There are now TWO ways to see reviews from the Meg's Monthly Booklist
archives. You can go to the Monthly
or try out the new
BookSearch search engine (where you can search for a specific
Whichever way you desire is cool, but you better hop to it cuz I just KNOW
you aren't reading enough lately. Get some fuel for that fire,
Book Archive | The
- (9/29) Bridal Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields.
- By far the most useful book I expect to encounter in my
wedding planning months. This book covers EVERYTHING and has amazing tips
on how to save money, as well as what scams to look out for and how to
pick the best staff you can get for your dollar. I learned a TON and took
extremely copious notes! The book guarantees it will save you at least
$500 (or your money back), but I expect to save more like $1000 based on
its advice. Highly, highly recommended!!!
- (9/28) The Body is Water by Julie Schumacher.
- When Jane Haus discovers she is pregnant after what is
essentially a one-night stand, she quits her teaching job and goes home
for the summer to live with her father. Their house, situated right on
the beach, brings back a ton of childhood memories for Jane, particularly
ones involving her mother, who died when she was young. Jane's sister Bee
also returns for the summer, to help Jane get through her pregnancy and
take charge of her father's life. Together as a family again, the three
struggle to fit correctly against each other like they did when they were
all 15 years younger. The process helps Jane discover the truth about her
mother and how mothers love (or don't love) their daughters. This was a
well-written and often funny novel. Recommended!
- (9/25) The Best of Martha Stewart Weddings by Martha
- Since I just got engaged, you can expect to see reviews of a
LOT of wedding books in here. This was my first and it was a lot of fun
to go through. Martha, cheesy overbearing boss that she is, actually has
a lot of great ideas (though Miss Manners would've gasped in shock to see
a pic of Martha wearing BLACK at a wedding!). The book also has helpful
tips on timelines and how to hire the best of everything. I got a lot of
great ideas on making my own decorations and favors as well.
- (9/23) A Conventional Corpse by Joan Hess.
- When local bookseller Claire Malloy decides to help set up a
convention of popular mystery authors at the local college, she sets
herself up for a gigantic pain in the arse. To put it mildly. Not only
does the person who was in charge of all the organizing end up in the
hospital a day before the whole thing has to come together (thus leaving a
completely unprepared Claire to deal with everything), but the authors all
hate each other, as well as their manipulative snotty editor, who shows up
unannounced. When the editor next shows up DEAD, Claire has to find out
who's behind the murder before the entire convention is ruined, taking her
town's reputation down with it. But since all the authors have a motive
and that damn cat keeps getting lost, how in the world is Claire supposed
to get any leads? This was a LOT of fun -- very engaging, funny, and
well-plotted. A few times Hess tries a little too hard with the
one-liners, but the overall result is a lighthearted jab at herself and
her peers in the mystery-writing biz, as well as a pretty suspenseful
mystery line that kept me guessing until the very end. Recommended!
- (9/19) Under the Skin by Michel Faber.
- What starts out as a strange and somewhat unnerving tale about a
disfigured woman who picks up strong male hitchhikers and then injects
them with something that knocks them out so she can dress them up in other
men's clothes slowly takes shape as a very clever and creative social
satire. Of what, I'm not going to tell you, as half the enjoyment of
reading this book comes about a third of the way through when you start to
figure out what's going on. Faber's point, while first striking me as
mundane, actually started to affect me by the end of the novel. Yeah,
I've heard the argument before, but this is actually a pretty effective
(and certainly NEW) way to put it. I highly recommend this book, although
not for the weak of stomach (as some of the scenes are pretty graphically
violent). It's one of the most unique books I've encountered in my
lifetime. And for once, a satire described as "Swiftian" on the back
cover has actually lived up to the adjective.
- (9/16) The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth.
