Saturday, April 25, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: Sprinkle with Murder

Sprinkle with Murder
by Jenn McKinlay

I wanted to like this book. I really did. The mystery was fun and intriguing. I was on the wrong track until near the end. The problem was I didn't really like the main characters. They are people I'd talk to on the plane, just not the kind of people I want to have over for dinner or a movie night.

I wanted to like the book, because I wanted to like the series. Unfortunately, I do not really like the characters. I am sorry about that. I am sure there are plenty of other people who love this series, I am not one of them.

The mystery was really well crafted and quite engaging. And the book we well-written. Everything points to a book and series I should like. But I don't.

One Bear's Opinion: Three cups of diner coffee with a day-old cupcake

Happy Reading Everyone, 
Oliver

Sunday, March 8, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: The Passion of the Purple Plumeria

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
by Lauren Willig

I really enjoy the books in the Pink Carnation series, They are fun, exciting, and thrilling to read. I have a couple of issues with them. I wish the publishers had somehow made the current story more easily recognizable in the text, perhaps used a different font for the current story or numbered the chapters differently. I dislike the abrupt switch from one story to the other, but that's just my opinion as a reader, and I notice it each time I read one of the books in the series.

Running complaint handled, now to The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. Miss Gwen has always been one of my favorite characters, and I love that she got to tell her story. I'm not quite sure where the wandering over-arching plot is going from here, but I am excited to see how the author finishes up the story. She seems to have written herself into a corner with the main and familiar characters.

The plot was fairly easy to guess as I read it, and there were no real surprises. Well, there was one surprise, but I'll not say anything about it, lest I give away spoilers. Underneath it all, this was a love story rather than a spy story, but the Pink Carnation novels all have an undercurrent of love story to them. The spy aspect is a more a subplot than a main one.

I find them interesting as they are connected by recurring characters more than the main characters, and each book tells the story of a supporting character. It's a fun way to connect a series. The thread of the Napoleonic spies runs through the series, but the characters change in each installment. The ones who were main characters in one novel are relegated to supporting roles in the next. It's a fun concept, and I am enjoying it. I am sorry there are only two installments left. There are many friends in the series who deserve their stories to be told and I am sorry not all of them will get the chance.

One Bear's Opinion: Four glasses of lemonade with a plate of iced cakes while "watching" Artaxeres

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

Saturday, February 29, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: The Silent Speaker

The Silent Speaker
by Rex Stout

I've seen the Timothy Hutton production of The Silent Speaker, but it's been years, and all I really remembered was the wax cylinder recordings. And I remember thinking how much state-of-the-art technology has changed since the War.

So going in, I knew the wax cylinders were important, but not how or why. It was fun to rediscover the mystery. And it was fun to have an adventure with Archie. I can't say too much, but if you're a fan of Nero Wolfe & Archie's interaction, there is a fantastic scene in this book. It's worth it to read for just that moment.


It was a lot of fun to read, and now I'm going to have to go re-watch the television adaptation to see how well it was compared to the book.

One Bear's Opinion: Five bottles of beer, followed by a visit from Dr. Vollmer, because by then you'll need it

Happy Reading Everyone, 
Oliver

Monday, February 24, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: Not Quite Dead Enough

Not Quite Dead Enough
by Rex Stout

Another collection of a couple of Nero Wolfe short stories or maybe novellas, I'm not exactly sure where the cut-off is, it seems to be a grey area to more people than just me. And another good visit with Archie. In these, Archie is a Major in the US Army. It's wartime and for the time being he's assigned to handle Nero Wolfe. It's an interesting assignment and I think Archie thinks so too, but he'll go with it. Good thing too, or there wouldn't be the short stories for this book.

I enjoyed "Not Quite Dead Enough" more than "Booby Trap," but both were interesting. It's a fun book and a fun visit with the gang in the brownstone on West 35th Street.

One Bear's Opinion: Four bottles of beer and a dinner with no discussions of business.

Happy Reading Everyone,
Oliver

Friday, February 21, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: Black Orchids

Black Orchids
by Rex Stout

Any visit with Archie Goodwin is a good one. And this was a satisfactory visit with Archie. It was two short stories that were connected by the Black Orchids. Other than the flowers, there was no connection.

I always feel short stories are a teaser tasting, so it's nice to have a collection to savor, rather than just one short one to tear through quickly.

"Black Orchids" tells the story of how Nero Wolfe came to be in possession of the flowers, which was fun, because...spoiler alert...Nero Wolfe leaves his house! You know any time that occurs, something is bound to happen.

Individually the short stories were fun, together they made for a lingering visit with old friends.

One Bear's Opinion: Five bottles of beer, after a dinner of Saucisse Minuit

Happy Reading Everyone, 
Oliver

Sunday, February 16, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: The Three Emperors

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires, and the Road to World War One
by Miranda Carter

This is a hefty book, in every sense. It's a long book, with a hefty feel, and the subject matter is complex, complicated, and heavy. It took me a month and a half to read it, though I did read a couple of other books at the same time. This book benefits from having a "fun" book to read at the same time.

I have read other biographies of Tsar Nicholas II, but this one was different in that it wove the stories of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Tsar Nicholas II, and King George V together. Their stories were woven together, as they were all related to each other, but this book did a good job linking their stories, and the path to World War I.

Reading the book, I realized just how inevitable World War I was. Though none of the monarchs truly wanted it, their actions set the series of events that could only lead to the War in motion.

The Three Emperors is written much as another book I read was written. Both this book and Imperial Requiem, about the lives of wives of the Emperors, were written with each chapter covering events in the lives of the Emperors in a particular period of time. It's an interesting way to write the story, and the way I have long believed we should teach history. Because the lives of the Emperors were intertwined and events happened concurrently, it's far easier to keep the timeline straight if it's presented in actual time, rather the reader having to piece it all together from separate stories told individually.

Even though the book, and its subject matter, was heavy, I found myself laughing out loud in reaction to some of the tales the author includes. I found it a bit clunky in the writing and it could have used a bit harsher editor, but it was a good book to read. It's an easy-to-read account of a very hard-to-read time in history. Having read other biographies, and knowing history's ending to the story, the end of the lives of the Emperors came as no surprise. The author treated the history with as much respect and reverence as possible. It's not a happy ending, but it's reported as well as possible.

One Bear's Opinion: Five strong glasses of whisky, and then another five.

Happy Reading Everyone, 
Oliver

Thursday, February 6, 2020

One Bear's Opinion: Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
by Fannie Flagg

I've been a fan of Fannie Flagg ever since I saw her on re-runs of Match Game. She is one of my favorite panelists on the show. And even now, I will always stop and watch an episode with her if I'm flicking past and see it. But I had never read one of her books, despite being educated in the South, and, on paper at least, the perfect market for her books.

I had a hard time getting into the book. I found it slogged a bit until a big plot point. It really did take about 2/5 for the story to pick up and start moving. Once it took off, it moved quickly and rewarded the time it took to get through to the good parts.

Reading Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man really was like a visit with good friends. Once I got into the book, I really enjoyed it and I am happy to have met Daisy Fay and her friends. It was a great visit. I can highly recommend spending time with the citizens of Shell Beach, especially once you get to the part where the story takes off and pulls you through it quickly.

I do wonder why the decision was made to change the title of the book. I think that Coming Attractions was a better, more descriptive title. But then I wonder quite often why publishers make decisions to change the title of certain books.

I will definitely read more of Fannie Flagg's work. I am sorry it took me to discover her books.

One Bear's Opinion: Five milkshakes and a big bucket of fresh popcorn

Happy Reading Everyone, 
Oliver