Cat in a Diamond Dazzle

Thoughts  Cat in a Diamond Dazzle by Carole Nelson Douglas, Forge: A Tom Doherty Associates Book 1996, 414 pages, GENRE: Chicklit Mystery?

Christmas Lobster #13

Yep, it’s a bottle opener.

This book was not my kind of book.  I only read it because it had DIAMOND in the title and I wanted to fulfill the JEWEL category of What’s in a Name 4 Challenge.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing WRONG with this book – just aint for me.  I never had to roll my eyes or question any facts or critique any sentence structure or wonder where it was going.

If you are already a fan of Carole Nelson Douglas, I’m sure this is fine. If you like cats that solve mysteries, you might like this. The premise was fun, I actually liked the cat but this book – for me – was TOOOOOO LOOOOOOONNNNG. I was bored; wanted much more action, less dialogue.  Dialogue propels this entire narrative, it seemed. I liked the cat’s part but that was a tiny portion. I’m not even a cat person! I’m sadly allergic. I do respect cats, however.

Apparently, CND has written quite a few of these Midnight Louie Mysteries and you all know I’m not a series-reader. I am discovering that I’m not much of a mystery reader anymore either. I also thought this book’s cultural references made it seem dated.

It’s about a girl who seems to get herself into situations involving murder and always ends up as a suspect. This time, a male model for a romance writer convention is killed and sure enough, our girl is involved.  Her cat (Midnight Louie) ends up figuring out the whodunnit and has to place the clues just so in order for the humans to have the AHA! moment.  There are other storylines and characters and drama, of course, but.   Sort of reminds me of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I started this in January.  Read a bit here and there (back and forth from Ulysess) and then misplaced the book for most of the year.  I recently dug it out of stacks of crap on the floor of my miscellaneous room and thought I better have a go at finishing.  I skimmed to the last quarter and didn’t feel like I missed anything. Then I read the cat’s overview of the the wrapup on the crime and now I feel very satisfied to check this as a DONE-READ and no longer a DNF.

I finished the What’s in a Name 4!  YIPPEE!!    CHECK.

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Diamonds, a short list

In order to complete the What’s in a Name 4 Challenge, I have to read ONE MORE book  — one that has a gem or jewel in the title.

Or just give up and count this one.  Earlier this year, I had dipped into:   Cat in a Diamond Dazzle by Carole Nelson Douglas. I didn’t quite get half way when I put it aside and then…  LOST the book. I can’t find it anywhere. Truthfully, I wasn’t too into it. It has a similar feel to the Stephanie Plum books which I got bored with after #11.

But I really want to finish this challenge! I don’t have any other books on my shelves that have a jewel-y title.  So I am going to make an executive decision (await the verdict from the challenge gods and suffer the consequences). Half a book will have to count.

This is one of my most favorite challenges!  Is it yours?  I have not had a good challenge-accomplishing kind of year, so I’m reaching for something/anything that will make me feel good about 2011 from a literary perspective.

On that note, I would like to point out OTHER ‘diamond’ books that maybe might qualify – but these still are reaches. Perhaps this is a public service to anyone else needing a gem and having time to read it…

First, I’ve read ONE book prior to blogging that had DIAMOND in the title:

Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic  by Kevin Krajick.

Considering it is set in cold climes, it’s amazing I finished it. But it’s GOOD!  It’s a thrilling fascinating nonfiction adventure of the race to find diamonds in Canada and keep them OUT of the hands of that famous diamond cartel. I recommend it. I would recommend it over Cats and Dazzle.

and another book in my goodreads MyBooks list referencing DIAMONDS is:

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball   edited by Elinor Nauen, which was something I found on the interwebs that reminds me of a young lady named Abbey who might also enjoy it.  Probably more than I would.  *smiles*   She might be taking a break from baseball in 2012 but I know it’s in her heart.

Finally,

the next book IS on my list and has been read or listed on the tbr by many of my friends:

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies  by Jared DIAMOND.  I scooped this up at a library sale for $2, knowing it is a nonfic title that many people have said nice things.  Sure, ‘diamond’ isn’t quite in the title, but it IS on the cover. It’s in the house…  I still have 25 days left in this month, this year.

May you all sparkle and shine like diamonds this holiday season!  Your blogging friendships are diamonds in my literary jewelry box.  Now go sign up here for What’s in a Name 5.

.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Killer Angels

Thoughts    The Killer Angels  by Michael Shaara, Ballantine 1975/orig 1974, 355 pages.  Winner of The Pulitzer Prize.

