Sunday, November 18, 2007

Review two-fer

I may have come up with a solution to my severe reviewing backlog! Up until now, as I've read a book, I've taken notes, or at least marked pages to which I need to return (say, for quotes I want to discuss). However, I don't usually do this with much of my non-classic fiction. After I've finished reading, I draft my review on binder paper, thus setting up a (large) space to fill. I think that, in the case of these long-ago-read books, I'm putting too much pressure on myself to write that much about a book I barely remember, and in most cases, have no notes from which to draw. So, I found a stash of index cards from a long-abandoned project, and I am using those as my draft papers. Hopefully, this will further my goal of getting these older books out of my house, and in turn make more room on my bookshelves so that I can someday dismantle and repurpose my brick-and-board setup. I will probably still have to invest in some new shelving (at least 6 of my current units are double-shelved), but freeing up that wall space in favor of a better-laid-out office will help our living situation a lot.

Anyway, here is my first Index Card review, of Death at Gallows Green, by Robin Paige:

I find it interesting that they introduced Beatrix Potter as a character in the tale. I didn't know it at the time I'd read this book [a few years ago now], but at some point during the research, the decision was made to give Potter her own series--which is now on its fourth of eight titles.

Team Paige writes a good mystery and believeable characters; they also use the results of their research to good end. They are not over-cautious about what naughtiness they unveil, and their tension-building (in terms of the Ardleigh-Sheridan romance) flows at a reasonable pace.

I also find the English versus American theme to be highly entertaining and informative. It's interesting to see how different authors handle it; I'm currently reading Wharton's Age of Innocence and am finding the undercurrent of snobbery quite similar.

This is the second in the series; Death at Daisy's Folly is next [it also needs reviewing]. I can't remember offhand if I've read the fourth (Death at Devil's Bridge) yet. This particular book goes in the "give back to friend" pile.

Another tack I'm going to try with my reading: I've a few dozen (at first pass, anyway) books that should be readable in a short sitting, and hence also quickly reviewed. Those books are in a stack, which I'll pull from daily until they're gone. By doing this, I might have a chance at reaching my goal of 100 read for this year.

So, the first book I chose (because I have to send it to my expecting-within-a-month sister very soon) is:

First Six Weeks: Baby Tips (Little Terror series), by Charlotte Preston and Trevor Dunton

A nice, quick read (perfect for the fact that new parents don't have time to read), only a few questionable pieces of advice, which may actually be a factor of the published date of the book [it's nearly 10 years old].

The points I found lacking: when listing the "cons" of formula feeding, they missed the ones about future weight gain and risk of developing diabetes; I also don't understand what they mean by stating that babies don't cry at will for the first 3 months--that just doesn't sound right, or at least not how I'd describe what's going on with the crying. The author also suggests highly diluted orange juice to treat constipation, whereas my sources say that citrus juices should not be introduced so early. They also talk about the safe use of covers (in the interest of preventing SIDS), whereas now, someone's come up with sleepsacs, which are much safer, and quite easy to find.

I do like how the author reminds the parents to keep communication lines open, and that she's honest about the energy level that's to be expected.

I'm all caught up with my page count for Age of Innocence. I may try to get ahead tonight, just so I'm not rushed to finish just before I drive into Austin for the book group discussion.

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