April 15, 2004

Murder on the Iditarod Trail by Sue Henry

I'm not sure I would have picked up this book on my own. It was my mystery book group's selection for this month, so I began reading with an "I have to read this" mindset. Probably because of this, it took me a while to get into it. By around page sixty, though, I was hooked.

As the title implies, this fairly traditional murder mystery takes place during the running of the annual Iditarod race in Alaska. I really liked how Henry used the suspense of the race to heighten and work with the suspense of the mystery itself. The actual "mystery" wasn't too terribly unique or unusual, but there were several great characters, and the information about the Iditarod was just fascinating. The ending was quite satisfying as well--not too perfect, but definitely not disappointing, in either the outcome of the race or the murders.

I'm definitely going to read the others in this series, mostly because of the Alaskan setting and my curiosity about what she does with the relationship between the two main characters. If you like traditional mysteries in unique settings with a hint of romance, give Murder on the Iditarod Trail a try.

Posted by Kat at 05:28 PM | Comments (99) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller

Well, I finally got around to reading this, on the day it was due back to the library, of course. And, to my dismay, I discovered that three more people have it requested at the library, so I couldn't renew. But based on the quick read I gave it this morning, it quickly leapt to the head of my "books to buy" list.

Stitch 'n Bitch has just about everything I ask for from a knitting book: a fun, funny narrative style, great descriptions and illustrations of techniques, and patterns I want to knit. The writing is "modern" without being too cutesy about it, and the author's personality really comes through. The patterns are interesting but doable. I'm especially looking forward to the men's sweater pattern, which looks like exactly what I've been looking for to make for a friend. The technical descriptions were both clear and interesting enough that I actually read her description of how to make a knit stitch.

Most importantly, reading this book made me want to knit. Lots. It made me want to hang out with other knitters and try new things and just knit knit knit.

Posted by Kat at 05:09 PM | Comments (134)

February 16, 2004

On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill

I discovered a new mystery series--the Dalziel/Pascoe series by Reginald Hill. My mystery book group read On Beulah Height this month, and I ended up really liking it. It was one of those books that's kind of odd and hard to get into, but by the end I was really liking it. And I particularly liked some of the characters who are in other books in the series, so now I want to read the others. The story revolves around the disappearance of several little girls in a small town in Yorkshire, and it goes back and forth between a present day incident and a series of crimes fifteen years before. It was a bit scary, and some of the details about the children's murders were disturbing, but it was overall a very good mystery, and I'd recommend it.

Posted by Kat at 11:25 AM | Comments (138)

January 07, 2004

Naked in Baghdad

I've been wanting to write more about books I read here, so I figured I might as well just go for it. And I just finished reading what I felt was a very important book, so where better to start?

As I've mentioned before, I'm addicted to NPR, so I listened to quite a bit of Anne Garrels' coverage of the war in Iraq. I think I even heard the broadcast in which she cut off suddenly, saying she had to move because her hotel had become a target. So when I heard that she had a book coming out, I had to read it, for more than one reason. Her experiences sounded fascinating, yes, but more importantly, I wanted to learn more about Anne Garrels herself--what sort of person would choose to put herself in that situation? And how?

Well, the book was even better than I expected. The writing was surprisingly frank and open, with no lack of personal anecdotes, and I really felt like I got to know Ms. Garrels herself. At the same time, she gave enough information about Iraq and the war that I was aware of learning a huge amount while compulsively turning pages to see what happened to Garrels and her friends. Both the macrocosm and the microcosm were well represented, one might say.

Some reviewers have complained about the inclusion in the book of e-mails sent by Garrels' husband Vint to family and friends while Garrels was in Iraq. Yes, they were sometimes silly in tone, and yes, they interrupted Garrels' narrative, but those were some of the very reasons why I liked them. They added some much-appreciated levity, and kept the book from getting too intense. More importantly, though, they provided a subtle but lovely subplot. While following the fascinating story of Anne Garrels' experiences as an American woman and reporter more or less on her own right in the middle of the Iraq war, the reader can also follow the story of the loving husband in Connecticut, "taking care of the home front and changing the diapers on the labradors."

I would heartily recommend this book to just about anyone. Anyone who listens to NPR. Anyone who wants to get a taste of what modern Iraq is really like. Anyone who likes adventure stories. Anyone who is interested in the advancement of women in traditionally male professions. And anyone who cares, even a little, about the condition and future of the United States, Iraq, and the world.

Posted by Kat at 05:32 PM | Comments (151)