EXCERPT:

 “This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you’ll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we’re here for something new.  I don’t . . .  this hasn’t happened much in the history of the world. We’re an army going out to set other men free.”    (Chamberlain, p.30)

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  In the author’s own words, in the preface To The Reader:

This is the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, told from the viewpoints of Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet and some of the other men who fought there.

So, it’s a fictionalized account of the imfamous Civil War battle, told from both sides of the line.  I certainly am no expert on battles of the Civil War and have only a passing knowledge of the main players.  But I love history.  I have actually visited Gettysburg and only wish I had read this book before seeing that ground.

“Give them fifty years, and all that equality rot is gone. Here (the South) they have the same love of the land and of tradition, of the right form and the right breeding, in their horses, their women. Of course, slavery is embarrassing, but that, of course, will go.  But the point is they do it all exactly as we do in Europe. And the North does not. THAT’s what the war is really about.” (Fremantle, British ‘tourist’, p. 165)

This is another book that had me wiki-ing all the characters – I had to find out if they lived or died!   And I screwed it up – I *thought* I had searched for Col Chamberlain, the rhetoric professor from Maine, and saw that he died on the first day. All due to the ominous tone in this description at the very beginning:

“His younger brother Thomas becomes his aide.  Thomas too has yearned to be a soldier.  The wishes of both men are to be granted on the dark rear slope of a small rocky hill called Little Round Top.”

I immediately had to go to my iPad open google to find out WHAT HAPPENED?!  – mind you, this was page xix – and somehow?? not sure what I did, but I must have googled John Reynolds name by mistake.  Anyhoo…

Later, I was discussing this book – I am about half way through reading it at this point – with a coworker of my husband’s who was helping us move the boat to its winter storage location, when I told him, “I think I am in love with Chamberlain and I could just cry! I can’t believe he didn’t make it!” when Jerry says, “What? No, he lives. He survives.”

So I was all confused and had to google all these old dead (now) guys again.

“Once Chamrberlain had a speech memorized from Shakespeare and gave it proudly, the old man listening but not looking, and Chamberlain remembered it still:  “What a piece of work is man . . . in action how like an angel!” And the old man, grinning, had scratched his head and then said stiffly, “Well, boy, if he’s an angel, he’s sure a murderin’ angel.” And Chamberlain had gone on to school to make an oration on the subject: Man, the Killer Angel.” (p.119)

LOVED that the book had maps even though they were a bit small to read.

A big THANK YOU SHOUT OUT to Jason for helping me with army organization.

Sure, I would have enjoyed a bit more perspective from and respect for a woman’s point of view but I can leave that for another book.

RATING:  Who am I to argue with the Pulitzer Committee AND General Schwartzkopf, who said, “The best and most realistic historical novel about war I have ever read.”   FIVE SLICES of PIE. Cherry.  Any guesses as to why cherry?  😉

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Just Kids

Thoughts  Just Kids  by Patti Smith, Ecco (imprint of HarperCollins ) 2010, 306 pages

Interviewer:   Care, how did you hear about this book?

Care:  I think I first learned of it from Amazon; in one of those emails they regularly send to tempt me to purchase books.

Interviewer:  And then you researched it or did you instantly know you wanted to read it?

Care: I saw that it was Rock Star Patti Smith’s memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the famous photographer. It’s a National Book Award winner.

Interviewer:  Are you a Patti Smith fan or a Mapplethorpe fan, or both?

Care:  Actually, all I knew about Mapplethorpe was when his controversial photographs of nude males caused such a hullabaloo a few years ago. I’m dating myself, because the controversary about whether or not his work was pornography or ‘art’ had to have been before he died in 1989 which seems a very long time ago already, but I don’t really recall when I first heard about the artist. What I admit now, is that I had no idea that he was friends with Patti Smith. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about Ms. Smith except that she was grunge rock & roll. I’m still not sure if that description is accurate. To me, the image of Patti Smith that popped into my head was the parody of her on SNL by Gilda Radner! That was hardly flattering. I think…  I THINK, I was both shocked that Patti Smith would write a book AND that she knew Robert Mapplethorpe AND that I was obviously ignorant about a whole slice of cutting edge culture that I now want to know more about.

Interviewer:  So you bought the book.

Care:  Not at that time. I bought it at one of the GOOB sales at Borders.

Interviewer:  And now, you have added ‘Attend a Patti Smith concert” to your Bucket List on Pinterest.

