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Old 05-29-2011, 10:38 PM   #9548
ATDrake
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Roundworld
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Yes, I really enjoyed that book too. I've just finished Jem, and I didn't like it much at all. Hopefully the next will be back to his usual high standard.
Yeah, sometimes with the older "classics", you kind of have to be selective. Something which was a decently serviceable but nothing-really-special read back then can turn out to be unfortunately too stilted or outdated to still qualify as good nowadays.

Myself I think I'll pick Starburst (blurb says expanded from award-winning novella) or The Demon in the Skull (blurb just plain looks interesting) for my next Pohl read after I'm finished the Best of story collection.

Incidentally, the title Jem makes me picture a planet settled by 80s neon-haired soft-punk musical cartoons. Who have a toyline. This will probably not help when reading the actual story.

As for me, finished Gingerbread Cookie Murder, a set of three Xmas-themed novellas by cozy mystery writers Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier in their respective Hannah Swenson, Jaine Austen, and Lucy Stone amateur sleuth series.

This was a gimmick cozy, with recipes accompanying each story*.

Of all the stories, I think that Fluke's worked out best, but I actually enjoyed Levine's a bit more, even though it was kind of over the top with the apparently telepathic pet cat and the eccentric parents (the kooky cast kind of reminded me of those Tamar Myers' Den of Antiquities cozies, actually). Meier's story, I'm afraid, did absolutely nothing for me; maybe it was just too smugly suburban and judgmental of people who didn't fit that mold.

I must say that I rather like the cartoony dead Santa-frosted gingerbread cookie on the cover. And I notice that two out of the three authors have mysteries which are exclusively titled with formulaic strictly applied theme titles like "The Strawberry Shortcake/Cherry Cheesecake/Key Lime Pie Murder" and "Back to School/Valentine/Father's Day Murder".

Which seems, I don't know, kind of limiting. I mean, it does give you an excuse to centre a new mystery around a new un-murdered dessert/holiday. But then you have to come up with excuses to involve said murders around said dessert/holidays.

And if your series goes on for long enough, you eventually run out of the obvious ones.

I'm kind of wondering if this kind of object/event theme naming is typical of North American series mysteries alone or if British writers come up with stuff like The Spotted Dick Murder (plot centred around the mysterious spread of venereal disease and raisin pudding), The Toad in the Hole Murder (something to do with algae blooms and disappearing pond life being an Important Clue), The Bubble and Squeak Murder (I'm envisioning an infestation of mice, or maybe plague rats and buboes as the means), and The Cornish Pasty Murder (this one must happen in a strip joint with almost-topless waitresses that also doubles as a pub).

Anyway, very, very mild recommend for the recipes if you like this kind of thing. Although I must say that I'm rather pleased that Levine calls the winter holiday season "Chrismahannakwanzaa", much like I do.

* Fluke's story had the most, and I think the pacing suffered from having a recipe after nearly each chapter, which broke up the narrative flow.

On the plus side, her recipes read the best, with helpful chatty in-character tips on how to make them: e.g. don't turn the mixer on HIGH when adding the cocoa unless you want cocoa all over your kitchen don't ask me how I know this.
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