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text 2016-04-01 09:46
My March Reading
The Heat of the Moment - Katie Rose
Best Man with Benefits - Samanthe Beck
Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama
All That Remains - Patricia Cornwell
Cruel and Unusual - Patricia Cornwell
The Body Farm - Patricia Cornwell
From Potter's Field - Patricia Cornwell

I'm surprised I only managed seven books as I feel as if I've been powering through books the last nine days reading at every chance I get, but at the same time I'm pleased that I read that many considering the fact that it took me nearly a month to read Obama's biography and I didn't get my motivation back till the last quarter of the month.

 

In terms of quality this has been a super month - one 3, four 4s, and two 5s - it'll be a shame to call that single three star the worst book of the month since I actually liked it, but not as much as those crime thrillers from one of my favourite authors.  The books that I read this month are listed below with links to their reviews.

 

1. The Heat of the Moment (The Boys of Summer, #3) by Katie Rose, you can read my review here

 

2. Best Man with Benefits (Wedding Dare, #4) by Samanthe Beck, you can read my review here

 

3. Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, you can read my review here

 

4. All that Remains (Kay Scarpetta, #3) by Patricia Cornwell, you can read my review here

 

5. Cruel and Unusual (Kay Scarpetta, #4) by Patricia Cornwell, you can read my review here

 

6. The Body Farm (Kay Scarpetta, #5) by Patricia Cornwell, you can read my review here

 

7. From Potter's Field (Kay Scarpetta, #6) by Patricia Cornwell, you can read my review here

 

My Reading Stats for March

 

  • 7 books in 31 days, that's an average of 0.22 books per day
  • 2495 pages in 31 days, that's an average of 80.48 pages per day and 356.42 per book
  • 7 books with an average rating of 4.14 stars
  • My fastest read was Best Man with Benefits, despite not being in the mood to read I managed 149 pages in one day
  • My best is a toss up between my two five starrers, All that Remains and Cruel and Unusual, but I have to give it to Cruel and Unusual because I loved Temple Gault as a villain and this is the first book to showcase my favourite character, Lucy.
  • My worst obviously has to go to the lowest rated Best Man with Benefits, but this was a particularly good month so my lowest rated was by no means a bad book, it's actually also my fastest read for the month so while it wasn't perfect it definitely held my attention for a few steamy hours.

 

Hoping for higher quantity, but no slacking on the quality for next month.  Talk to you all later and have a great day, Sarah.

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review 2016-03-30 09:46
From Potter's Field (Kay Scarpetta, #6) by Patricia Cornwell
From Potter's Field - Patricia Cornwell

SPOILERS

30/3 - Like The Body Farm this book's title is false advertising. An even smaller portion of the book was dedicated to what's named in the title - the first victim is originally a Jane Doe and is buried in Potter's Field (her real identity is later discovered and she's moved to a family plot). Thinking about the plot of the book I can't think of an appropriate title off the top of my head, so maybe Cornwell had a similar mental block and at the last minute just pulled the title from an interesting (though barely mentioned) location that she had used in the book, not even considering how little it had to do with the story. Or maybe the publisher thought the idea of a book with a storyline that featured Potter's Field (and the body farm, previously) would make it a bestseller and didn't consider how it fit with the plot... Either way I think it backfired because it just leaves me scratching my head as to what Potter's Field really has to do with anything.

I do think Cornwell's endings tend to be a bit rushed. 400 pages of build-up and escalating tension and then everything's over in a chapter and a one page epilogue (if that), it all feels a bit abrupt and like she gets to the end of her books and after all that time and effort she just wants to get the book over and done with. After all the work I think the endings should be savoured, maybe steal 30-50 pages from the build-up and really give the end the time it deserves and add a decent epilogue (where appropriate) so we know how everything wrapped up properly.

Because the inappropriate title annoyed me as much with this one as it did with The Body Farm I had to deduct that same star, but fortunately there were no confusions with Lucy's age versus how many years were supposed to have passed. As soon as I finished this last night I picked up Cause of Death and read 100 pages of that before I could force myself to put it down and go to sleep. I'll likely finish that one tonight, very nearly a one-sitting read as Cosmopolitan suggests.