Care:  Yes. I’m fascinated by her. I admire her. I think she is incredible. She has endeared herself to me and I think experiencing her art would be a tremendous thrill. I will probably buy her Horses CD and give it to myself for Christmas.

Interviewer:  So why did you give this book only 3 stars?

Care:  Oh. You saw that, did you?  Yes, well, I don’t really recall exactly and I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up. Let me please reiterate that a three star rating is GOOD. That I liked it. A three star rating is not something to be sorry for. Why do I have to justify this? OK, I’ll try anyway. If I had a rating scale for various categories of things I like/love/hate etc about a book, then this book hits many HIGHs and a few lows and so in average, three stars. I liked it.  (My ratings are for me.)

What I liked most was how it was a glimpse into a life I will never see. How courageous and independent and soulful Patti is. How she had fears and doubts but living true to her ideals was her utmost priority.

Current photo of Patti Smith found here on her website.

What I liked least was the ‘lack’. And even in that, I have to admire it as artistic story telling.  Most of the lacks I cite are mine which made me frustrated with myself, I suppose, but also good in that I now have lots more things to learn.  A lack of knowing a ton of names!  A lack of going in a direction I wanted to know more about.  A lack of my knowledge of New York City.  A lack of photos online when I googled ‘how did such&such hotel look then and now’, etc.

Interviewer:  and did you run to google a lot to look up stuff you didn’t know?

Care:  Yes. A LOT. I was very fascinated. I spent almost as much time online looking stuff up than I did reading this book!  And so this book could deserve 5 stars for provoking intense curiosity. Crazy things; she had an affair with Sam Shepard! the actor guy who plays admirable men in movies and is married to Jessica Lange?! WHAT?! and she bumped into Jimi Hendrix – HUH?!?!  and Grace Slick!  just amazing. The whole Warhol thing. That she bought and sold rare editions of classic books and sometimes it was lucky she found such so she could buy food to eat.

Interviewer:  But what about Mapplethorpe?

Care:  A beautiful tragic love story? They were friends — true friends and that is quite beautiful. I can’t say I am any more interested in him than I was before.  I was much more enthralled with the Patti Smith personality.

Interviewer:  Who would you recommend this book to?

Care:  Anyone who loves art and poetry. Anyone who appreciates true love stories and realizes that life sometimes sucks. Anyone who has interest in the history of rock and roll music.  Anyone who enjoys memoirs/biographies of extraordinary people.  And NewYorkCity-ophiles.

Interviewer:   In five words, describe this book.

Care:  Fascinating, passionate, endearing, heavy, surprising.

Interviewer:   Do you have any reviews elsewhere in blogland to point to?

Care:  Yes, I recommend a wonderful review by Beth Fish Reads as well as Books are My Boyfriends’ enthusiastic take on it. And there’s always Fyrefly’s awesome search engine for book bloggers reviews.

Interviewer:  Anything else you want to share?

Care:  Nope. Thank you for helping me with this post. Oh! I am counting this for a challenge; it fits the LIFE STAGE category for What’s in a Name 4.

Interviewer:  You’re most welcome. Have a nice day.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

An Abundance of Katherines

Thoughts An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, SPEAK an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2006, 229 pages

I so wanted to love this because it has (a bit) of the maths! And it was good… just not my favorite.

Our guy is a child prodigy who desperately wants to be a genius and to ‘matter’. He is even more desperate to be in love; preferably with a(ny) girl named Katherine. He is a very skilled anagrammer. In hopes of getting over a breakup with the 19th of his Katherine lovergirls, he and his best bud go on a road trip. Hijinks ensue? Click on the book cover above to get the synopsis from goodreads.com.

I read this because I adore John Green. I was supposed to read this a few years ago; this was listed to complete a challenge in 2009 – I think it might have been the Dewey Challenge! And this year, I listed it for the SIZE category in the What’s in a Name 4 Challenge. I can finally cross it off the list. John Green now joins the very few and favored authors with the distinction of having more than three books on my done-read list.

Three Slices of Pie.

Trisha at Eclectic-Eccentric also read this book this month (great minds think alike) and since I am attempting to add the link to her post while editing onmy iPad, I don’t know if it will be clean. In the meantime, I just want to drop in the long code: http://www.eclectic-eccentric.com/2011/10/book-review-abundance-of-katherines.html. Or, click on this?…
Or, what abt clicking on this?
Well. DOES this WORK?!?! Will keep tweaking or run upstrs to the laptop..

http://www.eclectic-eccentric.com/2011/10/book-review-abundance-of-katherines.html

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Go Ask Alice

Thoughts    Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous”, Simon Pulse 2006(orig 1971), 214 pages

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“This novel in diary form powerfully depicts the confusions of adolescence.  Its impact cannot be denied.”

