Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday-- Even Stephen

My English teacher in junior high was my guidance counselor in high school. She was taking courses for an advanced degree, and one of her assignments was to take a sampling of students and have them take aptitude tests. She liked the results of my aptitude test so much that I became one of her favorite Guinea pigs. Why did she like my test results so much? Because it was very plain to see what I liked and what I didn't like. Unlike all the other students who took the test, my graph was an endless chain of incredible peaks and abysmal valleys. Middle ground is not one of my normal hangouts.

But this past week, middle ground was exactly where I belonged. I sent seven books out to new Paperback Swap foster homes, and seven books came into the house. Even Stephen! That so seldom happens, and it's good to see that at least one little piece of me hasn't changed from those early years.

Here's the list of the books that are now ensconced on my TBR shelves. Well, six of them anyway!

--Rival Crock Pot 3 Books in 1: Slow Cooker Favorites, Winning Slow Cooker Recipes, Slow Cooker Recipes for All Occasions (Barnes & Noble). I have proclaimed from the rooftops that my dream house would not have a kitchen, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I greatly prefer using my slow cooker. Rival was the first company to make slow cookers, and Mom immediately bought one. It's a horrible harvest gold color, but it cooks beautifully. How do I know this? Because I inherited it, and no matter how ugly it is, as long as it cooks like a dream, it will always have a home here. I managed to grab this book at Barnes & Noble for $10-- the price each book sold for individually. If you're interested, check out their bargain books shelves!

--Real World by Natsuo Kirino (PBS). After reading Kirino's Out, I became a fan of her edgy, almost surreal style and the glimpse she provided into Japanese culture. "A dark tale of teen angst and despair in suburban Tokyo. Through alternating first-person narratives, four girls and one boy tell a story of murder and deception. Descriptions of the hot, humid summer enhance the oppressive feeling of the novel. Characters are well drawn and real, though not always sympathetic–they make life-altering mistakes, don't trust or confide in adults, and are absorbed in their individual worlds. Kirino offers insight into the teens through chapters that read like diary entries as they divulge the deepest secrets, fears, and longings of Toshi, Terauchi, Yuzan, Kirarin, and the boy they call Worm. Readers glimpse at the cliques, social pressures, and academic expectations endured by adolescents in contemporary Japan."

--A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson (B&N). "A charming love triangle in Nairobi, Kenya, forms the center of a novel that manages to be both sweet and gripping. Mr. Malik, a quiet widower guided by a na├»ve crush, spends his Tuesdays on bird walks led by Rose Mbikwa, the Scottish widow of a Kenyan politician, whom he secretly wishes to escort to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball. Enter Harry Khan, Mr. Malik's playboy nemesis, who also takes a liking to Rose. Mr. Malik's social club organizes a bet—whoever can spot the most bird species in one week earns the right to ask Rose to the ball. While Harry heads off on expensive safaris, Mr. Malik is beset by a plague of problems, including the theft of his car and bird-watching notebook, and an ambush by renegade Somalis." I'm just going to say one more thing: Just because a book is set in Africa doesn't mean it should be compared to the #1 Ladies Detective Agency!!!

--Arizona Ghost Stories by Antonio R. Garcez (B&N). I don't often buy seasonal reads, but I just couldn't help myself this time... especially when the second chapter in the book is "Bisbee" and it has an illustration of the Copper Queen Hotel sign. Denis and I spent our honeymoon in the Copper Queen-- on the haunted third floor.

--Blood Sympathy by Reginald Hill (PBS). I've read one of Hill's standalones and loved it. And although I have yet to begin reading his Dalziel and Pascoe series, I couldn't help putting this on my PBS wish list (especially when I discovered that it's set in Luton). "Hill's latest features unlikely hero Joe Sixsmith, a balding, middle-aged, recently laid-off lathe operator from Luton, Bedfordshire, and Joe's partner, Whitey, a curmudgeonly feline that loves beer, pork rinds, and an occasional taste of champagne. Joe decides that if he can't make a living operating lathes, maybe his real calling is private investigation. Before he can have business cards printed, Joe is juggling a mysterious multiple murder, a cache of illicit drugs, his meddling, matchmaking Aunt Mirabelle, and two thugs whose sole aim in life seems to be inflicting pain on Joe. Although most detectives might rely on guns, tenacity, and toughness, Joe's qualifications for the job are a kind heart, compassion, and plain good luck. Oddly enough, that's exactly what he needs to solve the case."

