Fiction: “I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason” by Susan Kandel

perry masonI didn’t actually finish reading I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. The narrator, Cece Caruso (yes, the second ‘Ce’ is not capitalized) is a very bland narrator – she’s a biographer of the creator of the Perry Mason mysteries, and she’s somewhat trying to investigate a crime that Earle Stanley Gardner (the creator) didn’t solve and left behind in his files, but she doesn’t really investigate it with any intense need. It’s more like, “Well, while I’m doing research for my book, I guess I’ll investigate this. But oh, wait, my daughter needs marital advice, though she shouldn’t get it from me, for my relationships all suck.”

It’s very bland, and boring – above all, mysteries should not be boring.

This book gets the Chuck Bass Stamp of Disapproval.

GOSSIP GIRL

Look at him (and pretend that Blair Waldorf is this book) – all disapproving, as if the book were mixing patterns in a less artful manner as Le Bass and wearing off-season footwear. Shame on you, book.

Fiction: “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the windSo this year’s behemoth novel was Gone With the Wind, where last year’s arduous literary task was to read the entire Jane Austen canon (I’m not going to mention the entire Sherlock Holmes oeuvre; mainly because I didn’t finish it. Some day, Holmes; some day). I can’t remember why I wanted to read Gone With the Wind again; I vaguely recall a string of references to it amongst a variety of source materials —

Okay, I seriously have to stop talking like this. Sorry. Anyway, it seemed like everything I was reading/watching had a reference to Gone With the Wind, and I hadn’t read it since freshman year of high school, so I figured, what, am I busy?

Imagine my horror when I came home from the Local LibraryTM and found that the book was 1,037 pages thick. I swore, loudly.

Continue reading

Fiction: “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King

beekeeper's jpgOkay, seriously, I have spent … well, not the better part of two days, but it feels like a lot of time, trying to coalesce my thoughts on the best book I read last year, and so far, the best book I’ve read this year (yes, even better than PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES*).

The plot is as follows: Mary Russell, a precocious genius, is reading Virgil and walking the Sussex Downs at the same time one sunny April morning in 1915, and happens to nearly trip over a man. In the ensuing trade of barbs between the two, Russell comes to realize that the man she has twice insulted to his face is none other than the famous Sherlock Holmes, now retired to Sussex, and an amateur beekeeper. So begins an amazing friendship of equals, even though Holmes is nearly fifty years older than Russell (I can’t remember offhand, and I’m not going to look it up, because I don’t want to be distracted again).

Why do I love it? I’m not entirely sure I can put it into words. The friendship between Holmes and Russell is again, that of equals. In essence, Holmes improves Russell’s already-formed powers of detection in her ‘apprenticeship’, and after working a couple of cases together, Russell is given her ‘vive voce exam’ and solves a case on her own. Then comes the kidnapping of Jessica Simpson, the U.S. Senator’s daughter (not to be confused with this century’s Jessica Simpson – trust me, there is no relation), where Russell takes huge risks and truly becomes Holmes’s partner.

The language is rich, the plot thick and twisty, and … guh. I can’t talk about it more than I already have. Here: read some additional reviews, because I can’t do the book justice.

And then, go read it. Seriously, guys.

*I forgot to mention! Quirk Books has announced its sequal to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES:

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

I’m … not as intrigued by S&S&SM as I feel I should be; it seems weak and lackluster. But I’ll most definitely give it a shot.

Grade for The Beekeeper’s Apprentice: 6 stars

Non-fiction: “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea” by Charles Seife

ZeroI picked up this book from the library because … well, I had a dream involving Kenneth Branaugh as a scientist and all of a sudden I wanted to write a short story involving a mathematician/scientist living in isolation in Oxford and look, I can’t explain where my mind goes, okay? But I wanted to do research, and this book seemed interesting; maybe it would talk about a famous scientist/mathematician that I could develop a story around, similar to The Wayward Muse, or The Scandal of the Season.

Continue reading