Book Fortyeight: A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard, Alan Bradley

I honestly can't believe how fast Mr. Bradley cranks these books out! I just picked up this paperback, and noticed that a new hardcover of the fourth installment in the series is already out! Who does he think he is, Alexander McCall Smith? I shouldn't let that color my impressions of these books, and yet I worry that with speed comes sloppiness. However, I did quite enjoy this one, much as I did the previous two. Bodies keep piling up in Bishop's Lacey and Flavia is still as precocious, spunky, and sleuthy as ever. Though, if he keeps writing these books at this pace, in a few years we might start to become suspicious and have to wonder if Flavia herself is behind any of these murders (she's a regular Jessica Fletcher, this one).

Book Fortyseven: A High Wind in Jamaica

A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes

A friend casually said to me at a Halloween party, "So, are you going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year?" I'm sure there was no reason why he asked me in particular, and I'm guessing that this was his idle party chatter for the season, but for some reason it really stuck with me. I thought, "Hey, why not try to write a novel? Who says you can't? I've got things to say!"

But then I read this and realized that I will never write a book. Because I am not a writer and will never be this good. This is stinking good writing. What I write is poop compared to this (case in point: my over usage of the word poop). So yeah, thanks Richard Hughes for making me realize where the bar is and helping me understand that I probably won't ever reach it. But honestly, I'm okay with that, as long as I have books to read that are this amazing.

The plot is crazy: a group of young children, en route to England after their parents have decided that British-occupied Jamaica is not safe for them, are captured by pirates and accidentally taken aboard their ship. But it's not what you expect. The pirates don't really want the children there, but the children adapt quickly to life with the pirates. Everything about this feels child-like, even though the themes and storytelling are quite adult.

But the writing! There are passages I want to quote at length, but I lent my book to someone and can't. I suppose that's all for the best, since I would probably go on an on with excerpts if I could. I'll just say that if you like books about the sea, then this is for you. If you like books with adventure and action, this is for you. If you like books that make you think, then this is definitely for you. If you like books that both delight you with beauty and alarm you with harsh realities, then this is absolutely for you.

Book Fortysix: Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

Love and Rockets New Stories: Volume 4, Los Bros Hernandez

I believe that when I read the previous issue of Love and Rockets last year, I said the Hoppers story broke my heart. Well, that one was amazing, but this oneā€¦ wow. I must have sat there forever when I finished it, just flipping through the final pages of "Love Bunglers" over and over again, and feeling so tenderly about Maggie and Ray and Hopey (and, of course, Jaime). I really should go back and re-read all the Maggie and Hopey stories. Sometimes it feels weird to feel so close to imaginary characters (never mind, cartoon imaginary characters), but I feel like they are my friends, in a way, watching them grow and change over the years. If this isn't the best story ever, I don't know what is.

Book Fortyfive: The Spellman Files

The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz

This book arrived in a package from my stepfather with gifts for the snowdrop. But this was obviously for me. And I loved that he thought to send a little something that he knew I would like. And I did! This was the perfect blend of humor and a detective story with some dysfunctional family thrown in on top. Izzy Spellman works for her mom and dad's detective agency, which also employs her 14-year-old sister and her alcoholic bender-prone uncle. Hilarity mostly ensues, but also some serious stuff. The mysteries aren't completely mysterious, but that doesn't make the book any less terrific.