Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

Finished this one today, thereby proving that it is just Dr. Zhivago (and not any decreased skill in myself) that caused me to read that one so slowly.

My sister liked this book because of the beautiful way it talked about music. She’s not wrong. It is beautiful.

Apparently, it is loosely based on a real hostage situation in an embassy in Argentina. I am very interested to read about that event, although I’m not sure if there are any books about it.

In Bel Canto, a group of people are gathered in the Vice President’s house to hear a famous opera singer who had been invited (at great expense) to lure a Japanese businessman (with a jones for opera) to the country to consider opening a production plant there. A group of revolutionaries, who mistakenly believe the president of the country will be there, raid the party. When they discover their error, they decide to take the whole party hostage. The hostage situation lasts nearly 5 months. An amazing case of Stockholm syndrome sets up, etc., etc.

I thought the epilogue was extraneous. I didn’t like how the book ended, but the epilogue made it even worse.

It was easy to read and I definitely wanted to see how it would all turn out. My favorite characters? The priest, the translator, and his lover.

Abandon ship.

So I almost got half way through Dr. Z. before I had to stop reading it and start reading my book club book if I’m going to get it read before the meeting. We’re reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I seriously read like 84 pages last night trying to fall asleep. I finally decided it wasn’t happening. What did I do? That’s right. Dr. Zhivago. Out in 10 minutes. It’s the miracle cure. Forget Valerian root and sleeping pills. Docs should just prescribe Dr. Zhivago.

Dr. Zhivago

This book could cure an insomniac. Every time I read it, I pass out in 15 pages or less. I like the story, what there is of it. For some reason, it just moves really slowly.

I’ve been reading for over a week, and I’m not even half way through. It will be due at the library before I get through it!

14 months later….

I finally finished all stitching on the cross-stitch. This thing is crazy. The stitches are super-small. I’m a cross-stitching genius!!! Ok, well I follow the little maps real well. All 9 pages of them.

Of course, now I don’t have any idea what to do with my free time!


I’m fascinated with other people’s bookshelves. I think I mentioned before that my darling husband gave me two coffee table books about libraries private and public for Christmas. I’m going to assume you feel the same way about bookshelves and am going to describe mine for you. Continue reading

Sweet victory!!!

I finally finished the cross stitching part of a project I started 14 months ago for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The anniversary was last June. Let’s just say I grossly underestimated the time I would need to finish.

Now all I have to do is the outlining and frame. And treat my carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K Hamilton

So, OK. I’d heard really great things about the main character, Anita Blake. She’s so independent and smart and cool and tough, etc. Yeah, she’s all those things. She’s also really cynical. Depressingly so.

This book was the stuff of nightmares. Even the cool main character wasn’t cool enough to cover up the horror in this mystery. Really, extremely gory.

Won’t be reading others in the series.

Prague by Arthur Phillips

I wrote something about this book a few days ago, but now I’ve finished it. As I said before, the setting is actually Budapest, Hungary, but Prague is mentioned several times as the place where everything is “really happening in Europe.”

I’m not really sure about a plot. That was pretty loose. Mostly it based around these north american ex-pats who live in Budapest after the fall of Communism. They have really weird relationships with other people and each other. One guy makes millions buying and selling a Hungarian press, but mostly not much happens.

What I liked about this book: the writing style. Most of the time, I’m to into a book to notice style, but this one stood out. Phillips used varying tactics to tell the story. One segment captures an entire season in one chapter by listing “9 memories of the fall of 1990.” It told in nine scenes what would have taken several chapters of narration to get through. Also, there were lots of interesting and opposing descriptive words. Like delicately clutching. How does one clutch delicately? Stuff like that.

Not to mention (although I think I did in another post) the really intriguing jacket art. I’m not sure if it’s a picture of Prague or of Budapest, but there’s a great, black and white picture of some eastern European city. Very nice.

Meme #2

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Turn to p. 123
3. Find the 5th sentence.
4. Post the next 3 sentences.
5. No fair digging through your closet for the most intelligent book you have. Seriously, the closest book.

The closest book to me, right now, is Charles Dickens’ Bleak House because I haven’t shelved it yet after buying it.

So here goes:
p. 123, 5th sentence:

“But would you allow me the favor of a minute’s private conversation?”
Not knowing what to say, I sat down again.
“What follows is without prejudice, miss?” said Mr. Guppy, anxiously bringing a chair towards my table.

What’ve you got?

Meme #1

Thanks to Shelly
Feel free to answer!

1. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Steven Maturin from the Master and Commander series, Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Oh, and the Scarlet Pimpernel.

2. The last book you bought is:
I bought 2: Bleak House by Charles Dickens and The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope.

3.The last book you read is:
The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg for my bookclub.

4. What are you currently reading?
Prague by Arthur Phillips

5. The Five books you would take to a deserted island:
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
3. Something by Anthony Trollope
4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
5. I’m not sure. Should be something funny. Any ideas?

What I’m reading, now…

I’m currently picking my way through a book called


by Arthur Phillips. It’s really good, and the writing is very interesting, but for some reason I can’t get through more than a few pages at a time.

I heard good things about this book, so when I found it at the library (and thought the cover was pretty), I checked it out. It takes place in Budapest, not Prague. Apparently, Prague was really the place to be after the cold-war melt-down. All these people in Budapest keep relating what’s going on in their world, to the gold standard of Prague.

Anyway, I’ll let you know what I think when I finish.

Steppin’ on a Rainbow

by Kinky Friedman.

I had heard of this author before. Several reviewers tend to like his stuff. I tried to read one of his mysteries several years ago, but couldn’t get into it. I picked it up at the library yesterday, thinking I’d give this guy another try. Continue reading

I did a bad thing.

I told myself I would read the books on my shelves that I own but haven’t read. Unfortunately, I found myself at the library today with some time to kill. I got 4 books! It’s not looking good for that to-be-read pile diminishing anytime soon.

Here’s what I got: Continue reading

Questions to think about.

Shelly’s Book Shelf

An interesting train of thought…
# Name 3 of your favorite series.
The Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron – I love anything Jane.
The Bookman Series by John Dunning
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

# Name 3 series you think went on too long.
There are about a zillion mystery series that could fit this criteria, but I haven’t read those, so I can’t quite say.

# Name 3 books you wish had been series.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – My all time favorite book. I know lots of people have written sequels, but it’s just not the same.

Vanity Fair by William Makepiece Thackeray should have been a series. Wait, it was. Sort of. It was released a chapter at a time to a magazine. That explains why it’s sooooo long.

Hmmm. Maybe that’s all I can think of for now.

What are your answers?