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Rachel Gray "Reg" RSS Feed (San Francisco, CA United States)

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Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe)
Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe)
by Rex Stout
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.02
69 used & new from $4.27

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excelling Nero Wolfe mystery, September 1, 2010
The back of my copy made it seem like the mystery in this book was: which veiled woman is the real widow? This added a level of interest above that of a regular Nero Wolfe mystery (if there is such a thing as a "regular" Nero Wolfe mystery). In actuality, the mystery is a much more standard: who is the killer? But it's still Nero Wolfe, so it's going to be interesting anyway.

Archie Goodwin is one of my favorite narrators, and he doesn't disappoint here. There are some surprises, as Wolfe gets rather more physically involved in the case than he usually prefers, and of course his genius leads to surprising leaps of impeccable logic. As I finished this book, I wondered why I ever read a book that's not a Nero Wolfe book.


The Eight
The Eight
by Katherine Neville
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
347 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, fascinating, highly entertaining, September 1, 2010
This review is from: The Eight (Mass Market Paperback)
The Eight is a thrilling mystery/adventure with smart and capable heroines, fascinating history, intriguing mysteries, exotic locations, startling discoveries, math puzzles, codes and ciphers, amusing historical cameos, twists and turns, and what I think is an epic scope. It may not be high art, but it is extremely entertaining and enjoyable. It is without a doubt one of the most entertaining books I've read, and therefore, despite it's flaws, it is highly satisfying. So either I'm not a discerning reader or the entertainment value really is that good. Or both.

This is one of those books that the cliche of being unable to put it down was made for. It took a while, particularly since the narrative switches between two different time periods with two different heroines to get used to, but once I got into the story, I did little else other than read more of it. I was in such thrall to this book that I never put it down if I could help it. I wanted to read it in one sitting just so that I wouldn't have to wait to find out what happened.

There were some complaints, namely that the characters were numerous, while the characterizations and motivations could be somewhat weak, and that the writing was a bit clunky at times and unpolished. However, none of these are condemnations, which shows they weren't too bothersome. Not having read any later books by this author, I'm hoping the less than excellent prose was due to this being her first book. Also, compared to other writing that I've thought wasn't great, Katherine Neville is way above: she's not simplistic, and she definitely has a style--it's just unpolished.

This book made me excited to learn more about its themes, locations, characters, ideas. I'd been looking forward to reading this for so long that I had very high hopes for it, but after reading some reviews, I had somewhat low expectations. Suffice it to say, my hopes were met, my expectations were exceeded, and now I want to go read the sequel that came out last year.


Emma, Vol. 4
Emma, Vol. 4
by Kaoru Mori
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $2.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emma gets good, September 1, 2010
This review is from: Emma, Vol. 4 (Paperback)
The art is beautiful as always--the backdrops of almost every panel are works of art that I would hang on my wall, and Kaoru Mori has the look of Victorian London down pat, from the buildings to the clothes and the interior decorating. But more importantly, this volume finally included a scene that really tugged at my heartstrings, pretty much the first time I felt any real emotion in this series.

This is the volume in which Emma grows from a pretty story about pretty, shy people who seem to like each other for some reason into a real story about characters that are feeling human beings.


Red Planet
Red Planet
by Robert Heinlein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.50
54 used & new from $0.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really fun and interesting read, September 1, 2010
This review is from: Red Planet (Paperback)
Robert Heinlein's vision of life on Mars in this book is, from a scientific standpoint, way off, but the story he tells of two young men fighting to keep that life safe for their family and friends (with help from some of the native Martians along the way) is an interesting, funny, exciting, and wholly enjoyable one. There's even a bit of a mystery along with all the atmosphere and adventure. This is the sort of Heinlein book that one can't help smiling at the thought of.

Heinlein just has such a wonderful way of showing his readers a whole fully-realized world, including the technologies, social structures, culture, and everything else, without ever seeming to have any exposition. It's just all there, and we understand it by watching the story unfold.

This book is a really quick read, both because it's easy and short and because it's so fun and interesting there's just no reason to put it down.


The Web (Alex Delaware)
The Web (Alex Delaware)
by Jonathan Kellerman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
141 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Kellerman, but still good, September 1, 2010
A different setting for Dr. Alex Delaware as he and Robin leave L.A. for an island in the South Pacific where some potentially interesting old case files (or a paid vacation offered by the owner of said case files) beckon. But of course even though Milo Sturgis doesn't follow Alex this time, murder still does, as well as several other mysteries that may or may not all be connected.

There are several interesting elements of this story, including the aforesaid murders, the odd behavior and hobbies of their benefactor, and some of the cases that he shares with Alex. The writing is good, the mystery is interesting, and there is some suspense and some excitement. All in all, it's a fair Alex Delaware book, not the best or most interesting one, but one of a series where even the worst book is probably going to be interesting reading.


Emma (Oxford World's Classics)
Emma (Oxford World's Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.95
124 used & new from $0.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, great story, September 1, 2010
I think most people are already familiar with the story of Emma, and many are probably also familiar with the back-story, which is that Jane Austen decided to write about a character which she thought "nobody but myself will much like." I dare say there are plenty of people who indeed do not like Emma Woodhouse, but I have loved plenty of books, TV shows, and movies centered on a character I disliked (or even hated) far more than Emma, whose faults do not, at least, include witlessness, stupidity, or true ugliness of character.

