August 07, 2003
Red by Jack Ketchum

Red by Jack Ketchum: justice is meted out by a wronged pet owner in this novel.

Jack Ketchum is know for his graphic and disturbing novels. I’ve only read one other of his novels - The Lost - and I definitely found it to be disturbing. Nothing positive happened in that book at all. With Red, however, I found it not to be nearly as heavy and really enjoyed reading it.

The Red in the title is Av Ludlow’s old dog. While out fishing with Red, three boys come along and try to rob Av. When he doesn’t have any money on him, they kill Red. The rest of the novel is about Av’s quest for justice for Red’s murder and the escalating violence that this leads to.

I certainly couldn’t recommed this for all readers. It’s definitely not a light book and the subject matter could be upsetting to a lot of readers. If you like horror novels, though, it’s a damn good one. There’s also a novella included called “The Passenger”, about a kidnapped defense attorney, that I really enjoyed as well.

August 05, 2003
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: what a wonderful book this was! It was very short (I read it in one day), but absolutely engrossing from the start. A fabulous mixture of love, romance, fairy tale, and recipes.

The book tells the story of Mama Elena and her three daughters - Rosaura, Gertrudis, and Tita, the youngest. When Tita turns fifteen she wishes to be married, but family tradition dictates that the youngest daughter must never marry and look after her mother until the day she dies. Pedro, the boy in love with Tita, in turn marries Rosaura so he can be near the woman he loves. This leads to all sorts of complications and events that no one could predict.

The novel has the same sort of feel as Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic. For example, the sadness of that Tita feels while cooking causes an entire wedding party to experience longing and unhappiness simply by eating her food.

I also enjoyed that included in each chapter was a recipe for the dish that was being prepared. I’m not a cook, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

Simply put, this is a fairy tale of life in Mexico that anyone can relate to. It’s simply delicious and should be read by all.

August 04, 2003
How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin

How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin: the first book in a new detective series featuring the BlackBird sisters.

When this novel starts out, we find that the Blackbird sisters - Nora (our heroine), Emma, and Libby - have been left the family estate, art, and furniture collections, respectively, by their parents who have skipped off to a nice sunny land to avoid paying back money they’ve borrowed.

This has left Nora with a $2 million estate tax (though why her parents didn’t just let her live there while they were on “vacation” bothered me from the get-go), so the solicialite is forced to take a job at the local paper as a society column writer. Unfortunately, the family friend who owns the paper and got her the job, ends up dead pretty quickly. Nora decides to do some investigating of her own along with the handsome reputed mobster who bought some of her land.

For the most part I found the book a little far-fetched, but I still enjoyed it. I never really got into the characters as much as I would have like to, but I could see how over another book or two I could probably get into them more.

The book’s definitely not as good as one of Janet Evanovich’s or Carolyn Haines’s female mystery series, but it was a pretty fun read. If you’re looking for a breezy beach book that has the potential to work itself into a good series, this is perfect for you.