12 September 2007

Books Read Since August 6

• Good Morning, Heartache, Peter Duchin/John Morgan Wilson
The sequel to Blue Moon, which I also discovered in the spinner rack at Dollar General. Like his protagonist Philip Damon, a bandleader, author Peter Duchin is the son of well-known Big Band leader Eddy Duchin. This time Phil and his band are at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Bobby Kennedy would later be gunned down, where Phil and his band, including former black police detective Hercules Platt, are involved in the murder of their substitute trumpeter Buddy Bixby. As in the previous book, much name-dropping and run-ins with celebrities, fun if you enjoy that sort of thing. I found it easier to take this time round.

• Chow Down, Laurien Berenson
The next in Berenson's Melanie Travis mysteries finds Melanie and Sam settled into married life in their new home, and settled Melanie wants to stay, but her young son Davey secretly enters her and standard Poodle Faith in a competition to become "Spokesdog" for a new dog food. Melanie can't pull out of the competition, so she goes along with the contest, only to be embroiled when one of the contestants dies after a fall down the stairs. Enjoyable as always if you like dog-oriented cozies.

• Through Time, Andrew Cartmel
Which is subtitled "An Unauthorised and Unofficial History of Doctor Who," but should be subtitled "Andrew Cartmel's List of Episodes He Considers Notable and Why." Objective this ain't, but I found it generally amusing to read. Really, really obvious who his favorite Doctor is. :-)

• Speedbumps, Teri Garr with Henriette Mantel
A breezy, mostly easy read about actress Teri Garr's life and her growing battle with multiple sclerosis.

• Death Dines In, edited by Claudia Bishop and Dean James
Another acquisition from the $1 spinner rack at Dollar General. These compilations vary in quality; this one, mystery short stories revolving around food, wasn't half bad. There were several stories I liked more than others, including Anne Perry's "Sing a Song of Sixpence" involving Lady Vespasia, and the Alice Roosevelt story, "Alice and the Agent of the Hun." The one about the Mafia wife was pretty gross, though.

• The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, Paul Malmont
I've read several reviews of this book that complain that the plot of this pulp-novel homage doesn't really start until halfway through the book. My opinion: who cares? The pulp era and the personalities within it—Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage; William Gibson, alias Maxwell Grant, the "father" of The Shadow, and a young pulp writer named Ron Hubbard (as in L. Ron Hubbard before he became "God"), not to mention E.E. "Doc" Smith, a dying H.P. Lovecraft, and a fellow calling himself Otis Driftwood (really an ex-Navy officer from Missouri invalided out of the service by tuberculosis who thinks he may go into writing)—are so much fun to read about that I was enthralled from one end to the next.

And Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs' books, which were so good they must have a section of their own, not to mention a pile of fall-themed magazines and all the "Owly" graphic novels.

06 September 2007

I Was Off By A Decade

I had a feeling that with the passage of years American Girl's next book series would be about someone more modern: I guessed a 1964 book, but it seems they've gone post-Vietnam instead. The new American Girl is Julie, who's moving away from her Dad and her best friend Ivy after her parents' divorce to live over her Mom's San Francisco clothing store.

Meet Julie (American Girls Collection)

I was just graduating high school and then starting college in 1974, so for this to be "historical" really makes me feel old. :-)

I was really hoping the next series would be around 1914 (perhaps an immigrant girl with ties to one of the countries involved in World War I) or 1874 or 1884 with perhaps a Jewish character in the city.

(Update 09/08: Having now seen the Julie books, I must admit #5 looks interesting: she goes cross-country in a wagon train to celebrate the Bicentennial. I remember telling my father we had to go somewhere historical for vacation that year; he wouldn't go near Philadelphia, so we visited Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown instead. However, having seen the covers up close, Julie looks too old to me; Molly, Kit and the others clearly look like 9-year-olds but to me Julie almost looks about thirteen. At least they have her in the correct grade, fourth, although—fourth graders had basketball teams in 1974? We didn't even have basketball in elementary school gym class in 1968, nor did the school have it after I left. Maybe California schools were different?

And having looked over the companion Ivy book, I wish she'd been the American Girl instead.)