- A friend inspired me to reread this, the first of a series I
read waaaaay back in high school. I'm glad I did, too, as this is one of
Roth's best (in my opinion). As with most of PR's novels, it's about a
Jewish man who's jam-packed fulla self-loathing. The man is Nathan
Zuckerman, a writer, and in this book, he finally gets to meet his
literary idol, E.I. Lonoff, when he goes to Lonoff's secluded New England
farmhouse for a day and a night. While there, he also meets a young woman
who lives with Lonoff and his wife and is rather openly involved in an
affair with him (Lonoff). During the course of 24 hours, Nathan tries
(almost pathetically) to impress Lonoff, using a mixture of self-scorn and
false modesty at first and then growing bolder (and blunter). Mostly the
novel is about art's responsibility to life, however. Nathan is already
in big trouble with his family for writing a story based on a past event
that makes his family feel not only ashamed of themselves, but worried the
story might fuel anti-semitic fires. And Lonoff spends all his waking
hours "rearranging sentences" and greatly neglecting his wonderful wife
(and his strange lover, who is the object of a fantasy of Zuckerman's at
the end of the novel and whose identity he romanticizes, just as he's
romanticized Lonoff's). This is a fascinating novel that not only
entertains but attempts to get you to think, too. What is an art's
responsibility towards society? What rules of conventional decency (if
any) do artists have an obligation to follow? Is art selfish? Tricky
questions. And before you ask, YES, there is indeed the obligatory Philip
Roth masturbation scene.
- (9/14)The Boy in the Lake by Eric Swanson.
- Short novel about a therapist who returns to his childhood
home after his grandmother dies. While cleaning her house out, he is
forced to confront a series of past events that had ended in an act of
terrible violence against a friend. Very well-written and disturbing look
at one man's struggle to be forgiven (and to forgive himself) for his
- (9/11) Darkness Peering by Alice Blanchard.
- Pretty creepy mystery that begins with a police chief who
discovers evidence that makes it look like his son may have killed a young
Down's Syndrome girl. Unable to deal with the ramifications of that
discovery, he commits suicide. Years later, his daughter Rachel has
joined the police force and made detective. Internal urges convince her
to reopen the case of the dead girl, never solved. Soon she too is
suspecting her brother, and when her brother's girlfriend disappears and
is then discovered murdered and mutilated, her fear that her brother is a
monster grows even greater. But there are a few other suspects too, as
well as two missing teenagers who may also be in danger. The end was a
bit of a rip-off of the end from "Silence of the Lambs," but the rest of
the novel was really enjoyable. And the revelation of who is behind the
killings surprised me, even though looking back, I could see the hints
were all there. I love it when that happens. Recommended!
- (9/8) Bag of Bones by Stephen King.
- It's been awhile since I read a Stephen King novel. Years at
least. And the last few I've read haven't done all that much for me
("Gerald's Game" leaps right to mind). But, I picked this one up over the
three-day weekend and once I started it, I was hooked. Why? Because I
always have been (and always will be) a sucker for a good ghost story.
Definition of "good" here meaning SCARY. This novel is about a fiction
author who is cracking out another book when his wife dies suddenly (of
what appear to be natural causes -- a brain aneurysm). Years pass and the
writer, Mike Noonan, finds himself haunted by images in his dreams that
scare the patooties out of him. And all the dreams are set in one place
-- his summer place on the lake out in Maine. So, he goes there, thinking
it might be just what he needs to break his writer's block and put an end
to his nighttime horrors. Only when he gets there he discovers his house,
nicknamed "Sara Laughs," is haunted by several different ghosts, one of
whom is his wife. Soon the ghosts are communicating with him various
messages -- one of which is that his new friend and her young daughter are
in terrible danger. Something screwy is going on in this sleepy little
Maine town. And Mike's mixed up right in the middle of it. This book was
incredibly well-crafted -- though it's a bazillion pages long, I never got
tired of reading it. Stephen King gets five stars for this one -- which
almost makes up for that whole giant spider thing from "It." But not
- (9/2) Skeleton Dance by Aaron Elkins.
- I had a lot of trouble getting into this book, an installment
in a mystery series about a forensic anthropologist that I haven't read
the others of. In this one, anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his wife
Julie are sidetracked during their European vacation when he receives a
call from an old French friend, Inspector Lucien Joly, asking for help
with a case. The case has to do with the supposed suicide of the old
director of the Institut de Prehistoire. Everyone thought he killed
himself after he was exposed as a fraud. But was it really suicide? I
think my problem was that the book focuses a lot on the debate about
whether Neanderthals are Homo sapiens or not. This debate gets a lot of
focus and the actual mystery of this mystery just didn't take off with
enough speed for me. I could care less about Neanderthals, to be honest.
I will definitely try another in the series before giving up, however.