The Mama’s #CBR5 Book Swap Post!

goldfinchA big thank you to Captain Tuttle, who sent me a copy of The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt!

Despite the fact that my boss told me the book was a “smart book”, implying that I am not smart (even though he reads trashy biographies so he has no room to judge me and my trashy romance novel loving ways), I’ve heard great things about this book, and I’m excited to start it!

(But it does look like a smart book, so I think I’m going to hold on to it till Christmas break when I can shut out the world and just read.)

Book surprises are the best! Thanks so much!!!

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Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #43 – Austenland by Shannon Hale

Ok, so I’m a little embarrassed about reading this book. But in my defense, it was an airport purchase, and kept me entertained from Tampa to New York. The flight is less than three hours, and I was just about done when we landed. It’s pretty short, but it’s also a breezy read, which makes sense. This isn’t deep stuff, folks; but it is fairly cute-ish. Plus, I adore Keri Russell and Bret Mackenzie, so I’ll likely be seeing the movie when it comes to pay-per-view. Not in the theater, though.

Anyway, Jane Hayes is your typical New York neurotic artsy type underemployed at a magazine of some sort, and obsessed with Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice. Not just Mr. Darcy, but Colin Firth’s Darcy from the BBC miniseries (yes, of course I own a copy on DVD). So her relationships with men aren’t satisfying. She has an elderly aunt who finds out about this, dies, and leaves Jane a trip to an estate in England catering to Austen fanatics. The estate provides a total Austen immersion, apparently at different pricing levels for different sorts of experiences. Jane has the budget trip, of course.

The female visitors to the estate are the paying customers, and it looks like most of the people who interact with the visitors are actors. The question is: is everyone else there aside from Jane and the two other ladies an actor, or are there real people working there too? Jane meets a couple of different men, meets cute (of course), and hijinks ensue. There are also asides between chapters, describing Jane’s love life up to the point where she enters Austenland. I haven’t decided if I liked that part or not, I’m leaning toward thinking it was annoying. Also annoying was a lot of the language – a bit too colloquial and diary-like for my tastes.

But, overall, it’s a fun and quick read, brainless and entertaining. Perfect for an airplane. I’m guessing the movie will be much the same.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #37 – The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket

The Baudelaires escaped the Hostile Hospital (which was kind of in the middle of nowhere) in the trunk of Count Olaf’s car (bold move). As Olaf and his troupe of baddies drive into the hinterlands to meet with a psychic that’s been feeding Olaf information about the Baudelaires. When they arrive, the kids need to figure out how to either escape (impossible, they’re in the middle of nowhere) or blend in. But how to blend?

Luckily enough, the carnival also has a freak show. So the kids disguise themselves (no better than Olaf ever did, but in these books people aren’t especially bright) as freaks: Sunny wears a long beard wrapped all around herself and becomes Chabo the Wolf Baby; Violet & Klaus share one shirt and become Beverly and Eliot, the two-headed freak. So they get taken on as part of the freak show, and bond with the freaks. They also get to know the psychic, who isn’t all that she seems. Of course Olaf does what he does, and bad things happen.

I apologize if my reviews all sound very similar regarding these books, but if you’ve read them, you know that they are pretty similar, aside from the various types of peril the kids are in. I honestly have no idea how the series ends, but I do sincerely hope that the kids get some kind of resolution.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #36 – The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket

The eighth installment in the Series of Unfortunate Events picks up right where #7 (The Vile Village) left off. The kids are on the run from the nuts from the Village of Fowl Devotees, in a desolate wasteland. They happen upon a store, and try to contact Mr. Poe. The events of the previous few books have been reported in The Daily Punctilio, the newspaper in this world that always gets everything wrong. Unfortunately, there are pictures of the Baudelaires, so they’re definitely in danger of being caught. In fact, the first time this happens is at the store, but they escape by getting a ride with the “Volunteers Fighting Disease” – yet another V.F.D.

This VFD is heading to a hospital to sing stupid songs and hand sick people balloons, because apparently that’s better than medicine. Anyway, the kids end up working in the records room (or library, as it’s called, so Klaus has a purpose). They play a dirty trick on the mostly blind library guy, so they can get a look at the Snicket file, which supposedly contains information about their parents’ death (and if someone survived the fire).

Of course that nasty Count Olaf shows up in “disguise,” along with his nasty girlfriend Esme Squalor. They chase the kids down, and this time it’s Violet in peril. The younger Baudelaires come to her rescue, to a point, and the kids once again make it out alive. Alive, but not necessarily happy.

