Monday, February 28, 2011

What I read in February

The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen/A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Mary Russell Novels)The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or on the Segregation of the Queen, by Laurie R. King. I read this for my book group, and I gave it four stars. Sherlock Holmes takes on a spunky young woman apprentice. I loved the character of Mary Russell, and it was because of her that I gave it four stars. However, half of my book group predicted that Sherlock and Mary would end up romantically involved  in future books (in spite of the 30+-year age difference). (I didn't see this, but clearly I was blind.) As I scanned through the Goodreads reviews for the remaining books (which I had planned to read, eventually), I discovered that yes, indeed, they do hook up. Most readers felt that this first book was the best. So I will not be reading any more. I enjoyed the what-I-thought-was-purely-platonic friendship between the older Holmes and the young Russell. The fact that the author felt it necessary to get the two detective partners romantically involved made me lose interest.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous BreakthroughWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, by Ruth Pennebaker, gets the monthly award for the book I gave up on. One star. Stopped at page 100 because I found the characters to be completely annoying and implausible. Blech.

A Dead Hand: A Crime in CalcuttaA Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta, by Paul Theroux, gets only two stars as well. The one thing I did get from this book was a new understanding of Mother Teresa...she was not the saint many people think she was. (Read my review for more information.) Theroux needs to go back to writing nonfiction.

Unclutter Your Life in One Week (Hardcover)Unclutter Your Life in One Week, by Erin Rooney Doland: I didn't give this one a star rating, but I had to, I'd probably go with two or three. It had some good recommendations, but much of what she had to say I'd read before...and I found the proposition of uncluttering your life in one week to be very difficult to get around!

It Takes a Worried ManIt Takes a Worried Man, by Brendan Halpin. Best nonfiction of the month: four stars. It's a touching, poignant memoir of a man whose wife is being treated for Stage 4 breast cancer--at a shockingly young age. Read only if you can handle sad endings.

 The Wedding Officer: A Novel (Bantam Discovery)The Wedding Officer, by Anthony Capella, wins for best novel of the month. James Gould is a British officer sent to Italy during World War II to keep the British soldiers from marrying Italian women. It was great historical fiction about occupied Italy and Naples, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Four stars.

Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand TourEverything Is Going to Be Great, by Rachel Shukert. This is the book I should have given up on at page 100, but I plodded on through and then regretted it (two stars). Well, at least I learned about a racist Dutch holiday tradition (read review for more info). But I had to wade through a lot of narcissism to get any kind of educational benefit out of it. Travel memoir it wasn't; it was more like a sex/alcohol/hedonist 20something tour of a few cities. And it was supposed to be funny.

Looking back on February's selection, I realize that I need to be more selective in what I'm picking up! Or give up much more quickly, as Nancy Pearl recommends.


  1. Hi Marie,
    I'm taking your recommendation and ordered a Kindle version of the Wedding Officer. I keep trying to download free books and am mostly disappointed in them -- guess that's why they're free!
    Mary J

  2. Great, Mary--I hope you like it! The Multnomah County Library has downloadable e-books you can check you have a good library nearby you could use?