--The Serpent and the Scorpion by Clare Langley-Hawthorne (PBS). "In Langley-Hawthorne's absorbing second historical to feature heiress Ursula Marlow, Ursula is struggling to maintain control of her late father's textile empire. A business trip to Egypt is complicated by the strange death of a new friend, the mysterious wife of a wealthy Russian. Next comes word of a fire in one of her factories and the discovery of the body of a young woman killed before the fire started. Struggling to make sense of these two deaths, Ursula also faces possible financial ruin because someone appears determined to put her out of business. Meanwhile, her romance with Lord Oliver Wrotham, a lawyer, is stalled because of her unwillingness to accept the subservient role of wife that Edwardian society demands. Showing an admirable grasp of social and political history, Langley-Hawthorne closes her tightly knit tale with an unexpected twist that will leave readers impatient for the next book."

--The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco by Marilyn Chase (PBS). Don't ask me why, but one of the topics I love to read about is the plague. (Go figure.) So when this book came to my attention, on my PBS wish list it went! "In 1900, a ship called the Australia docked in San Francisco, carrying infected rats that launched a plague epidemic in the city, which raged sporadically for five years before it was subdued. Chase, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, argues in this engaging narrative that social, cultural and psychological issues prevented public health officials from curtailing the outbreak. Relying on published sources, diaries and letters, Chase shows how the disease first hit Chinatown and explains that most San Franciscans denied the outbreak, while others blamed the city's Chinese population (city officials hid behind worries about tourism and the city's reputation). But Chase goes beyond sociological analysis in this lively work and focuses on the players."

There you go-- the books that came to stay in the Barlow B&B for a while! A big thank you to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting this meme. If you'd like to see the books other folks received last week, just head on up to the top of this post and click on that redhead in the flirty skirt! See you next Monday with my latest batch o' books!


  1. Good week :D
    Oh how I wish I could find the books I want on bookmooch, but I am working on finding new ones ;)

  2. Thanks for mentioning The Serpent and the Scorpion. I'm intrigued and I'm going to add it to my own TBR list :).

  3. I love my crockpot too! There is a fabulous site called a "Year of Slow Cooking" where the blogger cooked with her crockpot everyday. She's got some terrific recipes on her site.

    Enjoy your books.

    Here is my Monday post

  4. Yep, Serpent and the Scorpion sounds real good to me. I added that to my list. Ditto on the Year of slow Cooking site. She has an orange chicken recipe that sounds too good for words. Have a great week and happy reading.

  5. You got some great books; enjoy. Here is mine:

  6. I like when things work out neatly like that.

    And I have that crock pot recipe book. Tons of ideas in there. I don't think you'd need another one! I got it when I went through my crock pot mania phase (I do it for about a month every winter). I suppose I'll be digging it out soon.

  7. Cool list of books. You'll be over all the place. And I collect plague books too. I was sure I was the only one.

  8. I really enjoyed A Guide to the Birds of East Africa. It was a lovely book. And no, it has next to nothing in common with No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Oh wait, yes, they are both set in African countries. And I liked them both. End of similarities. ;-) I'd love to say I have a review of it but it's rather far down the pile of books sitting here to review. Hopefully sometime this month though!

  9. I've read good things about A Guide to the Birds of East Africa.

  10. Real World sounds interesting to me. I've recently finished three books for the Japanese Challenge and they've all been excellent.

  11. I won a book by Clare Langley-Hawthorne recently which sounded really good, but it is on its way from Australia so I´d better forget about her now and expect to read something else this side of Christmas.

  12. The cookbook interests me - love my crockpot at this time of year!

  13. Ohhhh Cathy!! I love that crock-pot book. I'm pretty sure I've got that exact one right on the top of my fridge for easy access. I love to do crock-pot cooking. :)

    ~ Wendi

  14. Blodeuedd-- Good luck on your search for new books. We book addicts are seldom denied!

    Margot-- I've read the first book in the series (Consequences of Sin) and enjoyed it enough to get the second book in the series.

    DC-- Hail fellow crockpot lover! Thanks for steering me to that website. I'm on my way there!

    Kaye--Thanks for the vote on the crockpot site!

    Diane-- I'll gave to check yours out!

    Jenners-- I have at least two dozen crockpot cookbooks. I use mine yearround, summer especially since I don't want to heat up the house and make the AC run itself to death!

    Beth-- You're not the only one. I have a friend in Minneapolis who loves plague books, too!

    Kristen-- It's good to hear that you enjoyed A Guide to the Birds of East Africa!

    Kathy-- I hadn't heard a thing about it... it just sounded good.

    Charlie-- I've enjoyed Kirino before, so I have high hopes for Real World.

    Dorte-- Yes, I think that book is on a very slow boat north!

    Mary-- I love my crockpot all year round!

    Wendi-- Glad to see that you're a fellow crockpot lover!


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