Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Title: Death Comes to Pemberley
Series: Standalone
Author: P.D. James
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Published: 12/06/2011
Publisher: Vintage
Genre(s): Historical Mystery

DESCRIPTION

"A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it."


MY THOUGHTS
 
I really wanted to like this book. I love mysteries, and, of course, Darcy and Elizabeth. What happened? Was it the lack of a compelling enough mystery? Definitely. Of course, I wanted to find out what happened to Denny. I never believed Wickham had killed his best friend. The murder, as confessed by the perpetrator, read like a whim to me. The motive? Unsubstantiated as to exactly what had occurred and who was at fault. Revealing that Denny was innocent of all but his association with the "wrong sort."

I also felt the explanations offered by Wickham, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Darcy for their past decisions and actions were disappointing. I was looking for more mystery. More meaning. More oomph.

I did like discovering more about the characters as created by P.D. James but found some of her insights into the characters, completely of Jane Austen's creation, to be disturbingly different from my own. I'll always prefer the Darcy and Lizzy of Jane's imagination, but that doesn't mean I won't want to explore other authors' interpretive works.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Ray of Sunshine


My Ray of Sunshine, originally uploaded by valeehill.

The first photo posted of Lizzie this year and she's snoozing. She looked so comfortable in her bed with the sun shining on her. She'd had a good breakfast, a good grooming, and a romp on the beach. A pretty good day, so far, in the life of a beloved dog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Title: Explosive Eighteen
Series: Stephanie Plum #18
Author: Janet Evanovich
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Published: 11/22/2011
Publisher: Bantam
Genre(s): Mystery, Contemporary Romance

DESCRIPTION

"Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
 
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
 
Only one other person has seen the missing photo—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.
 
Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated."

MY THOUGHTS

There were laughs, just not as many as I'm used to. Lula wasn't present for much of the first half (?) of the book and I missed her! Stephanie is still totally indecisive about Joe and Ranger. I think after 18 (numbered) books it's time to have her mind made up for her. The success of the books isn't completely about their unresolved "issues." There has to be more.

I wanted to be privy to what happened in Hawaii while it was happening. I think it would have been fun to be along for their Hawaiian adventures as they occurred for just a little while. Trenton is a character, but other than Stephanie no other character needs to be in every scene.

Wondering what's going to be happening in number nineteen...also, fairly excited about the motion picture, One For the Money, later this month.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vegan Dessert: Choco-Chai Coffee Cake


Choco-Chai Coffee Cake, originally uploaded by valeehill.


Unbelievably I've made it to this point in life without ever having had Chai (tea). I bought the box of Tazo Organic Chai for this recipe, and because my daughter had some and said it was, "delicious!" I took the conservative route and used 4 tea bags not knowing how spicy it would be. After having tasted the moist cake and gooey topping, I plan on increasing the number of bags considerably the next time.

The recipe is from my favorite baking book, The 100 Best Vegan Recipes by Kris Holechek.

Tomorrow, my first cup of Chai, to which I've been told to add milk (soy milk) and sugar (organic)!

Vegan Dessert: Orange Pudding Cake


Orange Pudding Cake, originally uploaded by valeehill.

From the recipe book "have your cake and vegan too" by Kris Holechek. This is baked in a shallow pan/dish and served warm. It was especially moist with an ample amount of "pudding" in the bottom of the pan. The one thing it lacked was a zesty orange flavor. We found it too subtle. Next time. A large orange, instead of a medium. More zest just may do it!

Vegan Dessert: Big Debbie's Creme Cake


Big Debbie's Creme Cake, originally uploaded by valeehill.

A confession. I have NEVER had a Debbie's Creme Cake. That means I have no comparison. That's okay, because I can't imagine it would taste as good as this wonderful (and large) vegan version. Wow, it was delish!

I had to buy raisins especially for this recipe since I always use dried cranberries. I've never been a shortening user, but with Spectrum Naturals Organic Non-Hydrogenated Shortening there is no "yuck factor".

The recipe is from "have your cake and vegan too" by Kris Holechek. She 'did good'!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Between the Pages - Books I Read in 2011


According to my book database's stats I read 41 books in 2011, yet my Goodreads Reader Challenge total was 54. The discrepancy can be attributed to the fact that I changed the original year read date on 13 rereads to 2011 on Goodreads, but not in my database.

To break down the year by genre, I read: 5 classics, 11 fantasies, 11 mysteries/thrillers, 5 romantic/romantic suspense, 4 general fiction, and 5 non-fiction.  Next year's numbers have got to be better because these numbers are almost embarrassing! :)



Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2011
Author Title Publication Year My Rating Reading Date
Alcott, Louisa May Little Women 2012 8 12/21/2011
Allen, Sarah Addison Garden Spells 2007 8 3/25/2011
Allen, Sarah Addison The Girl Who Chased the Moon 2009 7 3/31/2011
Allen, Sarah Addison The Sugar Queen 2008 4 5/14/2011
Austen, Jane Persuasion 2006 8 11/18/2011
Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice (Audiobook) 2005 10 11/3/2011
Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice 1998 10 11/3/2011
Bowen, Rhys The Amersham Rubies 2011 6 5/28/2011
Bowen, Rhys Bless the Bride 2011 8 3/9/2011
Brown, Sandra Lethal 2011 8 12/5/2011
Brown, Sandra Tough Customer 2010 6 2/20/2011
Cornwell, Patricia Port Mortuary 2010 6 12/24/2011
Eagan, Jennifer A Visit from the Goon Squad 2010 4 6/17/2011
Fowler, Earlene State Fair 2010 6 2/11/2011
Gabaldon, Diana The Fiery Cross 2002 6 6/18/2011
Gabaldon, Diana A Breath of Snow and Ashes 2005 10 7/1/2011
Gabaldon, Diana An Echo in the Bone 2009 8 7/13/2011
Gabaldon, Diana The Outlandish Companion 1999 8 1/14/2011
Gerritsen, Tess The Silent Girl 2011 10 7/26/2011
Hannah, Kristin Winter Garden 2010 10 12/31/2011
Hannah, Kristin Firefly Lane 2008 10 3/14/2011
Harris, Charlaine Shakespeare's Trollop 2000 6 4/5/2011
Harris, Charlaine Dead In The Family 2010 4 2/22/2011
Harris, Charlaine Dead Reckoning 2011 8 8/4/2011
Hoag, Tami Secrets to the Grave 2010 8 4/18/2011
Holechek, Kris Have Your Cake and Vegan Too 2011 8 2011
Landis, Jill Marie Mai Tai One On 2011 4 10/7/2011
McLaughlin, John Gerard Irish Chicago 2003 6 10/13/2011
Meyer, Stephenie The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner 2010 6 6/19/2011
Meyer, Stephenie The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide 2011 8 5/15/2011
Morgan, George C. How to do Everything With Your Genealogy 2004 6 2011
Morgenstern, Erin The Night Circus 2011 8 12/4/2011
Morton, Kate The Distant Hours 2010 8 1/24/2011
Reichs, Kathy Spider Bones 2010 8 1/26/2011
Reichs, Kathy Flash and Bones 2011 8 11/26/2011
Roberts, Nora Chasing Fire 2011 10 4/25/2011
Roberts, Nora The Next Always 2011 8 11/30/2011
Roberts, Nora The Pagan Stone 2008 4 7/22/2011
Stevens, Amanda The Restorer 2011 10 7/14/2011
Stockett, Kathryn The Help 2009 10 2/4/2011
Wilde, Oscar The Picture of Dorian Gray 2003 6 1/18/2011

Exported from BookCollector 01/01/2012 at 12:35:50 PM