Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summer... the perfect time to read

Summer reading is here and have I been reading this weekend! A total mix of genres so here goes….First, I finished The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. It’s based on W.B. Yeats poem called, funnily enough, “The Stolen Child” about changelings, a popular European myth of faeries stealing children leaving a “replacement child” in its place. Donohue gives us a fascinating account of the changeling and the human boy who was switched out as they adjust and live out their new lives. Drawing us in, this literary fantasy (and don’t let that scare you because it is so easy to read!) is an enthralling tale for any time of year. Setting that aside with a satisfied sigh…

I moved on to Death du Jour by Lou Jane Temple. The second in the Spice Box mysteries series, the intent of each cooking oriented mystery is to involve different characters in different eras of history but all involving the spice box in some manner. Fanny Delarue, an 18th century Pariasian cook’s assistant, is living in a dangerous time with the revolution still burbling in the air. The murder of a well known chef of a neighboring household is murdered and Fanny is the only one caring enough to try and investigate it. Then, her lover, the head chef of her household, goes missing and the maitre d’ hotel (a French butler) is murdered. This cozy mystery is problematic in the sense that the mystery happens at the beginning and then wraps up in the end. The rest was all a mini history of life and cooking and eating habits of the relatively wealthy during the French Revolution sans royal heads flying into baskets. Temple’s first mystery, The Spice Box, was by far better and I was disappointed in her second effort.

I lined up a thriller in the Jurrasic Park-ish style for some more beach reading (even though I was sitting in my very air-conditioned house!) The premise of Natural Selection by Dave Freedman is the same old story of an amusement park/zoo, Manta World, going financially under. On the brink of finding a new species of rays which no doubt will be the financial savior for the owner, he continues to fund his small team of marine biologists. As the team tracks the rays up the Pacific coast, they make the horrific discovery of a deep sea species that are smart and more lethal than sharks. The rays shrinking food source in the oceans force them to evolve swiftly and soon they are flying out of the water, literally, in their quest for their next food source…an abundant supply of land mammals, yes, including humans!!! Not only are they the perfect killing machine, they are huge. Just imagine, a giant ray with a wing span of 14 feet hovering (yes, hovering) over you as you become the entrée du jour (or Death du Jour, ha!). As ridiculous as the whole premise sounds (come on….giant flying manta rays?!), I swear I read that book straight through. I kept thinking, “Yikes, then what happens?” until I found myself closing the cover! I admit, it was cookie cutter thriller to the core but it kept me reading. Definitely perfect for some pool side reading (or very late night as it was for me).

Those were my three reads but I also listened to the unabridged cd recording of Sullivan’s Evidence by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. The third gripping legal thriller involving Carolyn Sullivan, parole officer for Ventura Country, provides another excellent view of the legal system so different from the lawyer/cop scenario. A convicted killer, among many others, becomes free after 8 years in jail due to a technicality involving the forensic department. The ensuing slip puts Carolyn and her family in danger as she deals with a former prisoner bent on revenge. A new love interest throws additional turmoil into the mix. The culminating events and the extra end twist are very satisfying. Whew! That’s it for my weekend reads!

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