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review 2014-05-31 10:19
"The Potter's Field" by Andrea Camilleri
The Potter's Field - Andrea Camilleri

I always look forward to a novel by Andrea Camilleri. His Mediterranean sense of lightness, of the quirky fun of a life lived well is very hard to find in literature.

 

This novel has everything I’d expect, being situated in the Crime Fiction Landscape. But then, being a Camilleri novel, everything is different. It starts with a cut-up body, moves on to a missing husband, and then comes the Mafia.  Upon finishing it, I was left with a vision of the sun, sea, nasty crimes, beautiful women, and pasta with sea urchins, which is pretty much what I remember from all of his novels. But what’s important is not the plot. What really matters is what happens on the sidelines.

 

His novels are also full of the harsher and hard light of the dry Sicilian heat. As we read his novels we sweat along with them. There are very few writers with this sense of place, bringing Sicily to life in small snapshots.

 

The only other Crime Fiction writers that would seem his equal in this aspect are Ian Rankin with his urban Edinburgh, Henning Mankell with his Ystad in Sweden and Derek Raymond’s with his compelling novels of London.

 

Camilleri is a refreshing writer. He lets us into the story at all points. His sense of place gives Sicily a distinct flavour. His revulsion with everything government-related rings true with almost everyone. His love and appreciation of women, speaks truly of all men. Camilleri delights all the senses.

 

Camilleri celebrates what is best in what makes us human. One of the things that I truly appreciate about Camilleri’s novels is the fact that he makes us experience the way Inspector Montalbano ages. We are able to experience all his fears and questions of life coming slowly to an end. As Montalbano experiences the close of life, he realizes that man and woman can draw on the experiences of a life lived to empower the time and experiences still left to them. All the simple pleasures of life, good food, the beauty of women are present throughout his novels.

 

When I think “hedonist”, Montalbano always comes to mind, ie, someone who enjoys the pleasures of food (religiously in silence), long walks and swims, good reads, better if in solitude (or with Ana by my side…).

 

Right at the end of the novel, Camilleri brilliantly summarizes what it means to read a Montalbano novel:

 

How did he Montalbano feel?

“I’m just tired”, was his bleak reply.

Some time ago he had read the title, and only the title, of an essay called:

“God is tired.” Livia had once asked him provocatively if he thought he was a God. A fourth-rate, minor God, he had thought at the time. But, as the years passed, he’d become convinced he wasn’t even a back-row god, but only the poor puppeteer of a wretched puppet theater. A puppeteer who struggled to bring off the performances as best he knew how. And for each new performance he managed to bring to a close, the struggle became greater, more wearisome. How much longer could he keep up?

Better, for now, not to think of such things. Better to sit and gaze at the sea, which, whether in Vigàta or Boccadasse, is still the sea.

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review 2014-04-06 18:35
The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
The Murder Bag - Tony Parsons

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons

reviewed by Lucy Pireel

 

This crime novel isn't just a whodunnit, it has so much more than just a crime to solve. It has real life emotions in situations that could be all too real. It shows the lives of characters that do not only read as if they are be real, but this author completely made me forget he actually made it all up. 

The crime, the perpetrator(s), the victims, and the love interest all come to life while reading. I couldn't help shedding a tear at a particular part of the story. 

I wanted the crime to be solved, the baddie to be caught, and when I thought I had it all figured out there were twists I never saw coming. This author wove a story so complicated and yet so simple it made me want to read more of him. He even made me feel sorry for the ones I should want to hate. He showed several sides of society we rarely ever think about, or get a peek at if you're not a part of those shielded parts of our world.

 

This book reads like a breeze and leaves you happy and sad when you reach the end. A very well crafted end after a more than satisfying and intricately woven story that grabbed me from the start not to let me go until the end.

I'm glad I did go through the trouble of having to read it off screen rather than on my e-reader because I wouldn't have wanted to miss this great English crime novel.

