Sunday, January 30, 2011

Phryne Fisher Mysteries

    *****  Five (5) Stars for "Dead Man's Chest"

Phryne (Fry-knee) Fisher is the captivating female protagonist of Kerry Greenwood's outstanding mystery series.  The series takes place in 1920's Australia, Melbourne.

The Hon. Miss Fisher is a very modern, free thinking, intelligent, detective.  She is also a "Flapper" and the adoptive mother of two young girls (Jane & Ruth), rescued from the street & a life of abuse.   Phryne has a delictable lover, Lin Chung and a very staid & sensible live-in helpmate, Dot.

Phryne had her beginnings in England, being a part of a very wealthy & "proper" upper class family....  she headed for Paris where she became a model and eventually an ambulance driver during the "good" war.  After having some troubles she fled to Austrailia and rebuilt her life.

To date there are nineteen books in this series. The most recent: "Dead Man's Chest", which takes place on holiday in Queenscliff, a small fishing town.  Upon arriving at her destination, a lent out home in Queenscliff, with Dot, Jane & Ruth in tow, Phryne discovers that the domestic couple, Mr. & Mrs. Johnson have not only disappeared, but all of their belongings are gone as well.

In trying to replace the Johnson's, Phryne finds that finding help during the "season" is difficult....which is the lead in for everyone in the group helping with the kitchen chores & setting the scenes for Ruth's well turned culinary experiments. 

Phryne elicits help with her sleuthing from a young ruffian, Eddie, whom she names Tinker.  Also in the mix is: Mrs Mason, her teenaged son and his two loutish school chums; a nasty old busybody who sits at her window & watches all goings on; the young Irish kitchen help, Maire; the "Plait Snipper"; the "Surrealists"; the film crew & local girl turned star Lily; the contrabanders; and Gaston (the Johnson's terrier). 

Although, Lin Chung is mentioned several times, he is not present in this book...but there is promise of his return....which I eagerly anticipate.

This was one of my favorite stories and it is as well written as the previous eighteen.  As in all of this series, I adore the Hon. Miss Fisher's high coutour wardrobe and sense of style. 

Recipes for: Impossible Pie, Potato Scones, & Noyau Cocktail are provide at the end of the story.

Other Phryne Fisher Mysteries are: "Cocaine Blues", "Flying too High", "Murder on the Ballart Train", "Death at Victoria Dock", "The Green Mill Murder", Blood & Circuses", "Ruddy Gore", "Urn Burial" (5 Stars), "Raisins & Almonds", "Death Before Wicket", "Away With the Fairies",  "Murder in Montparnasse" (5 Stars),  "The Castlemaine Murders",  "Queen of the Flowers", "Death by Water", "Murder in the Dark", & "Murder on a Midsummer Night".

Friday, January 14, 2011

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

   My Secret: A PostSecret Book

PostSecret : is a series of at least five different books.  All are edited by Frank Warren.  It all began as a community art project one which encouraged people to submit hand decorated post cards on which were written the creators' very most deepest secret.  This project has since evolved from an art project, into books, seminars, and a website:

The creativity alone is amazing, but what really moved me was the humanity shown within the pages of postcards.  Within the pages an amazing range of emotions & personal experiences are covered/uncovered: despair, shame, unrest, hatred, disgrace, perversion, deception, desolation, abuse, joy, name it, you can find it here.

These offerings made me cry, laugh, and empathize with their writers.  I even saw two of my own secrets within the pages.

PostSecret is an open and refreshing look at humanity in all its glory, humility, honesty & despair.  Within these pages no stone is left unturned.

This is a must read for those studying the human condition.  Do not be surprised to find your deepest/darkest secret within.

* * * * *      Five Stars

Monday, January 10, 2011

Best of the Year Challenge 1984


"The House on Mango Street"  by Sandra Cisneros

* * * *  

Esperanza's family has lived in 3 different places that she can remember before the House on Mango Street. For every time her mother has another child the family needs a larger living space and they move.

Although, her parents dream of winning the lottery & buying the house of their dreams, they will never realize their dream.

The book is made up of 46 intertwined short stories about life in the House on Mango Street: we meet Esperanza's family, neighbors & neighbors' families/relatives. She describes life in a typical Chicago Latino Barrio/neighborhood.

The stories are well written and maintain a true to life voice. I am happy to have the opportunity to re-read this book.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shelfari: Play Book Tag: 2011 Best of the Year Challenge

Pick a Year Challenge - 2011

Last year, we introduced the "Long Book" Challenge which proved to be pretty popular.

This year, we are trying a new one.

The challenge is:

Pick any year you want and read one book per month (for a total of 12) from that year over the course of 2011.

Please use a single message (as well as replies to that message) to share your year choice, what books you think you might read, and what books you actually read.

Reviews should still be posted in our normal monthly review threads please. No need to post them here (unless you want to).

Some people have come up with creative modifications to this challenge. If you are using a modified version, please share your idea in your message.

Happy New Reading Year everyone!!!

Auntie Nanuuq :

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I had to go through many years...but I've settled on 1984. That was the year I became an adult (30)!

Funny I also looked at 2004 (I turned 50), but the books from that year don't interest me!

1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera
2. Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
3. The Lover Marguerite Duras
4. The Pilgrim of Hate Ellis Peters
5. Of Love & Shadows Isabell Allende
6. Interstellar Pig William Sleator
7. Witches of Eastwick John Updike
8. Mistress Anne Carolly Erickson
9. Deadlock Sara Paretsky
10. Dead Man's Ransom Ellis Peters
11. The Ghostway Tony Hillerman
12. House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros
13. The Dirty Duck Martha Grimes
14. Tree of Hands Ruth Rendell
15. Proof Dick Francis

I will do my best to post my reviews here as well.