– School Library Journal

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MOTIVATION for READING:    For Banned Books Week (Sept 26 – Oct 1); given to me by my neighbor.  This also qualifies for the What’s In a Name Challenge for a title involving movement.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:   These are the diary entries of a young girl who is slipped a drug in a drink at a party and the subsequent events and her feelings about ‘tuning in and turning on’.   It is harrowing to say the least.

ABOUT being BANNED:   Knowing the reasons many books are banned or discouraged from being read by impressionable-youths, it is not hard to see why ultra-conservative adults might not want their children to read this.  It is full of drug use, descriptions of the pleasures of drug use, defying authority, and immoral behavior.  But from my viewpoint, every parent and every adult working with teenagers should read this to understand that kids can be hard to understand and preaching at them is never the best communication strategy.   It is also full of the scary sad dangerous consequences of drug use, presented by a teenage girl who experiences the horrible lows and tragedies of using.   

I was somewhat shocked that it was written in and within the setting of the 60s and I also assumed the girl was naive BECAUSE it was the 60s.  At one point, I thought she was also just dumb. BUT.   The point is that kids can and do get hooked beyond their abilities to think it through.  They do push to younger kids!   They want, crave the escape – and the other kids do hound or bully and make life suck.  It is still relevant today, and I don’t think I am assuming that times now are different or better or worse or kids are more knowledgeable.   It still feels quite relevant in tone and theme.

Maybe other books do this better and because this was a huge hit when published and was considered ground-breaking, I still suggest this is an important book and should be read.

I do not have a problem with this being fiction yet presented as a ‘true account’.   However, if you had asked me last year what this book was about, I would have mentioned this issue before saying it was about drugs.

I wish I could have read this when in High School and that I could be privy to what I would have thought of it then if I had read it.   Can’t do it, though.  Time machine not invented and I would have to have my mind from that time which I wouldn’t have it I was sent back 30 years.    Time travel thinking does fascinate me, though.

Rating:  Three slices of pie.

One more thing.  I made the mistake *of reading the last page while still in the first few pages and so this really caused me great anticipating grief and horror knowing or being confused by what I thought was going to happen when only having two pages left to go!    My palms were starting to sweat, my heart was beating, I was quite anxious.  SO.  If you do read this and don’t know what happens, do NOT read the last page first!!!    Or was it good for my experience that it happened this way?   I’m getting myself all confused just thinking about it.

DID YOU READ A BANNED BOOK for BANNED BOOK WEEK?

* I rarely read the ending – I hate spoilers!   I really do not know HOW exactly this reading-the-last-page-thing happened.   Maybe I’m losing my mind.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Beneath the Thirteen Moons

Thoughts   Beneath the Thirteen Moons by Kathryne Kennedy, Sourcebooks Casablana 2010, 350 pages

What’s in a Name Challenge 4:  “Books With a Number in the Title

MOTIVATION for READING:   I can blame this one on Nancy the Bookfool who wrote a thoughtful review and then offered to send me the book.    Thanks Nancy!     I can’t recall ever reading a book that would fall into the genre of ‘fantasy romance’ so I was looking forward to it.   And I was hoping it would be a fast read towards my goal of 100 books this year.

WHAT it’s ABOUT:     A fantastical watery world that I don’t think I ever got my head around how exactly these trees and water all related but it seemed to be a very wet world with extremely interesting creatures.   We have a young lady and her pet that is a strange kind of monkfish* (Yum!   Sadly, I may never be able to eat another again.)    We have a handsome prince.   The young lady doesn’t really think of herself as a ‘lady’ but more of a rough & tumble fiercely-independent ‘river rat’.    She kidnaps the prince, they feel immense attraction, adventures happen, lady tries to distance herself from prince but just cannot, etc, etc, etc and then some.   With lots of hot sex thrown in here and there.    And all this ROOT-CHEWING for ‘strength’ and ‘clarity’; what I would describe as drug-use.    You see, part of the theme involves the government (the “Royals”, thus the prince) having access to a powerful drug and not allowing the masses to have any of it.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so GOOD:    I guess I could say I was quite amused by all the hot sex.   I would read it aloud to my husband while he watched football games to see if he was as amused as I was.    He was.   😉     However, it got really old fast that our heroine had to try so hard to keep her hands off and her body away from our prince.     Two-by-four to head, already.    And I really didn’t like all the references to the drugs.

