul go for Cass, or Cass for Paul?  Read to find out the surprising ending to a terrific book.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Peter and the Starcatchers

Have you ever wondered about Wonderland? How did Peter and the Lost Boys get there? Why can Peter fly? And what's up with Tinkerbell?? If so, you must read Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

Peter and a raggedy assortment of fellow orphans have found themselves in quite a pickle. Their cold-blooded headmaster has decided that they are to be the next batch of "volunteers"(i.e.: slaves) in service to the evil King of Rundoon. They soon find themselves trapped on the decrepit sailing ship Never Land, surrounded by a suspect bunch of sailors and crew. Also on board is young Molly Aster, her governess Mrs. Bumbrake, and a mysterious trunk that is guarded round the clock. When the notorious pirate Black Stache gives chase it seems that all will be lost, but the porpoise-speaking Molly is much more than she seems. Molly, Peter and the Boys, the trunk and the pirates all manage to reach a nearby "deserted" island. But between the not-so-friendly natives, the monster they are harboring and the secret contents of the trunk absolute mayhem is about to ensue.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first in a series of five books.  I also read Peter and the Shadow Thieves and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, all on my Kindle when we were on vacation.  Like many great books they are written for children, but they are equally fascinating to adults. This may be because Dave Barry is such an AWESOME writer and funny, funny man, and together with Ridley Person they make a truly dynamic duo. (Sorry, Batman.) So, if you're looking for a terrific series for your kids, or something fun for yourself, you can't go wrong with Peter and the Starcatchers. No pixie dust required.