Thursday, February 11, 2010

Myriad of mysteries

I did take last week's challenge to myself seriously (read out of my comfort zone), but I might have chickened out a bit. Instead of faeries and princesses, I gravitated toward mysteries during yesterday's library trip and came back with a nice selection. Had I not been forced to read in multiple genres in an LIS course I took last spring, I don't know that I would have ever stumbled upon mysteries again in my adult life. Sure, I read Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children as a kid, but I don't think that I realized that they were "mysteries." I associated them with series like Sweet Valley High and the Baby-Sitter's Club. After a little bit of genre study, I found that all kinds of books I was reading were in fact mysteries. Here are the ones I picked up yesterday:

The Case of the Left-Handed LadyThe Case of the Left-Handed Lady (An Enola Holmes Mystery #2) by Nancy Springer
published January 2007 by Penguin
192 pages (hardcover), middle grade

I am so happy that I gave Enola Holmes another chance. I gobbled this book up last night and want to read the rest of the series RIGHT NOW. For some reason, I thought that she was younger than 14 in the first book, which is partly why I didn't fancy it so much. I thought that she was acting much older than her age, but I stand corrected. She is her mother's daughter, an independent gal who can take care of herself just fine. Her relationship with Sherlock develops some in this book, and I grew to enjoy the multiple plot lines - it's not just about the mystery of the left-handed lady, but also about Enola's adventures in London, her efforts not to get caught by her brothers, and her desperate need to communicate with her runaway mother. Oh, I just loved it.

Murder at MidnightMurder at Midnight by Avi
published September 2009 by Scholastic
272 pages (hardcover), middle grade

Confession: I've never read a book authored by Avi. There are plenty of them, so I see on my library shelves, but I've never had the impulse to pick one up. So, I asked my boy, who was on this library trip with me, to choose a "boy book" from the children's new books section, and this was his selection. It's set in Renaissance times, which just might kill me, but I will give it a shot because the story does sound compelling (murder! magicians! midnight!) and well, it's Avi.

The London Eye MysteryThe London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
published February 2008 by Random House
336 pages (hardcover), middle grade

It's been on my to-read list for too long.
When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. But after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off - but no Salim. Where could he have gone? Haws he spontaneously combusted? (Ted's theory.) Has he been kidnapped? (Aunt Gloria's theory.) Is he even still alive? (The family's unspoken fear.) Even the police are baffled. Ted and Kat follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin, while time ticks dangerously by ...

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel ThiefSammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen
published August 1998 by Random House
176 pages (paperback), middle grade 

This may prove to be another addicting series. Samantha Keyes is a seventh-grade sleuth, who happens to be at the right place at the right time - that is, snooping out her window with a pair of binoculars, spotting a hotel theft. I imagine it will be a quick read.


The Calder Game
The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
published May 2008 by Scholastic
379 pages, middle grade

Well, I loved Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3, so it's about time that I followed Calder and Petra in a new adventure. Unfortunately, this one doesn't take place in my beloved Chicago but instead in a small English village. I can only hope for the same sort of puzzles as the first two books, the main draw to the mysteries for me. But oh boy, it is a hefty volume.


Cover-UpCover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl by John Feinstein
published August 2007 by Random House
304 pages (hardcover), YA

I read Feinstein's other sports mystery novels The Last Shot and Vanishing Act at a time when I had absolutely no interest in sports - and I enjoyed each one of them quite a bit. Therefore, I'm rather excited about this one because it's about football - a sport I've grown to love recently. Woohoo! My boy also informs me that John Feinstein is a sports writer that he follows regularly, so I suppose the author has a bit of credibility to his name. Honestly, I had no idea.

The Eyre AffairThe Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
published February 2003 by Penguin
384 pages (paperback), adult (YA appeal)

I can't begin to count how many times I've checked this book out of the library - never to even glance at the first page. The trouble is - my expectations for this book have reached so high that if I don't love love love it, I'll be rather disappointed. And I'm afraid that I won't recognize all of the literary allusions. Does it come with a Cliff's Notes guide?


High FiveHigh Five (A Stephanie Plum Novel) by Janet Evanovich
published June 2000 by St. Martin's
340 pages (mass market pb), adult

I used to be a literary snob, and then I got over myself. I started reading the Stephanie Plum series last spring, and oh, what fun! When I need a break from serious reading or I'm in a reading rut, these books pull me out and let me laugh hysterically. I won't turn my nose up at bestsellers anymore. You know, they're bestsellers for a reason. Like most people, I read for a variety of purposes, and I'm no longer ashamed to read fluff or formulaic fiction, both terms that serve to devalue some books. That's the shame.

Natalie

3 comments:

Peaceful Reader said...

I've heard several great things about Enola Holmes so I'm going to have to read the first one. I do love Sammy Keyes, though!

Jan von Harz said...

Natalie,

Some great titles. I love the Sammy Keyes series, but have not read this title. As always great post.

Kelly said...

I've always been reluctant to read The Eyre Affair for the SAME reason!

And reading Going Bovine as a retelling of Don Quixote has me wishing I paid more attention in English class too...

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