Added to Emma's attractiveness as a protagonist and other well-rounded characters that we may love or hate, is Jane Austen's excellent prose and story plotting, and, most importantly, her cutting humor and social commentary. Oh wait, perhaps most important is the love story--or love stories--that touch the readers' hearts. Or at least touched mine. All of those elements are there, and so I enjoyed the book. While not my favorite book of Austen's, Emma is far from my least favorite (ahem, Mansfield Park).


Mr. Knightley's Diary
Mr. Knightley's Diary
by Amanda Grange
Edition: Paperback
66 used & new from $1.57

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not good, but could be enjoyable, September 1, 2010
This review is from: Mr. Knightley's Diary (Paperback)
I didn't expect the quality of the prose or the depth of the writing to be equal to those of Jane Austen, but I did expect them to be as good as one would expect from any standard work of writing for adults. In this I was disappointed.

Still, it was a somewhat entertaining read. It seemed kind of pointless that so much of it was the exact same events told in Emma but less eloquently from the perspective of someone else in the same room (although at least, since Jane Austen thought of them, they make an interesting story), but the events and characters that were unique to this book were more interesting. I did enjoy seeing how Mr. Knightly might have come to realize his feelings for Emma, and I enjoyed the sweet (if improbable) relationship for one of the few characters from Emma who doesn't end up married in that book.

It's not a great book, or even a really good one, but it was an easy and somewhat enjoyable read. I plan to read at least one other book in the series (if you can call it a series), with the hope that it will diverge a bit more from what Austen already showed us, but even if it doesn't it will still probably be pleasant.


Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter
Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter
by Michael J. White
Edition: Hardcover
102 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching story, but confusing and frustrating, September 1, 2010
This is a novel about a turbulent couple of years in the lives and the relationship of two teenagers, George Flynn and Emily Schell, becoming young adults in Iowa. It's told by the adult George, who often lets slip information about his current life which clues us in to how the story we're reading will end. George also makes it explicitly clear to his readers that he's writing a book about his experiences, and that he's aware that he didn't plan it out in detail before starting, and also that, even so, it's not turning out exactly as he'd thought.

I didn't really get into this story. The writing was good, if if unconventional, and the characters felt real, but they were the sort of people that I was never interested in. They're high school students, Emily an popular and beautiful aspiring actress, and George a wrestler who, although new in town, is provided an immediate group of friends who take him to parties and get drunk. Plus they live in Iowa.

However, I came to care about their story, although without greatly liking either of them (Emily I didn't like at all; George I thought was a nice guy, but, again, not the sort of person I would be friends with). I did like Katie, but her lines in the story are limited. Based on the book's description, I thought she would appear much more. Actually, the description also somewhat mislead me about what the nature of George and Emily's relationship would be.

Michael J. White used the device of writing the story from the perspective of the adult protagonist many years later interestingly. It makes for some odd moments where the character seems to understand a situation objectively, wisely, and calmly...and yet reacts subjectively, impulsively, and passionately. It also allows the author to tell the story somewhat out of order, as George sometimes gets ahead of himself, or remembers something he meant to write about before. Many of these instances were confusing, because I wasn't sure why White or George chose to place these events in the story where he did.

In fact, there were some parts of the story that were confusing because I wasn't sure why they were put in the book at all. And some parts were confusing because even after rereading certain passages, I still wasn't exactly sure what had happened. I don't know if this was intentional or not. Ultimately, although I do understand what happens overall, I'm confused about why this story is being told.

Still, it was a good book, and I kind of enjoyed it. The prose was very good, and very interesting. The characters felt full and real, and sounded real. In fact, the whole story felt incredibly real. I thought it could easily have been a true story (that would explain the extraneous stuff). When it hurt, it hurt deeply. When it was happy, it made me happy. When it was depressing, I felt depression. This book really gets deep inside you and touches you.

I won this book from a First Reads giveaway.


Emma, Vol. 6
Emma, Vol. 6
by Kaoru Mori
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from $2.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A darker turn, September 1, 2010
This review is from: Emma, Vol. 6 (Paperback)
The story gets dark(er) and eventful in this volume, as William tries to sort out his affairs to make room for Emma, who has to deal with being a object of curiosity at home and of anger from the powerful Campbell family in London. The opening chapter, separate from the main storyline, begins an interesting discussion about The Prisoner of Zenda.

And, as always, the art is lovely.


Emma, Vol. 8
Emma, Vol. 8
by Kaoru Mori
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from $25.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bonus stories from Emma's world., August 31, 2010
This review is from: Emma, Vol. 8 (Paperback)
This volume is several short stories in the Emma-universe. However, none of these stories involve Emma or William, since their story was concluded in Emma: Volume 7.

The first story, about Ms. Stowner and her husband as a young couple, was a delight to read. It was great to see her as a young woman and to see what her life (like the lives of others in the Victorian age) was like, as well as to see how much she and Douglas loved each other.

The second story was about Eleanor after the events of Emma: Volume 7. I can't say that I cared much, as I found her character not very likable, but it was still good to get to see her dealing with the issue.

The third story was a wonderful story of Victorian times, showing the uses and values--and lifespan--of the newspaper in that culture. The characters were not from any previous Emma volumes, but we got to know them in brief glimpses of their lives. I think this would be an excellent (if short) story all on its own.

The final story was about Tasha, Emma's roommate and fellow maid in the Meredith household, and her family and her dreams. It's another nice story that was fun to read.


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