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text 2013-10-14 11:20
30 Day Book Challenge: Day 13 - Your Favourite Writer
Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell
Body of Evidence: A Scarpetta Novel - Patricia Cornwell
All That Remains - Patricia Cornwell
Cruel and Unusual - Patricia Cornwell
The Body Farm - Patricia Cornwell
From Potter's Field - Patricia Cornwell
Cause of Death - Patricia Cornwell
Unnatural Exposure - Patricia Cornwell
Point Of Origin - Patricia Cornwell
Black Notice (Kay Scarpetta, #10) - Patricia Cornwell

This is really hard to choose, because I have favourite authors in most genres.  So, how can I choose between my favourite crime writer and my favourite fantasy writer?  The fairest and easiest way to decide is to work out whose books I have read the most.  That's reasonably easy to work out - Patricia Cornwell.  I have all but one of her books in my library and have read all but the last three in the Scarpetta series and those that I've read, I've read more than once.  Below I've included my reviews of the first two books in the Scarpetta series (the only ones I've read since beginning to review seriously).  I've linked the first ten (as many as the system will allow) Scarpetta books above, the series is 20 books long now.

 

Postmortem

12/3 - I've read this numerous times over the past 15 or so years, too many times to count in fact.  But I hadn't read it recently enough to write a proper review my way, that is reviewing as I go, so after I joined GR I promised myself I would re-read in order to write a review more detailed than "I love it and have read it many times".  I am now re-reading it, so here comes the review.

A number of the reviews I've read mention the dating of the book because of the frequent discussion of the technology used in those days - especially the early use of DNA identification and unusual sounding computer technology which doesn't seem to be the predecessor of any of today's computer technology.  Even when I read Postmortem the first time around back in '98, the computer speak was completely unrelated to what we were learning in my Computer Tech class at school.  The old-fashioned technology doesn't date the book for me, in fact it makes it even more interesting in some ways, looking back at what they did in the old days, how they had to wait for the advances in DNA testing and every thing else that has moved forward since then.  If I was a little older (I was only 5 in 1990), I might even feel nostalgia for those less technologically complicated and connected days.  This is one of the first realistic crime thrillers that I read and so I think it's made a lasting impact on me, I still compare all new crime thrillers to the early days of Cornwell - those were the days when Cornwell and Scarpetta were at their best.  To be continued...

13/3 – Knowing who did it in this murder mystery isn’t a detraction to this book for me.  I can still enjoy the hunt, the exact method of catching him, the profiling technology and very simplistic DNA testing used.  I’m also enjoying looking back at the beginning of the three main characters’ relationships and how they’ve developed over the last 23 years.  The way Marino treated Scarpetta, and looking for subtle hints of the beginnings of a relationship between her and Wesley.  To be continued...

18/3 - When I'm reading a book I often associate or envision a character with an actor whose tv/movie personality seems (at least to me) similar to the totally unrelated character from the book I'm reading.  For the Scarpetta books I've always seen Marino as looking and acting a lot like Skipp Sudduth's character John "Sully" Sullivan from the crime drama Third Watch crossed with a bit of Danny DeVito's frequently, slightly greasy appearance.  I see Kay as looking a lot like her creator.  As for Benton, I've never really gotten a good enough feeling for him to have an actor's face make up the majority of my imagination - he's just a vague impression mostly made up of the description of his clothing for the particular scene with a blurry man's head on top.  To be continued...

21/3 - There's not much more I can say.  I mean how many ways can I say Cornwell is the best and I love her books?  Got to read them all over again, in order, now.

 

Body of Evidence

31/3 - Another great Scarpetta story.  I haven't read this one as often as Postmortem, so I don't remember the complete story like I do with Postmortem.  As I'm reading a new detail of the plot will come to me just a page or two before I read it.  Instead of anticipating each twist and turn of the plot, I'm almost surprised by them.  Re-reading the books as an adult, I do find it a bit unlikely that one Chief Medical Examiner could get into as many scrapes as Scarpetta does.  Fortuantely I'm quite good at suspending disbelief inspite of illogical situations, and so I can jut ignore the sense of disbelief that rings at the back of my mind while I'm reading of the latest attempt on her life.  To be continued...

2/4 - As with Postmortem, Body of Evidence ends with a the bad guy making a concerted, but ultimately failed attempt on Scarpetta's life.  This time, at least, Marino isn't the one to come barging in gun blazing, her own gun does the blazing and she's able to save herself.  I still love these books and the character of Kay Scarpetta, but at the same time I can see where some of the complaints of clichedness come from, now.  When I read them as a young teenager I just read them as a great, slightly violent (for a 13-year-old) crime thriller (some of my first real, adult books).  Now, with older, more cynical and informed eyes I can't quite read them as subtext and message free - I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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