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Saturday, September 28, 2013

THE WHOLE ENCHILADA by Diane Mott Davidson



THE WHOLE ENCHILADA   by Diane Mott Davidson
I enjoy this series as much for the recipes as for the stories.  Goldy is again witness to murders - one takes place just after the victim has eaten one of Goldy’s delicious concoctions.  We are witnesses to her acumen as sleuth as well as her talent at cooking.  The cast of characters includes her talented partner Julian, her cop husband Tom, her sidekick Marla along with the usual assortment of suspects, witnesses, bystanders and red herrings. This tale has a second plotline with Ophelia, and Ophelia’s father, money and fiancĂ©.   
My one gripe with this murderous outing is we are constantly being TOLD what good friends Goldy and the victim were, but are never SHOWN why they were friends rather than mere acquaintances. This is important because of the many times this friendship is used to extract information from others.  Tom is even witness to a rather shady extraction that would never be condoned or attempted by real police.
Still, the story is interesting, holds your attention, is solvable if you pay close attention and has enough humor to lighten a dark tale.  The ending may signal the end of this series. Not much here for a book group discussion, but cozy fans will enjoy it anyway.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

THE WEDDING GIFT by Marlen Suyapa Bodden



THE WEDDING GIFT   by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
I’m still not sure where or when the prologue was supposed to take place – perhaps it was a dream?
After some very stilted conversations and an inconsistent use of dialect, the story is interesting and holds your attention to the end.  However, there are too many coincidences and the slaves are often well cared for (or allowed a lot of free time) by slave owners we are supposed to be appalled and repelled by.  That is not to say slaves were not ill-treated and horribly abused, they were.  Just that the depiction is as inconsistent as the dialect.
Fathers in the antebellum South are shown as overbearing, browbeating, abusive scoundrels.  Mothers are meek and cowed.  Sons are distant and uncaring.  In other words many of the characters are caricatures.  Still I enjoyed the book.
Book groups will be discussing slavery, abusive husbands and fathers, the role of women, education priorities, gossip and social ostracism among other topics.  A comparison with The Help, To Kill a Mockingbird and/or The Color Purple would be an interesting discussion.
Note: I read an Advance Reading Copy, I hope the map appears in the front of the book or in the body of the text in the “real” book.

Friday, September 6, 2013

THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE by Jonathan Stroud




THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE  by Jonathan Stroud
Lucy, Anthony and George are Lockwood and Company, a trio of children who can see, hear and sense ghosts.  When ghosts become malevolent and plentiful in London and only children can defeat them, Lockwood and Company goes to work.  Delightfully scary, with lots of blood and mayhem, THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE will have middle graders asking for more.  A good introduction to the characters and a tight plot make this first in a series a good choice for middle school libraries and a good choice for reluctant readers who will devour the chills and screams.  Even older kids will like trying to solve the mystery before our intrepid trio saves the day (and their jobs).  The ghosts and blood will appeal to the boys, and the inclusion of a girl in the trio means girls will approve of this series also.