Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More stuff from Denver.

Managing the Mystery Collection: From Creation to Consumption, by Judith Overmier and Rhonda Harris Taylor (Eds.). I picked this up for free a year ago or so, and took it along on the plane so I could look like I was doing work. I ended up skipping most of it-- a quote on the back claims it's "invaluable... a must, not only for librarians, but also for every serious mystery reader, writer" etc. The book actually has very little to say on the topic of the mystery section of the public library, not would I call it "invaluable," "interesting," "readable," or "dynamic." The various entries discuss more the different types of mysteries or how mystery authors begin their process or research their material. Well Bred and Dead: A High Society Mystery, by Catherine O'Connell. I was expecting something very different from this book-- The cover art reminded me very strongly of the Bessy, Queen of the Vampires books, and references in the back cover blurb to the character's friend's "death" had me thinking this was another vampire-esque novel. (My husband independently came to the same conclusion without me saying a word to him about it, so I don't feel dumb.) This isn't my style of book, and I really didn't like the main character at all, although I have no way of knowing if she is realistic or not. I guess if you like (nearly-)old-lady mysteries, this could be a good book for you. I can recommend it for the grammar and sentence structure, in nothing else. Tell Me Who, by Jessica Wollman. (This is a galley proof, so things could change, although it was scheduled for publication Jan. 09.) This is written in present tense, but so well done I didn't even notice. It's an interesting plot base and should go over well with 5th-7th grade girls, I should think. But what is up with these horrendous soon-to-be-step-mother characters (see Bras and Broomsticks)? They make us all unhappy. My step-mom isn't like that, either. (I hope that, in the final version, the author corrected the dialogue-- several people were often speaking within the same paragraph, and it could get confusing. No other obvious errors.) The Comet's Curse, by Dom Testa. (This is a galley proof of a reprint; the original had a slightly different title, simply Galahad 1, published in 2005.) This could have gone over much better. It's precisely the kind of sci-fi I used to love, and the story itself is age-appropriate, but the writing really drags it down. It is by turns cliche, over-dramatic, twee, unrealistic, and (I can't think of the word, it might start with an "e," for when something is almost pedagogical and lecture-y in trying to be informative). The dialogue was stilted and new characters' introductions always started off with a physical description. Bleh! I'm also worried that the characters are too perfect. Yes, in sending off the best hope for human-kind, you'd want the best and brightest, but each character is an academic star, wonderfully good looking, and an amazing athlete. Even with their minor personal problems or character flaws, they seem hard to relate to. I have a major problem with some of the underlying Whys for the story-- I realize that, in the story, no one understands this illness, but I'd still like more detail. Absolutely no reason at all is given for why the illness only affects people over 18; it's just a device used be the author to send a bunch of teenagers into outer space. I can't think of any real illnesses that do that. A little more information could really have bolstered the story, made it feel like it had a purpose.

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