Lets start with the random facts:
1. Smoking is so much worse for you than I ever thought. I mean, I thought it was bad, but smoking is associated with more than just lung cancer. Smoking also increases the risk of many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix. So seriously, don’t smoke. Ever.
2. A woman who tans once per month is 55% more likely to get melanoma.
In a moment of awesomeness, the other week while bowling with Coralea I made the following joke after getting a strike: “I’m back like recurrent cancer.” A month ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought it was funny, but both Coralea and I were busting up for like 5 minutes. What’s worse? Joking about stealing babies or joking about cancer? Hard to say.
All right, now that is out of the way, lets talk about literature, shall we?
#44 The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
This is the sixth installment in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. I love these books and was really excited when this one came out because it seemed like it had been mere months between it and its predecessor, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. Anyway, the entire series revolves around two themes: one, modern, is the story of Eloise, a grad student researching Napoleonic spies in London; the second is the stories related to the spies. Each book takes the story of Eloise forward a tad (like days) while telling an entire story about a set of characters who are all somehow related to spies with flowery names (ie: The Pink Carnation). It’s basically chick lit meets historical fiction. If I had to describe the books in a sentence, I’d say, “they are a good romp.” (Because they are the sort of books that make you use the word ‘”romp.”) I prefer the spy stories to the Eloise story and when I reread these books (as I do), I always skip the Eloise chapters (there are far fewer). Anyway, the only thing about the last two books which has been a bit odd is that there is no mention of The Pink Carnation (who is ostensibly the star player in Eloise’s dissertation as well as the series). I’m not sure if The Pink Carnation will be back in future books, but I hope so! Regardless, I love this series and would definitely recommend it.
#45 and #46 Artemis Fowl and The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl Books 1 and 2) by Eoin Colfer
My latest foray into kid lit, the Artemis Fowl books feature a criminal mastermind for a protagonist. He also happens to be 12. Now, here’s the thing about me and kid lit. Every since Harry Potter ended, I’ve been searching for the NEXT Harry Potter. And it’s been one disappointment after another. Sure, the Percy Jackson books were fun and the Artemis Fowl books are witty, but they are NO Harry. Nothing will ever compare. Now, that aside, taken on their own merit, I did enjoy the first two books in this series. I also bought the third, but am not really getting into it. It’ll be shelved for a while, along with the last Septimus Heap book (which would NEVER happen with Harry). Anyway, not too much to say. I like that the protagonist is a bit naughty and even though I think the books could be a bit smarter, they’re fun enough and worth trying if you also like the kid lit genre as I do.
Grade (for both): B+
#47 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
We read this for my book club last month and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book takes place in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, and is told from the perspective of two black maids and one upper-crust white woman. The basic plot is as follows: Skeeter (the white woman) wants to be a writer. Growing up, she had a black maid who raised her. Her friends (who are horrible) have maids and treat them and their kids kinda like crap. She decides to write the maids’ stories. Two of which, Abileen and Minnie, narrate as well (and tell a better story, I think). It’s an interesting perspective on race, class, and love. While Skeeter gets more glory than she should, I didn’t have many qualms with the plot. It wasn’t the kind of book that I couldn’t put down (although, I was up until 1 am reading it, but that’s mostly because I started it 3 days before the book club meeting), but it was definitely a book I wanted to finish. Coming at it with my social worker background made it even more interesting to read.
#48 Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian
Bohjalian, who also wrote Midwives and Transister Radio, along with several others, is, if nothing else, consistent. I generally like his books, even if I don’t think they are outstanding or particularly challenging (the exception being The Double Bind). True to form, Secrets of Eden was good, not great. The ending was particularly unsatisfying. Told in four different voices, it lacks fluidity, even though all the stories are connected by a murder/suicide (or is it murder/murder?) that takes place in the beginning. The mystery is good up until I hit the last of the four voices and figured it out immediately. I wouldn’t say it was a bad book by any means, but I felt like it fell flat.
Currently, I’m reading (and enjoying) Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. I’m also trying to get into The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Steig Larsson (the follow-up to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and just like the first, finding it difficult. I am also super excited that the second Flavia deLuce novel, The Weed The Stings the Hangman’s Bag just downloaded onto my Kindle.
I don’t have as much time to read at work as I thought (not that I thought I’d read on the job, but I actually get a lunch break at this job. I’ve been doing more socializing than reading, though), but hopefully I’ll get through these next few pretty quickly. I’m looking to break 50 books in 5 months, which puts me ahead of schedule, but only barely.