Again, one of the funner things about these books is to pick out the cultural references and Sunny-isms. Sometimes I have to look them up, but that’s part of the fun as well. I’m only slightly embarrassed by reading these books as an adult, but my excuse is that they didn’t come out until I was an adult, so it’s not like I had a choice.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review # 35 – The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket

The seventh book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events starts with the Baudelaire kids being sent out into the wicked world again by the useless Mr. Poe. He’s a big believer in the “it takes a village to raise a child” concept, so off they go to the village of V.F.D. As you know, the kids received a clue from the Quagmire triplets (both of them) regarding V.F.D. and the death of everyone’s parents.

The village is filled with jerky, selfish idiots who follow a goofy rule book. Oh, and they also worship (sort of) the crows that blanket half of the village every day. The crows roost in the Nevermore tree at night. The tree is in the yard of the only slightly sane person, Hector the handyman. The kids are placed with him so they can do everyone’s chores. The Baudelaires find a clue that could only have come from the Quagmires, so they begin investigating, knowing that if the Quagmires are nearby they could only have been put there by the evil Count Olaf.

Of course Count Olaf is there in disguise, and makes life miserable for the Baudelaires. They end up in jail, falsely accused of the murder of Jacques Snicket (!). Of course Violet invents a way out, Klaus reads a bunch of books that help, and Sunny bites stuff. She also says odd things, and one of the fun bits of the books is trying to figure out where Sunny’s words come from.

Bad things happen, some good things happen, but at the end the Baudelaires end up alone and in trouble, and parentless. Again.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #34 – Cover Her Face by P.D. James

Cover Her Face was P.D. James’ first Adam Dalgliesh mystery novel. Dalgliesh is called to a country house to investigate the death of the family’s newest maid, Sally. Sally has recently graduated from a home for unwed mothers, so she also comes with an infant boy.

The Maxie family is led by mom Eleanor, dad is terminally ill and bedridden. Deborah, the divorced daughter, lives at home, and son Stephen is a doctor in London who comes down at weekends. The family maid, Martha, takes care of everyone, and does not like Sally at all. Also visiting is Catherine Bowers, a family friend who is in love with Stephen. So there you have most of the suspects. There are a couple of others, because that’s mandatory.

Stephen asks Sally to marry him, which she announces to the family one night after the church fete that was held on the house’s grounds. No one is pleased, of course. The next morning, Sally is dead – behind her locked bedroom door. Oh yes, a locked-room mystery. Sally was drugged and strangled, and everyone is a suspect.

Dalgliesh interviews everyone, pokes around Sally’s past life before she went to the unwed mothers’ home, and uncovers whodunnit. The story kept me guessing for a while, but there were a few tells about the culprit that (once I knew who really did it) stood out.

I’m a P.D. James fan, so of course I enjoyed this book. She definitely has a formula, but that doesn’t mean that her stories are predictable. James’ mysteries are always a fun read.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #33 – Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

Oh, I love Agatha Christie. Her stories are so fun, even if the mysteries are usually easy to solve. Five Little Pigs is one of the Hercule Poirot mysteries; he flies solo on this one. The book was originally called Murder in Retrospect, not sure why it was changed, but it also makes sense.

Amyas Crale was murdered, and his wife Caroline was executed for the crime. Sixteen years later, their daughter returns to England (after being raised in Canada) to try to clear her mother’s name. Her mom wrote a letter just before her execution saying that she didn’t do it. However, she raised almost no defense at her trial, and everyone figures she did that, because she did it.

The daughter enlists Poirot to re-investigate the crime, so he goes back to scene of the crime and speaks to everyone who was involved. Our Five Piggies are: Phillip Blake, a stockbroker (“went to market”); Meredith Blake, Philip’s brother, a reclusive former amateur herbalist (“stayed at home”); Lady Dittisham (nee Elsa Greer), Amyas’s lover (“had roast beef”); Cecilia Williams, the governess to the Crale’s child (“had none”); and Angela Warren, an archaeologist and Caroline’s sister (“cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home”). Each had motive, means and opportunity. But so did Caroline.

Poirot interviews everyone, and has each write out their memories of the events leading up to the murder. He also talks to the police and lawyers involved in the case, and in the end, he figures it out, and does the whole “gather everyone together & reveal the real killer” bit. For me, that never gets old. Highly enjoyable, like all of Christie’s books.