FINAL THOUGHTS:   This book just wasn’t for me.   I admit that I skipped and skimmed but it was many pages of still-the-same.    However, if anyone has a great fantasy romance or even a plain ol’ regular romance book to suggest, I just might try it!

RATING:    I give it two and 1/2 slices of pie.

Other REVIEWS:    Alyce of At Home With Books, Debbie’s World of Books

* Thank you to the Maryland Dept of Natural Resources for the photo of the monkfish.  Click on that photo to access more fun fish facts on the Monkfish.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I Hereby Commit Myself… part 1?

I hereby commit myself to the following reading challenges in the year 2011:

The 2011 Aussie Author Challenge hosted by Booklover Book Reviews. I will be a TOURIST and read 3 books which are unknown to me at this time.

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The Kiwi YA Challenge hosted by Maree at Just Add Books.     I will read three books which is the requirement for the lowest level.

The Murakami Challenge hosted by Nat at In Spring It Is the Dawn.   The button here will take you directly to the site for the challenge:   Maree and I will be reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, no time frame figured out yet but others are invited to read along.

I’m IN for the What’s in a Name 4 Challenge – love this one!     I’ve selected Think of a Number by John Verdon for the NUMBER category, Cat in a Diamond Dazzleby Carole Nelson Douglas for GEM, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green for SIZE, Dead Man Walking for MOVEMENT, Killer Angels for EVIL, and my **true** challenge since I’m tried once will be Midnight’s Children for LIFE STAGE.   Always fun.

The CARE Personal Challenge (perhaps I should reverse that and call it the Personal Care Challenge?  hee hee) where I focus on books that I keep saying I want to read and yet just haven’t.     I will commit to reading the book that has been on my in-house tbr shelf the longest:    The Exotic Works of D.H. Lawrence.   I will finally read something by Rosy Thornton, as well as a novel by Thomas Hardy.  And I forget what else at this time, but I know I have more.   Yes!   Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.  (If I have commented such at your blog, pls remind me?)    I will create and update my challenge page soon.

I will continue the John Cusack (now) PERPETUAL Challenge and again, invite anyone to join me for any/all of these:

In house and scored off bookmooch.com:    Bob Dylan’s Chronicles : Vol One &    The Great Thoughts / compiled by Geo Seldes (this isn’t actually a ‘story’, btw.   More reference?)

Still need to get:
The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein
Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
Rites of Spring – Modris Eksteins

And, what else?  I’m sure I’ll do RIP again in the Fall.    I hope to do more readalongs, too.      How about you?   A big year for challenges or are you saying NO?

Part 2 will list any more challenges I sign up for.  I’m sure there are more I can’t think of yet or I have yet to discover.

.

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What’s in a Name 2011

My choices from the books “currently in house and yet-to-read” are:

  1. A book with a number in the title: Think of a Number by John Verdon
  2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: Cat in a Diamond Dazzle by Carole Nelson Douglas
  3. A book with a size in the title: __  (I got nothin’)
  4. A book with travel or movement in the title: Go Ask Alice, Dead Man Walking*, Up in the Air, AA Gill is Away, My Detachment by Tracy Kidder
  5. A book with evil in the title: Bad Girls Don’t Die, Killer Angels**
  6. A book with a life stage in the title:   Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Does my choice for the first category qualify?    Is it OK to have the word NUMBER be the number????   I did have Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith come to mind for that first category but I don’t have it in-house.

I am also not sure if all the titles I listed for category #4 qualify but  I’m leaning towards Dead Man Walking* anyway.  I was surprised how many I could find to offer on that one, though.

And sad that I had no size books.  DARN!  My goodreads tbr has a few SIZE offerings:  The History of Astronomy:  A Very Short Introduction by Michael Hoskin,

OH!   Just remembered that I loaned An Abundance of Katherines by John Green to my neighbor! Excuse to get it back!!!

Thank you Fyrefly for agreeing with me that this will qualify…   I think I’m ready for another JG book.

AND, I really am intimidated by  Midnight’s Children….  I’ve attempted it once.    I could blame the physical paperback I have, tho – VERY TINY PRINT and yellowed.    Perhaps I should get an ebook version.

PLEASE help me choose which book for the EVIL category!     and weigh in on my choice for the number one.  Thanks!

PS I still have two books to read for THIS year!    Where the Red Fern Grows and The Sea…    I think I can do it.

** I’ve been wanting and needing a reason to dive into this Civil War classic.

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